Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn’t have.
Magrat’s hands shook slightly as they made the tea. Of course, it was all very gratifying, but it was a bit nerve-racking to start one’s working life as village witch between Granny and, on the other side of the forest, Nanny Ogg. It’d been her idea to form a local coven. She felt it was more, well, occult. To her amazement the other two had agreed or, at least, hadn’t disagreed much.
‘An oven?’ Nanny Ogg had said. ‘What’d we want to join an oven for?’
‘She means a coven, Gytha,’ Granny Weatherwax had explained. ‘You know, like in the old days. A meeting.’
‘A knees up?’ said Nanny Ogg hopefully.
‘No dancing,’ Granny had warned. ‘I don’t hold with dancing. Or singing or getting over-excited or all that messing about with ointments and similar.’
‘Does you good to get out,’ said Nanny happily.
Magrat had been disappointed about the dancing, and was relieved that she hadn’t ventured one or two other ideas that had been on her mind. She fumbled in the packet she had brought with her. It was her first sabbat, and she was determined to do it right.
‘Would anyone care for a scone?’ she said.
Granny looked hard at hers before she bit. Magrat had baked bat designs on it. They had little eyes made of currants.
The coachman, standing upright in the manner of a charioteer, pushed his hair out of his eyes and peered through the murk. No-one lived up here, in the lap of the Ramtops themselves, but there was a light ahead. By all that was merciful, there was a light there.
An arrow buried itself in the coach roof behind him.
And, like most people since the dawn of time, he was now dead.
He was in fact lying at the bottom of one of his own stairways in Lancre Castle, with a dagger in his back.
He sat up, and was surprised to find that while someone he was certainly inclined to think of as himself was sitting up, something very much like his body remained lying on the floor.
It was a pretty good body, incidentally, now he came to see it from outside for the first time. He had always been quite attached to it although, he had to admit, this did not now seem to be the case.
It was big and well-muscled. He’d looked after it. He’d allowed it a moustache and long-flowing locks. He’d seen it got plenty of healthy outdoor exercise and lots of red meat. Now, just when a body would have been useful, it had let him down. Or out.
On top of that, he had to come to terms with the tall, thin figure standing beside him. Most of it was hidden in a hooded black robe, but the one arm which extended from the folds to grip a large scythe was made of bone.
When one is dead, there are things one instinctively recognizes.
Verence drew himself up to his full height, or what would have been his full height if that part of him to which the word ‘height’ could have been applied was not lying stiff on the floor and facing a future in which only the word ‘depth’ could be appropriate.