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Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

  
Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

  

Author:Terry Pratchett
Format: mobi, epub, azw3
Published: 2010-01-29T22:46:27+00:00


Detritus sat and steamed. Now he felt hungry – not for food, but for things to think about. As the temperature sank, the efficiency of his brain increased even more. It needed something to do.

He calculated the number of bricks in the wall, first in twos and then in tens and finally in sixteens. The numbers formed up and marched past his brain in terrified obedience. Division and multiplication were discovered. Algebra was invented and provided an interesting diversion for a minute or two. And then he felt the fog of numbers drift away, and looked up and saw the sparkling, distant mountains of calculus.

Trolls evolved in high, rocky and above all in cold places. Their silicon brains were used to operating at low temperatures. But down on the muggy plains the heat build-up slowed them down and made them dull. It wasn’t that only stupid trolls came down to the city. Trolls who decided to come down to the city were often quite smart – but they became stupid.

Detritus was considered moronic even by city troll standards. But that was simply because his brain was naturally optimized for a temperature seldom reached in Ankh-Morpork even during the coldest winter . . .

Now his brain was nearing its ideal temperature of operation. Unfortunately, this was pretty close to a troll’s optimum point of death.

Part of his brain gave some thought to this. There was a high probability of rescue. That meant he’d have to leave. That meant he’d become stupid again, as sure as

10-3(Me/Mp)a6aG – N = 10N.

Better make the most of it, then.

He went back to the world of numbers so complex that they had no meaning, only a transitional point of view. And got on with freezing to death, as well.

Dibbler reached the Butchers’ Guild very shortly after Cuddy. The big red doors had been kicked open and a small butcher was sitting just inside them rubbing his nose.

“Which way did he go?”

“Dat way.”

And in the Guild’s main hall the master butcher Gerhardt Sock was staggering around in circles. This was because Cuddy’s boots were planted on his chest. The dwarf was hanging on to the man’s vest like a yachtsman tacking into a gale, and whirling his axe round and round in front of Sock’s face.

“You give it to me right now or I’ll make you eat your own nose!”

A crowd of apprentice butchers was trying to keep out of the way.

“But—”

“Don’t you argue with me! I’m an officer of the Watch, I am!”

“But you—”

“You’ve got one last chance, mister. Give it to me right now!”

Sock shut his eyes.

“What is it you want?”

The crowd waited.

“Ah,” said Cuddy. “Ahaha. Didn’t I say?”

“No!”

“I’m pretty sure I did, you know.”

“You didn’t!”

“Oh. Well. It’s the key to the pork futures warehouse, if you must know.” Cuddy jumped down.

“Why?”

The axe hovered in front of his nose again.

“I was just asking,” said Sock, in a desperate and distant voice.

“There’s a man of the Watch in there freezing to death,” said Cuddy.



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