Having survived the chaos at Princess Keli ‘s Birthday Bash, The Told Ones groggily wake up the next day and head for Susan Sto Helit’s Learning Through Play School, a wacky place where the kids are actually immersed right into their adventures. Where were these field trips when I was a kid?! Bronx Zoo, how about a trip to the actual ocean depths? That’s how our heroes meet Susan, flying in on a magic yellow coach through a portal to the sea. But first they have the pleasure of encountering the DEATH of Rats and his talkative companion, Quoth the Raven (hey, I didn’t write it…) who are also looking for Susan.
She seems reluctant to talk at first, but eventually reveals that she can stop time and is in fact the granddaughter of DEATH. The Told Ones ask if she can decipher the Faerune, but she is unable, and eventually tells the heroes “there’s someone you should meet.” She then opens a portal to DEATH’s dimension, a strange vacuum of a world with no sensory feelings whatsoever, where, to the adventurers’ surprise, they are met not with DEATH himself, but with his ancient butler Albert, who allows them to explore the premises. He also informs them that DEATH has not reported back or been keeping up his schedule, yet for some reason there seems to be even MORE death on the Disc as of late. Albert, despite his best efforts, cannot get in contact with his master or his horse-riding apocalyptic pals. Our heroes agree to help find DEATH (somewhere where there is an abundance of death), and Quoth and Death of Rats say they will be on the case as well. The Told Ones then explore DEATH’s chambers and notice some names in his schedule-of-deaths, including Arima, Marquis de Sod, and Vetinari, among others. However, the last entry checked off was for something called a “MILLENNIAL AUDIT” on April 15th.
Returning back to reality and thanking Susan for her help, The Told Ones buy some disguises and finally set off on horse-back (thanks to Princess Keli) for Ankh-Morpork. On the way, they meet Senior Postman Groat, who hands them a message of dire urgency from Lord Vetinari telling them to return to the city at once. Groat promptly dies from exhaustion, and his parrot companion flies off squawking “TRUST ME! TRUST ME!” before Deck managed to revive the fallen postman. There are no coaches, riders, and train passengers in or out of the city, but the adventurers do discover some bandits (the same ones they had encountered briefly on their way out of the city) hiding in an abandoned Clacks Tower. A brief skirmish results in several more unwarranted murders for the “good guys” to add to their list, as they leave the pitiful men broke and injured before heading to the city gates. An annoying conversation with a couple of guards, in conjunction with the seal on the letter from the Patrician, gains them access to the city, where they see many armed military men and people more nervous than usual. Ankh-Morpork is under Martial Law!
A copy of the Ankh-Morpork Times reveals that the Patrician has not been heard from, and Lord Rust has taken command of the city. The Wizards are complaining about a missing book, there’s trouble with the travel embargo, the golems are acting funny, and Mrs. Sybil Ramkin can’t seem to find her “dargons”. The heroes head to the Patrician’s Palace in search of answers, where a huge crowd is shouting for Vetinari. With a little help from William de Worde and the vampiric Otto Chriek of the Times, The Told Ones manage to get past the guards and enter, using some “clever” diversion tactics thanks to Loki to navigate to Vetinari’s chambers.
There they encounter Vetinari’s clerk Drumknott, who said his master had gone missing weeks ago and now his body is missing. Just as the adventurers are interrogating the poor sap, Commander Vimes and the Watch bust in, placing the heroes under arrest. A battle ensues, while Deck tries to keep the peace and his partners completely ignore him. Finally, Deck creates a massive sleet storm to end the fight, and the group agrees to go with Vimes to the Watch House while their letter and manual are examined and questions are asked.
While at the Watch House, the heroes meet one of the convicts they had released from the prison weeks ago, who was again jailed, having confessed to the murder of the Patrician. Vimes quickly reveals this to be a lie (even though the group seems to COMPLETELY believe him), saying he’s probably taking the fall for someone. Vimes’ forsenic scientist Cheery the (female!) dwarf proves Vetinari’s seal NOT to be a forgery, and the group is released. Vimes appears exhausted, saying the Watch is spread thin dealing with all the problems (and without two of his best coppers, Captain Carrot & Sergeant Angua), and even tells the heroes that they can be honorary Watchmen, and to look out for the gargoyle Watch-spy network headed by Constable Downspout, who can feed them intel. Before they head out, Sen’dai encounters Nobby Nobbs, who suggests they check out Lord Downey at the Guild of Assassins. Sen’dai realizes he recognizes Nobby, but from where…
As the group heads into the sketchiest part of town known as The Shades, they feel the shadows moving around them, and a sinister chuckle rise from behind the dumpsters…