Eric
you’ll have trouble fitting in.”
    The parrot tweaked his ear. “It’s coming from behind the statue, you stupid wossname,” it croaked.
    It turned out to be coming from a hole in the floor. A pale face peered shortsightedly up at Rincewind from the depths of a pit. It was an elderly, good-natured face with a faintly worried expression.
    “Hallo?” said Rincewind.
    “You don’t know what it means to hear a friendly voice again,” said the face, breaking into a grin. “If you could just sort of help me up…?”
    “Sorry?” said Rincewind. “You’re a prisoner, are you?”
    “Alas, this is so.”
    “I don’t know that I ought to go around rescuing prisoners just like that,” said Rincewind. “I mean, you might have done anything .”
    “I am entirely innocent of all crimes, I assure you.”
    “Ah, well, so you say,” said Rincewind gravely. “But if the Tezumen have judged—”
    “Wossname, wossname, wossname !” shrieked the parrot in his ear as it bounced up and down on his shoulder. “Haven’t you got the faintest? Where’ve you been? He’s a prisoner! A prisoner in a temple! You’ve got to rescue prisoners in temples! That’s what they’re bloody there for!”
    “No it isn’t,” snapped Rincewind. “That’s all you know! He’s probably here to be sacrificed! Isn’t that right?” He looked at the prisoner for confirmation.
    The face nodded. “Indeed, you are correct. Flayed alive, in fact.”
    “There!” said Rincewind to the parrot. “See? You think you know everything! He’s here to be flayed alive.”
    “Every inch of skin removed to the accompaniment of exquisite pain,” added the prisoner, helpfully.
    Rincewind paused. He thought he knew the meaning of the word “exquisite,” and it didn’t seem to belong anywhere near “pain.”
    “What, every bit?” he said.
    “This is apparently the case.”
    “Gosh. What was it you did?”
    The prisoner sighed. “You’d never believe me…” he said.

    The Demon King let the mirror darken and drummed his fingers on his desk for a moment. Then he picked up a speaking tube and blew into it.
    Eventually a distant voice said: “Yes, guv?”
    “Yes sir !” snapped the King.
    The distant voice muttered something. “Yes, SIR?” it added.
    “Do we have a Quezovercoatl working here?”
    “I’ll see, guv.” The voice faded, came back. “Yes, guv.”
    “Is he a Duke, Earl, Count or Baron?” said the King.
    “No, guv.”
    “Well, what is he?”
    There was a long silence at the other end.
    “Well?” said the King.
    “He’s no one much, guv.”
    The King glared at the tube for some time. You try, he thought. You make proper plans, you try to get organized, you try to help people, and this is what you get.
    “Send him to see me,” he said.

    Outside, the music rose to a crescendo and stopped. The fires crackled. From the distant jungles a thousand glowing eyes watched the proceedings.
    The high priest stood up and made a speech. Eric beamed like a pumpkin. A long line of Tezumen brought baskets of jewels which they scattered before him.
    Then the high priest made a second speech. This one seemed to end on a question.
    “Fine,” said Eric. “Jolly good. Keep it up.” He scratched his ear and ventured, “You can all have a half holiday.”
    The high priest repeated the question again, in a slightly impatient tone of voice.
    “I’m the one, yes,” said Eric, just in case they were unclear. “You’ve got it exactly right.”
    The high priest spoke again. This time there was no slightly about it.

    “Let’s just run through this again, shall we?” said the Demon King. He leaned back in his throne.
    “You happened to find the Tezumen one day and decided, I think I recall your words correctly, that they were ‘a bunch of Stone-Age no-hopers sitting around in a swamp being no trouble to anyone,’ am I right? Whereupon you entered the mind of one of their high priests—I believe at that time they worshipped a

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