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Robert Lynn Asprin mostly preferred to write novels, short ones on occasion, but novels. These let him have more fun with his unique characters and writing with Bob was fun. In his career of almost three decades he produced just enough short stories to fill this one collection. That is in one way very surprising since he and Lynn Abbey basically changed the nature of short story anthologies forever by creating and editing the first shared world anthology, Thieves World. 

We have collected here all he wrote, excepting a few of his Thieves World stories. We will leave it to you to go get all of the excellent TW anthologies if you missed them. Among those here are a few unpublished stories we literally found in boxes after we lost Bob. As an added treat we have included here a few other treats that you may find fascinating. 

The book begins with a copy of the proposal that Bob used to sell to Starblaze Publishing the Myth-Adventures book series. This is followed by several stories he wrote in that pun-filled universe and two Bob cowrote with his longtime friend and collaborator, Jody Lynn Nye. Next you will find an unpublished story, stories from other anthologies Bob wrote for, then the script from the fandom-notorious slide show The Capture, generously illustrated with four new cartoons from his longtime collaborator Phil Foglio, and then another fun script, The Ultimate Weapon. 

“The Saga of the Dark Horde” will give you insight into Bob as one of the founders of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s most infamous groups. If you can be any type from the Middle Ages, why be a knight, when you can be a Mongol? As Yang the Nauseating, Bob was the Dark Horde’s Great Kahn for many Tullamore Dew–filled years. It is hard to forget his smile as he lead a swarm of highly armed members of the “loyal opposition” into a room full of elegantly garbed recreationists and bowed elegantly to the kings and queens of the SCA. He then loudly pronounced his infamous greeting of “With All Due Disrespect Your Majesties.” 

The book almost ends with Bob’s first serious novella, written while he was being mentored by the great Gordon Dickson, Cold Cash War. This dark story featuring world corporations gone bad still rings amazingly true thirty-five years later. This is the novella as it originally appeared in the August 1977 Analog magazine. It was later expanded into a book, as was the formerly unpublished Tambu piece. The final stories are very Bob Asprin, being a romp full of space fleets and some serious double-dealing. As the amazingly eclectic table of contents shows, like Robert Lynn Asprin was himself, his stories are always fun, but never predictable.

Bill Fawcett 2009



An outrageously tongue-in-cheek series tracing the haps and mis-haps of a young sorcerer named Skeeve and his brusque demon-mentor, Aahz (no relation). In the course of their travels, they lampoon every done-to-death plot of action-adventure-fantasy literature and cinema.

Book 1: Another Fine Myth — Our heroes meet for the first time and pool their meager talents to stop a mad master magician who is out to rule the dimensions.

Book 2: Myth Conceptions — A battalion couldn’t take that position, but a few, hand-picked, well-trained men…At Aahz’s insistence, Skeeve accepts a position as Court Magician at the down-at-the-heels kingdom of Posseltum. Too late, they discover that the job includes defending the kingdom—specifically against the oncoming might of a massive Roman legion-type army. At a McDonald’s in another dimension, the pair recruit a force of their own, consisting of a Trollup assassin, an Imp who has lost his powers, an aging Archer, a Gargoyle with his salamander sidekick, and a Gremlin. Of course, nobody warned them that the opposing army is funded by an organized crime syndicate.

Book 3: Myth Direction — A blend of the Master Heist, the Great Escape, and the Big Game. A shopping trip through the dimensions in search of a birthday present for Aahz goes awry, forcing our heroes to organize a team to compete in a three-way game which is best described as rugby played for keeps.

Book 4: Hit or Myth — A medieval War Against the Mafia. Remember the organized crime syndicate from Book 2? Well, they’re looking for Skeeve with a vengeance, and this time he has to handle it on his own—Aahz is back visiting his home on Perv and completely incommunicado.


Troubles in Perv require that Aahz return to his home dimension, separating him from Skeeve for the first time since their initial meeting.

It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

The organized crime loan sharks arrive in Posseltum looking for a) their pet army, which has mysteriously disappeared, and b) the magician named Skeeve who was responsible for the disappearance—but not necessarily in that order.

Torn between his duty to protect king and kingdom and his more rational desire to hide until Aahz gets back, Skeeve settles on a compromise. He sends the king into hiding and masks his own identity behind royal robes to deal with the intruders. His charade is jeopardized, and eventually ruined, by the early arrival of the real king’s brid-to-be.

His ruse discovered, Skeeve must solve the problems himself without the assistance or guidance of his mentor. In desperation, he strikes a bargain with the mob: an army for a world. To protect his friends in the mob’s now-disbanded army, Skeeve trades their freedom for passage into another dimension—one ripe for the mob’s brand of gentle plunder. Everybody’s happy.

Then Aahz comes back.

Fast on his heels arrives a delegation from another dimension (guess which one) seeking the aid of the renown magician Skeeve to save them from a criminal invasion. Of course, they offer a sizable fee for this service. Of course, Aahz accepts the commission. Of course, this puts Skeeve back in trouble up to his ears.

All he has to do is successfully move against the gangsters without a) endangering the friends he was protecting originally, b) breaking his promise to the gangsters, or c) letting his new employers know that he was the source of their newfound problem. That’s all.

Under the best of circumstances, the assignment would be nearly impossible. Unfortunately, Skeeve is not working under the best of circumstances—Aahz has decided that his apprentice needs a helping hand.


Robert Lynn Asprin

“I’m sorry, Pookie. I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m slow.”

“Don’t apologize, dear.” her companion said. “It doesn’t go with being a lady. And as far as being slow…well, little sister, trust me. You needn’t have an worries on that score.”

Even a casual observer would realize in an instant that the two women weren’t really sisters. One was a human female, a Klahd, actually, with a short unruly head of hair framing her fierce expression. The female on the opposite side of the table had obviously emerged from an entirely different gene pool. Instead of pink skin, she was covered with the green scales, offset by pointed ears and yellow eyes, that marked her to any experienced dimension traveler as a Pervert…or Pervect if they knew what was good for them. Still, they both had that lithe, athletic, graceful look that put one in mind of a pair of lionesses discussing a kill. Different genotypes or not, it was clear they had more in common with each other than with many of their own species.

If their builds and manner weren’t enough of a giveaway, their outfits completed the picture. The Pervect, Pookie, was wearing one of her favorite action leather jumpsuits with multiple zippers which both insured a skin tight fit and held the tools of her trade. The Klahd, Spyder, was still working on her look, but today had settled for calf-high boots with fishnet stockings, a dark plaid mini-skirt, and a sleeveless black leather halter top which left considerable portions of her mid-drift bare. All in all, she looked like a parochial schoolgirl gone Goth gone biker slut. What united their outfits were the accessories, which was to say the weapons. Throwing stars and knife hilts jutted from their sleeves and belts, along with various mysterious instruments a viewer hoped they would never see close enough to examine carefully.

The fact that this mismatched duo and their weaponry went practically unnoticed was an indication of the normal atmosphere and clientele of the tavern they were ensconced in.

“If I’m not slow, then why is it taking me so long to figure out this whole adventurer thing?” Spyder countered.

“Well, not to make too big a thing of it,” Pookie said, “for one thing you’re still young. I’ve been at this game for a couple centuries…we’ll not dwell on exactly how many…and you’ve only been at it for a few months. It takes a while to get the hang of anything new. Just be patient and listen to your big sister.”

“I guess it’s just not what I was expecting is all.” Spyder said, almost to herself.

“Really?” her green companion said. “Maybe we’ve been going at this backwards. This time, why don’t you explain to me what it was you thought adventuring involved.”

“I don’t know. I was thinking we’d be doing bodyguard work or something.”

Pookie heaved a sigh.

“We’ve gone over this before, little sister. First of all, we don’t have the manpower to do real bodyguard work. To do the job right, it takes at least a six person team to guard someone around the clock. You keep forgetting that we’d have to sleep sometime.”

“But Guido and Nunzio guard Skeeve as a two man team.” Spyder insisted stubbornly.

“From what I understand, They were assigned to Skeeve by Don Bruce primarily as an honor guard.” Pookie said. “Besides, there are a lot more people on the team watching over Skeeve than just Guido and Nunzio.”


“…And even if we were to hire on as a token show force, believe me, you wouldn’t like it.” Pookie continued. “Remember, we’re female, and like it or not that influences the people who hire us. Believe me, the kind of swell headed, self-centered celebrity types who hire female body guards are primarily looking for arm candy. The pay might look good, but they’re not really people you want to hang around for any length of time. Usually, by the end of the job, you’re ready to kill them yourself.”

“So what is it exactly that adventurers do?” Spyder said.

Her green companion took a long swallow from he flagon.

“If you scrape away the bardic lyrics and all the escapist literature romantics, what it all boils down to is that basically adventurers are either thieves or killers…or both.”

Spyder leaned back and blinked.

“How’s that again?”

“Look at it close.” Pookie shrugged. “If you’re going after a treasure or artifact, it means you’re taking it away from someone who think’s it’s theirs…even if they stole it themselves originally. That’s stealing. Even if you’re unearthing or re-discovering a long lost item, by law it belongs to whoever’s property it is that you’re on at the time. If you don’t hand it over and maybe settle for a reward, if you try to smuggle it out without admitting you’ve found anything, that’s still stealing.”

“On the other hand, there’s the ‘slay the monster/bandit who is terrorizing the neighborhood,’ or the traditional ‘rescue the princess/damsel for the evil whoever.’ Both of those bluntly involve killing.”

“Um…Pookie?” Spyder said slowly. “If those are really the choices, I think I’d rather do thieving assignments if we can manage it. I mean, I try to be tough and put on a good front, but I really don’t think of myself as a killer.”

“If you say so.” Pookie shrugged. “I’ll keep it in mind. Personally, I lean toward the killing side, myself. There’s usually less risk involved.”

“Now, I’m not saying you’re wrong,” Spyder said, “but Skeeve and his M.Y.T.H. Inc. crew don’t seem to fit with what you’re saying.”

“Don’t forget that crew is pretty much top of the heap right now.” Pookie said. “As near as I can tell, it’s taken them over ten years to work their way up into the position they’re in, where people come to them with work. I’ll bet you, though, if you look closely at some of their early work, it involved things that wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny. For example I know for a fact that Tananda was primarily an assassin before she hooked up with Skeeve. And as for Aahz…I probably shouldn’t speak ill of my own cousin, but he’s always been one of the family’s black sheep. If anything, I was surprised to find out he was involved in something that was even vaguely legitimate.”

“I guess you’re right.” Spyder sighed. “Even Skeeve had to start somewhere. Of course, he had a Pervect for a trainer.”

“Don’t forget, little sister.” Pookie winked, “so do you. I’m not one to brag, but if I can’t teach you as well or better than Aahz taught Skeeve, I’ll hang it up. If nothing else, I think I’ve got better material to work with from the get go.”

“Thanks, Pookie.” Spyder smiled. “That means a lot to me.”

“Don’t mention it.” Pookie said, holding up her flagon for her companion to clink with. “If nothing else, it beats the military gig you jus got clear of.”

“No question there.” Spyder nodded.

She took a long pull of her own drink, then set it on the table with a decisive thump.

“So, how do we go about looking for work?”

Pookie cocked her head in surprise.

“Why, exactly what we’re doing now. What did you think we were doing?”

“The same thing we’ve been doing for the last month.” Spyder shrugged. “Sitting around a tavern and drinking. Frankly I’ve been wondering when we were going to get started adventuring.”

Pookie held her hand over her eyes for a few long moments before responding.

“Look, dear,” she said finally, “remember what I was saying about us being pretty much criminals? Well, the old adage that ‘Crime does not pay’ is actually a shortened form of ‘Crime does not pay well.’ Well, in our line of work, that means that either you do a lot of little jobs…which ups the odds of something going wrong…or few big jobs and live on the proceeds between.”

“So what does that have to do with us sitting around a tavern?” Spyder frowned.

“I’m coming to that. Now there’s primarily two ways of finding work. Either we roam around and try to pick up a rumor or situation that takes our fancy, or we sit in one place and let the information come to us. Taverns in general are gold mines of information, and one’s like this that caters to dimension travelers of all types are prime places to hear about a specific caper.”

She glanced toward the door.

“Speaking of which, here comes a likely prospect now. Let me take the lead here. Little sister.”

Spyder turned to follow Pookie’s gaze.

Just inside the door, steadying himself on the back of a chair, was a warrior. His chain mail, helmet, and sword marked him as such, even though the body that was wearing it was rotund and hairy, topped with a head that sported a pig snout and tusks. Also noticeable was the fact that his left arm was in a sling and he moved with a noticeable limp.

“Care to join us, friend?” Pookie said, raising her voice. “You look like you could use a drink and some sympathetic company.”

The newcomer studied them for a moment, then shrugged and lurched his way over to their table.

“Thank’s for the invite.” he said, dropping heavily into a seat. “It’s more than I expected. Whoever said ‘No one likes a loser’ sure knew what they were talking about.”

“First thing’s first.” Pookie said and waved the barmaid over.

After another round had been ordered and delivered, including a large flagon of ale for the guest, the three settled into conversation.

“Thanks again.” the warrior said, taking a long draught from his flagon. “Truth to tell, I was trying to decide between having a drink or getting a room. The war chest is about tapped out after paying the healers. By the way, the name’s Trog.”

“Pookie and Spyder here.” Pookie said, indicating who was who with a wave of her hand. “Looks like you’re coming off a rough job.”

“Darn near got my head handed to me.” Trog said, taking another drink. “Sounded easy going in, but they all do until you’re up against it.”

“What was the job, anyway?” Pookie said. “You look to me like someone who could handle most anything and anybody.”

“It was one of those ‘Kill or scare off the beast that’s terrorizing the countryside’ deals.” Trog explained. “This time around, it was a Hefalump. Never tangled with one before, but like you say, I can handle most things without much problem.”

“Don’t tell me, let me guess.” Pookie said. “No money up front. Just a reward if you’re successful. Right?”

“Got it in one.” The warrior confirmed. “That’s where the ‘It always looks easy going in’ part caught up with me.”

“Where was this anyway? Around here or another dimension?”

Trog leaned back in his seat and studied them with narrowed eyes.

“Not to sound ungrateful,” he said carefully, “but you’re asking a lot of questions. More than one might expect from casual curiosity. What’s you’re interest in all this?”

“It’s no big secret.” Pookie shrugged. “We’re in the same line of work as you and looking for a job. Since it sounds like your last find is still open and from the looks of things you won’t be up to trying it again for a while, we might just look into it ourselves if the pay’s right.”

Trog set his flagon down with a loud think.

“And what makes you think two females could pull it off when I couldn’t?” he demanded.

“For one thing, as you pointed out, there are two of us.” Pookie smiled. “And don’t down check us because we’re female. We’ve been around for a while and are still here. A lot who went up against us aren’t.”

Trog started to say something, the stopped and cocked his head.

“Wait a minute.” he said. “A Klahd and a Pervect working together? Are you two Aahz and Skeeve?”

Spyder choked on her drink.

“Right linage, wrong gender.” Pookie said. “Like I said, we’re Spyder and Pookie. We know Aahz and Skeeve, though.”

“You do?” Trog said, visibly impressed.

“Yeah. We worked with them on our last job.” Spyder put in, wiping her chin.

“Let me handle this, little sister.” Pookie said with a warning glance. “Since you seem to have heard of them, Trog, you should know that if we can hold our own free-lancing with the M.Y.T.H. Inc. crew, we might stand a chance with your Hefalump.”

“Got to agree with you there.” Trog said. “That gang has be tough rep.”

“So where is the job you were talking about?”

“It’s on a backwater dimension. Rinky-dink.”

“That bad, huh?”

“No. That’s the name of the dimension. Rinky-dink. I’ll give you directions if you’ll spot me another round.”

*   *   *

“Really, Spyder, dear,” Pookie said, “You have to be more careful about what you say and who you say it to.”

“But I didn’t say anything!” Spyder protested. “I did what you told me. I kept my mouth shut and let you take the lead.”

“…Except when you mentioned that we had done out last job with Aahz and Skeeve.” her companion pointed out.

“What’s wrong with that?” Spyder said. “He seemed really impressed. Besides, you were the one who mentioned that we knew them.”

“That we knew them. Not that we had just worked with them.” Pookie pointed out. “Think about it. The reason he was impressed is that Skeeve’s crew has a rep for drawing the high end, high pay jobs.”


“…So if we just worked with them, then it’s not too big of a logic step to figure that we’ve got more than a bit of money on us. Not exactly the wisest thing to mention in front of an adventurer who just botched a job and is admittedly short of cash.”

Spyder stopped short.

“You mean he might have tried to take it away from us?”

“There’s always that chance.” Pookie said with a shrug. “I believe I mentioned that most adventurers are some form of thief. Not to worry, though. I kept an eye behind us when we left the tavern. He doesn’t seem to be following us.”

Spyder threw a quick glance behind them. Obviously, the possibility of them being followed hadn’t occurred to her until just now. Pookie pretended not to notice.

“Well…we probably could have taken him if he tried anything.” she said with firm confidence.

“Probably.” Pookie agreed. “Still, there’s no need to stir up trouble unnecessarily. Remember we’re professionals, dear. We’re not supposed to fight for free. Ah! This should be the place just ahead.”

Spyder hung back, slowing her pace.

“Explain to me again, Pookie. Why is it we’re going to talk to the sheriff?”

“Since we’re pretty much legit this time around, it doesn’t hurt to check in with the local law.” her partner said.

“Never did like talking to the law.” Spyder scowled. “It doesn’t ever seem to work out to my advantage. In fact, I usually end up in trouble.”

“That might be because you were usually in trouble before you talked to them.” Pookie said, sweetly. “Look at it this way, little sister. From what we’ve heard this job is going to involve us working the countryside. That’s never been my favorite setting, since it’s invariably full of things that go squish when you step on them and bite you when you’re trying to sleep. If at all possible, I’d like to know what or who else will be out there with us. All we need is a bunch of trigger happy bounty hunters that let fly at anything that moves. The sheriff here should be able to tell us should be able to supply us with that information if we ask him nice. So smile pretty and let me take the lead again.”

The office they entered was small and cluttered, with empty wineskins and half-eaten plates of food scattered here and there. It was dominated, though, by the sheriff.

He was stocky with a noticeable bulge around his waist line, and outfitted in a wrinkled ranger uniform that looked like he slept in it. That suspicion was easily confirmed, by the fact that he was currently sitting behind his desk with his head down on his arms, snoring nasally.

Spyder looked at Pookie with her eyebrows raised. Her partner responded with a shrug and a roll of her eyes before clearing her throat.

“Um…Excuse me. Sheriff? Are you the sheriff?”

The man lurched upright, blinking dazedly. He did a slight double-take when he realized the nature of his company and wiped a grubby hand over his face and beard, forcing a smile.

“Sorry.” he mumbled. “Long night and a slow day. So…What can I do to help you…ladies?”

“We’ve heard that you’ve been having some problems with a Hefalump.” Pookie said. “Thought we might give a shot at going after it…if the price is right.”

“You have to take that up with the Duc.” the sheriff yawned. “He’s the one putting up the reward. I can tell you the money’s good, though. Enough to draw a small troop of sell-swords trying to collect it.”

“The Duc?”

“He’s the one who runs the territory around here. Actually, his name is Duke Rybred, but most folks call him the Duc on account of the way he’s built. He pretty much stays on his estate just north of the town and leaves the tax collecting and keeping of order to me and my deputies.”

“If you don’t mind my asking,” Pookie said carefully, “why isn’t he having you and your deputies take care of this Hefalump instead of advertising for outside help?”

“What me? Go traipsing around the woods chasing some huge critter that’s only bothering the farmers?” the sheriff seemed actually surprised at the thought. “That wasn’t what we were hired for. I’m more than happy to leave it to the young bloods who are out to make a name for themselves.”

“Anyone out there ahead of us right now?”

“Naw.” the sheriff said, scratching his beard. “Last one came back and left a couple days ago. There were a fair number parading through here for a while, but it’s kind of petered out lately. Guess the word has gotten out that the Hefalump is tougher than anyone thought and doesn’t take kindly to anyone trying to shoo it away.”

Pookie looked at Spyder who shrugged in return.

“Well, I guess we’ll go talk to the Duc…Duke now.” the Pervect said. “Any tips you can give us on handling the Hefalump?”

The sheriff thought for a moment.

“Take extra bandages.” he said finally. “And be sure your insurance is paid up.”

*   *   *

If the sheriff was unimpressive, the Duke of Rybred was positively underwhelming.

Whereas the sheriff had been stocky with a bit of a pot belly, the Duc was short and pudgy. He also walked with a rolling waddle that made him look…well, like a duck. Though he dressed well, he had a habit of rubbing his hands together and licking his lips like a miser with an unexpected tax refund. It left one with a feeling one should count one’s fingers after shaking hands…if one cared to shake hands at all.

“Well, well, well.” he said, licking his lips and rubbing his hands together. “If nothing else, you two are the most attractive adventurers to try our little quest. Tell you what. Instead of going after the Hefalump and maybe getting your sweet selves dinged up or killed, what would you say to hiring on as my personal bodyguards? It would only be for public appearances…though I’m sure we would work out some kind of a bonus program for overtime.”

“I think we’ll take our chances with the Hefalump.” Pookie said. “That was for five hundred in gold. Right?”

“That’s right.” the Duc said, apparently unaffected by the rejection. “Five hundred once the beast is killed or scared off. Now you two girls be careful when you go after it.”

“You have no idea how careful we can be.” Pookie smiled. “For example, how do we know we’ll get out money after we’ve killed the critter?”

The Duc’s smile wavered a little.

“Why because I’ve told you I’ll pay you. Surely you don’t doubt my word?”

“Not yours specifically.” Pookie said. “Still, it isn’t entirely unheard of that an adventurer has taken on some dangerous assignment only to find that when it was over, whoever hired him had a sudden memory lapse as to the exact amount promised. Some have even forgotten that payment was promised at all. On the off chance that something like that happened to us, we don’t have much recourse. I mean, what can we do? Sue you? As I understand it you’re the one who sits in judgement around here. We couldn’t forcibly take it from you without having to face your household guards who, of course, would be on the alert at that time. Even if we got mad and just killed you, that still wouldn’t get us our money. See what I mean?”

“Yes. I can see where that would be a problem.” the Duc said, avoiding their eyes.

“Now, we don’t mind risking our necks for money.” Pookie said. “That’s our business. It’s just that we’d like some kind of assurance that we’ll actually get our money at the end of it.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Put it in escrow.” Pookie said with a shrug. “Send the money to…say, the sheriff to hold until the job’s over. We check with him, make sure the money’s there and waiting for us, then we go after your Hefalump.”

“That’s fine by me.” the Duc said, licking his lips. “I’ll be glad when this situation is handled, believe me. As far as I’m concerned, the beast could go on doing it’s thing. It didn’t bother anybody until they expanded their fields into his territory. If the farmers hadn’t threatened to withhold their taxes until I did something about it, I would have just ignored the whole thing.”

“Part of the price of ruling, I guess.” Pookie said. “So, if we’re in agreement, we’ll drop by the sheriff’s…say, tomorrow to check on the reward. Then we’ll be on our way.”

*   *   *

“…496…497…498…499…500! It’s all here.”

Pookie waved at her junior partner as she poured yet another flagon of wine for the sheriff.

“I gotta hand it to you two.” the sheriff said, raising the flagon in a mock toast. “I always thought the Duc was clever, but you’ve got him beat. ‘Put the money in escrow.’ I tell you with all the sell-swords and adventurers that have come through here, no one else has come up with that move.”

“We’ve just had a little more experience with money grubbers than most.” Pookie smiled, sipping at her own drink.

“Umm…cam I ask a question?” Spyder said.

“You not only can, you may.” her companion said.


“Never mind.” Pookie waved. “What’s the question?”

“Well, you keep talking about how clever the Duc is.” Spyder frowned. “I wasn’t all that impressed with him.”

“Bit of a scum bag, isn’t he.” Pookie said with a grimace. “Do you see what I mean about the offers female bodyguards get?”

“So what makes him so clever?”

“You have to learn to listen closer, dear.” Pookie said. “The Duc had no intention of paying us…or anyone else regardless of the failure or success.”

“He didn’t?”

“Add up the pieces.” Pookie said, counting off the points on her fingers. “First, the farmers try to expand their holdings and run into a local critter, the Hefalump, that takes offense at their trespassing. Second, by his own admission, the Duc would have ignored it, but the farmers threatened to withhold their tax monies unless he did something. His response was to offer a reward to anyone who would kill or scare off the beast.”

Spyder frowned thoughtfully, then shook her head.

“So what’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing’s wrong with it.” Pookie said. “It’s actually very clever. He had to do something, so what he did was make an offer. A move that cost him no money or effort. Simply by making the offer, he kept the farmers paying taxes.”

“…And if anyone were actually successful going up against the Hefalump, he could renege on the payment and it still cost him nothing.” Spyder finished. “That is kind of clever. But we outfoxed him with this escrow thing. Huh.”

“Not really.” Pookie shrugged. “Remember the sheriff here answers to the Duc. That why the Duc agreed to readily. Tell me, sheriff, were your instructions to send the money back as soon as we went after the Hefalump, or were you supposed to wait until tomorrow?”

Silence answered her.

“Hey! He’s asleep!” Spyder said.

“Yes.” Pookie said without looking. “And with what I put in his drink, he should be out until well after midnight.”

She rose to her feet and stretched.

“So, little sister, gather up that lovely gold and we’ll be on our way.”

“What?” Spyder exclaimed. “You mean we’re just going to take the gold without going after the Hefalump at all? But that’s…”

“…Stealing.” Pookie said. “If you want to pretty it up, the Duc was ready to swindle adventurers by taking advantage of their short sightedness. We’re just returning the favor. Remember I told you that adventurers are thieves or killers…and you specifically said that, if possible, you’d rather be a thief?”

She paused and considered the sleeping sheriff.

“Of course, if you’ve changed your mind, we could slit his throat on the way out.”

“But won’t they come after us?”

“And admit that they’ve been flim-flamed? By a couple females?” Pookie smiled. “I doubt it. Even if they do, they don’t even have our names when it comes to tracking us down. Looking for a Klahd and a Pervect, they’d be lucky if they didn’t run smack into Aahz and Skeeve.”

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