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Robert Asprin - Myth 03 - Myth Directions

Robert Asprin - Myth 03 - Myth Directions

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Published by: aleosvi on Oct 21, 2012
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Myth 3
MYTH DIRECTIONSby ROBERT L. ASPRIN
 
Chapter One
"Dragons and Demons and Kings, Oh my!" ---THE COWARDLY KLAHD
"THIS place stinks!" my scaly mentor snarled, glaring out the window at the rain."Yes, Aahz," I agreed meekly."What's that supposed to mean?" he snapped, turning his demon's speckled gold eyes on me."It means," I gulped, "that I agree with you. The Kingdom of Possiltum, and the palacespecifically, stink to high heaven-both figuratively and literally.""Ingratitude!" Aahz made his appeal to the ceiling. "I lose my powers to a stupid practical joker, and instead of concentrating on getting them back, I take on some twit of an apprenticewho doesn't have any aspirations higher than being a thief, train him, groom him, and get hima job paying more than he could spend in two lifetimes, and what happens? He complains! Isuppose you think you could have done better on your own?"It occurred to me that Aahz's guidance had also gotten me hung, embroiled in a magik duelwith a master magician, and recently, placed in the unenviable position of trying to stop theworld's largest army with a handful of down-at-the -heels demons. It also occurred to me thatthis was not the most tactful time to point out these minor nerve-jangling incidents."I'm sorry, Aahz," I grovelled. "Possiltum is a pretty nice kingdom to work for.""It stinks!" he declared, turning to the window again.I stifled a sigh. A magician's lot is not a happy one. I stole that saying from a tune Aahz singsoff and on . . . key. More and more, I was realizing the truth of the jingle. As the courtmagician to my king I had already endured a great deal more than I had ever bargained for.Actually the king of Possiltum isn't my king. I'm his royal magician, an employee at best.Aahz isn't my demon, either. I'm his apprentice, trying desperately to learn enough magik towarrant my aforementioned lofty title.Gleep is definitely my dragon, though. Just ask Aahz. Better still, ask anyone in the court of Possiltum. Anytime my pet wreaks havoc with his playful romping, I get the blame and J.R.Grimble, the king's chancellor, deducts the damages from my wages.Naturally, this gets Aahz upset. In addition to managing my magik career, Aahz also overseesour finances. Well, that's something of an understatement. He shamelessly bleeds thekingdom for every monetary consideration he can get for us (which is considerable) andwatches over our expenses. When it comes to spending our ill-gotten wealth, Aahz wouldrather part with my blood. As you might guess, we argue a lot over this.Gleep is understanding though; which is part of the reason I keep him around. He's quiteintelligent and understanding for a baby dragon with a one word vocabulary. I spend aconsiderable amount of time telling him my troubles, and he always listens attentively withoutinterrupting or arguing or shouting about how stupid I am. This makes him better companythan Aahz.It says something about one's lifestyle when the only one you can get sympathy from is adragon.Unfortunately, on this particular day I was cut off from my pet's company. It was raining, andwhen it rains in Possiltum, it doesn't kid around. Gleep is to big to live indoors with us, andthe rain made the courtyard impassable, so I couldn't reach the stables where he wasquartered. What was more, I couldn't risk roaming the halls of the castle for fear of runninginto the king. If that happened, he would doubtless ask when I was going to do something
 
about the miserable weather. Weather control was not one of my current skills, and I wasunder strict orders from Aahz to avoid the subject at all costs. As such, I was stuck waitingout the rain in my own quarters. That in itself wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't for the fact that Ishared those quarters with Aahz.Rain made Aahz grouchy, or I should say grouchier than usual. I'd rather be locked in a smallcage with an angry spider-bear than be alone in a room with Aahz when he's in a bad mood."There must be something to do," Aahz grumbled, begging to pace the floor. "I haven't beenthis bored since the Two Hundred Year Siege.""You could teach me about dimension travel," I suggested hopefully.This was one area of magik Aahz had steadfastly refused to teach me. As I mentioned earlier,Aahz is a demon, short for "dimension traveler." Most of my close friends these days weredemons, and I was eager to add dimension traveling to my meager list of skills."Don't make me laugh, kid." Aahz laughed harshly. "At the rate you're learning, it would takemore than two hundred years to teach it to you.""Oh," I said, crestfallen. "Well-you could tell me about the Two Hundred Year Siege.""The Two Hundred Year Siege," Aahz murmured dreamily, smiling slightly to himself. Largegroups of armed men have been known to turn pale and tremble visibly before Aahz's smile."There isn't much to tell," he began, leaning against a table and hefting a large pitcher of wine. "It was me and another magician, Diz-Ne. He was a snotty little upstart. . . you remindme a bit of him.""What happened?" I urged, anxious to get the conversation away from me."Well, once he figured out he couldn't beat me flat out, he went defensive," Aahz reminisced."He was a real nothing magikally, but he knew his defense spells. Kept me off his back for afull two hundred years, even though we drained most of the magik energies of that dimensionin the process.""Who won?" I pressed eagerly.Aahz cocked an eyebrow at me over the lip of the wine pitcher."I'm telling the story, kid," he pointed out. "You figure it out."I did, and swallowed hard."Did you kill him?""Nothing that pleasant," Aahz smiled. "What I did to him once I got through his defenses willlast a lot longer than two hundred years-but I guarantee you, he won't get bored.""Why were you fighting?" I asked in a desperate effort to forestall the images my mind wasmanufacturing."He welshed on a bet," my mentor shrugged, hefting the wine again."That's all?""That's enough," Aahz insisted grimly. "Betting's a serious matter-in any dimension.""Urn-Aahz?" I frowned. "Weren't Big Julie and his men running from gambling debts whenwe met them?"That's the army I mentioned earlier. Big Julie and his men were currently disguised as happycitizens of Possiltum."That's right, kid," Aahz nodded."Then that's why you said the loan sharks would probably come looking for them," I declaredtriumphantly."Wrong," Aahz said firmly."Wrong?" I blinked."I didn't say they'd probably come looking," he corrected. "I said they would come looking.Bank on it. There are only two questions involved here: When are they coming, and what areyou going to do about it?"

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