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It's one thing to practice a skill or a hobby when you feel like it, but whether it's writing, singing, or play8 Robert Asprin ing baseball, when you've got to do. Asprin, Robert - Myth Adventures pdf. Uploaded by Download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd. Flag for . Fine Myth by Robert Asprin. Huge choice of free ebooks written by Robert Asprin for your Kindle - Book Hits.

If you own the copyright to this book and it is wrongfully on our website, we offer a simple DMCA procedure to remove your content from our site. Start by pressing the button below! AND so, TO recap, the situation is this Second, she's given me a month to think it over before I reach my decision. Got that? There was a time in the not too distant past when I simply would have lapsed into blind panic. If nothing else, my adventures over the years had done wonders for my 2 Robert Asprin confidence in my abilities to handle nearly any crisis.

Now, as I noted earlier, I've always maintained that Gleep was bright, but as I turned, I had a fleeting impression of intelligence in his expression.

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To clarify, there is a difference between "bright" and "intelligent. Then he saw me looking at him and the look disappeared, to be replaced with his more familiar expression of eager friendliness. For some reason, this gave me a turn. Perhaps it was because I found myself remembering reports from the team about their efforts to disrupt the kingdom in my absence. Specifically, I was recalling the claim that Gleep had nearly killed Tananda.

Now, however, as I stared at my pet, I began to wonder if I should have paid closer attention to what they were saying. Then again, maybe it had just been the light playing tricks on me. Gleep certainly looked innocent enough now. I still think we should try to sell that stupid beast off before he eats his way through our bankroll.

For the briefest moment Gleep's eyes narrowed as he glanced at Aahz, and an almost unnoticeable trickle of smoke escaped from one nostril. Then he went back to looking dopey and innocent. I wouldn't want to lose any of you. Now, however, it seemed to me his innocence was exaggerated. Chapter Two: "It's good to see you, too. They seemed to be arguing about something, but broke off their discussion and started looking vigilant as soon as I appeared.

Now, you may think it would be kind of fun to have your own bodyguards. If so, you've never actually had one. What it really means is that you give up any notion that your life is your own.

Privacy becomes a vague memory you have to work at recalling, as "sharing" becomes the norm. You know how many guys got whacked because someone was hiding in the can? Just pretend we ain't here. I had to keep telling myself that this latter point didn't apply to me, that Don Bruce had insisted on assigning me Guido and Nunzio more as status symbols than anything else.

I had hired Pookie on my own, though, after getting jumped during my recent trip to Perv, so I couldn't entirely discount the fact that bodyguards were occasionally necessary and not just an inconvenient decoration. We can talk as we walk. The way I see it now, it seems like the crew you've already got can handle things. He was trudging along, his posture notably more hangdog than usual.

It was clear both that he was infatuated with Pookie, and that he wasn't wild about the idea of her moving on. Actually, I'd prefer it if you stuck around for a while, Pookie," I said. She's been known to be a bit nasty when things don't go her way. You should know your cousin well enough to have faith in his money managing. If it makes you feel any better, though, I hired you, so I figure you're reporting directly to me and not to him.

More specifically, what's your problem with Aahz? He has nothing but the highest praise for you and your work. Her attitude puzzled me, but I knew better than to pursue the subject further. Could we adjust my pay scale? The prices you've been paying are my premium rates for short term work.

For long term employment, I can give you a discount. As I noted before, Aahz had taught me most of what I know about money, and I had picked up some of his reflexes along the way. Realizing she was not only from the same dimension, but the same family as Aahz, I wasn't sure how she'd take the news. With everything else on my mind, I decided to sort it out at a later date.

Tell Nunzio I'd like to have a word with him. Hey, I didn't say that it was a nice thing about living in a palace. Staying, I guess. That's a relief! Talk to him. You get along with him better than anyone. If there's anything wrong with Gleep, I want to find out about it before anyone else gets hurt. This surprised me a little, as the crew usually followed me into my room without missing a step or a syllable of conversation. Then I noticed that the others of our group had also halted short of the door and were watching me with a smile.

I couldn't figure what was going on. I mean, so Bunny was waiting inside. So what? It was just Bunny. Nevertheless I took my cue, nodding at them vaguely as I opened the door.

Actually, it wasn't so much a comment as a noise I made while trying to force some air into my lungs. This proved easier said than done.

Summoning my fast fading strength, I levered my arm sideways, breaking her grip and allowing myself a desperately needed rush of air. So it wasn't particularly affectionate, or even polite. It's just that I've picked up some annoying, selfish habits over the years. UUUUH hah.

The next time I see that little. Really, Bunny. Not much else to do evenings. It's an easier way to stay in shape than dieting.

You know, pumping iron? I made a mental note to start sending our laundry out. It's just that. I mean, it just wasn't that cold here in my room. Especially not huddled together the way we were, "I'm not mad at you, Bunny," I said. Everything went fine on Perv. The only way she could have found out about the trouble I ran into on Perv would be from Tananda. You can see I'm fine.

Maybe someone Behind her my bodyguards stood, and as they caught my eye gave exaggerated shrugs. Apparently royalty was harder to stop than your average assassin Who's Queen exclaimed looking all over for yours loitering this? Bunny, this is Queen Hemlock. Queen Hemlock, on the other hand, was not at all overawed by meeting another commoner. She's lovely! It's nice to know you can find a yummy morsel when you set your mind to it.

I wouldn't dream of interfering in Skeeve's personal life before or after we're married, any more than I'd expect him to interfere in mine. As long as he does the heir thing to keep the rabble happy, it doesn't really matter to me what he does with the rest of his time.

I told him that you'd be giving him a hand straightening out the kingdom's finances, and he's ready to give you whatever information or assistance you need. Somehow, that didn't sound like the J.

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Grimble I knew, but I let it slide for the moment. We'll be along presently. Finally, I cleared my throat. I guess she just assumed I also found myself remembering that while she had never met royalty before, her uncle was none other than Don Bruce, the Mob's Fairy 24 Robert Asprin Godfather, and that she was used to an entirely different brand of power politics. Sure," I said, glad that the crisis had passed I just don't understand what having a haircut has to do with being a royal consort.

A little more paunch around the waist, perhaps, though his slender body could stand the extra weight and then some, and his hairline had definitely progressed from the "receding" to the "receded" category, but aside from that the years had left him virtually unmarked. Upon reflection, I decided it was his eyes that were so distinctive as to render his other features incon- sequential.

They were small and dark, and glittered with the fervent light of a greedy rodent And Aahz! Couldn't stay away, eh? Glad to see you again, too. In all honestly, I had been wondering the same thing myself, but had been at a loss as to how to ask the question diplomatically. Fortunately, my partner's characteristic tactlessness came to my rescue. Why do you ask? As a matter of fact, I don't recall your ever being happy to see either of us before. Though I'll admit we've had our differences in the past, we're going to be working together now.

I never felt at liberty to admit it before, but I've always secretly admired your skills when it came to manipulating monies. It also occurred to me that I didn't like Grimble much. I said she's my administrative assistant. Got it? Let me show you our expanded operation. He had formerly worked alone in a tiny, cramped cubicle filled past capacity with stacks and piles of paper. The paper was still there, but that's about all that remained the same.

Instead of the cubicle, it seemed he was now working out of a spacious, though still windowless, room Instead, however, there were over a dozen individuals crammed into the space, apparently preoccupied with their work, which seemed to entail 28 Robert Asprin nothing more than generating additional stacks of paper, all covered by columns and rows of numbers. They didn't look up as we came in, and Grimble made no effort to halt their work or make introductions, but I noticed that they all had the same fevered glint to their eyes that I had originally assumed to be unique to Grimble.

You see, when a kingdom or company is doing well, no one wants to be bothered with budgets, much less cost savings. As long as there's money in the coffers, they're happy.

On the other hand, when the operation is on the skids, such as is currently the case with Possiltum, then everyone wants answers More analysis means more man-hours, which in turn means a larger staff and expanded facilities. Perhaps we could discuss our overall approach and strategy over lunch? I caught Aahz's eye and raised and eyebrow, which he responded to with a grimace and a shrug.

It was nice to know my partner was as much in the dark as I was regarding Bunny's requests. More for show than anything, I eased over to where I could look over her shoulder. In no time flat, my keen eye could 30 Robert Aspirin tell without a doubt that the pages were filled with rows and columns of numbers. Bunny paused in her examinations to favor him with a dark glance.

You know, like 'We'll make it up on volume' jokes? Right Bunny?

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Apparently her joke, however nonsensical it had been to me, had convinced the Chancellor that she was more than my arm ornament.

I know the tradition is to pretty things up with charts and studies of historic trends, but since we'll be working with insiders only, just this once let's try it with hard, cold data. Even though we usually get cast as the villains of bureaucracy, we don't have any real power to implement change. All we do is make recommendations to those who can change things. If we don't sugarcoat our recommendations, or slant them so they're in line with what the movers and shakers wanted to hear all along, or clutter them up until the Gods themselves can't understand what we're really saying, then there's a risk that we end up being what gets changed.

I think you'll find it's different this time around. If nothing else, Skeeve here has full power to implement whatever changes he thinks are necessary to bring things in line. The Queen's agreed to stop her expansionist policies, so there's no reason we should keep paying for an army this size. Broke, hungry people, particularly those with prior military training, have a nasty tendency to revolt against those in power.

I think you'll agree, therefore, that, in the long run, huge cutbacks in the military force is not the wisest course to follow. Obviously there was more to this beancounting game than I had ever imagined.

I had decided that, if I was going to be any help at all in this effort, it was time I admitted my ignorance and started learning some of the basic vocabulary.

It will still cut the size of the army, but at a slower rate more easily absorbed by the civilian work force. Grimble sighed, seeming to deflate slightly.

Time out! That is, people owe us a lot on back taxes, but it isn't being collected. If we could make some inroads into converting these receivables. Not stellar, mind you, but enough to ease the current crisis.

They fight us every inch of the way in admitting how much they owe, and when it comes to actually paying their tax bill. For a moment, it sounded like old times, with Aahz and Grimble going head to head. Unfortunately, this time, we all had bigger fish to fry. That way they can be helping to raise the cash necessary to cover their own pay. Aahz and I will go discuss it with the Queen. I Chapter Four: "I'm getting paid how much?

In fact, they seemed so much alike that I tended to lose track of which day was which. If this sounds like I was more than a little bored, I was.

After years of adventuring and narrow escapes, I found the day to day routine of regular work to be pretty bland. Of course, the fact that I didn't know what I was doing contributed greatly to my mood. I mean, within my own areas of specialization. I was ready to admit that I was as good or better than anyone. At things like budgets, operating plans, and cash flows, however, I was totally out of my depth. It was more than a little spooky when I realized 37 38 Robert Asprin that, even though I didn't know what I was doing, the recommendations I was making or approving, like converting part of the army into tax collectors, were becoming law nearly as fast as I spoke.

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Still, it had been impressed on me that we had to do something to save the kingdom's finances, so I repeatedly crossed my fingers under the table and went with whatever seemed to be the best idea at the time. Before I get too caught up in complaining about my situation, however, let me pause to give credit where credit is due. As bad as things were, I would have been totally lost without Bunny. Though I didn't plan it that way, my administrative assistant ended up doing double duty.

First, she would spend long hours going over numbers and plans with Grimble in their high speed, abbreviated jargon while I sat there nodding with a vacant look on my face, then an equal or greater amount of time with me later patiently trying to explain what had been decided. As mind numbing as it was, I found it preferable to my alternate pastime, which was trying to figure out what to do about Queen Hemlock's marriage offer.

While it would usually turn out in the long run that I was badly mistaken, it would provide a break from the normal complacency. Of course, I wasn't that wild about being shown to be specifically stupid as well as generally ignorant, but it was a change of pace.

What was that last figure again? It covers salaries and operating expense. Stop the music! How did I end up back on the payroll? This is your budget for your financial consulting. Your magical fees are in a whole separate section. We have to keep the budgets for different kingdom operations on separate records to be able to track their performance accurately. Just like we have to keep the types of expenses within each operation in separate accounts. That figure for your budget is a reasonable projection, based on estimated expenses and current pay scales.

Realizing that, I'd be very cautious to hear the exact basis by which you're saying it's ridiculous. What I mean is that it shouldn't be there at all. All this work is supposed to be saving money for the kingdom.

You know, turning the finances around? For that matter, I don't think I should charge them for my magical services, either, all things considered. If anything, I think he was even more bored by these sessions than I was.

Before this conversation goes any further? Aahz is notorious when it comes to pushing our rates higher, operating under the basic principle that earning less than possible is the same as losing money.

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I mean, talk about money in general, and about our money specifically, would bring Aahz out of a coma. This time, however, I wasn't about to go along with him. I've tried to argue has gotten a death grip on not about to give him that time I know I'm right.

But there's one thing we've never done, Aahz, for all our finagling and scrambling. To the best of my knowledge, we've never gouged money out of someone who couldn't afford it. Have we?

But with Possiltum we're talking about a kingdom that's on the ropes financially. How can we say we're here to help them when at 42 Robert Asprin the same time we're kicking them in the head with inflated fees? I couldn't believe it! I had actually won an argument with Aahz over money!

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to be magnanimous in my victory. Right, Bunny? So much for my victory. I'm surprised you've let this go on for as long as it has.

There are greater principles at stake here than basic greed! It's probably the only time I've seen Aahz agree, even by silence, that there existed any higher principles than greed. Still, Bunny was arguing his side of the fight, so he let it ride. Bunny pursed her lips for a moment, apparently organizing her thoughts. As I understand it, we're supposed to be helping the kingdom get out of it's current financial crisis. What Grimble and I have been doing, aside from recommending emergency expense cuts, is to come up with a reasonable budget and operating plan to get things back on an even keel.

The emphasis here is on 'reasonable. Nobody works for free. The army doesn't, the farmers don't, and there's no reason we should. We're not the problem. We're the imported experts who are supposed to get them out of the hole they dug for themselves. That's part of the job of a bean-counter. Not many professions do that! I know you're used to negotiating deals on what the client will bear, but in a budget like this, the pay scale is almost dictated.

It's set by what others are getting paid. Anything else is so illogical, it would upset the whole system. Let's take it from the top," I said. Just how are these pay scales fixed? First, is if the job is particularly unpleasant or dangerous. Second are the jobs where a particular skill or talent is called for. Entertainers and athletes fall into this category, but so do the jobs that require a high degree of training, like doctors. The president of the same corporation may only make three or four decisions a year, but those decisions may be to open or close six plants or to begin or discontinue an entire line of products.

If that person makes a mistake, it could put hundreds or thousands of people out of work. Responsibility of that level is frightening and wearing, and the person willing to hold the bag deserves a higher degree of compensation.

With me so far? Popular entertainers earn more than relative unknowns who are still building a following.

Supervisors and managers get more than those reporting to them, since they have to have both the necessary skills of the job plus the responsibility of organizing and overseeing others. This is the natural order of a job force, and it provides incentive for new workers to stick with a job and to try to move up in the order.

I thought I had been following her fine, step by step. Somewhere along the way, however, I seemed to have missed something. The work is dangerous and unpleasant, it definitely requires special skills from you and your staff, and, since you're setting policy for an entire kingdom, the responsibility level is right up there with the best of them! She wasn't done, however. Remember, Grimble's reporting to you now, which makes your pay scale higher than his.

What's more, you've been a hot magical property for some time now.

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Your Queen Hemlock has gotten the kingdom in a major mess, and if she's going to hire the best to bail her out, she's bloody well going to pay for it. But I'm not working magikally right now," I shot back.

Are you trying to tell me that if some trouble arose that required a magikal solution, that you'd just stand by and ignore it? They're paying you a hefty percentage just to be on standby. If anything, you're giving Possiltum a break on what you're charging them. Make no mistake, though, you are doing the job. I'm just making sure they pay you for it.

If they want a financial consultant and a court magician, then it's only fair that it shows in their budget and is part of the burden they have to raise money to pay. It occurred to me, however, that if this conversation lasted much longer, she'd have me believing that black was white. It's M. The fees have to cover the expense of your entire operation, including overhead and staff.

It's not like you're taking the whole amount and putting it in your pocket. What Bunny had just said had given me an idea. If nothing else, I had learned in these sessions that there was a big difference between a budget or operating plan and the actual money spent. Just I 48 Robert Asprin because I was allowed to spend an astronomic figure didn't mean I was compelled to do it! I quietly resolved to bring my sections in well under budget.

I loved them all dearly, but as Bunny had just pointed out, part of my own job was to be highly responsible.

Chapter Five: "What you need is a collection agency. Retreating to the relative privacy of my room, I took time to reflect on it over a goblet of wine. Usually, I assigned people to work on various assignments for M. That, and who was available. As Bunny had pointed out, our prices were usually set on a basis of what the traffic would bear. I suppose I should have given more thought in the past to whether or not the income from a particular job covered the expense of the people involved, or if the work warranted the price, but operating the way we had been seemed to generate enough money to make ends meet.

These were almost personal missions, undertaken on my own motivations or suggestions, without an actual client or revenue. Now, however, I was confronted by an entirely new situation. Everyone in the crew was hanging around the castle. The question was, did they have to be here?

I had a hunch that they were mostly staying here because they were worried about me. They all knew I was in a spot, and wanted to be close at hand if I needed help.

While I appreciated their concern, and definitely wanted the moral support, I also had to admit that there wasn't whole bunches they could do. Bunny was invaluable in turning the kingdom's finances around, but aside from holding my hand though this crisis, there was relatively little the others could do. The trouble was, by simple arithmetic, while they were here on Possiltum, they weren't out working other assignments, making money for M.

On top of the work time they missed while stopping Hemlock's army as a favor to me. What's more, both as president and the one who had led us off on this side trip, I had to seize the initiative in setting things right again.

That meant that I either had to trim the force, or go along with Bunny's plan of charging the kingdom for all our time. The question was, who to trim? Aahz had to stay. Not only had I just gone through a lot of trouble to get him back from Perv, but I genuinely valued his advice and guidance. While I had gotten into immeasurably more trouble since we first met, I had also become very aware that he was unequaled at getting us out of trouble as well. Bunny was a must. Even though it had been Tananda's idea originally to deal her in on this mess, I was very aware that without her expertise and knowledge, we didn't have a chance at bailing out the kingdom financially.

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