ROBERT ASPRIN & JODY LYNN NYE
To the memory of Brian Thomsen, Editor, friend, fan, scholar. We will miss your sense of humor and your generous spirit.
"Immortality is a once in a lifetime deal!"
I sat back in my chair with my feet propped up on Aahz's desk. My baby dragon, Gleep, lay curled underneath the bridge of my legs. Whenever Samwise, a pink-faced Imp with blunt little horns on his bald head, in a hideous checked black-and-yellow suit too wide across the shoulders for anyone but a Troll, made one of his frequent exclamations, Gleep would raise his green head sleepily, checking to see what the fuss was. When it turned out to be another bombastic sales pitch, he went back to sleep. I wished I could do the same, but I had promised Aahz I would sit in on this one. I didn't mind. There was no place in any dimension I would rather have been.
It had been a couple of weeks since M. Y. T. H. , Inc. , had put itself back together. Oh, there were changes. Everyone had some getting used to it to do, especially me. And Aahz. But I thought and still think that it was for the best. Trying to come out of my self-imposed retirement had not been the booming success I had hoped it would be. Try as I might, I kept stepping on the toes of the people I most cared about. Still, in the end, I was back in M. Y. T. H. , Inc. , with my friends and trusted colleagues, though not as its president.I'd lost that privilege, but I found that I was happier in my current, and I hoped permanent, position as partner. The others seemed as glad to have me back as I was to be there. They had chosen a new president: my former assistant, Bunny. I couldn't argue with the decision; I had relied on her intelligence, tact, and organization for a long time. M. Y. T. H. , Inc. , would benefit from her talents. Bunny had some new ideas that she was putting into operation, most of them received without argument from the other partners. On the whole, it had been a good reconciliation.
We had opened a second office a few miles from this one, our original location. When the lease on the remote site was up in a few months, we'd vote on what to do with it. At the moment, it was used for private meetings with clients who didn't want to be seen entering the narrow tent in the Bazaar at Deva that was well known as the home of M. Y. T. H. , Inc. It also was a home away from home for Buttercup, my war unicorn. In the Bazaar, owing to cramped conditions, a lot of establishments opened out at the rear into extradimensional space, extending them as far as the host dimension would allow. This tent backed onto a gloomy, low-magik dimension called Limbo. By contrast, the secondary office occupied a piece of Ombud, a pleasant and pastoral dimension mostly populated by farmers and low-technology craftsmen, not unlike Klah, where I grew up. Buttercup occupied a field behind the farmhouse that was our small tent's presence in Ombud. I almost wished I was there at that moment, lying in the sun in the grass, with Buttercup here in my place, prodding the Imp with his single, well-sharpened horn to make him get to the point.