"No, this way," I tell her. "The front door is over here."
"I simply can't leave without my walking stick."
"No! Stop. This is going to take forever as it is! Look, it's a stupid stick. I've got a staff right here. You can have it. My treat."
"No? How about this handful of silver? Use it to buy yourself ten sticks! No? Ok, how about you head for the door and I get the stick for you? Or I promise to come back for it once you're safe? Ok,you stay here and I'll run ahead and grab the stick for you?"
I sigh, "No? How about we risk life and limb gradually shuffling from one band of killers to the next in order to recover your walking stick?"
She gives me another one of those creepy smiles.
Some ages of the world later, we've reached the bandit storage room where they keep all the sticks they take from old people. Sara is overjoyed.
And that's not even counting...
"Ah. Hello again, Bill," I say with transparently thin cheer.
He draws his sword.
"Easy there Skunkworks," I tell him, "I know this looks bad, but I'm just escorting this crazy old woman out of the cave. And really, that's no skin off your nose, right? I mean, what was she aside from a mouth to feed? It's not like she's got military secrets - or anything else - floating around in her head, right?"
"Is that why the two of you raided the armory?"
"All we took was a stick! You're blowing this totally out of proportion!"
"What about letting Amdir go?"
"Hey now, he did that on his own. You should talk to your guards about that one."
"Oh? Fine. I'll see what they have to say about it. Where are they?"
"Okay. You got me there. I might have killed those guys a bit."
"And?" Skunkwood says, raising his eyebrows.
"Sigh. And a few other guys here and there."
"And what about this report I got a couple of weeks ago, telling me that a Hobbit minstrel had butchered her way through our ranks to steal a handkerchief from one of our men?"
"I suppose it would be asking a lot for you to believe it was some other Hobbit minstrel?"
"That's understandable I guess."
"And so now I'm going to feed you to my pack of dogs."
I point at the snarling dogs on either side of him, "Your 'pack' of dogs? You've only got two there."
"The rest were all poisoned. But I'm sure you wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"
"Okay, but before we do this, I just want to tell you one thing."
"You have a stupid name."