Brandon Dallas was laid out across his office, his chair tipped back, his boots muddying the papers official and unofficial that were scattered on his desk. A half-finished whiskey bottle on the floor nearby looked about ready to join its brothers in the trash, while Dallas himself snored loudly, with his hat pulled down over his face.

It was ten twenty-seven AM on a Tuesday.

“Dallas. Dallas!” there was a rap on his door.

The sheriff stirred a bit. “What?” he mumbled.

“It’s Missy, sir. What do you want done with the prisoners?” The sheriff couldn’t see her, but he knew that she was there: Deputy Sheriff Missy Ferguson, Smokewood’s first and only halfling in law enforcement.

Dallas slowly reached up a hand and thumbed back the hat that had been over his eyes. “Prisoners?” he said. “Whose prisoners?”

“The train robbers, sir. We have two of them, the ringleader and her muscle. Third one is with Doc Silver getting birdshot pulled out of her rear, and the other two seem to have slipped away with the rest of the passengers.”

“Wait,” Dallas said groggily. “There was a TRAIN ROBBERY?”

Missy cradled her head. He was like this every morning, stirring in a barely coherent stupor with no memory whatsoever of the previous night. Maybe Smokewood liked him that way, forgetful and tipsy, which was why they kept voting him back into office. Or maybe it was because he had a commanding name, the sort of stentorian monicker that made people think of a clear-eyed, grey-haired man of action. Having an orc named J. Gruj Marrowstrip and an elf named Xenotherious K. Leaf as opponents on the last ballot didn’t help.

“If they robbed a train, we need to hang them,” Dallas said. “I’ll get the gallows ready.” He tried, and failed, to sit up with a grunt.

“They’re accused of trying to rob the train and succeeding in blowing up the Tholdom Viaduct and cutting the rail and telegraph lines to Brighthollow, sir,” said Missy. “We can’t hang them for that.”

“Don’t tell me what we can and can’t hang for in my town, Missy!” cried Dallas.

“They can only be hung if they’re accused, tried, and convicted, sir,” Missy said, politely but firmly. “And Judge Smalley is in Brighthollow. So they’re liable to rot where we put them for a bit.”

“Put them in the clink, then,” said Dallas with a wobbly wave of his hand. “I’ll figure out how to hang them later.”

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