The Innkeeper's Whine
By: Timothy Law

"I said ORDER!!!"

The roar from Judge Knot Withstanding caused everyone to suddenly fall silent

"And now…" Judge Withstanding sighed. "Please Innkeeper, continue your story…"

"If it pleases Yer Worship an' the people of the courts…" continued the elderly innkeeper, hands wringing nervously.

"It does," growled the judge as he eyed those who had packed his courtroom.

"I was minding me own business that wintery night when in strolls this little man…"

"Let the transcript show the accuser has indicated one Halfling named Biblio Bookends," interrupted the Judge.

The scribe, a youngish Gnome gave the judge a sweet smile and nodded to show she understood.

"As you suggested Your Honor, it was Mister Bookends."

"If it pleases Your Greatness, may I request a window be opened?" begged the accused from the other side of the room.

"Of course," grumbled the judge, eyes only for the innkeeper. "Please Henry, do go on…"

"Well, Your Honor, he introduced himself as a storyteller… Said he could perform… Said he'd make sure my tavern was drunk dry…"

"And?" inquired the judge, one dark and hairy eyebrow raised.

"A hundred pints he drank, by his-self!"

"Such a little man really drank all that?" asked Judge Withstanding in disbelief.

"All these good people were there that night, they're me witnesses… There was hardly a drop for them all to share…"

"And how did the Halfling say he was paying?"

"Said he'd kissed some stone, had the gift o' the gab…"

"It all sounds most unhygienic," pondered the judge.

"I know it was him, there was a red rose tattoo at the base of both his palms… I seen it when he took out the book."

"Pray tell good man, what book?"

"It were match thin with a green cover. He pulled it from a large sack he'd dragged in with him… A sack full o' books."

"My books!" cried a voice from the galley.

"Please strike that outburst from the record," demanded the judge as he turned again to the scribe.

Another nod from the gnome and proceedings continued.

"Wizard Nun the Wiser, your case is next."

"As it pleases Your Honor," stated the white beard graciously.

"Then Biblio started reading… Poetry… No beer, poems, course every one left… Including the Halfling… And not through the door…"

"So how do you plead?" the judge asked.

As all eyes turned on the Halfling they discovered he was halfway out the open window.

"Oh I would say I am certainly guilty of everything Your Honor," Biblio stated with a signature smile. "But I can't stay for a sentence… I have stories to tell."

"Guards!" hollered Judge Knot Withstanding. "Seize that little man!"

It was too late though. Biblio Bookends was already gone. Like the Gingerbread Man he was over the hills and far away before any in the court could react.

As the judge banged his gavel so hard that it broke the innkeeper looked him dead in the eye.

"And that Your Honor is why Halflings never pay…"

The End

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