Omar often gets into trouble due to his role as the world's greatest storyteller. The wrong tale at the wrong time told to the wrong audience can prove fatal. A slighted innkeeper threatens to kill Omar by tossing him out into the vicious storm that rages just outside the door of the inn.
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September 20, 2004
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Excerpt from The Hunters' Haunt by Dave Duncan
1: The Traveler Returns
Some harsh words had been spoken the previous summer, the first time I lodged at the inn. Nothing serious, milords, just a minor misunderstanding -- a small imbalance on the slate. A trivial sum, truly!
I admit that appearances were against me. My taste for shortcuts has been misinterpreted before. When the hour for my departure dawned -- it was slightly before dawn actually, but I am by nature an early riser -- I chose the swiftest route. I was in a hurry, being bound that day for Gilderburg, a city many hard leagues away. Moreover, I feared I might disturb the other guests if I went clattering down the stairs. Only when I was halfway across the vegetable patch did I realize I had forgotten to pay my bill. The house door would still be locked, so I resolved to leave the money on the hostler's desk in the stable.
That was the only reason I approached the stable. Why else would I do so? I had no horse lodged there!
The trouble arose because the innkeeper, Fritz, motivated by unseemly greed, had rented out even his own quarters the previous night. He had chosen to sleep in the hayloft overhead, from which he had a clear view of my window.
The stable door gave me a little trouble. Then it swung open, freely and quietly on well-oiled hinges. I stooped to lift my bundle, and when I straightened up I was exceedingly surprised to discover myself facing what appeared to be a haystack.
I have often been complimented on my expertise in animal husbandry. I am well aware that general practice is to put the livestock on the ground floor and the fodder in the loft. It is a technical matter of getting them up ladders. In this case I could not see why Mine Host Fritz might have reversed the normal filing system. Then I realized that what I was seeing in the chill predawn light was Mine Host Fritz himself. He had no shirt on, which is what had confused me. When I tilted my head back, I discovered his face, higher up.
There can be something very unwholesome about blue eyes. Jaws of that magnitude are better left unclenched.
Instinct warned me that there could be a misunderstanding brewing. I explained carefully, using short sentences and speaking distinctly.