BY GREYSON HAMMOCK
For eight days, my party and I travelled across the jagged mountain passes of the Northern Highlands. I was serving as the bard, singing songs and telling tales to keep party morale from sinking. We were on a journey to find the hidden dungeon of Uther Ragnaron and kill the dragon that guarded the loot buried with him. It sounded like a Good Deal, just an easy quest for some Hardened Adventurers— then the blizzard hit on the third day. Trudging through the snowfall, against howling winds, with very few rations….
Just before our feet froze, we made it to a small mountain village and an inn called the Winking Wombat. We burst forth from the cold and into the warmth of the hearth and the smell of sweet powdered pastries. The old Inkeeper stood on a miniature stage next to the fire, surrounded by a clamoring crowd. She looked over at us, smiled, and beckoned for us to come closer.
We were just in time for the Bard’s Competition, she said— every group of travelers at the Winking Wombat would send a bard to compete. The most entertaining storyteller won a free stay at the Winking Wombat for his party, and all the mutton and tomato stew they could eat. My poor, hungry companions slung me onto the stage before I could tell them that I was all out of stories.
“This is all so soon,” I said, “I don’t have one at the ready….” I shrugged and thought back to the days of my youth. “Alright, there is one story from my days at Canterbury School— where I learned to be a man. But be warned, this is no Knight’s tale— no Pardoner’s Tale of Avarice. This is a Bard’s Tale.”
The crowd and the Inkeeper leaned in, crowding the stage.
“You see, towards the end of the semester, I caught pneumonia and missed a bunch of tests, one of which was for Mrs. Sherrie, notorious Assigner of Homework and Destroyer of GPAs. Making up tests for her class was weird. She would send you into the supply closet and leave you alone with the test and your calculator. Once you went in, you weren’t allowed out until you were done.
“So there I was, in the supply closet, making progress against my great foe. I was halfway done when my calculator died. This was a great blow to my offense, for I could not complete the quest without it.”
The crowd and the Inkeeper gasped.
“I reached into my pocket for my secondary weapon—the calculator on my cell phone. Soon my foe lay prostrate, nearly defeated. That’s when the door opened, and Mrs. Sherrie walked in. I could tell by the look on her face that she was furious.
“I was nervous. The use of a secondary weapon, you understand, was considered Cheating in this strange realm. She snatched my bag of tricks and demanded that I enter the code to release the shackles barring her entry. I tried to explain that I was using a calculator app—not looking up answers with help of wizards from the Web. She did not believe me for an instant. I saw her scrolling, looking for my Internet browser.
“That’s when I remembered the moon before— that night before my examination. Terror took the reigns of my soul. My skin turned white.”
Murmurs broke out among the crowd, and the Inkeeper shifted her weight.
“‘Mrs. Sherrie,’ I pleaded, ‘I know the secret scroll of which you seek. I caution thee—some things are not meant for mortal eyes!’ But she did not take heed— she found the browser and opened it.
“Like magic, the sounds of a brothel erupted into the air— moans of pleasure and ecstasy— tits were jumping— asses were bumping— nipples were being bitten and clawed. It was a horror show, and by the Divine, it was beautiful. Mrs. Sherrie looked at me, hatred burning deep in her eyes. I shrugged and told her that I had warned her, after all. She handed me back my phone and asked if I had anything to say for myself.
“I chuckled. ‘Well, this was exactly how the video started,’ I said. ‘It was about a teacher and a student who—’
“She grabbed my test and stormed out of the closet. ‘Zero!’ she screamed. All I could do was sit in the closet and laugh.”
The crowd burst into laughter, and the Inkeeper arose with the keys to a room for my party. We spent the night warm, filled to the brim with mutton and tomato soup, and a little confused as to why nobody had noticed that the story was clearly a science-fiction from some fantasy land.
Oh well. I guess you can still get away with some things in this world. Other than leaving your porn open on Safari— that will always bite you in the ass.