“Un-sack the defendent.”

Obligingly, the ogre flipped his burlap sack, and out tumbled Jon Koenning Weatherall, the best-selling fantasy author worldwide 1996-present. Dazed, Weatherall looked up at his surroundings and the many stranges voices and visages that surrounded him.

He’d landed on soft moss in a forest glade, bisected by a small creek. Before him, behind a great stump that had been lopped off cleanly, a wizened gnome with reddish whiskers peered down, an acorn clutched in one hand. Across the creek, seated on three lines of heavy toadstools, was an assortment of other fantastic creatures. Some, like the pixies, Weatherall recognized; others, like the stick insect that appeared to be on ablaze, were totally alien.

Jon Weatherall had landed in front of a green-skinned little being with pointed ears and a suit, seated at another stump who appeared to be looking through a series of elm leaves with notes written on them. Across the creek, a similarly besuited fairy was doing the same with maple leaves.

“That’s enough, bailiff,” the gnome said, shooing the towering, warty figure away. “Stay at the glade’s edge until called for, yeah?”

“Aye,” the ogre croaked, stomping off.

“What…what is going on here?” Weatherall groaned, still not entirely convinced he was awake.

“Quiet,” the goblin in front of him snapped over its shoulder. “You’d best speak when spoken to, or this is going to go badly for you.”

“What is going to go badly for me?” said Weatherall, wondering if it wasn’t some sort of bad trip, a flashback to the time he’d taken acid in 1987.

The goblin turned around. “Did the bailiff not tell you?”

Weatherall shrugged helplessly.

“Ogres are admittedly not the best messengers, I suppose,” it said. “Very well. You, sir, are on trial. My name is Muhrot, and I am defending you.”

“On trial?” Weatherall bristled. “On what charge?”

“Defaming magical creatures, slandering the magical world, and libel against the same,” Muhrot said. “At least, those are the gravest of the 160 charges, anyway.”

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