You are currently viewing Balbo and the Rare Hare

Balbo and the Rare Hare

a Tabletop Beard story by Kevin Breaux

Balbo’s room was located at the far end of the third floor of the Dragon’s Beard Inn. He was down a quiet corner away from the rooms sold to travelers, only adjacent to a storage room and rooms inhabited by several of his barmaids. It allotted him the privacy he needed after long days of being entertaining, merry, and overly giving. Sometimes, Balbo simply needed a break.

This was one of those nights.

Balbo staggered into his room mere hours before daybreak. He had spent way too many hours drinking ale and listening to the tales of two dwarven fighters. Although their sagas were interesting, one seemingly led to another and another, and so on. In retrospect, Balbo was unsure if they ever finished a single story. Regardless of being a long night, it was a good one.

Balbo yawned and scratched his beard, not because it itched, mind you, but out of habit and because he enjoyed how soft it felt. Today, it smelled like smoked oud and steel, the favorite scent of his fighter friends.

He shut the heavy door behind him with his heel, then shuffled in darkness to his straw bed. When he reached it, he turned around and flopped backward with a loud humph.

“Boots,” he said out loud just to remind himself to take them off.

He sat up and groaned as he stretched his arms toward his feet. His eyes fluttered, and when they reopened his hands looked no closer to his feet as they were we he first reached out.

“Getting old, Balbo. Might be time for a change.”


He heard a sound from the cage where he had housed two rabbits that had appeared in his bar the night of the druid celebration a week ago. Evelyn said a ranger had caught them and donated them for the party’s stew, but Balbo believed with all his heart that these rabbits were actually druids in their beast shapes.

He felt silly when it turned out he was wrong, but he was unable to bring himself to eat his new friends and decided to keep the rabbits as pets.

“You all hungry?” Balbo mumbled. “I have some more carrots for you next to your cage in a sack.”

Balbo stood and fumbled around in the dark but could not find the carrots. So, he backtracked to the door where he knew a small table sat with a candlestick and some flint and tinder.

It took him a moment, but he lit the candles, which illuminated the room ever so slightly. When he turned back to the rabbit cage, which was still draped in shadow, he swore he saw something large move.

“Huh…must be more tired than I thought,” he said with a chuckle.

“Morning, Balbo.”

“What?” He spun around to face the door, then gazed over at the bed. “Who is there?”

“Over here, Balbo.”


“In the cage.”

Balbo crept closer toward the cage and leaned the candlestick in to fill the dark space with soft orange light.


He recoiled back and nearly tripped over his own feet. He could not believe his eyes, sitting bent over in the cage was an elven man, who held and gently stroked one of the rabbits.

“W-what are you doing in that cage? Where is my other rabbit?” Balbo asked.

“You put me in this cage, Balbo. You have my thanks for picking such a spacious one.”

“What are you talking about, friend?”

“You were right.”

Balbo inched several steps closer and took a good look at the man. He was wearing padded leather armor that was decorated with feathers and fur. It did not take Balbo long to draw the connection to the other elven druids he had seen in the past.

“Right about what?”

“I’m a druid. I was in one of my beast shapes. I’m one of the rabbits you were talking to all night.”

“Evelyn!” he shouted. “Ha! I knew it! Old Balbo might be crazy, but he ain’t mad!”

“Not mad at all. I was in the forest outside of town when I saw this girl and I transformed to…well…you know.” The druid raised up the other rabbit and stroked its ears.

Balbo smiled and winked. He understood. “And that is when the ranger caught you both.”

“Not long after.”

“Why didn’t you transform back?”

“I’m not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with a spell or maybe someone has a trinket that dispels magic. Something was inhibiting my ability to return to shape until tonight,” the elf explained. “How long was I—”

“Eight days.”

“No wonder I feel so…”

“Hungry? Thirsty?”


Ha!” Balbo stroked his beard. “I should probably let you out of that cage then, friend.”

“That would be nice. Thank you.”

Balbo unhooked the latch and opened the top of the cage. “Good thing I put you in my goat enclosure.”

Once the cage was open the druid stood up slowly, stretching his limbs as he moved. He rolled his neck, took a deep breath, and then hooted like an owl.

The druid placed the other rabbit down and then reached out to Balbo with both hands to shake his. “Blessings of the sun and moon to you, Balbo.”

Balbo smiled and then turned to the door. He could not wait to rub Evelyn’s nose in the truth.


“Evelyn? Your friend that was going to cook us?”

“Yes. And I’m not sure I would call her a friend exactly.”

“Say no more,” the druid placed his palm on Balbo’s chest. “Remember, I was in this room for many nights. Many nights. Some of those nights you entertained company.”

Balbo felt a little embarrassed at first, and the longer he dwelled on it, the deeper the shame got.

“I might have to kill you,” Balbo said bluntly and then roared with laughter.

The druid appeared taken aback at first but joined him in laughter.

TAP. TAP.              

“Balbo, why are you screaming?” Evelyn called from the other side of the door as she knocked. “You can’t keep calling out to me every night. People will hear you.”


“I’m coming in.”

“Please do.”

Evelyn entered the room with a bounce and her eyes grew wide with astonishment the moment she laid them on the druid.

“No.” She leaned her glowing candelabra toward the men and shook her head. “Is that—”


“Your, teasing.”

“He is not.” The druid interrupted.

“Evelyn, I would like you to meet…” Balbo paused. “Ha! I don’t know your name, friend.”

“My name is Kreqe Kregrummen.”

Evelyn walked to the goat enclosure and looked inside. She then reached up and covered her mouth as she gasped. “You’ve been in here all week.”

“I have.”

“All day and all night,” Balbo added.

“Oh my.”

“Please, do not worry yourselves about the things I might have seen. I turned my back. Might I also remind you that I had Jewel to keep me company.”

“You named her Jewel?” Evelyn tilted her head in query as she asked.

“I did.”

Evelyn crossed the room to the men. “Nice to meet you, Krege. Sorry, I wanted to cook you.”

“And…” Balbo said with a smile.

“And what, boss?”

“And…” he repeated.

“I am sorry I did not believe you.” Evelyn huffed. “Happy?”

Balbo watched the sour look on Evelyn’s face grow worse. He presumed she would not be happy having to apologize, but he did not imagine she would look so pained. It took the fun out of it.

“What is wrong?”

Evelyn covered her nose. “Krege, you need a bath.”

Oh. Ha. Yes,” Balbo chuckled. “I will have one of the girls draw one up for you right away.”

“No. No. No. If you both do not mind, I must get back to my responsibilities. Nature needs me.”

A thought crossed Balbo’s mind. “I have some beard oil you can use to freshen up. You may not have a beard, but you can still use it to mask the smells of that cage, ha! You’ll like it. It’s a scent for druids and smells like the forest and wild berries. Evelyn, prepare a pack for him with some water, bread, beard oil and umm….”



Balbo laughed deeply and his pure delight was infectious. Soon, Evelyn and Krege joined in the room filled from corner to corner with an echo of amusement.

To Be Continued...