Last Inn on the Long Road North

My 1st Wildlands one-shot is published! Check Out Mystery of Thorngage Manor

Written by George Sanders

The dense canopy of the forest thinned out about fifteen minutes ago. Up ahead, the dark shadows of a cluster of buildings stood out against the sunset and fields beyond. The caravan driver eased the horses into a slower pace. A stone wall - in a bit of disrepair - started along the side of the road. Closer to the buildings, someone had brought the wall back into alignment. An open gate in the wall beckoned to the caravan.


We had been on the road for fourteen days. On the first leg of our trip, we drove hard through the K'hala Swamps until we hit the forest. Then it was just a matter of making it to each forest village to rest the horses at proper intervals. Most stops had a quaint farmhouse or Inn. Access to a few beds let us stretch out for the night instead of sleeping on the ground. This Inn was the last stop before the caravan made it to its destination, Etonia.

Visible Sign by\martinsvanags

A metal sign hung by the road. An elegant lion on the sign welcomed visitors to the Red Lion Inn. The caravan wagons turned one by one into the gate and pulled around the main building to the stable. Caravans come through here every few weeks. Charley, the lead driver of our caravan, said he made the trip from the South at least 17 times. To the left of the stable was a long building with three covered sides. Carts and wagons squeezed in side by side to keep out of the heavy seasonal rains. The Inn adapted to meet the needs of the caravans. My partners and I grabbed our gear. As we settled our packs on our shoulders, a young woman came up to us.



Welcome to the Red Lion Inn

I'm Ivy. Will you all be looking for a bed tonight?" We nodded. "Excellent!" She continued, "It is much better in the house than staying out here with the wagons or the horses!" She clasped her hands and guided us to the main house's front door.


The front room had a long desk and low lighting. Inside the air was cool. Smells of stews and baked goods flowed from a kitchen in the back. A large common room was to the left, through a set of pocket doors. The sound of vibrant conversations and dishes scraping from hartily eaten meals filled the space. Three barrels of ale lined the wall behind the front desk. The innkeeper, Yerik, greeted us and offered a drink. "It's not Thorngage Ale but has a pleasant taste and is locally made. So, will you be staying for one night until the caravan leaves in the morning?"


"No, we were hoping to stay a few days. We understand there are ruins nearby from the Zhab Heel dynasty. We would like a private room and time to study the history of the ruins." Before I finished, Yerik was making notes.


He rattled off a series of questions. "Is a bed for all three of you suitable, or do you need individual accommodations? Are you interested in 2 meals a day or 3? Do you have any food allergies? Do you want a room with a bath?"


I interrupted him, "I don't know that we can afford a room with private plumbing. We only need one bed and two meals."

Table by the windows in an old Inn. A candle, pitcher, and food fill the table, waiting for guests.
Red Lion Inn by

His smile was infectious, "Oh no, don't worry. It is a mere two gold coins a day for the works! You are about to be properly welcomed to Etonia. The council has established the Wizard Network to bring magic into daily life. With a bit of that magic, you'll be staying in the best room of your trip. I'll need 10 minutes to set up a room. While you wait, make yourselves comfortable in the common room." He headed up an open stairway with a landing then another set of stairs to the second floor. We shrugged. Two gold a day was not a bad price.



The Great Room and the Patrons

We headed into the common room. It was busy. A group of miners sat around a long table, busy talking about the Everst Silver they would be hauling back to Etonia. Another group of travelers were boasting about the Etonia Fish and Biscuit Rally. They insisted on performing a few acts. They were a little over the top, but it was entertaining. A blacksmith and some other locals had claimed a table by a window. The fireplace warmed the room and kept a constant crackle in the background. Ivy served us a plate of cheese and bread.


As Yerik returned from the second floor, another group entered the Inn. Blast, it was Bartholomew and three others from Coral Gate.


They must have come via ship through the Bay of Claws, docked at Etonia, and traveled the day to the Inn. We heard Yerik give his pitch and end with "make yourselves comfortable in the common room." I got everyone up. We exchanged glares as Bartholomew passed.


Yerik saved the day by saying, "I can take you to your room now." His eyes lingered on a woman with Bartholomew for a moment as well. She gave Yerick a nearly imperceptible shrug. Keys dangled from his hand, so we followed him up the stairs.



Guest Rooms

A long hallway of doors ran the length of the building. It was a little disconcerting; the doors were set right beside each other. "These look like awful small rooms, Yerik," I commented. I couldn't cover up the concern in my voice.


"Oh no, they are extradimensional spaces. Here is your room. Third door on the right." He unlocked the door and handed us the keys. "Press the sigil on the key and recite the allowed occupants' names. I configured a common room, three bedrooms, and a private bath. Let me know if you need anything. I'll leave you to get settled."


A large common room with two tables and a cabinet stocked with wine, bread, and ale awaited us inside. Three doors on the right and back walls led to private bedrooms. The bed looked comfortable. A small chest sat by the foot of each bed. The door on the left opened into a bathroom that included a tub and several caldrons of hot water. A separate space in the back held a privy.


This is more magic in one night than most people in the South see during their entire lives. The knowledge of the world resides in the South. The most powerful mages and schools have a presence in every city. Their power is not shared like this. I sat at the table in the central room, contemplating our mission. They say traveling through forest on the long road North changes you. I wondered about the futility of gathering artifacts and returning them to the South. They would be locked away forever save for a few powerful people - who would only use them to secure their power further.



Uncovering a Plot

Everyone else was getting settled or using the bath. I wondered back down to the common room, to clear my head. Yerik was sorting through a wide collection of mushrooms and talking with a woman about the environmental impact of the wall. "I think it should probably come down then. Oh, Vlad. Join us." He mentioned me over to the desk.


Yerick introduced his friend, "This is Dee. She has been doing an impact study of the Inn on the forest. If you need someone to get you around the ruins she is your best bet."


I wasn't sure what that was but it looked like she was a scout or tracker type so I took his recommendation. "Yes, we can offer compensation. Would you be available as soon as tomorrow?"


"Is doable." She replied. "I'll be here for breakfast if you want to discuss a plan."


I thanked her and Yerick then headed into the common room. There was a nice fireplace with rocking chairs that looked like a cozy place to relax. There were some pamphlets on a table. "Red Lion Inn, a quiet and inviting retreat." They listed a game night. There was a post-harvest festival and artisan show "showcasing homemade talent" every year. Looks like the food comes from a cluster of local farms and maybe what can be gathered in the forest . I looked back over at the front desk.


The woman that had been with Bartholomew earlier, came down the steps. She signed something to Yerick as she left. I think they were keeping an eye on old Bartie - that might make my job easier or maybe harder if there is a third group after the artifacts. I settled back into the chair. My instincts hadn't let me down. Maybe now I could get some rest.



World Anvil's 2022 Adventure April is complete! My 2022 tabletop role-playing game one-shot adventure starts at the Red Lion Inn featured in this article and continues Vlad's story. Join my Patron's Ardelis Arrows Tier to get in on the action. Be ready for the next Adventure April by joining my newsletter or following my world:

Sign in or subscribe for free to Worldanvil and then return to click the follow button.

History of the Inn

It is suspected that the original owner selected the location of the Inn due to its proximity to a source of stone and that it was about a day's ride out of Etonia. A wealthy businessman from the south by the name of Kaltreider, he constructed several buildings nearby to make this an outpost separate from society and self sufficient. The local mill, stables, orchard, and several homes retain the same architectural features as the Inn. The details are lost to time as the buildings are estimated to be nearly one hundred years old.

There are no buildings in Etonia of this age so it is likely the Inn was around when Etonia was not much more than a seasonal fishing camp. Nearby ruins, several hundred years old provided the high quality bricks and stone for the buildings. Thick stone walls, patios, and slate roofs kept the structures intact through the wet springs, heat of the summer, and bitter winters.



The barn is set into a earthen embankment so the stables are the ground level and the first floor can be accessed around the back of the barn by walking up the embankment. The first floor stored hay, grain, equipment, and other supplies for the compound. This structure was also fashioned from the stone bricks of the ruins and has a slate roof. Wooden Slats near the roof open to allow air flow

Two privies and the wagon shed are more recent construction. It is clear that the craftsmanship of the original construction could not be matched but an attempt was made to duplicate appearance with the stone brick walls and slate roofs. More wood was used in the framing and needs to be maintained frequently.





  • Yerik - Innkeeper/Bartender/Owner
  • Ivy - Hostess/Server
  • Ford - Server
  • Brooke - Cook
  • Eliza - Brewer
  • Taylan - Stablehand
  • Maya - Groundskeeper




Fruit (seasonal), Croissant, or Muffin
Baked Eggs or Pancakes
*served with tea

Afternoon Tea

Baked goods
*turnovers, mini-muffins, fruit custard
Meat Pie (half portion)
Vegetable Stew
*served with tea

Evening Meal

Roast Venison or Roast Vegetable Plater
*wheel of cheese available upon request
Meat Stew
Apple Pie
*served with tea, ale, or mead

Red Lion Inn

Cover image: Forest During the Daytime by Tim Mossholder


Please Login in order to comment!
Mar 14, 2022 04:05

I sometimes forget that magic is a thing in the Anhult Wildlands. And then stuff like infinity room happens. Also, I like Ivy; she seems nice and the sort of person who'd be suited to greet patrons. Also, I am curious as to what Maya looks like solely because I've got a character of the same name.
Good stuff, George. I look forward to seeing more neat things such as an Inn that can accommodate the everybody.

Mar 17, 2022 22:25 by George Sanders

Maya, Taylan, and Ford are indigenous people to the forest. They have slightly pointy ears and some extra large canine teeth. Maya and Taylan have big builds. Ford is typical human size. Their families have been here for generations, although they feel the Inn has always been around now too.   Thanks for the comment. I'm glad I can toss in some surprises!

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 16, 2022 07:19

I like the writing style you've used for this article. It's my first time seeing it used like that. What a refreshing read!   Keep up the good work! :D

Mar 17, 2022 22:28 by George Sanders

Yeah! I like to make up the story and let it do all the work. :)

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 16, 2022 12:47 by Michael Chandra

Clever origin, and the magic used for the rooms is a brilliant approach. I really liked the narrative telling, and the layout and styling makes it real nice to read.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
Mar 17, 2022 22:31 by George Sanders

I am really glad to hear the layout and styling works. That has been half the effort of each challenge. The origin takes inspiration from the real life origin of the Bed & Breakfast I own.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 16, 2022 15:30 by Secere Laetes

Impressive article. I already find the buildings beautiful as well as the pictures of the garden. They would definitely have been enough without the map, especially since it doesn't look quite the same on the map as described and illustrated on the right.   However, the idea of using magic to configurate the rooms is just great. I would be interested to know exactly how it works, but that's not the point here, it would only disturb the flow of reading unnecessarily.   Apart from that, the narrative text is very atmospherically written and introduces two members of the staff. And the transition to the April adventure is simply well done. It is a pity that you will most probably be playing in English. Let's see if I can get a few German speakers to what.

Mar 17, 2022 22:42 by George Sanders

Yeah, there is some limit on the map to what art assets are available. The walkway photo is to reflect the walkway and bushes on the left of the main building on the map. The garden is on the right of the main building. I was pleasantly surprised how many pictures I found that were fairly close to what I described. Sometimes I use pictures for inspiration but this time I did it in reverse.   For the magic think Room of Requirement, Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion, or a mini demi-plane from ttrpgs. That's good it was enough info to get you thinking about how is that working! :)   I am only fluent in English. Working on Spanish but that is a ways off. Thanks for the feedback and any support on the April part.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 28, 2022 10:52 by Secere Laetes

Yes, maps are unfortunately sometimes very limited (and also time-consuming. I would have loved to have one for the tavern, but I just couldn't manage it in time). The pictures are really helpful.   I think, in the magic or DnD lies with me the thinking error. I am very influenced by DnD and connect these spells just really already with very high magic - which just a lay wizard can not master so easily (and then inevitably ask myself how a layman can get it just so, while I simply accept with a high level wizard). I think I should be more open about spell levels in other worlds, which of course can tick differently than standard DnD. I'm already doing it with the high grades and meta understanding in my world, after all. In this sense, thank you for the suggestion.   Otherwise, too bad, but maybe someday my spoken English will be good enough to not only listen but actively participate in something like this. Good luck in any case.

Mar 18, 2022 22:21

"extradimensional spaces". Cool!   I felt like I just read a chapter from a novel! Great writing. Well done.
Mar 22, 2022 01:30 by George Sanders

That's great! I'm working up to that.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 21, 2022 03:30

Your formatting is really effective, making this article very easy on the eyes. I love that the inn serves food from local farms and how you've introduced some possible tension between north and south regarding the availability of magic

- Hello from Valayo! Featured work: How to Write Great Competition Articles
Mar 27, 2022 19:11 by George Sanders

Yay! I appreciate that comment as you are one of my formatting heroes. :) I look forward to using that tension in the Adventure April one shot...maybe let players encounter different outcomes depending how they want to interact with that.   I think I typed up a reply earlier this week and didn't hit submit. Thanks for taking the time to read!

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 23, 2022 20:51 by Soulwing

Ohh, I love such houses. Made in ancient times, housing unexplainable magic.   Where did that much potent magic come from to support a hallway of doors each opening an extradimensional customized larger than life room. What is the source? Is this of legal origins or created originally as a hideout by a powerful force donating their power to a static object when it got founded?   Questions over questions...   I really enjoyed the article, a combination of a personal story and facts supporting it ^^

Creator, artist and writer of the science fantasy world Kingsmaker.
Mar 27, 2022 19:15 by George Sanders

Great questions. When ruins are involved there are lots of options...those stones used in the house could be something. What unintended consequences will come out of what that Etonia Wizard Network is doing?   Thanks for reading.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 24, 2022 20:46

Great article George, I really enjoyed reading about the Red Lion. I like the magic used for the extradimensional rooms, excellent idea (this really introduces magic awareness into a world setting). It gives the feeling of the beginning of a great adventure happening when they seek out the ruins. A well deserved Like/Fave from me.   Aemon

Mar 27, 2022 19:16 by George Sanders

Yay! That is great to hear. This will be the starting place of the Adventure April one shot.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 25, 2022 09:55 by rugrat0ne

Very well done narrative style. I like how the sensory details: sounds of utensils on plates, smells of food, etc. go a long way towards showing and not telling. The only note I have is towards the bottom of the article, the phrase "showcasing homemade talent" should either have a matching dash at the end of it, or you could take the dashes out altogether.

I've done Diamond or Die. This year I'm trying Diamond or Nap.
Mar 27, 2022 19:18 by George Sanders

Thanks for the tip on the dashes. The sounds of utensils was one of my favorite lines to write.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 29, 2022 02:03

Interesting! It was a good idea to tie it into Adventure April as a starting place. The magical nature of it was a lot of fun to read about.

If you're seeing this, I may have used your article for my 2023 Reading Challenge.
Apr 1, 2022 22:21 by George Sanders

Thanks! It was fun to wander around the Inn to make a story.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 29, 2022 15:21 by Bob O'Brien

Nice place you got here! I really like the way you use the article to plug your upcoming Adventure April entry, too! Great thinking there!

Check out my latest efforts:
Laurels & Loot is a new, lightweight TTRPG rules system that hearkens back to the early days.
Apr 1, 2022 22:22 by George Sanders

Thanks! I'm trying to think through, what would my call to action be or is there a next step at the end of articles.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Mar 30, 2022 16:30

I love the story form of this article and the article looks very beautiful. The story is flowing well, and it nicely leads the reader through the inn giving a vivid image of it. The story was so compelling that I felt like the images within the story part were basically useless as I could see the inn so well through my imagination. I love the beautiful pictures in the side section however, as they support nicely the more informative text and I really like it how the garden section is just pictures. The map is also beautiful and advertising Adventure April at the end is a great idea. Overall great job once again!

Apr 1, 2022 22:24 by George Sanders

Thanks! I'm glad each of the sections added to the story in different ways.

Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Apr 26, 2022 22:49

What an amazing read. Warm, inviting and complete. Any wayward adventuring party would count themselves lucky to grace these doors.

Graylion - Nexus   Roleplaying
not Ruleplaying
not Rollplaying
Apr 28, 2022 04:50 by George Sanders


Write for the Summer Camp Prompt I sponsored "A personal item that keeps you safe".
Share your articles on Lavani's Reading List!
Powered by World Anvil