-An account from the personal papers of Laurlias Appleborn XVI, bard of some acclaim, and slayer of the demonic harpist of Lion’s Share, thank you very much.
A very special inn nestled on a bustling main street, at a glance the building stands out among the neighboring structures. Tall and spindly-looking the roof splits into a trio of steeples and a small army of chimneys that belch forth smoke day and night. Large windows of multicolored enchanted glass display scenes of battle, heroism, and the news of the day moving as though they were alive. The more looking respectable shopfronts surrounding the inn make it look even more unworldly and out of place.
Tearing your eyes from the steeples and the wondrous shards of glass though and you’ll find the entryway standing open night and day. Wrought from solid gold, but with the appearance of wood the archway cut into the edifice glows dimly permeating warmth and comfort to all.
On any day you’ll find a crowd gathered outside, held at bay by lengths of chain stretched between iron poles along the street. A thick thread of red rope, the inn’s namesake, is drawn across the open archway. You’ll also spot a 12 foot tall legless golem bestride a mechanical wheelchair. Carved from white stone trace with sigils and runes that glow hot pink the golem lurks outside keeping a wary eye on the crowds, and barring passage to anyone attempting to make their way inside. Woe betide anyone who thinks they’re clever enough or fast enough to slip past the golem.
Precious few souls ever set foot indoors though, for only those lucky few whose names appear on The List will be allowed entry. At a glance it might appear to be nothing more than a bit of rolled parchment, but as with many things it is more than it appears to be. Each name on the list belongs to a great living hero, or at least one destined to rise to the uppermost heights of fame and adventure. The document will accept no ink, and any quill set to it immediately burst into flames. Each day the names change, some remaining in place, while others are added or removed.
When someone is lucky enough to be allowed passage they’ll almost always find themselves besieged by the onlookers waiting outside. Desperate souls, representatives dispatched at the behest of governing bodies from around the world, sycophants, fortune seekers, autograph hunters, and all manner of people find reason to wait outside. The golem keeps the throngs at bay and the heroes pass through the entry way, music sounding as they do. The type of music is always different.Sometimes long blasts of a hunting horn ring out, for others the stringing of a harp, in at least one case a somber melody made up of a twelve piece orchestra flooded the street for a full hour.
Immediately within one will see the grand chamber, the central room that welcomes everyone. A stone hearth blazes brightly with a large fire encircled by twenty or so small wooden tables. Armchairs, stools, and benches rest against the wall beneath a large window on the first floor. (At last inspection the window portrayed Hela daughter of No-Man arm-wrestling the troll chief Lurug Speartooth.) Upon approaching one of the tables a seat appropriate to the size and preferences of the occupant will soar across the floor settling itself beneath them. The grand chamber does not want for decoration. Tapestries and portraits hang in abundance.
Playing host to the world’s greatest heroes who are in need of a safe place to rest their heads, the comfort of a warm hearth, a good meal, or a night of frivolity is a nightly affair for the innkeeper. Barra Beararms was an adventurer in her younger days, she spent many nights beneath the roof of The Red Rope, and after years of wandering one evening she chose to remain. Innkeeper, retired hero, and landlady all rolled into one. She greets everyone who entering her inn personally and sees to their needs, doing the work of twelve herself.
Food and drink flow from the kitchens into the grand room and special orders are never a cause for concern. Don’t try to find your way into the kitchen to filch a midnight snack however, no one’s ever been able to find it. Once you’ve been filled to bursting Barra will deposit a key to your room and shove you upstairs to your bed.
The main stair leading up to the high floors is an avalanche of a staircase, a massive and imposing lumberyard nailed together from polished dark wood. Numerous scholars, academics, and tricksters have tried to puzzle out the mystery of this staircase for years without success. You see there are at least seven stories to The Red Rope, eight if you count the attic rooms, but the stair will deliver anyone climbing it immediately to whatever floor their room is on.
Each room in the inn is large, and well furnished with an odd assortment of comfortable oddities. Without exception everyone who spends a night in the Red Rope professes it to e the best night’s sleep they’ve ever had. Aside from the rooms the inn boasts a number of other amenities including: a fully-stocked alchemical laboratory, a working forge, a sauna, a heated bath, an extensive library with books on almost every subject, a map room boasting a spinning globe the size of a carriage, an archery range, a hedge maze and indoor garden, a tomb for the honored dead, a dock with at least two ships, an open air aviary, a courtyard with extensive footpaths, and more privies than anyone has a right to.
When the time comes to leave, the heroes all settle the tab in the same way. They leave something dear to them behind for safekeeping. Barra displays these items proudly telling tales of the heroes who dined in her halls and sought the comfort of her inn. Once in a while someone will point out an item and she’ll grow quiet before returning to the task of running the inn.
If one was of a mind to seek the comfort of The Red Rope I would do so without delay, but be certain it is what you want. More than one mercenary or war hero has had their hopes dashed as they barred entry and left standing in the streets outside. I was shocked enough when I entered, in truth I’d never heard of the inn. Barra explained the whole business to me while I feasted on the finest blackberry pie I’ve ever eaten.