1.00

The inn was dark and empty. It stood, silent, on the grassy hilltop, the ruins of other structures around it. Rot and age had brought low other buildings; the weather and wildlife had reduced stone foundations to rubble and stout wooden walls to a few rotten pieces of timber mixed with the ground. But the inn still stood.

It was waiting. Not in a sentient, thinking way, but in the way all buildings wait. It was waiting for someone to find it. For wasn’t that the purpose of an inn? And someone did find it.

A young woman stumbled through the grass, up the hill. Her knees were shaking and she was gasping for air. Her lungs burned. Her right arm was burned. Smoke was still rising from the charred fabric on one shoulder, and her legs were bleeding. Several shallow cuts had torn open her pants at the back of the legs.

But still she climbed the hill. Because of the inn. After all, there was no mistaking it. Despite the years, the building stood among the rest of the ruins, mostly untouched by the passage of time. The construction of this inn was superior to the other buildings. Or perhaps something else had kept it standing.

Regardless, that was not what attracted the young woman to it. It was merely a thought.

The inn. In every world, the inn was a symbol. From a place to meet and rest, to a meeting point from which epic quests could begin, the inn’s hearth fire and warm glow at night was a beacon for the weary, the hungry, and the desperate. But this inn was dark.

The signboard over the inn was rotted, and years had worn whatever name it held away long ago. The windows were dark and shuttered, but the girl, the traveler, had nowhere else to go. Slowly, hesitantly, she stumbled towards the door and pulled at the simple handle on the door.

Nothing happened.

After a second, she pushed and the door creaked open. Mustering her courage, the young woman peered into the black room beyond. Her instincts told her it was a common room, a place where food or drink would normally be served. However, the inn was long deserted and a thick layer of dust covered every surface.

“Of course it’s empty.”

The intruder sighed and leaned against the doorframe, her strength exhausted. She rested her forehead on one arm, wincing as she felt her burns and the cuts on her legs. She tried not to cry. She’d known the inn was probably deserted when she’d seen it from afar. She’d known, but she’d hoped—

“Ever since I came to this world, everything’s been going wrong, huh?”

Slowly, she pushed herself back upright and walked further into the room. The inn gaped darkly around her, absorbing her footfalls, looming. It had been built to hold huge crowds of people, and it was cavernous in the night. The young woman felt as if the building might swallow her, but where else could she go?

Inside was darkness. Outside was worse. There were things outside. Monsters. She’d seen them. Monsters, and an unfamiliar world. A world that wasn’t hers.

Slowly, the girl stepped over to a chair and collapsed into it. A plume of dust rose and she burst into a fit of coughing. The dust was overwhelming. But she was tired. So very tired. And though it was empty, deserted of all life, and dark, the inn still called to her. Its walls offered some safety. So the young woman sat and closed her eyes for a moment.

It began to rain outside. A cold, hard rain that pattered on the rooftops and seeped through cracks. Tapping, dripping. The young woman’s eyes opened a crack as the pattering became a rush of sound. The shower became a heavy downpour. That was one misfortune avoided, at least.

It was peaceful. The young woman sat back and felt the pain of her injuries fade, at least for a moment. The rainfall became background noise and she felt herself relax for the first time in what felt like ages. She decided to rest here, at least to begin with. But a thought nagged at her, something she could only voice now, in safety. So she opened her eyes and addressed the empty room.

“I’m really hungry.”

Thus, the legendary tale of the Wandering Inn began.

 


Next Chapter

10 thoughts on “1.00

  1. This novel is wonderful. If you’ve read the first chapter just now for the first time, KEEP GOING. It gets (and stays) really good.

    This particular chapter … not so much. Most of the novel is specific, warm and personal, filled with rich characters and surprising, convincing ideas about what people in a fantasy world would be like. Maybe this first chapter will get revised sometime? I’d hate to see people start here and decide to skip the rest of the book because in the first chapter, the quality hasn’t gotten up to steam yet (but at least one person I’ve led to this book has done that).

  2. Having not yet read the rest of the story, but having read The Last Turn and expecting higher quality, I’m guessing that this is meant is an introductory, starting-off-slow chapter of the kind that works really well in a movie or in a book you already know you want to read. Because yeah, it’s not very gripping, but I can sort of get the intent. Part of the issue is that I just always have trouble really getting into setting and mood descriptions unless the writer is amazingly talented, and you’re not on “literal master of the English language” levels, so it’s not quite working for me.

    • give it a few more chapters. if you don’t buy in by then, maybe it isn’t for you but I feel obligated to say that the first chapter or two aren’t indicative of the overall quality of the story (so far).

  3. Thank you so much for this! I found it through the Erfworld story you made and now going to read from start. I hope the young woman doesn’t die though. I feel the Inn is a trap or something.

    And the young woman is..running away from something? Or like she got attacked and her stuff taken.

    Feels like 1500s Europe.

    For the author:

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    Thanks for writing a lot of pages and not giving up.

    So, this is going to be a great story then I hope with so much to read. And now onto page 2. No spoilers plz.

  4. Pingback: The Wandering Inn (Volume 1) by Pirateaba – The Fantasy Inn

  5. I am, surprisingly, attracted to this start. It doesn’t give off the classical cliche RPG vibe, and I can sense originality.

    The whole concept of a magical inn is very intriguing to me, reminiscent of Howl’s
    Moving Castle.

  6. Pingback: Featured Release: The Wandering Inn by Pirateaba – The Fantasy Inn

  7. Pirateaba, I’m doing reviews of every update. Hope its useful. Reminder before you read these reviews, your series is 10/10. I know you have grown as a writer so advice may no longer be relevant. Ignore my input as you please.

    Works well as an intro/prologue. Builds the idea of an inn being a sanctuary across universes. Layers with the highly trope influenced nature of LITRPG’s.

    Self dialogue is stiff (I would be more emotional). Writing is too punctuated for my tastes. Joke about failing to open the door needs better delivery.

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