The Oakwood and Stout
I see you’ve stumbled across the Oakwood and Stout. She is a fine tavern, to be sure, with blue stone foundations dating back countless centuries. Half-timbered walls rise four stories high, shuttered windows dotting her flanks, whilst smoke bellows from two score chimneys. When you step through her iron-embossed wooden doors, though, you’ll find a feasting hall from legend.
Roaring fires, trestle tables and tankards frothing with ale greet you upon your first step. The chatter of a hundred voices hits you like a thunderbolt next. Scented perfumes, sizzling meat and oiled leather mingle with pungent smoke as you drift towards the long bar, causing some to cough and splutter, whilst others slap hard coin on the timber top as they call for a beverage of choice.
It is now, as you scan the crowd, that you notice the clientele differ from the norm. Mail-clad warriors with silver swords lean further down the bar, small folk sitting beside them on high stools. Bearded men standing seven feet tall mingle by the fire pit, pale skinned women wearing pastel ribbons and little else appear amused at their furtive gestures. Whilst in a dark corner the screech of a high pitched voice can be heard, several observers holding hands over ears, yet their smiles are wide. You see, the Oakwood and Stout is a nexus of renown. It is difficult to find, for it is here where past, present and future become one. In this hall we discover adventurers, nomads, space travellers and vagrants mingling with wizards, princesses and stable boys as they tell stories from near and afar.
How anyone arrives is unknown. Where they go once they step out the iron-embossed doors is anyone’s guess. But whilst here, feasting and merriment is mandatory, and the telling of at least one tale is recommended.
So sit back, grab your favourite poison, a side of meat, some cheese and a handful of pickles. (Seriously, the pickles are exceptional). And listen. Listen to the barbarians as they shout of their exploits. Listen carefully to the assassin barely seen, sitting in the shadows, as he whispers of his nefarious deeds. Or listen to one of countless others, from unknown worlds and far away places, as they weave a tale of adventure, courage or blind luck in the face of adversity.
Come on, what are you waiting for?
The adventure begins here.