The Outside Inn
The Physical LocationLocated west of the City of Kells, on the Eastern Land of Yarlem, on the northeast corner of the Kell-Kandahl Crossroads, is the Outside Inn. A favorite of travelers for its sumptuous fare and reasonable prices, this unique tavern has a reputation for lively ambiance and, for some, the genuine possibility that the people they depart with are not entirely the folks with whom they arrived. There is a mystery in that description that begs a solution, and I am sure you're famished. So, like the visiting dignitaries and restauranteurs you are, shall we begin? Are we missing something? The second thing you will notice about the Outside Inn is the loud sounds of activity that emanate at all hours of the day or night, every day of the week. That's the second thing you notice, only because the first thing you will see is the same EVERYONE notices. There don't appear to be outer walls. The tables and chairs are all quite present, as are the doors, barstools, and flatware. It is, however, true the exterior has, well, worn quite away. The Outside is a one-of-a-kind watering hole, gathering place, and ultimate destination in the most definite meanings. How the Walls came not to be. It started with garish attacks of vandalism, embarrassing to the viewers and owners alike. Next, it was broken window panes and larceny. Eventually, the solution was to have people on the grounds all the time, and the walls became burdensome. The number of times the facility has fallen to either drunken pirate crews seeking recruits by press gangs or been nearly burned to the ground to prevent its use as a salient in the alternating borders under it made exterior walls irrelevant. By the Third Iteration, the decision to simply operate without them was the obvious choice. As busy as it continually is, the absence of exterior walls soon pales against the marvels and wonders, sounds and taste created by the Tinks, Pecks, and Midges of the Outside Inn. Despite this seeming lack, there are five distinct areas inside the Outside. Inn.
The Drinking Fountain- extends nearly a hundred yards long and is the primary reason for the Barmades. At the center, fed by a natural spring of magic-imbued water, is the Fountain, long ago formed by artisanal hands into a thing of beauty and wonder, an attraction unto itself. The collection of mixological magics the staff have gathered, combined with this veritable font of mystical marvel, leaves its clientele drinking themselves halfway to Oblivion contemplating the possibilities.
The BuffetThe open-table hands-only trough for the commoners and uncommoners alike is just what it claims to be by name if you pronounce it like 'bluff it.' Elbows and fingers fly, table manners left at the door, as the delicacies descend from the Kitchen's trap door like manna, floating down from that window in bowls or platters. Injuries sustained in the strident effort to be the first to get to the good stuff are well worth the bloodshed and bruises. The Buffet is fantastic for its flavors and quantities, but remaining conscious while getting your feast on is a memory many came across the boundaries and borders to experience.
The CoursesThis more traditional restaurant section, preferred by noble and knave alike, is a more sedate, if less rambunctious, area. Seating is more intimate, as the structure's architect is also the author of the globally famous "Passion for the Planes," Wilbur Ryte. Each table is cleverly separated from the others by a labyrinthine tangle of ramps and rises, of stairs, and even ladders in the more extreme cases. Food is brought to the table family-style, in bowls with the legendary Wagon-master, Bol, bearing his somber riders into destiny and your sumptuous meals. The outer tables indeed have terrific views of the Vagabond Mountain to the North, the City of Kells to the east. Still, the interior tables are no less fantastic, as every table bears an enchanted surface. While you await your meal, images on the tabletop represent vessels and conveyances traveling between the known Crossroads of Nycos, following the movement of Ships-a-sea, Skyffs- and Skooners- aloft, and even the Caravanserai across the globe. None are confident that the images are actual or the work of fiction; either way, they are unquestionable conversation pieces.
The KitchensWhile under direct observation, it seems more like a dance hall, skating rink, and working mystical engine combined than a food creation area. As so many staffers are of diminutive size, the site is optimized, with sloped ramps and even working escalators moving the little folk from place to place in a three-dimensional maze of incomprehensible scale. The sheer joy of the workplace is infectious, and the laughter and happiness that pours out into the rest of the facility from time to time is itself a primary attraction that draws so many to the place.
The BAFF RoomDespite the era, indoor plumbing does provide facilities inside the Outside. Each is marked for gender, dating from earlier Iterations, but the more expansive and exciting accessway is between them. As mentioned, the Outside Inn has more ways in than out, and the BAF Room door is one of those. Beasts, Aliens, Fiends & Foreigners, from which the "BAFF Room" name sprung is a cross-dimensional point through which Yarlem and Ixl, Daemon and Monachae can transition for a drink and a meal from their realms, and through which the Wagons of Bo retrieve those whose time has come to enter the Crossroads. The door is uncommonly wide to accommodate some of the larger clients yet is small enough to prevent an invasion from other Realms. (There was the Blinn incursion of '129, but the Children of Shatterhorn ended that abruptly enough).
Staff, Employees, and Mechanisms
The Drinking Fountain- is basically a multi-track racecourse inset in the hardwood of the Vagabond Mountains. Over six feet wide, the inner track is a virtually frictionless surface, at once moving and cooling drinks as they slide along in the Barmades serving you. (See the Sidebar for details on Barmades)
The Buffet- has no servers as such. The Kitchen lowers the bowls and platters, plates, and barrels by an intricate collection of ropes, pulleys, and levers. You might think the floor would be a slippery mess, but the Outside Inn has a secret weapon in the fight for creative control of flooring and sound footing when diving for the Turkey Leg. The sawdust on the floor is regenerative Mimic Meat put through a woodchipper to get that fine fluffy consistency. Don't think about that too long, or you might find yourself looking for the BAF Room.
The Courses- standard servers bring your meal to the table, family-style. That means ample servings in organized waves and oversized tableware to allow one to overstuff themselves. What may not have been clear is that the spirits of those who intended to travel with Bol (meaning folks either dying or already dead) often are so overtaken with the Outside Inn, that they never leave. Literally. Part of the reason that the Buffet is preferable to some, is that spirits and the long-overdue dead employed as table staff can be, well, off-putting. Of course, those who normally ignore table staff continue to do this, but the main usually are mystified to see platters borne by ectoplasmic entities and busboys who have more flesh dropping from their decaying arms than from the platters they bear back to the Kitchens.
The Kitchens- the prima facie purpose for a visit employs more staff than any Flagship of the Pirate Fleet or a Legion of the Kellsmen. Most of them are Midges and Pecks, globally known for their cooking and food preparation skills. Still, the Secret Ingredient to the whole operation is the inclusion on the staff of the Tinks of Tymandigan, engineers and magi from the heart of Gruhland, far to the west. Brought by Kellsmen in a past age as conquest levy in a time of war, the Tinks are now the best-paid and most-overworked chefs, bakers, pastry-makers, and Make-Believe Magi in the foodservice business. Driven only by their desire for culinartly (Yes, a Tinkish word for creativity) perfection, the hundreds of staffers follow the instructions and guidance of their leader and mentor, Glim Beginsigan. He created the Chocolate Curry Chicken, the Twice-baked Bakken twins, and won the Culinartist of the Iteration award twice!
The BAFF Room- has attendants, a throwback to a long-lost era of politeness, and the advice books of the Yeti, Ketth. In those ancient times, the chambermaids and chambermen would carry excrement, spittle, and all kinds of other bodily nastiness from the Inn outside to dump it into a nearby gully colorfully named the Bog of Eternal Stench. Further, there were towelsmen assigned to each room who kept warmed, steamy towels to follow the clients' toilette. However, the Attendants are there to discourage dimensional mischief to this day.
The Tavern Tales
The climate "Outside"In the most ancient times, dating to somewhere near the end of the Second Iteration, there were two nations whose borders were forever in question. Both countries agreed that the Road that passed East and West through the Crossroads should be the dividing line. But Lord Chutney, who ruled north to the Vagabond Mountains, insisted that there should be easements along the roadway on the south side of the road, as many of his constituencies had business and affairs. Master Blintz of the South argued Road should have easements on the North, for his countrymen also had business across the line. Had the two been amicable, they might have agreed to the other's requests, but Chutney and Blintz, rivals since the Peace of the Age, couldn't. Thus the Road Wars began. The soldiers for both sides had many relatives who lived in what was thence enemy territory, so they were somewhat uncomfortable with fighting one another, as it might be that they would have to fight a brother, uncle, or cousin twice removed on their mother's side. So the 'Road War' was not about defeating the other army, but about inconveniencing the proud nobles that led them. As it happened, the Outside Inn was in the center of the area most contested. The soldiery, rank, and file needed an outlet to express their displeasure without upsetting their leaders. One day, a soldier named Maxim Snell changed the course of the war. He asked his commander for the opportunity to enjoy the climate Outside. The sergeant, fully aware of Max's asking for, grinned grimly and signed the pass. After that, the soldiers would only need to say to their commanders was that they would take a walk and "enjoy the climate Outside." The Sergeants, aware of and somewhat sympathetic, would sign the requests, and the soldiers would eventually come back, well-fed and in good spirits in all senses of the word.
The tale of Urtha and SkyeUrtha, a singer of songs, loved Skye, the daughter of a nearby warlord. Skye's father had not only denied the two to marry, but had banished Urtha to another realm far away. He wandered out after an audience, seeking his vision of Skye in the crowds. Urtha walked the lands from that day, writing ballads and laments, ruing his fate, and cursing Skye's father in colorful ways. Meanwhile, Skye devised a plan to deceive her father and to make her escape One night, she intentionally ruined his evening meal, burning it so terribly that it was inedible. Dissatisfied, he commanded they all make the trek to the Outside Inn to appease his gustatorial demand. This was what Skye planned. As they were all feasting in the Courses, Skye excused herself, saying she needed to go to the BAFF Room. Her father, oblivious, let her leave and never saw her again. To this day, rumor has it that Skye walks the halls of the Outside Inn, hoping to find her long-lost love, Urtha, amid the customers of the Outside Inn. Perhaps, during your visit, you might see the day Urtha meets Skye.
The Crossroads.Duels in the dusty roadbed. Diabolical entrapments signed in blood. Wayward children enraptured by the traveling Jubilethan Circuses. The Crossroads of Nycos are powerful places as they represent to many the conclusion, or beginning, of any adventure. It's said that from here, Bol, Drover of the Dead, began carting the unaware, unwilling, and unforgotten across the threshold to their final destination. So a kind of Shrine to the Dying and the Dead, The Outside Inn is both a place of reverence and revelry, of funerals and wakes.
Pub / Tavern / Restaurant
Tink Engineering, matched with Eldrin wood from the Vagabond Mountains, created them. In ancient times, Outside Inn's owners employed Powerful Maker Magics.
The longer a Maker engine operates, the more it spawns living artifacts to serve it and keep it functioning. In this case, the Barmades are the decanters, mugs, steins, and all serving tools the Bar will ever need. A veritable parade of cups, plates, and such provide the service, literally with swagger, a song, and a smile.
The interest in the Barmades and the desire for black-market goods drive a brisk illicit trade in collections of these curiosities. The fragile beings do not survive long in captivity beyond the boundaries of the Outside Inn. However, the imaginative use of interdimensional spaces and devices constitutes countless cup-nappings and their wholesale extractions. Authorities generally look the other way for many who grab a spare spoon or an extraordinary fork, but larger hauls have led to beheadings and other vile and torturous deaths. Have you ever seen a platter shatter under that kind of exposure and pressure? Trust me. It isn't pretty.