(By Raluca Marinescu)
"My fellow guests at this arboreal wonderland were kind enough to treat me to a mug of ale or four in exchange for a song and a story. By morning, the courage that made me sleep in one of the infamous hammocks had fled. I found myself grabbing on to the nearest branch with all my strength, transfixed by the ground one hundred feet below. There I remained until the innkeeper’s son could pry me loose and sit me down at the breakfast table."
- Talia Talespinner
Fletcher’s Rest is a tavern and road house that sits near the banks of the Kingsblood, a wide and swiftly flowing river with few safe places to cross for hundreds of miles in either direction. It is built within and around the trunk of a massive sequoia tree. The tree, rumored to be fey in origin, is the largest of the many giant sequoias in the dense forest around the tavern.
The only building on the ground floor is the stable. From there, a wide staircase winds up around the trunk of the tree to the feasting hall and the kitchen, a hundred feet above the forest floor. These main rooms have been partially burrowed inside the trunk of the tree. From there, a dozen rope bridges lead to small cottages scattered throughout the tree’s branches. Lodgings at Fletcher's Rest don’t come cheap, though open-air hammocks are available for guests who have more sense of thrift than fear of heights.
The Inn's unusual construction is a necessity. The snow piles high in winter and the river floods in the spring. Most guests arrive by the stairs but the infirm or lazy can pay to ride up in a cargo net. The roofs of the buildings are designed to collect rain and mist in cisterns that feed to the kitchen. In the dry summer months, guests can earn themselves a hammock and a loaf of bread by hauling a dozen casks of river water up the stairs to the kitchen.
A human woman in her middle years named Yana Kingsbridge owns and operates the inn. She is kind at heart but cynical in her approach to business. She has seen her share of trouble and, like her inn, she tries to keep herself well removed from the troubles of the world. Yana's only child, Burran, is a barrel chested ox of a man and a veteran who walks with a pronounced limp. He manages the stables, hoists the cargo net, and ejects unruly guests, usually down the stairs.
The Inn operates a barge ferry that crosses the river four times daily. The ferry is large enough to carry eight medium sized creatures. The ferry pilot is a surly wood elf who calls herself Ghrel and is missing the smallest finger on each of her hands.
The guests of Fletcher’s Rest vary, depending on the season. In the summer and fall, the inn is packed full of traders and religious pilgrims. These travelers are often looking to hire adventurers to protect them on their journeys. In the fall and winter, a handful of fur trappers use the inn as a base of operations. These trappers sometimes run afoul of dangerous beasts or strange entrances to underground structures.
The surrounding forest is home to a clan of wood elves. They tolerate Yana’s inn as long as her guests are respectful of the balance of nature in the forest. This tentative peace has been strained lately, as the discovery of gold deposits nearby have filled the inn with prospectors eager to exploit the earth’s riches.