What stories haven’t been told about the Old Utavran Inn? The place where kings met their queens, where treaties were signed and where wars were declared! Since the time of King Paxas II the reputation of the Inn as the most famous and presitigious hostelry in all of Norandor had been assured. By the end of the reign of Yaddagon XIV in 204 LE it had also become the most exclusive and the most expensive.
The Old Utavran Inn is located roughly a day’s travel north of Norandor’s capital city, Uris, and a mile east of the main Nortmeet Road. The turning is indicated by an old waystation that sports the symbol of the inn: a large grouse on a field of blue, surrounded by foam. This waystation points the way down a winding path that has been levelled and widened by successive stewards to the extent that by the Age of Reckoning two carriages can easily pass side-by-side. To either side of this track is a woodland that was once dense and twisted, but as the fortunes of the Inn improved, an army of hobbit horiculturists was employed to weed, trim and copice the area until now it ressembles more of a garden than wood.
Approaching the inn, the track begins to rise in a gentle incline until it reaches the summit of a low hill. On this hill, resides the Old Utavran Inn. It is an exceptionally pictureseque spot. To the south and the west the tavern looks down upon acres of garden and woodland. To the east is the vast Ramillic Ocean. The inn is but a mile from the Eisen Head, and its precipitous cliffs. At the foot of these cliffs is the village of Gallworth – a small fishing community that now finds its prosperity intrinsically linked to the Utavran Inn. And to the north, is the great Hunting Lodge of Borschan – the summer retreat of the Kings of Norandor for twenty generations.
The inn itself is a massive rambling structure. The original foundations and wine cellar are Hadradan in origin, pointing to the fact that there has been a structure on this site for more than eight hundred seasons. Ancient records locked away in the tavern claim that the prophet Uros himself rested at this site on his way to Mount Korvast to invoke the Mood Gods and drive the Hadradans out of all Urova. It is also said the one of the original Korvast Scrolls is buried somewhere in the vicinity.
As time passed a number of incongruous structures have been built on top of the original foundations. These have fallen down or burned down many times in the intervening centuries, but always has the Old Utavran Inn been rebuilt larger and more ostentatious than before. However, the ad hoc architectural zeal that has overcome numerous stewards over the years has created a building that is somewhat idiosyncratic. The inn is a mixture of architectural styles, with classical Hadradan chic rubbing shoulders with Melafese gothic and Salmayan excess. Looking straight at the building it is impossible to see two windows that are parallel to each other. The structure runs away from the eye in a collection of outageous extensions, sturdy towers and precipitous upper floors
Inside the inn, there are three enormous common rooms, twenty-four private dining rooms and over one hundred state rooms of varying sizes and opulence. There are some common sleeping areas for those who can’t afford a room of their own but, frankly, those that can afford to pay the inflated prices for beer and spirits have no trouble making the cost of a private berth. The rooms inside are also rambling, and the place is full of nooks and crannies, small rooms that you never knew were there, corridors that go nowhere, seven sets of stairs that all go to the same landing and many more baffling features that fly in the face of good interior design. It is a dream for anyone with even a passing interest in architecture.
The opulence of the tavern, its exclusive nature, and – most of all – its proximity to Borschan has led to greatly inflated prices compared to inns of similar size elsewhere in Norandor. The prices tend to me more reasonable when the King is not in residence at Borschan, and the Inn makes a great deal of money from permanent residents and those who wish to remain close to the King’s court but aren’t quite important enough to have been invited to stay at the Lodge.
Storms are common around the Eisen Head, which is why the top rooms of the inn are always cheaper than the lower ones – the building has the tendency of swaying a bit in very strong wind. Many of the upper rooms (as well as the famous Sea View Terrace) have views of the Ramillic Ocean. The Inn is a famous destination for trysting couples from noble families, who have the opportunity to meet far from their families and take advantage of the romantic headland, as well as use of the beach for relaxation – Gallworth can be reached by way of a set of stone steps carved in the cliff.
The name of the inn is believed to come from the Kingdom of Utrava which was one of the several pre-Hadradan kingdoms that dotted the land before the Coming of the Moons and the rise of Yaddagon I. After the occupation, Norandor was (largely) united under one king and all the old kingdoms, such as Utrava, disappeared. Although the names of some of these old kingdoms such as Dismallion and Balankath live on in the names of the Twelve Duchies, Utrava has completely fallen from usage… except in the name of the Inn.
The Inn has gone through many different owners and proprietors over the years. All have considered that the Inn is something bigger and more important than they are – it is an institution that has been existence for hundreds of years and will continue for long after they and all of their line has passed. That is why the Innkeeper is referred to as the Steward in recognition of the fact that their ownership of the tavern is only transitory. During many times in the history of the Inn, the position of Steward has been a political appointment and the current Steward was granted influence and deference at court, even if he were not of noble born.
In 204 LE, the Steward is a human called Benedict Folarn. He is a plump man who always seems pleased to see everyone. He runs the Inn as a family business with his wife (Ede), three daughters (Sophia, Moira and Elsabeth) and seven sons (Roland, Munsen, Carven, Olmind, Jaston, Truly and Skerrin). He also employs numerous other members of staff to help with all aspects of the job, including cooks, stablemen, blacksmiths, gardeners and the like. It is said that the local ranger, Cromlin, is also on the payroll.
The Folarn family were great supporters of King Yaddagon XIV. After his death, they hid his spinster daughter Princess Celestine at the inn for several weeks before she could be discreetly transported to exile in Salmaynak. This led to a certain cooling of the Steward’s favour in the court of the new king, Galahyde. During the terrible winter of 204 LE the Old Utavran Inn was cut off from the main road for several weeks and was forced to live off its stores. In the Spring of 205 LE it is open for business once more.