Bree-Land. Watch your step, keep your whit's about you. You will need them. This town I am bringing you to is vast and intricate, and you have not been here before. You may imagine from other stories you have read, that you know it well, but those stories flattered you, welcoming you as a friend, treating you as if you belonged. The truth is you are a being from another time and place all together.
When I first caught your eye and you decided to come with me, you were probably thinking you would simply arrive and make yourself at home. Surrounded by friendly faces, perfect story weather and a sense of peace. Now that you're actually here, the air is bitterly cold, and you find yourself being led along in complete darkness, stumbling on uneven ground, recognizing nothing. Looking left and right, blinking against the icy wind, you release you have entered an unknown street of unlight houses full of unknown people.
Walking further down the street your eyes are cast upwards at the man in disheveled clothing, hands shaking as he desperately tries to stop the faint flame of the wick blowing out before he has even set ablaze the candle in the lamp. In this fortunate event of your presence, the old man has succeeded and the street is lit with the faint orange glow, and the dancing shadows of filthy moths and flies scrambling for the only light in their life.
It's an ashen hour of night, blackish grey with snow falling like dying ash, sticking to your face. You blunder forward into the haze of your own spent breath, still following me. You hear muffled drunken voices nearby, and are passed on the street by character of no consequence, but they eye you with curious eyes nonetheless.
The main characters in this story are nowhere near by, they aren't expecting you. You may wonder then why I brought you here. The answer is simple, they would not open their door to you at this time of night. What you need is the right connections. Go on, walk up the path a little more. There… do you see it?
As a big gust of the gasping sharp air attacks you face, causing your eyes to leak. You glimpse a building, the steam rising from the laps surrounding it. People gather around it, conversing, struggling to stand. The air is thick with the smell of stale ale and dung. As you squint your eyes to stare at the sign above the archway of the entrance, you see on it a deer. No- A horse. A horse, on it's back legs kicking with it front into the air. Walking closer you try to decipher the writing underneath…"The Prancing Pony".
To make the right connections you must start from the very bottle, the lowest of the low, and work your way up. Until you can step across the threshold as one of the regular. That is why I have brought you to this place, to introduce you to the right person, a person who knows all, and everybody. Go on, quickly and go inside, warm yourself by the fire.
It hits you like an exploding furnace. The heat in this room is thick. It's so thick and musty that the steam rises from your clothing, causing you to break into a shallow sweat. The smell of good beer and the babble of friendly voices envelopes you immediately. The sweat trickles off you like tiny tears with warmth radiating from the chandeliers and yes, the roaring fireside placed perfectly in the communal entrance. And what a surprise, the patrons aren't shabby at all. I bet you expected, from the mucky cold and unattractive street, that this place would be a place of ill manners and poor upkeep. But no, some of the people are even smartly dressed. Hauberks of the purest leather and fur, women are in the flouriest silks and satins, cotton and muslins. Weapons, smartly standing to attention in their sheathes by the men's side's. This is the sort of establishment any respectable person would venture. Who would have thought a place like this would be kept so secret in a street like that.
Looking around you, you will perhaps notice the small steps to your right, leading obviously to other rooms, and to your left you see people selling various important items. The smell from the woman in green near you clearly sells herbs and medicines; the smell of draughts is unmistakable. Still gazing to your left you see the room turns a corner, music can be heard and the entire area is filled with tables, barrels, chairs and a crowd of drunks, happy, smiling and docile.
Your attention is brought to the man behind the bar, clearly a man living off his means. His chubby face and round belly show he eats well. (And the crusts of bread and cheese in his beard and mustache). A man approaches the barman, slamming some silver coins on the counter. His back is on you, you can not see his features.
"Barliman...Your best if you will", says the man. So, the barman's name is Barliman. Maybe he knows someone. You watch from the fireside as he pours the man his drink, whipping the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt. Maybe you should do the same, your face shines like water on a leaf.
Why not take this opportunity to explore the rest of the building, Barliman will not disappear, not when the place is so busy and money is to be had. Go on, up these steps, careful not to trip. But do remember one thing reader. These people can not see you. You are just an observer to these tales. They can no sense you or hear you or know you. However to get a good understanding of the story, examine every piece of it's world. Information and visual contexts are important and may prove useful. Understand? Good. Now go explore.