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Literature / The Wandering Inn

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The Wandering Inn, by 'pirateaba', is an ongoing Web Serial Novel that follows the life of a young woman named Erin Solstice who finds herself in a fantasy world ruled by a leveling system and classes. However, instead of becoming a famous adventurer or hero, she becomes an innkeeper.

The story initially focuses around Erin's attempts to survive in a hostile world where she does not know how to defend herself or even survive. Non-human species are the only people who live in the surrounding area, and Erin quickly finds that monsters and magic are an accepted part of this world. Erin is forced to reconcile herself with making moral choices such as killing in self defense — something which is completely unnatural to a normal girl from our world.

A second protagonist, Ryoka Griffin, is introduced later in the story. She has a different viewpoint and experience of the world than Erin does, and has to contend with her own share of adaptation to this new world. It is soon revealed that she and Erin are in fact only a few inter-dimensional travelers among many and that these events are affecting entire nations as ordinary people become adventurers and start creating waves wherever they appear.

The Wandering Inn began in July 2016 and updates regularly on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

This series provides examples of:

  • A Load of Bull: Calruz is a minotaur with the typical axe in hand, who prefers to use brawn over brain.
  • Action Girl: Ryoka punched a beautiful Silver ranked adventurer in the face and kicked a minotaur so hard he vomited blood!
  • The Archmage: The highest kind of mages. The one we've seen so far is not evil, but a rather arrogant manipulator.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • The Prognugators and Revalantors of the Antinium are the equivalents to ministers and commanders of the armies in their Hives, each one is a powerful fighter in their own right.
    • The Captain of the Watch of Liscor, Zevara is one of "the Oldbloods", Drakes who have strong dragon blood in them and thus inherited some of their characteristics, in her case, she breathes fire
    • "The Seven" of the King of Destruction are the commanders of his armies, each one is an expert specialized in some area, Gazi for example single-handedly fights the watch of Liscor and packs of gnolls. She could have had an even easier time fighting if she was not trying to avoid killing.
    • Many of the Lords, Ladies, and Kings possess abilities that put them above the rest of the people, some Skills are combat-oriented while others simply give them the power to give absolute orders, although the effectiveness varies with the level of the user.
  • Badass Normal: Ryoka, who refuses to have levels or Skills in a fantasy world where everyone else has them. She is a very capable martial artist and has survived many dangerous situations thanks to her instincts, quick thinking, courage, willpower, resourcefulness, and skill as a runner. she crossed the High Passes, an area considered dangerous even for Gold-rank Adventurers, surviving and outrunning attacks from Carn Wolves, Wild Goats that eat Carn Wolves and Gargoyles that eat the two. She has fought undead, entered a dungeon and dodged spells from a Lich to deliver supplies to a Silver-rank Team that was fighting against it, and then left the dungeon dodging the Lich's spells again. She also punched a Dragon, ran through the armies of the world's most powerful Necromancer, and escaped from eldritch abominations in the darkness of the Winter Solstice.

  • Bar Brawl: Many of the fights in the inn turn into this, and Erin gains a Skill that allows her to fight as if she's a bar brawling expert. She even brings up the cost of fixing broken chairs and tables when complaining about all the damage these fights cause.
  • Battle Butler:
    • Lady Magnolia's [Butler] Reynold carries magical items and has the Skills to ward off attackers.
    • Orthenon, [Steward] and Left Hand of the King of Destruction is a powerful warrior on the level of the Seven and he also commands his armies on occasion, he is most of the time occupied managing the kingdom.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Erin is very friendly, and hates killing even when it's necessary to save her life. But when she does decide to fight, she doesn't hold back.
    Erin: I don’t enjoy it. I hope I never will. But I can kill things. Other monsters, or even people. Not just dead people either. If it came down to it, I could kill someone trying to kill me.
    • Inverted with Ryoka, who, despite being an extremely unfriendly character, discovers she doesn't have any killer instinct when she goes Dungeon Crawling.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: When Erin tried to think up what new kind of food she could offer to her customers, she came up with Acid Flies. As the name implies, the flies carry acid in their bodies that corrodes flesh. By extracting the acid beforehand with her undead...barmaid, who has no flesh to corrode, Erin is able to turn it into a surprisingly tasty dish. Most non-human customers, especially the gigantic insect queen of the Antinium, can't have enough of it.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Many people have to call the names of the skills they are using in order to use them. Many have mastered their skills to the point where they don't need to. Then there's Erin...
  • Character Level: A mechanic built into the world in which Erin, Ryoka, and the rest of the Otherworlders find themselves. Every intelligent being gains Classes, Levels, and Skills based on what they do, how they do it, and how they are perceived by themselves and others.
  • Courier: Being a courier is a very prestigious and well-paid job, as only a few meet the requirements to become one. The world the story takes place in is much bigger than ours and is inhabited by countless monsters; therefore a courier has to be strong enough make his delivery.
  • Cyclops: One of the races is called Gazers, and they have one large, magic-augmented eye in the middle of their face. However, they are only inspired by Cyclops, as they do not share traditional Cyclops' gigantic size or lack of civilization. They don't even technically have just one eye, as they have smaller, less clairvoyant ones all around the main big one.
  • Degraded Boss: As befits a world built around dungeon crawling, though played with. The initial foray by Silver-ranked adventurers into the dungeon near Liscor accidentally unleashes Skinner, a horrific monstrosity that results in a near Total Party Kill and proceeds to escape and lay siege to Liscor itself, then Erin's Inn once it is rebuffed. Some time later during a different POV we discover that the dungeon has long been breached by the Liscor-based Antinium who have been constantly fending off waves of monsters spilling into their own tunnels, of which Skinner is merely one of many such monsters known as Crypt Worms, albeit significantly more ancient than the run of the mill ones.
  • Dungeon Crawling: As expected for an RPG-Mechanics Verse. A dungeon discovered beneath Liscor kicks off a major part of the plot.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Skinner, oh so much. Where to begin? This gigantic bundle of concentrated Nightmare Fuel is an undead Flesh Golem thing that steals people's skin, ripping it from their living body, and integrates it as part of its gigantic self, with the victim's frozen face still visible on Skinner's patchwork "skin". He achieves this by throwing an outstretched arm from inside his mouth. And his eyes (if you can call them that) glow red and give off an unshakeable aura of fear. …Gasp.
    • The 3 strangers who visited Erin's Inn and met Ryoka during the Winter Solstice are revealed to be dark monsters more akin to demons of hell, the ones visiting Erin even offered gifts in exchange for her soul, it is hinted that if even one of them had touched Ryoka she would have been dragged into the darkness forever
  • Emotion Bomb: Erin's skill, [Immortal Moment], makes a single moment feel like a lifetime. One use of it while singing resulted in everybody present hearing instruments that weren't played and brought even the toughest characters to tears.
  • Evil Laugh: Chapter 1.01C has one. For full effect, make sure your reading device has sound enabled.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Az'kerash, the most terrible Necromancer in centuries, who devastated Liscor, is only known as The Necromancer. Or at least, was, until the reveal in later chapters of his true name, Perril Chandler.
  • Eye Scream: Erin, when Gazi shows up to whisk her and Ryoka away.
  • The Fair Folk: The annoying little vicious pixies hate Cold Iron and go as far as calling an avalanche to punish whoever dare to show them disrespect.
  • Fainting: Erin faints when Jelaqua Ivirith, a parasite living in a dead body, literally opens her chest to show Erin her true form and then waves at her from inside the body.
  • Fantastic Racism: Drakes and gnolls don't think highly of humans, and vice versa. Half-Elves are even despised in certain areas; being called "half-breed" or "freak". The Antinium are hated and feared in any place outside of Liscor
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Erin's weapon of choice later on in the series. Justified in that she has a skill which allows her to fight with impromptu weapons such as chairs, kitchen knives, and so on.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The rock crabs of the surrounding area are large and aggressive predators that hide in plain sight.
  • Giant Spider: In the nearby area of Erin's Inn are spiders, which are not just huge, but have armor on their back, giving them the name "Shield Spiders".
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: Deconstructed and Played for Drama. Ryoka has plenty of knowledge about Earth's technology, but she's so afraid that the knowledge will fall into the wrong hands that she can't reveal any of it. Not everyone is so concerned, though, and progressively we get things like noblemen eating ice cream and even a millenia-old dragon marveling at a smartphone he magically replicated.
    • Later on, Ryoka realizes that even if she's not giving weapons to the world — specifically, guns — even quality of life improvements like basic medicine, chemistry, et cetera could result in a sea change that puts Lady Magnolia at the top of society.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Ceria, one of the side characters, is a half-elf. Durene, Laken's lover and [Paladin] is a half-troll.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Rock Crabs hide their massive body under a giant shell that looks like a boulder. Since there are no other boulders in the Flood Plains, it makes them really easy to spot...assuming that you know that the giant rock is a monster.
  • Hijacked By Gannon: The Necromancer is actually the master of the Goblin Lord.
  • Hive Caste System: The Antinium have a strict caste system. The queen of the hive bears every one with an explicit purpose in mind, and forms their bodies in a way to make them more efficient in it; a soldier has, for example, a huge muscular body, while a Worker has a small slender one.
  • Hive Mind: The insect-looking Antiniums possess a hive mind of sorts, which makes them all mentally connected to each other. That prove advantageous when they win a chess game against Erin by combining their intelligence. However, they are not quite a true hive mind, as individuals can and do form independent thoughts and personalities.
  • Hive Queen: The gigantic hive queen of the Antinium is able to change the memories of the hive mind. When Klbkch died, his memories were still present in all Antiniums, but if the queen had just wished it, no Antinium would have known he had ever existed.
  • The Horde: When the Horns of Hammerad, and a few other adventurer groups, explore a recently discovered dungeon, they accidentally free an Eldritch Abomination that unleashes a small horde of the undead on them, and afterwards on the nearby city
  • I Know Your True Name: Be very careful to whom you reveal your full name, as a scrying spell allows the user to see the whereabouts of the target, wherever it is, as long as he is aware of the full name. Averted for Ryoka since her "true name" is actually written in Kanji.
  • It Can Think: Skinner.
  • Insistent Terminology: Drakes get very angry, when you call them lizards.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Often when Pisces tells Erin something he is correct, much to her regret, as following his advice is the last thing she wants to do.
  • Kill It with Water: how the Antinium Wars were won; once it was discovered that Antiniums can't float the allied armies started flooding the battlefields, culminating with drowning an entire Hive.
  • Laughing Mad: After seeing Wilen slowly die, something snaps inside of Tom, driving him to insanity. He starts to laugh crazily and changes from the rather unfunny clown to a clown such as one sees in horror movies, making even the demons fear him.
  • Lazy Dragon: Teriarch is quite lazy, preferring to contact his sole human friend, Lady Reinhart, through spells rather than actually visiting her. He does offer to fly to Magnolia's manor when he learns she is in danger (she's actually safe, and makes fun of the very idea he'd get out and do something), but retracts it as soon as he learns she's in no imminent peril.
  • Lizard Folk: One of the most frequently seen races are the Drakes, which are humanoid lizards descended from dragons, though you should never call them either of those. There are actual Lizard Folk as well, whom the Drakes loathe.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Although there are only two main POV characters, the number of well fleshed out characters they interact with is quite large.
  • Medieval Stasis: Discussed. Because of the prevalence of Skills and Classes, there's been little drive to expand, because why bother when those can do everything?
  • Monster Clown: Thomas becomes one after gaining the conditions [Horrific Laughter] and [Lesser Insanity].
  • Mutual Envy: Erin and Ryoka are this to each other. Erin wishes she were more athletic and had Ryoka's adventure-filled lifestyle as opposed to her "merely" running an inn. Ryoka wishes she had Erin's way with people and, while she still adamantly refuses to level up, is rather put out that Erin is actually more combat-effective than she is.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Rags and Garen are both this… of sorts… for Goblins. They do try to be more civilized than regular Goblins and form bonds with humans (Garen was even part of an Adventuring team, which was unheard of)… but Rags goes on to become a Goblin Queen and Garen killed his partners to become chieftain of a large murderous tribe.
  • Necromancer: One of the side characters is a Necromancer, although he is rarely taken serious. Not that this is the norm for Necromancers; one particular, called The Necromancer, unleashed in the past whole legions of the undead on the continent, resulting in the deaths of millions.
  • The Need for Mead: Despite the fact that Erin manages and inn and eventually learns how to brew alcohol, she still doesn't serve any, much to the dismay of most of her guests.
  • The Nose Knows: Nothing gets past the gnolls' nose, whether you recently killed somebody, or… sexually relieved yourself.
  • No Name Given: The Necromancer who devastated Liscor years back is only known as The Necromancer. "The Thief" is also all that Lyonette was known as until she gets to the Inn, many chapters after her introduction.
  • Older Than They Look: Although Ceria looks to be in her 20's, she actually is 60. Her elven blood allows her delay the aging process.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The most terrifying Necromancer the world has ever seen is only known by his nickname, The Necromancer— with few exceptions.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Sapient, very large European-style monsters, with extremely powerful magic powers.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Faeries are only seen in the world when winter comes, as it is their duty to bring it to the world. Most citizen of the world only perceive the faeries as a blue blur, making them generally considered a natural phenomenon instead of a sentient race.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Ghouls are especially strong and fast undead, with sharp claws and gaping jaws. They can also be living humans who gained [Horror Ranks] by becoming a humanitarian
  • Our Goblins Are Different: The Goblins in this story are small, green, and pointy-eared. They also have two rows of shark-like teeth. Due to being a barbaric, uncivilized and outright man-eating lot, Goblins get a lot of Fantastic Racism, which Erin insists is quite unjustified, as proven by one goblin, Rags, eventually turning friendly.
  • Plot Armor: Averted. Adventuring is a hazardous business and even developed characters with hanging plot threads can meet an untimely fate.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: Erin's most terrifying weapon is the jars of acid she extracts from Acid Flies. The liquid is "extremely" corrosive to flesh.
  • Possessing a Dead Body: The Selphids, a race of body-snatchers, were reduced to only possessing dead bodies, and never living ones, by a treaty after they almost destroyed the world.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: "My name is Erin Solstice. This is my inn. And. You. Are. Trespassing."
  • Role-Playing Game Verse: The universe in which Erin finds herself mirrors typical fantasy game settings, down to some of the creatures, like gnolls and rock crabs, originating in games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Runescape.
  • RPG-Mechanics Verse: Subverted. It seems to be the case at first, with people getting higher "levels" within their "class" after they perform various tasks. However, it turns out to only superficially resemble the video game mechanics and turns into a nice bit of World Building with how it actually works.
  • Run or Die: Ryoka while trying to make her delivery to the High Passes. She tries to fight off the goblins and Carn Wolves. But when the carnivorous goats arrive and start to eat the wolves and then the gargoyles arrive and start to eat the goats it becomes apparent that she is the very bottom of the food chain.
  • Sacred Hospitality: The Faeries, who basically live for annoying and tricking people, stop their mischievousness all together when being bound by rules of hospitality.
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: after hearing Ryoka's hypothesis about how leveling works, Klbkch considers dying to lose "unnecessary" levels he got as a guardsman to rise up more easily in his primary fighting classes once resurrected.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Subverted in the story where it is revealed that Erin is a chess prodigy, despite being generally clueless about many other facets of life.
  • Spoiled Brat: Lyonette is the typical spoiled noble child. Even when Erin saved her from being frozen to death, or even eaten, she thinks it to be natural for her to do it, as she is a noble, thus something special. Furthermore,she thinks it's only obvious that she can reside in Erin's Inn, eat her food, and get her assistance, when traveling home. After discovering that Erin expects her to work for getting all these things she thinks are her right, she is scandalized, and enraged.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: Erin was teleported from Earth to the new world, which later was hinted to be the cause of the hero summoning. That spell seems to have gone awry, though, as people from Earth were teleported all over the world, and not just at the intended location
  • The Symbiote: One of the adventurers Erin meets is a friendly exemple of parasitic symbiote (who, by choice, only possesses recently-dead bodies rather than still living beings).
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Zig-zagged with the Necromancer. His current name is the suitably eldritch-sounding Az'kerash, but it is quickly revealed that his true name was the very normal Perril Chandler… Except that his (few) friends nicknamed Perril "Peril".
  • Total Party Kill: Several Silver Ranked adventurer parties team up to enter the new dungeon near Liscor. It doesn't go well. Averted for the Horns of Hammerad since Ceria and Olesm survive.
  • Trapped in Another World: Erin Solstice, Ryoka Griffin, and many others. The story could actually be seen as a Deconstruction of the Isekai light-novel genre.
  • Undead Laborers: Erin, the Innkeeper, owns an undead skeleton of unmatched intelligence and durability. She has him do chores for her.
  • Underestimating Badassery: After being scammed, Erin is challenged to a game of chess against a Level 22 [Tactician] to win her money back. Her friends tell her she is an idiot for taking the bet. It turns out that she is probably the best chess player in the world.
  • Undying Loyalty: The Seven never stopped being loyal to Flos, the King of Destruction, even when he lost all motivation, and for 10 years just sat in front of his throne, letting his kingdom slowly waste away.
  • Willfully Weak: Ryoka chooses not to gain any Classes, Levels or Skills, despite their obvious advantages. Doing this is so counter-intuitive that most characters are shocked when they find out. She does this because she suspects the System imposes some kind of restriction and alteration in those who embrace it she is right, and the Faeries compliment her for realizing this and rejecting the System
  • Wizarding School: The Wistram Academy, is not just renown for being one of the best schools teach magic, but to be a force to reckon with. Even a nation that strikes fear around the world is wary of them.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Generally played straight in the story, as the inn is a place for most characters to meet Erin — which is Justified by the story being generally about (and named after) Erin's inn. Averted in the first chapter where Erin finds an inn and stumbles into it hoping to find people, only to realize it has long been deserted.
  • You Just Had to Say It: From Ryoka as her party is leaving a dungeon, "Come on. We are nearly out. Just a bit longer and we can all rest." Once they exit the dungeon Gazi appears and tries to abduct Erin and Ryoka.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Done with goblins for once. A tribe of the InnWorld's usually nomadic, warlike goblins with their own specific culture settled down into an underground mountain city ruled by an obese hobgoblin, where they mimic human society (having adopted the English tongue and a habit of eating out of plates, for instance). Sound familiar? When some of the regular goblins visit, they recognize the tribe's power but disdainfully say among themselves that they are "not goblin".