The Shortest Distance
Coming and Going
The inn has two gates, each dating to a different point in its history. The front gate, now rarely used, just opens from the property onto the road. At one time, it opened into Tunbridge Wells, but since the inn has been removed from the world of men, it now opens onto a back road in the Kingdom of Ash. The side gate, though, is magical, and does not open to the same place for all people.
Using the Side Gate
Most travellers arrive at the inn via the side gate, which appears on the inside, but not the outside, of the wall. The outside of the gate is linked to multiple places, some permanently and some by the inclination and desires of someone in the locale. In other words, the gate leads in from everywhere and anywhere.
Return Whence You Came
When exiting the inn via the side gate, one usually arrives in the place one came in from. There should never be a concern about getting home, as the gate will return you to wherever it found you. If you would like to use the gate to travel elsewhere, there are a few options:
The gate has five fixed locations in the World of Men: Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England; Dresden, Germany; Scituate, Massachusetts, USA; Vannes, Brittany, France; and Istanbul, Turkey. These can be activated by touching the engraved names on the brass plate, just inside the gate.
Travel with Someone Else
If you think of nothing and hold on to a person who wishes to take you with them, when they return home, you will arrive at that location, with them. If the person is unwilling or you have another location in mind, you will be split up and while the leader will arrive in the correct place, you will remain at the inn, unless you were thinking of the place you came from, in which case, you will end up there. In a small percentage of cases, a traveller who is not clear-headed and attempts to exit by this method will end up somewhere entirely unrelated, but the chance is less than 1%.
Ice is capable of opening the gate to any place he has visited at least once, which opens a wide variety of opportunities for travel. The list of locales is not infinite, however, as he has not, in fact, been everywhere.
Using the Front Gate
The inn's front gate opens onto its physical location in the Far Lands, in the Duchy of Gleanndoire, Kingdom of Ash. It is incredibly unlikely you will be using this gate, unless you have worked something out with the owners about a plot in the Far Lands or you have some reason to be travelling what is, essentially, the ass-end of the Ash Kingdom's holdings.
All the same, the front gate leads out onto a road through a snowy wood, in the mountains. Far to the east, the Royal Duchy of Uachdartuaim, which holds the palace of the Court of Winter, can be found. A few miles west, the land and rulership shifts, and the Imperium Iucundus, another matriarcy, spreads out. A few kingdoms and a small sea to the northeast, the Kingdom of Apples begins.
For those first becoming acquainted with the nature of the inn, it sometimes seems like it would take great effort to send messages to and from the place, since it exists so far outside the usual manner of being. However, most methods of sending messages can be used to communicate into and out of the inn. The most common are listed below.
It is possible to phone in to the inn, though there is only one telephone and no answering machine, so actually receiving a call may be a bit more difficult than it first appears. It is absolutely possible to phone out. Just ask to use the phone at the bar.
The inn uses the telegraph office in Dresden, as Deutsche Post still has functional Telex machines throughout the country, and delivers telegrams with the next day's mail. The benefit to telegrams, of course, is that they can now be sent over the internet, essentially as emails to people without access to computers, making them a good deal quicker than regular post.
The inn maintains permanent gates with postal addresses in five countries, including its original address in England. Addresses are available in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England; Dresden, Germany; Scituate, Massachusetts, USA; Vannes, Brittany, France; and Istanbul, Turkey. For mail sent in the Far Lands, there is only one address, in the Duchy of Gleanndoire, Kingdom of Ash.
Carrier pigeons and other messenger animals must be sent through a permanent gate, unless they have magical tracking capabilities and sufficient intelligence to summon a gate. Messenger animals may be sent to any of the addresses that accept mail.
There are few cases in which telepathic communication will not work from outside the inn to people within it. These times are mostly constrained to the inn being locked down for a siege, preventing all contact with the world outside the gates. However, some link must have been established between the people using telepathy, while they were within shouting distance of each other, or it just won't work at this distance. (In other words, if you have never established a telepathic link with someone before, and you are on the grounds, but they are not, you cannot telepathically communicate with them, nor vice versa.)