Arthur walked calmly yet eagerly along a long path to RonDanne. He knew he needed to pace himself as he had heard that the path was a little over a day’s walk but he was cheerful at the thought of everything he would do with the money he earned once he returned to Torre. He would buy every orphan a gift for their birthdays and would build a home for every homeless family and make sure that they had all the food they could ever eat. He would find himself a beautiful yet virtuous wife and shower her with decadent and lavish gifts. Yet the most exciting thought of all was that he would buy his mother and father their estate, the largest and grandest in all of Torre and that after seeing how successful yet how kind and generous he was, they would be truly proud of him, the proudest that any two parents could be of their son. As Arthur pressed onward while pondering his dreams of glory and grandeur, he soon noticed that the sun would set soon and that he would need a place to spend the night.
He searched for a while and luckily came across a lodge called “The Apple Tree Inn”. He stepped inside and saw the Innkeeper. She a portly woman roughly in her 50s from what he made of her with curly brown hair and faint orange skin. She had dark red lipstick and was wearing a blue gown covered by a white apron. When she saw Arthur, she greeted him warmly. “Hello!” she said, “welcome to the Apple Tree! What can I do for you?”.“I’d like a room!” Arthur said earnestly “Do you have any available?”.“Absolutely!” She responded. “How long will you be staying?” She asked.“Only one night, I’ll need to get moving by tomorrow morning,” he said. “Where are you headed?” She asked eagerly. “To RonDanne” he responded. Upon hearing that, the Innkeepers’ expression changed. Her eyes widened, beads of sweat began to form on her face.“Oh!” She exclaimed, “well in that case, please come this way.”
She motioned for him to follow her and began walking towards the stairs which lead to the second floor. Arthur was puzzled, he could tell the mood shifted after she heard that name. Although somewhat anxious, he followed her upstairs. They passed by numerous rooms many of which he could tell were vacant as he could see glimpses of the empty beds and clean floors through the partially opened doors. As they neared the end of the hallway Arthur voiced his bewilderment. “Excuse me,” he said, “is there any problem with the rooms we’ve passed? Any of them would be fine for me”. “Oh they are all in great condition” she responded though with a noticeable tremble in her voice. “It’s just that” she continued “I have a special room just for you”. Arthur was wary. “That’s not necessary” he replied, “any room would be great”. “No, no” she insisted “a prospect of RonDanne can’t stay in just any room”. Arthur’s confusion only grew even more. What was a ‘prospect’ he wondered? Before he could open his mouth to inquire further, they arrived at a large door at the very end of the hallway. She reached out to open the door. “On behalf of the Apple Tree Inn,” she said with her voice still trembling “please accept this complimentary room”. Arthur braced himself as she opened the door but could hardly believe what he saw inside.
Immediately Arthur realized that this was the finest room he had ever seen.
The first thing he noticed was the red sheets on the bed with two red plush pillows on top. The two large windows were adorned with thick red velvet that matched the red carpet plastered with patterns of gold. On the nightstand on either side of the bed rested two candle lamps with stained glass, the lamp on the right of the bed depicted a king, and the left a queen. Through the windows, saw a large hill in the distance with a gentle river at its base and a vast forest on either side. The blue and purple night sky filled with stars and partially covered with clouds with faint orange and red from the light of the setting sun. As Arthur caught sight of all of this for the first time, he almost thought he was dreaming and rubbed his eyes to make sure what he was seeing was real. After he realized it was and his senses returned to him, he realized that the Inn Keeper must have made a mistake and shown him to the wrong room. Just as he was about to turn to her, she nervously asked him “Is everything to your liking, sir?”. “Yes, this is amazing” Arthur replied still somewhat taken aback by the beauty of the room.
“Excellent!” She said as the tension in her voice beginning to subside “what time would you like your meal to be brought to you?”. “What?” Arthur responded. “Your meal,” she said “would you like it now?” She asked. Arthur now certain there must have some kind of mistake spoke up. “Um,” he said softly, “I think that there has been some sort of misunderstanding. I think you may have me mistaken for someone else,” he said believing this type of treatment to be more fit for a king or the rich. “You are headed to RonDanne right?” She asked. “Yes,” Arthur replied, “I am”. “That makes you a prospect” she stated, “you should come to expect this kind of treatment from now on”. Arthur, remembering that money that his parents gave him for his travels 300 zule (about $300 of our currency) couldn’t possibly pay for this room, quickly spoke up saying “regardless, I don’t have enough to afford this. Really, any of the other rooms would be fine for me”. “That’s not a problem” she happily replied, “this room is complementary of the Apple Tree Inn. It’s free of charge!”. “The only thing we ask is” she continued “when you’ve finished your business in RonDanne. Remember the good service and generosity we gave you when you stayed here and be sure to come back if it’s ever possible”.
Arthur, now understanding that the status of RonDanne to be the cause of this lavish treatment, agreed to her request and replied “I promise. I’ll never forget this place. This is by far the nicest room I’ve ever laid eyes on”. Upon hearing that, the Inn Keeper smiled and said “Thank you!” And continued saying “I’ll have your meal brought up immediately if that’s alright with you sir”. That would be great” Arthur responded calmly. She bowed her head and quickly left the room. Arthur now alone in the room, hesitated to make himself comfortable feeling he was undeserving of such overwhelming splendor. But he reasoned to himself that even though he would accept all this now it would be alright so long as he remembered this place and its service as he was asked. With this in mind, he was put at ease and began to settle in.
After about an hour Arthur noticed the sun had completely set and it was now nighttime. He was about ready to sleep but soon remembered the Inn Keeper said that food would be brought to him. It had been almost an hour since then and he wondered what was taking so long. Just then he heard a knock at the door to which he said “come in”. For the second time that day, Arthur could not believe his eyes. It was the Inn Keeper holding a large tray with a wide assortment of fine foods. In the top right of the tray, there were two bright red lobster tails cut along the middle to reveal steaming meat inside. To the left was a hot juicy steak topped with small cloves of garlic and various seasoning. Beneath the two were steaming asparagus sprinkled with salt and pepper and a potato cut open and glazed with melted butter. Behind the Inn Keeper came a man holding a bottle of apple cider. They set the food and drink down on a desk in the room position just in front of the window, bowed to him, then left almost as quickly as they came in. Arthur, now with his eyes wide open and mouth-watering, all but ran to the desk and took a bit of the lobster. From how hungry he was after waiting and how plain most of the food he had eaten was while growing up in Torre (mainly fish and rice), He had to stop himself from tearing up at how delicious it was. Arthur spent the next half hour or so thoroughly enjoying the rest of the meal. When he was done, he could have sworn that if that day had been his last day on earth, he would have died a happy man.
He sat at the desk for a few minutes longer, revealing what he had just experienced but soon wondered what he would do about the plates and scraps that remained. As good as the food was, he didn’t want to sleep with the smell of it still there all night. Just then, he heard another knock at the door. “Come in” he replied. It was the Inn Keeper again and two maids behind her. However, Arthur hardly noticed anything other than what the Inn Keeper had in her hands as she had, atop a tray similar to the previous one, a slice of red velvet cake. The cake was more moist and rich looking than Arthur thought possible and the carefully applied frosting glistening in the candlelight with a cool glass of milk on the side. The maids quickly removed the plates from and desk and cleaned it thoroughly such that if, if he hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have guessed he had just eaten. The Inn Keeper placed the cake on the desk, bowed just like she did before, and left along with the maids.
Arthur went to take a bite of the cake and soon after he was grinning from ear to ear. Not only was the cake amazing but he saw this, the room, the food, and service as a sign. It was a sign that finally, the time had come for him to receive the rewards he deserved for being a just and upright person. As good as what he was experiencing at the moment was, it was just beginning. He finished the cake after being sure to savor every bite. Soon, the maids came and cleaned the desk just as they had before. After they left, Arthur drearily drifted toward the bed and sat down. He took a deep yawn feeling the heaviness of his eyes and the fatigue of his legs after walking for nearly the entire day. Slowly he tucked himself into the sheets, dazzled by the softness of the sheets and the cool feeling of the pillow on his face. Though he was anxious to discover what fortune might have in store for him tomorrow, he closed his eyes allowing his body and mind to rest from the day’s events, and soon, he was asleep.