Red Slippers: More Tales of Mithgar - Forward
(Reproduced by permission of Dennis L. McKiernan, copyright by Dennis L. McKiernan)
Well, in the past, in several stories set in Mithgar, I have referred to a place called the Red Slipper--a bordello, an inn, a tavern in Port Arbalin, a city on the southern shores of Arbalin Isle. It is perhaps the chief trading port along the Avagon Sea, and here often a person can find the Elvenship Eroean docked after one of its epic voyages. And in these tales many of the stories start out in that same Red Slipper.
Yet the title says red slippers, plural, and what's that all about?
Okay, I'll tell you: a "red slipper" is a term I use to denote a loose end, and there are quite a number of loose ends left over from the Mithgarian series.
You see, way back when I wrote The Dragonstone, I first brought up the term "red slipper" in the foreword of that book in reference to Sherlock Holmes. Here is what I said then, and it still applies:
Although to my knowledge this never happened, still I can imagine Watson beginning a narrative as follows: "It was soon after Holmes and I had resolved the peculiar case of the singular red slipper, when there came a knock on the door of our quarters at 221B Baker Street. As I set aside the paper and prepared to answer the summons, Holmes put a finger to his lips and hissed, 'Do not under any circumstance, Watson, open our door without your pistol in hand, for the visitor can be none other than the Bengalian assassin...'"
Watson would then go on to illuminate us as to the fascinating Case of the Circular Cord.
But you know what? We never do find out about the red slipper, the one mentioned in his opening sentence.
Yet, for those of us who avidly followed Watson's narratives, we knew, knew, that in between, in between, those cases we did get to read about, the Great Detective was out there solving other most singular enigmas, and if we just kept our eyes open, we indeed might see him afoot, observing clues obvious to him but completely obscure to us... obscure, that is, until explained, at which time Lestrade might say, "Oh, how simple. Why anyone can see that." -Um, you bet.
Now, I repeat, as far as I know, Watson did not chronicle any Case of the Red Slipper, nor did he publish anything concerning a Bengalian assassin or a circular cord... but surely such things should have been. After all, there was the case of the giant rat of Sumatra, and there was the account of the Addleton tragedy, and the story of the red leech, and the terrible death of Crosby the banker, and many, many more cases alluded to but never published... each a red slipper dropped upon the Holmesian 'scape.
And there are red slippers lying all across Mithgar, and every now and again I pick up one that somehow was dropped, and in my best Sherlockian manner I examine it closely and tell you what I see.
Some Mithgarian red slippers have been: a small silver horn found in the horde of Sleeth; a logbook entry concerning a crystal spear; a mention of the long-held secret of the Ch‚kia; a stone knife which disappeared in an iron tower; a silver sword taken from the hand of a slain Elven prince; and so on. Some red slippers are enormous, such as a tapestry depicting a key moment in the Great War of the Ban. Some are small but have great impact, such as a stone ring given to an impossible child. These and more hold the most intriguing tales, and they are red slippers all, slippers which I may take up someday and see what they can tell you and me.
There is a problem in examining red slippers, though, for every time I take one up to tell its story, it seems more red slippers fall out.
In any event, come with me as I pick up another one of these crimson shoes from the 'scape and let us not only see what we find but also what other red slippers might fall out.
Since I first wrote that foreword to The Dragonstone, I did take up some more red slippers, and still more fell out. And again I say, Oh, well...
Readers, however, do not much care for the "Oh, well" response, and many have been nagging me to tell about this red slipper or that one.
So, herein are twelve chapters, ten of which speak of twelve red slippers, one of which refuses to speak of a rather large and puzzling red slipper, and two of which drop another couple of red slippers down upon the 'scape.
That's the problem with those darn things: slippers keep falling out.
Regardless, roses are red, slippers are red, and so are valentines. And this is a well-deserved valentine to those who have crossed the realms of Mithgar at my side.
-Dennis L. McKiernan