Some interesting characters one might meet along the way: A gnome merchant who has lost his shadow. A sage who travels trying to learn if clouds dream. A god of war who wanders the earth planting trees in honor of people killed in his name. A sailor who woke up in port one morning to see the sails of his ship disappearing over the inland horizon. A royal librarian who can only remember things she has read. A prince made of flowers who travels with his entourage to avoid cold weather. A young man who serves as a groom at an inn near a major road where he hopes to find his father, who was turned into a horse. A scribe who secretly teaches the mice in the palace to read. An itinerant fiddle player who can make water dance with her music. An old woman who claims to be the god of lost and forgotten things. An amber cat who is searching for the person who stole his whiskers. An assassin who causes her victim to lose all memory of the person who hired her. A ranger seeking a mate for the last oakhedge sparrow.
These started life as doodled notes on scrap paper. My partner had been curating a Charles de Lint reading list for me, and one day the idea of meeting de Lint-style characters while traveling in a traditional fantasy setting popped into my head.