Saturday, 6 November 2010

inns & taverns: the lance and board

Positioned at the edge of the first piazza after the market gate, The Lance And Board is a well-maintained stone gatehouse bought as the city expanded it's walls.  The sign of a shield with a chequerboard pattern and three golden balls on a red chevron has weathered siege, fire and riot and remains conspicuous.  The sign advertises a moneychanger as well as the tavern proper and provides a covered arch to shelter those coming inside.  The ground floor is mostly stables and up to 12 horses may stay here.  At least six of the stalls will be occupied at any time by guest mounts and a small team of five grooms and two guards work diligently to take care of them and discourage would-be horse thieves.  The gate arch has stairwells left and right leading up into the building painted with murals of crossed lances decorated with vines and champion's wreaths. 

The left stair ascends to a small, austere room lit by tallow candles and protected by two armed and armoured guards where a pair of moneychangers behind desks convert foreign coins or valuables into local currency at 10% commission.  For a fee, they will recommend jewellers to those wishing to travel light.  A quantity of coin and capable reinforcements wait behind locked, iron-bound doors.  The right stair ascends to a well-lit mezzanine where travelling cloaks and bulky weapons may be stored for a coin then up a small flight of stone stairs into the tavern proper.  The Lance And Board is a warm, well-lit tavern with arched pillars between six booths along the east and west walls, each with a chequerboard on it.  The common floor often has people standing about drinking and talking loudly around the central hearth where a ruddy-faced cook bakes flat loaves and roasts pigs and chickens.  The north wall has a lengthy bar where three staff and a manager serve drinks.  Stairs are situated in each corner to the upper floor.

The Lance and Board prides itself on it's selection of ales and wine, as a free house it has seven different ales available and seven different wines.  The ales range from a thick stout to a nearly-white cherry ale that finds favour among the nouveau riche.  The wines range from simple house reds and whites to a warming red said to use magic in it's brewing and a cloyingly-sweet pale dessert wine favoured by particular nobles.  Other drinks include a sloe genever and a fortified wine drunk by out-of-favour servants who want to forget.  Apart from the hearth's flatbreads and roasts, sweetmeats and in autumn and winter roasted chestnuts are available along with mulled wine served with herbal possets.  Those used to traveller's fare find the Lance And Board a most welcome change.

Accommodation is favourable in comparison with most city taverns.  There are four suites capable of holding four in comfort and eight smaller rooms capable of holding two in slightly less comfort.  The suits have beds with actual feather mattresses and coverlets while the smaller rooms favour straw mattresses and blanket for their intended use as servant quarters.  The walls are decorated with murals of night skies and knights on horseback.  A rumour that the stars change with each season is just that but looking up at stars instead of cracks will fool some.  The rooms are attended by a pair of scullery maids who will for a few coins provide hot water for bathing and minor repairs to clothing.  Those seeking base companionship will find themselves in need of a cure for pox much to the amusement of the landlord if it comes up in conversation.

The landlord, Budley, is a former man-at-arms who works for the owner, a wealthy former knight who used the money from his tourneys wisely.  Confident in the face of problems, he knows the moneylenders working with him are able to provide up to a dozen armed soldiers if things get out of hand.  He is on excellent terms with the city watch and often provides information on newly-arrived strangers in return for preferential treatment when it comes to problems.  Between this and the moneylenders he is in an agreeable situation and knows it - this makes him cocksure dealing with women not of breeding and his reputation as a womaniser is firmly cemented in local gossip.  This hasn't scared off the merchants or their guards but fewer nobles visit the Lance and Board than did.  Those helping restore his good graces will earn a boon friend.

3 comments:

  1. satyre, have you ever compiled these into a pdf for download? if you do I would love a copy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Working on something you might like, at the risk of being cryptic, watch this space! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. For sure a tavern I will love to send some time.

    Thank you for having invented & sharing it.

    With a mighty beer to cheer
    The Bull

    ReplyDelete

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