Friday, 14 March 2014

inns & taverns: the three fort knights inn

The Three Fort Knights Inn births rumours.  Tales of the three brother-knights, hellish hounds and kindly djinn grow in the telling.  It's position as a hill top forces municipal stable use.  Inconvenience discourages casual travellers from closer investigation.  The nearby slum is not salubrious.  The knights are dead yet the howls and keening winds at night-time say the tale continues.  For all these hardships, the inn prospers.

The dusty approach road to the inn is jostling with angular slum-houses, all gables and gantries.  They draw back a little from the inn.  The inn is a white stone roundhouse with circular doors and shuttered green-stained porthole windows.  Beneath these stand pots of flourishing spearmint.  The roof is tiled in spiraling slates with two chimneys to the east and west.  The walls are half-sunk into the hilltop.  A blue banner showing three white stars over a white fort serves as the inn's sign.

Inside the rooms resemble an over-sized halfling's burrow.  An eclectic collection of seating in every elliptical nook allow nearly a hundred to sit nearby.  A gentle slope descends from the front door to a north-facing oval lounge served by served by circular bar.  The oval extends east and west with a circular hearth at each corner.  Four benches seating eight each extend like wheel spokes from the hearths.  The whole effect resembles a gigantic eye.

There are four exits in the north and south walls.  Each is hung with bead and bell curtains.  The noise from these discourages eavesdropping and they reveal anything passing through.  This simple precaution has prevented all manner of problems.  The northern exits lead outwards to oval rooms.  Furthest north-east is a bustling kitchen.  The nearest northeast and northwest rooms are simple lounges sharing access to a spiral staircase leading down into the common room.  The far northwest opens into a magically-lit communal washroom with alcoves for eight privies.  Flourishing potted lavender and rosemary bushes keep the smell tolerable.

The southern exits also lead outwards to oval rooms.  The far southeastern room is a lounge for private meetings.  The near southeastern room is a lounge for the staff with stairs leading to basic rooms for Yusuf and Califea.  The southwestern room is a lobby with a spiral stair to the guest rooms. The far southwestern room is warm and spacious, Yusuf keeps a double-mash brewery running here.  Barrels are lowered by pulley via a hatch into the cellar.

The bottom level comprises three areas, isolated from each other.  The northernmost is a common room capable of holding twelve in comfort.  The central chamber is the cellar, kept near-perfectly by Yusuf and his staff.  A hatch in the south-east links to the brewery.  The last area is a small hallway with six curved doors. Each leads to a well-appointed guestroom.  All have circular feather beds with quilts, cushions and covered chamberpots.

A free house, regulars sup from long, cylindrical pot tankards called 'towers'.  A strong amber ale spiced with rosemary is sold for 4 copper, while a paler, small beer spiced with lavender is sold for 2 copper.  A local red wine, rough and phenolic is bought by hardened drinkers and connoisseurs of dubious merit.  The hearths produce delicious chambered pies, half cooked lamb, half rose hip and mint jelly for five silver. Circular pancakes cook on flatirons for two copper each.  Califea enjoys making stacks of pancakes. Porridge is also sold for two copper.

A common room berth costs 3 silver a night.  Popular after sunset as howling dogs and wind vie outside and people wax drunken and lazy.  The guestrooms are 3 gold a night and may be the best sleep in the city.  All accommodation is sufficiently underground the howls outside are unheard.

Yusuf is an odd yet genial landlord. Gaunt, pallid, perpetually windswept, he strides purposefully as he serves, his eyes contemplating three moves ahead. He knows magic yet he excels in brewing and knowledge of his djinn and noble ancestors.

Califea, cook and barmaid, loves the Inn.  Her boyish face and good singing voice charm guests yet her crude humour shocks prudes.  She prefers women, finding men diffident  lovers.  Would-be rakes find emasculating insults and her knives deterrent against groping hands.

Old Shamshir, the potboy is a grizzled, scarred veteran  whose eyes glow weirdly in lamp-light.  Drinking on duty is normal for him.  Clad in faded and patched cassock and trews, his dishevelled features are capped by a box hat.  He keeps a curved knife in case.

The other staff are casual barmaids from the slums or labourers working their way back east.  Quite a few barmaids dance for a living, practicing their art to keep the drinks flowing steadily.  A few supplement their trade by pickpocketing drunks.  Yusuf and Old Shamshir are fiercely protective of their people.  Violence is not tolerated with the notable exception of Califea dealing with unwanted attention from drunkards.

  • Yusuf will sometimes consult sages.  Sometimes they give him good advice.  Sometimes he will take extra precautions against invisible intruders.  
  • Old Shamshir loves hashish pollen.  When ships bring it to town, he books a guest room and proceeds to party for about two weeks.  Meanwhile Yusuf needs a potboy and charmingly brutal doorman... 
  • Word of the inn reaches a mystic order.  They are aware of the hounds, seeking seek to avoid the brother-knights' doom.  Their interest in the inn is purely strategic.  The curious will find them unsavoury indeed.

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