Friday, 18 September 2009

inns and taverns: the grey goose grill

The Grey Goose Grill always smells of woodsmoke and cooked meat and fish, wafting from the banked firepits tended by customers shaded by lean-tos from the west wind, bird lime and the fierce summer sun. A rough and ready single-storey longhouse on stilts, the Grill (as it's known) sits on the sandy shore of Lake Ridewater, and under the stilts grow cranberry vines arranged on shallow ponds.  The Grill takes it's name from the flights of grey geese that flock around the lake and decorate the roof and lean-tos with bird lime, as a result all staff carry a sling and stones to shoot at the geese.  This war will probably continue until the geese run out or the Grill burns down - neither likely at this time.

Inside the Grill is cool and shady in summer but in winter, the wind sings off the lake like a wolf and braziers glow with burning coals and rushes to keep out cold.  Goose (and trout) are on the menu, the speciality a cranberry ale with a sweetly tart aftertaste that agrees with goose.  Those on a budget prefer small ale and Westride stew - a potluck of floured goose, salted fish, carrot and marshroot.  Accommodation is in the shared common room, stabling is limited (five horses at most) away from the lake (a communal bath of sorts) where blankets and rush mats are provided to sleep on near the braziers. 

The Grill was built on the site of a battle between a dragon and a band of heroes that tore a stand of trees up by the roots before ending in the lake.  The survivors left a full pouch of gold to pay for the trouble to a woodsman who instead called his kin and built a longhouse from the trees.  The dragon's bones gave the Grill furnishings and a hearth capable of containing fires that would burn through a wooden floor.  The woodsman and his kin prospered from the Grill's location and trade and they have retired now to the city where they are making a living as merchants of timber and selling occasional dragon bones to wizards when business takes a turn for the worse.

The Grill serves as a refuge for fishermen, courier waystation and stop-off for explorers of the area; there is the occasional scuffle when a local gets too much ale or if a visitor objects to the basic conditions a little too loudly or gets precious about the stables.  The staff alternate between garrulous and sullenly hung-over and while the Grill runs at a profit, it's just far enough away from the trade roads that merchants in a hurry prefer to camp in the open.  This has become a sore point with the current landlord who thinks merchants are snubbing the Grill even though he has made them welcome.  As a result, if a merchant shows up there is a great show of servility that provokes mutterings from the locals about the shameless favouritism.


  1. I'm a fan of these series. Hope you keep the posts coming on a semi-regular basis.

  2. I certainly will. :o)


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