At the foot of the Zaros hills, the Zaros Road is known for it's sinister nature and as harvest shadows lengthen, the gods are placated for bright spring and gentle winter. These sacrifices are not always heeded and the gods have seen fit to shelter brigands and worse in the hills. As a result, the Zaros Road Taverna was built over a freshwater spring within reach of the town and used as a waystation by merchants and travellers.
This taverna and it's yard is enclosed within a whitewashed stone wall and painted gate. Close to the taverna is an extensive frame holding up a trellis laden with vines and a creeping white rose at each post. The result is a shelter thick with vines and in summer, grapes and roses. A pair of large yet intelligent warhounds owned by the landlord lie here, keep vigil over the yard and occasionally beg food from the gullible and easily scared.
The taverna itself is a 40' square two-storey structure made of quarried stone and geometric tiles laid out in patterns around the bar and hexagonal hearth burning pine cones and birch or pinewood. A collection of wooden benches and tables can hold up to forty people, typically there are fifty people jostling for space and additional service; with up to another six musicians, entertainers and dancing girls working them.
The walls are decorated with icons of local gods and artifacts of hunting and shepherding. There are eight cell-like rooms upstairs behind the bar which command a high price - most locals sleep in the courtyard anytime but winter or curl up in the corners. Occasionally a merchant will visit, risking the road for profit, and complain to the grim amusement of the landlord who asks if they want to camp outside. They never do so.
The landlord is a grizzled former archer who runs his place like a barracks, his staff and family are fiercely loyal despite his appalling behaviour to them. The locals respect him, his skill has kept them safe from the brigands and his taverna is pleasant and often drink small beer or wine (a little rough about the edges) while enjoying the skill of the cook, whose craft is considerable.
The locals enjoy roasted goat and mutton, freshwater mussels boiled in butter and rich lamb stew packed with garlic and olives with occasional boar and blood sausages. The prices are reasonable. Shepherds who live near the taverna may offer one of their flock for a tab reckoned by the landlord. The locals are a friendly bunch yet mentioning what is in the hills makes them taciturn and they suggest taking the road during the day.
The taverna is cooled by an underground cistern where ale and wine are kept. This cistern collects water from the fresh spring, it's design allows the water to flow away while giving enough to keep the taverna well stocked. Food is kept in an adjacent cellar - in theory, the taverna could last for a week if it ever came under siege from whatever lives in the hills.
The stables are made of the same whitewashed stone as the wall and support up to eight horses. Two of the stalls are permanently taken - one with the landlord's own horse, the other holds a horse for local messengers to use. The local town council willingly waive the price of the stables and feed from their local taxes since the taverna is a waystation and often shelters those who cannot return to the town before nightfall.
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