Saturday, 8 May 2010

inns & taverns - the iron pot

In the sleepy village of Applebrook, the Iron Pot is one of two taverns. It serves the south road next to the famous orchards for which Applebrook takes it's name. The inn is L-shaped, made of whitewashed stone with a thickly thatched roof with a chimney for smoke at the corner of the L and has two storeys. The sign shows an iron tankard filled with ale. A hedged field behind the inn holds five apple trees planted like the five pips of a die where horses may shelter and are fed hay by the stablehand who also guards the apple trees from small boys with the help of a cudgel and a mongrel dog.

The interior is split into two wings, each with it's own bar. The north wing serves Applebrook locals as an inn, seating up to 20 people in comfort and is usually full. Inside is rustic, white stone walls supported by thick beams of oak carved with horses and apples. The locals are insular around strangers and bar staff will suggest they try the eastern wing if things get inhospitable for a visitor. The eastern wing is more refined and airy, here the beams are hung with horse brasses and blue clay cameos and the landlord personally serves.

The Iron Pot is known for it's drinking tankards of black iron (called pots by locals and the landlord) that can survive nearly anything. Each tankard is individually numbered by the landlord, Jarcol who bought them from a merchant before he and his wife Nessa took on the tavern. Jarcol looks fierce, beetling black brows and bushy beard earned him the nickname 'Black Bear' in addition to his talents as a horse trader. His voice is rustic yet melodious emerging from his beard. His rawboned hands often catch things thrown at him by his wife Nessa, whose mane of red ringlets with white streaks and piercing, rusty knife of a voice warn miscreants to keep clear of the sharpest wit in town.

To drink there is nut-brown humming-ale, potent and more-ish as well as three distinct ciders, Green Dell (tart, light and refreshing), Red Dancer (sweet, strong and sharp) and Brown Bush (a hazy, dark golden cider, acrid tasting and twice as strong as the humming-ale) as well as an an apple liquor. To eat Nessa will serve roasted chicken, eggs and blood pudding, pork with spiced apple chutney and a thick 'traveller's broth' with never-the-same-twice ingredients. All food is prepared well and tastes delicious.

It is in accommodation that the Iron Pot excels, located on the top floor above the landlord's own rooms. A common room that sleeps six in comfort and three individual rooms, well-appointed lie on the top floor. The mattresses are down and the sheets and scented with lav.ender and crushed camomile. The room nearest the chimney at the intersection of the L has a surprise however. If a lone traveller of some means stays, Jarcol will put them in this room after plying them with cider. Then as they sleep, he will move into the room underneath them, light the black cauldron and wait until the water boils and then release the pin holding the bed up. The bed is constructed as a trapdoor, causing the sleeper to tumble into the cauldron of boiling water, often while asleep. Jarcol will usually brain whoever falls in for good measure if the shock doesn't kill them outright.

The next day, Nessa will visit the rooms with a capacious wicker basket and clean each room in turn. Any goods left by missing travellers are concealed and taken downstairs for disposal to passing merchants. Any horses are sold on by Jarcol at horse markets of his acquaintance where buyers are less concerned with provenance and more with quality. This arrangement has suited both Jarcol and Nessa well, nobody is yet the wiser since their victims are usually solitary travellers or merchants without people to miss or mourn them.


  1. Rather wicked innkeeper there. Definitely something that could work as fodder for a 1 shot adventure. Thanks tons for posting!

  2. Based on a true story with names changed to protect the not-so innocent. Thought it might be nice to have a sting in the tail for a change. :)


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