Saturday, 11 January 2014

inns & taverns: the borderstone inn

The Borderstone Inn is a free house that marks the border of two rival mountain kingdoms.  It belongs to neither and welcomes all travellers.  Trade with local stone giants and pilgrims help it flourish, though few dwarves visit as a result.  Rumours of spies and druids add more mystique.

Built on a ridge road between peaks, the four-storey tower was built with giant help.  Great rune-etched boulders form the walls capped by a pyramid roof of red ochre tiles. Between boulders, plastered stonework and windows give a patchwork look.  The circular sign is a shield partitioned with both kingdom's colours by a giant rune for trade.  The tower appears built to defend against siege.  Wrought-iron hooded everburning lanterns by the doors shine bright at night to guide customers to safety.

The front door opens west into pleasant warmth, quiet during the day, turning noisy at night.  A well-lit lounge and hearth with turning spits and cauldron of stew warms the lounge.  Ornate wool tapestries hang under everburning lantern sconces.  A bar resting on barrels dominates the south wall.  Long benches and seats line the remaining walls, tended by liveried staff.  Doors on the north wall lead to stairwells leading up. The second floor is for staff and a locked door prevents casual entry.  All staff have keys, Broje's room is often noisy.  The third floor has six well-appointed guest rooms (5gp a night).  These have comfortable feather beds, woolen blankets, latched doors and shuttered windows with mountain view.   The top storey is for the landlord's private use and protected by lock and fire trap

The Borderstone has variety over quantity with ales from both kingdoms and further.  In summer, a pale heather and juniper ale is popular.  Winter sees mulled, spiced dark ale.  Regulars also enjoy a white strawberry beer brewed by local monks.  A local liquour made from herbs with faint anise flavour offers an alternative.  Fortified red wine is also available Hot food is limited to thick mutton stew for two copper or a spitted hare for five copper.  Visiting dignitaries face lamb cooked in red wine, stuffed mountain hen (ptarmigan) and stone giant cheese fondue with malted fruitbread, each costing seven silver.

The inn offers accommodation to guests.  The guest rooms (see above) or for two silver, you're given a blanket and told to sleep under a table in the lounge.  Those unable to pay are sent to a local monastery who have spare cells for pilgrims.  Pilgrims regularly sleep under one table while traders feast at the others.

The landlord, Callivel is an unobtrusive half-elf.  His age is uncertain, soft-spoken voice and forgettable face lets him fade into the background.  This hides a brilliant mind and implacable temper.  Everyone else looks to Broje, the bar manager.  Swaggering, bronzed by mountaineering and scarred by steel, he barks precise orders and charms the ladies.  The remaining staff are human or half-elven, all equally at home serving noble or churl.  Their livery is grey-and-cream patchwork, which amuses the stone giants for some obscure reason. They change regularly, new faces are routine.

The stone giant traders offer diverse goods.  Poor traders buy coal or large woolen blankets.  Uncut aquamarine and emeralds, ornate woolen tapestries and dwarf-sized wheels of piquant cheese cost much more.  The stone giants trade for iron, mining tools and barrels of wine.  Whispers the giants have slaves persist despite lack of proof.

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