Conspicuous amid grimy thatched stone bungalows, the two storey Red Tavern gives much-needed colour and joy to village life. The exterior is painted in assorted reds. The dark scarlet sign has the words Red Tavern in bright cherry script, side lit by a lantern. A hedged garden on the southern wall provides a suntrap. In summer and autumn, the eastern hedge is tangled with raspberry and bramble. The western wall borders a stable with five stalls. A grey mare (once a famous cleric's mount) owned by the landlady is permanently resident.
Inside, the plaster is stained dark red. Tables and durable chairs of red-stained oak and mahogany support patrons through good and bad. Candles illuminate while spilling their guts over iron wall mounts. The taproom is a sizable rectangle, dominated by a hearth in the south and shuttered doors in the west. The north wall has a bar and spiral stair ascending to guest rooms and descending to kitchen, privy and cellar.
Patrons enjoy a russet ale and a dark mild for 4 cp a pint. Four pint clay jugs are sold for 2 sp but 4 cp is earned on a jug's return. A decent red wine and raspberry wine are served as well as fortified port. In winter, these may also be mulled. On midwinter's day, the landlady serves the first mulled drink free to all who come in. This generosity is usually more than repaid. The food shows halfling roots in it's diversity. For a copper, oat biscuits, candied figs and peppermint sugar cake. For two silver, a pot pie with meat in ale. For 3 gp, a suckling pig is roasted in honey, served with flatbread and spiced pickles.
The Red Tavern has a common room that sleeps twelve behind a pair of folding doors from the main taproom. This is only used at night. Typically visiting pilgrims use this for 2 sp and 1d6 are found here in early spring. Patched blankets are hung for privacy. Two guest rooms upstairs (2 gp a night) sport locks, ornate patchwork bedding and front-facing windows. Needless to say, these rooms are in demand.
The landlord, Sandor Duis, has character. Spry for sixty winters, white whiskers and plaid waistcoats belie the gleam in young blue eyes. Sandor is a genial host but not in charge. That falls to his wife, Trisia Duis, force of nature and landlady. Seemingly ageless, always in velvet. Brown ringlets crown this bustling yet comfortable woman, her husky voice singing bawdy verse or chuckling. Food is cooked and served by Mabla, a rosy-cheeked halfling who'd grace any kitchen portrait. Dancing girls also frequently work the Red Tavern. Trisia brooks no nonsense and faces down armed knights and drunken miners with over-pawing hands. Nearly all locals will back her up.
A mixture of dancing girl, drunken miner and tired pilgrim can sometimes be explosive. Sandor and Trisia can usually quell problems but sometimes things escalate. The miners will avenge any slights to honour. Experienced pilgrims do not flash coin unless sudden interest from dancing girls and others is sought.
The tentative interplay between pilgrim and dancing girl is a comedy of manners as well as errors. Trisia will sometimes play matchmaker with odd couples. Sandor rolls his eyes while befriending them. Yet true love never runs smooth, some pilgrims are deeply troubled compared to the dancing girls.
Most local miners are hard-working, hard-drinking and like watching the dancing girls. A few take this too far and were barred. Their revenge is waylaying an occasional lone pilgrim. This has not been fatal yet but one unlucky pilgrim was beaten black and blue by them. Word has begun to spread of the bandits…