Saturday, 9 October 2010

inns & taverns: the angel under the hill

Some dungeons never die, they just get repurposed.  This is true of The Angel Under The Hill, a roadside inn that was a former abandoned shrine.  Not much is known of this new inn - while certain locals drink there, most do not believing it disrespectful to those once worshipped there.  The fence around the inn holds a courtyard and small stable, the sign is the rear view of a winged man holding up a ceiling.  The inn is recessed into the hillside with a pair of columns flanking the ironbound oak door.  The stable is manned by a polite yet brisk groom who charges two silver for it's use and considerably more for overnight care.  The horses however will get one of the best treatments in a stable it has ever experienced.

Inside, the main hall of the inn is lit by smoky tapers.  The walls are dressed stone with hand-sized iron grilles to disperse smoke and allow the air in.  Pride of place is given to the large tapestry of an angel, whose face is obscured, wields a flaming sword against a green dragon.  The floor is a mosaic of an angel with a blazing sword.  The angel's face is obscured as the mosaic tiles are fused together by some great heat.  A raised stone hearth blazes cheerily at all hours and a long wooden bench resting on barrels serves as a bar.  Of the shrine's other trappings, there appears to be little evidence.  The main hall can hold twenty in comfort among five square tables.  Four smaller private chambers from the main room seat four in comfort, six at a pinch. 

The inn sells a russet ale that travels indifferently and has come some distance to be here.  There is however, a good red wine and measures of a fortified port-wine (called martasblode) available.  Slices of salted pork, rolled pork meatloaf served with pickled parsnips, a spicy mushroom and onion stew and a hard, flavourful cheese round out the menu. Prices are reasonable and quality is good except for the beer.  The landlord tends bar and will happily pay for better beer.  Though an inexperienced brewer he is an excellent cook able to turn beans and hard-tack biscuits palatable though he has few talents beyond this and running the Angel smoothly - his wife and son serve ale and tend to the accommodation of guests.  Though he knows the Angel is a former shrine, he will not give up it's use without significant coin.

Accommodation is offered - twelve austere rooms with single straw cots and covered chamberpots that to monastic residents will feel just like home.  Others will find them small and slightly uncomfortable but dry, warm and clean.  The walls are whitewashed and scrubbed clean, those moving the bed however will find tally marks on the wall.  Tallow tapers are made available for those who need them as is a bowl of water heated by a poker.  There are no other decorations and the acoustics in these rooms are exceptional as the walls between each room are five feet thick.  The Angel has numerous chambers deeper than this accessible by a stair behind the bar.  Here the landlord keeps pigs, an extensive mushroom and vegetable farm as well as a larder and kitchen.  There is a brewery but this is haunted by mold and beerstone, a professional would need weeks to return it to a fitting place for the manufacture of beer.

There are currently no threats of invasion or secret passages, much to the chagrin of adventurers who visit the Angel Under The Hill although the tapestry contains some interesting references to the location of a dragon's hoard (reputedly the dragon slain by the angel) though spotting them requires a keen eye and knowledge of the weaver's trade.  A tunnelling monster would probably be the only thing that could encourage the landlord to surrender this inn to someone else beyond using more extreme measures.

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