Saturday, 19 March 2011

inns & taverns: the wyvern and watch

Famed in the county, the Wyvern and Watch is equally enjoyed by locals and visiting merchants.  The inn is a two-storey longhouse with a four-storey watchtower on it's eastern wall.  The stables form a courtyard behind the longhouse.  On market days the tower is occupied by two liveried crossbowman.  As a market tavern, it's reputation reaches neighbouring counties.  It's well-worn sign shows a portrait of a wyvern with a lantern in it's claw.  This is a fair representation of the beast if a little squashed.  The watchtower's presence serves to notify most travellers that this is the watering hole for the local watch and militia.

The exterior is whitewashed stone with black-painted wood.  A thatched roof gives way to red brick tiles at the watchtower.  A green-painted door opens into a spacious bar.  The central feature is a well, capped, dressed and decorated in flowers.  Long tables and benches are arranged galley-fashion.  Five serving maids patrol these, fetching ale and food for coin.  The Wyvern is usually bustling on market days and quieter in the days.  At night, the locals drink heavily, play games of chance and chess and sing varied songs.

The victuals are good, hearty fare.   A pale amber ale is brewed here, refreshing with a faintly sulphurous aftertaste and other drinks are brought in from the market.  Among them is a dark yet mild stout ale that many gnomes admire.  A sweet rose wine is popular among the wealthy.  Food is split into two selection boards.  The vast majority may enjoy porridge, salt pork and pickled cabbage and a vegetable potage.  Those of means may experience honey-glazed pigeon pie, spiced pork and a particularly rich figgy pudding served with sweet almond milk.

The landlord Minias is a garrulous individual, said to talk the hind legs off anything.  He has no kind words for bards, minstrels or troubadours.  The locals fancy themselves as good singers with justification. The serving maids are cheery, if put upon and run the gamut of age and beauty. The cook Althya is skilled but her fading eyes mean sometimes that surprise ingredients can be found in the wealthy food board, much to Minias' chagrin.  The stables are kept by a pair of foundling girls who have learned to talk with horses.  Needless to say, any kind of misdeed draws the attentions of the watch.

Accommodation is limited (six rooms) but well-organised.  The serving maids work also as room maids and keep the rooms warm, cosy and clean.  Market days are particularly busy and trying affairs though and if you can get a room, service may not be swift.  Given the roaring trade that usually goes on downstairs, most people will go down to the bar to save time.  Scholarly sorts may enjoy the peace but don't always get food if they prefer to eat alone.

The story is sung (by the locals) that a wyvern came to live in the well.  It would eat locals and livestock routinely until the village organised a militia to kill the beast.  A 'hero' charges a king's ransom to kill the wyvern and tries to abscond but is poisoned by the wyvern's sting.  The locals will sing this song to read the mood of any band of sell-swords or small groups of adventurers.

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