Friday, 15 April 2011

inns & taverns: danker's bones

An isolated tavern on a riverside trail.  Danker's Bones (or The Bones) has unusual architecture. Built over a titan's bones it's construction started as a joke. From a distance it seems the skeleton sleeps, the inn and stable resemble a blanket. The Bones hustles despite occasional gnoll attacks. Locals claim the gnolls want the bones for a meal, unaware the titan died in gnollish legend. A regular haunt of prospectors and adventurers, The Bones offers simple comforts.

The unusual appearance of Danker's Bones hides a simple construction. A two-storey long hall raised along the ribcage and pelvis with a steepled roof makes the bulk of the inn. The stable is formed from the leg bones of the titan supported and roofed by great timbers. Though simple, the Bones has a sense of solidity and permanence. Nearby border lords covet The Bones as a potential garrison or manor but keep distant. Taking it would tip an uneasy peace into war. For now the lords wait.

A pine ale of surprising strength (Titan's Gold) is brewed on site. A gentle-flavoured russet ale (Fawn Ale) is suitable for finer palates. A heady maywine is brewed and served at spring's end. As winter draws in, a dark, almost-wine strong porter is served sparingly. At other times of year, sweet wines are brought to The Bones upriver by traders. The food is simple fare, jugged rabbit, malted loaf, saltfish and when the hunt permits it, wild boar. Parsnips, apples and herb salads support this diet with all-spice for the wealthy client or noble.

The landlord, Malkas Dankersson has a lot to live up to. His grandfather built The Bones and his father made it successful. A talented brewer, his problem is keeping staff. His long-suffering wife and cook Almena wistfully longs for town goodwifery as her youth fades. The Bones is large and many deaths mean paying good coin to keep even mediocre people. Bar staff face many, varied distractions. Persuasive prospectors, imperious captains seeking recruits, reckless adventurers and bloodthirsty gnolls all take their toll.

A ground-floor common room can hold twenty people in comfort and is protected by the titan's pelvis hidden by caulked beams. Two stairwells lead up to eight simple rooms. The usual practice of expense for privacy applies. Each has a straw cot, chair, basin and chamberpot. The doors do not lock and guests sleep uneasily for it. The prospect of snickering gnolls and unlocked doors sees few people taking them up. Dankersson is pondering other uses for these rooms including storage.

The Bones has weathered numerous gnoll attacks. Though the border lords wait, talk of gnoll raids along the river are increasing among river traders. Fears of a gnoll horde bring adventurers seeking coin. While Malkas hopes to keep his staff, those rumours may persuade him to sell. If they prove true, who takes up The Bones may find the first week an interesting one.

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