Saturday, 9 July 2011

inns & taverns: the pig in mint

The Pig In Mint is known to drinkers as the last resort of a river port.  Tucked just off the corner of a promenade, this three-storey maroon-stained wooden tenement with the words Pig And Mint written in white block lettering over the door.  The blackened oak sign shows a pink pig sleeping amid green mint
leaves.  Known to local painters, their patrons and riverside drunks who prefer to keep a low profile, this is an inn that keeps secrets.

Windows in the first and second storey have a windowbox festooned with overgrown mint plants.  These hardy plants appear to survive everything and anything (even fire) and the scent of mint on balmy summer evenings makes it most agreeable.  The main entrance is a covered courtyard where patrons may drink.  To the right, a mural of a rainbow while to the left is a spiral stairwell leading up into the bar.  Inside the decor is eclectic - each wall is a different colour to the last and the floorboards are candy-striped in stained red and white.  Tables and chairs are stained in greens  of varied hue.  In the day, the mixture is psychedelic, at night the blue-glass lamps cast a muddy light over the place giving a washed out cast to the riotous colour.

The drink of choice is a piment, a rough red wine sweetened with stewed apple and flavoured with lime and mint.  This is drunk in abundance by the regulars.  Hardened drinkers will enjoy the aquardente, a clear spirit brewed from wine mash.  There is a pale ale, kept indifferently in clay jugs.  The staff will recommend the piment over the ale.  If asked for food, pickled eggs and walnuts are available.

The landlord, Hamion is a strange one.  Hair bound into a dozen beaded rat tails dangle over a piebald complection.  His parti-coloured court clothes bound by a crystal-studded belt from which hang a slender blade, an artist's brush and wooden goggles.  His eyes are odd, the left violet, the right green.  His staff are equally strange, three portly, balding blind men with white whiskered chins clad in black.  They navigate the Pig In Mint with unusual skill and their memory for drink orders.

There's no accommodation.  Those passing out in the Pig In Mint might wake up there.  Or in a nearby alley relieved of burdens like money.  It could go either way.  Hamion is oblivious to the fate of sleeping drunks and the staff have cultivated an air of total indifference.  In spite of this, Hamion and the staff are not seen going home.  There are rooms upstairs, though the odd chemical smells and omnipresent pots of mint may suggest that something unusual is happening there.

Hamion is a known apothecary and alchemist though he claims to have retired to run the Pig In Mint and to mix paints for the wealthy artists who visit.  Though many of them prefer to send apprentices a few will visit in person.  These artists seeking pigment and alcoholic inspiration often find themselves getting
quite drunk on the cheap, yet potent booze made available in some cases, using alchemical means.


  1. Extremely evocative inn! I'm torn between tossing my hands up in defeat and simply using your creations for all the inns in my campaign or rolling up my sleeves and trying to equal your superb efforts. Please don't tell me this all came off the top of your head with no editing or pondering required - I may start to cry! :-)

    I suspect that Hamion is only telling a partial truth: Yes, he is retired from alchemy as his primary vocation. Yes, he is now focusing on mixing paints. However, his paints are all alchemical creations of varying levels of magical potency, conferring all sorts of effects/powers upon the paintings made using these magical pigments. Obviously, neither he nor his artist customers will divulge this as it would be seen as a detraction towards the artwork if it's perceived beauty and/or value were somehow magically enhanced.

  2. Wow, thanks! This was inspired by Jeff Rients' post on medieval food and the word piment being derived from Latin for pigment 'pigmentum'. The gaudy yet seedy nature of the Pig is based on a real venue so it's not all whole cloth. :)

    Your theory on Hamion is pretty close; the paint he makes does make for better art. The Pig isn't his core living and making paint helps to supplement his more illicit alchemies.


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