Saturday, 17 September 2011

inns & taverns: the perry compass

Most local to the area speak well of 'The Perry'.  The tavern is named for it's south-facing orchard of eight pear trees planted at cardinal and ordinal points around a sealed well with eight apple trees interspersed between them to form a compass rose.  This 'compass' is occasionally used for festivals but the well remains sealed.  The sign is a half-pear with a compass rose inside.

The Perry Compass has seen a series of expansions.   An ancient tower of worn stone stands proud of a open courtyard lined on three sides by white stone and stained timber buildings.  A chicken run and occupied hen houses are watched by a sleepy hound.  The buildings are fronted by shutters decorated with white flower patterns.  The left building is a rudimentary stable while the centre and right L-shaped building is the tavern proper.  Inside is warm, a roaring firepit is kept busy while a bar against the northmost wall keeps the drinks from spoiling.  There is no accommodation available - drunks are charged for use of the stable.

Patrons are urged to try the perry (a sharp, strong pear cider) and pear brandy (colourless, eye-wateringly strong).  There is also a warming applejack, salt ale and cyser.  A brown-jugged mead is also available but at a premium.  For food, there is cheese, apple butter, stewed pears, pickled eggs and saltfish.  The house special is a honey-glazed chicken pie with chunks of pear and turnip.  This 'perry court pie' is popular among more affluent customers - it's not cheap but it is very tasty.

The staff are courteous, all have henna red hair and favour hard-wearing dark livery.  The landlord, Rob is known as 'Red Rob' for his unruly hair.  An ex-soldier, he keeps the Perry running smoothly.  He has enough scars and tattoos to supply an outlaw band.  His daughter, Olivine is the genius behind the menu and perry court pie.  She's recently married (the stablekeeper) to the lament of local batchelors.  The staff side with each other against anything up to orc hordes or furious nobility.

A local mapmaker, Lukael dwells in the ancient tower.  Resident longer than the Perry Compass, his elvish ancestry shows in his face and mapmaking.  His maps command a pretty penny, being unusually accurate and including snippets of pertinent lore.  Rob ensures Lukael always has food and discreetly vets visitors to the ancient stone tower.  The mapmaker has defences as does the tower.  Neither will be taken without magic, treachery or overwhelming force.

The sealed well in the orchard is said to lead to an ancient underworld.  Lukael could provide a map to local caves leading into the well-shaft and down into the underworld.  The seal is warded by magic and decreed by noble rule.  Red Rob keeps an eye on visitors to the orchard.  Those with pick-axes are discouraged, politely at first.  What lies beneath is an ancient civilisation, older than the tower and possibly than human settlement in the area.

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