Saturday, 18 January 2014

inns & taverns: the bright star tavern

Few know of this tavern.  Some claim it's exclusive, others say differently.  Yet the Bright Star calls a select few.  These know traders visit from afar - quite how afar would surprise neighbours and local tax collectors.
The Bright Star Inn is a nondescript tenement in the city with a narrow, midnight blue door.  At the back is a high-brick wall pointed with glass shards.  The tenement and it's backyard are hushed.  A pair of cellar doors outside the front complete the inauspicious appearance.  The sign is often missing.  The door is locked and sealed by magic.  When knocked upon a distant disembodied voice asks for a password - any password will suffice to gain entry.  Failure to provide means the door stays firmly locked.

On entering the inn from the south, a narrow cruciform passageway from the door goes long left to the lounge.  Ahead is the privy while right is a locked iron door.  This door looms ominously and those entering the landlord's chambers rarely come out the same.  Going left reveals a lounge with shutters on the north wall leading to a sparse garden.  Entering the lounge reveals a compact bar on the east wall with a stairwell descending.  Staff loiter here while the landlord reclines in a mahogany rocking chair in the north-eastern corner.   Frescoes of legendary heroes decorate the western wall.  The south wall is dominated by a locked bookcase.  A pair of long tables and assorted chairs complete furnishings in the tavern and the garden.  The latter is a forlorn place.    The high, glass-pointed walls shade too well.  Two brown ducks and something unseen defend against rats.

Patrons enjoy a pair of ales.  Most, including staff favour a pale, acrid ale named White Star (that locals call 'Beater') for five copper.  The other is a resinous stout named Wyrdowd sold for six copper to 'connoisseurs' and dwarves.  After nightfall, peach wine is sold for ten silver a bottle.  Rumours of whiskey have been confirmed but at 12 gold a glass, it's for conspicuous consumers only.  Pickled duck eggs are sold for a copper each.  Itinerant traders sell sweet-breads or fresh fruit, welcomed by most save a few hoary grognards.  The landlord takes a small cut of any profits.  No accommodation is available to patrons.  Staff eject everyone without exception and the landlord has made this explicit.  The more provocative the request, the firmer the refusal.

Samherod the landlord, sorceror and former dungeon porter rules The Bright Star from his rocking chair. Portly, gout-ridden and hirsuite, he dresses like an oversized halfling and favours a walking cane.  This homely exterior hides a keen business mind.  His boon companion is Taur - bald, bull-horned and bare-chested omnisexual sorceror and hammer of gods.  The bar is tended by Kemar, unctuous former dungeon porter whose pedantry and accounting keeps all three independently wealthy.  All three remain close-lipped about their wealth.

The Bright Star's cellars house an underground market and spacious in comparison to the tavern.  Stalls appear and disappear periodically but most things can be bought here for 110% usual price.  Traders speak Common and dozens of other languages.  After sundown they pack up and leave, some use the cellar door, others simply fade away.

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