Friday, 28 March 2014

inns & taverns: the honey pot

The Honey Pot is famed for it's mead.  As both inn and apiary, it excels.  Those skittish around bees are warned away.  Stories of bees attacking rowdies help keep troublemakers out.  That said, there are few inns as good (or as well-loved) as this one.

The Honey Pot is a hexagonal tower of grey stone, three floors high and forty feet across.  It's roof is lead-clad oak.  Visible from outside town, it sits conspicuously on a hill surrounded by halfling cottages and orchards.  Green-stained flowerboxes hang from shuttered windows, giving much needed colour in summertime.  Ceramic latticed bricks vent air and occasional bees.  The front doors are carved in interlocking hexagons and stained golden-brown to look like honeycomb.  A sign of amber glass and iron declares wealth.

Entering by the front door reveals a trapezoidal lounge with a low-set bar against the long wall and ascending stair on the far wall.  The low tables each have a jug with a beeswax candle.  The ceramic grills let in sunlight and air.  Halflings find the place just perfect.  Taller races and the naturally clumsy find it tricky to maneouver at first.  To the right, the traveller in need can find a triangular privy.  Beyond the lounge is a diamond-shaped kitchen kept immaculate by the chefs and the maid.  Upstairs, the building is divided into a narrow external corridor with six triangular rooms in which Firya and the staff dwell.  These are windowless yet heavily decorated.  Stairs lead up from Firya's and Kaldo's quarters into the top floor.  Here are six active beehives and numerous jars and boxes for gathering comb, honey, wax and other goods.  Beneath the bar, the cellar is well-kept though better suited to halflings than humans.  The stone walls and earthen floors are lit by lamps of beeswax and piled high with stock.  Sacks on the wall hold batches of short mead ready for production.

Patrons enjoy a selection of drinks.  Three kinds of mead are served.  Strawhead, an effervescent short mead is pale, quaffable and served in half-pint tankards at 5 copper a time. Hivegold, a potent wine-like sack mead is served in goblets and priced at 2 silver.  Rosegold is a tart dark rhodomel made with rosewater, elderberry and apple, served in clay tumblers for 2 copper a time.  A floral metheglin made with camomile and meadowsweet is sometimes sold in the same measure for the same price.  Unrepentent beer drinkers are delighted to find a dark, creamy walnut ale for two copper a half-pint.

For food, the poor may enjoy oatcakes and baked turnips along with a measure of watered Strawhead for 2 copper.  Most patrons indulge in a bread pudding which hold pork pieces marinaded in honey and cider vinegar.  For good friends, Firya or Kaldo may instruct the chefs to go to town on honey-roasted suckling pig with baked turnips and candied apples.

There are no rooms at the Honey Pot.  Firya may invite adventurers to sleep in the lounge for some daring tale or new song.  She misses her old life.  Kaldo is no sufferer of fools or scroungers. "Only for a night friends." is what he says as the cooks simultaneously begin dicing pork with cleavers at the hearth.

The landlady, Firya stands tall for a human.  Flaxen hair shot with silver falls behind her shoulders.  Her dark wooden kirtle reeks of smoke, hiding warrior's scars and paired daggers.  Steel-eyed, she takes assured, unhurried steps.  Her contralto voice purrs threats or pierces the hubbub.   Distinctive among the usual mix of halfling and human labourers and goodwives, she led armies to victory in another life.

Her staff are seven halflings.  Kaldo, their manager, is dapper in dark curls, hooded eyes and oxblood waistcoat. His courtly manners and grace makes ladies swoon.  Jirgo and Ferdo, twin exuberantly ginger cooks make a show of preparation and delicious food.  Magda and Yulisa, immaculate barmaids tend bar first and gossip second.  Their deductive skills put secretive types on edge.  Chenna, the maid is flirty, feisty and flint-hearted.  If the city calls, she'll make a find assassin.  Treyo, the grizzled gardener tends herbs and bakes loaves shaped like tortoises or ducks.  His gruff exterior hides an angelic smile and skill with knives.

  • Cloaked and cowled strangers visit, reeking of smoke.  The bees ignore the formians at first but grow increasingly agitated.  They have a business deal that Firya won't like but Kaldo might.
  • Firya has made powerful enemies.  They hired a fire-breathing wizard to kill her.  Fortunately he is an overconfident braggart.  Unfortunately he is likely to succeed unless taken down swiftly.

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