Sage of Shadowdale has something to say about pretty much everything.
Despite having pages in Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Adventures, and Polyhedron
Newszine, the Old Mage still has more to speak of the Realms. Not wanting
to anger an archmage, we decided it would be best to give him a weekly
column from which to discuss the finer points.
well, young one...
Place to Stay
The Flying Stag
Despite the shadow
of the Dark Sun lying over much of Voonlar, it has grown greatly in population
and prosperity in recent years -- due to folk fleeing both the troubles
in Zhentil Keep and the harsh rule that has arisen in Hillsfar. A lot
of trade to and from the mines north of the Moonsea relocated from small
holds in and around Zhentil Keep to various places a little farther from
raiding orc bands and marauding monsters -- and Voonlar was one of them.
The temporary collapse of Zhent road patrols and the cessation of habitual
local skirmishes with the forces of Hillsfar encouraged even more overland
trade, as merchants were emboldened to send their goods in smaller, more
This in turn has led
to an increased in the size, number, and services of Voonlar's inns, which
were already, for the most part, "of the best that can be expected
upcountry," as the notorious traveler Volothamp Geddarm put it.
In addition to houses
offered for rent and boardinghouses (Rhingallo's and Mother Tarset's,
both ramshackle old mansions long used seasonally by traveling harvesters
and farm laborers, and now within a decade of falling down if not rebuilt),
Voonlar can offer the traveler no less than five inns.
The Flying Stag (Good/Expensive)
The newest of Voonlar's
inns, this two-story, barnlike structure (of fieldstone and firequench-enspelled-wood)
stands on Blarun's Lane, north off Runstal's Ride not far west of the
Owned and operated
by Hlarvo Dluthree, the Flying Stag can readily be found by travelers
because of its huge 'stag with wings, swooping' carved and painted signboard,
that hangs amid three storm-lanterns over the inn foreyard and circular
front door. Its name comes from a long-ago waspish observation by Hlarvo's
tiny and bustling wife Valladonra, who told her husband that she expected
to see him give up carpentry and actually follow his dreams as far as
opening an inn at about the same time as stags learned to fly.
The Stag caters to
wealthy travelers who desire privacy and quiet. It offers no taproom or
common dining area, but rather suites of several joined rooms, each separated
from other suites by linen cupboards or serving-stairs. A small menu of
excellent hot dinners is served to each guest in their rooms by arrangement,
and the Stag has both a high-walled compound with stabling of the finest
quality and covered, guarded storage for wagons, but two secluded "bowers"
in the back corners of its walled yard (vine-cloaked and tiled areas fitted
with benches, tables, and couches) for the use of guests. It's said in
town that Valladonra, a great beauty and hopeless romantic, hoped that
many couples would enjoy the romantic solitude of the bowers, and early
on arranged a booking and rental sytem to ensure their privacy -- but
instead, the bowers have largely become short-term offices for travelers
desiring to transact their business unseen.
The Sembian merchant
Taglinder of Selgaunt judged the Stag "simple but clean, with caring,
attentive staff." Furniture and amenities are thoughtful and plentiful
rather than adorned or luxurious, and every suite has its own tub and
scented-water flushbucket jakes. Suites range from 3 gp to 5 gp a night,
depending on size and view (most have balconies), with meals included.
Stabling is an extra 5 sp/beast/night, and use of a bower costs an extra
1 gp/half-day, or 4 sp/quarter-day.
Typical meals at the
Stag consist of a soup, two main dishes (hot or cold depending on the
season), hot rolls served with herbed butter and a dish of fiery pickle-spread,
and a guest's choice of four or five ales and six or seven wines.
The main dishes might
be roast boar and fresh greens; a potato mash of fried and diced lamb,
onions, garlic, and parsnips; smoked turkey and bulls'-tongues savander
(steamed and hot-spiced horseflesh and quail baked into a pie) served
with a selection of lime chutneys and pickled eels, mussels and smallfish;
a many-spice stew of barley, peppers, and beef; or something seasonal
and special (such as butter-fried Moonsea silverfin, when a fishmonger's
wagon rolls into town).
Soups tend to be creamed
leek and potato; mushrooms and almond; breek (wild onions, radishes, hot
spices, and boiled beef -- which is to say hooves, tripes, and all, strained
out before serving); forest leaf (berries and a tisane of certain flavorful
roots and leaves); and wildfowl stew (barley-based and pleasant, but widely
suspected to be a way of using up old chickens and captured mice). When
the second cook, the fat and jovial Mareeka, is at work in the kitchens,
soups are always served in hollowed-out round loaves of bread, sealed
against leakage by spreading a thick layer of melted cheese into the inside
surfaces to harden into a crust.
Meals are served on
wooden trays covered with metal domes; guests may ring for them to be
removed at any time. Portions are small, but guests are encouraged to
ring for more, so that everything may be fresh.