Elminster Speaks
Khôltar, Part 10

(Part #59)

Khôltar, Part 10: Hungry in Handrornlar, and More

Well met again. Aye, I'm still Elminster, and aye, we're still looking about the waymoot inside the north gate of the Iron City. 'Tis time to look east of Lathacetraal (literally, "East Traal," the squat turret-shaped duty house inside the east side of Handrornlar) and across the alley that runs beside it. This alley links the waymoot with the nameless garthraun lane that runs around the inside of the entire city wall. We will also cover the next building along. Not so imposing, aye?

This little chaos of broken towers and mismatched repairs and additions houses one of the busiest blurdren in all Khôltar. 'Tis not large, but the spot is right, thrusting out like a snout on the front of the last (or first) city block by the gate. Nondwarves -- and more than a few of the Stout Folk, too -- swarm to its serving-windows for the simple but superb fare to be had here at Munsrum's Ready Ladle (just "Munsrum's" to most folk). Here a small army of saucy, good-natured lasses -- including three half-elves, which are rare sights in Khôltar, and thus a lure for many smitten admirers -- race about a bright, noisy, chattering kitchen at all hours, making and serving forth a small, unchanging menu.

Hot vauge tea (made from the vauge or voj-weed that grows wild in the Shaareach) is free, but rental of a (dented metal) cup if ye've not brought one is a copper -- and they seem not to care if ye wander off and never return it. Cordials (berry juice laced with a little firewine and secret scatterings of herbs, promised to work against ills but largely sold for the flavor, methinks) are sold by the bottle: 3 gp to 6 gp, depending on the popularity and availability of a type. (Usually amber-hued muquet, made with the rinds and pulp of something akin to the rarest of thy oranges, is the cheapest, and dark blue thannaberry, which is something like sweet, almost cherrylike blueberries, is the dearest.) Ale (sometimes dreadful, at other times adequate, but always a blend, from cheap kegs sold by arriving merchants) is 5 cp a cup for the first, and 4 cp a cup thereafter, if ye use a Munsrum's cup, or 4 cp for all servings if ye provide a small tankard (larger containers will bring a price increase).

As for food, ye have three choices, all served in hardrusk buns (small bread loaves baked iron-hard, and made with a huge central cavity and a squat base so they'll stand up with cavity opening uppermost): claevur (a mash of spiced fish, groundworms, greens, and tubers -- the fish being whatever salted fish is brought in by caravans in kegs) for 2 sp; thimmer (thin strips of panfried boar and other meats, diced with sausages, and served in a gravy of their own drippings) for 3 sp; and mantara (a fry of eggs that has had various diced cheeses and greens stirred into it (what ye might call an omelet), and once hard is cut into flat slabs and then rolled and stuffed into the hardrusk), also for 3 sp.

I say so much about Munsrum's because 'tis about as good as an Iron City blurdren gets, and because much of its fare is what most Khôltans in a hurry make for themselves at home (though most larders would also have ready some root pies, minced-meat tarts, and sugar candies).

Beside Munsrum's is Oraundro Nempeth's, a narrow-fronted shop selling rope, cord, twine, binding wire, tying rings, and a small selection of chain. Next to that is the gloomy entrance of Harhallo's Warmhearth House, which is an old, small inn that caters to dwarves but has been falling slowly but steadily out of favor as the newer, larger Tarjteir has soared in popularity. Human guests now outnumber dwarven clientele almost two to one in the dimly lit, many-pillared, threadbare passages and chambers of this old and decaying inn. Yet Yontur Harhallo, third of his line to run this Iron City inn, remains a quiet, kindly friend to many. Harhallo's is massively built, with stone walls more than 3 feet thick, and it offers relative quiet and privacy -- and low prices. A guest and one beast will be fed (straw in the stables, and onion soup, biscuits, and slices of roast brought to the rooms of guests), watered, bathed if need be, and given a stall or private room with bed for a flat 9 silver pieces a night. There's a "common room" with a gigantic fireplace for those who like to chat (drinks there are extra, of the 4 cp/tankard sort, plus a smattering of most expensive wines). Old travelers, and the miserly, tend to stay at Harhallo's.

Beyond Harhallo's, down to the mouth of the first easterly street, Malpeir Lane, the rest of the block is given over to hiring firms, who can direct any visitor -- for a small fee -- to employers desiring workers skilled in this or that, without any surety of hiring, of course. It also has "find it for you for a copper" services (who guide ye to any place in Khôltar that sells, mends, or buys particular items) and a barrelworks.

So let's turn about in our hovering to the last face of the waymoot, and look at what stands there next time, before moving on.

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