Thieves & Kings
Village of Elfstone
The Village of Elfstone is located about a mile south of the City of Greenwalls. Soft green moss covers much of the town’s stonework, and everyone has a garden that looks more like a lush park meadow than a formal planting. Rustic cottages of the ancient styles are very much the standard. Surrounding woodlots and the ever-present breezes keep the smells of the nearby city at bay, and everywhere are the scents of wild flowers and growing things. At the height of spring, berries of all sorts are ripe for the picking around every well, gate and arch.
Elfstone is a damp, shady place, with springs arising in every cellar. Frequent breezes keep the molds at bay, but nothing in the village will bake dry in the sunlight, unless taken into the fields leading to the Forest Walk. There is a generally delightful “everyone knows everyone” feeling about the village. Pleasant on the eyes and rustic at first appearance, Elfstone is an isolated hamlet every bit as expert at preying on visitors purposes as the most intricate court gathering; the closeness of the forest and lack of bustle belie the powers that shimmer just beneath the surface.
The hamlet is primarily a community of elves and half-elves, and is culturally isolated from Shemite Society in notable and distinctive ways. The community is best known for its inn, The Song of the Harp, which is the heart of elvish culture, and is the residence of the elvish ambassador to the Forest Kingdom, Vanar Truthseeker. There are no tenements in the village, though a handful of human cottagers reside around the village.
Apothecary : ##### $$$$ : The local woodlands are a bountiful source of wild herbs and fungus. Collected by Merdan and his two apprentices, they brew their herbs into very potent herbal remedies. Merdan travels widely through Ambarin, and remains untroubled by bandits or beasts.
Innkeeper (“The Crimson Mantle”) : ### $ : Just off the commons, stands “The Mantle”, a large, sagging-roofed and ramshackle inn that is constantly busy, day or night. Lanterns hang from lamp posts and rafters, marking the place like a beacon at night. There are few amenities. Simple tables and benches mark the taproom, and only broad swathes of crimson cloths cover the walls around the fireplace. Popular among small merchants, the inn is popular for its cheap and simple fare.
Provender includes small pies (3 for 1 cp), and _large pies (1 cp each), made of chicken and goat meats, uniformly golden and crusty, bathed in brown mushroom gravy. Rhubarb and cherry small pies (3 for 1 cp) are a delightful bite-sized snack in the evenings, as they are baked in honey. Drink is usually Berryshore Wine (1 sp per pitcher), and locally made honey mead (1 sp per pitcher). Tea (1 sp per pot) is also available on request, in several rare flavors. There is no provision for stabling or rooms at the Mantle.
Despite some rough company in the form of the odd drover, there is virtually no crime, and in any case, most caravan guards who visit are quick to make the criminal pay restitution and shown the door. Everyone knows the place is carefully watched by the Royal Family, and is rumored to be one of the operational offices for The Realm thieves’ guild. The inn’s proximity to the Tollhouse and Caer Royale in Shambles, also might have something to do with this.
Innkeeper (“The Song of the Harp”) : ### $$$ : Sometimes called “The Singing Harp”, or more commonly, “The Song”, this inn stands at the meeting of two winding lanes in Elfstone’s heart, beside a small pond and nestled against a small woodlot. It is a ramshackle, sprawling complex of many wings, varying styles and roof sections, and little bay windows, reminding one of a low-growing bush or tree roots. In the dark, the site is easy to miss, looking more like a low hill than an inn.
Crammed with comfortable furniture, the place is easy to get lost in, with blind hallways, mismatched furniture and ancient tapestries salvaged from lost castles and manors. These latter hide an intricate series of service tunnels to allow servants to quietly move about the place unseen and quietly. The place is also lit by wandering, blue-tinted Driftglobes, magical glowing orbs that have minds of their own, and seem to unfailingly find someone in need of light.
A place of glittering pilgrimage for many minstrels and bards across Argoth, there’s rarely a night goes by without a half-dozen bards and harpists in attendance, often playing as an impromptu group, and freely, as tradition demands. The place is well-known as a site to elf-watch, with elven adventurers smoking pipes, dancing and drinking among their own, and their musical sylvan language winding between the songs of the tavern. It is not, however, a place where non-elves are welcomed, unless one is of proven and known elvish descent, or well-acquainted with their traditions.
The staff of the Song are universally of the young, female, beautiful, graceful, and would-be-harpist sorts. They cheerfully serve out kegs of fruit-flavored ales (3 cp per tankard), dark beer (5 sp per tankard), and mintwine (6 sp per goblet). More common vintages of wine are available from Berryshore and Winecastle (1 sp per goblet). Food consists of salted biscuits with fried small fish, and pan-fried peppered mushrooms rolled in cheese, costing 1 sp per plate, though most find two is required for an evening-feast unless you’re elven. There is a stable out back with feed, but no fees are charged for its use, and private dining chambers are available, but few take advantage of them unless they are looking to conduct business, and they eventually emerge to join the group around the central commons hearth.
Twenty years ago, the tavern was relatively unknown, just a ramshackle old manor house converted to serve drinks and fried sausages. Known as “The Stag”, the young half-elven bard Tuanala Truesilver sat in the tavern and performed an ancient ballad that quickly became all the rage throughout the Grandwood. Today, the “Ballad of the Dream Weaver” has become the heart of a series of harp ballads that acts as a sort of latest rumors compilation, adding famous legends, strange sights bards have seen, and major events as verses in an ever-evolving “song of the harp”.
Timberwright : #### $$$$ : Providing timber and working with the Timberwrights as an outlet to locals for their charcoal and firewood, he is licensed directly by the Royal Household to provide for their construction efforts. He bears a private writ to harvest trees from anywhere in the province, in the Crown’s name. Tamrys is best-known, however, for his careful growth and harvest of fruit trees from his private orchard, and pays special fees to the Crown for the privilege.
Woodcrafter : ### $$$ : Specializing in furniture, though Garradh Lordwarden and his clan do make wagon wheels, barrels and other wooden goods the locals might need, usually at a fraction of their worth. Although human, their clan have lived in the region for centuries, and are respected by the elves; they get their wood directly from Tamrys and his shop.