The Ash and Hazel
Purpose / Function
The Ash and Hazel is a large tavern and boarding house located along the busy Quai de la Fosse in the port city of Naoned. Situated opposite the Forest, a chaotic floating shanty town built of grounded ships, improvised walkways and barges along the Liger River, the tavern is rarely quiet, drawing in all manner of patrons. The lower floors are home to a lively public house and bar, as well as Mrs. Miggin's Pie Shoppe, which operates out of a small cottage behind the building, accessed via an alleyway. The tavern serves food and drinks, as well as regular entertainment, attracting traveling trouveres with its lively reputation. The first floor, situated in a gallery above a central atrium, allows for more quiet dining than the chaotic ground level. The upper floors consist of single rooms and suites that are rented out to boarders, typically foreign merchants staying in the city on extended business. The 2nd floor is taken up by short term guests and travelers, while the 3rd floor is made up of larger suites for longer-term lodgers. The magical qualities of the building has made it a popular destination for Boermerzh and Fae looking to exploit the erratic space of Faerie-linked buildings.
The primary entry to the Tavern is at the Southeast corner of the structure, through an arched doorway of oak, patterned with elaborate knotwork of raised wood. It is flanked by pilasters carved to resemble a hazel and an ash tree, giving the tavern its name, which continue up the jambs to the lintel, where the stylized branches and leaves intertwine. A second doorway grants access from the stables, located down a narrow cobblestone alleyway along the Eastern edge of the structure. This opens into a antechamber, allowing access to the staircases and small pantries, as well as the main room, exiting near the bar. In the upper basement, there is a underground entryway, opening to a wide tunnel bordering an underground canal, primarily used for deliveries. Existing in a persistent Bleed, the tavern is pocked with dozens of hidden entryways and exits, opening to subterranean tunnels or stranger locations, which are occasionally discovered.
Sensory & Appearance
The tavern is usually full of the smell of freshly baked bread, as well apples, cinnamon, wine and roast meat, among others, as the scents of the kitchen and the pie-shoppe are accentuated within the space and are noticeable throughout the entire tavern. The upper floors have been described as having the scent of pine. The tavern is well lit by orange ambient light, blending into the stained light brown wood of the walls and posts throughout. The lights dim when an area is not is use. The upper floors are darker in colour and lighting, with the carvings taking on a more formal and somber appearance in the hallways. In the basement, the alchemical lightglobes are more visible, flaring to life as approached, dimming to blue pilot lights when further away. The carved wood of the ground and upper floors is replaced by stone bricks and living rock as one descends deeper down. While the tavern floors maintain a pleasant temperature throughout the year, with roaring fireplaces adding heat and ambience, the upper floors vary dramatically between the same pleasant temperature and cooler areas frequented by Unseelie Fae, creating cold spots outside of some doors.
Mrs. Miggins- Little is known about the mysterious owner of the tavern, as none have ever seen her in person. She resides in a small cottage behind the stables in the back yard, smoke and the scent of baking pies carried on the breeze. She keeps to herself, but seems to have a hand in the goings-on throughout the building, which seems to respond to her mood.
Krogstad- A hulking fomorian from Orkney, serving as the tavern's bouncer, handiman and occassional bartender, as well as its accountant. Stories abound of his dark and violent past. A man of few words, he maintains a professional aloofness and an intimidating presence, but is well-liked by the other staff and the regulars.
Jacques- A local troublemaker turned errand-boy for the Tavern, Jacques spends his days in the markets of Place du Vin, acquiring foodstuffs, libations and debt, while drumming up support for the tavern along the Quai de la Fosse. Rumor has it that he had a run in with the Malandrins and is now under the Tavern's protection.
Sizailh- A young Teuz pickpocket and member of the Forthaves Vinegar Company, who sought refuge in the Ash and Hazel, becoming a waitress and scullery-maid, handling small tasks around the tavern.
The Boudics- The Tavern employs a veritable army of Boudic Korrigan, who keep the structure clean, cook the food and make small maintenance of the building.
GuestsThe Eladan merchant Gwaeron Sulime Dethemir and her bodyguard Kathalia Bisclavret rent the door on the 4th floor, serving as the entrance to Gwae's Silverkey Bower The Trouvere Marie deCygne, also lives here much of the year. Initially unable to pay the rent, she composed a popular Lai, le Fresne, a tale inspired by the decor and history of the building, centering on a tale of star-crossed lovers, forbidden love and secret identities. The Lai has proven quite popular and has drawn many to the "legendary" tavern, where Marie gives regular renditions of the poem, allowing her to remain at the inn. The Illusionist Morgiana, while not residing in the tavern proper, rents out a space behind the stables to park her Cart, where she lives with Sesame the Donkey and the other members of the Forthaves Vinegar Company.
ExteriorThe Hazel and Ash is located one street inland from the riverfront near the Forest, along a wide avenue split by a small canal. Built side to side with similar buildings, the tavern is constructed with bright reddish-brown timbers against a yellow-white plaster. The ground floor supports 5 sets of arched bullseye-glass windows of various colors along the Southern wall. The posts of the building, as with many in the district, are decorated with carved sculptures. The upper floors jut outward, supporting beams elaborately carved with Mascaron to resemble historical and folkloric figures amid heavy organic patterns. The first, second and third floors have 4-5 windows overlooking the canal. The fourth floor, has 3 central windows as the roof slopes down to the East and West. A rectangular turret is located on the Southeast corner of the building above the main entrance.
The TavernUpon entry into the building at the Southeast corner, the ground floor opens up considerably to a larger than expected space. The floor is recessed, dropping a step down in the centre, but raised a step up along the Western and Northern Edges of the room. A large bar, partially enclosed from the floor and ceiling, takes up much of the Eastern Wall. The bar is supported by wooden beams, carved in the form of grapevines that wind up the polished brown wood. A large door leads to the kitchens behind the bar. The remainder of the wall is filled with massive wooden casks filled with wine and ale. The center of the room is usually filled with round tables of various sizes, with recessed booths, accessed through carved arches, filling out the northern and northwestern edge of the raised section. A small door in the back accesses a tiny yard behind the building, with a small, one-story cottage. It is here that the infamous Mrs. Miggins lives, evidenced by smoke frequently pouring out of the chimney, and the appearance of stacks of tartes and pastez on a small shelf recessed into the wall. An open staircase against the Western wall on the 1st floor leads to the first floor, which takes up half the floor on the Northern and Western sides, overlooking the ground floor as a gallery. Carved pillars in the shape of trees support the gallery, while a simple carved railing divides the floor from the air. The gallery, narrower along the South and East, allows for simple traffic and small tables. A lounge area behind a pair of heavy velvet curtains is found at the base of the turret on the first floor, above the ground floor entrance.
The Boarding HouseThrough a door on the Northeast corner of the building is an enclosed stairwell of creaking wood continues to the 2nd floor, which divided into boarding rooms, with a communal washroom at the northern end of the building near the stairs. The suites are arranged along the Western, Southern and Eastern walls, with a central stairwell leading up to the 3rd floor. The 3rd floor is design much like the 2nd, but with larger suites for more affluent and long-term guests. At the top of the 4th floor, a simple oaken door opens into a small room with a single window, a desk and a small bed. The rest of the attic is rafters and planks, used for storage. Most rooms are small with a Gwele-kloz, Bank-Tossel and occasionally a wash basin, while suites may have a sitting room and private dining room. Private lodgers on the 3rd and 4th floor, especially the many Fae who call the structure home, may take advantage of the flexible extra-planar space to establish quarters beyond those allowed within the exterior dimensions. Gwae's Apartments, for example, are located in a small one-bed room in the turret attic.
The CellarsThe Tavern has an extensive network of cellars, accessed via a hatch behind the bar, hidden with glamour. This floor contains the larders and the kitchens, a pair of massive ovens that supply run-off heat to the building above. This basement is connected with a large tunnel along an underground canal, the Kriores Understreet that stretches from the Grimward to Enez Naoned. Deliveries by cart and peniche supply the tavern regularly, unseen on the crowded street above. In one of the massive beer barrels lining the walls, a hollow passageway allows access to a secret subbasement carved into the tuffeau, which houses the staff quarters as well as the vault and famed wine cellar of the tavern above, as well as a cheese cellar and a mushroom farm. A deeper cavern stretches further down, but has been walled off.
The tavern is located within the city walls and close enough to the Place du Vin to receive regular patrols of City Watch and Brassguard. The doors of the tavern are made from alchemically strengthened oak, and hide an intricate arkane mechanism that allows tendrils deep within it to latch into the surrounding walls, reinforcing them against all but the strongest attacks. Similar defenses exist on the windows and the basement portcullis. Saturated with Faerie magic, the hallways, alleyways and especially the cellars can disorient or even displace those with hostile intent. Beyond the main room, hallways lengthen, doors vanish and corners lead to strange locations that cannot exist within the four walls of the structure. the staff and some long-term guests are granted swift and full access through these areas, but other guests and trespassers may become lost on their way through the less traveled levels.
The structure was originally built as the private home of a nobleman, Lord Gurun of Mitaud to commemorate the coronation of Dug Guerech I of Letha in 885 SI. The three story mansion was meant as a grand statement of Mitaud's support of the House of Naoned, built with the latest luxuries and technologies. For a decade, it served as the Lord of Mitaud's home in the capital, hosting balls and parties in its large atrium on the first floor. in 895 SI, following the Poisoner's Game, control of the duchy was seized by Dug Konan "The Crooked" I, and the center of Lethan political gravity shifted to Roazhon. Eager to curry favour with the new ducal power, the nobility began to move to the Golden Hill in the Northern city, and the once opulent Mask District fell out of favour. The lords of Mitaud maintained the structure for a time, but it use declined, with the last lord selling the structure with the death of Dug Jafrez I in 912 SI, when it became clear that the House of Roazhon would remain in power. With the Northward flight of the Dugs court, the Mask District became popular with the growing merchant class, seeking to capitalize on their newfound wealth and the proximity to Naoned's seaport along the Liger River. Mitaud's manor was purchased by a Teuz salt merchant, who opened up the atrium to the first floor and constructed the third floor. The lowest level became a storefront and trading hall, while storage was increased with the construction of an underground vault, sealed from the water table by Kriores engineers. As fortunes were made and lost, the building continued to operate as a trading hall, a private residence, and eventually a warehouse, with the distinctive booths and wine cellar added around 1000 SI. It was abandoned during the Reign of Konstanza I, when Naoned was sacked by Akitanian forces in 1098 SI. Immediately prior to its present ownership, the warehouse had fallen into disrepair, used for grain storage for a merchant trading company that lost its fleet in a storm and collapsed, the property sitting dormant once more, remaining abandoned for several years, until, under the cover of darkness, agents of the enigmatic Mrs. Miggins appeared in the city accompanied by the rattling of a carriage across the cobbled streets, yet unseen by any who heard it pass by. Within minutes, the building that had long sat vacant had a new owner, with the ducal seal permitting the operation of a tavern and boarding house on the premises. For weeks, the sounds of labour could be heard within the structure, but neither supplies nor workmen were ever seen entering. Rumors swirled around the mysterious owner and the source of their apparent wealth, ranging from a bastard child of the King of Neustria, to a pirate lord, to a demon. A group of Vandals from a local press gang broke into the site, intent on shaking down the owner, but only one was seen afterwards, a white-haired babbling wreck deep in the Forest. Soon afterwards, he too vanished. The tavern opened without announcement or fanfare, taking the citizens of the Mask District by surprise, packing in to see what they could, but finding only a cozy and bustling tavern like any other. Rumors around the place continue to circulate, but attempts to uncover the secrets are met with disappointment.
The Ash and Hazel is a destination for merchants to the mask quarter, having a reputation of good food and drink, a convivial atmosphere and honesty. Located one street from the riverfront, it is spared the company of the immediate departees off the ships in the harbour who flock to the cheap bars and brothels of the Forest, but still sees regular traffic. Low-ranking officers and middling merchants make their way here once things are in order, and those staying for longer periods will let rooms out on the upper floors. The Tavern draws in a mix of Bediz, Korrigan and Fomorian patrons.
Le Fresne et La Courdre, Mrs. Miggin's Pie Shoppe
Pub / Tavern / Restaurant
The Ash and Hazel, long infused with faerie magic, seems to have a will of its own, defending its lodgers and staff from thieves and ruffians, as well as assisting in the operation of its tavern, usually in the form of a veritable army of Boudics, as well as spatial distortion. The Staff has access to impossible shortcuts that allow them to respond to guest's needs with remarkable speed and accuracy. When searching the labyrinthine wine cellar, preferred bottles appear near the staircase for staff and guests that the Tavern likes, while those it doesn't find their choices missing from the shelves or buried deep in the lower recesses. Wines, cheeses and ingredients will appear in the larders or entire meals in the ovens.
Characters in Location
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