The House of the Sharpened Axe Building / Landmark in Ashvaarya | World Anvil
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The House of the Sharpened Axe

A deep cup awaits, no matter your mark.

Though not the lowest, smallest, or least interesting of taverns in all of Austur, the House of the Sharpened Axe was perhaps close. It was the largest tavern in Lumbertown, though that was perhaps not saying much for the smallest district of Hawm City, which was in turn the capital city of Hawm Province, the least important province in all of Austur.   Though not the oldest or best, what kept The House of the Sharpened Axe the busiest tavern or public house in Lumbertown, was the simple fact that it faced out onto the district's Patron Square. It was the smallest one in the city of course, with a rather modest Patron Shrine to match, but it was still a Patron Square. The marble carved figure of Elshaar the Traveller was barely life sized, on a cylindrical plinth only ten meters high, hardly taller than one might find in some remote Farmer town. Yet despite it's relative insignificant, it was still only one of four Patron Shrines in the city. That meant that on Noonday, when the Uma came to the base of the plinth and gave her Truenight service, all the folk who attended would need a place to get a drink or a bite to eat after the service. And before it in most cases. There were a couple of other pubs in the district, like the ancient Red Lyon, but they couldn't compete with the location of the "old axe".   Not that the proprietor and guild appointed Publican, Josan of Hawm would have spoken aloud about competing with other pubs or taverns. That would have been disrespectful of his Publican Guild fellows. Afterall, they were all citizens under the guild, providing a much apreciated service to humans all across Austur! Secretly however, with Ellena, Havver, and their other guildmates working the tavern with him, there was a shared pride in their popularity and status within the district.

Purpose / Function

The House of the Sharpened Axe held a special place in a special district. Lumbertown had been a meeting place for Wildlings, Farmers, Townies, Crafters, and even the occasional Guardsman for centuries, long before the moral edict against Books mixing with each other had been lifted. Places like Lumbertown had been necessary evils, and though not frequented by guild Masters or Council beurocrats, The House of the Sharpened Axe had been a hub for work, trade, celebration, illicit romances, questionable deals, and the occassional quiet blasphemy since it's establishment. Though Josan of Hawm was not an avid historian, or a social progressive per se, he certainly understood and took great pains to extol the virtues of his tavern's place in the development and workings of Hawm City, and even Austur more generally.

Sensory & Appearance

The smell of souring spiced wine, tree sap, and tilled earth fill the air. Laughter, hushed conversations, and calls for fresh jugs and hot mash reverberate around the greatroom and flow out through the wide front door into the Patron Square.   Around creaking tables and rough hewn chairs dances a Council ward with a lowered gaze and full tray. The Publican pulls stories from the old foresters at a corner table, and the barkeep and her apprentice fill wine jugs and stew bowls as quickly as they can. The assistant Publican floats the earthen jugs from the wards heavy tray with a muttered spell, as if taunting the poor creature.   All around are glowing candlestones, and a few young grangers sitting out in the square have lumala conjured above them to light their romantic whispers. Far above, Esha's bright light has passed behind the swirling bulk of Denshaa, their brother world. Light will not return to the sky until much later that afternoon, when the Truenight is ended.   Out on the cobbles, but far from the tavern door, in an unusually fine shirt and with Crafter marks tattooed over his right ear, sits a middle aged man alone. He gazes up at the twinkling blackness of the sky. It is the only real darkness Ashvaarya will know for the next six days, until the Truenight eclipse comes again. The ward, head still hung low, full head of hair obscuring her markless scalp, notices the man and pauses at the oddity. The brief and terrifying darkness that any Austurian works hard to ignore and drink through, this man seems to be enjoying. He gazes skyward with a look of wonder and hope. A wonder so strong that even the pathetic ward atempts a brief look upward. With a loud and terifying crash, a thrown wine cup shatters at the sad woman's feet, pulling her from a moment of hope. "Clean that up!" yells a drunken Townie leaning heavily on the wide doorframe of the tavern.   The ward only knods emphatically, lowers to a knee, and starts collecting earthenware shards onto her tray.   The Patron Square is filled with a fresh peel of joyous laughter spilling from The House of the Sharpened Axe, and the man with the Crafter marks glances sadly at the young woman on her knees.


Like most of the other buildings around the Lumbertown Patron Square, the old axe was built to match the generalities of "high unification" design. It lacked the frescos, elaborate shine-steel fixtures and absurdly high ceilings of the Council Hall or Library, but it's walls still showed the elaborate patterned brickwork, with peaked door frames, and flowing carved shapes in door and window frames. It's roof was peaked, but not overly high, and had only a couple of windows letting light in to the eaves and rafters of the guild quarters on the upper floor. The roof too was more in the ancient tradition: curved interlocking grey-blue clay tiles instead of the more modern slate shingles from Lashaan's Vigil.


Lumbertown had already essentially merged into the outskirts of Hawm City by the time the Austur Declaration was ratified in 550AS. The reconstruction project that saw the creation of the city's Council Square and Fallen Arcade had already completed, as the effort had begun shortly after Hawm City had joined the Caalesh Accord decades earlier. Even after Unification however, there was still some building work to be done around the city and extensions to the canal system to be built, and Lumbertown was the lowest priority on any Townie buerocrat's lists.   Eventually however, after 31 years, the planned Patron Square reconstruction for Lumbertown was finally started. There had been a village square already, encircled with a couple of basic shops, guild buildings, a stables, and even a small defunct Sita Alorum Archive. Almost all of these were knocked down to not only make the square itself larger, but to connect the distict to the central canal and sewer system, and to modernize the buildings. The city Envoys wanted to integrate the former village into Hawm City, not just politically but esthetically and socially. With Crafters and Townies already having their own districts in the the wider city, Lumbertown had been planned as a sort of joint district for Farmers and Wildlings. This suited both groups perfectly as most guild citizens from either Book disliked the city and wouldn't have come in at all if not for the Truenight. For decades they had had to go all the way into heart of the city, to the Council Square for the Truenight service, surrounded by hundreds, even thousands of others. The prospect of having their own Patron Square in their own district at the edge of the city was a huge relief to most. And so, as a part of these modernizations, a new tavern was planned as well. On the north-west side of the old village square, a few houses, a tiny pub, an abandoned storehouse and the little tool smithie would be part of the broader demolitions. Pits were dug, piping laid, the square expanded and foundations set down. Finally, the tavern and several other new buildings were put up.   In late 582AS, the Publican Guild Master who came to name the tavern was the nostalgic type. The bulk of the Wildlings around were foresters, charcoal burners and the like. They did most of their work with the various aplicable spells from the the Book of the Wild, but they were a supersticious and traditional lot. They liked to always have small hand axe on hand, "just in case". It was rarely used of course, but most of the Wildlings who lived and worked amongst the trees, kept their axes sharp all the same. This had been a major function of the tool smithie that had been taken down where the new tavern stood. In honor of the legacy of the former village, local Wildling tradition, and to much applause (even from the Farmers), the new tavern was officially titled "The House of the Sharpened Axe".   The construction of Chaka's Curtain only a few years later led to a lowering of tensions downriver of Rothum's Bay, and the discovery of mineral deposits in the renamed "Iron Hills" north of Zahaan meant less reliance on trade with the sklaven. All of this led to a stalling, and even reversal of Hawm City's growth, and so further plans to "revitalize" more of Lumbertown were paused, and eventually shelved entirely.   So too, the habits and traditions of the people changed over time. Strict segregation of people from different Books of magic went from morally absolute and culturally required, to ethically neccessary and culturally imposed, to generally enforced and culturally preferred. As sensibilities changed, the Wildlings and Farmers felt more comfortable going back to the Council Square for Truenight, leaving Lumbertown's Patron Square less and less occupied on a Noonday. Consequently, the Sharpened Axe was also less and less occupied on a Noonday.   It would wax and wane in popularity over the decades, often dependant on the chief Publican in charge, but would never return to the prominence it had once achieved as a part of Hawm City's briefly rising power in the latter 500s.

"The wine may not be very good, but there are two kinds, and plenty of both!"

- Josan of Hawm City, Publican of The House of the Sharpened Axe (826AS)
Founding Date
582 AS
Alternative Names
The old axe, the sharpened axe
Pub / Tavern / Restaurant

"The other Town guilds sit at their writing desks and meeting tables, calling us Publicans a lesser guild. And yet, like any Austurian, regardless of Book or guild, they come to us in our taverns and lounges for company, levity and family, when they have none of any value in their own homes."

- Ellena, Assistant Publican of The House of the Sharpened Axe

Cover image: by Tom Crew - unsplash lisence - heavily altered


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Mar 28, 2022 23:41

I like the descriptions of the surrounding area on top of the tavern itself. I might suggest tweaking some lines so as not to repeat "smallest" over and over.   Like instead of " It was the smallest one in the city of course, with the smallest Patron statue, but it was still a Patron Square", you could write "It was the smallest one in the city of course, with a Patron statue sized accordingly to reflect that distinction, but it was still a Patron Square."   A knit pick, I know, but wanted to throw it out there.   That small quibble aside, Great Article!   ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Feel free to check out my Tavern Challenge article if you want to see what I am up to! The Black Hare Tavern

Mar 29, 2022 01:57 by Logan

that's great :) thanks ... I had initially written it as a deliberally run on thing ... smallest this in smallest that in smallest that of the smallest thing ... but then I changed how that went and the repeating doesn work now :P   I really am a WORLD builder ... I could never do one business or building in isolation lol ... I spent way more time on all the supporting articles and documents than on the tavern itslelf lol ... maybe not strictly the point of the challenge, but I had fun! :)