The Old Crosswater Inn
"There's all sorts of strange legends about this place." Phanae leaned back and stirred her tea. The Crosswater had hopped onto the trendy cafe idea recently, and the fare served in the cavernous atrium room fit the establishment - well executed, high quality, but safe and nonexperimental, unlikely to get anyone excited. "Secret passages, middle-of-night escapes, unsavory dealings. I wonder why nobody's ever compiled them?" Tarvo shook his head at his sister. "Bad for business. The big fancy hotel at the center of the Capital can't have a book floating around talking about love triangle murders and assassins." He took a bite of his pastry. "They're looking for a mechanic, incidentally, there are so many power-wagons parked here that there's always breakdowns. I might take a job here for the next season." "Is that why you wanted to meet? You don't need big sis's permission to get a job, you know. We're not back in Low Timbers hitting each other with sticks." Phanae put her chin on her hands. "No, we're not." Tarvo leaned forward. "Just wanted to know if you had any reservations. Anything you know about from Guard duty that would make this a bad idea? The last thing I want to do is get caught up in crazy nonsense the way Alistair is." "What, you're taking pity on the magical wizard off on his grand adventures?" Phanae laughed. "The only thing I'd say is that if you notice any old officers of Etoile wandering around the premises with paramours that are not their wedded spouses, is to keep your mouth shut." She pointed a finger. "Except to me. Let me know the gossip." Tarvo sighed. "I know that well enough. I was more asking if there was any merit to the stories about the murders. I don't think I'll be allowed to be armed while fixing a wagon axle in the stable." Phanae's eyes widened. "Oh, Tarvo, they're just stories. Do you need your big sister to give you a big hug to protect you from the big bad world around you?" "Stop that."
Purpose / Function
The Old Crosswater Inn is the largest and oldest hotel in the Etoile Capital City. It's name is a relic from its original construction, as it's far too large and grand to be a mere inn; the hotel spans an entire block of the center city and was actually the centering point of the planning surrounding the Capital's construction. The Crosswater remains the premier hotel of the Capital City, with both incredibly luxurious wings of the hotel on par with any resort catering to the Foremost, as well as rooms catering to ordinary merchant travelers, sailors, and other itinerants. The ability of the Crosswater to maintain an egalitarian approach to its clientele is one of its main marketing points. In addition to renting rooms, the Crosswater maintains a restaurant and a cafe on premises, both open to the public as well as guests.
The current Crosswater is built in original Capital City design, a large stonework building with white plaster walls and red roof tiles. Unlike some of the central housing blocks built in the same manner, however, the Crosswater Inn is heavily ornamented, with large hanging lanterns lined with polished silver and stone sculptures at most building corners and rooftop eaves. The interior of the Crosswater has been redone many times to suit the tastes of the period, ranging from the stark and sterile designs favored in the era of the First Princeps, to the current 'natural world' look of flowing lines and potted plants favored in the era of Constantine.
The original Crosswater Inn predates the Capital, serving as a resting stop for sailors anchored on either side of the original isthmus as well as for the oxen teams ferrying cargo between the harborages. Prior to the construction of the Grand Canal, local oxen teams would ferry cargo between the ships anchored in the Feryll and Bui Seas for exorbitant prices, creating a need for local hospitality services beyond what the local fishing village would otherwise require. The siting of the Capital naturally led to explosive growth; the original Inn was a small family affair with room for two dozen guests, but with the flood of workers arriving to begin construction on the master Capital plan (and Etoilean dignitaries coming to and fro), the Inn was expanded to serve hundreds at a time. The original wood and thatch building is long gone; instead, five stories of plaster and stonework have risen, in one of the earliest construction projects funded by the Principality of Etoile directly. The Crosswater is now an opulent hotel operating with the sanction of the Principality, a destination for both wealthy visitors of the Foremost families as well as common travelers of lesser means (whose stays are subsidized by the state).
The Old Crosswater Inn is nearly impossible to miss for visitors of the Etoile Capital City, as it's listed in virtually every tourist publication pertaining to the Capital and is advertised regularly in most journals, including both the Standard and Monitor. The reservation list for the subsidized rooms stretches for months, though a small number of rooms are always kept available for daily itinerants. As an institution that serves a broad cross section of Etoilean society, visitors have a range of experiences. Dignitaries and officials will spend their time crossing the street to the Minister's Hall or they'll take the tram one stop to the Hall of the Princeps, while wealthy tourists may visit the The Great Pavilion of the Joint Consortiums or other similar luxury districts. Many families will also stay at the Crosswater while visiting their children attending The Academy of Etoile. On the other side of the scale, the occasional sailor will merely bunk over for the night before departing on their trading carrack to continue on the great circular trade route. One attraction within the Crosswater itself is that its former stable now hosts the largest charge-wheel station to be found anywhere in Saibh; eighty spin-up stations that allow for direct recharge of the flywheels of Power-Wagons without detaching the flywheel from the wagon itself.
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