The Inkwell

Some taverns are places of rest and respite. Some are bawdy. Some are seedy. But if you've a mind for good food, exotic drinks, and stimulating debate, you'll want to visit the Inkwell in Tamerlight. Just be sure to bring your best secret with you.
— A helpful traveler
  There are many draws to the city of Tamerlight. Though the ghostly citizens and the shambling yet friendly undead locals can be shocking at first, the city of the Banshee Queen is remarkably pleasant and full of wonderous sights. One of the greatest attractions of Tamerlight is the Arcana District, the academic district full of schools, libraries, and shops catering to scholars and students. People from all over Shira'tol travel to this district to join the prestigious schools, attend lectures, and exchange knowledge. This city is also one of the hubs for the Xetri's Temple of Ink, with a large library and scriptorium run by the serpent folk and supplied by their traveling scholars. So it would stand to reason that all of these travelers would need a place to rest, eat, and drink between lectures. That place is the Inkwell.  

Set In Stone

Nestled between an antique bookstore and a wooded park stands a beautiful stone building. One might be forgiven for mistaking this as a church to some long-forgotten god, with its bell tower, stained glass windows, and flying buttresses. At one point in its history, it may well have been. Yet the filagreed sign of oxidized bronze at the end of the cobbled walk proclaims this to be The Inkwell.  
Drink deep or not at all from the well of erudition
— Quote on the welcoming sign
  Beyond the ornamented wrought iron door, the main room of the Inkwell is well lit and inviting. Large, comfortable leather chairs are arranged before the crackling fireplace. The alcove at the front of the building has a cozy nook flanked by bookshelves bathed in a kaleidoscope of refracted light from the stained glass windows. There are tables for dozens of patrons and a dark wood pulpit where impromptu lectures and performances are often held. Behind the impressively carved oak bar stands the owner of this vaunted establishment.  

Thenedra, Vessel of Memory

by Lloydo
In many ways, Thenedra is like many innkeepers. She is quite proud of her tavern, greeting every patron with a warm welcome, and enjoys playful banter and debates with her regulars. She loves to experiment with food and drink, her specials are known throughout the city as some of the best. She often says it is her privilege to offer a peaceful sanctuary to weary and curious travelers. Yet, there are many ways in which Thenedra is very different.   First and foremost, Thenedra is a cephilid. A fact which can be quite shocking to those who have never seen such people. Her purple skin, ovoid eyes, and tentacled face may even be frightening for the unprepared. The dark rumors of evil deeds perpetrated by those of her kind are not often lost on newcomers, but these reactions are nothing new to Thenedra who bears them all with grace and understanding. Once the initial shock and inevitable questions are passed, however, Thenedra proves to be warm and welcoming, and not at all murderous.  

Penny For Your Thoughts

Something unique to the Inkwell is the currency accepted for services rendered. Of course, the usual suspects of gold or jewels are accepted, but Thenedra has a particular interest in obscure knowledge, memories, and secrets. Each of these has value and Thenedra gladly offers food, drink, and even lodging for them. The rarer the knowledge or more succulent the secret, the more each is worth. One could feasibly pay for a whole week's worth of lodging with such enigmas.   Thenedra is always careful to explain that while memories and knowledge are kept by the bearer, secrets are forsaken once shared. Thus a secret is always worth more. Should one choose this method of payment, Thenedra will lightly place a tentacle upon the patron's forehead. A tingling sensation will ripple through their mind and the knowledge, memory, or secret will pass to the hostess.  

The Regulars

Talis - The Inkwell is a regular haunt for Talis, a ghost citizen of the city. She sometimes forgets the current date or the fact that she is dead, but she is a wonderful singer and will occasionally entertain the tavern goers with songs of a long-forgotten kingdom. She is otherwise soft-spoken and polite, enjoys telling stories from the past, but sometimes forgets someone is speaking to her mid-sentence.   Himanu - A teenaged Xetri on her first major investigation, assigned to the Temple of Ink hub as an archivist. Her scales are shimmering emerald and she, like many of her kind, garbs herself in bright silks and gold. She has not discovered her Primary Pursuit but she will gladly discuss nearly any subject and loves to talk about the finer points of document preservation.
Zand Lemason - Nearly every tavern has that one regular who sits in the same spot, orders the same thing, and has the same conversations every day. Zand is that person for the Inkwell. A bit crusty and occasionally annoying, he isn't abrasive enough that Thenedra has thought to ban him yet. He does seem to know a lot of interesting facts and secrets about the city, though he has rarely been seen outside of his usual barstool. Rumor has it he used to know even more, but he tends to pay for his drinks with secrets.   Uskold - Not much is known about Uskold. They are never seen without their flowing black robes, veils, and silver mask. Their voice is oddly muffled and sounds neither masculine nor feminine. Uskold tends to quietly enjoy their drinks (through a straw) in the reading nook or by the fire, occasionally joining in conversations but never starting them. If asked about them, Thenedra will say that they paid very well for a permanent room and that Uskold seems to be a very private person.
 

Clues and Tales

There are many things a patron might overhear at the Inkwell, some of which could lead to employment, treasures, and adventures.   Stolen Knowledge - There has been a theft at the Xetri hub. This is not entirely unheard of, as the serpent people tend to be less capable of defending their treasures than finding them, but this event seems odd. Rather than stealing any number of treasures of ancient kingdoms, the thief only stole one very specific book; The Bounty of the Mountain.   Something in the Water - Fishermen have been reporting that regular fishing spots are either devoid of fish or the fish they do catch are small, sickly, or made "strange." They do not know what is causing this issue but they are asking for as much help as possible since the fish are a primary source of food in the city.   Siren's Rest - A traveler mentioned a mysterious sight they witnessed as they passed through the old ruin of Siren's Rest. An armored knight upon the back of a black dragon.   Falling Stars - A few days ago, meteor showers started filling the skies. Some people say they have seen them land in the distance. No one knows how or why this has started happening but the more learned people of the Arcana District are convinced there is far more to it than natural phenomena.
Type
Pub / Tavern / Restaurant
Parent Location

Menu

Drinks   White Wail - Swirling white, pearlescent crème liqueur with ghost berries and crushed peppermint   Trail of Stars - A wine dark as the void of space, sprinkled with motes of starlight (luminescent spores with a fresh, citrus flavor)   Endless Deep - Darkest rum with amaretto   Food   Calamari - Battered and fried, served with lemon and sauce (don't ask if it's a cousin, that joke was only funny the first 300 times)   Ruthari Salad - Cucumber, tomato, and mint salad with goat-milk feta cheese and the distinct spices of the Ruthari nomads   Land and Sea - Fresh fish and grilled lamb served with roasted tomatoes, yogurt sauce, and hot chilis   Rose Tart - Sweet pastry topped with rosewater ricotta, pistachios, and honey   Queen's Bounty - The sweetest fermented ghost berries served with cream and chopped almonds

Comments

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20 Mar, 2022 06:01

Love the cover art and also the food and menu items!, Specially the last one as i am curious why its called the Queens bounty. Overall this article was good and i enjoy the rumors you have!, I do want to know more about patrons and staff though. But a overall good article!

21 Mar, 2022 01:19

Thank you! I had a great time coming up with the food and drinks, I think that was my favorite part. I plan to add more about the staff soon!

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20 Mar, 2022 08:28

This is such a nice place for a travelling party. Secrets and plot hooks for everyone! Also, White Wail sounds yummy.

Check out my entry to the tavern challenge: Sweet Death
21 Mar, 2022 01:20

Thank you! I love random plot hooks so I try to throw as many in as I can. And I'm glad the food sounds good, I know nothing about alcohol so I was just making it up! XD

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20 Mar, 2022 11:26

This was very well written, and I love the unusual nature of the town and patrons. The secrets and rumours make this a great tavern for adventurers looking for more adventures.

21 Mar, 2022 01:26

I'm so glad you liked it! This is one of my favorite locations in this world, so I've got a lot of secrets to play with! Thank you for reading it!

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20 Mar, 2022 22:57

Great article, I love the details and the feel of the place. The guests are wonderful, especially the ghost singer and the drinks and food sound like things I'd actually like to try. (Especially the calamari!)

Visit my campaign world at the World of Wizard's Peak.

21 Mar, 2022 01:29

Thank you! I'm a big fan of the undead, can you tell? XD I thought Thenedra would have a sense of humor about things like the calamari, so I felt it needed to be on the menu. I should try to make some of these for a video or something...

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21 Mar, 2022 00:11

I love the paying with memories ... and secrets!

Here is my River Challenge Darkwater River! Come vist my world Pangorio for exciting tales, world lore, and RPG adventures ! Hypnosium is my new world I will be trying to fill for Summer Camp ... perhaps even sooner if the muse sttrikes.
21 Mar, 2022 01:30

Thank you! There will be more about the cephilid race soon!

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21 Mar, 2022 11:31

I love the simplicity of the layout and design, it is very pleasing to read. The small humor in the menu made me feel really connected to the character you laid out. The menu itself is very well done. Nice work!

21 Mar, 2022 19:49

Thank you very much! I figure a person with tentacles on their face would have to have a sense of humor about it.

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21 Mar, 2022 11:44

I love the idea of a cephilid innkeep! The tavern's atmosphere forces the misty inns of Fallen London into my mind. I also enjoy the small twist of actually having to "let go" a secret, in a sense making them an actual currency instead of just travelers blasting everything they have ever seen at Thenedra. I am convinced that Thenedra is playing a longer game than simply trading memories, she is searching or preparing for something!   10/10, would love to dine and would most likely pay with a secret!

Que the wardrums! Check out my bloodied river, running from the heart of the jungle:River Arteria!
21 Mar, 2022 19:48

Thank you so much! I'm not saying that Thenedra has ulterior motives, but she does know a lot of interesting things that no one else does... Just saying. I'm so glad you liked it! I did want there to be a drawback to paying in secrets so perhaps even a broke traveler would think twice about paying that way. But then again, maybe not! XD

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22 Mar, 2022 12:42

Could Thenedra act out as a therapist? If a person holds a secret that changed their life forever, related to PTSD like symtpoms, could Thenedra snatch those memories out of the client if they haven't told about their background to anyone else?

Que the wardrums! Check out my bloodied river, running from the heart of the jungle:River Arteria!
22 Mar, 2022 15:28

I hadn't thought about that but I think that would be a possibility if that was what the person wanted. The thought, memory, or secret has to be offered freely by the patron and she doesn't tend to snoop through their other memories.

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21 Mar, 2022 20:22

"Drink deep or not at all" sounds like a good slogan for a drinking contest. And this place sounds like a neat place to 'buy' your drinks. Nice cast, map, plot-hooks, and menu.   One note: The menu seems a bit mismatched headerwise right now?

21 Mar, 2022 20:35

Thank you! I was kind of playing off a quote from the poem "A Little Learning" but cooler XD. I will edit the way the menu is set up, I think, it does look a bit off. Thank you!

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22 Mar, 2022 19:39

I think I fell in love with Thenedra. I love people, whose species usually get depicted as evil, who are wholesome and lovely individuals. She sounds like a good conversation partner I would like to share my memories with her firing up the conversation with juicy details :3   Great article!

Creator, artist and writer of the science fantasy world Kingsmaker   Check out my tavern entry The divine Basknut
22 Mar, 2022 20:25

Thank you! Since this particular world hangs on a mostly severed branch of the world tree, it has more evil than good. So I really enjoy putting characters like this who are from generally "evil" origins as genuinely good people. I do really love mind-flayers in general.

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23 Mar, 2022 13:19

An undead city and a tavern that trades in secrets and memories. Seems like a fun place for an adventure. Great job.   Is there a way for the patron to verify that Thenedra took the knowledge or secret agreed upon, besides her reputation. Is the knowledge available for purchase from those with a large enough purse(or secret)? Or perhaps secrets are not for sale, but knowledge is?

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
23 Mar, 2022 17:58

Thank you! These are all really good questions!   First, it really is a sort of honor system situation, though her reputation is very good in the city and most people trust her as she has proven herself trustworthy. She does not allow others to purchase knowledge or secrets, regardless of the price offered. She came up with this system for several reasons, but the primary one is that she still needs memories, thoughts, feelings, etc to survive. She will eat normal food and enjoys it, but her fuel still comes from the minds of others. She just found a way to get people to volunteer and she takes great pride in the fact that the people of the city trust her to take only what is offered freely.

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