Hell's Half-Acre is the most hospitable tavern with the best food that one is likely to find in the world. Don't let the name, or the barkeep, scare you. Or the Chef, or the bouncer, or the farrier.... Look the name is well earned, but give it a chance. There is a reason adventurers haven't cleared it out, well, besides the combined might of the staff, the near god-like magic used in its creation, and the fact that it is frequented by several of the Wandering Immortals and at least three members of Winter's Court. Chef's honey glazed roast duck tastes just heavenly, and the booze...
Whether through the nature of the barkeep or some other magic, the bar at Hell's Half-Acre always has room at it, either for sitting down, or just ordering drinks if you are to impatient to wait for the excellent and attentive wait staff to reach your table. Due to this, staring at the bar is a nauseating experience as the brain tries to comprehend how Til is standing in front of everyone at the same time, and talking to most of them. Some caravan guards actually make it a bit of a competition to see who can stare at the bar the longest without throwing up or falling over
Hell's Half-Acre is not responsible for any nausea, headaches, vertigo or other symptoms that may occur from staring at the bar to long. It serves you right for being indecisive, pick a seat at the bar or sit at a table and get on with your night.
Separated from the bar by a low wall is an indoor dining area with a hallway leading off to 3 private dining rooms and stairs that lead to the rooms for rent, which is odd as from the outside Hell's Half-Acre is definitely only a single story.
Opposite the hallway is a fixture of any tavern worth the name, the stage. Though most often graced by the presence of Frejya Windsong, any traveling bard or performing troupe is more than welcomed to take their turn on stage. All of them will tell you that the stage has "a special something." If anyone inquires, both Til and Lux will be more than happy to put you to sleep with a discussion on the physics of sound projection and the nuances of interior acoustics as they apply to live music such that patrons can both enjoy the music and still hold conversations amongst themselves. Just past the stage is an outdoor dining area that blends at it edges into the grove surrounding Hell's Half-Acre.
Located at the end of the bar closest to the hallway is the kitchen of Hell's Half-Acre. Well, at least that is the assumption that one makes given that the smells of cooking food and the occasional clatter of dishes waft out from there to the rest of the tavern.
I'm tellin' ya, somthin ain't right with the kitchen. Sounds right and smells delicious, but watch them dryads go through the door. They go through the door, it don't swing like it ought to..... naw don't give me that, just look, ready.... there, SEE! And it aint just that, I was walking round earlier, stretching my legs after bein in the saddle all day, you know, and the only chimney on this place is blacksmiths forge. How they cookin with no chimney? Now I can already hear ya thinkin' "What if they share a chimney Treth?" but the forge is opposite o' the kitchen. I'm not complainin mind, just worth noticin when things is strange, could save ya one day, ya know?
Just past the 6 private dining rooms are stairs which lead up to the rooms. And the rooms run the whole gamut. With lodging suitable to both the guards of the stingiest caravan owner and the most pampered of nobles no one has ever been disappointed with the rooms at Hell's Half-Acre. Getting to ones room can be something of a surprise, as one will find themselves quickly surrounded by a dense fog upon ascending the stairs. With a Will-o'-the-Wisp appearing to lead you to your room. The walls and branching hallways can be seen, but it is not advised that one wander off into the fog, and please dont try to open any doors except the one you have the key for.
Barkeep- Tilloth'tonogozonannoth is an ancient and powerful Daemogoth bound to the area with an Imprisonment spell. He goes by Til.
How did I get here? Well an Archwizard (some might call him the first Archwizard) and I had a disagreement several millennia back. He Imprisoned me on a rather boring stretch of plains, I Imprisoned him in a crystal cave, Mab found the whole thing rather funny and somehow managed to steal both jade keys, which really irked a bit. Fast forward to around five centuries ago and a group of adventurers came along. Rather than try to kill me (which gets old after the first dozen or so times) they, meaning a bard of no importance and a mischievous dwarf cleric, decided to take pity on me and offered to build a tavern. I could either agree to be the barkeep, or they would build it just outside the edges of my prison and I could be an attraction. The druid managed to coax some few dryads to the area and Hell's Half-Acre was born (named after the size of my prison, you know). Less than a year later Lux showed up, sent my way by the same group of adventurers, and now here we are. I will say, though it took some getting used to. I have grown to enjoy my little corner of the world.
I know secrets and rumors galore. Now the ones I can tell you.... that is an entirely different matter
- What started out as 5 dryads has since grown into a thriving dryad community unrivaled outside the Deep Forests and Old Growths that still share a connection with the Fae Realm. The surrounding mile supports roughly 600 dryads (and a forest), though only 20 or so make regular appearances at the tavern. Presumably, there are so many because of the protection offered by the various other staff at the bar.
- Archimedes, is an Androsphinx. To hear Til tell it "He wandered in, oh, about 120 years after the place was built. Looked around, talked with Lux for a bit then said 'This is a better place than most get to guard, much knowledge would be lost if it ever fell' and before settling down by the hearth."
Over the years, probably due to the influence of the dryads, 'Archie' has picked up some decidedly un-sphinx like habits. He is hardly noticed by most patrons as he blends in with the tressym
rather well after learning to magically reduce his size. Indeed he has "deputized" the local tressym population (numbering 6, another oddity as they are usually solitary creatures), who seem to instinctively know where he is and will report problems to him.
- Lux is a slender, middle-aged tiefling of indeterminate origin. A rather gloomy fellow most of the time. Well, he isnt gloomy, gloom just seems to sort of follow him. He boasts an almost encyclopedic knowledge of metallurgy, blacksmithing, and the care of just about any mount or beast of burden you could name. His prices are most reasonable for the work that he does, and he is an excellent conversationalist and can tell you much about an interesting locations in the
surrounding lands. He is
rather small for a blacksmith, but that could just be something to do with his demonic origins.
He is a tiefling, right?
Lux is short for Valuxin'mardurace , an ancient red dragon partially corrupted by the shadowy influence of Cysgodol. He has a symbiotic relationship with Til that has been able to stave off further corruption, or at least that is the prevailing theory. Due to his age and the centuries spent with Til he is considered an accomplished mage, even amongst his peers.
- Frejya Stormsong has been a fixture at Hell's Half-Acre as long as anyone can remember. While she can play an assortment of instruments, she is most known for hauntingly beautiful flute melodies and lively flute/banjo duets, although no one has quite been able to figure out how the flute is played without magic. Friendly with everyone, if someone else wishes to take the stage for a night she is more than willing to let them, especially if there is a promise of dancing. She is a notorious flirt, but also more than capable of putting those who make unwanted advances in their place.
Trained by Lone Gull for long enough that a gentleman wouldn't ask, she is one of the more accomplished Wayang Minstrels
in the world, being one of the few able to pull off the Minstrel's high level of shadow puppetry in solo performances.
I'm eternally grateful to Lone Gull for bringing me back to myself and will always treasure the decades we spent together. But this is my home now, and I wouldn't trade it for the world
Who is Frejya Stormsong?
With the exception of Til, Frejya may be the oldest being at Hell's Half-Acre. She is a Storm Gaint Quintessent. Considered Lich adjacent by some, Quintessents are Storm Giant spell casters who later in life became a storm. All surviving storm giants following the fall of their Empire are Quintessents, most of those can hardly be considered sentient as the intervening centuries and their magical studies lead them further and further out into the planes. That said, Freyja provides much of the moisture needed to maintain the dryad's grove and can manifest at "a more tolerable size for normal folk" if she chooses, which is most of the time. Being a celebrated mage in the time of the Storm Giant empire, her time with Lone Gull, Til, and Lux has seen her magical abilities increase to truly mythic levels.
Chef is an ancient Mimic. He is the kitchen, most of the private dining rooms, and part of the bar. Chef hails from the Elemental Plane of Fire (what, you thought only the Material Plane had mimics, oh you sweet child) and joind the staff at Hell's Half-Acre sometime after its first half-century of buisness. Presumably, at least, according to some of the more regular elven patrons, that is when the quality of the meals got significantly better.
Hell's Half-Acre Drink Menu*
*For Elves and those with more discerning tastes, a full listing of available vintages is available upon request, Food pairing also available
**Dwarven Strength available on request, costs extra
***Drink at your own risk, crafted with genuine wild magic, results may vary.
Chefs Wonderous Creations
(served all day)
Burrito -3sp Perfect for the adventurer on the go, A whole meal that leaves one hand free. Cant finish it right now, re-wrap and heat by the coals later for a wonderful treat.
Omelett -5sp Made with eggs fresh from Frejya's
cassowary Chicken Coop. Add in whatever you like, or let Chef surprise you
Scramble -5sp Its and Omelett, but less orderly, with fried potatoes mixed in
Elven Breakfast -1sp Assorted fruits and jams, served with warm bread and Outh Honey
Waffles with Bacon - 10sp Perfectly fluffy waffles served with honey butter and a generous portion of honey-glazed bacon.
Served in Bread Bowl*
Dwarven Chili - Burns like the forge, thats how you know its good - Dwarven review
Seafood Chowder - A recipie created by Til and perfected by Chef, sinfully creamy broth with generous portions of seafood and potatoes, finished with bacon
Hearty Stew - Chunks of spiced sausage and bacon in a wonderful pork broth with assorted vegetables
Ramen - A soup that fills you belly and warms your soul. *Not served in a bread bowl, but still delicious
Chef's Specials - 10sp
Catch of the Day - Fresh caught fish prepared by Chef, perfectly complimented with fresh steamed 'local' vegetables.
A Meal Most Fowl - Fresh caught game birds, roasted, smoked, or grilled. Served over rice or potatoes with seasonal vegetables.
Roast Beast - Freshly hunted and slow roasted to perfection. Served with potatoes and gravy.
Swineapple - Chef's Magnum opus, wild boar meat marinated in mead, stuffed inside a pineapple which is wrapped in bacon, smoked until the meat is tender, then finished with a honey glaze
An excerpt from the Journal of Lewanelle Glacierbreaker
Hell's Half-Acre is one of the most magically dense and mysterious places on the planet, ranking up there with The Tomokanga Desert - The Portal Wastes
and The Edge of the Map
on what we can potentially learn from studying it. It is also (usually) substantially safer than the other locations.
The nature of Til's Imprisonment permeates the entire region with a unique tint of arcane magic found nowhere else in the world. It is similar to what the most powerful archmages can accomplish, but the dynamic nature of his prison puts it on a level even above their spells.
Then you have the fact that the nearby "fishing pond" is apparently a portal to only the gods know where. It is definitely clean, fresh water as that is where the water for the stables is pumped from. I also witnessed Frejya pull a Swordfish out last week, and today's Fresh Catch is mountain trout. This despite the fact that intra-planar portal magic is both banned by the gods and has been notoriously unreliable (astral rifts are bad) since the Fall of the Storm Giant Empire. Except all of that is apparently contradicted by the fact that it is shallow enough for wade across. The dryads even encourage children to splash around in it to cool off during the hot summer months.
There is not one, but two STABLE Magical Mansions (did you really not notice the stables were magical) existing in a proximity that shouldnt be possible, except that the mansions themselves shouldn't be possible anyway because according to reliable sources in the Fae, the Abyss, and the Astral Plane, the entire area is under a Forbiddance. And don't get me started on the trees.
Where else IN THE WORLD so this many dryads exist in close proximity. One of the 13 Yggdrasil Dryads is here (and whether there are actually 13 or all of them are the same person is a whole other research topic.) But all that aside apparently they can also create portals to and from the area, well, not portals per say, but traveling through trees to other parts of the world has long been theorized to pass through one or several other planes and should not be possible inside a Forbiddance. The Druids even agree with me on this, i suspect because none of them have been able to duplicate the dryads feat.