The Queen's Sword
From The Sylvinthite Traveller's Guide to Albis by Arther Ebray
The proprietors of the Queen's Sword, Mr and Mr Merrick, offer a number of private rooms for a fee of as little as 13 sovereigns a night as well as hosting 2 large bunk rooms, the beds in which will set you back a modest 4 and a half sovereigns. I personally have only availed myself of the private rooms and can attest to their general cleanliness and the functionality of the décor. They have, for example, installed in every private room a remarkable built-in wardrobe which leaves the rooms without the cluttered feeling of many other homes and establishments where the furniture seems to always be in the way. Each room is also named for the pattern of the wall paper which is such a personal touch that it delighted my sense of the whimsical upon my first visit.
My personal favourite is the Rose Room which boasts a marvellous view over the rear garden which is used as outdoor seating space for the inn's restaurant. The staff are very accommodating to the modern traveller's needs and will provide what they can upon request. Mr Jerome Merrick was more than happy to offer me some elderberry tea with my afternoon meal, though it was not to the quality of the beverage that I was so homesick for. I would suggest that any guest of the Merrick's request their suggestions for the best sights to see while visiting the Fair City of the West. They are always happy to oblige me with a new recommendation each time I lodge with them.
Food and Drink
You need not look further than the restaurant that occupies the ground floor of the Queen's Sword for sustenance during your stay. You should not expect a high class dining experience in this establishment but what you will receive is an authentic experience of traditional Albithian fare. The menu changes seasonally with the availability of certain products so there is always something new to try. My personal favourite dish is from the winter menu, a quaint little meal of rabbit casserole. It is incredibly enjoyable to see such a humble dish elevated with the proper seasoning for a discerning and delicate palate.
The bar is no less impressive for its local roots. Servings of a variety of local beers are common although one would be hard pressed to find a cider in these parts of the world. For a traveller with more expensive tastes, I would recommend the house mead: a traditional drink in Albis that is very similar to the honeyed wine of our fair homeland. I would advise caution however, from imbibing too much of the drink as it is rather stronger than what a typical Sylvinthite might be accustomed to. A small discount for food and drink is occasionally offered by Mr and Mr Merrick to those residing in their guest rooms which I believe to be a very welcome practice that should be more widely adopted and contributes greatly to my high praise for the Queen's Sword.
The real star of the show at this inn is the abundance of entertainment. Travellers of all types need not languish without a good story while away from home as there is always a bard engaged in the restaurant to perform for customers, the quality of which I find to be unparalleled to any and all but the storytellers of the Queen's Court. I was in a state of rapture over the performance of the talented Wilson Norther during my most recent stay as I had not expected such an acclaimed individual to display outside of private performances these days. Not once have I sat down of an evening and found myself without amusement.
The tales on offer usually relate to some part of the history of the Queen's Sword, which had been named the King's Sword for many centuries. The modern façade of this old establishment betrays a rich past full of intrigues and adventures that I have dedicated a good deal of my time to unravelling. It is said that it was renamed after Queen Louise stayed there in the aftermath of the Siege of Albis. Another account tells of the murder of a great lord many years ago. Such is the type of story you are likely to hear sung on any given night by many a talented performer.
What's Near By?
Situated close to the most respectable parts of the city, anything that even the most sophisticated traveller might wish to visit is within and easy walking distance. The Broadgate is a common location for promenading and hosts a variety of businesses that are well worth visiting. While the upscale shops, restaurants and drinking establishments are located directly on the Broadgate after the Temple of the Blossom, I would suggest to the more cultured traveller to venture off the main thoroughfare and into the market streets that teem with stores of all kinds, each indicated by colourful banners hanging down from above. It is such a feast for the senses that such markets should not be missed off of any itinerary. Although may the buyer beware that some merchants may attempt to overcharge the non-native who is not aware of the going rates. I find that this is most common amongst cloth vendors but do not let this put you off as haggling is a useful skill that can only be acquired through practice.
The Temple of the Blossom in Albis is perhaps a little too formalised for my tastes, having been built in ages past by the very pious King Darlen II. It is however a notable pilgrimage site within Albis as it hosts the largest blossom tree outside of Compass and is well worth seeing despite the overbearing architecture. See chapter 8 for my full review of the Temple.
Mr Anthon Merrick is more than happy to regale guests with vivid descriptions of the city and its excellent sights. In fact, I have known him to speak to patrons, such as myself, for hours at a time on quieter days. The Messers Merrick are in my opinion, the finest people one could wish to rent a room from, and I would now consider them to be my good friends having stayed with them so frequently.
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