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The Djell'ak Refuge (djɛll'ak)

The small, unimpressive door, which used to be a window, once looking out from the first floor of the building onto the modest town of Djell'ak, is guarded by one, sometimes two, seated guards in shiny brown armour, reflecting the desert sun on its surface. While most guests are climbing up rope ladders to enter the inn, some might fly in by various means, and other just appear at the entrance. Upon the arrival of a guest, the armed workers slowly get up and will ask the newcomer to open their bags and pockets to check for any alcohol they might bring in. After this mandatory search, the squeaking wooden door opens up to the main room.  

First Floor: The Tavern

  Forming one half of a circle, the room satisfies every traveller's wishes: several tables and chairs are set about the room, the bar sticks out from the straight wall, and a small platform in the middle of the room serves as a stage visible from every corner of the tavern (though, there aren't too many of them). Left of the bar, guests find a lump of skin of the creature, who carries this whole establishment on its back, protruding into the first level from what had a few hundred years ago been the ground floor and now functioned as its home. Some might use this surface as a scribbling board to immortalise themselves, and a quick glance is enough to catch sight of a few names and comments of famous explorers, adventurers, and witches that must have set foot in this building a long time ago:  
'Ssss verry gudd place!
Countess Alrienne
  While the sheer amount of legs makes the creature's movement quite stable and reduces the rocking to a minimum, many pieces of furniture are suspended from the rooms' ceilings to guarantee an enjoyable stay, even in the most impassable terrain. Sitting at one of the dark hardwood tables and having a few mugs of the house's special Blaat may, therefore, lead to a bit of seasickness—or rather sandsickness?—in some customers, once the alcohol level rises. But don't worry, if worse comes to worst, the employees will kindly offer cleaning supplies to everyone of their valued customers that cannot make it to the restroom in time.

The hanging barrels of drinks at the bar present thirsty travellers with a wide selection of Blaat, herb liquors, infused waters, and bizarre mixtures of fruity drinks from every region on Djell and beyond. The food, on the other hand, which, judging from the constant chopping sounds, is obviously prepared in the room behind the bar, is mostly limited to cold dishes, for the use of big stoves would pose a constant fire hazard in this shaky abode—nobody wants to eat hot food in the middle of a blazing desert anyways. Pickled vegetables, sliced fruit, mashed and salted meat, sometimes even sun dried mushrooms, all of these will be a delight to a desert wanderer's palate.   The central stage offers further entertainment, not for the stomach but for the eye, the ear, and the Aëtha. An ever changing roster of local musicians, dancers, poets, and every now and then even acrobats performs on the stage throughout the day and a part of the night. For special occasions, Gerëa might hire a group of Herbosette players, as their melodies and tunes remind her of life on Ynora, the place she once called her home. After a few accidents, she decided to install the stage itself on several hard springs, carefully hidden from the audience's view, to minimise any rocking from the buildings movements and to keep the performers from falling off stage and onto the customers—they don't enjoy having drinks and strangers dumped onto them too much, she realised.  

Second Floor: Bedrooms and Storage

  Two more doors are further to be found on the side of the bar that is not blocked by some creature's skin: One of them leading to the restrooms, the other one revealing the stairs to the upper levels. Walking up, to newcomers the second floor often feels like a little maze with all too many corridors going off in different directions and doors everywhere. While several of them lead to storage compartments for all the provisions, beverages, cleaning supplies, and everything else a moving inn might need (lots of rope!), the numbered doors hold the guest chambers. Depending on their need for personal space, their luggage, and their funds, customers can choose between a single-hammock, a double-hammock, or a group-hammock room. The first two options generally come with a window and a voucher for a free drink; the latter will be more than five meters away from the restrooms, if you get lucky.  

Third Floor: Staff chambers and Gerëa's Room

  The third floor can be accessed via another flight of stairs at the end of the corridor toward the guest house's moving direction. Most of the space on this floor is used for further storage, but two of the doors lead to the small staff compartment, offering the workers at least some privacy from the customers, and Gerëa's personal space. Even though she has gathered many trustworthy workers over the years, neither them nor any guest knows what treasures lie behind her door and what made Gerëa install three locks, to which she always carries the keys on different parts of her body.   But moving a guest house's stock through narrow corridors over two floor seems quite too tedious. Therefore, Gerëa has installed wide doors on the outer walls of both the first and the third floor to quickly move around the greatest of Blaat barrels, crates full of fresh vegetables, and fine amphoras of exquisite tipple via rope—all it takes is a team of about five muscular workers to do so. Easy, isn't it?  

Gerëa's Personal Hunting Party

  To keep up stock even when the moving guest house does not pass by any civilised part of the world or has any traders come in, Gerëa has a few diligent adventurers living in her inn, frequently sending them out to gather whatever they can find in the surrounding terrain, while the creature carrying the building is resting or eating one of its meals. For them, lodge in her house is free and they get a fair share of 30% of the things they find out there. But don't they dare to keep any treasures from her—she would always find out ...

Architecture

Made of clay, pieces of driftwood, and some of the weeds, growing on the seaside, the tan outer walls of the inn are about 45-50cm thick. All of the inner walls and floors are made from rough wooden planks of different shapes and colors—you have to work with what you can find in this poor realm. The main building itself used to have four storeys, including the "ground floor" (ground being the stilted wooden platform that stopped most of the sand blowing into the house), which is now inhabited by a multiped's large grey fleshy body that has a thin white hair poking out from its surface here and there. From there on up, the house's walls tilt a little bit inwards until they come to form a dome on third floor.   Attached to the building's main body, one can find further little sections that were added over the years and can be entered through what used to be the house's windows, giving the construction the overall look of soap bubbles clinging to one another. Over the last few months, Gerëa has started to paint the outside of the building in a slightly lighter more creamy tone to reflect more of the desert light but she has yet to finish this task. Thus, the distinct structural layers present a manifold of different shades of clay colors to the onlooker, resulting from the varying materials at hand during the construction of each part. On closer inspection, some reddish-brown splatters can be made out here and there on the side of the house, toward which it is moving.

Defenses

Djell itself is a pretty safe land—not too many treasures have been found here, the soil doesn't provide a great harvest, and the overall population is rather poor—so Gerëa never saw any use in defensive structures, the distance between her inn and the ground being enough of an obstacle for most of those, who might have meant harm for her establishment.   But once, many years ago, another monstrosity showed up on the distant horizon. At first, the personnel believed it to be a mirage, but soon enough, they had to face the fact of another gigantic thing calling this desert its home. With all its pink fleshiness, that creature did by no means look like the one carrying her house, and rather than walking, it gave off the impression of rolling around in the sand. However, once the two giants became aware of each other, they started to continuously move closer to one another, up to the point where they stood face to face at a distance of about 30 meters. With one of its big pointy legs, the grey one stabbed the pink one, which in return tried to bite its opponent with a set of gleamingly sharp teeth.
While the two monsters bursted into a furious battle, the inn started to shake as if caught in several earthquakes at the same time. Like the business woman she is, Gerëa quickly pushed a group of musicians onto stage so their music would drown out the fighting sounds from outside, at the same time loudly lamenting: "What an awful terrain we got ourselves into today!" After a few minutes of battle, the inn's carrier had emerged victorious, feeding on the huge pink carcass, spraying itself and parts of the guest house's outer walls in its enemy's bright red blood. The stains would soon dry in the desert sun's light and leave some darker brown crust on the building.   Never before had Gerëa witnessed a fight between two of these giants that populated the continent of Djell. And never again did she want to witness anything like it. Her grey friend should better stick to its normal meal plan of half an oasis every week and the occasional pig she would feed to it.   While this whole situation was soon forgotten by many, one sentence stuck, and so from that day on, whenever something dangerous or ominous happened to anyone in the Djell'ak Refuge, everyone would yell:  
What an awful terrain we got ourselves into today!
— Gerëa Neda

History

Several years after washing ashore on the blazing beaches of Djell, once the few townsmen on the newly discovered had managed to stabilise their means of survival so that daily life had finally become less survival and more of a life again, Gerëa decided to turn her house into an inn for those newcomers, who would soon arrive from the old continent of Ynora, seeking a new and hopefully better live on this sandy island.

A few months into business—and it was quite the business, since her inn was the only place that offered housing, music, and a mug of Blaat in this town—Gerëa and all of her guests, or at least those who were in bed, were ripped out of their sleep, when the whole house started shaking in the middle of the night. It wasn't the usual shaking of an earthquake but it felt rather like a ship caught amongst the waves of a storm. Running down to the tavern room, where many guests had already gathered, revealed a strange sight to her. A gigantic fair-skinned creature's back blocked off the way down to the "ground floor." It turned out that one of those mighty monstrosities populating the desert lands—this one looking a bit like a crab—must've mistaken her stilted abode for a new shell and therefore wrapped it over its back to continue the journey through the dunes of Djell. In fear of forever getting lost within this continent's sandy realms, some of the guests in an act of desperation leaped out of the windows before the inn had reached the edge of town. Ever since, Gerëa ran a moving guest house. She took in those seeking refuge from the merciless sun and those seeking shelter from other unsparing events that occurred all too often in this region, letting them climb up and down a long rope ladder or come in whatever way they saw fit.   Never knowing when they would reach the next town, trade post, or oasis, Gerëa had to enlarge the building, especially the storage rooms, very soon, but every once in a while, when she was working on the construction of a new wall, she wondered, how these clay walls had survived the harsh jolting, when that creature had rammed its back into her entrance hall.
Founding Date
Second Age, Year 7149, Date long forgotten
Type
Inn
Parent Location
Over the years, Gerëa had come up with three rules for her wandering establishment:

The first rule Gerëa established in her moving inn is that The Djell'ak Refuge would refuse nobody shelter, may they be beggar or king, may they have a lot of money to spend on drinks or only stay to listen to some songs, or may they worship the old gods or new ones, like some of those Kathels from Ynora do. Having found herself stranded on this land's sandy shore, she knows from first-hand experience what it feels like to have nowhere to go and nobody to call on for help.   The second rule, carried out by the guards at the entrance, is to not let anyone bring in any alcoholic beverages from the outside. Whoever crosses her doorstep has to hand over the alcohol and buy it back from her waiters at the counter, if they need it so desperately. Illegal delicacies, beguiling herbs, narcotic powders ... those are none of her business.   The third (and most important) rule: If you want to stay on board of this rocking vehicle, then NEVER ask Gerëa's age! (While some still wonder, how she manages to stay alive at her age--whatever that may be--, others suppose those three items named above are in fact her business)

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Comments

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16 Mar, 2022 19:05

Love the map that you provided!, and rules of the tavern as well, and i do like you have descriptions about some of the staff ( you can break up the paragraph by doing [BR] if you choose) overall a good article!

Master Ciaoty
Markus Haselbeck
17 Mar, 2022 03:17

Thank you very much! I'll look into breaking up the paragraphs a little bit more : )

22 Mar, 2022 08:05

The map is really cool! The true gem of this article. I would also consider adding sidebars as large amounts of text seem really daunting to the reader - Maybe adding a few headlines where they seem appropriate?

Que the wardrums! Check out my bloodied river, running from the heart of the jungle:River Arteria!
Master Ciaoty
Markus Haselbeck
22 Mar, 2022 13:50

Thanks a lot for your comments! I will look into adding some headlines and sidebars here and there! :D

24 Mar, 2022 06:08

I like how you thought about what a fire would do in a moving structure. I also know I could never visit; I get motion sick too easily. I really feel for those who get a little peeked when staying there.

Master Ciaoty
Markus Haselbeck
25 Mar, 2022 01:17

Thank you very much! Yeah, the Djell'ak Refuge is not everyone's cup of tea, but I suppose it's better than being left in the desert? I bet you can find another tavern that caters to your need, though! <3

31 Mar, 2022 21:29

Lol, hilarious origin story of a moving tavern! XD Would be a nice athletic challenge to get into, but worth it.


Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
Master Ciaoty
Markus Haselbeck
3 Apr, 2022 23:36

Haha, thanks! It would definitely be some work to get up there ... But I guess a true adventurer will find a way to get into the tavern! ;D