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[An excerpt from the Travel Guide to the Southern Mountains, 382nd edition]
There are three main clusters of taverns & inns in Urquarth, plus a smattering of others. Each cluster — and each individual place — has its own character. Stick with our recommendations and you’ll do fine.
If you don’t know the Southern Mountains, keep your eyes open for a drink called craomtenh. The name is dwarvish for “fire tree,” and it’s a very strong beverage distilled from the sap of a large cactus that grows in the heart of the Great Desert. There’s something about it that affects humans differently: two drinks and you’ll be howling at the moon!
UPTOWN TOURIST DISTRICT
The Succulent Owl
The first watering hole you’ll see when you come into town is the Succulent Owl, a nod to the flora and fauna of the Great Desert just a few leagues away. Everyone is welcome, it’s a safe place for families to stay, and the food is fantastic. As you tend to find with the first stop in any town, the prices are high, but the Succulent Owl tends to be worth it.
It’s also the best place to catch up on news of the world, as traveling bards are always welcome to perform there (assuming they’re willing to work for a room, a scanty meal, and tips).
The Copper Coin
Traveling on a budget? The Copper Coin has no frills and no food. The bar serves local ale, a couple of cheap wines, and of course, craomtenh. There are a dozen small rooms upstairs. Everything’s simple and basic, but cheap.
The food is okay; the drinks are pretty good; the music is great. Harmony is the only place in the tourist district that’s regularly frequented by the locals. Everybody that sings or plays a musical instrument will end up in Harmony sooner or later. There are singalongs every night. Visiting bards may go to the Succulent Owl to pass on the news, tell jokes, and juggle, but they come to Harmony to make music.
King and Page
This is the only place in the tourist district where we’ll give you a warning. King and Page has good food and drinks, reasonable prices, and they’ll treat you well — if you’re human. The only reason a non-human would set foot in this place is to start a fight.
UPTOWN LOCAL HANGOUTS
Root & Leaf
Before sunup, you’ll find a sizable crowd gathered at Root & Leaf for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast. By half an hour after sunrise, the place is pretty much empty. Once the sun goes down, the farmers and crofters stream back in for a drink and something to eat, and sometimes their families join them, too.
There are no rooms, but if you want a big portion of good food for a reasonable price, this is your place!
This place is where the crafters, shopkeepers, and guild members hang out. It’s quieter than Root & Leaf, but outsiders are viewed with suspicion. If you aren’t visiting a friend in town, this probably isn’t the best place to stay. If you come in for a drink or a meal, don’t carry any more valuables than you have to.
Why would a visitor want to even come here? For the pies! The selection of meat pies, fruit pies, and cheese pies rotates regularly, and all of it is fantastic.
“ALETOWN” IN THE DELVES
The Goblin’s Corpse
Resentment against the goblins runs deep here, and this tavern celebrates it. The signature drink, Blood of the Goblin, is a deep red concoction of cherry juice and craomtenh served in a mug shaped like a goblin’s skull. It’s the kind of place where the fights break out and then everyone laughs, drinks, and sings The Day the Goblin King Died together. All 41 verses.
Meat and Sleep
This inn is all about the two things in its name. A hearty meal centered around a huge slab of meat, and a comfy bed for the night. Comfy, that is, if you’re no bigger than a dwarf. Humans probably want to look for a room in Uptown instead of here, but if you’re hungry, come on in. Their chefs know how to prepare a steak!
The Ale Room
Adjacent to Delven Ale, the best brewery in a day’s ride, the Ale Room serves the freshest ale you can get. They also have some light snacks — or at least it’s food that a dwarf would call a light snack. It’s worth a visit just to see what their latest seasonal and experimental brews are. The brewery’s signature Miner’s Quaff is always on tap and always excellent.
The Shining Broach
Set at the foot of the cliffs of Corrag Fiona, just a few dozen steps from the Giant’s Gate that separates Uptown from the Delves, the Shining Broach has been operating for over a thousand years. Founded by a former mayor of Urquarth, it’s the place for important people to be seen. There’s a special table set aside for the mayor, and you can’t sit there unless invited. The mayor is there almost every evening. The food and drinks are expensive and the rooms are exorbitantly-priced, but amazingly luxurious. If you can spare the coin, it’s worth spending a night or two there just for the experience.