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Elminster Speaks - Part 22
By Ed GreenwoodNight Ale at the Meet
The Swords Meet, Continued
Most suites at the Meet can comfortably sleep four (far more if they don't need beds), but they're all priced for one or two at 3 gp/night, with an additional payment of 2 gp per night demanded for each additional person. That 3 gp buys a suite and a meal washed down with all the tankards of ale one desires, though Zhents of all sorts pay only 2 gp per night, and as Helauther intended, have come to favor this establishment as their home away from home.
Meals and drinks can be ordered served in a suite, but there's a surcharge of 1 sp per such request. Most guests dine in the common room, a dimly lit place of plush booths with a decor of battered battle trophy shields and crossed swords. During most of the day soft minstrel-playing provides entertainment designed to keep some diners from overhearing the secrets of others.
The common room occupies the eastern front quarter of the Meet's ground floor. The lobby and stairs take up the western quarter, and the southern half is given over to the kitchens and pantries.
Visitors not renting rooms at the Meet come into the common room to enjoy drinks of ale at 1 sp a tankard, or 8 sp for a meal and all the tankards they desire to drain. Wines are always extra (2 sp to 10 gp per flagon) to guests or visitors alike. The wine is plentiful in quantity but sometimes limited in choice. When the cellar is thin, the choice is usually narrowed to Arabellan dry, local clarry and mead, and Saerloonian glowfire, special vat, and topaz.
Visitors also come to hire a few swordsfolk on furlough from the selection of Zhent warriors drinking and dining here. Such folk are commonly employed for local guard duty to keep valuables from going missing as they're loaded or unloaded from waywagons or for dirty work (usually beating up a rival or destroying specific property belonging to a rival). The common room is almost always full and is the only such room in Voonlar that Gormstadd of Cyric cares to be seen in. (He always visits with a strong escort of lesser clergy to shield him from Zhents drunk enough to want to prove their personal superiority over a "crow who kneels to the Lord of Lies.")
The Meet is known for its strong home-brewed ale (known as night Aale for its dark hue). One can sometimes get small amounts of other brews here, but don't count on it.
The Meet serves heavy, gut-filling fare, and does it well. Hot buttered rolls and skewers of sausage and fried mushrooms can be had at all times, and every few hours the common room serves forth a remove (main dish) to all desiring it. A favorite remove of the Meet cooks is seared venison and mushrooms cooked in red wine served with side plates of strong, crumbly, yellow Askata cheese from Impiltur, and followed by sugared biscuits slathered with warm blackberry jelly. Another frequently-served remove is roast goat -- extraordinarily tender, its flavor enhanced rather than hidden by mint-and-hot-pepper sauce -- on a bed of fried medallions of parsnip, potato, and radish, with side plates of baked goat cheese crusted with almonds, followed with a fruit mash. Regulars, however, swear by a rarer delight: pheasant spit-roasted to crackling and served on a bed of mushrooms and field apples, with a side of sweet, moist, dark applecake.
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