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Elminster Speaks - Part 25
By Ed GreenwoodA Tour of the Wizard
The Whistling Wizard, Continued
The Whistling Wizard inn shows passersby on the Northride a lantern post (from which hangs a whimsical signboard, consisting of a carved wooden whistling wizard's head), a few paces of muddy foreyard, and then a long, covered porch with a hitching rail. The porch and hitching rail are overlooked by the owner's rooms, with their narrow balcony whose rail holds a rather rickety row of herb boxes.
From there the Wizard, an unlovely rectangle, stretches back -- and back, sprawling as long as some castles. It has two floors and a full cellar, and the windows and balconies along its southern wall (the most expensive rooms) offer views of the deep woods, which start a scant few paces from their casements.
The stableyard, several granaries and stable buildings, and the cookhouse all straggle along the northern flank of the Wizard amid scrub underbrush. In the underbrush the owner's pet pigs -- small, lazy, and stupid sows who all share the (usually shouted angrily) name of "Little Latha" -- root around constantly and noisily, though some Lathas have been known to vanish at the same time as certain guests ready their wagons and depart.
The Wizard has an air of quiet seediness, dust, and old secrets. It serves vile, homebrewed, small beer (the Wizard's Quaff), some passable Moonsea ales, and has a fair to poor (depending on the time of year) wine cellar dominated by dry white vintages from around the Inner Sea and zzar (as a nod to travelers from the west). Big wine shipments from buyers in Sembia arrive at the Wizard in late Uktar if the summer season has been good, and dregs that establishments in Hillsfar want to be rid of arrive in early spring if the summer season was not overly profitable. Drinks are served to guests in their rooms, in the common room that fills the ground floor front of the inn, and in the upper parlor.
The upper parlor is a balconied, top-floor room on the forest side of the inn, at its easternmost end. It is famous as a meeting place for less than savory business. Until recently, slaves were openly examined and purchased there.
The common room is the usual dark, smoky, low-beamed labyrinth of stout but mismatched round tables, chairs, and a serving bar. The room features no benches since the owner hates them, having fallen over backward off one too many.
Entering by the front door, the bar is off to the left, with the jakes to the right, and an archway straight ahead leading to the ground floor rooms, and the bottom of a stair ascending over the bar to the upper floor where it runs along its own, more northerly passage to a stair that descends again to meet the ground floor passage at the back door. The ground floor rooms are located along a straight passage that turns sharply left near the end of the inn to head for an exit door northward behind which are the stables and cookhouse. The hallway also provides access to an eastward-looking suite of rooms that have their own private exit and are much used by adventuring bands desiring their comings and goings -- especially in the wee hours -- to be relatively private.
Upper floor rooms are long and narrow and are hung with half-curtains to make them seem even longer. They tend to be quieter, so they're the most expensive at the Wizard. (Floor-creakings made in them are heard in rooms below them, but not vice-versa.)
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