Uthmere (Part Six)
By Ed Greenwood
Places to Stay
At any given time, Uthmere offers a paltry handful of buildings for sale, as many buildings for rent, dozens of lone upstairs rooms for rent, anything from a handful to two dozen rooms available in lodging houses, and five inns to choose from, from the squalid (The Bloody Hook) to the luxurious (The Captain's Loft). By Uth custom, inn rooms are never shared unless paying guests want to share.
Many thrifty travelers camp a safe distance from the city and come into Uthmere only by day. The slightly less miserly, who avoid inns in favor of renting private rooms, will invariably find themselves on an upper floor, but it'll only be the top floor if the roof leaks. A typical rate for a room furnished only with a bare cot and chamberpot (no meals, no water nearer than the Dalestream or the Dalegate or Belltower public pumps and your own bucket) is 1 sp/day.
Those desiring even cheaper accommodations can take their chances outside the walls (beware "creep-thieves"); try to find hiding places in warehouses, on city roofs, or in stables (sleep will be hard to manage; all stables and the Lords' Park get searched by Cudgel patrols several times a night); or go to a lodging house.
Lodging house prices are usually a minimum of 3 cp/room/day if a full month is booked (payable up front), but drop to 1 or 2 cp per room per day if one rents for at least three months. Stabling and secure storage are additional (typically 1 sp/stall/night and 2 sp/strongchest/night). If the lodging house is cleaned often and has "duty staff" (aside from just door guards to keep strangers, thieves, and vandals out), room prices will be a minimum of 1 sp/day. Renting for a year or more can win better rates, but bargaining will be necessary. If renting for a year or less, a month must be paid up front; if renting for longer, a minimum of six months must be paid up front.
One notable lodging house (the cheapest and quietest, but utterly spare and unheated; rooms have chimneys, but wood and tinderbox must be provided by tenants) fronts on Dalegate Square and caters to peddlers and caravan merchants. Known as Mother Mrelda's House (though Mrelda died decades ago), it's run by six old sisters (who now obey the Shadowmasters, reporting who comes and goes). Large, ramshackle, and sprawling, it offers eighteen rooms. The lowest eight rooms reek of the ground-floor stables (stabling for every guest's mount, though they'll have to rent wagon or cart storage space elsewhere, or disassemble their carts and carry everything up to their rooms).
The other lodging houses all front on either Storaungh Square or are along the lower north bank of the Dalestream (the smelliest part). Aside from the stench, all are dirtier and damper than Mother Mrelda's or any inn, and most offer no stabling. From worst and least-guarded to best (door guards one can trust, and secure storage that really is), they are as follows: Haltho's Rest; Morgarl's House; The Snug Harbor; The Sails and Stars; Braskar's Hearth. The last two face each other across the southern end of Storaungh Square.
Braskar's is the warmest, most private, and has a discreet safe entrance and exit through an adjacent warehouse for guests who don't want to be seen entering or departing. The Stars is the cleanest, but it is run by a dozen ladies of the evening and is apt to be noisy since they ply their trade at all hours for extra coin.
Which brings us to Uthmere's inns. Here are the worst two:
The Bloody Hook: 4 cp/room/night (8 rooms), includes one tankard of "Bloody Ale" (the watered-down house beer); noisy, dirty; bug-ridden bed, chamberpot, and chair are only room furnishings; ground floor functions as the wildest brawl-tavern in Uthmere until dawn, and rooms are often rented for loud private parties, so it appeals only to the unhygienic and hard-of-hearing; full of spies for alley-thugs, sneak-thieves, lowcoin lasses, and the Shadowmasters.
Fendelmer's Hall: 6 cp/room/night (22 rooms); on the Dalestream's north bank, due south of Storaungh Square; some rooms have balconies over the reeking river; no cleaner than the Hook, but no tavern or house girls on premises; rooms larger than Hook and also have water-jug, metal washbasin on floor, and wall-pegs for hanging clothes; entrances watched for same interests as the Hook.
1. A safe camping distance is a minimum of a mile out of Uthmere, in open fields, with sentries posted against thieves. A favorite occupation for Shadowmaster-sponsored gangs of local youths is stealing horses or stampeding them so as to cause confusion to enable thefts to take place.
2. All lodging house rooms have two keys: a door key (front and back door will be the same) and a room key (all rooms must by the Lord's law be keyed differently). Be warned: The owner has master keys, and locks are simple, massive affairs (easily picked) that are changed only when they've been broken, so previous tenants may well have keys that unlock your room.
3. It is Uth custom for guests to carry all tack and harness up to their rooms and store it there for the night, not in the stables. Some stables will store such materials for guests (and it's the rule in the Captain's Loft carriage house to do so), but there's always an additional storage charge.
4. The Ladies of the Stars are kindly but worldly wise, always armed, and tough when they have to be. They can call on a pet stirge that will attack beings of their choice. They're of various tattooed and weatherbeaten conditions, and are led by Tallbones (the tall, slender Janessa Rhoarindyl, a longtime personal friend of Lord Uthlain) and Shortkeg (the short, broad-shouldered and burly Tethra Yulmrin, quick with accounts and shrewd in business). One of the Ladies, Asmra Laelock (known to all as Blacktresses for her long, dyed hair) has three removable artificial limbs that she can replace with rather astonishing attachments.
Our survey of Uthmere's inns stands incomplete; next time we'll finish up -- and take a peek inside Lord Uthlain's Palace.
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