My Slice of Silverymoon (Part Four)
By Chesmyr Morrowynd (as told to Ed Greenwood)
Looking for provisions? Let me tell you about that. . . .
'Tis not hard to find this busy place; just look for all the locals tramping back and forth from it, and the trodden leaves underfoot. The northernmost balcony shop of the first building on the west side of Nutting Lane south of the Druinwood waymoot houses Tamabril's food-shop.
Time for a little Silverymoon history again. Alasamber Druin was a long-ago carver, hence "Druinwood," and Nutting Lane got its name from all the nut-sellers whose shops once lined it. They bought, graded, and bagged (in hempen sacks) nuts gathered by freelance foragers in the forests to the north (something now done out-of-town; now we just get to buy the filled, sewn-up sacks). Falmar Fordorn was a local legend: a fat, jovial, kindly greengrocer who ran the first mixed-food shop in the city that catered to all folk, but tried to offer fresh foodstuffs as well as pickled, smoked, and salted provender from afar. His name has come down to us as the general Silvaeren term for shops that sell fresh greens among other foodstuffs, and Tamabril's, though quite typical of a neighborhood "local," is (for my tongue-taste, anyway) one of the best.
Valtha Tamabril is a slender, dark little woman who's probably quite beautiful but doesn't want the world to know it; she wears old rags and mud from her wares across her face, and pulls her hair all wild through a leather nape-sleeve and then lets it trail into everything. Yet she's cheerful enough and likes to talk -- gods above, how she likes to talk! Don't tell her anything you don't want all Hollowhar -- and every passing hungry buyer, too -- to know! (Some feed her lies deliberately, because she certainly sends the rumors flying through the city as if they had wings.)
Valtha likes to haggle, but 'tis seldom you'll pay more than 2 sp for anything in her shop (and those'll be her cheeses, at that price; her greens are half that).
Year-round she sells powdered herbs, teas from afar, pickles, jams, and cheeses (usually by the handwheel), and in summer and fall Tamabril's will be crowded with fresh vegetables: parsnips, radishes, lothleaf,  selpurt, river cress, and wosrel.
Every neighborhood has its festhalls, and Hollowhar, it seems, can just barely afford one. Vrelda's is a festhal of sorts -- not a drinks-house with dancing and bouncers and flesh of unbelievable beauty on display amid gems and furs, mind, but a discreet, cozy, slightly shabby place that offers gentle companions for the lonely. The women and men here are closer to friends who'll rub feet, pour tea, soothe, and listen to tales of woe and bragging and bitching from men and women who come out of the backlands with too few coins and too much loneliness. I like Vrelda's and have happily spent too many evenings to count sipping strange cherry teas in its front room, losing a few coins at cards with the lasses.
Fat old Vrelda, who scarce came up past my waist, is long dead. The mistress of the house now is "Legs" Larivarra (so-called because she's missing one and stumps around on a wooden replacement). She's as shapely a moon elf as mens' dreams can concoct but can curse like a sailor and outdrink any four warriors I know. I've never known her last name, but I gather her family is noble or some such, perhaps from Evereska way -- and she wants as little to do with them as they do with her.
Larivarra's nine aging lasses are all human females, but in sizes, shapes, and origins that vary right across the board. They're more apt to be seen trudging around in fluffy soft-boots and old thick gowns than silks -- but then, they look as good in bright sunlight as they do by candlelight, and that's a lot more than some night-lasses can claim. She's a few male companions, too, who are just as relaxing and good a companion to those who stop by as the women are.
Vrelda's also serves as a message drop: Leave a written missive for someone and a copper coin, and Larivarra will guarantee you two things: Unless Vrelda's burns down, that message will be discreetly delivered to the right someone if they ever drop by or show their face anywhere in Hollowhar (where a lantern lass can see it, that is), and that the chosen recipient's eyes will be the only ones to have read it, when it comes into their hands.
Vrelda's stands on the north side of Lavarpard Street; 'tis the second building west of the Nutting-Lavarpard waymoot. It has discreet entrances on the north, south, and west sides of the building. The precipitous staircase on the east side leads straight up to the roof and hasn't been safe for some years; the strange little cages on some of its steps are dove-traps, that can be drawn in through nearby windows on strings when they've caught a bird. One of Vrelda's lasses (Marissra by name) loves to cook downdove pie.
The large building on the east side of Nutting Lane at its northern mouth, facing the Westwatch and Bow Gate, is "the Roost," a modest rooming-house for folk with more wisdom than coins (that is: the poor). A popular place, the Hawkroost is apt to fill up by highsun on most days, though late arrivals can buy a blanket and a spot on the roof for 1 cp.
Here you can rent rooms by the half-day (1 sp), the night (2 sp), the fourday (4 sp), the tenday (9 sp), or the twelveday (1 gp). Your coins buy you a small, fairly clean room with a bed (rope and straw-tick mattress, overblanket and two linen sheets), a jug of drinking water and another of mintwater washing-water, and a chamberpot. A chair is 1 cp/day extra, laundry services are 1 cp/garment more (done next morning), and every room is equipped with a door-bar to keep stealthy night visitors out. (The Roost's ill-tempered menagerie of cats takes care of smaller, four-legged rodents.) Baths (in the cellar cistern, with handflake soap, a frightful scrub-brush, and two towels to dry off with; if someone else of any race or gender wants to wash at the same time, you must share, and the cistern can comfortably hold six) are 5 sp/person. You can often tell the truly poor or backlands folk from the merely coin-careful at a bath: the really needy are the ones bathing in their clothes and spending more time washing them than their own bodies.
The Roost is run by Merymys Dracobard, a fat but once stunningly beautiful woman of high station who set aside all the fripperies of fashion and high etiquette (fled from unhappy arranged matches in Athkatla or Myratma or Baldur's Gate, the tales say), and now firmly mothers an everchanging staff of a dozen or so half-starved boys (usually runaways who came to the big, bright city in search of fame and fortune, and found starvation and vigilant Rods instead) who tend the place. They can sometimes be hired by the day for "away work," but Merymys frowns on illicit or dangerous tasks, and will report those who hire her boys "into danger" to the Rods.
Merymys (her name's pronounced "Merry-MEEZ," by the way) offers literally bread and water to guests (the former is of her own making -- handloaves of passable black bread -- and goes for 2 cp/loaf), and no amenities. "Want foot-washing and music and honeyed words? Go elsewhere," she says often. Hollowhar rumors insist that a secret room in or under the cellar of the Roost contains dozens of petrified adventurers (or, some tales say, monsters) stored for some dark future event, but the tales never agree on just what that purpose is, or what part Merymys Dracobard is playing in this secretive storage. She isn't saying, but asking her about it will get you the spying eyes of some Rods for a few days, let me warn you.
As to Merymys' origins, I know nothing, and ask less, but there is more to her than an aging and overweight woman fled from somewhere else. That much I'll swear.
Delvara Moondark, Procurements
The end shop-balcony on the east side of Druinwood (at its northernmost mouth, where it meets the Wallrun) seems at first glance a dust-covered cavern crowded with secondhand curios. A forest of ceiling-hooks bears more cobwebbed wares overhead than the layers-deep tables or the reduced-to-snakelike-ribbons aisles. Be warned that a very protective tressym lurks watchfully amid all the clutter, ready to pounce on would-be thieves.
Most of what fills the shop has lain more or less undisturbed there for seasons on end, because the lady master whose name adorns this establishment makes most of her coins by "getting out and getting things."
Delvara is a little, dark-eyed slip of a thing, all boneless acrobatic agility, leather breeches and boots, and flowing-sleeved, distractingly open-fronted bravo's shirts. Short hair, large earrings, pert manner, adept at hurling daggers; that sort. She's an enterprising sorcerer and sometime thief, who for fees will procure all sorts of goods from the shops of others in Silverymoon. She doesn't steal them, mind, she fetches them so you won't have to go searching if you're an outlander or too lazy or high-nosed, or just in a tearing hurry.
Delvara doesn't deal in gems or magic of any kind, but the last time I talked over tankards with her, she'd fetched (in the five preceding days): an artificial limb, two grappling hooks, several coils of rope and one of black waxed cord, three leghold traps, a pair of gauntlets of a particular size and finish, and a blank spellbook.
Clients pay the retail cost of a fetched item plus her delivery fee (typically 12 to 20 gp to those in haste or whom she knows to be wealthy, and 3 or 5 gp to commoners like me). Those who try to cheat her will discover that she has more than her knives, spells, and tressym to protect her: She's quite cozy, if you take my meaning, with some very powerful and highly-ranked Spellguard mages.
Hablar the Hawk
This cluttered studio of fading parchment and jars of inks fills the balcony of the second building south from the city wall along the east side of Druinwood. Seek you the jutting signboard of the hawk's head turned to the dexter to fix you with one dark, staring, gold-rimmed eye as you approach.
Inside dwells and works Hablar the Hawk. This birdlike, balding little man was mockingly nicknamed "the Hawk" in his youth, I'm told, and eventually embraced the name proudly. He comes from the Aumtruskan family of Silverymoon, an oldblood clan long known as tapestry weavers (three younger brothers and a sister all have shops in more glittering parts of the city), but disappointed his sire by turning his back on the family trade for the then-less-desirable pursuit of painting portraits. These days the Gem of the North is known for housing dozens of flamboyant, eccentric folk who'll paint you grand, expensive, and flattering portraits that can make a high lady who looks in life like a bristle-jowled hound into someone of (at the least) serene grandeur, and suchlike; they of course dwell in better districts than Hollowhar.
Hablar is more useful to the great run of folk, though -- not just because his prices are lower (typically 25 gp to half that), but because his swift sketches accurately capture likenesses in a very true-to-life manner, and because he can work from memory, after only a fleeting glance. Show him a man passing on the street, and he can in the space of a short song hand you back a portrait that you can give to someone who's never seen the real person, and they can use it to track that right person down. Moreover, although the Hawk absolutely refuses to copy the work of other artists ("forgery" he terms it, scornfully), he'll happily (for full fees, of course) duplicate his own work speedily and precisely -- so you can hand a dozen bounty hunters the exact likeness of one quarry.
An End To It
And that's my Silverymoon. Oh, I've been in the Palace a time or two, and can spout more if you've the price of a tankard of blackroot, but I'm dry of words for now. Soon enough I'll have heard my fill of songs, kissed enough waiting lips, and drained tankards a-plenty -- and be back out Bow Gate into the waiting wilds.
Chesmyr Morrowynd. Remember that name, if harpstrings you're after. I'm the scar-cheeked man with the raven-black hair, the wrinkles, and the nut-brown skin. I walk with a bit of a limp but I'm as silent as a dead mouse -- and I'm the man they still tell tales of, who got in through a watch of six Spellguard mages and kissed Alustriel in her bath one Midsummer Night. I left her laughing and got out alive, and that's more than some can claim.
See you across the fire at my next wyvern-kill, if you're bolder than you look.
 As near as I can make out from Elminster, who's no fan of them, these are fleshy edible tubers, something like Jerusalem artichokes, that grow along the banks of coldwater northern rivers and are easily found by their small but distinctive blue, long-stalked flowers; they're pronounced "woz-rel," by the way.