(Part #31) : The Wizard Then to Now
The Whistling Wizard, Continued
The repairs Storm paid for were well underway at the Wizard when Anthalus Droon showed up a tenday later, declared himself the new owner (flanked by the Bron and a number of distinguished Zhent visitors casually displaying much ready weaponry), and confiscated the funds Avlar hadn't spent yet. (That's why the common room furniture is so old and mismatched. New replacements were never bought.)
Droon then spent a season mismanaging the Wizard into the ground -- a tenure marked by such brilliant decisions as to save on firewood in winter by letting the inn grow cold and commanding the staff to dress warmly (though it was soon painfully clear that guests would go to other inns and pay a little more for the privilege of freedom from chilblains) and taking chambermaids from their cleaning duties to send them out hunting in the forest to provide free food for the inn kitchen. The wolves got one maid, and the others caught nothing. Eventually Droon was forced to hire foresters from Shadowdale to set traps, which the hapless maids were set to making the rounds of. Needless to say, the few travelers who braved the nigh-impassable winter roads from Sembia with sledges of valuables were less than enamored of weasel stew and rabbit soup so thin it was hardly more than boiled water. (When there's a lot of snow, the prevailing winds often cause it to drift the Hillsfar road into impassibility, so trade bound for the Moonsea goes west through Mistledale, and then up the trail along the Ashaba to Shadowdale, and thence through Voonlar.)
Droon openly hated the Wizard, Voonlar, and the cold, often cursing them all and retiring to his rooms to drain flagons of mulled wine heated over his own fire. (His was the only fire at the Wizard outside of the cookhouse that was kept alight all the time.) This behavior is why most locals surmise he was under orders to remain at the inn.
When Sembian factors (family business agents) began to arrive in Voonlar in the spring on their way north to the Moonsea cities to receive overwinter reports on investments and to deliver the latest orders from their masters, Droon courted them. Eventually he found one willing to take back an investment proposal, which is how Harauna Beltzund came to be Droon's major creditor and eventual owner of the Wizard. (She never saw a copper piece out of Droon, who used the barest minimum of her investment to keep the inn running and pocketed the rest.)
The chambermaids still have the traps, by the way, and they have used them to discourage Zhent thieves and spies who've shown an interest in entering the Wizard from time to time bent on dishonest purposes.
Despite Harper vigilance and such precautions, local rumor insists various guests regularly hide messages or small packets of valuables in hiding places under the floors or inside the walls of certain guest rooms at the Wizard. These packages are reputedly collected by the Bron's deputies, by Cyricist priests, or by lay temple staff late at night in visits to the inn that don't involve announcing themselves or paying for a night's accommodation. This has happened -- to the alarm of paying guests who sleep lightly and have come awake to find someone creeping around in their room -- often enough to keep such rumors current in Voonlar. For that reason, Harauna treats anyone she finds skulking around the inn late at night very frostily.
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