This is the Arms.
it’s an ancient, rambling place with many staircases, nooks and crannies, what seem like dead-ends but aren’t. a great place to get lost in … and not! You could find yourself anywhere in the universe from a wrong turn!
the Inn is sentient too … she thinks, knows, feels, is able to know what you want to drink or eat almost before you do yourself. the staff know this and rely on her quite a lot to get things right for you. She may know that you need to sleep in a different bedroom tonight too … and move you (usually with your baggage) to that room, guiding your feet without you even knowing. first-time visitors may find this disconcerting, old-timers are used to, sigh, and go with the flow :-).
I’ll be adding pages for the staff, menus, drinks, etc as time permits.
The Shapeshifters Arms
The Shapeshifters Arms is located on Yardoz in the country of Loegr, on the continent of Prydein. It’s in a hidden, wild spot on the moors in the south-west part Prydein, just under Dun Keri. You can reach it from anywhere, once you know it exists, just by imaging yourself there. Or you can take the longer way of journeying.
There is always room for everyone, even on caleigh nights. There’s always a bed to sleep in too.
The Shapeshifters Arms is an odd inn on the high moors of the south-west, just above the estuary of the river Iwerydd, one of the two longest rivers on the continent/country. It is isolated and solitary. The nearest towns being Chittlehampton, a river port some twenty miles to the west; Exon a large city and river port about hundred and fifty miles to the south; and Dubonnii another large city and port on the Iwrydd estuary itself some hundred odd miles to the north-east.
At the bottom of the hill below the Arms is a long and beautiful river valley. The track down to it crosses the river on an ancient clapper bridge called Tarr Steps. The views from the west side of the tap room look down over this. Owen (the guardian of the Arms) and his staff often take boats out on the river both for pleasure and to fish for the notable salmon and trout in its waters. The bird life in the valley is extraordinarily numerous and varied, including some beautiful raptors as well as song and carrion birds.
To the north is the Iwrydd estuary. The Arms is built under the lee of the Dun Keri mountain which shelters it from some of the worst of the northerly snow storms. Several springs on the mountain give birth to rivers which flow down into the surrounding country.
Despite being to the south of Prydein, the arms and its surrounding moors are very high and get some extreme weather particularly in winter.
It is set on a wooded hill through which are many tracks and paths. These don’t stay in the same place so visitors who came in by one path may find it has moved or disappeared completely when they want to leave again. The woods are full of animals – deer, badgers, foxes, red squirrels, several sorts of mouse and rat, wild cats, wolves, bears and wild dogs to name just a few.
An old clan of gnomes also live in the woods. They are silversmiths and woodsmen, being very good at making paraphernalia for wyzards and other magical folk. Their work is unusual and distinctive and they charge for it in some odd ways. If you wish to buy a staff from them you may find yourself contracted to do a particular journey for the gnomes in exchange.
The Main Bar
The main bar faces south, with windows and doors to both east into the entrance court and west to the gardens.
It has a huge bay window in the south wall, a preferred place to sit. Above is the best guestroom with glass doors onto a balcony. Both rooms look out across the moor to Dun Keri
Opposite is the big ingle-nook chimney which backs onto the kitchen, another preferred place to sit, especially in winter.
It’s a long room with fire-blackened oak beams holding the ceiling. The walls hold strange and often beautiful paintings done by guests at various times. The also hold strange shamanic tools, hide shields, staffs, and longbows. There are a couple of swords and one of Drwyn’s axes as well, and Owen’s gun-rack. Guests may be forcibly discouraged from touching any of these by the weapons themselves.
There are small and large tables, chairs, settles, easy chairs and a sofa. There always seem to be enough for however many people are in the bar.
The bar is usually “self-service” … this has a particular meaning in the Arms !!! The procedure is that you go to the bar and ask for a drink. The drink then pours itself and asks you for the money, or if you want to set up a tab. You can then take your drink to your table. When you want a refill you ask the glass for one, it then sails over to the bar gets itself refilled and sails back to you. It’s advisable to keep an eye out for passing refills, inexperienced customers have been brained by high-speed passing glasses.
Food is similar. You ask the bar, it calls through to the kitchen, the food sails out on a plate or tray when it’s ready. There is a very good laundry at the Arms as, again, unwary customers have had their own or somebody else’s dinner down their necks at times. This always makes Drwyn – the short-order-chef – especially cross as he hates wasted food.
The bar is open all the time. You can get a drink or a meal at any time of the day or night. If you arrive very late the bar will ask you to be quiet so as not to disturb sleeping guests. Or, more particularly, Owen. It finds Owen very tiresome when he hasn’t had adequate sleep.
There are usually several odds-and-sods staff who do any jobs the bar feels it can’t attend to itself. These staff have a tendency to come and go. Sometimes they are indigent guests without the funds to pay for their keep.
Paying for Things …
The following piece from Owen to a guest probably explains this as well as anything …
‘As to paying for things, if you’re wanting to be here for a few days then I suggest you ask for a tab to be run up. There’s a tariff here, ‘he pointed, ‘behind the bar and one in each of the rooms so you’ll know what you owe. Beer’s sixpence, wine is ninepence, and spirits are a shilling by the glass. If you want a bottle of wine ask me, or Morgan – she pretty well runs the place. And me!’ Owen laughed. ‘We’ve got a wide choice and several good vintages from around the galaxy, the universe even. Teas and coffee are thripence the mug. But anyway, you’ll soon work it out and there’s just about always somebody to ask. Corbie, here, knows,’ he indicated the raven perched on a bow on the bar, ‘and will tell you, as will Morgan’s crow, Coronee. Sometimes our guests have skills to exchange in return for their bed and board but we also take the coin of Yardoz. If you like to look in your pockets you may well find that the Arms has taken care of the currency conversion for you. We always offer a fair rate of exchange. With regard to other barter, try us and see.’ He grinned at his guest.
It’s huge! As he shares it with Owen, who is a couple of feet taller than him, they each have their own worktables set to their own heights and at opposite ends of the kitchen or they would fight.
There is also a large central table with a standing-stool on wheels for Drwyn. When they get to play-fighting Owen whizzes him round the kitchen on it. Morgan usually has to come in to sort things out or the guests would never get fed. Drwyn is a morning-person so he always gets to do breakfasts by himself. This suits him down to the socks.
There are several means of cooking: a clay oven, a big bread oven, a spit, a wood-fired range, a hay-box, and a flame-grill.
On the north-east corner of the kitchen is a large larder and pantry and behind is the ice-house. Below is the vegetable cellar. The wine cellar is separate but you can get to it from the kitchen.
Windows look out into the main courtyard so Drwyn is always aware of who has arrived.
The staff tend to congregate in the kitchen to chat and eat.
As well as the best guestroom – which tends to be kept for long-standing visitors – there are many others scattered through the rambling old house. Some are large, others small. Some come with their own bathing facilities, others share the big bath and steam house at the back.
There are some very attractive small rooms up in the attics, odd-shaped roofs and windows peeking out amongst the tiles.
There are several staircases in the Arms so it’s quite easy for guests to get lost.
Arriving by accident in the kitchen is NOT recommended. Drwyn has a tendency to be very short with people coming uninvited to his domain … even Owen usually throws his hat in before going in himself in case Drwyn’s in a particularly foul mood.
There are no plans of the Arms for guests, they just have to get used to it.
These are Tyler’s domain. They include the usual sort of accommodation for horses and for the moorland ponies – the Mousies – that the locals mostly ride.
There is also accommodation for other beasts, such as dragons, wyverns, unicorns, and many other creatures as visitors may sometimes arrive on all sorts of beasts. Accommodation is also available for many types of carriage.
Tyler lives above the stables. Along with the owls.
Owen has his rooms the north-west corner of the house. It’s almost self-contained and not too far from the kitchen so, if he’s eating in his rooms, his food doesn’t have time to get cold.
He has a large bedroom with bathing-place attached, above a big office-cum-sitting-room. There’s a good fireplace in both his rooms as well.
Owen likes oak or pine furniture. Both trees are prevalent on the Moor (along with birch, beech, ash, thorns, holly, rowan, elder and many other trees) so he had his furniture made from local wood. Except for his desk … Morningstar brought it for him from Ynys Eyrie. It has similar qualities to Morningstar’s “between-worlds-cupboard” in that it has an unlimited capacity and anything Owen may want he can find in there.