The squeaky wooden sign in front of the three-tier house was adorned with flamboyant purple letters that read “Talbata’s Tavern”. Talbata, the middle aged female halfling, owned the place. When she moved away from her quiet village and headed to the big city with her life savings, she had not planned to establish her tavern in a location with the exact combination of accessibility from most of the city districts and distance from guard patrols to make it a melting pot for all kinds of city dwellers in the city of Valkarya. But it seems that Chaos is the only really omnipresent God after all.
The townsfolk quickly realized that Talbata’s Tavern was the best place to hire for the most various jobs, sell uncommon goods or just have a small glimpse of all that the big city had to offer. It did not take long for adventurers of all types to start using the tavern as a resting point during their journeys or to plan new quests. In Talbata’s homeland, a regular halfling could match a professional cook of any other race in the kitchen. So taking care of a tavern in a big city was an intense labor that flowed just naturally for her. And soon her tavern turned into a gold spring that flooded her stashes.
“We have two types of adventurers here: the ones looking for treasures and the ones spending treasures.” She would say cheerfully, with sweat springing from the bandana that she would always wear. “All we gotta do is to keep the balcony clean and the fire burning!”
Besides the increased flow of gold, other things in the big city differed from small halfling villages. At first, Talbata thought that such differences would be limited to meeting difference races, being away from the green fields and paying higher taxes. Her wishful thinking was gone just a few months after the Tavern inaugurated, when a hulking minotaur argued with an orc barbarian about old racial feuds, leaving Talbata only with a freshly-cut bull head on her clean balcony to compensate for the furniture that was crushed during the fight.
A month later two lovebirds locked themselves in the restroom: thankfully the bursting customers convinced Talbata to use the master key (the door could be easily knocked down but she didn’t want to lose another one) to check on them. Interrupting the summoning ritual over the dead body of the girl before it could be fully completed. Even so, the few summoned imps injured customers and destroyed the piping in the whole block before being properly banished.
There was also the incident of the fire mage that was given for dead and abandoned by his group. The explosion caused by his vengeance destroyed the room where his past group was sleeping and burned most of the roof. These and other countless less memorable events ironically increased the fame of the place, therefore attracting more adventurers, in a vicious cycle.
And then, Talbata would let go of the pans and wooden spoons to flaunt about that time that she had to shelter her staff in the kitchen and sing halfling child songs to keep everybody calm while a minotaur and an orc brawled the tavern down, or how she knocked down a toilet-imp using a dirty frying pan. Then she would go back to cooking at the oven. An customized oven that a fire mage gave her, which burns with essential magical fire (the only one of this kind on the block), saving her a lot of money on wood. Although the tavern looked as simple as its owner. Talbata accumulated a fortune that could comfortably sustain her, and all the citizens of her village, for the rest of their lives. Yet she would not leave her tavern. When asked if she liked the gold, she laughed:
“The big city contaminated me. Without a family here, all I could do was to love these weirdos. Their shady deals and dreaming hearts. Their battles and brewed songs. Their stories, races and cultures are my kaleidoscopic family. Either when they order supper without a word, or when the excess of beer makes them cry their hearts in my balcony, I feel like I’m part of their adventure. The routine of my people is strange to me now.”
She would conclude saying that the tavern is much more stable nowadays than it was back then, due to a network of respect and friendship that she weaved among the recurring customers. Of course, a no-weapon-allowed policy and the pair of stone golems that she bought for security were more important for the tavern integrity than she wanted to believe.
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