The Whistling Wizard was an inn in Voonlar that catered to adventurers and had a shady reputation around the Moonsea region. It was also famous for a cistern in its basement, called the Wizard Well, that would talk to people and give advice.
The Whistling Wizard sat at the southern tip of Voonlar where the North Ride entered the forest and was somewhat isolated from the rest of the town. It was on the east side of the road, and the southern face abutted the forest.
The inn sat back from the North Ride a few horse-lengths across a perpetually muddy front yard. A lantern post at the edge of the road held a sign carved in the shape of a wizard's head, its lips puckered as if whistling. Across the front of the inn was a covered porch with a railing for hitching horses. Above the porch was a balcony attached to the owner's apartments. The railing of this balcony had been turned into a makeshift herb garden by adding troughs of dirt along its length. The two-story inn extended quite far eastward, forming a long rectangle. The upper-floor rooms each had a window or a balcony. All the rooms on the south side had balconies facing the forest, which was only a few strides away.
On the north side of the building was a stableyard with several small barns for housing wagons and beasts, some granaries, and a cookhouse. All the outbuildings were constructed of mortared stone with slate roofs. The areas with high traffic were mostly clear, but the rest of the compound was covered in light underbrush haphazardly scoured by the owner's small pet pigs. Near the eastern end of the north face was a doorway that opened into the back hallway of the inn.
Farthest from the road, just past the cookhouse, was an outbuilding that held marination vats used to tenderize and flavor the meat used in stew. These vats were kept covered and padlocked to prevent people from falling in (with or without their wrists and ankles bound) as was known to happen from time to time.
Entering the inn from the road, the common room and bar were to the left, occupying the northwest corner of the building. To the right was the public lavatory in the southwest corner. Straight ahead was the arched entrance to the central hallway that proceeded down the middle of the building almost to its full length before making a left turn and ending at the door to the cookhouse and stable area. Along this back hallway was the entrance to a suite of rooms that occupied the eastern end of the building and had a private door to the outside.
At each end of the central hallway were stairs leading up to the second floor. The front stairs climbed north over the bar below. On the second floor, the hallway was offset to the north, making the rooms on the north side a few paces smaller than the south-facing rooms. The upper rooms were long and narrow and used a curtain to separate the bed and jakes from the closet and sitting area. The ground-floor rooms were more squarish. In addition to a closet and private jakes, rooms contained at least one bed, a chair, a table, a cot or couch, and a mirror mounted on the wall.
The Whistling Wizard was generally dark, quiet, and comfortable, but had no sense of style nor pride in cleanliness. There were very few lights in the building, because flames were difficult to create or sustain—the entire inn and stables were layered in multiple overlapping firequench spells that often prevented so much as a candle or a pipe from being lit.[note 1] The darkness made the dust, dirt, and stains difficult to detect. For the length of their stay, guests were issued a baton with a permanent faerie fire cast on the tip, which they could use to illuminate their way around the inn. These lighted wands gave off as much light as a single candle and came in various colors.
The furniture throughout the building was old and represented a hodgepodge of styles obviously salvaged from other places. The walls were paneled with a dark wood, and more creaks were discovered in the floorboards with each passing year. The main common room had a ceiling the same height as the rest of the first floor and was populated with sturdy round tables of various sizes and many chairs but no benches. During the years the Wizard was owned by Harauna Beltzund, all drinking vessels were made of either wood or metal because she had a tendency to hurl things when angered.
At the opposite corner of the inn (southeast corner on the second floor) was the upper parlor, a room with an oversized balcony that faced the forest canopy and a reputation as a rendezvous for shady deals. When slavery was tolerated in this area, the upper parlor was one place this sordid business was conducted.
Harauna had nothing against pets because she kept small pigs, but she disliked animals being brought into the inn. She grudgingly tolerated small pets and familiars, but anything that resembled a snake or was monstrously out of the ordinary was required to be locked up in the cellar of the farthest outbuilding, next to the marination vats, for the duration of the guest's stay.
Room prices for each person per night varied from one gold piece for a typical small room to two gold pieces and five silver pieces for the larger and more finely furnished rooms. This price included all-you-cared-to-eat meals with a bottomless mug of beer. Stable prices were five silver pieces per animal per night. The rooms on the south side facing the forest were all at least two gold pieces, plus two silver pieces if it had a balcony. The upper story rooms were in the higher price range because they were quieter, not having creaky floorboards in a room above.
Checking out of the Whistling Wizard required guests to return their candle-wands and settle the bill. A fee of 90 gold pieces was charged for a missing or broken baton. Guests could not retrieve their beasts and wagons from the stables unless they could show a paid bill sealed in the correct color of wax embossed with the owner's signet ring.
Standard fare at the Wizard was soup, stew, bread with garlic butter, and fruit pies. On the warmest days of the year, the soup was leek and potato, served cold. Otherwise, it was a hot broth of boiled hoof, tongue, and tripes of oxen with diced vegetables. The stew had a heavy gravy and meat from snares set in the forest plus whatever old mutton, beef, or horse meat that had been marinating in the vats behind the cookhouse. All meats were fried before adding them to the stew. The bread and pies were baked locally.
The beer that came with the price of a room was called the Wizard's Quaff and was fairly weak, with a flavor that would charitably be called an acquired taste. The wine selection was limited and varied from season to season. In a good year, shipments of wine arrived from Sembia in late Uktar with dry, white wines from various locations around the Sea of Fallen Stars being the main selections. In a bad year, leftover dregs from dining establishments in Hillsfar arrived in early spring. Zzar was usually available because it was popular with guests from western lands. Drinks were served in the common room and the upper parlor or could be delivered to guest rooms. The prices varied from five coppers to five silver pieces for a (wooden) tallglass and from three to ten gold pieces for a bottle.
The kitchen staff did not take kindly to requests for special preparations or alterations in the menu. A guest poking his or her head into the cookhouse was likely to see the cooks and their assistants wearing minimal clothing and sweating over open hearths, smoky fires, baking ovens, and bubbling cauldrons, constantly shouting and sniping at each other. Unfamiliar faces were liable to be greeted with a hurled cleaver.
The Whistling Wizard had no defenses to speak of except the pervasive and layered firequench spells that protected all buildings except the cookhouse. The two dwarven cooks were old but still retained their fighting skill, even though they mostly wielded meat cleavers in their later years.
At any given time since the inn was taken over by Harauna Beltzund, there were traps and snares set up in the nearby forest. These were installed by foresters hired by the previous owner, who had forced the chambermaids to go out and check them periodically, hoping for free food to supplement the kitchen's fare. Thereafter, the ladies maintained the traps out of spite, hoping to catch a Zhent spy or a thief.
Voonlarran oral history maintains that the famous wizard Mhzentul once kept bees on the site where the inn was eventually built, and the name came from reports that he whistled while tending his apiaries. The inn was also owned by at least one mage, named Casimur, who retired from wizard work to work at the Wizard, probably in the early 1350s DR.
In the mid-1350s, the owner of the Whistling Wizard was Ansilber Klauthaudra, when none other than Dove Silverhand was captured by Orvar "The Unseen", a Zhentarim operative, and was magically bound to servitude, ignominiously forced to work as a serving wench in the common room of the Wizard. Ansilber was a cruel and lazy taskmaster, but Dove bore his scorn and the degradation of her post in order to spy on the machinations of the neogis and stingers (manscorpions or tlincallis) that visited the inn while she was there. Her disguise was not good enough to fool her former pupil, Florin Falconhand, when he discovered her at the Wizard and released her from captivity, taking her to Shadowdale and eventually to Waterdeep, where they were wed. The eight-legged visitors stopped coming to the inn shortly after Dove left, leading a few senior Harpers to speculate that the creatures were there to keep an eye on her rather than the other way around.
The Wizard had many owners over the years, and the transition was not always peaceful. Late in the Year of the Worm, 1356 DR, Ansilber Klauthaudra was found hacked to pieces in the common room. A Selgauntan ne'er-do-well by the name of Ravvas Thurrpurtyn bought the inn from Ansilber's estate and, according to Harper reports, was likely assassinated and impersonated by an agent of the Red Wizards of Thay, (who may have been replaced by a Malaugrym,) possibly even before he set foot in Voonlar. "Ravvas" was later killed in a huge conflict (later dubbed the Battle at the Bar) that involved two uncoordinated Harper attacks, three members of the Knights of Myth Drannor, the Simbul, Storm Silverhand, an ogre mage, an illithid, doppelgangers, and three powerful mages from a Sembian kidnapping/slavery cabal known as the Tarntar.
A tenday after the Battle at the Bar, the Bron (sheriff) of Voonlar and a contingent of Zhent elite escorted Anthalus Droon into the Whistling Wizard and backed up his claim that he was now the owner of the establishment. Droon proceeded to mismanage the inn, and it became evident during the cold season that Droon hated the weather, the town, and the inn but likely stayed because he was commanded to do so. Anthalus connived some investors into giving him money to improve the inn and attract a more reputable clientele, then disappeared with the funds. The largest creditor, Harauna Beltzund of Sembia, then assumed ownership of the Wizard.
Rumors & LegendsEdit
- Dove Falconhand believed that there was a portal or a rift to another plane somewhere near the Whistling Wizard as a plausible explanation for the sudden appearance and disappearance of neogis and manscorpions at the inn. However, dozens of Harpers turned over every rock and examined every tree for miles to the south and found absolutely no evidence to support her theory.
- The locals believed that certain rooms in the Wizard were used as caches for messages or treasure by spies and thieves working for the Zhentarim. Accounts varied, but they were certain that the priests from the temple of Cyric, its lay staff, or the Bron's deputies would infiltrate the inn at odd hours of the night and retrieve the correspondence or contraband. Enough guests reported nocturnal intruders in their rooms over the years to keep this rumor alive and annoying to the owner.
- The townsfolk of Voonlar told many outrageous tales of magical battles waged between the patrons of the Whistling Wizard and/or various monsters that were created, summoned, or unleashed by disruptive and dangerous adventuring types. Stories that have been enthusiastically retold include: tales of the entire inn being lifted into the sky; dragons being released from or captured in various pots, flagons, or privies; colossi stomping about; sheets of flames reaching great distances; and wizards morphing their opponent's heads and limbs, transforming each other into patchwork beasts as they vie for supremacy.
As of the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, the owner of the Whistling Wizard was Harauna Beltzund. Her staff included two of the handful of non-humans in Voonlar, dwarven cooks Bezoldur Thornhand and Thaunder Gallowglaive. Both were old battle-scarred warriors still quite handy with a butcher knife. Their three human assistants kept the fires stoked, fetched water, prepared vegetables, and terrorized the four serving wenches. Their names were Thamphrol Sarlar, Rauntil Balarr, and Nivlin Goskull. The only other fixture at the Wizard was the elderly Avlar who tended the bar through many changes in ownership.
The only other long-term resident of note was the spirit of the Wizard Well, a spectral harpist named Zarracee Ambroanye, who gathered intelligence and passed messages to Harper agents. Her call for assistance was the spark that started the conflagration known as the Battle at the Bar.
- ↑ The source states unequivocally that the firequench spells kept all flames from igniting anywhere except the cookhouse but then later on mentions that a previous owner maintained a fire in his room (see page 37). Since guests require heat in the winter and there is no mention of central heating, there must have been a way to light a fire in each room. Either the firequench spells did not cover the fireplaces, or perhaps one had to "make multiple saving throws" to get a fire lit. Also, the common room is described as "smoky" which means that there was fire somehow. Perhaps guests went outside to light their pipes and were able to keep them going once they came back inside.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 29–30. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Ed Greenwood (2001-09-19). Part #24: An Inn For Adventurers. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-09-17.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 32–33. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Ed Greenwood (2001-10-31). Part #27: The Wizard's Well, and Dove of the Seven. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-09-18.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 30–31. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Ed Greenwood (2001-10-03). Part #25: A Tour of the Wizard. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2017-02-19.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 31–32. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Ed Greenwood (2001-10-17). Part #26: Why Stay at the Wizard?. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-09-17.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 36–37. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Ed Greenwood (2001-12-26). Part #31: The Wizard Then to Now. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-09-20.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Tim Beach (1995). Pages from the Mages. (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 0-7869-0183-7.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, et al (1989). Hall of Heroes. (TSR, Inc), p. 110. ISBN 0-88038-711-4.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, et al (1989). Hall of Heroes. (TSR, Inc), p. 107. ISBN 0-88038-711-4.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 33–34. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Ed Greenwood (2001-11-14). Part #28: The Recent and Colorful History of the Wizard. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2017-02-19.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 34–35. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (2001-11-28). Part #29: The Battle at the Bar. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2017-02-19.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 35–36. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Ed Greenwood (2001-12-12). Part #30: Endgame at the Wizard. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2017-02-19.