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The War and Roses Tavern
For those of hardy spirit, the shard of Siege Perilous offers challenges beyond those faced upon the other shards of Britannia. Money is scarce, travel is dangerous, and escape from battle is most difficult. To succeed in this world, one needs a strong will and a drive to surmount the many obstacles along the path. Our spotlight this week focuses on one such success; the War and Roses Tavern - a player run tavern providing Siege Perilous with ale, good food, and a merry haven from the dangers that lurk in the wide world outside.

 "The sound of metal striking metal echoes hollowly in the dense forest of the Skara Brae mainland. The noise comes from a small, cozy wooden house, nestled in a V-shaped clearing between two large stands of trees. Firelight dances in the windows of the building, which upon closer inspection is revealed to be a modest blacksmith's forge. Colorful coils of wire are stacked on a table next to well-worn anvil. Dangling precariously over the edge of a small forge are a few long bars of iron, their ends white-hot and yellow where they touch the smoldering coals. Bent over the forge, biting one lip as she concentrates on the joinery between a long metal rod and a fierce spiked ball of iron, is a young woman, still in her teens. She is pale and willowy, with porcelain skin that seems almost translucent in the flickering light.
"From next door, the sounds of merriment carry over the clang of the smith's hammer. Warm lantern light bathes a sturdily constructed Tavern, the centerpiece of which is an outdoor patio, bedecked with potted plants and comfortable green benches. A standing harp and a music stand grace a corner of the patio, although no musician seems to be in residence this evening. The patio door swings open, and a winsome, quiet lass in crisp white and teal, with a flour-spattered apron firmly cinched around a slender waist, dashes from the office to the main room, then out the door. She is no doubt making a run for vegetables in the nearby fields. Inside, calls for ale are answered by a third young woman, this one in a smart uniform of metal-and-leather bustier and wine-colored cloth. Long red hair cascades neatly down her half-bared back, a fact that does not escape the bartender's approving eye. He, too, is dressed in the rich burgundy and clean whites of the War & Roses Tavern.

"Back at the forge, the young smith has set her new mace aside to cool, and is penning the last few words of a letter. She sets the quill back in its place upon the desk, hangs her work apron up on the wall, and turns to leave. Before dashing across the clearing to the Tavern, she tosses the letter into the fire.
'Dearest Echo,
'What changes one season hath wrought! For surely thou shalt not believe the contents of this letter, so completely hath my life changed since I arrived in Minoc a scant five months ago.

'I am still a miner on occasion, dear sister, but there is little else by which I might still be recognized! Not long after my arrival, I found employment in the mines of Mount Kendall. While passing by the Minoc stables one day, I chanced upon a lady entrusting her grizzly bears to the stablehands there. We struck up a conversation, and before long we had become hunting partners. She is called Ariasse Volette, and she has introduced me to the town of Skara Brae, a most pleasant place where I have since made many fast friends. It was there that I met a young tailor named August, who was kind enough to fashion some clothing for me.

'Both Ari and August are competent musicians, and both grew up around the ocean: Ariasse on a boat, and August in a family of fishermen. Like Ari, I am new to these lands, and we are all three separated from our families. Ari's parents were lost in a storm at sea. August ran away from home. And I ... well, thou dost already know how I came to be separated from thee and Mother. Is it surprising, then, that with so much in common, the three of us quickly became inseparable?

'Ahh, Echo, if only thou couldst see it here! People align themselves in mighty groups called guilds, whose powers of warfare and commerce far exceed those of any individual. I have not yet joined such a guild, nor have my two new friends. 'But together, the three of us have accomplished something that still eludes many a guild: we have built a fine Tavern, serving fine food and drink to the citizens of Britannia.

'The guilds, in fact, represent many of our best customers. There's the mighty Temple of Mondain, a group of warring priests of a deity I have yet to learn about. There's never enough time to sit and talk when ten people are demanding more ale! The priests of Mondain wear sand-colored robes, mostly, although we've found that a few of their members sport fine colored armor and colored leather sandals beneath.

'Then there's the Imperium - they're all part of a community which has its own Emperor, and its own lands. Some Imperial citizens are merchants, some warriors, and some politicians, but they all like a nice glass of wine, even if they have to run outside and kill an ogre to get the gold to pay for it. And the Inquisitors ... ! Why, they are a sight to see, Echo. I have to serve them drinks outside, because none of them will dismount from their horses! They must be terribly dedicated to their guild to be so serious about combat.

'We even have some customers from the Shadowclan Orcs. I can't understand most words they say, but I have learned at least one: CIDUR! I think they'd tear the place down if we ran out of it. But at least they pay their tab at the end of the evening!

'Oh, there are many more. We've had pirates, mercenaries, rogues, and even a witch hunter who has mistaken Ariasse for the leader of a coven! Some come to hunt our neighbors, a band of murderous brigands who have since demolished their fine house next door, and moved away. Some pay in gold, some offer to barter. We've even started holding barter nights on Wednesdays, so our customers can trade with each other, as well as with the staff. In addition to their bartending and waitressing skills, our staff numbers among them some competent tinkers, fletchers, cooks, tailors, alchemists, and musical instrument makers.

'We've only been open since the week after Thanksgiving, but news of August's fine cooking and our handsome bartenders is starting to spread throughout the land. Did I mention that we've hired bartenders? Each night that we're open, one of the three of us waits tables, while the bartenders mix drinks for us when we get busy. And the carpenter who crafted all our furniture has been known to give rubdowns on the massage table in the office.

'Now that the holidays are over, we are bursting with plans for the future. Our next event will likely be a pie eating contest. Then perhaps a dart throwing competition, horse racing, and visiting bards entertaining on the patio outside. Barter night is just the beginning!

'Thou shall never believe it, but August also has a sister named Echo! They are also separated, for when August ran away from home, she left her sister behind. I hope thou dost not feel that way about me - that I left thee behind. I shall never forgive myself for that, dear sister. And nor shall I rest until I can return for thee and Mother - and for everyone still imprisoned. But it will take time, Echo ... and although this Tavern is slowing my pace, it is also gaining me powerful friends and allies. Someday, perhaps, they will stand by my side when I return to wreak vengeance. So please don't be angry at my new "profession", for though it may seem that I am abandoning my plans, in fact I am furthering them.

'Dear sister, I write these words knowing full well that they will never be read. I can only hope that my escape did not endanger thee and Mother. But if all goes well, we shall meet again in Skara some day. There shall be a position as a chef waiting for thee at the War and Roses, and we shall never be separated again.

'With all my love,

'Thy sister,

The War and Roses Tavern is located on Siege Perilous, upon the Skara Brae mainland. Follow the road east until it begins to veer north, then head southeast into the woods. The Tavern resides slightly to the south, in a large house with open patio. For more information on the War and Roses Tavern, please visit http://www.warandroses.uoguilds.com.

We take pride in the adventures and accomplishments of Ultima Online players, and are always looking for opportunities to highlight you. Please join us next week when we spotlight the player-run city of Grimoire. In addition to watching FYI for future spotlight topics, we are happy to accept submissions of your stories on exceptional players or places of interest at [email protected]

Published: October 2000
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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