Ahlonian Amenities

Inn


Inns in Ahlonia provide lodgings for travelers. Because such a small percentage of the general populace can move from town to town there is a tendency for them to be small, seldom more than a boarding house, and often with tenants who stay for weeks or months rather than just overnight. Normally large multi-level houses let out the rooms on the upper floor, with the owners occupying the lower floor and operating a kitchen there. Sometimes an Inn will also incorporate a tavern, but this is usually only in large settlements that have a lot of custom for the proprietor.

Average Inns are run by a family, usually attached to another freeman business such as a tailor or fletcher, and have a large upstairs common room, or sometimes offer private rooms. Price varies based on location and demand, but usually meals are included in the price. Quality of accommodation also varies based on location, but usually mirrors the living standard of the freeman population of the settlement.

Tavern


Taverns are a place for local people to gather, eat and drink and are usually attached to breweries and facilitate serfs, coming in from the fields getting drunk at night, though usually serviceable food is also provided. Mead, wine or ale are the most common available drinks, with wine being the most available in Reddown and ale being predominant in Highdunn. Aside from being a place to drink, taverns also serve as meeting places, and most small towns with no particular bureaucratic structure will use taverns for town meetings, or as the center for religious ceremonies, or a gathering place or fastness during times of danger. Many taverns in the eastern Earldoms are extremely strong buildings, with stone lower levels and shuttered arrow loops rather than windows.

Most taverns open for the afternoon meal and will continue to serve customers for several hours after sunset, at which point they usually stop serving customers and turn the drunks out into the streets. In major settlements popular taverns will often stay open all night, closing their doors at dawn and opening again for the afternoon meal. Taverns are not always administrated by freemen, and serf taverns are usually converted barns or other tumbledown buildings and are administrated communally, usually selling their brews to passing merchant caravans in huge wine-skins.

Money Lender


Money lending is a relatively new concept to the folk of Ahlonia. Usually powerful merchants will loan money, or issue notes of credit in former Southaven, through a hired money lending agent. They offer loans to freemen who are intending to set up businesses, and are normally established in a building adjacent to the merchant’s home.

Moneylenders are normally only open in the winter, when merchants have returned with their caravan profits. Each arrangement is independently negotiated, but normally if a single payment is missed then the business defaults to the merchant’s ownership. Smaller loans can sometimes also be negotiated, but then moneylenders usually operate as a pawn shop, holding assets until the debt is repaid. Moneylenders do not usually charge interest, but rather depend upon the inability of their creditors to pay their debts to profit, but a very few lenders have begun to understand the concept of interest, and of encouraging the success of indebted businesses to secure further income.

Blacksmith


The men of Ahlonia are a very few generations from learning Blacksmithing, and the art does not come naturally to them, thus a smith is usually an extremely respected and prized member of a community, often even wielding more respect and influence than the local steader, if not a greater official rank. Smithies are usually especially fine homes with a smithy attached, and the smith will normally employ three or four assistants. These men guard their craft jealously, and customers are never allowed into the area where the work is done, so normally there is merely a fenced area from which a tall chimney protrudes. Most smiths work on simple tools: trowels, spades, mule shoes, knives and plows.

Goblyn smithies are quite different. Usually buried under large mounds of earth or set into hillsides, the Goblyns produce far superior tools, and also sell weapons to freemen. Occasionally the smithy will incorporate a smelter even more deeply buried, but usually metal is sourced from traders in the Forest Kingdom or Roughlands. Goblyn metalwork is prized, and while Goblyn smiths hold no real social influence, and people tend to think of them as little better than slaves they fetch a far higher price for their work than the Ahlonians do. Usually up to a dozen Goblyns will operate one smithy, and they are all normally armed, and willing to deal with thieves or people who think that they need not pay the Goblyn’s price.

Trade Station


The trade stations of Ahlonia are explored in more detail later in this book, but essentially a trade station is a large area similar to a town square specifically designed for the housing and loading of passing merchant caravans. Trade stations are usually surrounded by large serviceable buildings normally owned by the local steader which can be rented by merchants as warehouses or caravans for the duration of their stay. These surround a large open area where the caravans themselves can be stored, and where wares can be displayed for trade, and serfs and freemen can come for goods. The merchants themselves usually stay away from trade stations as the quality of the dormitories is usually very poor, though some security minded individuals will stay with their goods despite poor conditions.

Shrine


All settlements have one or several small shrines either devoted to Aliel, Koroth, the Dioune or some lesser known deity such as Gruna. Shrines are usually a small structure in a public space, though shrines to Gruna may be hidden. Though this forms the centre of religious life and religious ceremony is rare except on a few days in the year the presence of a shrine nearly always denotes the presence of a caretaker who maintains, not only the cleanliness and repair of the shrine, but ensures it remains sacred and properly devoted to it’s particular deity.

Stables


Mules and oxen are usually left to graze in fields, normally a trade station has a field devoted to visiting mounts, however horses, and in the Roughlands Samsuns, require professional care, thus in major settlements or areas where horses are more common mounts large barns will be designed with secure stalls, and have professional freeman stable hands, a highly prized and honoured profession, to care for mounts properly. Usually housing a horse is more than twice the price of even fine accommodation, but those who can afford horses can usually afford such services. Most stables also breed and sell perhaps a dozen horses, though these are usually far inferior to the goblyn breeds. Oddly even in areas where they are welcome, goblyn stable hands are almost unknown. Obviously stables that house Samsuns aren’t hospitable environments for horses and vice-versa, consider ell entries for stables in the Roughlands and Maethas to be Samsun stables rather than horse.

Docks


Coastal settlements in Reddown and Highdunn are not necessarily ports, and while most have jetties from which they can launch fishing vessels, real docks are rare, and are always administrated and jealously possessed by Sigardian sailors. Docks are a community unto themselves, usually almost completely cut off from the rest of the settlement and having contact with the common folk only to trade. The populations of these areas are usually extremely transient, and thus fluctuate wildly. Docks usually incorporate three or four major wharves and a shallow boat ramp where damaged vessels can be dragged ashore as well as a shipbuilder’s facility and a navigator’s guild house where the prized navigators are housed in style and luxury befitting the value of their unique and arcane skills.

Anyone can purchase passage at the docks, and often ships will set up stalls to sell excess goods not wanted by merchant caravans, though as a rule even goods from ships are sent to trade stations. Those traveling on seagoing vessels are subject to various rules to maintain the secrecy of the sailor’s art, and maintain their supremacy over sea trade. Coastal shallow water craft like the barges of Daultin or fishing keels found all along the northern coastline of Ahlonia aren’t allowed in the docks, and usually facilities for these are kept outside the settlement so as not to interfere with the docks.

Monastery


Monasteries are the major religious organizations found in Ahlonia, but they also incorporate libraries, scribes and sanatoriums all in one place. Monasteries are not self sufficient as they are in many cultures, but are always located close to or in major settlements. Their inhabitants are either priests or the mentally ill and while they offer simple scribe services for a small fee they primarily exist based on stipends provided both by the state in which they exist, paid from the income of local steaders, and paid to them from their parent order in Southaven. All monstrances subscribe to one of the eight orders within the church of the dioune.

A monastery usually consists of a cluster of buildings surrounded by a low wall that joins them together around a central courtyard, A scriptorium, dormitory, ceremonial hall and a set of cells for the ill are usually the basic structures of a monestary, and because of their relative wealth these are usually well constructed and often made of stone or slate.

Because priests of the dioune are encouraged to think of themselves in a brother sister familial relationship fraternization within the faith is strictly prohibited, so a single monastery will only accept initiates of one sex or the other, but this does not limit non-initiates, and monasteries will often have a small staff of non-initiate serfs who maintain the building and live in or near the compound.

Because of their religious status monasteries are all considered property of the church, though they seldom own the land and pay rent to the local steader, and thus many fugitives attempt to flee justice by entering a monastery, and other people have been known to seek political asylum. Often the initiates will hand over the intruder, or sometimes kill him themselves, but often, especially in the case of spies from Southaven, they are protected, and trying to enforce the law within the walls of a monastery is usually considered a direct attack on Southaven, and thus, indirectly, on the divh themselves.

Garrison


Because the peoples of Ahlonia don’t maintain standing armies outside of wartime the presence of a garrison is another rarity, and is usually an indication of the personal retinue of a major nobleman or of a settlement that is either under frequent attack or is particularly unlawful, and necessitates the presence of a paid law enforcement agency. A garrison usually consists of a barracks, armoury and some kind of permanent fortification. In areas without a garrison there is generally only one or two professional officials responsible for press-ganging a constabulary and pursuing lawbreakers for trial, but in an area with a garrison there are paid professional law enforcers who are fully equipped and trained to fight, usually drawn from veterans in non-warzones.

While the exact size and nature of a garrison varies wildly from location to location the presence of professional fighters tends to reduce the crime rate considerably, and also means that the settlement is better defended against attack than those that just mobilize the serfs. Armed, armoured and trained constabulary, especially those drilled in operating as a unit usually present a considerably greater threat to both criminals and to vagrants, and usually vagrant-towns don’t develop outside settlements with garrisons in the same way that they do in non-garrisoned settlements.