The inside of The Weather Vane is much larger than I would expect for a medieval tavern. There must be seating for more than five hundred people. You can see two staircases from the door – going both up and down. And most surprising of all – it doesn’t smell. Not it doesn’t smell bad – it doesn’t have any kind of smell. You expect to smell food, spilled beer, people, smoke, wood – something! I don’t know that I have ever experienced a complete absence of smell, and I’m not sure I like it.
I step inside so the door can close behind me and look around. There’s a large sandwich sign I will have to jostle around to get onto the floor. It says:
- Payment upfront for everything.
- Keep your hands to yourself.
- Draw a weapon – BANNED FOR LIFE!
- Don’t throw ANYTHING – THIS INCLUDES DWARVES!
- DON’T BE A RICHARD!
- Wait Staff can have ANYBODY tossed out – see rule 2.
- NO Reenactments
- NO Preaching
- NO Politicking
- Please feel free to sit anywhere that doesn’t cause a fight – ALL FIGHTERS WILL BE FINED FOR ALL DAMAGES, and there may be other penalties at the discretion of management.
Someone has taken some chalk and added a rule to the bottom of the sign, “Words NOT in capitals are NOT fine print Richard!”
Amusing, and apparently ‘Richard’ is very special. It’s a little surprising that ‘Dwarf Tossing’ is still a big deal. There are simple wooden tables, stools, and benches to select seating. Along the walls are booths with padded seats and curtains that can be drawn to hide the occupants. There’s a scattering of people here, most in small groups wearing gear suitable for adventuring or fighting. The place uses some type of yellow crystal for lights, so it’s a steady, if dim, light. I can see a bar top with stools on the far side of the room, so I head that way. As I walk across the floor, my sense of smell is restored, and I can now detect light scents as if diluted by a breeze.
I don’t know what kind of wood the bartop is; it’s a light wood with a lot of grain pattern. Somebody who knew their woodcraft picked a fantastic piece and then took their time to make it stand out. The only reason it’s not wasted as a bar top is that it will get seen by a lot of people, while some pieces of household furniture may never get appreciated. I wish I would have been able to work wood like that when I was alive. Huh, guess I’m starting to accept that I died. I’m alive now, so that’s not quite the right way to think of it. Maybe that should be, “when I was physical?” Gonna have to noodle on that some more. Maybe while I eat.
A very tall skinny man wearing an apron walks toward me. He’s sporting a handlebar mustache, suspenders (no flair), a bowler, and has a bar towel thrown over his right shoulder. “Afternoon, friend. I’m Harry. What can I get for you?”
“Well met, Harry! I’m Jeb, and I was told that this is one of the best places for newbies to get started.”
“Excellent! Then I believe you want a room for a few days, a meal, a drink or two, and to attend tonight’s ‘Explorer’s Meeting’, also known as the ‘Dearly Departed’ or ‘Fresh Meat’ meeting.”
“That sounds about right.”
“Ok, I’ll get you a special – it’s good, not leftovers. What kind of flavors do you like when drinking?”
“I wasn’t a big drinker when physical and have always enjoyed sweet and fruity flavors. Cherry is at the top of the list – but no artificial watermelon.”
“You’re old enough to know how real watermelon tasted? Wow. Ok…sweet…cherry…how about a ‘Roy Rogers?'”
“Perfect, one of my favorite drinks!”
“I’ll be right back, and I hope it’s just like you remember.”
Harry comes back in a few minutes and he has a tall glass with a dark bubbling beverage in it and a little plastic sword of maraschino cherries sticking out of the top. “One Roy Rogers, and a room key. Now, I broke the rules. I was supposed to ask for payment up front, so I hope there isn’t going to be an issue. The Newbie Speical rate is one silver per day for up to one week. It includes two meals a day and a single alcoholic beverage with each meal. One pass to the Explorer’s Meeting for every two days you stay. When you order your meal, you show your room key; the star indicates a Newbie Special. You get a new key if you want to keep your room longer.”
“I’ll take six days then,” and place the silver on the table. Harry puts my drink and room key down. He then reaches into his vest pocket, withdrawing three white tokens with a classic rook embossed upon them. “Don’t lose them; anybody can use them, and you will have to fork out another silver to attend.”
“Got it.” I take a sip and smile, “It’s indeed, just like I remember!”
Coming up behind Harry is a young blond…orc? “Harry, if this is your newbie, I have his special.”
“Thanks, Clara – serve it up!”
Clara then sets a plate with a t-bone steak and fried potatoes in front of me. Then a large bowl with a chef salad garnished with Easter Eggs is placed next to the steak plate. “What dressing would you like on your salad, hon?”
“Umm, blue cheese. Harry, why does my salad have Easter Eggs garnishing it?” Clara leaves, presumably to get some blue cheese dressing.
“It’s a nod to Nirvana. She likes Easter Eggs!”
“Ok…you didn’t ask me about allergies since I didn’t know what I was going to be served.”
“You’re in Nirvana now, Jeb. There are no allergies. Poisons and curses, yes, but allergies are now a thing of your past. Enjoy all the things you couldn’t before because now there’s no harm. You might have to steel yourself if you have had some bad experiences, but you will not have a reaction and will come to no harm. This is one of the big reasons people want to come here. They can enjoy things with few if any consequences.”
“Ok, you are the second person to refer to Nirvana as ‘she’ – I thought that this place, world, was Nirvana?”
“It is, and it’s a she. Similar to how ships were referred to as ‘she’ but much more personable. Should you discover one of her Easter Eggs, you will probably get to meet her. To be a little more clear for you, Nirvana is the AI whose dream we are living in. She runs the whole show and has the final say on everything.”
“That’s a whole new level of, ‘Big Sister is Watching.'”
“Brother, you don’t even know the half of it.”