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The Grey Gnoll Tavern

by Jesper Andersen

- Merchant District

The Grey Gnoll Tavern is a relatively large establishment at the centre of the Merchant District in Specularum. Like many other establishments in this lively part of time, it is open practically 24 hours a day. It is a popular watering hole with citizens and visitors alike and the mouth-watering scent of boars and other large game roasting over the large firepits in the centre of the drinking hall carries into the street outside.

On any given night, as many as 150 people are inside, drinking, eating, gambling and talking. Even on a slow night there are usually 30-40 guests. Because of this, it is also a popular meeting place for secret meeting because there are so many faces always coming and going that it is easy to blend in with the crowd.

The Grey Gnoll is owned by some rich lord living on a mansion in the countryside, but is managed on a day-to-day basis by Vonandir, a portly red-haired man of 46. Vonandir employs a number of cooks and serving wenches as well as a few bouncers for the occasional troublemakers but they are rarely needed as the city watch is just down the street.

Two interesting persons operate out of the Grey Gnoll Tavern:

Lynid Steria
Lynid is a small-time go-between for one of the most successful fences in Specularum. He plys his trade at the Grey Gnoll Tavern under the cover of being a recreational gambler, but his actual purpose is meeting with potential sellers with goods that need fencing. Lynid's employer gives him a very small percentage for screening clients and setting up a rendevouz in a discreet location at a later time. So far, Lynid has been fairly successful and he knows a handful of the operating cat burglars in the city, all of whom are in one guild or another.

Dravas is mage from Minrothad Guilds, who runs a unique assasination business in Specularum. He does not frequent the Grey Gnoll every week but when meeting clients he prefers to do it in public places, where he feels safe and able to blend in. Actually, it is not Dravas himself who carries out the killing. A few years ago, he and a band of adventurers landed on a small, remote island in the Sea of Dread, where they quickly ran afoul of a tribe of hostile pygmy headhunters. As the sole survivor of his party, Dravas managed to escape the island with a charmed pygmy named Bha-garu.
Since then, Dravas has been travelling from port to port, operating in both Ierendi, Minrothad Guilds, Darokin, The Five Shires, Thyatis and Karameikos. Dravas has maintained the charm on Bha-garu and is using the pygmy to carry out assasinations for money. Being no larger in size than a child but as strong as a grown man, the savage little pygmy is a master infiltrator and deadly with a blowgun with poisoned darts.
Because Dravas smuggles him in and out of cities, nobody knows that Bha-garu even exists. Dravas always makes sure to have an alliby for when the killings take place and so, even though the agents of the duke suspect that he is not all he seems, they can't make any charges stick.
Dravas' only real fear is that some day Bha-garu might encounter an antimagic field or a dispel magic spell during one of his missions, freeing him from Dravas' spell. In that case, the savage Bha-garu is likely to seek a terrible revenge on the mage...