Shorenor Vas remained a small farming settlement for over a century, a riverside town with more pigs than people. However, with the lifting of the fur trade embargo and the construction of a trade outpost, the town has transformed over the past forty years into one of the largest and productive trade hubs of Veldea. The town is split into two sections; the upper river heights and the under water downs. The heights are home to most residential buildings and small field farms, while the sprawling downs are packed full of warehouses, trade halls, and shops of all sorts, while the three painted timber bridges bring the town together at the river itself. The downs’ maze-like streets are populated by mostly thick, squatted and sun-dulled timber buildings, and the Golden Frog is no exception. Standing squarely in the center of the north trade street, not two house-blocks from the north gate itself, it somehow squeezes its bulky timbers in between two rival apothecaries. Faded gold paint adorns its facade, set with a carved emblem of a rising sun, and its sturdy sign sways in the street, beckoning travelers in. When one opens the door, one is instantly greeted by a deafening wall of sound, as the voices of what seems like half the town resound from the walls. A thick aroma of hearth and spice tugs at the nose, as do the scents of fine cheeses and pastries, freshly made or imported from local shops. What will tug at the eyes, however, stands in the back of the room - an enormous frog of gleaming gold stands on the floor, staring at all with its dull shine under the grand hearth. At around 4 feet tall and weighing in at over three thousand pounds, it dominates the room, serving as both a centerpiece and a clever traveler’s call.
The history of the Golden Frog is nearly as varied as its patrons. The building was first built as a trade-hall with the lifting of the trade embargoes; however, following a series of arsons, it was abandoned, then rebuilt as a warehouse, which remained mostly unused until the last twenty years, when a merchant, Evar Rotondrian, dissatisfied with trade and commerce, purchased and renovated it, turning it into an inn and tavern. With his small fortune he was able to purchase furniture, foods, and hired hands, and for several years carried a profitable business with the building, then known as the Northgate Tavern. However, in the Lastlights of the twelfth year, he came upon a great statue of a frog in a local market, and was so taken by its likeness that he purchased it, and hired a local smith to repair its dents and coat it in a layer of gold (at considerable cost). Whatever the cost, the frog paid for itself in weeks, as merchants and city goers flocked into the tavern to see this frog of “solid gold”. While it has never been weighed by any smith, and the original has kept an attitude of consistent quietness (no doubt due to weekly satchels of silver), the rumor is now an accepted fact. Evar prizes the frog as a good-luck charm and the key to its success, and within months of the tavern’s re-christening, it became the most popular frequenting spot of the city. Over the years, the immense profits the tavern has produced has given it an upscale air, although its atmosphere has not strayed far from its humble beginnings. Tapestries adorn the walls, lit by scores of candles, as three fires crackle in great stone hearths set about the room. The furnishings are all of the highest craft and quality offered by local artisans, and the food, while not exquisite, is a rather tasty lot of slop, with generous portions for a measly coin. A wine cellar stores all manner of northern vintages, while a meat rack, strung heavily with sausages, adorns the wall behind the front counter. Also behind the counter is Evar himself, a once-lean merchant gone fat over years of fine food and finer profit. His ruddy cheeks bounce as he partakes in the latest local gossip, and his eyes twinkle with a merry light as he pockets coin by the handful. He bellows the tavern’s tagline, “Good slop and a quick flop” at every new face he sees, which has become quite often of late, and complains of his health with mock exhaustion after each cellar run. A jovial man with customers, he has been known to be a hard man of coin, one to fight over each last copper though he pockets gold by the sack.
The three serving girls are all daughters of local craftsmen, and attend to their tables with a lightness of step when they can be dragged away from their gossip. A sisterly bunch, they bicker constantly with Evar in a good humor, and are well known for their numerous “encounters” with many male patrons. Mariel, the oldest, a raven-haired woman of 23, watches over the two twins, Seritha and Seribela, two cheeky and slightly plump girls of 17. All three are kept scurrying by the head cook, Haelin, the wife of Evar and quite a round person herself. Evar has never kept a guard in the tavern, as it is a bit of pride that he has always held his customers above that sort of behavior. The patrons of the tavern itself vary widely during the day. In mornings, the tavern is home to travelers and guests of the inn; middays bring prominent craftsmen and workers of the city in on lunch break, and evenings fill the chairs with the robes and vests of successful merchants, some local, some traveling through. Not many poor commoners frequent the tavern (or any taverns for that matter), but some personal friends of Evar who work on nearby farms receive a substantial discount on their meals - 100%. While the tavern stays filled week-round, it becomes packed to the rafters each leaveday and sendingday, as those are the official festdays of the tavern. Dancing and drinking abound as several local bands squeeze into the tavern to pound out thumping jigs, though the roar of the crowd nearly drowns out even the loudest fifes. As the evening progresses, guests are invited to join in with the music, and Evar himself has even belted out a few rough ballads, though not before several cups of good wine were tossed down. Additionally, every second month a great wheel is brought out of the cellar, filled with balls of countless numbers, and spun, spitting out balls with abandon. Any balls that land in the mouth of the frog are announced, and at this point, the coin flows as freely as the ale. While it could technically be classified as an illegal game of chance, the fact that the city magistrate is one of the most dedicated players rules out any “interruptions”.
However, all is not as well as it seems for Evar. Over three months ago, the he awoke to find that the Frog itself, the heart of the tavern and the key to his success, had been stolen. The thief had apparently taken the stories of the solid gold Frog to heart, and made off with the sculpture in the night. What became of the Frog once its true nature was discovered remains to be found. In a frenzy, the tavern was quickly closed down for “renovations”, as Evar began a frantic search for leads. Finding none, he commissioned a replica of the Frog from his original smith, which was promptly placed back in the tavern with none the wiser. However, coincidentally and to Evar’s utmost horror, profit immediately decreased. Because of this, he has been driven to drink on more than one occasion, and has lost much sleep to his precious Golden Frog. He has begun contacting local thieves guilds on the issue, and spent a considerable amount of his fortune on his quest. There is even an underground price circulating throughout northern thieves guilds on any information regarding the theft, which as of yet has remained fruitless. He greatly fears that he will either lose his tavern to the lack of luck, or lose his customers to the lie of a legend he perpetrated for over a decade.
None of that hinders the tavern’s charm, however. Should you find yourself in Shorenar Vas, take a left off of wing alley or straight from the north gate. You’ll find yourself most wecome.