The Hornless Goat
Tucked back in the corner of Kiskedee square, off of Aasvogel, is the Hornless Goat. The tavern is as non-descript and plain as any business can be and still maintain itself in passable fashion. No one notices the patrons of that small overlooked place.
The city of Hahvrensburg has it's share of taverns and inns, from the bustling palace-hotels along the Achelandage, to the burgoise inns of the Mitoyen, and then the flop houses, dives, and taphouses of the slums and ramshackle wards. Rue Aasvogel is a secondary street, known for it's rough and violent character. While the painted whores ply their perfumed wares on the Rue Malhonne, it is the dull eyed and dirty who offer themselves in the dark alleys. Kiskedee Square is considered to the cankerous heart of Aasvogel. At it's center is a fountain, the stone worn by centuries of filthy hands, the cobblestones worn smooth by countless pedestrians and carriages.
There are a few shops that line the square. Mother Radkte's is the largest business. The brothel is the last stop on a prostitute's way to the bottom. After Radtke, there is nothing but beggar kisses and accepting the protection of the thieves and the pimps. The Guild of the Lily offers no protection past Malhonne. There are sundry shops, leather shops, and others. If a shop isn't peddling the lowest quality of goods, it is a front for an illegal guild, thieve's nest, or a fence for stolen goods and loot. Among this sort of riff-raff, the Hornless Goat is easily overlooked.
The Hornless Goat
As far as taverns go, the Goat is small. It has a dozen tables, each semi-partitioned off. Add a small stage for a half-skilled musician and it is as private as one could expect for a tavern. The windows were covered years ago, the canvas replaced with stout wood slats and painted over. The only light in the place comes from the door when it opens and the oil lamps scattered around the place. Most of the lamps sit on the centers of the tables, held in place by a simple wooden peg. A few more adorn corners and other places where light is more important that privacy.
Service at the Hornless Goat is decent, above average for the ward. There are a few serving girls, they are the doe eyed kind who are currently glad to be serving drinks and not themselves. They ask few questions and don't answer many in turn. The menu is surprisingly elegant considering the ward. Wine is served, as are a small variety of cordials and liquors. The food is likewise above par. The roast will never rival the grand estate feasts, but it is a far cry above the unidentified (usually rat) fire charred meat on a stick served in other locales.
Finally the Goat has a degree of protection not afforded other businesses in the area. The thieve's guild gets a small share to leave the place alone, and the beggar's guild is paid an equally small stipend from the ledgers. It is widely known that the Hornless Goat, if you can find it, is the safest place in Kiskedee and Aasvogel.
The Hornless Goat is the primary meeting place of the Aasvogel Knitting Circle, a circle of influential matrons and maidens of Aasvogel and Kiskedee in general. It is the personal clout and acumen of these women who have made the Goat into the sanctuary that it is. Other than the knitting circle, the usual clientele of the Goat consists of the more influential women of the Kiskedee, as well as a few of the more adventurous men.
In the cant of magic users and necromancers, a hornless goat is offered in a sacrifice, blood magic. What most people do not know is that a hornless goat is not livestock, but a human being. In centuries past, such dark magics had to be concealed in euphemisms and special vocabularies. An entire shibboleth grew around the watchwords and lingo of the black magi. In the years since the ascension of the Orthodox Faith and the repression of magic, such terms soon lost their meanings. A hornless goat ceased to be a human sacrifice but just as it said, a goat without horns. The most basic tenets of magic became the language of the oppressed. People in power refused to see a difference between good magic and evil magic. But the two cannot be lumped together. Evil is as evil is.
The Horned Goat is deeply involved in the operation of the blackest of magics. People in the Kiskedee go missing all of the time. Many corpses are fished out of the river and the ponds, and many more are suspected to be buried under the soil of small family gardens or dumped into deep wells, or lost in the catacombs under the larger manses. In this meat grinder part of the city no one notices as a few people go missing and no bodies are recovered.
The Hornless Goat is a specialized tavern that the PCs are unlikely to encounter as just another place to sit and drain a few mugs. Most such people are not encouraged to patronize the Goat and those that do are encouraged to not return (bad service, elevated prices, bad food or ale). The Goat is a base of operations for human sacrifice (raise the dead, demon summoning, and other general nastiness) and it is investigating these sort of affairs that the PCs would be drawn into the small dark place that is the Goat.
Virgin's Blood - A young woman has gone missing in the Kiskedee. While this isn't an uncommon occurence, what is uncommon is that the lady in question is of some importance and was just out slumming looking for fun and excitement. The PCs have been contacted to investigate the area and find out what happened to this daughter of privilege. The PCs have a clock to beat because at a certain time, the virgin in question is going to be sacrificed, her throat slit and something nasty is going to be summoned. If the PCs save her, they have gained the knitting circle as an enemy. If they fail, they have found a dark and sinister adversary as well as pissing off their employer.
Body-Snatchers, inc - The PCs are involved with another of the larcenous guilds, most likely the thieves. One of their own has gone missing, in what is considered to be a safe place. Soon thieves are going missing left and right, and guildmasters are turning up dead, cursed and worse. The guild has been leaning on Kiskedee in general to get more money out of the protection rackets and the Ladies of the Hornless Goat are responding with black magic. The PCs are caught in a growing war of cloak and dagger versus black magic.
Wickerman Soldiers - The PCs are part of a faith backed witch-hunt through the city. Rumors of a coven circulate and the faith has sent sniffers, mercenaries, and witch-burners to find and snuff out the black magi. The PCs might or might not uncover the Knitting Circle, if they do they have to face public sentiment. The locals are likely to consider the faith to be seeing demons in every shadow as the Knitting Circle is considered to be a bunch of nattering old women and their needlepoint. The thought that they are magic users is really just preposterous. If they push too hard in the wrong manner, they could wind up the target of an angry anti-church mob.
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? Responses (9)
That was pretty cool. Though halfway through I was scratching my head wondering how I would use this, but it came to a nice closing. The symbolism behind the Hornless Goat was especially fun. Good work. *Thumbs up*
'Hornless Goat', what a sweet name for a human sacrifice. Nice club you've got here. :)
But that is also the part that surprised me - I was under the impression the Knitting Circle is a far more benign group. If they are sacrificing people on a regular basis, it becomes really hard to find the 'difference between good magic and evil magic'.
Good location though.
The difference between good magic and evil magic should be obvious, but in Hahvrensburg and most of the western lands under the dominion of the Orthodox Church (the western branch of the Trinitine Faith) all magic is considered bad and therefore against the will of the Trinity and the laws of man. In this context, when all magic is considered bad, the line between good magic and evil magic superficially isnt important.
Yes; but are these particular magi the good guys (okay gals), or the bad ones?
It would be easier to simply remove any reference to the knitting circle than attempt to answer that question. The circle I presented some time back as being rather neutral in position. One is the half blooded offspring of a demon, another is a product of necromancer incest. They arent exactly the local PTA chapter, but there is nothing that says they are evil. I just added them for color since they were already written.
Very good - it has a strong 'Thieves World' feel, and for that I very much approve.
Though I was slightly baffled from your transition from kindly knitting circle and innocent (for the area) barmaids to evil, human-sacrificing cult (I didn't read the subs you linked, so that might be it), overall it is a good sub. The plot hooks really close up and tie loose ends together.