In the roughest part of Koenigsburg, near the docks and warehouses, is a tavern/gambling house named The Broken Bones. The shingle that hangs over the door is made from the broken rib bones of an unlucky cow. Or so the proprietor says.
The Bones is two stories and a cellar. The ground floor is the main tavern and gambling room. There is a small hearth and a short bar, and there are exactly two items on the menu: fish stew and ale. The wood of the floor, walls, and furniture are black, stained with time and smoke and no little blood. Small, wrought-iron lanterns are hung at intervals along the walls to give a smoky light when the sun sinks in the west.
There are two dart boards on one wall, the wall showing the marks of many players too drunk to throw. There are also deeper gouges showing that people don’t always play with darts. The tables scattered about the floor host a variety of games, from dice and cards to chess-like board games.
But the real draw for the gambling house is the cellar.
Behind the bar is a narrow flight of stairs leading down into an ordinary cellar. The floor and walls are grey stone. There are shelves holding spices and utensils, bowls and mugs, and spare game boards. There are kegs of ale and baskets of potatoes, carrots, onions, and turnips. But most importantly there is a secret door.
Beyond the door is the fighting pit. Every ten-day the pit is host to illegal dueling. Sometimes it’s swords and other weapons. Sometimes it’s wrestling. Every few months, special wards are placed around the pit and there are magical duels. Whatever the spectacle, the patrons gather around, betting on their favorites, and sometimes brawling themselves. More than one combatant has had to be carried out on a stretcher for the healer to tend, and a few end the night with the grave digger. Even the patrons occasionally leave with broken bones, hence the name of the house.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.