The Young Girl and the Inn

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A story and a toast, by Mora Ottavia Spadera, first told at the closing of the Inn of the Crimson Spade on Sunday night, GWW XV.

Once upon a time, many years ago in the fair city of Venice, there lived a young girl. She was the eighth daughter of a merchant and his wife, a woman who had once been one of the famed cortigiani of Venice: women renowned the world over for their beauty, wit, and art. Now, the young girl and her siblings knew that their futures lay in the hands of fate and their parents. But they would sit in their rooms, night after night, dreaming up stories of the fantastic adventures that they would embark upon when they were grown. They dreamt of sea voyages, and feats of derring do. Of travels to exotic foreign lands, of clashes of sword and of wit, of bargains struck in game and in trade. Fantastic treasures won and lost, and of all the brave and varied friends and companions that would accompany them on their adventures:

Soliders and sailors,
Merchants and men of action,
Artisans and Courtesans,
Poets and actors,
Kings and Courtiers.

But where, the children wondered, might one meet such a fantastic cavalcade of characters, with whom they might share such adventures? Well, the children thought, perhaps at a Duke's court. Or a marketplace. Or, perhaps at an Inn. A busy, bustling inn, where one might relax after a long day's travel, share a drink, and meet new folk with whom yet more adventures might be had, and to recount them in story and song at night by the fires. Soon, all the children's stories became centered around this Inn, and many a night was whiled away in the house in Venice spinning out tales of the children as adventurers, embarking from the inn on errands of mercy or justice, for honor or for profit, and returning triumphant after days or months to those same walls, to celebrate their successes and to conspire over cups of wine about the newer and yet braver endeavors they would undertake next.

Now, in reality, the young girl knew that if she was very lucky, she might be married to a merchant like her father, keep his house and raise his children, and perhaps assist with the day-to-day runnings of his business. If she were less lucky, she might become a courtesan like her mother had been, or spend her days in menial labor, married less well, as a shopkeeper's wife, or a seamstress, or a laundress, or a fishmonger. The young girl did not want to think about these fates. So instead, she spent the last nights of her youth dreaming of an inn, and grand friendships and grand adventures that began and ended there.

Now, time passed, and the young girl grew up. And it happened that she did marry well, to a man of business. And together they traveled, from Venice to Flanders, from France to Spain, buying and selling, undertaking any venture that seemed as if it might be good for business. And so they came to the port city of Cadiz, whose docks were filled with great ships loading and unloading vast and diverse cargoes into the warehouses there. And down the street from the warehouse, by the dockside, there was an Inn. A busy, bustling inn, filled with all manner of interesting and engaging characters:

Soliders and sailors,
Merchants and men of action,
Poets and actors,
Artisans and Courtesans,
Kings and Courtiers,

who came to relax and socialize after busy days, and share a drink under the watchful eyes of the proprietors and staff.

And you, my beloved compatriots, know well the brave adventures we've embarked upon day by day, the feats and triumphs we have accomplished, returning night after night to these walls, to drink, play, and sing here in joyous camraderie. So this, my friends, is the tale, of how the childhood dreams of a young girl came true, under the roof of an Inn.

And this story is my toast tonight, to the Dream, and to the Inn of the Crimson Spade.


Author's Note: The true facts of this story involve my real teenage years, and free-form role-playing on mIRC chat channels. The original Lady Mora was an elvyn mage, and the chat channel was '#The_Golden_Lake_Inn'. Mora the character would loiter in this Inn, chatting with the bartender and drinking sylvan wine. She would welcome in any newcomers who arrived to play in the channel, and go off on short adventures in role play, coming back to the channel afterwards to linger and plan for the next adventure. So when I joined the SCA, of course I had to be Lady Mora. She wore a blue dress not unlike a women's cotehardie-style gown, which I eventually made into garb. And then, Diego, Raph, and Elisheva founded the Inn of the Crimson Spade. And we made friends, and soon I found myself loitering there day after day at wars and events, often in my garb version of Lady Mora's original dress, drinking, gaming, enjoying the company, and embarking on adventures of all sorts, on the rapier field and off. Sitting there in the Spade was truly, truly, the embodiment of The Dream for me. I wrote this toast to commemorate the closing of the Inn at GWW XV, and performed it for a small fire circle on Sunday night. Diego and Raphael had tears streaming down their faces as I told my tale, and so we know that each of us is not alone feeling that the Inn will be sorely, sorely missed. And if I have my way, it will never be forgotten.