The free port of Narisban, found in the tropical Olman Island chain is a crossroads for intrepid traders and pirates who ply the high seas. Given the remote location of Narisban, nearly every sailor that visits its harbor seeks a respite from the sea for it might be their last.
The Last Respite
The Last Respite is the largest and certainly most popular location in town. It overlooks the harbor from a terrace near the edge of the jungle, providing a clear view of the piers and dirt roads that criss-cross throughout the small settlement. The tavern was built shortly after the original founding of Narisban by its still current owner and operator, Fatil “Fat” Robaldi, an aging, overweight, retired captain from the Hold of the Sea Princes. It is commonly believed that Robaldi is the wealthiest resident in Narisban, likely from a long, lucrative career at sea before he chose to settle down and let himself go. It is said Fatil was once known among the ports of the Azure as “Fast” Fatil or “Razor” Robaldi, for his swift sailing prowess, his flashy use of a rapier and his witty tongue. Indeed, Robaldi is happy to relate his tales of high adventure to anyone he manages to corner though by now many younger sailors tend to believe his stories are too far-fetched. The elder patrons at The Last Respite know better.
The Last Respite is a sprawling, one story complex, raised slightly off the ground by a series of strong, squat stilts to avoid flash floods and mud slides. A simple set of wooden steps leads to a front entrance sealed by a thick door with a ship’s port hole in it. Overall, the tavern is in excellent condition; being built mainly out of expensive hardwoods only found in the Amedio region and making the building resilient against the annual Densac Gulf hurricane season. As such, all windows and doors in the place have strong shutters and braces. The less sturdy roof will leak time to time, but its steep pitch and system of gutters is good for collecting the rainwater that so often falls on Narisban.
Inside the tavern one first sees a brass railed bar amid a large common area, big enough to hold the crews of more than a few ships. Robaldi has a fine collection of spirits from the four corners of the Azure. Local brews, especially rum are the cheapest and most commonly sold drink here. The dominating feature of this common room is the central support pillar, made out of the remaining mast of Robaldi’s own scuttled caravel, the Respite. Four corners of the hall have mahogany columns carved in the likenesses of the Velaeri (the four Oerid wind goddesses).
There are two heavy sliding doors are to either side of The Last Respite’s central chamber, one leading to an enclosed wing for parties that seek a bit more privacy (but is by no means sound proof), while the opposite side leads to a covered porch that looks out onto the harbor. There are several tables and padded stools out here where sailors can enjoy the island breeze and watch people come and go from the tavern. The porch has its own outer staircase which also leads down a path out back where a ditch is used for refuse and a rickety, foul-smelling privy stands.
The back part of the tavern is a cramped series of store rooms and closets, but at the end of the hall is a secure door to a single apartment where Robaldi lives alone, yet not uncommonly in the company of a serving wench or two. Though the old sailor is lascivious in nature, he has never married and has no known family or heirs. Furthermore, he only hires women to work his tavern, often using local Olman girls who work for barter and don’t talk back to him. Robaldi has a soft spot for stowaways however and he has often hired on one or more that have been stranded in port.
Though the tavern has no other rooms to spare, Robaldi owns a handful of bungalows further up the trail from the Last Respite. These simple huts are often occupied by the Respite’s staff, but they are easily be chased out so they can be rented to important sailors who want some place nearby to pass-out after a night of revelry.
WHISPERS, SECRETS AND HOOKS
Behind the bar is a hidden trapdoor that leads to the raised underside of the tavern. Originally built in case Robaldi needed a quick escape, he is now too fat to fit through it so the dusty door has gone unnoticed for years. The space under The Last Respite is difficult for any adult to crawl through, yet many try because coins and other odds and ends tend to fall through gaps in the floor of the common room and porch. Local street children however have an easier time at groping around for these trinkets during the daytime. Less savory folk have also attempted to eavesdrop on private discussions from under the Last Respite, but at night other things have been known to slither and crawl beneath the tavern.
Bar room fights do break out in the Last Respite frequently, but these drunken brawls rarely get out of hand. An unwritten rule among most veteran captains who visit Narisban is that no one should harm Fat Robaldi or vandalize the Last Respite. New patrons who overstep these boundaries often discover that the entire bar will turn on them. While Robaldi has earned the respect of most seafaring factions, some older sailors whisper that the true source of Robaldi’s reputation is that he was once a member of the quasi-mythical Fivefold Council. Now retired, but forever protected by ancient god-sworn laws of the sea, only those who have seen him naked can tell for sure if he bears the reputedly distinctive tattoo of this legendary secret society.
Somewhere in or around the Last Respite, Fat Robaldi is also rumored to be hiding a kingly treasure collected from his years as a captain. Frustratingly, despite Robaldi’s proclivity for talking about his adventures, no one hears him talk about any hidden wealth or how he plans to divest his tavern and fortune when he someday passes on. For this reason, many regulars seek to stay on Robaldi’s good side and protect the man for a chance to earn a boon from him someday. Regardless, sailors enjoy speculating on the whereabouts of this buried treasure. Some even say with a hint of seriousness that upon the old captain’s death The Last Respite will be torn apart to the last stick.
Fat Robaldi is trusted and his tavern is frequented enough that many captains are known to leave messages here for other ships’ masters should they come into port. These messages come in many forms; be it a secret note in an empty rum bottle (kept in some hidden cache known only to Robaldi and a few staff), a whispered piece of information (assuming Robaldi isn’t too drunk to forget it) or possibly something more public like a posted notice on the mast column in the taproom. Coupled with the diverse amount of news and trade talk that goes on, this makes the The Last Respite a vital stop to any mariner’s long voyage.