Dated: 07 Feb, 2020
The Elven Quarter of Dunromin is a densely wooded area of tree-houses and magnificent gardens filling the forested northeast corner of the city beyond the lake. This fey woodland has been the haunt of various groups of elves for millennia and has existed before the city of Dunromin and even before the dwarven settlement that occupied the area before then. When the city walls were expanded in CY407 the magical woodland was enclosed as a symbol of the new unity between the races of elves and men.
As is well known, the magical fields of the World of Barnaynia are concentrated in many places, including the area of the City of Dunromin. This manifests itself in the Elven quarter in great fecundity of a vast array of plant and insect life. The local bird life in particular is colourful and noisily tuneful beyond compare.
All the trees in this place are unnaturally huge and old, but none more so than an ancient oak called La Grande Jambe. This vast tree holds within its arms a rambling structure of chambers and open performance areas, most with roofs. The place is constantly buzzing with chatter, poetry, music and song. This is La Boîte de Grenouilles (the “Pavillion of Ecstacies” in the common tongue), the oldest public house in the country, more commonly known simply as “The Box”
To call La Boîte de Grenouilles an inn is a vast over-simplification of its great purpose and is certainly misleading. The edifice is owned and run by a family of Grey Elves called Ponce, as it has been for hundreds of years. It serves as a social nexus-point for the elven population and offers accommodation to all kinds of artists and performers.
In the great bowls of the tree roots can be found little shops and workshops producing exquisite utensils and objets d’art. Above this are meeting rooms and balconies for the chattering classes to pass the day and then the main theatre areas where hundreds can enjoy special performances.
The kitchens produce excellent elven food, which is too light on the meat for many, and wine and other beverages are available. The rooms are comfortable and rarely unoccupied, with preference always given to travelling performers, artistes and guests of the elven community.
Princess Elleraiya of Loom (a wood elf) declared the place to be “The most exquisite location in which to spend a warm summer evening in the world of men.” Whereas Boldass Smirchiq, a dwarf Hammer-baron from the Blue Mountains declared that “The wine’s good but the food is shite and that twat Ponce who runs the place is so far up her own arse that I am surprised she can breathe.”
In response to this critique Insignia Ponce, the current manager of the Boîte de Grenouilles, merely responded that she was surprised a Dwarf had managed to get served in her establishment and that she would remind her staff of the policies of the place.
In truth, the place is full of elitist cliques each with inflated opinions of themselves and their importance to the city. Anyone who isn’t a polite, well-spoken elf will find the place cold and unfriendly. High Elves tend not to favour the place and prefer the Elf’s Walk Inn west of the lake, so the clientele is almost exclusively Wood and Grey elves at any particular time.
Some Halflings tend to like the place, if they are easily impressed by a well-groomed elf, but most prefer the Elf’s Walk as the ale is better. In fact, The Box doesn’t serve beer of any kind. Humans would find the place hard to relax in although Barons and Royalty are welcome. Dwarves and Gnomes have never stayed for long when visiting and never left with a good impression, while Half Orcs just avoid the whole area.
Really, the place mirrors the worst excesses of its owner, Insignia Ponce, who is an old family matriarch who fawns about any artistic personalities and treats everyone else, including her own family, with contempt. Her sons are Mirror and Finbar Ponce, both married and with their own families living and working in the Box. In fact, most of the staff are family members.
Despite their good breeding and high opinion of themselves it is fair to say that no member of the Ponce family has ever made a favourable impression on anyone they have ever met. Which is a shame, because the wine and cheese are superb and the opera, poetry and other performances to be experienced here are quite wonderful…