The Laughing Demon
Patrons of The Laughing Demon can enjoy hearty dishes such as vampire stakes (cuts of beef skewered on blood-colored wooden spikes), wolf balls (lamb meatballs on half-moons of unleavened bread), corpse chowder (a hearty stew made with chunks of meat in a red tomato broth), and “liquid ghost” (a sweet ale that glows a pale green color).
The tavern itself is stone construction, with few windows and a large firepit in the center of the main room. Rough-hewn wooden tables border the firepit and a large bar with worn leather stools runs along one wall. Zokar’s thirteen-year old son Pevrin often serves in the taproom, and helps out in the kitchen.
Three questions inevitably pass the lips of every one of The Laughing Demon’s patrons: First, where did the tavern get its name? and second, what in the world is “liquid ghost”; and finally, who is Pevrin’s mother?
The true answer to the first question is known to some of the town’s older inhabitants. When he first bought it, Zokar’s tavern was a wood structure on its current location and was known as The Jolly Water Bar. A fire 12 years ago reduced it to a pile of ash. Despite the tragedy, the red-faced and rotund Zokar stood outside the burning structure, doubled-over in fits of laughter at “some odd thing that struck me funny – I honestly don’t remember what it were!” With his ash-smeared face and sweat-spiked hair, someone mentioned that Zokar looked much like “a laughing demon” – and so the name stuck when Zokar started to rebuild.
However, with his jesting nature, Zokar is just as likely to make up a wild tale involving deals with evil spirits as he is to tell the truth.
As for the “liquid ghost”, Zokar has a bit of a secret in his past: The tavern keeper is a (very) minor magical adept. Using the spell Prestidigitation, Zokar will temporarily cause his ale to glow green as he draws it from the tap of his casks. Leaving the beer sitting for over an hour will return it to a normal color.
Finally, in regards to Pevrin’s mother: The honest answer is, “No one knows!” – including Zokar. Before settling down 30 years ago in Ravengro to open his tavern, the hirsute man traveled around and outside Ustalav, and apparently frequented a goodly number of “houses of ill-repute”. Apparently Zokar decided to have one last hurrah, and participated in what amounted to an orgy. This orgy led to Pevrin, and one of the bouncers at the brothel chased down his father and entrusted the boy to him, stating that his mother-prostitute “had to be shut of him, for business reasons”.
The naturally easy-going man decided that a son was exactly what he needed in his life and so took the boy home with him to his birthplace of Ravengro to set down roots.