This establishment was located on a hill northeast of Red Larch proper. From the center of town, one followed the Long Road north to a chicken barn with a green tile roof that belonged to Nurnath, and turned right (east). A cart path trundled for about a mile (about a kilometer and a half) between a hornapple orchard owned by Mragan Gulther and a cow pasture that belonged to Indurr Stalnstern. The cart track then climbed a tree-ringed hill and ended in a turnabout on a large flat spot near the top of the hill on its north side. When the Smokehouse was in operation, even strangers to town could find it just by following the smoky scent.
Just beyond the turnabout to the north was the rocky peak of the hill where a signal beacon was stacked, ready to be lit in case of emergency. Beyond the signal was a steep drop into brambles. To the southwest, partway down the hill, was a trash dump and some sooty wooden boxes that served as single-item smokehouses during her peak season. To the south was a slight rise to Angrath's herb and vegetable garden. On the east side of the garden was a dead felsul tree about eight feet (two-and-a-half meters) tall with a limb propped up by a wooden pole. From this limb swung a storm-lantern that illuminated the fire pits used to produce the smoke for the smokehouses.
The only notable structures visible from the turnabout were three stone smokehouses to the southeast of the dead tree. Each smokehouse was a single, tall room capped by a peaked tile roof. A few steps down the hill was the entrance to Angrath's underground dwelling. It had a wood plank facade and door under a sod roof that was held up by rough-hewn beams. The roof blended into the hillside except for the elaborate metal chimney that stuck up out of the "ground".[note 1] Various windows that dotted the eastern slope of the hill indicated the location of some of her main rooms.
Angrath's house was a warren of cave-like rooms connected by passages dug through the hill. Instead of stone, her walls were mainly roots and dirt. Most of the space was storage for fruits, vegetables, herbs, and her collection of "homey trash". It appeared that she never threw anything away, but rather kept old buckets, furniture, tools, broken wagon wheels, etc., like a dragon hoarded gold. She left decoy treasure maps laying around on various workbenches in case her dwelling was ever invaded, in the hopes that intruders would enjoy a trip to various goblin or kobold congregations and monster lairs in Undermountain or the Underdark.
Angrath preserved meats and fish in brine that was seasoned with her recipe of herbs and spices. After the curing process, the meat was washed and hung in the smokehouses to dry and absorb the aromatic smoke.
She was also an expert alchemist and sold dried, powdered herbs and ointments of her own creation. Her elixirs included biteabate, brightvigil, softshield, and the popular focus. Given time, materials, and/or money, she could craft the following items by special order (prices are typical for the 1370s DR):
- Acid (10 gp/flask)
- Alchemist's fire (20 gp/flask)
- Antitoxin (50 gp/vial)
- Smokestick (20 gp)
- Sunrod (2 gp)
- Tanglefoot bag (50 gp)
- Thunderstone (30 gp)
- Tindertwig (1 gp)
Before processing a batch of meat, Angrath boiled the brine from the previous batch, skimmed off any residue, and replenished the amount lost with water seasoned with rock salt and her blend of herbs and spices. The fresh brine was then poured into well-seasoned barrels made of duskwood, and the meat was submersed in these barrels, held down by stones. After four days, she would take the meat out, skim and stir the brine, and put the meat back in again. This was repeated every four days until the meat was cured.
After curing, she washed the meat in hot water with a cold rinse, and scraped off any salt deposits. The meat was then affixed on hooks or placed in iron baskets and hung in the smokehouses to dry. Inside each smokehouse were sturdy, round duskwood and shadow wood beams above a smoke vent in the flagstone floor and below a smoke vent in the peaked roof. Her reaching hooks were long poles with metal jaws (one fixed, one moveable by pull rope) that she could use to place and remove the meat and adjust the louvers in the roof vent.
The three smoke pits were clustered near the old felsul tree, upwind of the smokehouses. Each pit was about three feet (almost a meter) deep and nearly the same diameter, lined with stone and capped with a large stone lid. Dry hardwood logs were set to burn down to coals and then freshly cut duskwood chips and shavings were added to produce dense white smoke. A pipe (made from dwarven pipe-tile) in each pit carried the smoke up at a gentle incline until it reached the center of one of the smokehouses, then turned vertical and discharged the smoke through a vent in the floor. The smoke was disbursed about the room by baffles made of a scrap-metal table and old, broken shields placed over the vent.
Old Angrath's was a meeting place, item drop, and a message exchange for the Harpers. Many of the woodcutters that sold her firewood were Harper agents and delivery days were good opportunities for conversation and passing messages. The apparent mess in her house concealed many scraps of parchment inscribed with coded messages and she knew where each one was hidden. Intruders were not likely to find a particular note without a lengthy search. She did not want to know the content of the messages in case she was ever captured and questioned by the Red Wizards or the Zhentarim.
Items were sometimes buried near the turnabout. Obvious spots where the dirt had been disturbed sometimes held a small cache beneath a flat stone about a foot (30 cm) down. Visitors were usually not bold enough to go digging without permission, knowing they could be easily observed or discovered. Other, well-concealed caches also existed beneath stones that where hidden under a covering of herbal vines. The southwest side of the hill had old fire pits and smoke pipes that were no longer used and these held long weapons, gear, and tools in oiled wrappers for resupplying Harpers in need.
There were no physical defenses worth mentioning around the Smokehouse; the main defense was Angrath herself. Though old, she was extremely strong and quite skilled with axes and throwing knives. She kept spare axes and other weapons in nooks around her house, and the reaching hooks that she used for adjusting louvers and hanging bags of meat from the bars in the smokehouses could be used as ranseurs. If magic was called for, she was also an accomplished sorceress. For times of serious danger, she had potions of gaseous form hidden around her house and could escape through the many cracks, tunnels, and passages that existed in and around her homestead, fleeing to the trees around her hilltop that were part of the dividers between her neighbor's fields.
In her earlier days, Angrath was the keeper of items rare and valuable to the Harpers but, unfortunately, her Smokehouse became known to various enemies of Those Who Harp and was no longer a safe repository. Angrath continued to play the role and continued to allow her hilltop to be used as a meeting place, but occasionally the messages she stored and passed along were cryptic, intentionally misleading, or downright false, for the purpose of catching spies, infiltrators, and imposters.
- ↑ Description based on artist's rendering.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Ed Greenwood (October 2002). “Elminster's Guide to the Realms: Old Angrath's Smokehouse”. In Jesse Decker ed. Dragon #300 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 84.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Ed Greenwood (October 2002). “Elminster's Guide to the Realms: Old Angrath's Smokehouse”. In Jesse Decker ed. Dragon #300 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 85.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ed Greenwood (October 2002). “Elminster's Guide to the Realms: Old Angrath's Smokehouse”. In Jesse Decker ed. Dragon #300 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 87.
- ↑ Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 128. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.