The Flame of Time
The Gutted Virgin
The Gutted Virgin is a tavern in the gate-town of Plague-mort and is a favorite of visiting Tanar’ri, or those who have similar tastes.
The building gives the impression of being an isolated, and dangerous, beast. The ground around the building has fallen away, leaving a gaping chasm in the reddish earth. Far below your feet lies a lake of bubbling lava. A single rusting iron bridge hangs tentatively over this gorge, providing access to the front door. The door is made of rotting wood, bound with Acheron steel, and teeters a score of feet over the street – attached by one hinge the size of a dwarf. The tavern itself is a large jumble of stone blocks and iron spikes. It was deliberately built this way, but it looks as if the establishment is inhabiting the remains of a large fortress which collapsed in upon itself. The sign over the door shows a naked human woman tied spread-eagled to a rock; she has been cut open from neck to groin, showing all of her internal organs.
The interior of this tavern is one large, open room. Dim light is provided by numerous oil lamps – whose light is an unhealthy orange flicker, which is accompanied by wisps of oily, black smoke. The smell would indicate that the oil is organic in nature. There are three levels to the common room – the upper two are half balconies set opposite each other. All are reached by a single, crumbling stone staircase. The tables are massive blocks of stone, similar to the ones making up the walls of the tavern. Each has what appears to be a small, shallow moat carved into the floor surrounding them, and most have old gore coating their sides. The chairs are either made of wood, bone, or rock.
The bar lurks in the deepest and darkest corner of the ground level. Its foundation is made of small, broken bits of stone and plaster; the surface is made of many long bones lashed together. The drink selection seems to be limited to three large casks which have been carelessly placed on the floor behind the bar. One of them leaks a thick, black syrup which hisses and gives off small gouts of smoke.
The customers are all Tanar’ri, or other equally tough and desperate bashers. The air is filled with raucous croaks of delight and the occasional cry of pain. Scarred and diseased tieflings and orcs move through the crowds, acting as serving wenches. All of them are heavily armed.
A few moments in the Gutted Virgin will reveal that the phrase is not only the tavern’s name, but also the house specialty. A young human girl is brought out and tied to one of the tables, and the patrons are handed a set of surgical knives every night. The moats around the tables are to catch the blood which flows from the bodies. This fluid is occasionally caught in a mug and drunk, while the unfortunate girl’s organs are feasted upon.