Often I find myself pondering the simple things as I journey through the Kingdoms. Today the road is dusty, and the sun is hot on my neck. My mother always nagged me to keep a wet scarf around my neck when working in the fields as a child. How I wished I had one now. At least my stop earlier was enough to get me through the rest of today. Don’t worry, dear reader, this isn’t a weather report, I write you to share a hidden gem within Elyria.

Some of you might have stumbled upon a church for The Children of Mann, and simply walked passed it with no notion of what goes on behind their doors. Earlier today my curiosity grabbed my attention to the old stone walls, and beautiful wooden doors as I passed by one of their churches. I must be an important one judging by the attention to detail turning this common wood into any craftsman’s envy.

As I ventured into the courtyard I was met by two rather jovial men. They introduced themselves to me as Zhin and Nito. Their antics reminded me of my cousin and I as kids. We used to bounce from shop to shop in our town, chatting up anyone who would listen to us. Both Zhin and Nito had an honest, yet cheeky attitude that was refreshing to be around. It reminded me of home.

Zhin seemed to serve as an official leader of sorts and had quite the wealth of history and information on The Children of Mann. He touched on some of the services they offered; healing, wedding contracts, and even diplomatic meetings. They have no direct affiliation with any kingdom from what I could tell and seemed genuinely interested in helping those in need. I could see why there were several followers who enjoyed being a part of this church, as they were some of the most optimistic group I have encountered.

Before I returned to the trail, I noticed a sign with a rather cheerful plump man advertising Brother Bert’s Brewery and Vineyard. I chuckled to myself and walked up the short path to grab a pint for the road. Unfortunately for me, the owner, Hurstwic, was away on an errand and he had wisely locked up all the wines & ales. There was a refreshing fountain outside where I refreshed myself with water that tasted slightly hoppy as if the rain had been infused by the very plants grown there. As I drank my fill, I noticed a wooden sign posted near the front door.

The purpose behind Brother Bert’s Brewery and Vineyard rests on three pedestals. On one hand we aim to provide for the Children of Mann be that in terms of crafted goods that the Hammers provide, or the beasts for our priests provided by the Keepers. Secondly, we aim to provide the people of Elyria with the finest Alcoholic beverages, which is our primary focus, the development and distribution of drinks to all corners of Elyria. Our final purpose is to be a shelter and beacon for all of Mann kind and to this end. We offer shelter and work to all of the children of Mann be he a King or a beggar. Within our walls all people are treated as equals, we are neutral ground, but not above the laws of a nation, we will offer safety to criminals until their guilt has been proven. Additionally, we aim to provide basic knowledge of our crafts to all be you a brand new soul or a recycled soul who wishes to change profession we will allow you to work with us for as long as you need to become competent to go into the world alone. If and when you leave us we will provide you with enough profession related gear, food and transport to start your life.”

-Brother Bert-

I decided to continue on after waiting a few minutes, only to make a note on my map of another place to return for a good ale. If I am lucky perhaps even a story or two. I can only imagine both Zhin & Nito with full bellies of Brother Bert’s dark ale.
This pleasant side trip reminded me that when we slow down and open our eyes, our grueling journey is full of hidden gems just waiting to be found.

Until next time –

Be Bold, Be Known.
Bradford J. Wilshire