This wasn’t the plan.
The woman who runs the place goes by “Paige Turner” and although it is her craft name, she doesn’t seem to have a problem with letting people know that her last name is really “Burwinkle”.
She and her merry brand of practitioners got pretty sick of being poor and also being oppressed and persecuted by people who don’t understand. They’d known one another for a while, and when Paige said one night after a lovely party on the roof of her building. “You know, I think I’ll retire and buy myself a bar.”
And in that moment, it was like she had taken some kind of oath. The others felt it too. So they got up a collection. Did a spell or two. Dipped into funds held for rainy days. Bought a number of scratch lottery games. They bought a place.
Merl’s doesn’t make a ton of money on its face. But then again it doesn’t have to. Its clientele is exclusively true magi, hedge magi, psychics, odd talents, and the occasional visitors from other supernatural communities. And people of that sort have ALL sorts of means of paying their bar tabs. Once every blue moon or so, some normal person wanders into the place. A place that is EXCEPTIONALLY ordinary looking and dull and unwelcoming. People who do this, almost never walk out unchanged. The place is geomantically charged and there is some sacred architecture at work too. Paige often crabs about how the high ceiling makes for ridiculous heating bills.
Paige can’t actually work magic while the bar is open. It’s a weird little holdover from that night so long ago. So she takes Sunday and Monday night off, and if a fight breaks out in the bar, one of two things will happen.
1) The patrons will unleash a wave of destruction on any asshole foolish enough to break the peace.
2) Paige will say “This bar is CLOSED.” and then the hexes and curse will fly. Rarely anything that will kill you. Paige says she ain’t about that life no more. But she’s gotten creative in her old(?) age. And the curses will make you WISH you were dead.
The place is warded. Not against Magic, of course, That would be silly, and pointless besides. Magicians are like hackers, Tell them that the wards will prevent magic and they go out of their way to prove you wrong. But it is warded against spirits, angels, demons, ghosts, and living creatures with violent intent. Not that there are many who go to Merl’s with the idea in mind to start a fight. If you’ve a got a spirit or ghost, you’d just as soon have with you when you enter, you can ask for a token and they will allowed entry through the wards. Although they do caution you that should your spiritual buddy be separated from you by more than 3 feet or if they start some sort of violence on the property, swift consignment to the Turgid Places is the usual prices of not minding their manners. Most spirits get this and are on their best behavior.
Other night folks who do any kind of business there are often cautioned by their elders to be on their very best behavior. There was an incident some years ago of some fool vampire losing his temper, He died in seconds. His siblings in minutes. His sire in hours. His grandsire the next night. As near as we know, the entire line might be extinct now. In any case. It made an impression.
If you’re at Merl’s. You’re there to do one of four things. 1) Talk business. 2) Talk shop, and presumably unwind. 3) Pick-up some fellow night folk for some slap and tickle later. or 4) Drink. It used to be that there was a kitchen. But there was an accident there and now, no one wants to go in there. There’s a bad feeling in there. Even Joey can feel it. And Joey is about as psychic as a rock. Anti-Psychic actually. Every place like this needs one.
The Cigarette machine near the front door is an involved operation. Sure, you’ve got about a dozen regular brands and some clove cigarettes for those who aren’t over their goth phase. But you’ve also got cigarette brands from all over the globe. Pricey. But if you’ve developed a taste for Turkish smokey treats, then you are likely to turn up here rather than try to buy online. There's been some talk about buying some couches for one of the corners and a Hookah. It may yet happen.
Merl’s also prides itself on its collection of various types of alcohol. In fact, Paige considers it to be a point of pride to be able to provide for her patrons anything alcoholic that they request. And if she doesn’t have it, by god, she’ll have it next week at the latest. We’re talking Peruvian liqueurs, and Asian moonshine distilled with a bit of coral snake venom for kick. As you can imagine, the storeroom is actually bigger than the front of the house. It may be bigger than the whole building actually.
There’s a door at the back of the coat closet. It’s warded of course. Heavily. It will connect with any unwarded door that you are personally familiar with and you can make it home, even if you’re pretty sloshed. But it’s only one way. You can only go through on this side. And even if something TRIED to come through from the other way. Joey minds the coat closet and Joey doesn’t rattle easily. He may not be a magi. But he knows his way around a gun and sword. ya know?
The TV doesn’t have a tuner. Or at least, they’ve never needed one. They bought it some years ago from Desmond Goodlow. (“Great guy. Good tipper.”) and it seems to have a sense of what people in the bar are most interested in. CNN. The History Channel. on rare occasions, televised fishing and championship Curling. Sports doesn’t generally tend to turn up on the TV in a bar full of Magic Nerds.
Other than that, place looks like any other bar. Maybe a lot less neon, because it doesn’t seem to work as well around those sorts of people. But plenty of mirrors. Plenty of dark wood that smells like beer. (Although, with a lot more runic writing carved into it.) There’s even a pool table. Although Walter Roedecker has come up with a form of divination based on ball position...so at any given time, it may be in use for more than a game. Saying “I got next” is liable to get you the stink-eye.
Okay. So it’s not your normal bar. Not on any level. Not really at all. Not even a little bit.
*Charlotte Wilson This one of the few places where Charlotte can be a bit of a party girl. Most of the old timers though...They've seen her like before. They may smile...but they'll hold her at arm's length. Like you would a rattlesnake.
* Tim Deacon Tim's not what you call a regular. he doesn't like to presume. But they got no problem standing him to a beer or two. When he does come around, He normally has some talk with Joey, or with Paige. And usually, something weird cooks off in the next day or so. When it does, they are prepared. As I said, people got different ways of paying their tab. Mostly, Tim allows Charlie to drink on his. On those rare occasions when Charlie is lucid enough to "Talk Shop" EVERYBODY listens.
* Blaise Newkirk Reeks of black magic but is calm, polite, charming even. He's also a decent tipper. Not one to start shit, and on at least occasion was willing to pitch in when there was someone else creating trouble. Normally comes in to meet with someone in an accorded neutral territory.
* Sheriff Hank Settles is the lawman they call on those rare occasions when someone actually has to call the law. Hank just has more experience in these matters than the metro police.
* Ralston Van Doren is NOT welcome here any longer. He's tried to cause them some problems using his connections. Mostly, his connections end up ground in the gear between the two sides. So far, no one has felt the need to take the fight to The Vermillion House. If that changes, it will get very ugly.
* Collette Reeves Everyone loves Collette. They'd offer her a job if her schedule wasn't already packed. They have however come up with a hand gesture that has spread among the regulars which means, "Colette, you know I love you, but I need you to move away from while I'm trying to do my thing here." Collette, being the kind of girl she is, insisted that it be "The Bird" Joey thinks that maybe he can help her hone her gift some. But Joey is a little bit smitten with her and Collette can see it. It's too bad, But for the scars on the left side, Joey's a pretty handsome dude.
* Schuyler Lavey is GOING to get his ass thrown out one of these days, but always manages to stay just on the windy side of care. He's always testing the boundaries. Joey punched him once. Hard.
* Lillian Penobscot "Diamond Lil" as the regulars call her is usually a welcome sight. She did, however, make the mistake of bringing something in here that gave the wards indigestion. But was so instantly apologetic that they chalked it up to a rookie mistake and everyone went on with their lives.
Paige keeps Lil's business card just in case someone needs to get rid of something serious. Odds are good Lil can find a buyer.
* Various members of the firm Holmes, Gillis, Baker, Savage, North, and Dean drink here and do business, with the exception of Gilbert Savage. Occasionally, Paige has to ask Roderick and Cullen to cool it with the racist jokes.
* The Grimoire Bear and Penny come in every once in a while. Penny brings cookies.