- Adrienne as Orethyia “Thyia” Burke, Human Acolyte of the Path of the Four Winds
- Crystal as Kizz, Halfling Cleric, Exemplar of Avandra
- Jay as Petrov Merrin, Human Wizard and Scholar
- Joe as Ugarth, Half-Orc Mercenary and Soldier
- Travis as Daxil “Dax” Loren, Human Agent of the Librarians of Caleborn
- Wesley as Theran Lantadal (Treeskin), Wood Elf Speaker for the Spirits
Interlude: Exploring Winter’s Edge
The party stayed for a week in Winter’s Edge, during which they took some time to familiarize themselves with the town and learn about the province.
Petrov and Daxil were interested in learning about centers of knowledge and sources of lore. Petrov and Daxil learned that, though most of the townsfolk were illiterate, the town actually kept excellent records of ownership, debts, and family records, probably holdovers from the Imperial Beauracracy. They also learned a scholarly outsider had taken up residence near the town at an abandonned farm, but the townsfolk avoided him. They also learned that the province had a strong skaldic tradition and there were a number or storytellers and oral historians. Finally, they heard rumors of a monastary to the northwest devoted to an oracle, but the people were darkly superstitious about it.
Theran and Kizz wanted to learn more about the spiritual bent of the townsfolk. They found that the people had given up worship of the gods. They had a number of local spirits they were superstitious about, but their beliefs mostly amounted to superstitions and sacrifices to avoid attention or bring benefits. The town did not appear to have any priests or anyone to speak for the spirits.
Theran also learned about the dangers in the wilds of the province. First, he learned that barbarian tribes of humans and orcs, collectively known as Ghost Warriors, claimed the northeastern lands all the way to the sea. Second, he learned that the sprawling pine forest was haunted by “invisible fey” that often scarred those who wandered too far before driving them out. He also found out that sabre-toothed cats, bears, wolves, and other mundane creatures were common in the tundral plains and hills. Finally, he learned that the numerous ancient ruins scattered throughout the province were haunted by “Ghosts of the Past.” These strange spirits often killed those who disturbed the ruins in horrific ways.
Ugarth learned that the town had no standing army, but that almost everyone in the town could handle a knife, hatchet, or other weapon fairly well and most people carried hand-weapons openly at all times. He also learned that the Reeve (Sheriff) maintained a force of Wardens to patrol the province and deal with any problems. The town itself would be able to withstand sizeable raids with its strong palisade and with a conscript militia, but an organized military assault or siege would probably destroy Winter’s Edge.
Thyia was most interested in the province’s agriculture, brewing, and distilling. She learned that the province grew rye, barley, and durable vegetables like carrots, potatoes, leaks, cabbage, and kale. They also grew knobby hardapples, blackberries, and currants. The region also had numerous beekeepers and produced a great deal of honey. The province brewed a potent and high-quality dark larger as well as mead, cider, applejack, and currant wine.
Theran and Ugarth learned there was a great deal of distrust for non-humans in the region.
The party stayed for several days at the Sleeping Bear, a longhouse-style tavern with several guest rooms. The landlady, Iona Ysasdottir, was polite to them, if a little bit suspicious because they were outsiders.
Never Step into Another Couple’s Argument, Particularly Once Knives are Drawn
One night at the Sleeping Bear, while the rowdy townsfolk drank, gambled, and gossiped, a man entered the tavern. He approached a woman, accused her of cheating on him, and offered her a knife. When she took it, the party realized there was about to be a knife fight. The townsfolk cleared a circle to allow the duel to play out. One patron told Dax that Brede (the man) was a miner and he’d discovered his wife, Gunnvor, had been seeing someone else. The patron also suspected Brede was seeking the company of others, so he was not entirely blameless.
As Brede and Gunnvor were tying their wrists together and it became clear that this was going to be a bloody duel to the death, Theran darted out of the crowd and sucker-punched Brede, laying him out with a lucky blow. The woman, Gunnvor, was incensed and Theran was taken aback. The two exchanged insults, then threats, and then the woman attempted to offer him a knife to “settle things.” Theran refused and Thyia tried to calm the situation by buying Gunnvor a drink, but that only made the situation worse. Ultimately, Thyia stalked out in frustration and the party cowed Theran into silence.
Iona, the landlady, chastised Theran and cooled a bit more on the party.
Fortunately, a copper-haired half-elven skald arrived soon thereafter and his folksy performance lightened the mood somewhat.
The Haunting of Deep Rift Mine
The next day, the Reeve, Raluf Hodson, returned to town and came to visit the party over breakfast. He demonstrated himself to be a friendly man, polite but no-nonsense. And he threw his authority around with casual orders and matter-o-fact threats. The party was coming to realize that Winter’s Edge was not entirely civilized.
He chastised Theran as well and explained that the people of Winter’s Edge take certain things very seriously. Deathly seriously. Those include oaths, vows, and debts. When someone breaks a vow or debt, the aggrieved party can challenge the other to a fight and one of them is going to end up dead.
He then asked the party if they would help him with a problem while everyone waited for Baroness Aralayne to arrive in town.
He explained that he had encountered a miner named Rundulf Huldenson making a run for Highwald. When pressed, Rundulf revealed the following story.
Rundulf’s mother, Minde Jurgasdottir, had recently died. She had been a foreman at the Graystone Mine near Winter’s Edge for many years. Rundulf had also worked there as a miner. After Minde died, Rundulf discovered among her possessions the deed to an old, closed mine called the Deep Rift Mine. He also found several ledgers and journals. Apparently, the mine had been owned by Rundulf’s grandfather, Torald Rundulfson. After eight miners died under mysterious circumstances, Torald had closed down the mine for fear that it was cursed, haunted, or had become the lair of something dangerous. The mine had been closed for about 50 years.
Rundulf was skeptical of the story and thought it was at least worth looking into. Rather than explore the mine himself, he asked his two friends (experienced miners), Elrik Thurson and Emble Indrasdottir who worked with him at the Graystone Mine. His friends vanished. Feeling guilty at sending his two good friends to their probably death and afraid he would be held responsible for their deaths, he decided not to tell anyone and to flee to Highwald or perhaps leave the province altogether.
The Reeve, Raluf, asked the party if they would scout the mine. While he wants to leave well-enough alone, he didn’t want two people left stranded if there was a chance of a rescue. He was further worried that if they had disturbed a spirit or monster, it might pose a danger to the other two mines in the area. As it stands, Winter’s Edge has only two good, productive mines for all of its iron and copper needs and both mines are starting to dry.
Rundulf was surrendered into the party’s care. The Reeve explained that, as it stood, Rundulf was being considered responsible for the deaths of his two friends. Because he could not pay sufficient compensation for their deaths, he would be executed or exiled according to Winter’s Edge law. However, if the mine could be made safe and productive, the Burgmaster (Mayor) would probably buy the mine from Rundulf. That would give Rundulf the money needed to compensate Elrik’s and Emble’s families.
The Reeve told Rundulf he was to help the party in any way he could and be completely honest with them. If he withheld information or attempted to run, the Reeve gave the party permission to do “anything necessary” or to “pass judgment” as needed.
The party agreed to take the job and Rundulf agreed to lead them up into the hills where the mines were located.
Before they left, the party was allowed to review the records, journals, and ledgers from the old mine. They learned the following:
- The mine was profitable when it closed. A new vein of iron ore had been discovered and it was being expanded.
- Lars Svinson, Hul Broderson, and Juniper Brightsnow discovered the new vein and performed the initial expansion to follow the new vein. They were all experienced miners.
- Juniper Brightsnow had an accident five days before the mine closed. She had fallen into the Deep Rift and was presumed dead.
- Thorald gave Juniper Brightsnow’s parents, Valda Brightsnow and Horden Brodrickson who lived in Winter’s Edge proper, a reasonable sum to compensate her.
- Lars Svinson, Hul Broderson, Borda Riggrsdottir, and Other Utherson never returned from their shift on the day the mine was closed. They were working on the expansion in the lower level.
- Gurder Ingasdottir, Ulden Urdenson, and Thunr Orikson were sent down into the mine’s lower level to search for the missing miners. They never returned.
- Torald closed the mine, believing it to be cursed by the spirits. He felt Juniper’s death had been a warning. He refused to send any further miners to their deaths.
- Lars Svinson’s wife, Durde Vinesottir and their son Stig Larson, received compensation for Lars’ death.
- Hul Broderson left no survivors.
- Gurder Ingesdottir was survived by a brother, Thorwald Gunnarson, who lived in Winter’s Edge and received compensation for Gurder’s death.
- Ulden Urdenson was survived by his three sons, Jonr, Jisr, and Jan. Jonr received sizeable compensation for Ulden’s death to raise his two brothers.
- Thunr Orikson was not survived by anyone.