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Agnes felt, rather than heard, the presence behind her.

"You can leave them on the table," she said without turning round. "And I'll get to them in a minute."

There was no answer. She finished washing the crockery, aware that whoever had come in had not left. She tried not to be annoyed; she had enough to do without having to endure more expressions of condolence from her neighbours. They were well-meant but every kind word tested her resolve; she had promised herself that she would keep her tears only for herself.

A cold draft chilled her. "And shut that door!" She snapped. "You're letting the Winter in!"

Still no answer. She dried her hand on her apron and turned round, ready to give whoever was letting all the heat out a piece of her mind.

"Oh," she said. "It's you."

Agnes should have been afraid, she realised in the back of her mind. But she wasn't; a kind of calmness had settled over her like a soft woollen shawl.

"I'm sorry," said Jon. He stood halfway between the kitchen table and the closed back door. The cold draft was coming from him, not from the Winter night. He seemed solid enough, but there was no way he could still be alive. His pale skin was broken and bruised by the rocks that killed him. One of his arms was mangled into a ribbon of meat and bone, and he was missing an eye. He still had his lantern in his remaining hand, and as she looked at him it flickered fitfully with blue-green flame.

"Well if it isn't bloody Jonah Gold," she said bitterly. Her voice was hoarse, tears pricked at her eyes. It was too soon, her grief too raw.

"I'm sorry," he said again, hollowly. He didn't move toward her. There was something fundamentally forlorn about him, and she didn't know what to say.

"I promised I'd never leave you," he said, looking up at last. His one remaining eye was just as she remembered it. Almost as she remembered it. In her memory, Jon's green eyes were always sparkling with mirth, and the imp of mischief. These eyes were sad. So sad it cracked her heart all over again.

"Oh love," she said and her voice broke. She took a step toward him, but he shook his head slowly.

"I can't stay," he said quietly. "I just wanted you to know. I didn't mean to go. I didn't mean to leave. I'm so sorry."

"I know you didn't, you daft goose." She was crying now, and she didn't care. There was only her and Jon here to see it. "Nobody meant for it to happen, it just happened. Accidents just happen."

"There's more," he said. "Some of the others. They're still alive, I promised I'd look after them and... they're afraid. In the dark."

This cut through her grief. Everyone in the village understood the terror of being lost in the dark under the hills, not killed quickly in the collapse but facing the slow death of hunger and thirst.

"We looked," she said. "But there were no signs. Not even any bodies. Just rocks."

"They looked in the wrong place," he said. His voice seemed more distant, there was something increasingly unreal about him. "We were in the new spur, off the second gallery. They're still there, some of them." He paused. "I'm still there," he said at last.

"I'll tell them," Agnes said. "I'll tell them, and I'll go up there myself and..." She took another step towards him. He didn't seem any nearer, although he hadn't moved.

"I have to go," said Jon. "I just wanted you to know I was sorry, and about the others and..."

"I love you," she said desperately. "Please don't leave me again."

"I love you," he answered, and for a moment that spark flashed again in his eye. "But I can't stay."

And then he was gone. Agnes felt another wracking wave of grief, and for a moment she buried her head in her hands and let it flow through her. Then she pulled herself together, splashed some cold water on her face, and ran to find Foreman Mary.

As the Winter sun rose over the black hills, the first stretcher was brought out of Evenflow Mine, the woman on it near death but miraculously still alive. Another followed, and then another. And then they brought the first body out and Agnes fancied she felt a gentle kiss on her cheek and an invisible hand stroking her hair, and then she was far too busy with a physick's work to worry about anything else for a while.
As the day dies.png
When all the fighting it was done / They laid me with the dead / To rest uneasy in the poor soil, / Cold in my stony bed.
Click for audio version


Anywhere there's dogs there's fleas; anywhere there's peoples, there's ghosts


Tens of thousands of humans and orcs died in the battles to reclaim the Mournwold, especially during awful battles of Spring 381YE. The worst of the fighting took place around Orchard's Watch on the Greensward, and the shed blood sank into the earth and left the area haunted by remarkable numbers of unquiet spirits. Imperial ghosts and Jotun ghosts alike tended to be angry, confused, full of hate and despair and fury, lashing out at the living when they intruded upon their haunted places, endlessly refighting their final battles on moonless nights.

The friars of Honour's Rest did their best to lay as many of the ghosts to rest as possible. Then in the Summer of 382YE, the Marcher Assembly sent Albert Fugglestone-Copperhill to gather as many priests as possible to end the worst of the hauntings. Wherever possible they tried to communicate with the ghosts, helping them to pass on from the mortal world, relying on the ceremony of exorcism only if all other efforts failed.

The worst concentrations of ghosts, and the most dangerous hauntings, were dealt with by the priests. Those spirits that remained were much less of a threat to the returning Marchers, and could be avoided. Friars and monks continued to try and help the phantoms that were still active to find some measure of peace. In time, the region settled down. It still had a haunted reputation, but as long as people were sensible and left the dead to their sorrows, the Greensward was as safe as any other region of the Marches. Settlers build new homes on the Greensward, avoiding those haunted ruins that still remained.

All this happened a few years ago and now, things have changed.

Ghost Stories

  • The Mourn has been under an enchantment that brings ghosts and mortals closer together

During the Autumn Equinox the Saker coven of Highguard wove a subtle Winter enchantment over the entire Mournwold that brings the lingering spirits of the dead closer to the living. Under a thin sliver of an orange Autumn moon, a sorrowful wind sweeps across the Mourn. Where it passes, it stirs up the restless spirits that lie beneath the fields and the hills. Rather than angering them, however, the enchantment encourages them to communicate with the living. At the same time, the subtle magic makes it easier for the living to see and communicate with these remnants of the past.

Wild stories spread across the Mournwold as the ghosts rise from their forgotten graves. In most cases, encounters with the phantoms of the Mourn are tinged with sorrow rather than fear. Ghosts linger for many reasons, and some seek justice, or recognition, or a proper burial. Stories of remarkable encounters spread quickly. A murderer in Freemoor is exposed by the weeping spirit of her dead lover, thanks to the bravery of a governess. A company of soldiers, killed in some long-ago battle in Green March, parade through the streets of a little market town every night until the folk there conquer their fears and come out to thank them for their sacrifice. A Navarr phantom leads a lonely friar to a shallow grave beneath a twisted yew tree. The skeletal remains within are already on their way north to a final resting place in the glades of Miaren.

Not every story is so wholesome; there are angry spirits in the Mourn as well as those who simply seek justice, forgiveness, or recognition. For example, the guests and staff of the Hill-bridge Inn on the Chalkdowns are driven from their beds in the middle of the night when the loathsome spectre of a former owner comes roaring up from the cellars. Bloated with hate and gluttony, the ghost instils ravenous hunger with a touch, and soul-crushing fear with its glowing green eyes. In the end it takes the abbot and all the monks of the nearby Fordwater Monastery to destroy the spirit and reclaim the inn. The magic is fading now, but it leaves behind an echo of understanding of those phantoms who have not been laid to rest. It also leaves an opportunity.

The haunted ruins of Overton, Greensward, remain to this day, a terrible reminder of the dread curses the Empire inflicted upon the Mourn. The Church of Honours Rest and its priests labour to send those confused and angry spirits onto their next life through the Labyrinth. A unique enchantment has been put upon the territory this season to grant those poor souls a clarity they have not known since they lost breath. I, Friar John, the Friar of Honour's Rest, incite those across the Empire with the skills to help these temporarily sober souls to my home. Let us seize this opportunity to save these tormented ghosts...

Friar John of the Mourn, Autumn Equinox 384YE, Upheld (Upheld 1640-0)

The morning also

  • A memorial orchard would replace the haunted quality of Greensward with the Memorial quality
  • The orchard would require 20 wains of weirwood, 10 wains of white granite, and 60 crowns. It would take three months to complete.

Friar John of the Marches, the current Friar of Honour's Rest, was apparently forewarned of the Saker plan. They asked the General Assembly for aid in laying to rest the remaining ghosts around the ruins of Overton. Their statement of principle did not achieve a greater majority, but at least a few priests from other parts of the Empire made their way to Overton to help with the ghosts there. In line with the earlier mandate of the Marcher Assembly, the intent is to help lay the ghosts to rest rather than simply exorcise them. They also receive a little advice from the local Mournwold thralls - while they are not Jotun themselves they understand some of their beliefs and their support helps with approaches to the dead orc warriors.

Made calmer by the enchantment, some can be laid to rest by fulfilling the unfinished business that keeps them in the world. A message delivered to a parent; an apology accepted on behalf of another; the singing of a final battle song; the learning of a name that was feared forgotten. Most of the remaining phantoms of the Greensward dead resist such easy solutions to their plight however. Yet the point of the ritual enchantment is that it creates understanding between living and dead. It helps to provide that wisdom which is the resonance of Winter.

What the majority of the earthbound spirits - human and orc alike - seem to want is to be remembered. To have their sacrifice marked out. To be reassured that their deaths were not meaningless; that they died for something. The Jotun fear the oblivion of the Howling Abyss if they let go of their grasp on the mortal world; they want to be honoured. Their Imperial counterparts seem to be afraid of a hollow eternity in the Labyrinth if they are forgotten; they want to be remembered. The ghosts won't move on, but they might be persuaded to rest - to retreat to their graves and sleep.

Orchard of the Watch
Commission Type: Folly
Location: Mournwold, Greensward, Orchard's Watch
Cost: 20 weirwood, 10 white granite, 60 crowns, three months
Effect:Changes the Haunted quality to Memorial quality as long as it is left undisturbed

The best solution the priests come up with is an orchard - this is the Marches after all. Fruit trees planted around the ruins of Orchard's Watch, and across the barrow mounds the Jotun raised. The Friar of Honour's Watch would tend the orchards, ensuring that none of the trees are ever cut down; ensuring nobody forgets the price paid by the warriors. The ruins of Overton and Orchard's Watch would be left untouched, a place for the living to come and remember the terrible battles that raged here.

The Orchard of the Watch is a folly which will require 20 wains of weirwood, 10 wains of white granite, and 60 crowns to establish. It will take three months to complete. Once it is established, it will replace the haunted quality of Greensward with the memorial quality - as long as the trees stand the angry ghosts still left on the Greensward will not trouble the living. If the memorial were ever destroyed, however, then not only would the ghosts rise from their graves once again, there is every chance they would be absolutely furious. Their wrath would likely fall on whoever destroyed the orchard and there's no easy way to predict what form it would take.

There is no time limit on this opportunity; as long as nothing significant changes about the ghosts on the Greensward it remains available.


  • Anyone who spends time in the Mournwold this season may have encountered a ghost

Anyone who has spent time in the Mournwold this season is free to roleplay an encounter with a ghost. The enchantment of the Saker doesn't conjure ghosts in the manner of Whispers through the Black Gate however; rather it rouses ghosts, phantoms, and spectres that already exist and encourages them to communicate with the living. Likewise, the living gain subtle insight into how to communicate with ghosts, and the ability to detect them more easily. Most of these encounters are likely to take forms familiar from traditional ghost stories, especially those involving unfinished business. Someone wronged in life cannot rest until they receive literal or symbolic justice, for example. A ghost might want a final message delivered, or reassurance of some kind. There are a handful of more violent ghosts in the Mournwold, but they are much rarer. It's fine to make up a story about an encounter with this kind of creature, but they are more likely to have needed exorcism than resolution of their unfinished business.

If you're a priest with the exorcism skill, then it's fine to roleplay you spent time in the Mournwold this season helping to lay spirits to rest. You might also have been involved in the attempt to deal with the ghosts of the Greensward alongside the Marcher friars.

Further Reading

  • Home from the wars - Wind of Fortune detailing the original problem with the Mournwold ghosts