Tales from the Grinning Skull

The Grinning Skull, often known simply as the Grin, is certainly the liveliest place in Kheol. It is a large, well maintained tavern of a somewhat higher class, in that it is decorated in something other than the somber grays that dominate the city and serves a decent variety of wine and other spirits. Those interested can find companionship there as well, but the Grin serves no food and offers no beds, as ordered by its veiled fairy owner, known as The Desert Shies. It is quite popular with visitors and new residents, who haven’t yet succumbed to the generally muted nature of social life in Kheol. It is also favored by many adventurers, who go there to pick up rumors and jobs as often as they do for a drink.

The most recent buzz is that a great enchantress calling herself the Queen Mother has vowed to “conquer death” and to that end went off into the Underworld by herself. That was nearly a month ago, and now a young woman has shown up at the Grin claiming to have been brought back to life by the enchantress.

Some phrenes workers who make their coin harvesting ghost lotus have reported hearing the sound of a trumpet resounding through the Underworld. The blast of the trumpet is always followed by a “stampede” of shades through the area they are working.

What appears to be a tangled briar patch has appeared outside of town, visible only out of the corner of one’s eye and guarded by scarecrows which brook no intrusion.

The Smith, the greatest in all of Kheol, has vowed that she will craft no more weapons of spiritum until someone finds her missing forge. How an entire forge could have gone missing is a source of much confusion, especially as she continues to work in her smithy and make items of traditional metals.

A band of wights have taken up residence in Necropolis, which is making the mortals there nervous, but the wights seem to be more worried about whatever it is that drove them out of their normal home in some caves outside the city.

The newest bartender at the Grin is the ghost of a cyclops who only appears to be the height of a human. He is very good at his job, but very mysterious, and some of the regulars have a growing pool of money bet on just what his story is.

A dark elf trader has come to the market to offer a wide variety of precious stones and jewels at very low prices. Some whisper that the gems are fake, while others that they are cursed. The dark elf laughs at all the stories and sells the gems anyway.

Travellers have reported seeing an actual unicorn in the Underworld, galloping around and frolicking in the shallows of the river. Such a creature is unheard of in the area, and Sanguineous Tehom has offered a reward for any verifiable information on the creature’s motives.


Artwork: “William Wilson” by Byam Shaw, from Selected Tales of Mystery by Edgar Allan Poe, 1909.

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