44. Investigating the Death of Gullrond

         We begin the night of the wedding of Kjartan and Thjohild, perhaps an hour after the end of the feast when Gullrond died. Silksif has gone with the body to outside of Vigfus' hall at Groenholt, where she sat alone with the body in the night. There she went into a trance to speak with Gullrond's spirit and guide her to her resting place. Returning to the physical world, she had inspected the body and found traces of the poison foxglove -- cunningly mixed with other herbs to disguise it. Silksif had for a moment suspected Marie Delort of being responsible, but considering it carefully she realizes that it cannot be.

         Returning from her vigil by the body, Silksif quietly contacts Skallagrim, Poul, Melnir, Thorgerd, and Arnor. Taking them outside, she explains that Gullrond has been murdered by poison. They express interest, and discuss who the suspects would be. Poul immediately suggests Marie Delort as a suspect, but Silksif rules out Marie based on her insight. Poul is skeptical of Silksif's assurances, but gives token acceptance.[1] Silksif dismisses this as paranoia. Skallagrim suggests that the poison could have been mixed anywhere or bought from someone, and that they should really look at who had motive to kill her. Silksif at first suspects her husband Hring, since she knows that they had been estranged. However, Hring would be able to legally divorce Gullrond. Since her dowry was in Hvalrik, it is uncertain what a Commonwealth court would decide on their division of property. Further, he would be able to poison her at his home, away from prying eyes. Further, they note that since she has no blood relations in the Commonwealth, it is up to Hring to avenge her murder.

         With this in mind, Silksif returns to the longhouse and brings Hring outside to talk alone. She explains that Gullrond was poisoned, but that she doesn't know who killed her or why. She also skims over the cutting accusations of Gullrond's ghost, unsurprisingly. In Silksif's view, Hring seems genuinely surprised by this -- though perhaps not deeply grieved. He tells her that he wants to search for evidence, but only discretely. He explains that unless he can find who did it, he would not want to tarnish the reputation of Vigfus who was host of the feast.

         He asks for help in the search, knowing nothing of poisons or evidence. He also inquires whether anyone else knows of this. Silksif admits that she has confidants, but does not name them. He asks that they help search, but keep quiet unless they have firm suspicions. That night they search the longhouse, but find nothing.[2]

         The next day, the wedding celebration continues somewhat muted by Gullrond's death. Hring, Silksif, and her confidants search again for anything suspicious. A short walk outside of the longhouse, Thorgerd finds a small bag filled with wampum hidden in the hollow of a tree. She brings it back to discuss, and Skallagrim (?) recognizes it as being from the area of the Narragansetts. It is a significant cache, worth maybe an average sword -- but unlikely to be enough for an assassination payment. Skallagrim again discusses motive. After complaining about his father-in-law Vigfus, Skallagrim remarks that Vigfus actually would have motive -- since if Hring were single he could marry one of his grand-daughters to him. After brief conference, they agree to leave the wampum in its hiding place, and Skallagrim sets his carl Matunaaga to watch for anyone going to collect it.

         Meanwhile, festivities continue as various games and contests go on. Vagnhild meets with Atli and has an awkward conversation. She says only non-commital comments. Shortly thereafter, Atli meets Bjarni again. He says that he has heard that Bjarni was looking to have a marriage arranged, and demanded to know Bjarni's intent towards "Vagnhild the Beautiful" (as Atli calls her). They quickly clash further, and agree on a wrestling match to settle it. Meanwhile, Hallgerd sees this and gossips with Vagnhild about the match. While the men prepare for the match, Hallgerd does Vagnhild's hair -- intending that she should look primped for the match, but it comes out looking simply nice.

         At the start of the match, Bjarni grabs Atli twice but fails to get a good hold. Atli then does an excellent grab on Bjarni, but let's him slip just before throwing him. Most are intent on the wrestling, when suddenly Matunaaga comes and interrupts Skallagrim with news that someone took the bag when he went to relieve himself.[3] Skallagrim and others instatntly leave to go search. They have no luck in tracking, so they return and try to see who is missing from the household. With some searching, they discover that a Lagakin thrall is missing -- but by now he has had nearly an hour to leave, and they are not sure where he will go.

         Meanwhile, the wrestling match continues for some time, but Bjarni eventually beats Atli by a slight margin. Hallgerd cunningly praises both Atli and Bjarni, making each think that she favors him and catching his eye with her beauty[4]. Victorious, Bjarni then comes to Vagnhild and demands to know whether she wants him or not[5]. She promptly rejects him with a cutting remark. Bjarni imperiously walks off, with a backward glance at Hallgerd.

         Skallagrim and Melnir send men in to look in the most likely places where the missing thrall might go.

         Meanwhile, from her talks with the spirits, Silksif has inferred a connection between her great-uncle Stein the Cruel and the house of Hvalrik from which Hring and the Earl Thorvald come. Convinced that this is key information, Silksif asks Hring about his relatives -- and whether one of them might be Stein the Cruel. He begins a long story (to be told in the next session).

  1. This was role-played by John, since Bill was not there in the session. We agreed that it would be characteristic of Poul.
  2. The result of failed Search skill rolls by all six of the searching characters.
  3. The result of an "Abrupt Change of Events" card by Jim.
  4. The result of an "First Impressions" card by Liz.
  5. The result of a "Pivotal Decision" card by Jim.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Fri Nov 7 09:56:28 2003