- "Too dry to talk. Been working."
- —Pal Koster, Gravedigger[1a]
Pal Koster is a stocky, surly man in his forties or fifties. He dresses in scuffed and filthy working clothes, his face and hands are dark with ingrained dirt, and his breath always smells of whisky. If he were a little more outgoing, he'd look like the kind of man that parents warn their children about.[1a]
Koster spends more-or-less equal amounts of his waking hours slumped in his cottage in a drunken stupor and wandering about the graveyard with a shovel, doing very little. He will dig a grave when called upon to do so, and from time to time he will even cut down the rank growth of vegetation around a particular grave if requested to do so by the next-of-kin - given a little liquid persuasion. His naturally gloomy and introverted nature has been enhanced by thirty years of living and working in the graveyard. There have been a couple of encounters with smugglers, grave-robbers and other, more terrifying things, and Koster has ended up sullen and withdrawn, with only bottles as his friends.[1a]
As the sexton, grave-digger and ground-keeper for Deedesveld, Koster is a member of the Mourners' Guild and has received themandatory initiation into the cult of Morr. He was an inattentive student, though, and has never had any reason or occasion to use the things he learned during his cult training, resulting in half the usual competence in the requisite skills.[1a]
Koster has never left the confines of the graveyard in living memory. A local innkeeper cooks food and takes it to him every day, along with the occasional bottle. The only person who has dealings with Koster on a regular basis is Anders Vesalion. Rumours links Koster with a range of the city's more unsavoury characters, from grave-robbers to Adalbert Henschmann. Others refuse to believe it: after all, if anything untoward is going on in Deedesveld, Koster would probably be the last to realize.[1a]