Chasing Death: Chapter 2, Incidents


    The Winking Skeever was nearly empty with the exception of a few either brave enough or foolish enough patrons. And there was a very thin line between courage and idiocy. Some were already so drunk they couldn't even put together a coherent sentence and the rest were slowly getting there. There was this heavy atmosphere in the tavern, almost as if everything was shrouded by a blanket soaked with blood. If the patrons were talking with each other, it was just through whispered words, but otherwise, no one was really inclined to speak. They were just there to drink, to drown themselves in Oblivion, to forget.


    But why?


    She would shake her head, but it was beneath her. She had seen much worse than all the patrons combined, so she wasn't really shaken. All that were in the Winking Skeever had seen strange things, because very recently - as many of patrons said - Solitude was cursed. Haunted.


    At first, there were only minor accidents. Cutlery dropping to the ground without anybody being there to drop it, chairs breaking spontaneously, and everyone laughed back then. But it didn't take long before it got worse. Just the other day a brick from the bridge connecting Castle Dour and the watchtower got loose and fell on some poor soul’s head. Dead right on the spot, what he had previously done to the goat completely forgotten. Then, a butcher fell on his own knife while he was preparing a meal, completely ripping out his throat.


    And it didn't end with that. Torches and lanterns suddenly extinguished themselves, things floated in the air, and glowing figures wandered the basements of Solitude's houses only to disappear when someone went to investigate. Nightshade and Deathbell flowers practically exploded over all of Solitude, choking the vibrant city with their black, scarring leaves and their pungent death’s odor.  


    And she knew it was only the beginning.


    The Goldpact Knight and the Nord mercenary were sitting at the bar and she was close enough to hear their every whispered word.


    “It's just weird. Creepy even,” the Nord mercenary - Belrand he was called - said and she could see how he was resisting the urge to spit.


    “Things like this happen,” the other one, Decimus Merotim, replied, shaking his head. “But never in this magnitude. I'm telling you, Belrand, I've seen lot of weird shit, but a whole city being haunted? Nah, nothing like that.”


    “You dealt with ghosts and such before?”


    “Back in Cyrodiil, yes. I’ve even broken a few curses, so mark my words, this shit smells like the whole city is being cursed. And that’s coming from me, who’s not  superstitious, but a curse of this magnitude would require some serious sorcery.”


    “Gods then?”


    “You're not talking to the right guy about gods, Belrand,” the Goldpact Knight grimaced. “Senile fuckers, if they even exist. You can go and help that priest of Arkay - moron - if you wish, but I'm not interested. I don't have time to blame gods for everything. I just go and get shit done.”


    “Yeah?” the Nord growled. “And how are you going to get this shit done?”


    The Imperial shrugged and spat on the ground. The tavern's owner didn't even bother to reprimand him for that which spoke volumes about the state of the people's minds. “Don't know. I'll start with the basements, I guess, see if I can draw those ghosts out. Maybe it's them all along, vengeful spirits or something. Then? We'll see.”


    “As you wish,” Belrand shook his head. “I'm too tired for this shit. Drunk too. I'm going to call it quits for today. I'll see you tomorrow.”


    “Sleep like shit,” the Imperial responded, taking a sip from his tankard.


    “You too, you bastard.” With that, the Nord got up and went upstairs, to his rented room. And so the Imperial was sitting there alone - well, not completely alone - but she didn't expect he would notice her. Why would he? He seemed so completely lost in his own thoughts and tankard he wouldn't even notice the prettiest girl in the world.


    So when the Nord left, she decided that it was time for her to go to. The tavern's owner raised an eyebrow at her, pointing at the tankard and she nodded, leaving a few coins on the counter and rose. The Goldpact Knight didn’t even notice, so she left him behind and walked towards the door leading to the street.


    As soon as she stepped out, she felt the cold air seeping into the bones of her not so young body anymore. She circled her shoulders and chuckled. Old habits die hard, she thought. She wasn't wearing armor this time, not at this late hour, but she carried two swords with her, because she felt naked without them, as well as a dagger at her waist. Old habits do die hard, just as she thought seconds ago.


    And so she wandered the streets of Solitude and thought about how the name of the city was suddenly fitting now more than ever. The sun had set some time ago and the streets were drowning in the darkness, with only small circles of refuge where the dark was chased away by torches and lanterns. Circles of lights standing like watchers against the night, but they are surrounded by darkness and the day is still very far away, she thought, shaking her head. The day, the dawn. Would it come. Would it shine with his rays of light? She didn't remember the last time she had been so poetic. But the streets… They were empty, with very few souls being brave enough to wander them after dark, so she really felt completely alone.


    Alone in my solitude.


    She walked under the bridge where the brick fell and she looked up, narrowing her eyes into the darkness. She saw the bridge against the faint light of the moons and something in her almost expected another brick would loosen and fall, bringing her death.  But nothing happened, the only sound was the croaking of the ravens in the night. She shrugged and continued, her hand on a sword at her hip.


    The Nightshade flowers were growing at the sides of the pavement and she noticed even Deathbells crawling between the paving blocks, pushing them aside so that the deadly bushes could sprout out. During the day she saw people tearing them out, even the Nightshades, but those flowers were relentless, always growing. As if they were taking over the city.


    She walked past the Hall of the Dead and felt her brow lower in a frown. The Goldpact Knight was right in that regard, the gods couldn't help them. The priest of Arkay was walking the streets with his blessings and smoke, trying to chase away the evil spirits, but both her and the Goldpact Knight knew it wouldn't help. The gods were dead and so they wouldn’t give a damn about mortals - and they wouldn't give a damn if they were ever alive either.


    She slowly neared Proudspire Brothel, feeling a quick fire between her legs as she hoped her needs would be satisfied there. It was difficult to say if it was lust, because the feeling of desperation was strong in the city and maybe she just wanted to escape from that desperation.


    A torch on the wall to her left flickered and she stopped, looking at it with scrutinizing eyes. There was no wind that night and yet the torch's flames danced as if they were in the middle of a hurricane. The air suddenly grew chill and then the fire died with a feeble flare, drowning everything around her in darkness.  


    “The night is getting cold, darling,” a woman's voice sounded from the dark alley to her left and she frowned, her fingers clutching her sword's hilt. A woman walked into the moons' light, in revealing black robes as if she didn't feel cold.  A wolf’s fur cloak hung from her back. The hood of the cape was a wolf’s head, casting long shadows over her pale, creamy skin. “Want me to warm you up?” she then asked, her voice low and sultry.


    “And who are you supposed to be?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.


    The woman smiled, her finger tracing over the smooth skin between her firm breasts which were covered only by thin black cloth. The finger teasingly pulled the cloth aside, revealing a nipple, which was a much darker shade of pink, almost purple, against her pale skin. Just as she exposed herself, it was clear that cold affected her because the nipple was already hard, like a little pebble. “Don't you recognize me?” She purred. “I am Potema, your rightful Wolf Queen.”


    “Potema, eh?” She replied, her lips forming a sneer as she licked them, now really feeling the fire between her legs burning much stronger. “I'm sorry. I didn't recognize you right away.”


    Potema flashed a lustful smile, eyeing her from head to toe. “You are big. And strong. Maybe you could satisfy your rightful queen.”


    “Aren't you afraid of the dark?”


    “Darkness is my friend,” Potema answered and came closer. “Or have you all forgotten that?” Potema then cocked her head towards the alley swallowed by the darkness. “Darkness hides things while,” she whispered and leaned closer, “revealing something else. There is a spot just behind the corner, where no one ever goes after dark. Where no one can see us or hear us. Isn't that what you want?”


    She licked her lips as her muscles shook with excitement. “Yes,” she said with a hoarse throat and swallowed. “Yes,” she repeated, overwhelmed by lust. “Show me the way, Wolf Queen.”


    Potema grabbed her hand and led her through the alley, overwhelmed by the shadows cast by the houses, blocking out the moons' light. She was looking at Potema's long pale legs, toned legs, and pursed her lips. The Wolf Queen was as beautiful as they claimed in the old tales, perhaps even more.  


    They went around the corner and she wondered about the cold and how Potema wasn't affected by it. But who could know?


    The Wolf Queen stopped and turned around, flashing a perfect smile of white teeth. “I hope you'll satisfy me, darling. The cold hopefully won't affect you. Much.” Potema came closer and raised her eyebrows. “Those others at Proudspire like it comfortable, but not me. I like to get dirty once in a while, back on the streets. And I think you will appreciate it, darling.”


    She looked at her hands, big and strong hands, and she smiled back at Potema. “I will.” She grasped Potema's throat with one hand, pushing her against the wall and the Wolf Queen bared her teeth at her in a wolfish grin.


    “Oh, I like it rough,” she murmured seductively. “Yes. Be rough. Don't hold back, honey.”


    She grasped Potema's throat harder as she kissed her, her tongue sneaking into the Wolf Queen's mouth. Potema groaned in pleasure and their bodies pressed against each other in building desire.  


    Wolf Queen then broke their kiss and tried to push herself away. “M-my,” she croaked. “Throat,” she finished. But it didn't matter.


    She kissed Potema again and increased her grip on her throat, clutching and clutching, slowly forcing the Wolf Queen to her knees. The whites of Potema's eyes flashed in the darkness as they were becoming bigger and bigger, the pale skin turning purple. And then she finally broke the kiss only to bury a dagger into Potema's throat, ripping it out and stepping to the side to avoid the spray of blood.


    Potema held her throat in shock and surprise, her other hand reaching towards her killer and then the Wolf Queen dropped on the ground.


    And she felt the fire in her grow stronger and stronger as the smell of blood filled her nostrils. She knelt beside the body and her dagger buried into the body once more. And then again and again.


    What a beautiful night, she thought. May the dawn never come...



    My friend,


    I hope this letter will find you in good health and bla bla bla similar bullshit. You know how I hate these polite bullshit talks, but I also know you, so I can only imagine that big grin on your ugly face. Well, hold your horses, you old fart. This isn't exactly a friendly check on how you are doing.


    You'll receive this letter with a rather thick stack of papers and to be honest, I don't really know if you'll check this letter first or all those other papers.  The “stack” includes a letter from the Jarl of Solitude there, explaining everything in the usual polite way along with various reports of incidents full of details. Just how you like it. Incidents? Well, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Seriously, I hate writing, my thoughts are all over the place. I'm a mason's son for fuck's sake and I kill for living. I’m not some damn scribe, I don’t go writing poetry and fancy things like you do. Still remember you forcing that shit into my head while Pelaex watched, a big ass smile on his face. I hated every moment of it. Well, I was young then. Stupid. Both of you put up with a lot of shit from me.


    Getting off track, sorry. Don't feel like trying to write this letter several times, so you'll get this raw shit and I know you'll love every word of it. Probably go back and fix all the grammar too, because you always do that shit, you old billy goat. Alright, so incidents.


    I'll say it right at the beginning: I've seen lot of weird shit and you know I don't get scared easily, but I have to change my underpants every night here 'cause I'm scared shitless. It's like the whole city is cursed or something. I know I'm being fucking cryptic, but bear with me, alright?


    Me and Belrand were hired to investigate this cave near Dragon Bridge, Wolfskull Cave it's called by the locals. Falk Firebeard hired us because he sent a group of Solitude's guards there after few complaints of strange lights and travellers disappearing. By now, you can guess where this is heading, right? Those guards disappeared too.


    So me and Belrand - one tough ass merc and a very solid spellsword, but never tell him I said that - got hired and went there looking for the guards. We ran into necromancers and draugr, but what was weird was that they were on the same side which isn't something you see every day. Well, maybe you do, but not us, mere mortals and all that. So we cut through them and arrived in a massive cave that had a fort built inside it. An Imperial fort built inside a mountain! How fucked up is that? Well, just getting to the best part. Those shitheads were trying to summon Potema. Yes, the one and only, the Wolf Queen. And she really did reply and seriously, that was creepy as fuck. But they weren't some cult worshipping her or something, no. They were trying to bind her, fucking morons. It didn't end up well. For them.


    Me and Belrand got out, along with one Nord guard. Quite a pretty lass, very grateful to her savior in shining armor, if you catch my meaning. We interrupted the ritual and these purple or blue, I don’t know, glowing...rivers of lights flew out through a hole in the ceiling. Did I mention those lights? Hmm, no. So yeah, rivers of lights all over the cave and then it flew out, I guess it was Potema.


    We got back to Solitude, collected our payment, and I was slowly getting ready to head out again. And then weird shit started happening. Really suspicious incidents, people dying. Then things got  very really creepy - I need another fucking word for creepy - and basements became meeting halls for ghosts and wraiths, things in Solitude just began flying around - which is quite strange, but just wait until you see a swarm of knives flying towards you - and Nightshades and Deathbells began growing all over the city. Then the murders hit. Solitude's...courtesans were found dead, bodies mutilated, covered with runes carved into their flesh. The Nord guard, yeah, her to. I couldn’t save her. And then a massacre in the temple of Divines...


    So yeah, you'll find all the details in the papers from Jarl - if you can even consider what those Nords wrote details.


    Alright. This is way above me, you know that, so that's why I'm writing you and why I recommended you to Solitude's court. We need your expertise here. I fucking need your expertise here. I could have pull a runner right at the start, but I feel like this is all kind of my fault, you know?


    Before you head out - I hope you will - I have to warn you that Solitude is crawling with Thalmor bitches. Legion is strong here, so is Thalmor. So, make all the appropriate preparations. (I look forward to seeing what shit you come up with. Last time was funny as fuck.). I also may have mentioned your special skin condition and that you were sensitive about being made fun as a child, but you’re a Nord through and through. Hail Talos and all that shit. Though not in Solitude, fuck, so no Talos. See, I’m rambling again. Like I said, way above me.


    And do me a favor, yeah? Pull that Auri-golden-El out of your fat white arse and bring him along. Sounds really strange coming from a Goldpact Knight, but we might need that fucker after all. Only don’t say you’re bringing him along, because well, that may tip off the Thalmor. Alright, no more writing.


    Your eternally handsome,


    Decimus Merotim


    Dear Rovaniik the Albino, noble Squire of the Goldpact Order,


    I, Jarl Elisef the Fair, am writing you to implore that you, with great haste, make the journey to your capital of Solitude. If you are the Son of Skyrim that Decimus Merotim of the Goldpact Order claims that you are, I am confident that you will heed the distress of your provinces’ beloved capital and the distress of your true Queen.


    Solitude is in great peril. Events beyond my ability to describe have been plaguing the city since Sir Merotim and Belrand the Sorcerer cleared the vile evil residing in Wolfskull Cave. Objects moving, ghosts appearing, and, most importantly,  my people are dying in ways that I cannot describe, as I am a lady of refinement. Every day, our dutiful guards clear the city of the choking weeds of Deathbell and Nightshade that clog our once-beautiful gardens, only for the plants to return at the coming of the next day. Darkness hangs over my city overlooking the sea like a mantle of death.


    If Sir Merotim feels, however, that we would benefit greatly from your expertise, despite that you are only a humble squire, I believe him and I know that you will, as a member of the Goldpact Order, honor the pact your leader has made with the City of Solitude to see these dastardly deeds put to rest. Please study the official reports of the crimes committed enclosed with my letter. My court was most thorough in their preparation. The entire city wishes for your success. In fact, one of our wealthiest citizens, Madame Seif-ij, an esteemed business woman and patroness of the Bards College, has agreed to serve as your sponsor and host, opening her home, Proudspire Manor, so that you may enjoy a certain comfort while you conduct your investigation with Sir Merotim. She has been hit particularly hard, as several of the victims were close associates of hers and is eager to see these terrible crimes resolved.


    I, as your Jarl, will welcome you into the city, offer the city’s great resources to your disposal, and look forward to your arrival. Please, Squire Rovaniik, in this hour of Solitude’s great need, I ask that you come. If not for me, your Jarl, come for your fellow Nords  who are suffering. Hear their bereaved cries that I convey in my letter. Know that Solitude will weep until you answer the call to service. Join the ranks of brave men and women whom I call ‘saviors of Solitude’.  


    Your Jarl, your Queen,


    Elisef the Fair, widow of Torygg, High King of Skyrim.



    A recording of incidents surrounding the hauntings of Solitude, compiled by Captain Aldis, captain of the Imperial Legion, Solitude, Skyrim. Prepared at the request of Falk Firebeard, Steward of Jarl Elisef, and Court Mage, Sybille Stentor.


    A warning to whomever reads this.  


    I am no writer, so please forgive my lack of eloquence and my many errors. I file reports. They simply need to say what happened concisely and that is it, not be great works of the Edda. Tenses always were a problem for me in my schooling years and I frequently get them mixed up. But enough of that. Strange happenings are afoot. At first, we thought them minor, little things typical in a city as large as Solitude. But things then, changed. Look, I am a soldier of the Imperial Legion and have seen many things in my days, but I’m also a gods-fearing man. We are cursed and Mage Stentor can get on me for feeling that way, but I can’t help but know it deep in my bones.  


    15th of Rain’s Hand, late evening -  Edit: Forgive the scratching and writing on the margins. Well, not really an incident, but I thought I would include this as well, seeing what one could garner from the information. They said to be thorough and put into this report whatever I thought unusual.


    Return of Guard Kirsta to Castle Dour. She was brought back by the Goldpact Knight, Decimus Merotim, and old Belrand after they cleared Wolfskull Cave. Unfortunately, her comrades, Sigyrr and Borfree did not survive. Families were contacted and compensation arranged for Borfree’s widow and two sons. Sigyrr did not have family.  Kirsta has been sent to Styrr for the treatment of her wounds. She did not speak the entire time and the big Goldpact Knight had to physically carry her there as she was too traumatized to let him leave her. Never have I seen knuckles so white in my life, she was clinging to him so tightly.


    16th of Rain’s Hand, early morning - Endarie of Radiant Raiment visited Castle Dour claiming that a hawk slammed into the window of her clothing establishment, waking her and her sister just before sunrise. I sent a guard over to investigate and sure enough a hawk was found wedged between the shards of broken glass and the twisted metal of the paning, its head nearly torn off from the impact. Blood and glass everywhere and two very angry Altmer sisters. Poor beast must have lost its way in the dense fog of the late night/early morning, but I can’t imagine one ever striking a window in all my days in Solitude.  Endarie was made to file a report and the paperwork to replace the window was sent to Beirand the smith. I reassured her that no, Nords were not targeting her establishment. She mentioned taking up the matter with Justiciar Coredalf at the Thalmor Headquarters.  


    16th of Rain’s Hand, mid-morning - While observing the new recruits train their archery, three children, going by the names Svari, Minette, and a Redguard boy, Kayd, start making a ruckus in the courtyard, disturbing the training soldiers. When I headed over to inform them of their disruption, they pointed to a deathbell plant growing just past the entrance to the courtyard leading to the temple of the Divines. I sent them off, back to their play, but I also notice a temple acolyte eyeing the plant suspiciously. Deathbell is not typically found found in Solitude unless you count the samples at Angeline’s Aromatics and Mage Stentor’s study.


    16th of Rain’s hand, late afternoon - Follow up report: Sent a guard to Angeline’s and spoke to Morrard, inquiring about the deathbell. She showed me where she keeps her deathbell and it’s definitely locked up. Probably somebody brought in seeds from Morthal and they germinated, she explained. Acolyte pulled the plant from temple grounds.


    16th of Rain’s hand, late afternoon, after visit to Angeline’s - Meeting with Justiciar Coredalf at Castle Dour in response to Endarie’s inquiry at the Thalmor Headquarters. He demanded that we allow another Thalmor patrol into the city to watch for Talos worship as they were concerned that the “hawk” symbolism was a representation of Kyne and of the possibility that this was no accident, mentioning a whole lot of nonsense about the implied return of the old Nord practice of Totemism that left me scratching my head. We mentioned that we are already staffed to capacity and he pointed out the Solitude Quartering Act of 176 and that his Mer had the right to be unimpeded in their enforcement of the White Gold Concordat. He also asked for additional guard presence near Radiant Raiment and mentioned  writing a letter to the Embassy if we did not comply.  General Tullius and my hands are tied and we allowed the Justiciar to make the arrangements. Must ask Stentor what Totemism is.


    16th of Rain’s Hand, evening, just after sunset - Received a complaint from Corpulus Vinius, owner of the Winking Skeever. A brawl was in progress and I sent two guards to bring the matter to peace. It involved Noster Eagle-Eye and Jawanan the Fletcher, a Redguard. Eagle-Eye claimed that Jawanan threw a punch at him, whereas Jawanan maintained that he was nowhere near the old Nord when the Nord just “up and swung at him”.  Guards interviewed the bard, Lisette, and the other patrons at the Winking Skeever, who maintain that Jawanan did not hit Noster first. Upon smelling the mead in Noster’s breath, guards threw Noster in the dungeon for a night to clear his head, though the old codger spent the whole night yelling bloody fury that he was innocent. Curious enough, the next day, Noster sports a bruise on his eye, just where he says the Redguard hit him. Sent a guard to speak with Jawanan again, but he and witnesses state he never hit Noster in the eye.


    17th of Rain’s Hand, early morning - Woken up by Kirsta, nice to see that she is back on duty and with a certain spring to her step I may add, explaining that Erikur’s mage, Melaran, is here to report that Gisli’s prize Dragon Tongue plants, for which she won first prize at the Solitude First Seed Fair, have been uprooted violently and replanted with Deathbell and Nightshade. I suspect a prank by the local children as Thane Erikur has a somewhat tainted reputation in the city. The children are questioned, but they deny any wrongdoing and I am left to deal with their angry parents for the rest of the morning.


    17th of Rain’s Hand, evening  - Guards monitoring the area around the temple noticed the deathbell plant return, though I myself saw the acolyte remove the plant yesterday. Plant is removed as it is inappropriate for such things to grow in temple grounds.


    17th of Rain’s Hand, nightfall  - Another fight, this time at the market square. Fortunately the Goldpact Knight broke it up, but this time a knife was found imbedded at Jala’s stall and Ahtar became angry, demanding who the knife belonged to. When no one answered, threats were made. Ahtar is a good man, only defending Jala, whom I suspect he is involved with. Having him spend the night in the dungeon was not my intention, but no one claimed to own the knife, many of the citizens present even said it appeared out of thin air and I had to maintain the peace. I say, somebody’s been spiking Evette San’s spiced wine and I will release Ahtar tomorrow with no salary loss. (If I had only known.)


    17th of Rain’s Hand, soon after brawl at the market square - Corpulus comes running angrily from the Winking Skeever to the Market Square. He had been one of the witnesses to the attack on Jala and had returned. He said that the chairs at the inn were “funny”, his stock of liquor was smashed and that out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone walk - how do I put this - through a wall. Seems we have some practical jokers in Solitude (Or so I thought at the time). Chairs were indeed all over the place at the Winking Skeever, upside down and stacked in odd formations upon tables, defying, it seemed, the rules of how things should go. I assigned guards to help Corpulus tidy up. Just in case other establishments are being targeted, I headed over to Proudspire Manor, to check on Madame Seif-ij. Decimus Merotim joined me on my investigation.  Nothing suspicious was found.


    18th of Rain’s Hand, morning - Completed investigation of Proudspire Manor and returned to Castle Dour in the morning.  Promised Madame Seif-ij that I would follow up on my investigation personally if she noticed anything unusual. Released Ahtar from his cell and he resumed his duties without complaint.  Noticed several new Nightshade plants blooming near Temple grounds. They only ever grow near the hall of the Dead.


    18th of Rain’s Hand, mid-morning - Gods, where do I start? From the stationed guards, I learned that people have gathered at the streets to see Noster Eagle-Eye wandering naked, raving about how Jawanan hit him. Guards are assigned to give the poor fool another night at the dungeon to clear his head, but the old Nord runs from the guards, only to stop in the middle of the market square, where he then proceeds to piss and defecate in public. Alarmed, my men call for me and I arrive in time to see the Nord rub himself in his filth and wander the streets of Solitude spitting and hissing over and over again that the “pig is coming”, “watch for the pig”. Foaming spittle is streaming from his mouth and Styrr is called, as we suspect that old Eagle-Eye is in the throes of some sort of fit.


    He grabs a goat and I ask several guards to tend to some fainting women. Mothers quickly cover their children’s eyes and more guards shoo the children away.  The goat is shrieking in agony and we attempt to apprehend Noster, but we don’t want to hurt the poor man as he is clearly not well. Who does that to a goat? Angeline Morrard, a good woman with a strong stomach, fetches me a blanket from her nearby shop and I try to wrap the Nord in it, but he backs away from me, against the wall leading to the pathway towards Beirand and Fihada’s businesses, just under the stone edge. He lets out a terrible scream and then a stone just falls on his head, crushing his skull into his neck. Children scream and cry at the horror and we rush to cover the scene with our bodies while other guards try to calm the witnesses down. Merotim arrives with Belrand from the Winking Skeever asking what happened. When we approach the dead Nord, we see deathbell and nightshade suddenly burst from his body, scattering blood and flesh everywhere. His body is full of it. So full of it. And then the goat exploded, filled with the same thing. Guards are assigned to clean up duty.


    As we were trying to clean up the mess that was old Noster and the goat, another guard charges through from the direction of Castle Dour and my heart nearly stops. The General! My knees nearly went weak when I found out it wasn’t General Tullius, but one of the cooks. Not Gianna, I am quickly told, but rather the butcher, Longstig. Apparently, he stabbed himself with his own cooking knives as he was preparing the afternoon meal. Cut his own throat out. I went with the guard to Castle Dour. The Goldpact Knight remained behind with another group of guards to help keep the peace. I can only imagine what he will charge the city for his services, but he has been indispensable these past few days. Good old Legion stock, I can tell these things.


    18th of Rain’s Hand, early Evening - The Thalmor patrol from the Embassy has arrived while we were still cleaning up the events from the morning. I accompanied them to Castle Dour where I sent them to their assigned quarters in accordance to the Quartering Act for Solitude.  Members of the patrol are assigned to Addvar’s House, Jala’s house, and the patrol’s Justiciar is made welcome at Thane Erikur’s home.


    The ungodly activity continued into the night. Screams, chains rattling, knives hurling at people without anyone throwing them. Numerous terrified citizens reported apparitions and wraiths appearing in their basements and always, always the smell of deathbell and nightshade was in the air. The guards were mobilized and Styrr walked the city late into the night, incense burning, praying to Akray. Many flock to the temple and I am going too when I am done for the evening. So much paperwork.  May the Divines protect us.


    19th of Rain’s Hand, afternoon -  Interment of what is left of Noster Eagle-Eye and Longstig the Butcher at the Hall of the Dead. No other incidents after the chaos of the 18th. Thank the Divines! Have to oil my ceremonial armor for tonight. Styrr is being made a ‘Savior of Solitude’ for his great efforts. The air is fresh with the pleasant perfumes of dragon’s tongue and lavender.


    20th of Rain’s Hand - No incidents. Perhaps the curious happenings that have puzzled Solitude’s residents disappeared with the death of Eagle-Eye. Had dinner with Styrr this evening and the priest theorized that perhaps Eagle-Eye had angered the gods somehow. Could be true. Several of the incidents had him as a focal point.  He was an angry drunk. Angry people do strange things.


    21st of Rain’s Hand -  Murder. A courtesan from Proudspire Manor was found in an alley, brutally mutilated. Nord, given name Agaala. See the enclosed report by Court Mage, Sybille Stentor. Cooperated fully with Mage Stentor and sent my best to aid in her investigation of the body. Detained Shaki Druken-fur for questioning, but Mage Stentor insists that he is not responsible. Body interred at the Hall of the Dead. Bless Styrr for his tireless work to make the poor creature look at least presentable. She was a legend in Solitude, Potema, the Wolf Queen was who she was well-known for impersonating at Proudspire, one of their most popular courtesans. I hear the city folk’s whispers. “the Solitude Ripper”,  is what they are calling the bastard. Visited Madame Seif-ij that night at Proudspire to make sure she was alright.


    22nd of Rain’s Hand -  In response to the murder, Styrr and the High Priest Rorlund make another set of cleansing rounds, burning incense and praying. I was instructed by Falk Firebeard to provide whatever assistance within reason, so today my guards and I actively rooted out and destroyed every deathbell and nightshade plant seen in the city, including samples kept by Angeline Morrard and Mage Stentor. They complied with the request without issue. High Priest Rorlund said that it was to guard against evil, though Mage Stentor thought it a waste of time and Styrr seemed unsure of the decision. As per High Priest Rorlund’s instructions, we later burned the plants. Guards are assigned to assist the High Priest with the large crowds flocking the temple.


    23rd of Rain’s Hand -  A second murder. Imperial, given name, Flaria Angunceia. Another courtesan from Proudspire Manor, also mutilated, but with her head decapitated and the marks on her body in unspeakable places. Who does that to a woman? This courtesan was known for her portrayal of the Empress Kintyra II. See the complete report from Mage Stentor. The body was discovered by Guardsman Kirsta and I’ve asked that she be observed based on her prior ordeal at Wolfskull. She has been confined to the barracks. The body was stored in the Hall of the Dead, but while the body was being stored, guards claimed to hear terrible shrieks coming from the catacombs. At the behest of Mage Stentor, I spoke with Madame Seif-ij at Proudspire to warn her about continuing her establishment’s activities. She slammed her tail down and informed me that she would not let these murders intimidate her into ceasing to provide for the citizens of Solitude. She was receptive, however, to barring her courtesans from traveling at night.


    24th of Rain’s Hand -  I am woken up early by my guards with the report that the city is again smothered with deathbell and nightshade and the city beset by strange sounds and flying objects. Thankfully, only minor injuries, but we spend much of the day tending to frightened cityfolk and trying to keep the peace.  In the evening, the court is assembled and it is voted that High Priest Rorlund replace Styrr as the authority to deal with the spiritual matter plaguing Solitude. I feel bad for Styrr, but  he accepted the decision with grace, returning to the Hall of the Dead with the offer to help if he is needed again. High Priest Rorlund’s plans to deal with this menace were met with great enthusiasm and he encouraged the court to set examples to the cityfolk by attending temple; saying that “by only through a strong belief in the Divines and their Temple, can we overcome this evil”. Styrr was only a caretaker to the Hall of the Dead, a humble priest of Arkay. Rorlund is a High Priest of the Divines. Surely, eight divines can overcome what one could not. I saw Madame Seif-ij at the temple for the first time and I can tell this is affecting her.


    25th of Rain’s Hand -  We begin High Priest Rorlund’s plan to defeat the dark forces oppressing our city. We pull the bloody weeds, all of them, and the job lasts much of the day. Surprisingly, we were also joined by the Thalmor patrols at the request of Justiciar Coredalf who was responding to the concerns of an Altmer noble visiting court from Alinor on his way to the Embassy. I admit, their help was welcomed. Checked on Kirsta, she is doing well, eager to leave the barracks and continue her duties.  I see no harm in letting her out. Mage Stentor be damned, I need more guards on the streets! Once we clear the weeds, High Priest Rorlund, his wife, the priestess Freir, and their acolyte, Silana, patrol the streets with incense and perform cleansing rites. The High Priest is extremely confident of his success and only asks that the city show their support by donating to the Temple.


    26th of Rain’s Hand -  Praise to the Divines! It is nice, for once, to wake up to the rising sun and not a guard staring at me with something to say. No incidents, I am happy to report and many head to the temple to offer thanks to High Priest Rorlund for his efforts.


    27th of Rain’s Hand -  No incidents. Nice to see Kirsta looking so happy. She, apparently, has been secretly meeting with the Goldpact Knight. I overlook it, he did rescue her.


    28th of Rain’s Hand -  No incidents. Attended festivities in honor of High Priest Rorlund, who was also made a “Savior of Solitude.” as were Belrand and the Goldpact Knight  The High priest responded with a sermon that emphasized devotion to temple services and causes, fueled by the financial support of its patrons. That all of this can overcome great evil. Happened to bump into Styrr during service and we later shared a meal. Good man, expressed great relief that High Priest Rorlund was able to cleanse the city and we joked at the Goldpact Knight’s clear discomfort with the whole affair, especially. Didn’t seem the type for all that ceremony and talk of the Divines, though I think old Belrand rather enjoys being a local hero now. As usual, we unappreciated guards look on and smile, knowing full-well who does the real work. Saw Borfree’s widow and gave her her first payment. The twins look good.   


    29th of Rain’s Hand -  Forgive me, if this report is written with a trembling hand and is hard to read, but I needed several bottles of ale to even find the stomach to put it to paper.  It’s different when it’s personal. Woke up to the smell and my heart sank. Deathbell and Nightshade, again. I quickly dress with this feeling in my belly, you know? That feeling where you feel like the world is going to end. I see the look on one of my guard’s face, and I know as he leads me to the market square without even a word, passing streets now clogged with the weeds.


    It was Kirsta. Dead and yet somehow still moving. Shuffling naked along the streets near the market square just as they were trying to set up for the day. A stab wound to the heart and carvings on her face. Stentor later said they spelled “whore”. Kirsta was no whore. We ended her suffering quickly by severing her head and I removed my own cloak to cover her up. That is no way for a Nord to die, no way. May Sovngarde find you, lass.


    Me, the Goldpact Knight, and several guards then head to the Temple to discuss the matter with High Priest Rorlund. I open the door and we are flooded by the stench of blood, rotten flesh, and excrement. And we see… We just closed the doors to the Temple and immediately call for Styrr. Please refer to his report.   


    30th of Rain’s Hand -  We no longer try to pull the weeds. You pull one, two just grow in its place. The Solitude court assembles amidst continued incidents and I attend to provide support in case anything happens during the meeting. Only a few chairs flew, only a few screams, but otherwise, we were able to proceed without impediment. The Temple is to remain sealed shut until further notice. Styrr won’t talk much about what he saw there, but this is a man who tends to the dead on a regular basis, if he’s not talking, then I don’t want to know.  The Court also voted to impose a nightly curfew on the residents of Solitude for their safety.  To be enforced by both the Solitude guards and the Thalmor. All public events have been canceled.  It was encouraged, for the safety of her associates, that Proudspire Manor be shut down, but Madame Seif-ij, who attended the meeting, stubbornly refused, saying that “this one backs down to no darkness” with a slam of her tail. She is certainly made of strong stuff. She agrees, however, to adhere to the curfew. Finally, the court votes to listen to the Goldpact Knight’s suggestion and send for a squire of the Golpact Order known as Rovaniik the Albino. He says that the squire can help. Why a squire? What can a mere squire do that priests and knights could not? I trust the Goldpact Knight, but I am worried. I hear the Thalmor agents talking as we both patrol the streets, their eyes on the city, their eyes on Jarl Elisef. They are speaking of curses, that men are being punished for their belief of Talos. Are they right? Gods preserve us. I don’t want to think that they maybe are.


    Here, I, Captain Aldis of the Imperial Legion, stationed at Castle Dour, Solitude, Skyrim, end this report with a heavy heart and spirit. It is my hope that you will find use in it. Gods, guide you.



    An account of the massacre at the Temple of the Divines, Solitude Skyrim, written by Styrr, humble servant to Arkay.


    My tasks as Priest of Arkay are simple, for Arkay is a simple god, of man, made divine. They are to provide healing magicks and comfort to the living and to provide final rest for the dead. They are tasks that I perform happily through the grace of Arkay. I have seen many dark things in my life, having served during the Great War as a healer before I came to tend Solitude’s Hall of the Dead.


    None of what I’ve seen prepared me for this which I am about to recount to you.


    On the morning of the 29th of Rain’s Hand, I was beset by a strange dream, which I think it wise to recount here, though I only really remember flashing images, suggestions. Arkay appeared before me, in robes of maroon and gold, his face warm and inviting, like he was bathed by the glowing balms of healing. He gave unto me three visions. First, I saw an alkanet blossom, sweet-smelling and pure, ruthlessly plucked of its petals and then trampled in the mud and I hear the words “as it was with the first” repeated over and over again as if spoken through shrieking winds. Is it my lord, Arkay, speaking? The image fades before I can open my lips to speak.  Second, I saw a moth struggling in a glass jar, trying to escape. A hand opens the jar and reaches into it, and I think the moth is to be saved. Only for the hand to impale it upon a mounting plank through its proboscis with a needle in the shape of a sword, like one does when preserving insects for study. But this is normally done through the thorax, no? I watch it twitch before it dies, hearing the word “hypocrite” spoken. Finally, I see a beggar man walking through the streets of Solitude. He asks the people for money, stopping at several people before he stops before me, holding out his hand. As I reach to give him a septim or two, I see roses in his eyes and septims begin to drip from his nostrils and mouth and I hear Arkay speak the word “sinner”. Arkay smiles at me and I feel the warmth of his light about me. Reds and golds, so beautiful, so soothing after the strangeness. Behind him, and beyond him, I see the image of a jagged eight-pronged star of dark grey metal with several small red jewels. Deep red, rubies, the deepest red I’ve ever seen. And I hear a terrible pounding…


    I wake from my dream, falling from my bed, startled by the sound of knocking. The pounding in my dream. It is later than I expected. I usually rise before sun up. I am never up after sunrise.  The rubies can only symbolize Potema. Her jewel.  Arkay is warning me of some impending evil. Eight prongs can only mean the Divines.


    I hasten to my door, not even fully dressed, and open the door to find Captain Aldis and the Goldpact Knight, Decimus Merotim, waiting outside. I am to immediately accompany them to the Temple of the Divines. There is something I need to see. Their grim, pale faces spoke volumes and my heart filled with dread as we walked to the temple, up to our knees in the accursed nightshade and deathbell.


    Guards are stationed at the entrance to the temple and I brace myself as I open the door, already smelling something horrid through the wood. Decay, death. I invoke Arkay to give me strength and I push open the door.


    We are flooded by the stench of blood, feces, and rot, so much so that a guard cannot contain himself and vomits. I find it difficult for my eyes to focus on just one aspect of the scene before me, it is all so horrendous, but my eyes manage to travel first to what is left of High Priest Rorlund and I fall to my knees, unable to look at first. He is hanging dead at the center of the temple by chains attached to his arms, and where his eyes used to be are two bloodied roses. His gut had been emptied, the intestines and stomach below him upon the floor and inside his stomach was filled with septims. More septims were stuffed into the open cavern that was now his mouth. Carved upon his bare back and buttocks were Daedric runes and I turn away from such blasphemy. To desecrate the body of a priest in such a way! But the roses, the roses and septims were from my dream!


    Our attention was then turned to the empty alcove where the Shrine to Talos used to be. Only it was no longer empty. Impaled upon the alcove through the mouth with a sword was Priestess Freir, also with runes carved into her chest and arms. Her arms were extended and dislocated from their sockets and her legs bent unnaturally upwards towards her hands. The grotesque image, to me, resembled the outstretched wings of a moth. She was pinned in place with more swords. I hear a curse from the Goldpact Knight, hear his spit strike the floor.


    We both jump at Captain Aldis’ cry and we coming running towards him, only to stop dead in our tracks when we see poor Acolyte Salina. Her raped and beaten body was intertwined with the shrine of my beloved Arkay in a most profane manner, her legs were wrapped around shrine as if in the act of fornication with the shrine itself. Oh my Lord, Arkay, that I have born witness to your defiling is… I must continue, this report must be written. If the Goldpact Knight says it must be done so that you understand, then it must be done. I will spare you no details. Her arms were thrown back behind her head and her neck broken backwards to look as if she was in the throes of passion.  But her face.... Her face was frozen in pure agony, pale, as if without blood.


    I heard the Goldpact Knight clear his throat and I allowed him his cursing. This was no longer a holy place. We are lost. I see no other course of action than to seal the unholiness inside the Temple, lest it bleeds into the very city. These were not courtesans. These were holy men and women, people devoted to serving the Divines. They did not deserve this fate.


    Whoever is angry at us, it is a force beyond my reckoning. I will speak with Mage Stentor tomorrow. Perhaps this is all connected to the incidents at Wolfskull Cave?


    In the meantime, I cling to my faith and I pray to Arkay that you are everything the Goldpact Knight says you are, that you are knowledgeable in the matter of the darkness that plagues Solitude.


    Your humble servant of Arkay,




    An account of the first murder of the Solitude Ripper, written by court wizard, Sybille Stentor.


    On 21st of Rain's Hand, a Nord female's body was discovered in an alley near Vittoria Vicci's house by a certain Shaki Drunken-Fur, who was wandering the streets after night of heavy drinking.


    Victim was a Nord female, approximately thirty years old, working as a courtesan at Proudspire Brothel. Her birth name was Agaala, but most of the people in the city knew her as Potema, the Wolf Queen. It was part of her act, what she was paid for.


    The body showed no or very little signs of struggle, which means that the attacker either caught her by surprise or she knew him/her. Or maybe it was her customer, because the swelling and bruising on victim's throat indicate that a big hand was choking her, yet she didn't do anything to defend herself. There was no blood under her nails and no rope marks on her wrists, ankles, or any other part of her body.  


    Yet the choking wasn't a cause of death, it was an open wound on her throat by what I can only guess was either a hunting knife or combat dagger. Yet the killer didn't end with that.


    Her body was covered with Daedric letters. There were two on her neck, one on each side, then another between her shoulder blades. Another one at the lower spine, then two on the victims haunches and then one at the inner sides of both leg's joints. When I pieced the letters together, the best translation I could come up with was “fraud”.


    There were no witnesses of the incident. Only the courtesans at Proudspire said that the victim left before the midnight of 20th Rain's Hand and then never came back.


    My suspicion back then was that one of the customers, most likely a male, with above average strength, got too heated in the act, but it doesn't explain those runes over the body. It implied a personal connection to the victim, but still the act lacked any kind of emotion. It was done quickly and ruthlessly, with no time to spare, yet still patiently. The killer wasn't afraid of getting caught, but he still wanted the corpse to be found. Maybe some kind of fanatic or cultist? Punishing a courtesan for her profession, for bringing a curse on the city? (That is what several people believed when all the hauntings began.) The guard questioned all those suspicious individuals under my supervision, but none of them matched either the description or had witnesses of being elsewhere during the time of the murder.




    An account of the second murder of the Solitude Ripper, written by court wizard, Sybille Stentor.


    On 23rd of Rain’s Hand another body was found. Female Imperial, in her early twenties. Birth name, Flaria Angunceia, but know as Kintyra II. Another of Proudspire’s employees.


    She was found only well after noon, in Castle Dour’s highest tower, so the suspicion is that she died during the night. The body was found by a Solitude guardswoman, Kirsta. The one who was used in Wolfskull’s ritual. I ordered the guards to watch her more closely because I do not believe in coincidences.


    The body again showed no signs of struggle. The throat may have shown the same marks of a big hand clutching it, but because the head was decapitated, it is difficult to say. The face wore an expression of surprise, as if the victim couldn’t believe what was happening.


    The head was cut off cleanly with one swing of what seemed like a sword, but the strength and skill to do that would have to be considerable. The body was mutilated, this time with more passion because the breasts and crotch had been completely destroyed by multiple cut wounds.


    The walls were covered with blood and this time Daedric runes were drawn on the wall with the victims blood. “Bitch” was the best translation I could come up with.  


    Again, no witnesses to the murder, no one heard a thing. Decimus Merotim and Belrand were patrolling the walls of Castle Dour with Captain Aldis that night and none of them saw anything suspicious.


    I theorise that the killer must be of unnatural origin because no one could get past the watchful Goldpact Knight, Captain Aldis, the guards, the Thalmor, and the Legion’s troops without being spotted.


    It seems, so far, that the Solitude Ripper is targeting courtesans from Madame Seif-ij's establishment at Proudspire Manor and I've spoken with Captain Aldis and urged them to either to stop their activities - which they weren't willing to comply to - or at least don't leave the Manor at night and stay together at all times.




    An account of the third murder of the Solitude Ripper, written by court wizard, Sybille Stentor


    Third victim was a Nord female, age twenty-eight years. Kirsta. The guardswomen who was saved by the Goldpact Knight and Belrand from Wolfskull Cave. She was found on the morning of 29th of Rain's Hand. Found? Not precisely.


    Her body walked into the marketsquare right when the shops were opening. Yes, walked. Powerful necromancy was at play here. She was killed by one clean strike, a stab to the heart by what could be a combat left-handed dagger. Her face was covered with Daedric runes saying: “Whore.”


    The merchants were terrified as the body shambled down the street and the guards were forced to cut off her head, but the reanimated zombie didn't fight back. Seems like the Ripper just wanted to parade her around Solitude.


    Up to this day, we still have no idea where Kirsta was killed, again no witnesses, but I'm starting to believe that this Ripper has to be quite a powerful necromancer, a warlock even, versed in dark or even blood magic, otherwise I can't explain how it is possible there are no witnesses.


    But he broke his habit and this time it wasn't a courtesan who he killed.


    I keep referring to the Ripper as he, but I have a suspicion it's actually she, even though the Ripper shows the strength of a big man. First a courtesan masquerading as the Wolf Queen was killed. Then a courtesan pretending to be a Kintyra II. Now Kirsta, and they all have in common one thing: The real Wolf Queen.


    “Fraud,” “Bitch,” and then “Whore.” Potema killed a courtesan that was impersonating her. Then she killed a courtesan impersonating a person who she hated in her life. And lastly, Kirsta, who was most likely bound to her through the ritual at Wolfskull somehow.


    But Potema can't have a body.  Thatwas destroyed after her death. So this could explain why there are no witnesses, why no one ever saw her. She could be some kind of wraith now, kept alive by a necromantic ritual performed in the past, released just now. But it still doesn't explain why the victims aren't drained of life forces, but butchered instead.


    I'll have to start working on a way to track this Potema returned. If I am right, of course.



13 Comments   |   Karver the Lorc and 7 others like this.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  October 12, 2017
    How generous of Decimus to help the captain 'investigate' Proudspire and is he really setting Sir Shiny up there?! Hahaha. I like the little pieces of humor like that hidden in accounts of such a dark curse. The reports were a good call, I real feel the t...  more
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  September 7, 2017
    Okay, so finished reading the whole chapter. I have to say, I'm getting The Omen vibes when I read those reports.  Rovaniik the Albino... Hmm.. I don't know about the alias, I feel like  Rovaniik the White rolls nicer with the tongue. Just my ...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Okay, so finished reading the whole chapter. I have to say, I'm getting The Omen vibes when I read those reports.  Rovaniik the Albino... Hmm.. I don't know about the alias, I feel like  Rovaniik the White rolls nicer with the tongue. Just my ...  more
        ·  September 7, 2017
      Lol, I don't think Decimus was thinking "rolls nicer off the tongue" when he was using that name. 
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  September 6, 2017
    And thank you Sotek for working your linky magicks! Hugs to mah wolf brother!
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  September 6, 2017
    Hold on, I get what Nestor did to the goat, but what about the first dude who had a brick fall on his head? That incident rendered that which that fella had done to the goat forgotten and I'm curious. I don't know why, it's not as if the answer will be th...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Hold on, I get what Nestor did to the goat, but what about the first dude who had a brick fall on his head? That incident rendered that which that fella had done to the goat forgotten and I'm curious. I don't know why, it's not as if the answer will be th...  more
        ·  September 6, 2017
      That was Nestor. The PoV in the beginning is set after the incident with Nestor. She is referring to Nestor, only she doesn't know his name, so it becomes "some dude". 

      Glad you enjoyed the mad darkness, Phil. We enjoyed writing ...  more
      • Paws
        The Long-Chapper
        The Long-Chapper
        The Long-Chapper
        That was Nestor. The PoV in the beginning is set after the incident with Nestor. She is referring to Nestor, only she doesn't know his name, so it becomes "some dude". 

        Glad you enjoyed the mad darkness, Phil. We enjoyed writing it. Happy that thi...  more
          ·  September 6, 2017
        Just one goat, gotcha :D I find one's enough, too. 
        • The Long-Chapper
          The Long-Chapper
          Just one goat, gotcha :D I find one's enough, too. 
            ·  September 6, 2017
          Gotta go easy on our young readers here. ;P
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  September 6, 2017
    *raises eyebrows* Oh my... les-yay is best-yay. Note that I barely even reached the first half of the chapter. Need to take this nice and slow... *wink* 
  • A Shadow Under the Moons
    A Shadow Under the Moons   ·  September 6, 2017
    Well, I didn't expect a scene like that so soon >.<

    And well done building suspense, Karver-jo and Lissette-ko; I really like the idea of Potema coming back this way.
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      Well, I didn't expect a scene like that so soon >.<

      And well done building suspense, Karver-jo and Lissette-ko; I really like the idea of Potema coming back this way.
        ·  September 6, 2017
      Thanks. We had fun with the reports. 
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  September 6, 2017
    Heh, we really should come up with different word for "creepy" :D
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Heh, we really should come up with different word for "creepy" :D
        ·  September 6, 2017
      I really didn't mind that. It's Decimus' words, his vocabulary, so I don't mind things like that at all when they show character voice well.