I awake the next morning, well rested and ready for a big journey. I've decided, that instead of going after that Mammoth Tusk (because, seriously, I'll die), I'm going to head back to Windhelm to talk with the poor boy who was performing the Black Sacrament. I keep hearing rumors about it, and I feel that I can help him, since no one else seems to be bothered doing anything about it. On the way up, I can hunt and then sell my wares when I get there.
Before I set out, though:
Indeed! You will be mine!
It pains me to see all my hard work be given over, but the horse will help me travel faster and allow me a companion on my journeys.
I strap my furs, hunting equipment and tent to the back of the saddle and prepare to ride off. I'll have to think of a good name for him.
And look at that, we're already friendly to all factions. At least, my horse is.
Up the road a bit, I come across this guy. A travelling minstrel! I pay him 25 gold to listen to a nice little tune called The Dragonborn Comes. He sings this quaint, catchy tune (that I find myself humming the rest of the trip). Seems there's some guy called the Dragonborn who will come down and help people with their problems. Hope he shows up and helps, I need some help myself with getting a trade going.
Not too far ahead looks to be a watchtower, hopefully I can stop in and warm up a bit.
Or not. Looks like this is a toll road and I am apparently expected to pay 200 gold to pass! Thankfully, Markus has a relaxed tone about him:
And I manage to persuade her to let me through for only 50. Still, kind of sucks that I have to pay for a road this close to Whiterun, you'd think the taxes would pay for all that.
Up the road, this lady starts bolting down it, and I turn to follow her and see if she needs help with anything. She just continues running though, and I head back to go towards Windhelm again.
I think I know why she was running. Again, I'm too late to save a person's life, and now this time, I've let their murderer go free! I angrily paw through the man's possessions, seeing if he needs anything.
I find his ID in his wallet and deduce his name was Lonnie. Looks like Lonnie was a trader. Of clothes and sundries. Nothing really worth picking up here, and he doesn't have anything else on him, so I drag him to the nearby river and give him an honorable sendoff.
Goodbye, Lonnie. You will be missed.
Roads sure are busy today. I meet this guy on his way to Solitude to join up with the Legion. Man, you've got a long way to go heading this way, you'll have to take the southern roads, it'll be quicker if you take the northern roads through Winterhold and Dawnstar, probably. He ignores my advice though and continues heading towards Whiterun.
The Mixwater Mill seems very quiet today. I don't see the owner walking about at all. I nervously climb off my horse and head to the worker's house on the left.
Can't tell if it's just not kept up, or if it was ransacked recently. Bottles and pots litter the floor, along with various food products.
Gah! The temptation! I leave the house, shaking off the cobwebs and jump back on my horse, ready to get out of this area. It's just too eerily quiet...
Checking my map, I'm almost there!
Ah, Windhelm. Full of grunge and snow. The cold is starting to set in, and I feel a bit chilly, but I need to stable my horse before I can get into the city. After parking--stabling him, I head towards the city gates and into Windhelm.
Warming up briefly at the nearbye fire roaring in a basin, I feel a little warmer and continue on to find the boy's house....Aventus Aretino I think was his name?
Here it is! Nice house, honestly. Kind of be weird to have a road run through your house, but, I guess that's the style nowedays.
Before I head in, though, I take a quick detour to the marketplace to see if there are good prices anyone has for buying pelts.
I sell a couple pelts off to some folks, then chat with this woman. She just needs a simple delivery done, and I agree, as all I need to do is head over to the Palace and find the man who needs it. Simple, quick, not dangerous. Just my sort of work.
I get a less-than-warm welcome in the palace by the Thane. Hmmpf. The Jarl (king-type figure in Skyrim, the j is pronounced like a y) should probably hire a new Thane (right-hand to the Jarl). Someone who actually listens to the people.
Oh yeah. This isn't creepy at all.
I deliver, asking no questions why he wants it, and then scoot the heck out of there.
Okay, time to talk to the boy. I knock on the door, but no one answers, so I just push myself on in, trying to stay respectful.
A young boy's voice can be heard through the house, and he's crying, sounding frustrated at the same time.
I walk carefully up the stairs and through what looks like the living room, the voice getting louder as I grow closer to the source. The sobs subside into an angry chant of the Black Sacrament. All through the chant, I hear a knife stabbing into something hard.
When I turn the corner, the horrific sight of a young boy lying amongst bones and human organs almost makes me lose my lunch. I inch closer, my hand twitching, ready to defend myself in case he attacks me.
The boy, overcome with sadness, cries over the bones and organs he has laid out. He continues to cry as he stabs the effigy with his knife, which I notice is wrapped in Nightshade plants.
I was about to speak, when another angry cry came forth from him. Apparently Grelod is who he wants killed. What could the woman have possibly done to him to evoke the Black Sacrament?
My hand reaches out, touching his shoulder to shake off the spell that gripped him.
"It's ok, I'm just here to help."
He looked at me a moment, wide eyes unblinking, then a large grin ripped across his face. "You've come at last! I knew you would!"
I lean down on his level, trying to avoid the blood that was on the floorboards. "Are you all right?"
Aventus held out the book in his hand, thrusting it towards me. "I did the Black Sacrament, over and over. With the body, and the....the things. And then you came! An assassin from the Dark Brotherhood!"
I quickly shook my head, taking the book from him. "No, I'm sorry boy, but I'm not who you think I am. I'm no assassin."
He crossed his arms, glaring at me. "Of course you are! I prayed, and you came, and now you'll accept my contract!" He wiped his eyes, tearing up a bit. "It took so long. So very long."
Against my better judgement, I asked him what he meant by contract.
"My mother...she died." He started out saying. I didn't interrupt him, wanting him to let me know what was wrong. "I...I'm all alone now. So they sent me to that terrible orphanage in Riften. Honorhall. The headmistress there is an evil, cruel woman. They call her Grelod the Kind. But she's not kind. She's terrible. To all of us." He grew angry, stamping his foot and glaring down at the dagger on the floor.
"What happened?" I gently prodded.
"I ran away and came home. And then I performed the Black Sacrament. Now you're here! And you can kill Grelod!" His face lit up, staring up at me.
I held up my hands. "Woah, woah. Are you really sure about this, boy? Murdering this woman?"
He nodded quickly. "I've never been so sure about anything in all my life! Someone like Grelod doesn't deserve to live one more day. She's a monster."
I sigh, placing my hand on his shoulder. "Look, I can't promise to kill her. I'm not the type of person to go up to someone and just kill them in cold blood, no matter what they've done. It goes against my beliefs."
Aventus looked at me, wide-mouth. "But...you must be from the Dark Brotherhood! You have to help me!"
I frowned and looked down at his pleading face. "Boy, you need to get as far away from the Dark Brotherhood as you possibly can. They're just evil, murdering mercenaries out to get a few gold pieces for someone's life. At some point, they'll have to be dealt with, but it won't be by you or me. What I can do though is travel to Riften for you. I can speak with the local authorities there and put in a complaint about the way they treat the children there. It will be a long trip for me, but as I'm a hunter by trade, I can make my way there and get her fired."
Aventus looked downcast for a moment, but then nodded. "Okay. I guess killing would be a bit extreme if you can help me in other ways."
I pat him solidly on the shoulder. "Good. I'm glad we agree with this. Why don't you stay at the inn tonight on me?" I pressed ten gold pieces into his hand and he ran off, sending a thank you back over his shoulder.
I head back out of the house, the freezing wind biting my face after being in the house for a while. I glance at the sun, noting it was getting late. and start heading back to the tavern.
Tomorrow, I guess, I ride for Riften.
Part 4 ----- Part 6