31 Last Seed

I stopped through Windhelm, in order to rest and trade my findings in for something more practical to a wayward adventurer. As I was leaving the market, I happened upon a gruesome scene. A nord woman had been found, brutally murdered in the graveyard. The attack was so violent, I could see clear down to the bone in many places. Whatever sick madman did this... She had been stripped of her clothing, but her coin purse and dagger were found not far from the body. I offered to help the guard track down the killer. I now know that Aventus couldn't possibly have anything to do with this. Something this ferocious could only be done by a strong, fully grown man.

... I spoke with the witnesses and examined the crime scene. No one saw anything, but I spoke with Helgrid, the caretaker, and she told me the wounds looked to have been made with nordic embalming tools. An interesting lead. I also found a trail of blood which led to an abandoned house. I'll need to speak with someone about getting the key.

... This house has been, by and large, untouched. There's a chest filled with leaflets and a bound journal. I wonder if this is the killer's lair? Could I defend myself if we were to cross paths?

... I've concluded my investigation. After searching the abandoned house, I discovered the diary of the butcher; a necromancer who hopes to create some sort of perfected undead. It turns my stomach thinking of it. I also found a strange amulet and a hidden room with an alter. I took the amulet to Calixto, who owns the oddity museum; he informed me that the necklace is a special item given only to court mages. Wuunferth the Unliving will never harm another innocent again. I presented my evidence to Jorleif, and the mage was arrested without incident.

... I went to check on Aventus. He thanked me profusely and gave me a silver plate. Apparently I could not hide my emotion, or else that child has telepathic abilities, for I had no intention of telling him the truth. While there may not be any hope for him, I still feel the need to make sure he's well. He doesn't have anyone in the world, and no one in Windhelm wants anything to do with him. I think it best I leave the city as soon as possible; it eats at my conscious to be near that boy. I'll have some mead at the candlewick and be on my way.

30 Last Seed

I returned to Shroud Hearth Barrow, and pulled the dark elf free. I lay his body to rest in one of the tombs lining the wall. I also found his diary, as well as two bottles of a 'phantom' potion. His name was Wyndelius, and he was looking for some sort of treasure in this crypt - he went so far as to concoct that potion, in order to scare away and adventurer's who came by. He had been living here for a year, and seemed to have lost his mind. In the end, he truly believed himself to be some sort of ghostly guardian. What a terrible fate.

... I managed to break through one of the locked doors, and found a strange arrangement on the back wall - a door with three slots, and three rotating wheels with pictures on them. After studying the dragon claw Wilhelm gave me, I was able to unlock the door. These claws appear to be keys!

... Another long, grueling trek through ancient caverns. More draugr. More puzzles. There were skeletons this time, but they're not quite so powerful as their fleshy cousins. At least I had thought enough to stock up on potions when I was last at Riften. I collected another tidy sum of coin and treasures. More importantly, I found another strange wall. It eases my mind, knowing that what I experienced before wasn't some grand delusion. The same unnatural pull, calling to me on some base level. This word meant 'Kyne'. Not as sinister as the last, but still puzzling. What does this mean? Now, more than ever, I feel I must get to Winterhold.

29 Last Seed

After buying myself lunch and a drink, I spoke with the inn-keep, Wilhelm, and he informed me of a haunted barrow nearby. I know he meant it as a warning, but my curiosity got the best of me, and I simply had to take a look for myself. I no more than set foot inside the door, when I voice called out. 'Leeeeave, leave this place at ooooonce." My first thought was that the town had not a poltergeist, but a dunmer with poor taste in humor. I crept through the perfectly safe tomb, and found an elf - who looked very much like a ghost - sitting at a table, eating a loaf of bread. I, for one, have never heard of ghosts needing sustenance in order to manifest. As soon as the mer saw me, he attacked with a terrible lightening spell. (My hair is ruined, I fear.) I was startled by his reaction, and so I ran back to the antechamber. There was a series of levers needed to activate all of the main gates, and as I went to pull one, I heard a sickening sound. I turned, only to find this 'ghost' impaled on the iron gate. In my panic, I immediately lifted the door, but to my horror, the dunmer went up with the mechanism - the ghostly glow faded from him, along with his lifeforce. I pray to Arkay that it granted him a quick death - my restoration skills wouldn't have done him a bit of good. I told the guards and Wilhelm what had happened, but they all seemed relieved to know that the threat was eliminated. Wilhelm even gave me a little trinket of a dragon's claw as a token of his appreciation; I'm going to throw the thing in a lake as soon as I leave. I shall be haunted by the images I saw. At least it will break the monotony of revisiting Helgen in my dreams...

28 Last Seed

I bought a horse from Shadr this morning. I was just about to set out, when I saw, from the corner of my eye, the most gorgeous draft horse. She is far larger than any of the horses in Cyrodiil, (I think nords must need large horses; the stable owner told me he earned his name by sitting on a colt and snapping its back in half. Poor thing.) her coat is a dappled grey, and her mane and tail are black, but she has white feathering on her legs. I have named her Zinovia.

... as I was traveling, I found a merchant sitting alongside the road. I offered him a ride back to his camp. As soon as he dismounted, he and his friends began pelting me with arrows! That will teach me to think twice before I lend anyone my aid. Zinovia was hit with a stray arrow, and while the wound doesn't appear to be critical, I think I'll stay at Ivarstead for a few days, in order to for her to recuperate.

27 Last Seed

I've taken a carriage to Riften, being that it is a long trip, and I have yet to fully recover.

I arrived in the early hours of the morning, and not wanting to wake Grelod, I decided to take a stroll around town, until the hour was decent. As I passed the Bee and Barb, I overheard a woman extorting a redguard. Apparently the man, Shadr, had borrowed money from the woman, Sapphire, and promised to repay her after he'd sold off the shipment he had invested in. The shipment was robber before Shadr could sell it; Sapphire is clearly behind this. I confronted her, and after a bit of persuasion, she agreed to let the issue drop. Shadr was very grateful for my intervention - it feels good to help those in need.

... I decided not to tell Grelod about the contract. As I entered Honorhall, I stopped to speak with one of the children. Someone had neglected to close the cupboard door and I saw, to my horror, shackles lined along the wall. There was straw strewn along the floor, and even from across the room, I could detect the smell of urine and human waste. I left and sought out the guards, but they're just as useless at the ones at Windhelm. I don't know what to do, but something must be done. Those children cannot live in these conditions! I won't allow it!

... I bought an elixir from Elgrim. I think it will help to ease my mind.

26 Last Seed

I returned the phial to Nurelion; I wish I hadn't. He accused me of breaking it, then insulted me by saying I wouldn't have the intelligence to do so. He gave me 5 drakes for my efforts, and I am surprised he didn't spit on me on my way out! His assistant, Quintus, was more understanding, and paid me 500 drakes. I'm not entirely sure it was worth risking my life over, as I could have easily died of my wounds. I am still weak and weary from my injury, but I chose to travel, despite that.

... I met with Jarl Stormcloak's court mage, Wuunferth the Unliving. I was asked by one of the merchants to deliver some specimens, and to my astonishment, the mage paid me 250 drakes! While I was there, I asked for some training in destructive magic, and told him my interest in visiting the college. Wuunferth also taught me how to produce a proper firebolt, so as soon as I've met with Grelod, I shall, once more, return to Winterhold.

P.S. I lay awake, thinking of Nurelion. I feel badly for my attitude this morning. I can't imagine what it would be like, devoting your entire life to one quest, only to be disappointed with what you've found. It would seem a waste of a life, I think. He might otherwise have married, had a family, and been happy; instead, he shall die a bitter, lonely old man. I think I may make a donation to the temple in his name, after he passes. I have a heavy heart, knowing how much I've profited, while Nurelion's hopes and dreams were dashed.

25 Last Seed

I fainted from the blood loss; a very dangerous predicament. I can't say how long I was out, but I woke to a very curious sensation. I felt as if I was being pulled forward by unseen forces. I remember hearing... chanting? It sounds crazy, I realize. It was almost as though I was enchanted, unable to control my own mind or body. All I knew was the call of that mural. Along the back wall of the cavern, there was a huge wall, covered in strange markings. There was one part that stood out to me, vividly. I don't know how to explain it, but I simply knew, deep in my heart, what that etching meant. I am disturbed by this turn of events. Perhaps I am losing my mind, perhaps I'm simply addled due to my injuries. It meant 'to kill'. It chills my blood, thinking of it. That wall was surely enchanted, infused with some nefarious magic. It's the only explanation that makes sense. I have resolved myself to gain entry to the College of Winterhold, so I might visit the Ysmir Collective. Surely there must be some knowledge of this foul magic?

Further exploring the crypt, I have discovered Nurelion's White Phial. It is cracked, but I hope someone will be able to restore it. Even so, my journey was not in vain, as I have amassed a nice sum of drakes, as well as precious gems, gold and silver ingots, ancient weapons, and enough ingredients to make Mother green with envy. I shall retire at the soonest possible point, and pray that my strength doesn't fail me before I can at least make it to the road. I recall seeing an inn, not too far from this cave. May the Eight protect and guide me.

24 Last Seed

On the way back to Riften, I stumbled upon the Forsaken Cave. I wouldn't have thought twice about it, however, while I was at Windhelm, I spoke with an elderly alchemist, who told me of an ancient White Phial, which is rumored to have incredible powers. I don't exactly recall what it's supposed to do, but I'm sure Mother would be fascinated by it. At any rate, Nurelion explained that he had been pursuing the phial for the better part of his life, and believed that he had finally discovered its location. However, his age and failing health prevented him from traveling. Out of pity, I promised that I would attempt to bring the phial back for him; I only meant to give him some sliver of hope, as I believe he will soon return to Aetherius. Perhaps it was cruel to make a promise I had no intention of keeping, but that hardly matters now, for I have found the cavern!

... There are draugr here. One awakened and caught me unawares. I was so terrified I screamed and blasted it with a fireball of such force that it sent the creature reeling back. I did not relent until it was burnt black and shriveled. Fire spells are much more effective when cast with both hands; however, it takes nearly all of my magicka to slay one undead. I'll need to stock up on restorative potions once I return to town. For now, I will take my time. There's no telling what else is down here.

... These blasted draugrs will be the death of me! Which fool nord thought to embalm the dead!? As there are corpses lining nearly every wall, I have taken to preemptively scorching them all, to be certain that they remain in the grave. My plan has thus far been to creep about like an alley cat, and pray that I don't set off any traps, or breathe too loudly and reawaken the dead. I cannot say how effective it is, but I am alive, for now.

... Four draugr. I have slain four draugr, all at once. I have lost a great deal of blood, and my arm pains me greatly. I shall rest for a spell before moving on.

23 Last Seed

I made a wrong somewhere, likely during that blizzard. Instead of going south, I went north, and have arrived in Winterhold. I was expecting a grand capital town, worthy of housing a college, but the city is scant more than a few skeletal homes and an inn. I was interested in taking a look at the college's library, but was denied access due to my abysmal lack of magical talent. The altmer at the gate was not exactly gentle in her disdain of me. She asked that I cast a firebolt, to prove my worth, but I have difficulty focusing my energies and can only unleash an unwieldy stream of flames. I must practice, if I am to enter. I'll spend the evening at the inn, and wait for the storm to pass before returning to Riften. I can't help but feel I've wasted a day. How disgusting!

22 Last Seed

Today was an utter disappointment. I spent the morning chasing rumors, but eventually I was able to track down Aventus in his ancestral home. He was chanting and praying as I entered, and when I found him in the upstairs parlor, he was crouched over skeletal remains. I can only imagine that he dug them up from the graveyard. At least, that's my hope, for the alternative is far more sinister. He insisted that I must be a member of the Dark Brotherhood, and that I must fulfill his contract on Grelod the Kind. No amount of persuasion could sway him; I fear there is no hope for him. I tried to alert the guards to what I had found, but it was common knowledge that Aventus was performing the Black Sacrament, and the guard was too occupied with the war to bother with it. They likely fear retribution from the Dark Brotherhood. Cowards. I then went to check on the Hall of Dead, hoping to ease my mind that Aventus was not yet a killer himself. I found no sign of any disturbed graves. There are whispers of several nord women who have recently been murdered, but no one will speak with me when I inquire for details. It's foolish to think a child could be responsible, but I worry, nevertheless. I don't know what else I can do; Aventus seems to be a lost cause. Much as I detest the woman, Grelod ought to know that her life is in danger.

21 Last Seed

I've taken a room at the Bee and Barb Inn, parting me from half of my money. If there is one thing I've learned in my very short stay in Riften, it's that for as beautiful the view may be, the city itself is rotted through. I woke yesterday, having slept in the forest, with a scratchy throat and stuffy sinuses. The only decent people I've met so far are the priests at the Temple of Mara - they were good enough to cure my disease and offer me a blessing, which I gladly accepted. I donated some coin to the temple, which means I only have 5 drakes. Hardly enough to buy a snack.

Most of the inhabitants are either part of the Thieves' Guild, bribed officials, or guards who look the other way. I can't imagine why anyone would want to stay here if they had a clean conscious. I stumbled into an apothecary and managed to find a bit of work, retrieving an ore sample from a nearby town, Shor's Stone. It only took an hour, and helped to fill my pockets somewhat.

I also visited the orphanage, and am sad to report that it fairs no better than the rest of Riften. The nord who runs the establishment, a woman by the name of Grelod the Kind, is neglectful, spiteful, viscous and cruel. When I stepped through the door, I witnessed her berating the children, telling them that they were worthless and no one would ever care to adopt them. What possesses a person to say such abhorrent lies? To young children no less! Most shocking of all is rumors that one of the boys who ran away, Aventus, is trying to contact the Dark Brotherhood! I don't know what to believe, but after what I've seen of Grelod, I wouldn't be terribly shocked if the rumors are true. I've decided to set out for Windhelm immediately, to see if I can't find the child. I can't sleep knowing he may be traveling down such a dark path, and I feel I have to at least try to stop him, before it's too late. I'll be taking the carriage, as it's much safer and faster than foot.

20 Last Seed

This morning, I spoke with the residents of Riverwood - it's a quiet town; the biggest scandal being the recent theft at the general goods store. As I am unsure of how to make myself less of a burden, I bid farewell to Gerdur and Ralof, and promised to send word when I had time. I don't know for certain that I will; perhaps once this war is over, and I won't be persecuted for not joining the rebellion. After staring aimlessly at a road sign for an embarrassing amount of time, I decided to head east, to a town called Riften. The road there took me through a snowy mountain pass, which gave way to a beautiful scenic autumn forest. The air smells like crisp fall leaves, and I now have a strong craving for cider and apple pie. I could easily imagine a quaint little home for myself here. I found myself picking flowers along the way; I shall see if there's any alchemical value to them before I do something silly, like braid them in my hair. I have 20 drakes, a bottle of mead, a slice of cheese, and Gerdur's borrowed clothing - I'm going to need to make some more coin, before I do anything. No more courier jobs, however.

19 Last Seed

I awoke from a terrible nightmare. I dreamt of Helgen. Relived may be truer to the statement. Ralof was up yet, drowning himself in a bottle of mead, and invited me to join him. We spoke of the Stormcloaks and the rebellion – he suggested I might join them, but I was noncommittal. I may owe him a life-debt, but that doesn't mean I agree with his ideals. Becoming restless, I decided to admire the stars and to collect my thoughts. I found myself traveling the road back to Helgen, revisiting the Guardian Stones. On a whim, I activated the mage stone – perhaps inspired by my slaying of the wolves the other day. I continued on to the once-city. I don't know what I anticipated to find there, and though my stomach turned at the thought of returning, I found myself compelled to press on. The flames were still smoldering. I found no survivors, nor did I truly expect to. There were a few bodies, scorched beyond recognition. I said a quick prayer for them, but didn't know what else to do. I moved on some time past noon. The ordeal was draining on my psyche; I can still hear the screams and pleas of dying men, when I'm unoccupied. I think I'll turn in early, rude as that may seem. I haven't the energy to do anything else at the moment.

18 Last Seed

I borrowed some plain clothes from Gerdur this morning and set off for Whiterun, shortly after dawn. I encountered (surprise!) three wolves some way between the two towns, and as I was unaccompanied and unwilling to bet my luck on any stray khajiit, I resolved myself to summon a fireball. Mother tried to teach me magic years ago, and while some of the lessons stuck, most of it is lost to me. Instead of a single fireball, I unleashed a stream of flames – it was much more effective than I had hoped. Being a Breton comes with its perks, one might say. I wasn't able to escape without injury, but a few nips and bites is better than having my entrails strewn about the road. I arrived in Whiterun only to find the main gate shut, but I was able to persuade the guard to allow me entry, having been witness to the decimation of Helgen. I gained an audience with the Jarl, Balgruuf. He agreed to send a contingent to Riverwood, and is preparing his hold for any further attacks. The Jarl also bid me to speak with his court mage, a horrendously ugly man by the name of Farengar. The mage requested that I explore an ancient ruin in order to find a tablet listing the sites of several dragon burials – however, he doesn't even know if the tablet is still in the ruin. Curious as I am to learn more of the dragons, I believe I'm going to decline that request. I must return to Gerdur with the good news, and begin thinking of my own future. I know I can't expect to rely on her charity forever, and I believe it best that I cut ties with any form of the rebellion as soon as possible. White I may mistrust the Imperial Legion, I do not wish to become an enemy to the Empire.