The Butcher of Windhelm, a True Tale
Xantier was... well, he was many things: a Khajiit, a thief, a powerful fighter; he'd even recently found out he was the mythical Dovahkiin, able to speak in the language of the dragons and cause great things to happen when he did. Most importantly, Xantier was honorable. Odd, for a thief, but true. Xantier couldn't abide by the killing of innocents, especially not fair maidens.
So, when he found out about a string of murders in the city of Windhelm, ruled by Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak, he decided to investigate. Now, Xantier had done many incredible deeds in the past months, from becoming a Nightingale in honor of Nocturnal, to slaying and wearing the mask of a Dragon Priest by the name of Krosis. He was no stranger to these sorts of goings-on.
Upon his immediate arrival to the city, the Khajiit paid witness to a most gruesome scene. There, right in the city's graveyard, a young woman had been murdered. Susanna the Wicked, they called her. Her body had been stripped, left to rot by the murderer. It was at that point that Xantier vowed to find the killer. The guard at the scene told him to talk to the two witnesses to the grisly act.
One was a beggar woman, Silda the Unseen, who claimed that she heard a scream and ran to help, but the murderer had already slipped away when she got there. The other was a man named Calixto Corrium; he claimed that he got there in time to see a man run off into the darkness. Something about the man made Xantier nervous, though he wasn't quite sure what.
With the witnesses interrogated, the guard told the thief to go speak with Jorleif, the Jarl's steward. With a sigh of frustration at being slowed, he went to do so. He was not at all surprised to find the steward accepting his help and allowing him to investigate.
When Xantier got back to the scene, the body had been moved. The guard suggested he go speak with Helgrid, the woman in charge of preparing the dead. the dragonborn found this to be a waste of time, and instead started following a trail of blood he had noticed. The trail led him to the front of a large house with a lock beyond his skill to pick. With a growl of frustration, he once more went to speak with Jorleif.
Jorleif directed him to Tova Shatter-Shield, who, after a short converstaion, gave him the key to the house, Hjerim. He went in, sneaking carefully in case the murderer were hiding inside. There, he noticed several out-of-place things. A chest, recently pushed against a wall, contained a journal and several pieces of paper, warning the city of 'The Butcher.'
Reading the journal, he was disgusted to find an accounting of the murderer's stalking of the girl Susanna. The journal also spoke of the mages of Winterhold, a lot that Xantier had not yet spoken to, though he suspected they would frown on the apparent intent of necromancy here.
Moving on, he found a strange wardrobe, that, when opened, revealed a false back-panel. Pushing the panel aside, Xander gagged. The stench hit his nose hard, a rotten smell of things dead and decaying. And then he saw the bones. Many of them, covered in gore. In the center of this room was some foul altar. Though it pained him to do so, Xantier approached the altar. It was there he found the second journal, this one outlining the arcane ritual with which the murderer would... what? What foul feat was he trying to perform with this necromancy?
Stepping out of the backroom, he replaced the false panel and turned to investigate the last suspicious piece. A small table with shelves, containing more of the fliers. But one of the piles was mishapen, a small bit of chain sticking out of it. He grabbed the chain, drawing out a pendant, from which he recoiled. The penant was rather ornate, and depicted a piece of jade set in what appeared to be iron casing. Upon further inspection, the jade was carved into the image of a skull.
Pocketing the new find, Xantier left Hjerim. He had a few clues to follow now. Upon asking about where he could get jewelry appraised, someone pointed him to Calixto's house of Curiosities. The dovahkiin wrinkled his nose a bit, but decided that was the best option. He went to the curio shop and spoke with the man. Upon seeing the necklace, the shop-owner mentioned seeing it in possession of the court mage, Wuunferth the Unliving.
He investigated further, and was told that Wuunferth had dabbled in necromancy before joining the court, though it may have been rumor. Xantier approached Jorleif that very night and accused the mage, giving the strong evidence pointing towards it. He then accompanied the steward and a guard as they arrested Wuunferth. The mage protested, of course, claiming that he had been trying to find the murderer as well.
As Wuunferth was hauled off in shackles, Xantier couldn't help but feel a sense of unease. Things just weren't adding up, and the investiagtion had been too... easy. Xantier prided himself on being intelligent, but this was too much. He'd done something that Windhelm's guards and citizens had been trying to do for months.
But, for now, the case was shut. There was to be no more investigating. Xantier went and found his peace at the bottom of several tankards of Nord mead in the Candlehearth Hall. There he stayed for several days as people praised him as a hero.
And then, the killer struck again. Right outside of the meadhall, another young woman was slain. Xantier hurried to the Blood Works, Windhelm's prison, to speak with Wuunferth the Unliving. The mage was, understandably, quite put out with the Khajiit, who threw himself to the ground asking for forgiveness. The court mage quickly agreed to forgive him, and to help find the real killer.
He deduced that, from a Fridas in Last Seed to a Tirdas in Heartfire, there was a definite pattern. He told the thief to wait in the rock quarter the next night if he wanted to catch the murderer.
Xantier waited, standing watch in the shadows of the White Phial. The shops were all closing for the night, and eventually, there were only two figures in the open square. One was Xantier, watching diligently over Shahvee, a young Argonian woman who worked at the docks outside town. There didn't seem to be any makings for trouble. Perhaps Wuunferth was wrong.
It happened quickly, suddenly, and without remorse. A man stepped from the shadows behind the woman, stabbed a knife into her back, and slit her throat. Xantier cursed himself for not moving quickly enough, and stepped into the torchlight.
Tapping into his ancient power, Xantier shouted, Fus Ro Dah! and sent the man spinning through the air. He sprinted in pursuit, but found the man up and running. With a snarl, he chased the Butcher, and eventually found himself once more outside of Hjerim. He checked his weapons quickly before opening the door and slipping inside.
The bastard was waiting for him. As the door closed, Xantier was sliced into by a cruel blade. He managed to spin away from the blow, and brought his weapons to bear. Standing across from him, a sword in one hand, a spell readied in the other, was none other than Calixto Corrium.
They stared eachother down for a second before Calixto went on the offensive, swinging wildly at Xantier. The Khajiit, however, was more skilled in the art of the blade. He parried Calixto's first swing with his Nightingale Blade, and then stepped forward to run the man through with Soulbinder, his magical ebony blade. As Calixto died, he uttered one final phrase. Apologies to someone by the name of Lucilla.
Xantier searched the body, finding the key to Calixto's shop. He would do one final search to find the motive behind the murders. It was in the shop that he found a third, and final, journal.
Soon enough, my sweet Lucilla, you will be with me again. Normally when such words are written it is because the love left behind is soon to depart, but in my case, I hope to soon bring your spirit back into my world, for it was you who loved this world so much, not I.
I continue to collect your new form from the ragged bits around Windhelm. If they only knew what destiny would soon grace their bodies, with your spirit imbuing them with higher purpose, they would surely thank me for the great gift I give them. I reserve for them a place of beauty alongside your heart.
The day draws near. Soon I will hold you. And I will show you this and it will be as delivering a long-forgotten letter to a weary traveler.
The thief shook his head in pity, leaving the shop to go talk to Jorleif. When Jorleif heard the news that the killer- the real killer- had been caught, he ordered Wuunferth set free, and congratulated Xantier on his success.
The next day, Xantier left Windhelm, regretting his mistake that cost two women their lives. He looked idly down at the amulet he had taken. Wuunferth had identified it as the amulet of a Necromancer by the name of Mannimarco. A vile thing, really. The first chance he got, Xantier would destroy it at an enchanting table, so it might never be used again.
Thus ends the story of the Butcher of Windhelm, a misguided man with a twisted mission.