Ch. 1 Page 3: Birds of a Feather
(Last Seed, 19th, 4E 201) – Birds of a Feather
What an extremely strange and rather terrifying day it has been. Needless to say, but I did survive the night in the murder tower, although I slept not at all, and frequently startled at any tiny noise. Turns out, however, that finding a structure full of dead people/things was just the beginning of a freakish, yet extremely intriguing series of events.
The snowstorm broke about the same time as dawn’s light began to seep into the tower. After checking to see that my poor new mount, Rodgeirr, had survived the night, I grabbed several large sacks from a saddlebag and headed back into the tower. Not one to leave useful items to rot, I made my way through the building collecting anything that seemed interesting, and (yes, I admit it), scavenging any valuable items of note from the dead. I also came across a hefty chest of odd items on one floor, including some strangely glowing, and obviously magical playing cards of some sort. I will have to show these to Aureyn at the museum. Perhaps he will know what they might be.
At the high top of the stone construct, I saw why it was called ‘Bird’s Eye’ Tower. The view was indeed quite spectacular, and made me feel as if I was a flying creature seeing the land from the air. After all of the stumbling about in the dark the previous evening in a blizzard of flying snow, I was quite turned around as to where exactly I was at. Thankfully, a quick walk around the perimeter of the top of the tower soon oriented me. I could even glimpse a main road through the trees to the South, and was relatively certain I could find my way back to Solitude from there.
A lone chair sat facing the best view, and I collapse upon it for a moment to rest as a gentle snow began to drift down once again. I did hope desperately there wasn’t another blizzard in the making. No sooner had I inhabited the chair than a high, feminine voice confronted me from behind, causing me nearly to fall from my seat. I shot up, sword in hand, to find a young woman in dark robes cringing away from me. I had no idea where she came from, and after basically accusing me of murdering everyone in the tower, she vanished with a pop.
I ran down all the long stairs in haste to the bottom, to find the lass blocking the door to the exit and threatening me with dire magic should I harm her. I tried to persuade her that I was no murderess, but she proceeded to cast a summoning to bring forth a dreaded Demora Lord. Except, well, the creature seemed far more interested in drinking and sitting than doing battle. After some blustering and more threats, the lass finally confessed that the Dremora Lord she called Dravos was basically useless. Apparently someone named “Sam” had sold her a spell-book to summon the creature, but failed to warn her it wasn’t good for much besides providing a somewhat intimidating distraction.
At this point, I was finally able to speak rationally to the young woman, named Misha, who frankly I believe was not all that bright. After some prodding, the witch confessed she was seeking to become a Hagraven! Can you imagine? Apparently the body of the creature upstairs was her mentor or teacher or den mother or something; I’m not quite clear on the relationship. Regardless, the point was that without the Matriarch, she was at a loss how to proceed in her nefarious endeavor.
For a woman attempting to become a powerful creature of evil, the witch seemed mostly harmless, at least for now. Of course, if she did become a Hagraven, that would no longer be true. There is no reasoning with those foul and powerful creatures. You can only attempt to slay them on sight, before they rip you to pieces and gnaw on your bones. However, for now the young woman was about as dangerous as a freshly hatched mudcrab. So I allowed myself to indulge my curiosity in asking her what she would need to proceed with her ritual to transform into a Hagraven.
The young lady actually then attempted to recruit me to slaughter a nearby family and bring me parts of their bodies, along with several other ingredients, to throw into her cauldron. Of course, I had no intention of doing so, but I thought this could be an excellent opportunity to learn about a bit of very unusual magic to record in the museum’s archives. So I pretended to be on board with the project, and received directions to the family in question (apparently Misha was not fond of them), and a list of needed ingredients for the Hagraven transformation spell.
Wrapped in a new cloak and fur outerwear scavenged from a bandit corpse, I headed back out into the cold. I wasn’t sure how long I could maintain the ruse of helping the witch in order to learn as much about the Hagraven magic as possible, but I was ever too curious for my own good. Thus, I found myself wandering down to the cot-hold of the family she had intended as my victims, to find out what made them targets of the young witch’s ire.
I was in the presence of Frodmar, Bette, and their daughter Renni for all of ten minutes before I began to understand very clearly why anyone, much less a hopeful future Hagraven, might want them eliminated. All three of them were beyond creepy to the extreme. Not only did they talk in rambling insanities about dragons, flying pigs, and chewing on elves’ ears among other things, but they practiced a level of superstition about everything tipped way over into total madness. Even the little one seemed, well, quite touched in the head.
Also, I suspect from something the father said about how his son died that he might have actually murdered the child. However, he was too ambiguous in his words for me to be absolutely sure. Otherwise I might have at least done him in on the spot, the authorities be damned.
In fact, there was no small part of me that thought gleefully of poisoning the stew the mother of the family served around. Which, by the way, I wasn’t about to touch lest I be poisoned myself and perhaps ‘stuffed’ to be put on display as they’d thought about doing with their son. I did not, however, and instead contemplated how I might fool Misha into thinking I had done the foul deed in order to see if she would reveal the Hagraven ritual to me.
I bid the freakish family farewell after watching them sacrifice a chicken to some vague but apparently bloody gods. My plan would be to collect ingredients that would appear to be what the young witch had asked for, but were not, of course, the actual bits and pieces of Frodnar’s family. Again, I did not think Misha very intelligent, and believed she could likely be easily fooled.
It took half the day riding between Dragon Bridge and Solitude to collect all the items, mostly from the local apothecaries. A giant’s toe, a human heart (oddly common in apothecary shops in Skyrim), and a charred skeever hide served as substitutes for the required body parts. My bow served me to take down a hawk near solitude and a goat on a nearby mountain trail for the other ingredients I could not find to purchase. The last bit, a Hagraven feather, I knew was already available at the tower from the body of the one I had found there.
I returned post haste to the tower, the sun beginning to sink below the horizon. Misha was delighted to see that I had returned, virtually vibrating with happiness that she was hopefully about to be transformed into a wicked and powerful creature of darkness. I realized, alas, that at some point she was likely going to discover my deception, and at that time, one of us was probably going to end up dead. Preferably her.
If Misha did not succeed in her plan now, she would probably figure out I had faked the ingredients. Then she would likely just go after that weird family herself next time, and possibly succeed at killing one or more of them. The adults, well, I might not have minded, but I don’t condone killing children, even crazy ones.
Thankfully, it turned out that I did not need to make any decisions about what to do when Misha found out I had given her the wrong items for her witch’s brew. Apparently the Hagraven ritual is not at all forgiving about substitutions. Right at the height of Misha’s magical intonations, a bolt of lightning shot from the cauldron and fried her on the spot. Dead as a doornail. I was just lucky I was standing far enough away not to be electrocuted myself.
I felt rather remorseful at having been the instrument of the young woman’s demise. However, she just might have been the person who DID murder all the people in the tower, and was just lying about it being bandits or something else. Plus, left on her own and alive, she probably would have tried to kill Frodmar’s family for her ‘parts,’ and then maybe become a Hagraven indeed. Certainly we don’t need any more of those wandering the world.
Although I do not know if the notes I took about the Hagraven ritual will ever prove useful to anyone, my curiosity has been sated on that at least. I have no desire to be anywhere near any of the creatures again, nor anyone seeking to become one of them. I did, however, gain an additional item of interest as payment from Misha for her ingredients before she was killed. Apparently it is the spell tome she learned how to summon the dysfunctional Dremora Lord with. His name is Dravos, and he really is quite useless except as a possible distraction in a fight. It is a rather unique item, however, and I’m sure Aureyn will be very interested in having the spell tome in his collection.
Too weary to make my way back to Solitude in the growing dark, I sought out a nearby waycamp marked on the local map I had acquired on arriving in Solitude. These waycamps are quite magnificent things. They have little stocks of travel rations, magically burning fires that require no fuel, and fur tents to keep out the cold and rain. If only I had been able to find this place last night during the blizzard, I might never have stumbled on that bloody tower in the first place!
More coming soon…
- Sorcha’s adventures are temporarily on hold awaiting an upcoming update to the Legacy of the Dragonborn mod, but will resume soon!