Korst Wind-Eye returned to the Skaal village late that evening, long after we arrived. As soon as one of the guards told us he had returned, we rushed out to give him the news about Castle Karstaag. He was very disturbed to hear that Karstaag or his minion Ricklings were not responsible for the dead horkers scattered over the northern part of Solstheim.

"I feared as much." he said. "Even those creatures could not have caused such carnage."

"What does it all mean?" I asked.

He thought for a moment, as if not wanting to come to the conclusion he was reaching. "This is a bad sign, Eldorf, and I fear we have not yet seen the worst." he finally concluded. "Take this." he said, as he took out a broadsword and gave it to me. "From what I hear of those Grahl, it will be a valuable aid to you. Perhaps it will keep you safe during the troubled times ahead. Now, I fear, we must speak more about the Bloodmoon Prophecy."

He had given me the Stalhrim Longsword of Flame, as if knowing what was to come might require it's use.

"You have mentioned it before, but never actually told us about it." said Laurenna. "What exactly IS this Prophecy you spoke of?"


Korst nodded, realizing that he could hold back no further with this information. "Yes, it is time we spoke of this." he said. "The legend tells of a time that occurs once in each era, when a demon god will walk the land in the company of his hounds, creatures of terrible might. He is The Hunter, and his coming is preceded by three signs. I had prayed that I had misread the signs, misunderstood the prophecy, but I am sure it is not so."

"You were hoping you were wrong, and that's why you didn't want to tell us what you thought might be happening, is that it? I asked.

"You are correct." he replied. "The first sign tells of Fire from the Eye of Glass. This we have seen on Lake Fjalding, though I had hoped it was the mere magic of the draugr lord. Next, the prophecy tells us of the Tide of Woe. Even now, our shores are lined with the corpses of the horkers, dead for a reason that we cannot fathom. Finally, the prophecy tells us of the Bloodmoon, when the young moon itself runs red with the blood of the Hunter's prey. Look to the skies, Bloodskaal. The third sign is upon us. Now we wait for the Hunter's Game."

The 'young' moon - he was referring to Secunda, the little brother of the larger moon, Masser.

"What kind of game does this hunter play?" I asked. "What, exactly, does this demon hunt?"

"According to legend, it varies from era to era." he replied. "Our Grandfathers' Grandfathers tell of a time when the Hunter and his Hounds preyed upon entire tribes of men. Taken to the Hunting Grounds, the men were hunted by the Hounds. The ones that died were the lucky - the survivors faced the Hunter himself. In another era, the Hunter took only a single man as his Prey. It is said if the Prey can last through the Bloodmoon, the Hunter returns to his demon realm for another era. We have only to await the Hunter's plan."

"How would we know what that plan is?" asked Laurenna. "Can we prepare for it in any way?"

"There is little to be done until he lets it be known to us." can the reply. "Certainly it will not be long. I fear for our people, Bloodskaal. There is little I can do to protect them in these times. I have only to pray to the All-Maker that he watches over us and keeps us from the Hunter's grasp."

Korst looked over the two of us carefully. "Be armed and ready at all times." he said. "Even resting, be at your guard."


We were unable to see the sky due to the snow falling from the sky.

I turned to Laurenna. "Go into our tent and get your armor and weapons." I said. "Make sure you get some of those silver arrows, too."

She agreed.


"What about that sword that Korst gave you?" she asked.

I took it out to have a closer look at it. "Fire enchantment." I said, sensing the spell embedded in the weapon. "Might come in useful if they attack again."


Just then, the snowfall ceased.

Wolves began howling out from the forests to the south and east, then from the west.

I could not help but turn my gaze to the sky.


The clouds cleared away and the two moons appeared. Masser appeared normal, but as Secunda became visible through the clouds, it was very different. Instead of it's normal, pale color, it was, as predicted, blood-red in color.

The third sign was upon us. No wonder the wolves were howling with delight.


"Go now, get your weapons and armor." I told Laurenna.

I didn't have to tell her twice.

I kept an eye out for trouble, staring into the darkness. This 'hunter' could come from anywhere, as anything.

It was already 4 in the morning. Laurenna decided she'd take stand guard for an hour with the rest of the guards.

"Go get your stuff." she said, "Take a short nap. I'll wake you in an hour."

I found it hard to argue - I was very sleepy, and a nap would help."


I decided to use my warm robe, just using the Nord fir helm to keep my ears warm. I didn't care to sleep with weapons and armor, but as Korst said, "Be ready at all times."

I decided to try reading one of the two books I had purchased at Thirsk.

I didn't get past the first page, as I was attacked by the sleep fairies in a battle that I could not possibly win.

My eyes closed, and I surrendered myself to sleep.


I do not know if I slept for seconds or several minutes, but I woke to the sound of a loud growling noise next to my bed. I jumped up, and found myself surrounded by three werewolves!

It would have taken only seconds for them to pounce on me, to kill me, yet they just stood there, knowing that in the time I started to use a spell, they could have torn my very heart out.

Recall spell! I thought to myself. In a second, I'd be in Caldera, hundreds of miles away, out of danger. But what about Laurenna, and the other people of the village? 

The question became moot, as the room started to swirl around my head. Then, like a bad dream, everything went black!


Suddenly, the lights came back on. A teleportation spell - yes, but not like I've ever used before.

I found myself in a dark cave, without the company of the werewolves. I wondered if they were just there to effect the spell upon me. Laurenna! The villagers! Where were they? And where was I?

As the light increased in the room, I could make out a tall figure in front of me, and he didn't look too friendly.


"Ahhh, you have arrived." he said, in a very loud voice.

"Are you responsible for this?" I shouted. "Who are you and why have I been brought here?"

He seemed amused by my questions and chest-pounding. "I am Hircine." he replied. "Your kind know me as 'The Hunter', and yes, I am the one that has brought you to this place. The others have been here for days now, and you are the last. It is time for my Hunt, and you are to take part."


"What others?" I demanded.

"I have chosen only the most worthy to take part in the Hunt - Carius of the Imperials, Heart-Fang of the Skaal, the frost giant Karstaag....and you!"

"Me?" I asked. "Why me?"

Hircine seemed amused at the question. "You have proven yourself a worthy hunter, and so you have been given this honor."

I wished people would stop giving me all these honors all the time without asking first.

"What is to happen then?" I asked.


"You and the others are to find your way to my Hunting Grounds." replied Hircine. "Take great care, as only one of you will earn the glory of facing the Hunter himself in battle while the Bloodmoon lights the sky."

Hircine turned, pointing to the only door in the room, behind him. "The others have gone ahead, so only you remain to begin."

He leaned down towards me, as if to drive the next point home. "Beware, mortal - my Hounds are about, and they hunger for blood." He chuckled, enjoying the effect his warning had on me. "Perhaps I will see you soon." he continued. "Now go!"




With that, he vanished in a puff of red smoke and flame.


I made a quick survey of the chamber I was in. There was only a small cave behind me, so the door behind were Hircine had stood was definitely the only way out.

I thought about breaking this situation, but I found that my Recall spell refused to work here. It seemed I was destined to run this gauntlet, or die trying.







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