The Necromancer Cycle - Part I - The Aquila-Axilius Report

I have already told you all I know about the incident from last night and I'm positive that no new revelations will surface upon retelling of the events that transpired. But if you must hear it again, I'll oblige if you insist. So. Let me start from the very beginning.


About a day prior, not sure when exactly, I have been gravely wounded by a bear. At least that is what I'm telling anyone who asks, for they wouldn't believe me otherwise save for the indigenous folk of Hjaalmarch. I'm a hunter by trade, you see, gathering furs, teeth and meat to sell in the towns and cities of Skyrim.

I was out with a hunting party that day. Rumours of a great quadrupedal beast of rather prodigious size in the woods near Morthal spread around the area. So in preparation and to avoid great peril (which ensued regardless), I, for the first time, took to recruiting some townsfolk and a couple sellswords in the vicinity. I didn't want to hunt such a monstrosity, provided the tellings and whispers were true, all by myself. And even though I provided a more than sufficient amount of septims, going as far as to offer to provide food and drink for the journey without the requirement of compensation, it took quite a lot of convincing the stout men I met to follow me on this endeavour.

In the end, however, we were a hunting party of thirteen men, ten of which were simple townsfolk armed with swords and bows and two professional mercenaries with more sophisticated equipment and myself, of course, carrying a regular hunting bow and a knife designed to cut off the fur of a dead animal's body.


I mainly wanted to venture out in hunt of the "Beast of the Woods", as the locals have called it then, for prestige and the kind of booty such a creature seemed to promise. According to the locals, that entity was so gigantic, one could fashion an entire set of leather armour from its hide and sharp blades from it's bones, claws and teeth and to me, or any man such as myself, this hunt appeared to be extraordinarily promising. To think of how many gold pieces I could earn by selling off its parts or products made from them would easily net me more than enough septims to even out my expenses for acquiring the men I had with me that day.


Though as much labour as it took to enlist the bulk of our group, there was one rather peculiar fellow of singularly old appearance who, much to my surprise, required no compensation for his aid but the thrill of the hunt itself. He introduced himself to me as one Axilius Vinius, by trade a skilled and proficient herbalist and novice of restoration magic who was inclined to help us for the sole purpose of mending the wounded who, according to his belief, would surely occur.

To say that I was surprised by this benevolent offer would be an understatement taking into account the kind of threat we were going to face. Furthermore, based on his appearance alone I was awestruck he offered to help at all.


You see, he was old, very old in fact. By his looks a very old and grizzled Imperial with white hair and beard, battered face and dressed in presumably once white tatters. But what struck me as particularly queer about this man was his manner of speech which caused him to emit an aura of antiquity that I could only hardly place anywhere. He spoke with a rather unheard of accent as well and, at length, it became clear that this manner of speech was reminiscent of very old Tamrielic from maybe two centuries ago. By this logic, I thought, this Axilius character must be ancient.

However, upon inquiring about his age he assured me he was in his mid-sixties and that there was nothing to worry about. So he insisted to come along for the hunt and, albeit I had my doubts about him and his honesty in the matter, I was grateful for a free-of-charge comrade, a healer and potion brewer no less.

Though the sense of something iniquitous about him never truly went.


By evening of that day, we met in the local tavern for a last stein of beer or a good bottle of mead, whatever struck our fancy, and proceeded to devise plans and strategies as to how we were going to approach our quest the following morning.

After much deliberation and long discussions on what would be best, we finally settled on asking the locals as to where they have last spotted the creature to know where we should look for its tracks. We would then proceed to figure out our search pattern to look for clues as to where it might have gone and discern our strategy for closing in on the beast and who'll cast the first shot.

After we've established a plan we all went to sleep. Some in their own houses since they were local townsmen, me and the sellswords slept in the inn. Though what was strange was that Axilius, the old man of almost antediluvian quality, also took a room in the inn. Back then I thought nothing of it but in hindsight I should have paid attention because Axilius, indigenous he seemed, introduced himself as a local herbalist so he should have had a place to stay for the night one might presume.

However, ignoring this oddity more subconsciously than by deliberate thought, that evening he struck me as having an inexplicable weirdness about him that made me feel uneasy. I didn't realize it then, but believe me when I say that I realize now as to why I didn't get much sleep that night. Something was not right about this Axilius character, even if I couldn't quite place my suspicions.


The next day, by dawn, all thirteen of us gathered in the inn again to go over our plans and strategies one last time after which I gave the rations I promised to each of the men. Axilius however declined, stating that he had been awake early and already had a rich breakfast. I questioned his remark and persuaded him to, at the very least, carry a bottle of water and a venison chop with him, just in case, and after I insisted repeatedly he finally complied, storing the items away in his pouch he carried around.

After we've spread out the resources for the journey and went over our plans one last time, we finally set out to hunt the beast of the woods and put it down for good. We gathered and left the inn in Morthal quickly, heading northwest out of East March to the woods near Solitude. From brief correspondences with some of the local folk we've been informed of the last known location of the beast which happened to be in or near these woods.

So we carefully set foot outside Morthal and then left the hold with only a few minor incidents of some of the men tripping in the marsh and falling onto the moist, soft ground but fortunately, nobody was seriously harmed and those who did receive smaller cuts and bruises were quickly and professionally mended by Axilius, who seemed to have a near endless amount of remedies on his person.


After traversing the soft, way-giving grounds, we reached the edge of the hold as we were stopped in our tracks by a sound of singularly terrible descent, entirely inhuman, if it was even at all to be placed. When the almost deafening, horrible screech reached us, we were paralyzed for a moment in a mixture of disgust and fear. Just what kind of entity could conjure up such a scream?

Albeit unsure, we quickly recovered from the initial shock and mustered all our courage, proclaiming the ghastly noise to be of the beast, and decided to press on. We crossed the hold border and Axilius located the scream to originate from a place somewhere to the northwest. By coincidence, we were heading in this direction in the first place so this only proved that we were indeed correct in our assumptions.

After about an hour of wandering off the beaten path and into the woods, we heard it again, the paralyzing noise of the creature. At this point we were sure that, whatever it was, it wasn't a bear of greater than normal size as I first took to assume, albeit I still tell people I was attacked by one, for no one was going to believe me otherwise.


We thought, then, that it must've been a creature summoned perhaps from the planes of Oblivion by some crazed conjurator. Since we weren't as sure anymore as to what we might be up against, we decided to proceed by lurking and skulking through the woods.


Now, for what's next I only have a rather vague recollection of the events that transpired, but I'll give it my all to remember it in as great a detail as possible.

We traveled ever so slowly in a crouching manner when the whole party abruptly came to a halt at the sight of "It".

"By the Divines...!" one of us whispered with shaking breath, barely able to contain a loud gasp. We didn't glimpse much of it, though enough to discern that what walked before us on all fours was indeed no bear, far from it. Just behind the great oak trees and partly blotted out by the sun, we were able to observe a being, evidently composed of flesh and blood, with no fur at all and, from the little we saw of its hind leg, ascertained that it was, in fact, or must have been, gargantuan in size, comparable to a small house at the very least.

Then came what I can only put into words as the most horrifying noise I hitherto experienced. First, I felt the growing tension amongst our men, once stout and motivated but now, fearful and dazed at the sheer size and utter nakedness of the thing. Then, I heard a nervous creaking of thread just behind me accompanied by hasty breathing, followed by a whirring noise that zipped past my right ear and carried on towards whatever hellspawn hid amidst the trees and branches and leaves.


Shortly after, chaos ensued. Men, horrified and mad with stark terror, disbanded from the group at the raucous noise the creature made upon being struck by what I could identify as being an arrow that had just been fired by one of the mercenaries. A noise so indescribable, as if the voices of the damned were audible through some opened gateways to the void and the soul cairn, it seemed as if, whatever this beast was, screeched with multiple voices of various tone and intensity.

The terrified men, five in total, turned back in fear and ran for their lives screaming, whereas the beast ahead of us quickly vanished behind the trees, up a hill northeast of its position. By this time, only eight of us remained in the group, sanity intact, including me, Axilius, the two mercenaries and the remains of the indigents. Hesitatingly, we decided to press forward, now more than ever determined to wipe this monstrosity from existence.

So we quickly advanced in an attempt to follow it, when I tripped and fell into a flat hole that was about 60cm In width and about 25 to 30cm in length. Looking at it, we were seemingly on the verge of possibly discovering a most disturbing truth we never intended to uncover, leaving us speechless.

For said flat hole appeared to be the "footprint" of our game, there could be no mistake, taking its placement and overall frequency into account. But there was a disturbing quality to it. Something was off, without being obvious enough for it to be noticed immediately. And as I stood up, standing with my feet in the hole still, it became clear as to what it looked familiar to.


I stood on the outline of the alleged footprint which revealed that its lining was strikingly similar to those of my own feet and, upon taking a step back for closer inspection, we saw that the footprint looked like two pairs of human feet next to each other, one circular indentation above them and above it again, another two pairs of feet.

I shudder still when thinking about it, even now. We gasped in puzzlement, visualizing as to how a foot had to be constructed in order to produce such a disturbing mark on the ground. After a brief rest, catching our breaths and drinking some water, we concluded to follow the marks of that unholy abomination despite being five men short but sure of success nonetheless. It turned out that following the creature wasn't too difficult, as it left deep imprints and bent trees and broken shrubbery in its wake.

We followed the traces to a large cave entrance, seemingly undocumented on any maps. There, we stopped. Our slightly arduous journey took us a while already and Axilius remarked that, if we wanted to enter the mound with the intent of murdering it, we'd have to act quickly, for dusk was fast approaching and if we were to stall for much longer we won't make it out by daylight. His remark earned the favour of the remainder of the party even before I could propose setting up camp nearby to wait for the next day.


So, leading the party, I resolved to enter the aperture with the men in tow without much hesitation, although I had a queer feeling when crossing the cavern's threshold. I felt it in my gut. Something wasn't right. We advanced deeper into the hollowed out hill at a rather quick pace when we noticed it was getting ever more dark the further we went. So in quest of some illumination, I picked up a wooden stick that lay on the ground which I almost tripped over, wrapped a small, leftover piece of cloth around it and before I could look for a source of fire, Axilius threw a tiny flame in my direction, igniting the stick which now cast a strange radiance in the utter darkness of the damp caverns.


Telling this now, in retrospect I wish I hadn't decided to enter the cave in the first place, much less wander into the dark for so long before igniting a torch. Upon the makeshift construction of wood and fabric being struck, there at once appeared before my eyes the face of a man, stark naked and allegedly bound to a pole in the darkness for I could not see his arms amidst the black void the torch didn't cast light upon, so I suspected his hands being tied to the hypothetical stake behind his back. Amidst lengthening shadows I observed that his eyes were closed and he was breathing heavily. I stopped to listen more closely, holding my own breath, which filled me with a growing sense of terror as I noticed that not one person was breathing but rather it appeared that a multitude of people were in- and exhaling with great difficulty.

As it were, we suspected it to be the beast's hub for fresh food and sustenance, which would have been terrifying enough in its own right. But it turned out to be worse, still.


I reached out to the man's face in an effort to wake him in order to supply reassurance since we resolved to rescue him and and his fellows, when just before I could touch his cheek, his eyes opened, his face squirming in agony. He started screaming and writhing, then we heard the beast's ghastly screech as if it was right next to us. Paralyzed in horror, I failed to retract my arm in time and the man opened his mouth and bit my hand in savage, animalistic fashion.


Then, all hell broke loose. I yelled in pain, clutching my hand that had just been bitten, looking for Axilius to mend my wound, but he was nowhere to be seen. Then my head started spinning, nausea crawling up my guts and intestines. With feverish reeling, dazed and half incapacitated, I realized that I've been poisoned. As I had that train of thought, I fell over and was only able to hazily watch the ensuing slaughter. The naked man rose above the ground and screamed, vanishing into the darkness, IT taking his place.

I didn't see much and it causes a deep feeling of sickness to recall what it looked like. Suffice it to say that in my half-delirious state I fancied I observed a massive abomination made from fused and sewn together humans, both alive and dead, partly rotting and withering. I just saw the men fighting valiantly, but ultimately in vain, being dismembered, eaten alive or thrown into the dark abysses of the caverns by the creature. Soon, my hearing would fail me and I was thankful to not hear the agonizing wailings of my companions any longer. My vision clouded slowly and the last thing I saw was a jetty black, undead, hovering lich, carrying the bodies away. Terrible vistas of emptiness rose on the horizon of my soul as everything went dark.


Next thing I knew, I found myself on a carriage headed for Solitude, the soldiers on board telling me I had been found among pools of blood and entrails in a suspected necromancer's hideout. Now I'm here.

Believe what you will but I know what I saw. It's easy to disregard this as a poison-induced fever dream but I know what unfathomable madness I beheld down in that twisted, abyssal pit of nightmares and unholy corruption.


As for the wanted necromancer, I don't know whence he strode, but if my suspicions are correct, I am coming to two conclusions.

Firstly, that, whoever he is, is incredibly powerful.

Secondly, that his name appears to be Axilius Vinius.


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