My dearest Voghnar,
I’m sure you must have been wondering why your shipment of sujamma berries and kwama eggs is so late this month. My fool of a dunmer assistant has returned to the plantation early (and empty-handed, no less) with yet another tall tale. I do not believe that there is any truth to it, and I know not what I am going to do with him. Perhaps I’ll put him to work in the farm, or better yet, send him down into the mines to collect eggs (a few bites would do him good, don’t you think?)
I hope your business isn’t doing too badly for lack of the goods; I know how much your dunmeri patrons love Liliah’s sujamma. This batch should reach you quickly enough; Asgar seems to be a promising young lad, strong as a shalk, and his quick wit makes for a nice change in this dreary place. Remember to ask him about the time he caught and rode a dreugh all the way to Narsis, he’ll have your inn rolling about in tears.
Lledras insists on sending you his account of the “incident”, make what you want of it. Convey my love to Liliah (along with a little gift for her).
I must apologize to you for not being able to make your shipment to you this month. But I am sure you will understand once you hear my reasons, for I was privileged to a remarkably bizarre encounter that is truly unimaginable. Do you recall how I told you about the spellcasters I came across last year in an abandoned cave that I chose to spend the night in, and how they enchanted my guar so that it flew off with all the goods? This incident is stranger still!
I arrived in Davon’s Watch three days ago, and was making my way on the new road connecting Davon’s Watch to the beautiful city of Ebonheart. I longed to have a drink at the finest tavern in all of Stonefalls, the Ebony Flask (Have you ever lodged there? You surely must!), and greet my old friend Goveled. That drink was to be delayed, I’m afraid, for you would not believe what I saw on the road. Nay, I could not believe it myself, had these fleshless creatures not called out to me by name.
Skeletons. Yes, you read that right. There were about ten or fifteen of them, walking gaily along the road as if they did this every day, singing out loud of things that I dare not put to words. I clutched my guar closely as soon as I spotted them, and hid behind a large boulder so that I would go unnoticed. I was waiting for them to pass by, for fear that I would be abducted. That was when I saw that something was amiss, that it wasn’t just a band of laughing, singing skeletons. Huddled right in the center of the group, naked but for his smallclothes (as can be seen dancing in many of your northern inns) was a trembling nord begging for mercy. Clearly these skeletal beings were escorting him somewhere.
I was mesmerized by this sight. I wanted to run away, and my guar kept trying to escape my grasp as well. But I decided, against all rational thought, to follow the skeletons and observe them from a safe distance (how often do you get to be a spectator to such things anyway!). This was the point my guar broke free of my grip and sprinted away, along with all the goods I was supposed to deliver. I shrieked after him, which in hindsight was a mistake, for one of the skeletons heard me and whispered in my head.
“Lledras,” said he (it?) in a hoarse, rasping voice, “Come, be merry with us! Watch as we turn this mortal into one of us.” The man beseeched me to help him, but I wasn’t sure of what I could have done.
I followed them at a distance, both enraptured at the sight, and horrified at the thought of what would happen to me once they were done with this man. He was a strange one too, I felt. At times he seemed to be petrified with fear, at others he appeared to be going along with the skeletons’ banter, as if it were a charade. As we neared Ash Mountain, the man pleaded for some water and a morsel of food, at which point one of the skeletons led him to a nearby lava pool, and offered to feed him his own flesh! Thankfully they decided not to follow through with this, although they did enjoy making the man walk around barefoot (did I mention he was naked?) on some newly cooled lava. He danced gleefully and sang along with them, and somehow he did not sustain any burns.
All this time thoughts of escaping were forever in my head, but whenever I would hesitate, I would hear whispers of “Lledrasss,” from behind me, so I kept on going.
We arrived in Davon’s Watch, back where I’d started. Not one of the residents seemed to notice this strange procession; singing skeletons forcing along a naked man along the streets, although I did get some odd looks. Did I smell of fear? It was very likely. Vivec knows what they thought of me.
The courtyard in front of the Bank of Davon’s Watch was where they stopped. I hovered behind them to see that they had formed a circle around the man, as if they were about to embark on a ritual. And that they did, whispering stories of long gone ghosts and the ghosts to come, casting numerous arcane spells upon this poor individual, who was screaming in agony.
At long last, he could take it no more and fell to the ground. The skeletons appeared to be satisfied, and starting chanting in unison:
“Come to us, mortal, may you be stripped of all flesh until bones remain.
Come to us, mortal, may you be rid of all torment and worldly pain.
Come to us, mortal, may the Lord of Bones cleanse the blood from your veins.
Come to us, mortal, may lost souls forever shudder under your reign.”
What happened next did not appall me in the least, and I myself was taken aback when I realized that I had been numbed by all the strange events of that evening. I watched on with mild interest, some intrigue even, as various layers of skin and tissue slowly began to disappear from the nord’s body. It was not a gruesome sight by any means, it seemed almost … natural. His arms and legs were the first to go, and then his torso and head also slowly faded away until all that was left of him was a fully beating heart contained within a faint shadow of his former self. His heart pulsed rapidly a few times before he sprang back to life. Wordlessly, he walked up to each of the skeletons, who appeared to be very baffled at this new development, as if this was not what they intended to happen, and started to furiously whisper amongst themselves. The man, or beating heart, waited patiently awhile, and suddenly he took off to the streets, screaming at the top of his voice, “I’m free! I’m free!”
The skeletons just stood there for some time, scratching their heads (skulls?). I wondered if they had forgotten about me, and decided to slip off to the market square. Just as I was leaving, I heard the same dreadful rasping voice inside my head, “Lledrasssss, you’re next!” Terrified, I stole a guar from the stables and ran as far as I could towards the plantation.
That concludes my strange tale of how I lost the goods that were to be delivered to you, patron, as well as my guar. The farm owners are not at all pleased about the replacement guar, as it trampled over and ate all the cabbages. I now have to tend to those cabbages, so I’m afraid I might not see you again. So once again, I must apologize for these unfortunate events, but know that I am not sorry to have witnessed them.
Written by Lariana of the Nirnroot