Lore:Scary Tales of the Druadach, Book 1

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Scary Tales of the Druadach, Book 1
by Cassia Volcatia, Traveling Scribe
Tale of "The Wolf with the Daedric Howl"

Welcome back, dear reader, to another volume of "Scary Tales." This time we explore the remote wilds of the Reach, specifically the fierce and uninviting Druadach Mountains area. The barbaric Reachfolk are as reclusive and perplexing as they are dangerous, and these tales were not gathered without significant risk.

Yet once again, through your seasoned storyteller's charm, quick wit, and ability to run very fast, I have escaped to bring you, my readers in the Imperial City and beyond, accounts of the unconfirmed and the unexplained. Now settle in, grab a drink, light your lantern, and read on—if you dare!

* * *
The Wolf with the Daedric Howl

Our first account of the unexplained comes from survivors of a Redguard merchant caravan, who endured a callous calamity of cataclysmic proportions while hauling a load of fine rugs and carpets from Dragonstar to Solitude. Our soon-to-be-imperiled group of unsuspecting carpet carriers set out from Dragonstar at the end of Rain's Hand, hoping to take advantage of a shortage of noble finery in Solitude that particular season. The caravan consisted of two Crown merchants protected by eight seasoned sellswords led by Captain Hakmir, the Blade of Bergama.

The merchants told of an odyssey that seemed cursed from the start. Not a moment after they crossed the border into the Reach their caravan was beset by the worst of storms—a steady, driving rain that continued for days on end. Even the Redguard wagons and their sturdy horses, strong and hardy from dragging wagons through the sand, had trouble keeping pace in the mirthless and muddy conditions. Despite the best efforts of caravaneers and horses, the caravan fell days behind. Yet this troubling inconvenience became all the more sinister when two of Captain Hakmir's sellswords vanished in the night!

There was no call of alarm from the vanished, and no bodies found the next day. Yet the night before their fellows vanished, all the caravan survivors recall waking to the mournful howl of a single wolf. It was a howl so terrifying and dreadful that it woke all who huddled fitfully in their rain-soaked tents. It left them awake long after the howl faded. A howl, they said, like a Daedra's roar.

The rain slacked by morning, yet search as they might, the other six members of the caravan's escort simply could not find any footprints or other signs of their missing brethren. Two seasoned Crown warriors simply vanished, as if taken by the very storm that plagued the caravan! Or taken by a Daedric wolf?

The lead merchant counseled caution. Should the caravan turn back? But Captain Hakmir, confident in his skills and determined to find his missing soldiers, assured the merchants they could press ahead. So press ahead they did, only to have the driving storm replaced by the worst of fogs. One merchant told your chronicler that the fog grew so thick she couldn't see her fingers in front of her face!

Worse, the survivors shared, were the howls. Brazen and unrelenting, the same terrifying howl that had awoken the caravan the night the first sellswords disappeared was heard again and again during the day, erupting from the fog, and always too far away to trace. The sellswords closed ranks, cursing and muttering among themselves, waiting to defend themselves. But no attack came. As the caravan plodded on, they grew certain the howling was just some wicked trick of the Reach. The barbaric clans of the Reach would never dare attack six Crown Redguards on the road. Such seasoned warriors would not be taken by surprise again!

The night after the fog rolled in, Captain Hakmir declared that his sellswords would sleep in shifts, three on and three off, until first light. His plan seemed sound until, once again, in the darkest of the fog-filled night, the wolf's Daedric howl split the night. All in the camp awoke at once, and Captain Hakmir called to his soldiers in the dark. Yet none responded. With the grimmest of glares, the Blade of Bergama ordered his last two soldiers not to leave the caravan under any circumstances, then drew his giant blade. Hakmir strode into the fog to face the Daedric wolf and learn the fate of his companions.

And the brave Captain Hakmir, your tarried teller of tales must tragically report, never returned.

The fog remained the next morning, joined by another forceful rain, and soon an axle on one of the hardy Redguard wagons snapped. How could this be? The wagons were repaired and fortified in Dragonstar before they departed! Left with the prospect of plodding on for two weeks beset by storms, fog, and this wraithlike, wayward wolf, the Crown merchants made the decision to abandon their wagons and rush on to Solitude by horse. Carpets and silk, they declared, were not worth the deaths of those still alive!

As soon as the party left the wagons, riding two astride each horse with the last animal carrying what possessions they could salvage, the deadly fog lifted. A tense four days later, the survivors arrived in Solitude, bereft of their abandoned wealth but otherwise unharried and unharmed.

Yet Captain Hakmir and the six brave sellswords who vanished have not been heard from since. Only the memory of the Daedric wolf remains, seared into the minds of all who heard its howl. A wolf made of storm and fog, stealing the unwary in the night and then vanishing, like its victims, into the shadows of the Druadach Mountains.