Tes3Mod:Tamriel Data/The Weight of Guilt

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Weight of Guilt
by Fuchon Cire
Breton detective investigates unusually barbaric murders

It was deep in the month of Second Seed when a messenger brought a letter to my residence in Greenheart, which lies at the southern end of Valenwood. I presume similar letters were sent out to my various other residences, though considering the sharpness of the Emperor's eyes and ears, I would be not at all surprised to find that my location would be common knowledge within certain circles. At any rate the package was from near the heart of the Empire, a town just to the south of beautiful Cyrodiil itself. Breathless, the young messenger boy explained that the matter was of the utmost urgency, and I should, in all due haste, set sail for the capital.

Upon unsealing and digesting the contents of the letter, I was much of the opinion of the youth. Given that the request for aid was issued by a member of the Blades, it was clearly not a small trifle. While it is true that I do have associations within that group, and had worked alongside them, as well as for them in the past, it is my experience that they typically like to keep things "in house," so to speak. That they had contacted me suggested that they had arrived at a dead end, in terms of their investigations.

Ship rocking gently in Topal Bay on the way to my destination, I reread the package again, familiarizing myself with the case. It seems that in this town, certain citizens were being murdered at the rate of about two per week for three weeks. Then the killer struck the nephew of a Blades member, and that organization became heavily involved. Between the combined forces of the Blades and local law enforcement, little headway had been made.

The author of the correspondence wrote that Intervention spells were not used, for after the first incident the nearest shrines were monitored, and there were no teleporting travelers at the times of the next few murders. The possibility that Recall was being used could not be discounted, but, the letter argued, some thought the killer might enjoy watching the chaos he'd left in his wake. I shook my head sadly, folded the letter back up, and placed it in my pocket.

After we made landfall, I was greeted by Kevius Altenian, a fresh-faced youth who would see to my accommodations for the duration of the case; someone to worry about the trifles of room and board so I could remain wholly committed to the investigation. At times, I employ such people simply to hear them describe local rumours -- things that authorities might omit. The excitable fellow was somehow under the impression that I would have solved the case on the boat ride over, but that I had failed to draw any solid conclusions from the rather vague note did not seem to shake his confidence. He happily reached into his own pocket to pay a carriage to take us the remaining distance to the village.

In town, Kevius led me to a nondescript two story house, which was, he said, the site of the first murder, and was currently serving as their headquarters of the investigation. As the victim had lived alone, there was no one left to protest it being used as such. The downstairs area contained four heavily armed and armored soldiers--Imperial Legion, by the designs--and two more common-looking individuals -- Blades. The Legionnaires visibly bristled when we entered, but a scarcely noticeable gesture from one of the Blades assured them all was in order. Normally, the Legion would be absent in such a case, but as with the Blades the killer had also struck the relative of a high-ranking Legionnaire.

"Breton," one of the Blades--a burly redguard whose eyebrows met each other above his nose--greeted me casually. "My name is Sanrit. Let us survey the upstairs, hear your opinion, and we shall see if you've wasted a trip." Sanrit led the way to a staircase, down a short hall, and to a door. Knocking on the door, he said "Protectorate, you have a visitor." The door opened on a scene of carnage the likes of which I have rarely had the misfortune of seeing.

Once upon a time, the room had clearly been something to behold. A sturdy bookcase lined one wall, opposite a large bed. Intricate designs had been carved into the wood of both, as well as the nightstand. A third wall, the one opposite the window, bore several pegs that would have held up a marvelous tapestry. Either during or after the killing, much of that had been laid waste. The bookcase was fractured, part of it leaning against a wall, another part wholly collapsed to the floor. The books it had held were strewn about the room, and were also partially shredded. Many loose pages had become stuck to the floor, as the blood soaking them had dried. The incredible craftsmanship displayed in the carvings similarly found itself obscured with blood, where it had not simply been scratched into unrecognizability. The window had but a few shards of glass left in it. As for the tapestries that once decorated the wall, they lay in hard, blood-dried piles on the floor. Even so, one could see where they had been torn. Remembering the package I'd been sent, I realized that this scene was three weeks old.

"Anything you'd like to add?" asked the Protectorate bleakly. When I nodded, the fellow seemed shocked.

"First of all, the victim likely knew the killer. Secondly, the window was used as a means of egress. Thirdly, the killer is in excellent physical condition, perhaps unnaturally so. And as a corollary, I do not believe any fortification spell was used -- you're looking for someone genuinely powerful." I paused, considering, "I may be able to deduce more, if I am allowed access to other scenes preserved similarly, and if I am allowed access to the bodies, assuming that they have not yet been disposed of."

The Protectorate and Sanrit shot each other surprised looks. "I wouldn't mind getting a further opinion from you." the Sanrit said, "As to the first of your requests, the sites of the two most recent attacks have not yet been too much disturbed."

"The first murder, and the last two? What of the other three sites?" I inquired.

"One was at the inn, and the owner thoroughly cleaned the room in question. Can't rent out a slaughterhouse, he told me. The remaining two took place in homes occupied by families. Vile enough that children must be raised fatherless, but to make them live mere feet away from the undisturbed scene asks too much."

"And the bodies?"

"That may prove a touch more difficult. Three have been cremated, two buried. The last two -- which are indeed the last two -- are currently in the possession of a necromancer. Legally, they're her property, so you'll have to talk it over with her. I doubt she'll be receptive."

Once I had procured the name of the necromancer, who oddly enough was a Dunmer, I exited the building to inquire of her whereabouts to Kevius. He assured me that Artisa Arethi would not be too difficult to deal with; it seems that when she had first moved to Cyrodiil from Morrowind years ago, she was very defensive, and very, very private. As she realized that necromancy wasn't the absolute taboo in Cyrodiil that it was in Morrowind, she gradually softened her manner.

Kevius was kind enough to give me directions to her home, but seemed taken aback when I made another request of him:

"At the moment, I cannot tell you why, but I need for you to do something, not question it, and remain silent about it until further notice. Is this possible?" Cautiously, he agreed. "Very well, then. I want you to go to each of the houses these murders took place in, but I do not want you to enter any of them. You are to search around them, and try to find glass from a shattered window. Check the sites in the order they occurred. If you're able to find glass at one, sit and make sure no one disturbs it, and do not disturb it yourself. Are you willing to do this?" Kevius nodded with his regular animation.

That done, we parted ways and I proceeded on to Artisa Arethi's home. Having seen necromancer's caves in Morrowind, as well as Velothi towers they seemed to enjoy invading, I must say a simple house was a nice change of pace. Artisa greeted me with surprising warmth, considering the situation.

"Sera Fuchon," she explained "You must understand that -- despite my charm -- it is not everyone who offers their body to me to look after when they've passed to Oblivion. While I do pay surviving family members handsomely, there is a level of trust and familiarity involved. I mean, would you want your corpse handled by just anyone? No, I think not. So I must say, while having a number of bodies on hand is good for my practice, I'd rather have acquired them later in life. They were good sorts, and certainly undeserving of murder."

"Then you would not mind showing me the bodies?" I asked hopefully.

Artisa nodded. "Certainly. There are others who have promised me bodies, who I would similarly wish no ill upon. If doing so will help you identify or catch the killer, then I am at your service." she paused a moment, then went on cautiously "Sera Fuchon, I considered these people friends. While I'm not hunted as I would be back home, I do not have so many friends as to suffer much more loss." she resumed her normal speaking voice "I keep the bodies in the basement, on stone slabs. It's the coolest room in the house, and they keep better there. I do try not to offend the neighbors too much with the rot."

As she began to lead me toward the stairs, she paused again, flustered. "Sera Fuchon, I almost forgot to warn you. And I -- I... let me explain... As you can see, I am not especially strong, or used to carrying around the weight of a dead body. There is someone in the basement for that, and it's... well, I'm not entirely sure it's legal to have him in the city. It's -- he's not -- that is... he's an Ogrim."

"An Ogrim?" I considered thoughtfully, "Did you summon him?"

"Well, yes. I doubt I could have snuck him into the city. I also doubt I could reproduce the spell; I'd been trying to summon a Daedroth -- takes up less space -- but I must have gotten something wrong. At any rate, he's cheaper to keep on than man or mer, he doesn't complain, and he follows direction. He does tend to... eat bodies when I've finished with them, though."

The basement was as Artisa described: stone and cold, the bodies resting peacefully on elevated slabs. And, of course, a titanic Ogrim filling one corner of the room. As I glanced at it, it stared back, perhaps not understanding why his mistress permitted me to be there. I looked away from it for a moment, turning my attention back to the corpse Artisa had led me to, when something nagged at me.

Giving the Ogrim a more serious -- if distant -- inspection, I noticed that its massive hands had blood on them. As if finally shrugging off my presence, the Ogrim turned its back to me, and began doing something I could not see. I looked a question at Artisa, but she didn't seem to know what it was about. When I explained my concern to her, she smiled.

"Oh sera, he's just eating. I used to get rats in here a few years ago, and he cleared that problem right up. Got a taste for them, I'm afraid. He likes them fresh -- live, that is -- but... but he prefers them tender too. So he..." Artisa balled her hand into a fist. "I can see your reason, though." As if to underscore her point, the cracking of bone could be heard from it's direction.

That done, I began to look over the two bodies. Artisa had washed them, so it was much easier to see where and how they had sustained injury. Both were fairly well mangled, with long straight parallel cuts covering much of their bodies, and a number of deep gashes in their torsos. There were no large, obvious bruises that I could see, which was inconsistent with the scenes; if the victims had been as battered as their rooms and other injuries indicated, they weren't showing it as they should have.

"Mistress Arethi, is there anything you can add? Did the spirits of these departed tell you anything?"

She shook her head slowly, "I'm afraid they were already on their way to Oblivion when I received them. Nevus -- on your right -- wanted to know 'where the hairy thing went'. But he didn't seem too upset about it, just curious. Oblivion took him soon after." Artisa paused again, considering something. "I've heard a rumor... some people are saying a werewolf is to blame. With my big Ogrim here, I'm not too worried -- more just nervous -- but sera, can it really be true?"

I scratched my chin, pondering "Right now, I'd be loath to say. I would like to know more before I begin throwing accusations around. In that cause... Not to assume too much mistress, but given your closeness to these victims, what could you tell me about their lives?"

If Artisa was put off by my resumed questioning, she seemed at least understanding. "Nevus, whom you've already 'met', was an alchemist. He carried all manner of rare plants, and other such exotic items. He... he used to laugh that people complained about the smell of some of his concoctions while no one said a word about my corpses. The second victim, the one the Blades got all in a huff about, was a good friend of his. The other of my guests was Gratinius Dolan, an enchanter. He used to tell me about extraordinary items he made free of charge for Blades -- very concerned about the safety of the Empire, that one. Once, he offered to enchant the stone in the basement to keep my guests even colder, but I didn't want to impose. They were good, honest men."

I nodded, "Thank you very much, mistress. I hope I have not taken up too much of your time."

"Not at all" she assured me.

With that, I bid her farewell, and began a circuit of the crime scenes trying to track down Kevius. I found him at the fifth scene, playing with a bit of straw in an alley. Every few moments, he would look down one side of the alley, then the other, obviously bored. When he spotted me, his relief was visible.

"The others had been cleaned up already" he greeted me, "And sweepers came while I waited here. I shooed them off, but I'm afraid them may have gone to the last house already. But one is better than none, I hope."

"I hope, too."

I bent to inspect the small scattering of glass on the floor of the alley. Glass on stone, clear enough, but something was lacking. Something vital. I asked Kevius if he had noticed anything odd about it, but he just shook his head in confusion.

"Did you see any of the murder scenes?" I asked patiently. When he nodded, I continued "The carnage, the blood everywhere. The walls, the floors, even the ceiling. Remember the ceiling? There are prints of the entire body, as if someone threw them up there, bleeding. Now I ask you: How does one soak so thoroughly in blood, leave bloody smears on the window sill, and leave no trace of it on the glass at our feet?" The boy stammered in surprise for a moment before I gave him the conclusion. "Someone escaped through the window of each scene, but that person did so while the victim was still alive. Whoever broke those windows is not the killer."

As I stepped him through it, his face became progressively brighter, and before I could say that the person was a possible witness as to the real killer's identity, young Kevius shouted "May the gods be praised!"

Suddenly, Kevius' enthusiasm and interest in the case became clear, as he stammered to explain. "My father lives in Solstheim, working for the East Empire Company. Last month, I visited him there with news that my sister had finally decided to settle down with a good, charming fellow. While I was there enjoying the crisp air outside of Fort Frostmoth, there was some trouble with werewolves. One of them pounced on me, all fangs and drool, so I screamed for help. Well-armed guards were quick to respond, and chased off the beasts. I was checked for signs of injury, and finding none, I was released. Unfortunately for me, it seems it never occurred to the guard that the disease they carry is transmitted by saliva, not truly by bite; there was not a mark upon my body, they said, so I must be fine. I failed to tell them that I had swallowed and gagged upon the fetid spittle that thing rained on me. At that point though, my business in Fort Frostmoth had concluded, and not being one for pointless boring travel, I recalled back to my house in Cyrodiil."

Stopping for breath for a moment, he continued shortly. "All was normal for a time, but after a few days, as night began to fall, I knew something was not quite right. I did not know at the time what was bothering me, though I suspected the worst. With that fear in mind, I went to see Crantilius Vasius. He had a brother in the Legion, so I thought he might know what to do to take care of the infection. I remember opening up his door, sweat pouring down my face, him greeting me, asking what was wrong, and then a blur. In the morning, I discovered Crantilius had been murdered. I was numbed by crushing guilt, because surely I was the one to do it. Throughout the day, I was too afraid to do anything. Then as darkness came, I panicked. I ran to see Gralilan Tulius; he had connections to the Blades -- I didn't know what connections -- and surely the Blades know everything about everything, or could find it out. Gralilan would be able to find me a cure, before I did too much more damage."

"But morning came, and no cure had I. Gralilan lay dead in his house, and I was still alive, and still thought myself guilty. I left town, and sought out a cave that had been home to bandits before the Legion cleared them out. Bringing a few meager possessions, I magically locked the door and waited. When morning came again, I unlocked the door, hurried to town, and was overjoyed that no one had been killed in the night. That cave became my home. But after a week, there was another murder -- Falinia Rescius, an apothecary -- again someone I might have gone to for help. The door to my cave was intact, still locked, but the dirt and rock around it's bottom had been cleared away by desperate clawed hands. It was enough to slide under without disturbing the door."

"Besides the overwhelming guilt, I began to feel a deep, gnawing hunger. As if despite my killing, I would never be satisfied. Horrified, I sat in my cave and tried to think of who else might be able to help me. Sadly, to date those people have all been victims. Crantilius and Gralilan, then Falinia Rescius, Ysronmir the sorcerer I thought might be able to at least paralyze me overnight, Vonvild the summoner I thought could contact something knowledgeable from Oblivion to cure me, Nevus the alchemist might have a potion to cure me, Gratinius the enchanter might craft something to suppress the disease. I... I thought when you arrived, you might solve the crimes, and find me. E -- Even though I knew I was guilty, I thought you might know some treatment for me. I was afraid you'd be my next victim."

I blinked in astonishment. I knew a werewolf had been involved, and that the poor afflicted person was not the killer -- or rather, not this particular killer -- I had no idea it was someone right under my nose. I started slowly "So you remember breaking the windows, or the sound of it, maybe, in your hazy nighttime antics?"

"I... well, sort of. I think it more convincing that I would wake up with shards still on me. But... but my arm was always so bloody..."

"Do you mind if I had a look at it?" I asked, still feeling somewhat surreal. When he rolled up his sleeve, I immediately knew what had happened, and explained it to him. "You sought out those who could help you, as you feverishly stumbled about town on the verge of transformation. Seeing you in such terrible shape, your saviours would let you in and begin looking you over. Either when the transformation struck, or perhaps before, you would escape through a window, as to avoid harming them. I'm not sure where you went after that, but surely somewhere out of town. Though bloodlust consumed you, even as a werewolf you could not harm another. Just look at your arm! You must have sat somewhere in the darkness, gnawing on it to keep the worst of your hunger at bay."

Suddenly, my mood darkened again. I knew who the killer was, and it troubled me. Yet besides Kevius' visiting the victims, it was the only other connection I could find between them, though it did not connect all of them. The conclusion was that the killer only intended to strike down a few of Kevius' saviours, but killed them all so as to more thoroughly frame Kevius.

"I'm afraid I'll need your help again" I told Kevius. "That Protectorate fellow watching over the scene of the first murder, I need you to speak with him. Tell him I will have some interesting news for him, and to meet me at Artisa Arethi's house. Be sure to inform that Blade Sanrit as well; it is his investigation, after all."

Bright and eager as before, Kevius did not hesitate. "Of course!" and immediately ran off.

For my part, I hurried over to mistress Arethi's house myself, to explain and justify all the company she was about to have. She seemed a bit worried that I intended to show them to the basement, with the Ogrim hanging about, but I assured her that -- as unlikely as it sounded -- they would not only not mind, but be happy the beast was there. Besides that small concern, the young Dunmer was surprisingly accommodating.

Minutes later, Kevius arrived, Sanrit and the Protectorate in tow. They both looked confused, though Sanrit also put his curiosity into words.

"What purpose here? We've been following this case for weeks. Breton, we are well familiar with the injuries to the bodies, if that is what you intend to shed light upon."

I smiled confidently. "Oh, the injuries are just a part of it. If you're bored with them, I'm sure there will be other items more of interest. I do not pretend to have all the pieces, but I've fit together what I've been handed very well."

Sanrit and the Protectorate looked uneasily about as we descended the stairway to the basement. The sudden chill, the corpses, and the Ogrim would surely have a similar effect on most anyone. I walked around the raised stone slabs silently for a moment while the others collected their bearings. Perhaps nervous in the presence of a law enforcement official, Artisa gravitated toward me. Kevius studied the walls, resolutely refusing to look at the corpses he had never been responsible for. The Blade and Protectorate stood near the door, as far away from the Ogrim as possible. The Ogrim paid us no mind.

"Well, I must admit some hesitancy. I truly do not know where to begin." I began slowly, "I'm sure you all remember Gralilan Tulius, the second victim, nephew of a Blade. With his passing, I think I do him no wrong by saying this: while it's true that he was such a nephew, I found it curious that it was not mentioned that he himself was a member of that organization." I raised a hand for silence, as the assembly grew noisy. "No, it was not any particular skill on my part that uncovered that truth. Just mere chance. I knew the victim years ago, and worked with him on another case."

"Now, I know you investigators have been looking for a werewolf, but though you may find one, it won't be your killer. One of you knows what I'm talking about..." I trailed off, hoping the guilty party would expose themself. "... But it appears that person is waiting to be thoroughly convinced of what they already know. Oh well."

I walked over to the body of Nevus, and gestured the rest to watch closely. Pointing to the long, even cuts on his torso, I continued. "See these wounds? They were parallel, so it was easy enough to pass them off as marks from a werewolf's claws. But if you are familiar with claw marks, you would see that these gouges are too straight. They are, in fact, not gouges at all. This type of injury comes from a blade; it's a cut, not a scratch, and it's intentionally made to look like it was inflicted by an animal. As you may or may not be aware, werewolves do not use weapons, at least not in lupine form. So the killer must be someone more conventional."

"So then, the killer was aware of the werewolf, and indeed sought his victims out based on the werewolf's movements. The killer knows who the werewolf is. Public suspicion being what it is, the killer would have been able to hand his scapegoat over to the authorities at any time, and no one would have ever known he was the true killer. Why is the wolf still free, then? Because the killer knew I was coming. Because the killer knew the wolf would seek me out, and that would give him the opportunity to kill me and erase any doubt about the werewolf's guilt."

"Now, since the guilty party has insisted on holding their tongue, I shall give the largest clue: The murderer knew I was coming to investigate well in advance of my arrival. Who would know that? The person in charge of the investigation, of course." I rounded on him, pointing an accusatory finger "Sanrit."

I didn't know such a thing was possible, but the already dark redguard's face darkened further. He looked at the Protectorate in contempt, then said "Of course I did it, fool. You have uncovered so much in a day, you think I'm so inept that I would be stymied even after three weeks? I kept the Protectorate following false leads and outright fabricated leads because I didn't want this case solved. And I was in position to make sure it never was. When I finally did turn in Kevius, I would have blamed the pace of the investigation on these idiotic Protectorate."

I nodded toward Sanrit, and went on. "Now that you have been so kind as to admit your crimes, would you resolve one last matter for me? I have my suspicions, but not certainty. Why kill anyone?"

Sanrit shook his head in negation. "Little point wasting my breath, when I intend to kill you all, and let Kevius take the fall." He drew his sword and stalked toward me. I felt Artisa's arms close around me, seeking safety, and then I heard it. Moving with surprising speed and grace for it's bulk, the Ogrim swept us all behind it and roared ferociously at Sanrit. Jumping to see over the creature's massive shoulder, I saw the blood drain out of Sanrit's face. On my next jump, the redguard turned and ran.

I half-leapt, half-climbed over the Ogrim and drew my own sword. Never had I had call to use the katana before, though as a gentleman's weapon I practiced with it often enough. Now was not the time for second-guessing, or hesitation. A killer would soon be loose in the streets.

I chased Sanrit up one flight of stairs, and saw him pause in the living room. His hesitation told me he was weighing his chances of making it out the front door in time to elude me. Apparently, he thought it not worth the risk, and instead ran up another flight of stairs. Hot on his heels, I heard a crash ahead of me as he fled out of a window in what appeared to be Artisa's bedroom. I did not have time to ponder the irony that Kevius, scapegoat for the murders, had fled similarly so many times before. All I could do was follow Sanrit, as he leapt from one rooftop to the next. I feared he might start feeling the adrenaline rush redguards are so known for; if he did and kept running, I would never be able to catch up to him... and if he did and turned to fight, I did not know if I could hope to match him in combat.

Three rooftops later, the burly fellow made up his mind. Just as I made the jump, he spun around and buried his free hand into my midsection. I tried to roll with the blow, though it wasn't the sort of blow one can truly roll from. I came to a stop laying on my back, and raised my katana to cover my face just as Sanrit lowered his blade in an attempt to decapitate me. The power behind his swing was such that he nearly succeeded anyhow. Kicking his legs out from beneath him, I sprang back to my feet and took on a traditional sparring stance.

The murderous redguard quickly got up, and struck at me quickly and angrily. I parried each thrust, giving ground as I did so. I made a feint at his thigh to buy me enough time to jump to the next rooftop; having given so much ground on Sanrit's assault, I did not have a lot of roof left to work with for a second attack. There was the possibility that he might start running again, but I rightly banked on his wanting to see this impromptu duel through to the end.

In his leap over, Sanrit twisted his body around to give himself a wide arcing swing, to make sure I would not take advantage of him as he did of me. It kept me from continuing immediately, but such twists inevitably leave an area open. I quickly lashed out as his exposed back, careful to hit him with the flat of my blade; while he may have no qualms about killing, I would much rather capture a criminal than slay one.

My strike disrupted his balance on the tilted roof long enough for me to get in a second hit, this time on the wrist of his sword arm. The result went as I'd hoped: The sword flew from his hand. However, I had not imagined how fast the redguard could be, for he snatched the longsword out of the air with his other hand, and instantly turned to attack again. I had not counted on ambidexterity. A savage smile on his face, he trust at me again and again, slashing alternately at my arms and head.

Running out of rooftop once more, I made my final jump, choosing the building carefully. I backed away from the edge as Sanrit followed. While he closed the distance, I switched the katana to my other hand; the heavy blows of an adrenaline fed redguard are enough to exhaust most any swordsman. As we crossed swords, I finally realized that I would not be able to weather the hail of shots he could lay down. He was simply too quick, too strong, and too unrelenting, and I was too unwilling to cause injury.

We continued on until the last in a series of three strikes was so overwhelmingly powerful that I lost my footing. Finally triumphant, the redguard readied for one final death-dealing chop. He had had the luxury of having his mind on the battle the entire time, while I had not. Though he stood over me, victory within his grasp, now was the time my extracurricular thinking would pay off. Rolling away from him to create some distance, I cast an incredible burden spell at him. Sanrit had no time to react.

The roof collapsed under his now-colossal weight, and he dropped into the building unceremoniously. Placement had concerned me quite a bit, but looking down into the gap, I saw my fears hadn't come true. Sanrit had fallen through the roof of the Protectorate compound, convenient right into an unoccupied jail cell. With Protectorate all around him, the clouds visible through the hole would likely be the last sky he would be seeing for some time.

As an investigator though, one question still nagged at me: Why? I would not be satisfied with the conclusion until I knew what had driven the redguard to kill.

Because Sanrit had admitted to the murders in the presence of one of the Protectorate, he knew his fate was pretty well sealed. As such, he did not object to answering my questions. From his responses, a clear picture began to emerge.

When there are two Blades in a city, and one does not know of the other (As Sanrit did not know of Gralilan Tulius), there are typically two reasons: They're investigating separate, unconnected matters, or one outranks the other. Given the sensitive nature of their work, it's not uncommon for a Blade to have no direct correspondence with his superiors. Such was the case with Gralilan and Sanrit, and Sanrit was unhappy with the orders his unknown boss had been issuing. "A waste of his talents", as Sanrit himself said. If something were to happen to Gralilan, Sanrit believed he would be the one to take his place, and perhaps more importantly, his rank.

It was through a casual conversation with Crantilius Vasius that Sanrit discovered who had been wasting his talents. Crantilius had made the mistake of assuming Sanrit already knew of his fellow Blade. The wheels in his head turning, Sanrit began to plot the demise of his superior. But once Crantilius heard that Gralilan's position was not common knowledge, he might grow suspicious of Sanrit. That was why Crantilius was the first victim; it was sheer luck that Kevius visited him on the same night.

Taken aback by the sudden appearance of the werewolf, Sanrit decided to mock up the scene as if the werewolf had killed the man. After that, the redguard made every effort to find out the identity of the wolf; capturing it would certainly be a bright spot in his career. He could not imagine his good fortune when, the very next night, he followed Kevius to Gralilan's house. It seemed almost too good to be true, but Sanrit was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Once Gralilan had been murdered, and it became apparent there was a killer in town, Sanrit was immediately given the rank he so desired, and was placed in charge of the case as his first duty. Another Blade would have been sent, but it was thought Sanrit would be better suited, given that he was already familiar with the town and it's inhabitants. The Protectorate didn't make much fuss about having the investigation taken away because the graphic nature of the crimes disturbed so many of them.

Now Sanrit had what he wanted, and could have turned in Kevius right then and there. But he worried that someone else might have known Gralilan's position, that his benefiting from the murder would seen suspicious. He knew Nevus was a close friend of Gralilan's (even though he hadn't known Gralilan was a Blade, he had known of him), but he couldn't think of a way to kill him without drawing suspicion; two killers in town would seem a terrible coincidence. With that in mind, he killed Falinia Rescius, Ysronmir, and Vonvild, to keep pace with his werewolf scapegoat.

Around that time, it dawned on him that Kevius was seeking out those who might be able to treat his condition. Again, Sanrit laughed at his luck -- surely Kevius would visit the problematic alchemist, and give ample opportunity for his slaying. The redguard had intended to turn in Kevius immediately after that, but fate, it seems, suddenly stopped in it's favor toward him.

Dissatisfied with the course of the investigation and it's rising body count, the Protectorate officer assigned to the case asked a Blade friend of his to request my aid. The officer informed Sanrit of his actions, and so Kevius remained free. Sanrit thought that Kevius would seek me out in the hopes I would have him jailed (and so be unable to hurt others). On one hand, Sanrit hoped Kevius would assume all the blame for the murders and I wouldn't question it. On the other, if I looked too hard into the case, he could always murder me and lay the guilt on Kevius once again. Gratinius Dolan was killed as Sanrit waited for my arrival. It is true that Gratinius also knew of Gralilan's rank through his charity, but Sanrit banked on his ability to manipulate Gratinius' fierce loyalty to the Empire to keep him from making any accusations.

Sanrit was a powerful man, and his power was augmented by the adrenaline rush redguards are feared for. It was how he caused such destruction in the rooms where his victims were found. It was how he subdued his victims so quickly, though surprise certainly played it's role too (how many people witness a werewolf's transformation, then have a potential defender draw a sword on them?). It was how he tossed the bodies up with such ease, to leave bloody full-body prints on ceilings. Once he calmed himself, then he would make sure to inflict the "telltale clawmarks" on the bodies with his sword. Afterwards, he exited through the window that had already been broken by Kevius -- which was why the sill had blood on it, but not the glass. He could not very well go walking through town looking like a butcher without drawing curiosity.

Sanrit undoubtedly bore me ill will, for if not for my intervention he may have gotten away with his crimes. I have not spent too much time worrying about vengeance, though. Because he murdered a fellow Blade, treason was among his charges; piled on top of seven murder charges (Crantilius, Gralilan, Falinia, Ysronmir, Vonvild, Nevus, and Gratinius), he did not keep the executioner long waiting.

As for Kevius, he finally found someone to help him with his lycanthropy. As an unconventional disease, it's cure is known in the usual unconventional circles, and as a necromancer, Artisa Arethi was familiar with some rather unconventional circles. Because he never actually harmed anyone other than himself during his time as a werewolf, no charges were brought against him. He did, however, pay for the replacement of the windows he shattered. Maybe the weight of guilt had been removed from his shoulders, but his sense of responsibility remained intact.