The Khajiit Murders – Chapter 8

A Chance Encounter

Rodrik threw down his hammer in disgust. Blast the damned roads, and blast the jarl for not keeping them in good repair! He’d hit a pothole the size of Red Mountain’s crater. Now the wagon’s front wheel was broken, the metal rim bent out of shape, and a big chunk of the wooden wheel itself was missing. He’d been trying to bang the metal hoop back into something resembling a circle, but it was no use. This summer rain wasn’t helping either, dripping down into his eyes every time he bent over the wheel.

A broken-down cart in Skyrim.

Beitild, the boss back at the Iron-Breaker Mine, would be mad as Oblivion when she found out he hadn’t gotten his load of tools and beams up to the new mine by the end of the day. It was already late, and he would never make it before dark. Work would come to a stop, and how Beitild hated that.

He had just decided to unhitch the horse and ride back to town when he heard another wagon approaching — but from the wrong direction if he was hoping for a ride. The wagon came into view around the corner, driven by a Breton from all appearances. The driver pulled alongside.

“Anything I can do to help?” the man said, eying the broken wheel doubtfully. He wore a long coat over a plain shirt and trousers. A pair of good leather boots that hadn’t seen too much wear was the only distinguishing feature about him.

Pic of a Breton.
A Breton (art by Valtarien on Steam workshop)

“Only if you happen to have a spare wheel with you.” Rodrik knew this was a dim hope even before he looked in the back of the stranger’s wagon. Nothing but a couple of long, rectangular crates. They looked for all the world like coffins, save for the small holes in the sides. “Or, if you’re willing to turn around and take me back to Dawnstar.”

“No such luck on either count, I’m afraid,” the stranger said. “I used my spare back in High Rock and haven’t been able to get another yet. And my schedule demands that I keep moving east.” He gave an apologetic smile. “Sorry.”

“Not to worry,” said Rodrik. “I can ride old Bossie here.” The stranger flicked the reins and then Rodrik remembered something. “Be careful down the road a ways, past Fort Dunstad. The Khajiit caravan is camped there. You’ve probably heard about the murders in Dragon Bridge and Morthal, if you came that way. Say they got the culprit, but you can’t be too careful.”

“I thank you for the warning,” the Breton said with a wave over his shoulder.

Rodrik turned to the business of getting Bossie unhitched. She was well-named — had a head of her own and didn’t like to be ridden.

He was tying up the reins to a more appropriate length for riding, Bossie shaking her head and stamping even more than usual, when he heard soft, quick footsteps from behind him, along with a low, groaning sound. He turned to see a flash of tawny fur, a clawed hand swinging toward him, and that was the last he knew.

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