Contrary to what some might think, given the name of this quest, Blood on the Ice is, in fact, not Skyrim’s rendition of a horror ice show about a serial killer who murders ice skaters.
Instead, Blood on the Ice is a murder mystery quest in the frozen northeastern city of Windhelm. Someone has been murdering young women late at night. The guards are too busy with the Civil War to investigate the killing spree. Can you put an end to the murders?
The Blood on Ice quest takes place in Windhelm on the far northeast side of the map. Getting there is as simple as taking a carriage from any major hold to Windhelm.
- Save often (There are numerous bugs/glitches in this quest. Some of them softlocking)
- High Lockpicking skill
- Enchanted Lockpicking gear
- The Necromancer’s Amulet
Beginning Blood on the Ice
Make your way to Windhelm via carriage, fast travel, or foot. Once inside the city, take a left down the path, then head right until you reach the second courtyard of the Stone Quarter anytime between 7 PM and 7 AM. Several citizens and a guard are standing around the dead body of Susanna the Wicked.
If you previously entered Windhelm and happened by this location already, they’ll instead be awkwardly standing around a pool of blood.
Speak with the guard, and they’ll inform you that this is the third recent murder of a young woman in Windhelm. Whoever the murderer is, they have a type and a pattern; it’s always young women killed at night, and their bodies are always severely cut up.
Ask if anyone is investigating the crime, and the guard will lament that the Skyrim Civil War keeps the guards occupied. Offer to help with the investigation, and the guard will tell you to question the bystanders.
Calixto Corrium, Silda the Unseen, and Helgird are the nearby bystanders. Calixto will tell you he thought he saw someone running away from the crime scene but didn’t get a good look at him.
Silda heard a scream and ran to the source, but didn’t see anyone. Helgird also saw no one but remarks that Susanna’s coin purse was untouched. Whoever is doing this isn’t doing it for money.
Speak with the guard again after speaking with the three bystanders, then offer to help more with the investigation. The guard will tell you that you’ll need permission for the city’s steward, Jorleif before you can engage in official business.
You don’t actually need to speak with Jorleif, but if you want the guards to help, go through official channels.
Head up to the palace and speak with Jorleif in the throne room. Knowing how distracted the guards are with the war, Jorleif gladly accepts your offer to help. He will tell you that he’ll send word to the guards to assist you in the investigation.
(Your journal will never update to indicate that Jorleif gave your authority to investigate. Just ignore it).
Finding a Killer
Head back to the guard in the graveyard and inform them that you’re acting under Jorleif’s authority now. The guard will tell you that they noticed a trail of blood leading away from here and that Helgird took Susanna’s body down into the Hall of the Dead for proper burial.
Speaking with Helgird isn’t required, but this is a murder mystery. Get your Sherlock Holmes hat on and get every detail you can. Head down into the Hall of the Dead and ask Helgird if she noticed anything strange about the body.
She will point out that the cuts on the body are odd. They look like the kind of marks only ancient embalming tools used by the old Nords would make. If you’ve been inside a single tomb in Skyrim yet, you’ll have seen them.
What makes this odd is that Helgird is the only person she knows who has such tools in Windhelm. Amusingly, you can ask if she had anything to do with the murders (She didn’t) before telling you to go away so she can prepare for Susanna’s burial.
Head back outside and head east, following the blood trail. It’ll lead up the nearby stairs heading deeper northwest into the city. Continue following the blood trail. It will eventually lead to Hjerim manor.
Hjerim’s front door has a Master lock. If your Lockpicking skill is moderately high and you aren’t level 99 yet, I recommend picking this lock. That’s real good exp. If your Lockpicking skill is low, or you don’t want to bother hassling with a Master lock, there’s a workaround.
Look for Tova Shatter-Shield around town. She’s usually in the marketplace or Candlehearth Hall. Speak with her about Hjerim manor, the former residence of her deceased daughter Friga. Friga was another young woman who fell victim to this mysterious killer, and the Shatter-Shield family has been taking it hard.
Tova boarded up Hjerim out of grief but still has the key. Tell her you’re attempting to bring to justice the murderer who killed her daughter, and she’ll give it to you.
The Secrets of Hjerim
Head inside Hjerim, and you’ll immediately see blood stains on the floor and on the nearby chest. You can investigate eight locations inside Hjerim Manor: the mead, chest, pots and pans, bed and chairs, wardrobe, small shelf, wardrobe, and altar.
The bloodied chest is the most important item in this first section of the house. Investigate it, and your character will remark that someone recently pushed it against this wall. Read The Butcher Journal 1 to gain some insight into the actions of the murderer. Also, grab one of the “Beware the Butcher!” pamphlets inside the chest.
After obtaining one of the “Beware the Butcher!” pamphlets (You need to grab one, not just read it. Otherwise, Viola won’t talk to you about it), you can head back outside and seek out the pamphlet’s author, Viola.
Ask her about the Butcher, and she’ll tell you she’s been attempting to find him for months. She complains about the guards fighting a war while someone murders Nords inside their own city walls. Tell Viola you found a bunch of her pamphlets inside Hjerim, and she’ll join you in investigating the manor. Follow her back to Hjerim.
Once back inside Hjerim, Viola will head into the northwest room and remark that there’s something strange about the nearby wardrobe. Investigate it, and you’ll discover a false back panel. Activate it, and you’ll pop open the entrance to a secret room.
Blood stains the floor, and you’ll be tripping over body parts as you walk. Ancient Nordic embalming tools lie on the nearby shelves, confirming Helgird’s suspicions. Investigate the altar, then read Butcher Journal 2. Whoever the murderer is, they’re engaging in some form of ancient necromancy.
Speak with Viola about your discoveries, and you’ll surmise that the court wizard, Wuunferth, must be the killer. Nords aren’t known for their skill in magic, so Wuunferth seems like the most likely suspect.
Viola will remark that a man called the Unliving is dangerous and that you should take this information to Jorleif instead of confronting Wuunferth alone.
But before you leave, investigate the shelf to the right and behind Viola. There will be another large stack of “Beware the Butcher!” pamphlets on the shelf. Something is resting beneath them: a Strange Amulet. Make sure you grab this, or you’ll miss out on the best reward of Blood on the Ice.
The Strange Amulet’s Origins
After investigating the secret room and retrieving the Strange Amulet, you can leave Hjerim. From here, you’ll want to seek out Calixto again. If the game worked properly, you could ask any guard about the Strange Amulet, and they will direct you to Calixto. But since this is Skyrim, this part of the quest is bugged.
Seek out Calixto yourself. You can usually find him in the market or his House of Curiosities. Ask him about the Strange Amulet, and he’ll tell you it is the Wheelstone. It’s a symbolic amulet typically owned by the court wizard, in this case, Wuunferth.
He offers to buy it from you for 500 gold to add to his collection of Curiosities. Accept his deal. You cannot get the quest’s best reward if you don’t.
All signs point towards Wuunferth being the murderer. It’s time to decide what to do with this information.
Speaking with Jorleif
If you heed Viola’s advice and speak with Jorleif, you can inform him that you believe Wuunferth is the murderer. He will be highly skeptical as Wuunferth has been a loyal friend of Ulfric Stormcloak for years.
Provide him with your proof, and he will regretfully accept what you tell him as the truth. He will tell you that he’ll have the guards arrest Wuunferth immediately. After this, the quest is complete.
Or is it?
The Arrest of Wuunferth
If you like, you can follow Jorleif and the guards as they go to arrest Wuunferth. Wuunferth proclaims his innocence but nevertheless allows the guards to arrest him.
After several days of in-game time have passed, the body of yet another young woman will appear outside Candlehearth Hall. The potential victims are Jora, Hermir Strong-Heart, Nilsine Shatter-Shield (This killer really doesn’t like the Shatter-Shield family), Idesa Sadri, or young Arivanya.
Several bystanders, including Calixto and a guard, will be near the body. As usual, the bystanders saw nothing helpful. Talk to the guard, who will remark that they thought you’d captured the Butcher. Clearly, you were wrong. They will suggest you speak with Wuunferth in Windhelm jail to figure out where the evidence went wrong.
From this point forward, the quest plays out largely the same whether you spoke with Jorleif first or confronted Wuunferth yourself.
Speaking with Wuunferth
Speak with Wuunferth in his chambers or his jail cell about the Butcher and your discoveries. Mention “his” journals on necromancy, and Wuunferth will deny having any. He also tells you that as an upstanding member of the College of Winterhold, he doesn’t do necromancy (The College banned its; practice centuries ago).
Describe the Strange Amulet’s design to Wuunferth, and he’ll tell you it is the legendary Necromancer’s Amulet. It turns out it’s not actually his. He will agree that necromancy is at the center of this murder spree and that it must end.
Ask him what you can do next, and Wuunferth will tell you he’s been tracking the murderer himself. He predicts the killer will strike again within a day or two and tells you to patrol the Stone Quarter at night to catch the Butcher in the act.
Catching the Butcher
Head out to Candlehearth Hall when it’s nighttime. The game doesn’t specify what part of the Stone Quarter you need to patrol. Spoiler alert: it’s the marketplace.
Head for the marketplace and one of the five women/potential victims will be near the market stalls (If you didn’t go to Jorleif first, the victim is always Arivanya). They will cry out for help as the Butcher is here and attempting to murder them.
Despite the fact that there is a Windhelm guard LOOKING AT THE ATTEMPTED MURDER, they will not react whatsoever to what’s happening. Welcome to Skyrim. It just works.
This scenario plays out exactly the same as the one between Weylin and Margret during The Forsworn Conspiracy. If you don’t want the woman to die, you need to step in immediately and kill the Butcher.
Use whatever combat method you prefer to kill the Butcher. It isn’t hard, as he is not wearing any armor. If you don’t kill him in time to save the woman, he will flee to Hjerim, and you’ll need to defeat him there.
After killing him, inspect the body. The Butcher is none other than Calixto. Loot his body for the Necromancer’s Amulet, some silver jewelry, and a key. Go back to his house, and head up the stairs to your left.
Use the key to unlock the chest to discover the Butcher Journal 3 and ancient Nordic embalming tools. It turns out that Calixto committed these heinous crimes in an attempt to resurrect his dead sister using the body parts of young women.
Return to Jorleif and inform him of who the real murderer is, and on behalf of Windhelm, he will thank you for your efforts. You’re halfway to being able to purchase Hjerim for yourself.
The second half involves choosing a side in the Civil War and capturing Windhelm for the Imperials or completing Rescue from Fort Neugrad, for the Stormcloaks.
And with that, the Butcher is no more, and Blood on the Ice is complete!
The Necromancer’s Amulet
The Necromancer’s Amulet is the primary reward for completing Blood on the Ice. To get it, you must sell the Strange Amulet to Calixto, have Wuunferth identify it as the Necromancer’s Amulet, then retrieve it from Calixto’s corpse after killing him.
If you fail to grab it from Hjerim during the quest, you cannot take it to Wuunferth after Blood on the Ice is over. It also will not appear as a sellable option despite having a 1000 gold value. You’ll be stuck with a useless paperweight.
When worn, the Necromancer’s Amulet provides +50 Magicka, decreases Conjuration spell costs by 25%, and decreases Health and Stamina regen by 75%.
The Magicka boost is equivalent to that of Extreme Magicka items, unlocked at level 24. The Conjuration spell cost reduction is equal to that of Peerless Conjuration items, which only show up after you reach level 40. That makes the Necromancer’s Amulet an extremely powerful tool for low-level necromancers.
On the negative side, the Stamina regen reduction makes wearing this item less than ideal if you intend to use Bound melee weapons. But if you’re the type of Conjurer who likes to summon all the things to do your dirty work for you, the Necromancer’s Amulet is excellent.
Question: Are there any Game-world Consequences to the Death of one of the Butcher’s Potential Final Victims?
Answer: Just one: Hermir Strong-Heart. Hermir is an apprentice to Oengul War-Anvil. Should Oengul die for some reason (NPCs randomly dying is not all that uncommon in Skyrim), Hermir takes over as head blacksmith and merchant. If both are dead, Windhelm is kind of out of a blacksmith.
Question: Is Hjerim Worth Purchasing?
Answer: In my opinion, no. It’s quite expensive, with a 12,000 gold initial purchase cost. There’s also a 500 gold fee to clean up the blood and body parts. Purchasing all the furnishings will set you back an additional 10,000+ gold.
You can outfit Hjerim with a lot of useful things like alchemy and enchanting labs, but it’s too far away from Windhelm’s fast travel point for my taste.
Question: Does Jorleif Give You any Rewards for Completing the Quest?
Answer: Except for the “gift” of being able to spend 12,000 gold for a house used as a base of operations by a killer, no. It turns out stopping a potential mass murderer doesn’t pay in Windhelm. Siding with the Imperials in the Civil War, it is.
Blood on the Ice is a great beginner side quest to take on. It doesn’t involve any difficult fights and has a great reward. Even if you don’t intend on using the Necromancer’s Amulet yourself, it still sells for a pretty penny.
Plus, in a game filled with a whole heap of go here and find this or kill that quests, a murder mystery is a great change in pace.
It can be an easy quest to ignore as it’s all the way up in Windhelm (A place you won’t find yourself spending much time in unless you join the Stormcloaks), but it’s definitely worth doing early in your adventure.
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