This is a multi-step quest which begins in Windhelm. It entails discovering the identity of a serial killer that has killed at least three young women by the time Windhelm is entered by the Dragonborn.
The body of the latest victim is in the cemetery, and the quest is activated when the nearby Windhelm guard is queried. There are alternative paths through the quest, so following the quest markers exactly may not be optimum.
There isn't really any forensic reasoning involved; common sense will suffice for the initial portion. The warning about alternate routes through the quest should alert the Dragonborn to question some early conclusions the various dialogue options seem to force.
The biggest "reward" from this quest is related to the Strange Amulet. After going through all the hassle, make sure not to bypass that section if desirous of having its full potential unlocked.
Initiating the quest
To initiate this quest, the Dragonborn must travel to Windhelm at around midnight (between 7:01 PM to 6:59 AM). If the Dark Brotherhood quest-line has been started or completed, it could hinder the possibilities of starting this quest. If this happens and the murder scene doesn't appear, killing Grelod the Kind may fix this issue. Also, make sure no other quests that require a visit to Windhelm is active, such as Thieves Guild's small jobs or Companion's miscellaneous quests to increase the chance for this quest to appear.
- In the graveyard, there will be several people gathered around the body of Susanna the Wicked. The guard will approach the Dragonborn and start a conversation that leads to the initiation of the quest. To get to the graveyard, turn left at the entrance to the city, go through the archway, make the first right and go down the steps behind the blacksmith.
- Buying the house Hjerim in Windhelm will also start this quest. In this case continue at step 8.
- Another way to start the quest is to steal the key to Hjerim from Tova Shatter-Shield or pick the master lock on the front door and enter the house. When one of the fliers located on a small dresser is taken, the quest will start at step 8.
- After questioning the three nearby witnesses, the Dragonborn should talk to the guard again.
- In order to be granted permission to help the investigation, the Dragonborn must visit Jorleif, and then return to the guard.
- Inside the Hall of the Dead, the Dragonborn should speak with Helgird.
- If the key to Hjerim (purchased or pickpocketed) is in the Dragonborn's possession, the house can be entered to skip to step 9; otherwise, following the trail of blood in the crime scene will lead to Hjerim.
- Advice should be sought by speaking to Jorleif.
- Entering the house can be done by picking the lock or receiving the key from Tova Shatter-Shield, Friga Shatter-Shield's mother.
- All of the furniture that can be investigated should be.
- The Butcher's Journal #1 from the bloody chest up against the wall on the left of the entrance should be taken. The wardrobe on the right in the northwest room of the house will have a hidden door leading to an altar.
- The Butcher Journal #2 is at the altar.
- The Strange Amulet and pamphlets from the small dresser just next to the secret door should also be acquired. The amulet is hidden under the pamphlets.
- Jorleif will provide the investigator with information, suggesting to talk to Calixto Corrium (once the amulet is in hand) and Viola Giordano.
- The Strange Amulet can be shown, and eventually sold, to Calixto. He will inform the Dragonborn that it belongs to the court mage. The amulet is needed in order to accuse the court wizard. It may be best to sell it, as there appears to be a bug causing it may remain in the inventory indefinitely after the quest is completed.
- Viola Giordano is often found in Candlehearth Hall. She can't be talked to unless a copy of the Beware the Butcher! pamphlet is in hand. If the journal has been picked up before talking to her in the house, it can be dropped and picked back up in front of her to continue the accusation quest line.
At this point, this quest can be completed in one of two ways:
Accusing the mage
- Returning to Jorleif will end the quest, accusing the court mage of the murders.
- Waiting three days outside of Windhelm will make a body appear outside Candlehearth Hall, reopening the case and starting the second part of the quest, "Catch the Killer." If the Dragonborn is maximum level waiting, three days will not work, instead, they will have to visit the court mage in the barracks jail (see bugs).
Catching the killer
- Rather than going to Jorleif, the Dragonborn can choose to talk to Wuunferth the Unliving, the court mage, directly. Accusing him of practicing necromancy will cause him to deny the accusation, telling the Dragonborn that the amulet and journals are not his. He will then direct them to where the killer will strike next.
- As soon as the marketplace area is visited (right by the White Phial; the quest indicator will be a little misleading) in the stone quarter after dark, although it is possible to complete the quest if visited during the day, Calixto will be seen about to murder a random female NPC (possible victims include Arivanya (if Wuunferth wasn't accused), Nilsine Shatter-Shield, Hermir Strong-Heart and if the Dragonborn has married a woman in Windhelm, her). He can be stopped.
- Alternatively, instead of stopping Calixto in the marketplace, if he is witnessed successfully carrying out this murder, he will run off into the night. The quest tracker will then lead back to Hjerim, where the killer lies in wait and will attack immediately upon entering. If the Dragonborn is fast enough, they can catch up to Calixto and strike him down, with no added bounty.
- Returning to Jorleif and telling him that the killer has been caught completes the quest.
If the amulet has been sold to Calixto earlier, it can be looted back after killing him. It turns out to be the fabled Necromancer's Amulet. It grants +50 Magicka, Fortify Conjuration 25%, and reduces Health and Stamina regeneration by 75%.
|Blood on the Ice – MS11|
|10||Windhelm is plagued by a shadowy killer. I've been asked to help investigate the latest murder.
|40||Windhelm is plagued by a shadowy killer. I've been asked to help investigate the latest murder. Jorleif, the steward, may have advice from time to time.
|100||I discovered that Wuunferth the Unliving was the Butcher of Windhelm, and helped bring him to justice.
|250||I've discovered that Calixto Corrium was the Butcher of Windhelm, and helped bring him to justice.
|Blood on the Ice – MS11b|
|15||The Butcher has struck again in Windhelm, after Wuunferth the Unliving was imprisoned. It appears he may have been innocent. I need to find the real killer.
|20||I've discovered that Calixto Corrium was the true Butcher of Windhelm, helped bring him to justice, and exonerated Wuunferth.
- If the Dragonborn is part of the Dark Brotherhood and completes the quest "Mourning Never Comes," which results in the killing Nilsine, Tova will be dead on the floor next to a suicide note in her house. Instead of talking to her, the key to Hjerim can be taken from her body.
- After killing Calixto and obtaining the key from his body, the Dragonborn can go into Calixto's house. Another Butcher's Journal is in a chest upstairs. It tells the reason for all of the killing.
- Pickpocketing the key from Calixto while he is alive and stealing his journal is not enough to get him arrested.
- When visiting Calixto Corrium (quest step 11), it is possible to sell him the Necromancer Amulet and then pickpocket the amulet in order to then sell it back. Each successful attempt is rewarded with 500 and a high Pickpocket experience (no Pickpocket perks are required). Once Calixto's shop is left, it will remain open for the rest of that day, but will lock and stay locked (Master) from then on. He will not be in there ever again. This only works for one day.
- If the Dragonborn approaches the Windhelm Guard with a weapon drawn, the Guard will suspect them of being the killer. However, proclaiming innocence will be enough to convince them.
- If the corpse is turned into a pile of ashes at the start (using a Raise Zombie, Reanimate Corpse or Revenant spell), it will "reassemble" back into the regular body when Helgrid takes it into the Hall of the Dead.
- If Hearthfire has been installed, Calixto may try and kill Sofie. However, since Sofie is a child, she will not die.
- If the Strange Amulet is not sold to Calixto, he may send hired thugs after the Dragonborn. The Dragonborn will also not receive the Necromancer's Amulet at the end of the quest.
- When attacking Calixto in the marketplace at night (or late afternoon), there is a chance that he will flee to a nearby store, such as The White Phial, and try to hide within. If the store owners had been helped in a quest beforehand, they will likely help the Dragonborn in killing Calixto.
This section contains bugs related to Blood on the Ice. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
|Click to see the list of bugs encountered|