Surrounded by water, on a raised bit of ground, you find a body.
'Oh no,' Vilkas mutters, rushes forward.
You bend down next to where Vilkas is crouching, and gently turn the face towards you.
A man, his blue eyes still open, his mouth forever set in a straight line. There's a hole that's been smashed into the top right hand side of his skull. Blood clogs strands of his wet, wheat coloured hair.
Your hands shake, you hold your breath and look towards Vilkas who takes the corpse's arms and crosses them across the body.
'Peace with you, brother,' Vilkas says.
Too late. Those words whizz like an arrow through your mind. You were too late.
It doesn't matter that you didn't know this man. It's not the point. The companions were hired to -
'It's not him,' Vilkas says. He sniffs, stands up and walk over to the rickety, worn table near to the body. 'It's not Engar.'
You wonder how Vilkas could know this.
'Wolf's instinct.' Vilkas folds his arms across his chest and leans against the table. 'Engar's a farmer. Why would he wear leather armour? Besides,' he tilts his head to one side. 'When his wife came to Jorrvaskr I could smell Engar on her clothes. He doesn't smell like Engar.'
A lumpy, brown slab of Horker loaf sits on the table which Vilkas stashes with the rest of his provisions. Then he throws you a bottle of 'Potion of Plentiful Healing'. He takes another look at the unknown man.
'Poor whelp. Should stay alert, don't fancy bumping into whoever cracked the hole in his head.'
Relief fills you at knowing that this body doesn't belong to the one you were hired to rescue. Yet at the same time the relief is tinged with sadness. Somewhere out in the world, someone is wondering what happened to this man. They will never know.
Chillwind Depths lives up to its name. Like hungry, wailing wolves the wind rattles up and down the narrow cave passageways. You shiver, and not only because you are cold.
You follow a sodden passageway that veers to the left, and brush aside roots that grow down from the ceiling and tangle with your hair. Vilkas, his sword already drawn, follows close behind.
Every step you take your boots squelch as you traipse through cold, ankle-deep water.
The narrow passageways of Chillwind Depths twist and turn and split at various parts. Twice you and Vilkas find yourselves staring at the wall of a dead end.
You stop. In the darkness you can hear the drip, drip, drip of water. It is accompanied by the thudding of your heart and sudden breathless gasps.
'Harbinger?' Vilkas calls your name.
The walls are creeping closer. The earth is folding down on you.
You've never experienced claustrophobia before, but here, in these slender corridors in the bowls of the earth, you wish for nothing other than to see the sky again.
You feel Vilkas' arm on your shoulder, a gentle squeeze. 'I don't like it either. The quicker we're out of here the better.' He pushes you forwards.
The trail you follows widens a little, but not by much.
You find white strands, as thin as silk, beginning to cover the glistening with damp, passageway walls. Vilkas touches it, wrinkles his brow, and tries to wipe the white threads from his gauntleted hands. He sniffs the air. 'Got a feeling there's trouble ahead.'
All you can do is move forwards. So with Vilkas' warning in mind, you draw your blade, trying to pull it out of its sheath whilst making as little noise as possible.
The thread becomes more abundant the further down the corridor you go until you reach an opening covered in the sticky stuff.
You cut it aside, step forwards and are relieved to find that the corridor opens out into a large area with a vaulted ceiling.
It's as if you have walked into one giant cocoon. Web covers all surfaces, to the point that it's hard to see any of the rock beneath it. It hangs from the ceiling like gossamer rope, tangled around tree roots and clods of earth.
You stare at the web sacks suspended from the cave roof, wondering what poor sods have been imprisoned within. Your gaze shifts up to the ceiling and it is returned by the ones who have been spinning the webs.
With hundreds of eyes, they look down at you from where they hang in their silken palace.
'Ah,' Vilkas says. 'Good job Farkas isn't here.'