J’Zhirr asks Alfarinn if he has seen a Moth Priest.
Alfarinn asks, “That’s one of them Imperial scholars, right? Old man with a gray robe?”
That sounds about right. J’Zhirr asks if Alfarinn has seen him.
Alfarinn says, “Might be that I have, but I can’t say for sure. I got enough troubles on my mind just tryin’ to scrape by out here.”
J’Zhirr tries to persuade Alfarinn but he stands firm. “Can’t help you, friend. I might remember better if my pockets weren’t so light.” He wants almost 400 gold for the information.
That money-grabbing horse driver. J’Zhirr is not sure whether the information is worth it.
The blacksmiths are hard at work. Oengul War-Anvil works the forge with the help of his assistant, Hermir Strong-Heart. Oengul believes in the Stormcloaks’ cause and his greatest ambition is to prove that he is a better smith than Eorlund Gray-Mane. Hermir is a big fan of Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak and she is excited at being able to see Ulfric up close.
Today Oengul is in a foul mood as his good hammer has gone missing. He scolds Hermir for touching his tools. When she denies taking Oengul’s hammer, he says, “Hammers don’t have legs.” It turns out that Oengul had placed the hammer behind the forge and forgot all about it. He sheepishly apologizes.
J’Zhirr returns to Windhelm and finds Nurelion staring pensively into the fire. Nurelion is understandably upset when J’Zhirr presents him with the cracked Phial. Nurelion says, “It matches every description of the Phial that I’ve found in lore. But if it can’t hold liquid, there’s no way of knowing.” Luckily Nurelion believes J’Zhirr when this one denies damaging the Phial as Nurelion doubts J’Zhirr has sufficient knowledge to harm the Phial. The great disappointment takes a toil on Nurelion and he goes to lie down. Nurelion tells J’Zhirr to show himself out after giving this one five gold for his efforts.
Quintus Navale is waiting for J’Zhirr downstairs in the shop. A more even-tempered man, Quintus thanks J’Zhirr for retrieving the Phial and gives this one 500 gold to make up for the meager reward from Nurelion. Then Quintus leaves to tend to Nurelion and make the old elf’s final days a bit less painful.
One has to admire the hardiness of the Nords to the freezing cold. The snow and ice is nothing to them. Alfarinn, the carriage driver, sits outside the city in his usual post everyday, regardless of whether it is rain or shine. Or even when there is a snowstorm. J’Zhirr thinks it probably feels like nothing more than a light spring shower to him.
J’Zhirr enters the alchemical shop in Windhelm and finds the owner and his assistant quarrelling. Nurelion is a grumpy old elf but his assistant, Quintus Navale, respects the old elf and usually puts up with his grumbling.
When J’Zhirr asks Nurelion about their argument, Nurelion grumbles something about his life’s work. He says, “I’ve finally derived the location of the White Phial, but this doting busybody won’t let me get it.” He says the White Phial is the name of a legendary bottle, forged in the days when Skyrim was just starting its turn to ice. A small container, made of the magically infused snow that first fell on the Throat of the World and believed to replenish whatever fluid is placed inside of it. Nurelion ends wistfully, “For an alchemist like myself, it is the most pure expression of my art. To create from nothingness is… poetry.”
Caught up in his misery, Nurelion laments “I have spent my entire life searching for it. It brought me all the way to these frozen reaches from the warm embrace of Summerset Isle. Entire years spent in libraries. Seeking out tiny villages with local legends that contain a whisper of a hint of the Phial. I even named my shop after it, hoping that it might attract anyone who had heard of it. And now it’s within my grasp… but the Eight, it seems, have chosen me for their amusement… for in my current condition, I’ll never be able to lay my hands on it.”
A solitary candle burns above the fireplace and Candlehearth Hall is named after it. The innkeeper, Elda Early-Dawn, gladly tells anyone who is interested about the legend behind the candle. She says that one hundred and sixty-three years ago, Candlehearth Hall was the home of a great warrior called Vundheim. One day, Vundheim fell in battle. Upon receiving news of Vundheim’s death, his son Deroct lit a candle in his honor. That candle continued burning until this very day. Nobody knows why.
J’Zhirr sees the candle when he sits by the fireplace to warm up from the cold and snow outside. Sometimes when he drinks his ale and chews on his bread, he wonders. A candle is always burning above the fireplace, but is it the same candle or it gets replaced every night? Nobody knows and Elda is not telling. But it is a good story and no doubt helps to spread the tavern’s name all over Skyrim.