I am currently part of the Stormcloaks and just finished Rescue from Fort Neugard. The Jarl wants to make me a thane and is telling me to buy a house, but his steward is telling me the house is unavailable due to some unpleasantness. I have already completed the 5 quests to help people of Eastmarch.

From what I can see online, I need to begin the Blood on the Ice quest. It is supposed to begin by walking in the windhelm graveyard at night, however every time I go there I don't see anyone.

Someone online said it's possible to miss the scene that triggers the quest if you go into Windhelm and leave without triggering it, but I am hoping this isn't the case. I am in Windhelm a lot because the Enchanting table, Blacksmith, and Fence are all in one location, so find it very convenient. The lady who is supposed to be murdered in the Graveyard (Susanna) is still alive in Candlehearth Hall, so I think I'm not bugged.

The wiki suggests that you have to "The quest will initiate after you entered Windhelm four times from another hold", however I have entered and left quite a few times during the course of my game and know I've been here way over 4 times.

I tried pickpocketing the key, however I don't automatically get the quest on entering the house, and there are a bunch of "Investigate InvestigationTarget" spots in the house. Also, I was reading the Butcher's journal and he was saying he almost caught Susanna when she left Candlehearth, however I have never seen her leave Candlehearth. Perhaps my glitch is she never leaves? I'll have to head to Windhelm on another character and check it out.

Also, I saw something online saying this quest won't trigger if you go past 245 in-game days. Would someone be able to confirm this for me? (Have the XBox version, so waiting 245 days is annoying)

Can someone tell me the exact steps to begin this quest?

  • 2
    My situation is identical. The quest is just (massively) bugged. If you have the PC, you can advance it using the console, but otherwise you're stuck until Bethesda patches it. FWIW, I don't think you "missed" the graveyard scene, as Susanna is still alive and the game has no problems registering an NPC as dead.
    – brymck
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 2:01
  • A poster from the UESP forums stated in this thread that "Once you've completed the Imperial side the option to obtain the house is lost. The quest is tied to a guard, a Stormcloak guard, so once the Empire takes over the quest is impossible to obtain." Has anyone proven/disproven this? Commented Dec 18, 2011 at 2:33
  • @galacticninja I have heard that from a number of people online, so I think it's possible. I'm part of the Stormcloaks though, so that isn't my problem.
    – Rachel
    Commented Dec 18, 2011 at 2:35

6 Answers 6


There are a few possibilities here, according to the uesp entry on the quest

The trigger may take some time as you'll have to wait for the woman to be murdered. Personally I came across the scene in the day time while passing through the area, I did not wait in the graveyard (that may cause the murder to not trigger).

You can also try to trigger the quest by purchasing the house from Jorleif during the stormcloak rebellion quest line.

However, it is known (see the glitches section in the entry) that the quest is bugged and may not start at all, not even via the console. In this case then you are out of luck.

  • I have played for over 70 hours so I'm fairly sure it's not an issue of waiting. I also am unable to purchase the house from Jorleif because I have not completed this quest, so that doesn't work.
    – Rachel
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 19:09
  • 1
    @Rachel then its most likely that your playthrough is bugged for that quest :(
    – l I
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 22:11

This quest also didn't trigger for me.

To force it, you can pickpocket a Hjerim Key from someone in town (I don't remember who has it, but there are several) and enter the house. (Tova has one.)

However, the quest still bugged for me later -- so you may still need to use the console at some point.

  • I'll have to give that a try when I get home from work tonight. I really want this house since it has an Armory, and Windhelm is my primary place to go to unload items or level crafting skills.
    – Rachel
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 15:38
  • Sadly, this didn't work. The quest doesn't start when entering the house through a pickpocketed key
    – Rachel
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 22:06
  • @Rachel You need to do more than just enter; I was trying to avoid additional spoilers. "Investigate" something in the house and it should start automatically (it did for me).
    – agf
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 4:02
  • I don't mind spoilers, I just want the house. When I enter the house there are a bunch of spots that say Investigate InvestigationTarget. I investigated all the ones I saw, but didn't go out of my way to find them all. Is there one in particular I need to investigate?
    – Rachel
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 12:35
  • @Rachel I got the "Started: Blood on the Ice" message by wandering around the house investigating without having any idea about the murders. I am fairly sure I got it on the first object I investigated, but that could be wrong -- this was about a month ago. Try finding the secret room and reading the journal.
    – agf
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 15:34

Starting "Blood on the Ice"

Make sure you meet the requirements needed to start the Blood on the Ice quest:

"This quest is triggered by a counter that starts at the beginning of the game which will increase each time you visit the city of Windhelm or the immediate surrounding area. When it reaches four, the Blood on the Ice quest will be available, although two more conditions must be met:

  • The player has to enter Windhelm, either through the main gate, the docks gate, or by fast-traveling, between 7pm and 7am. The graveyard scene should then be triggered and the quest ready to go.
  • Tova Shatter-Shield and Arivanya need to be alive (see bugs section).

The easiest way to trigger the quest is to walk back and forth between Windhelm Stables and Brandy-Mug Farm two-three times, then enter Windhelm between 7pm and 7am. If the graveyard scene is not triggered by this, there's little hope you can trigger the quest at all.

NOTE: You can always check whether or not you have met the requirements for the quest to start, as the lock to Hjerim will change from a “key required”-lock to a normal lock when the quest becomes available.

If Tova and Arivanya are alive, the quest has not yet initiated because the counter is less than four, and you obtain a key to Hjerim, then you can trigger this quest by entering Hjerim with that key and picking up one of the Beware the Butcher! pamphlets. However, the quest will not start in the same way as outlined in the walkthrough above; you will have to figure out what to do on your own without help from Jorleif, however all of the same options will be open to you except that none of the witnesses will be present in the graveyard; you can sell Calixto the Strange Amulet, you can have Wuunferth arrested or talk to him to catch Calixto, and you will have to talk to Viola in order to continue on with the quest after picking up a pamphlet."

Source: UESP wiki, "Blood on the Ice - How to Start the Quest"

Possible conflicts with the Dark Brotherhood quest, "Mourning Never Comes"

Although most of the NPCs needed for the quest to initiate are marked as essential, another quest, namely the Dark Brotherhood quest Mourning Never Comes, will encourage you to kill Nilsine Shatter-Shield. Even though she is not related to this quest, her mother, Tova Shatter-Shield, will commit suicide if Nilsine is killed, and will therefore render this quest impossible to initiate.

Source: UESP wiki's "Blood on the Ice - Bugs" article
A possible fix, from the UESP wiki's "Blood on the Ice - Notes" article:

If you've killed Nilsine in order to get a bonus reward in the quest Mourning Never Comes, Tova will be dead inside her house, and you will need to pick the lock of her house in order to get the key to Hjerim. This will only happen if you met the requirements for Blood on the Ice and then completed Mourning Never Comes.

Install the Unofficial Skyrim Patch to fix a lot of bugs related to Blood on the Ice quest - one of which is related to the key to Hjerim:

If Tova Shatter-Shield is dead (actually just disabled, but that's another story) because you completed "Mourning Never Comes" (DB03) before MS11, a substitute key for Hjerim will be made available by the USKP.

Official and Unofficial Patch Fixes

The Unofficial Skyrim Patch (USKP) (original / Legendary Edition - PC) / (Special Edition - PC) / (PS4) / (Xbox One) , along with the official patches should now fix most of the bugs associated with the Blood on the Ice quest.

Official patch changes:

  • Killing Viola before or after Blood on the Ice no longer blocks progression.
  • Fixed issue where Calixto would fail to die properly in Blood on the Ice.
  • Fixed numerous issues with Blood on the Ice not triggering properly
  • In Blood on the Ice, Calixto can now be killed if player owns a house in Windhelm

Unofficial Skyrim Patch changes:

  • Blood on the Ice will now allow you to complete the quest after the Imperials have taken over Windhelm. The guard acting as a CSI will switch properly to an Imperial as needed.
  • In "Blood on the Ice" (MS11), the player's chest in Hjerim would not enable unless Wuunferth was arrested for the crime.
  • Viola and Arivanya are both required NPCs for "Blood on the Ice" (MS11) but were not properly added to the pre-quest that holds their essential aliases. If they die, MS11 will not start. If they are dead and MS11 has not yet started, they will be retroactively resurrected.
  • In MS11, the objective "Get Assistance from Jorleif" is never cleared during the quest.
  • MS11 was never counted toward the "Sideways" Steam achievement.
  • If Tova Shatter-Shield is dead (actually just disabled, but that's another story) because you completed "Mourning Never Comes" (DB03) before MS11, a substitute key for Hjerim will be made available by the USKP.
  • If the player chooses not to sell the amulet to Claxito during MS11, they will have it identified when Wuunferth realizes what it is.
  • If MS11 has already past the stage where it could be identified and the player is still carrying around the Strange Amulet, it will be swapped out for the Necromancer's Amulet they should have received.
  • MS11 would fail to start if the dead body in the Hall of the Dead in Windhelm had been purged by the corpse cleanup code. A new replacement body is generated to correct this as well as making the body's alias optional so the quest will start.
  • MS11SecretDoorActivatorScript has been fixed to keep it from trying to run Blood on the Ice content when that quest is not running.
  • The Strange Amulet (D2328) will no longer remain as an undroppable quest item when the Blood on the Ice quest is completed.

USKP full version history
Bug notes from the UESP wiki, Blood on the Ice - Bugs article:

  • Even before the quest is initiated, speaking to Calixto outside his store will cause him to close it permanently. Do not attempt to pick the lock, as he will become hostile. Instead, if you want information about the Amulet, find him at Candlehearth Hall between 5pm and 7pm.
  • When you are told to question the witnesses, stay away from Hjerim. Approaching the front door will trigger the 'Gain access to Hjerim' update and clear the graveyard. This will leave you with no witnesses or map markers for the remainder of the quest.
  • If the quest is started and the player waits too long before continuing it, the blood splatters leading to Hjerim can disappear.
  • If you take the first journal to Viola, she will direct you to talk to Jorleif whether or not you have found the amulet. The quest will proceed as though you had found the amulet when talking to Jorleif and Wuunferth, even though you do not.
  • Sometimes, if you cause Wuunferth to be arrested, when you return to Windhelm, Arivanya will have been killed, but no guard will be standing by the body to re-activate the quest, rendering it unfinishable. In this case the guard is standing in town, but in the outside world. You must exit Winterhold, then use the console command tlc to fly into the town without entering the gate. The guard will be standing relatively at the same place.
  • This answer is copied from the one on this question: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/37697/…
    – Jim Jones
    Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 23:02
  • @Jim I'm also the author of the linked answer in that question. The questions are similar, that's why parts of my answers are the same. The answers are not exactly the same though - I modified them depending on OP's exact issue. Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 2:04

For me it started right after I gave the grieving women the Amulet of Arkay. I assumed the two events were related, as I did NOT enter the town at night (It was day when I found the scene) and not from another hold (I was doing The White Phial quest, which is in the same region). There were several bugs in it

I couldn't get a tour of the curiosity shop and despite waiting all night the attack didn't occur until the day, in front of about a dozen witnesses --The one of the wikis (There are 3 that I can see) says it should be ~2 am, not midmorning when it occurred for me

Due to me not liking a choice I made I reloaded a save from before the start of the quest, finished the White Phial quest again, gave over the amulet and found the same scene in the graveyard. However, this could be coincidence, as I'm not sure if I went through the graveyard before handing over the Amulet either time.


I've been looking around and there are a few reasons it might not have trigged in my case

  1. I usually read faster than NPCs speak, so often skip dialog. One of the pre-requisits for triggering the quest is talking to the sea captain in Windhelm, and sometimes skipping his dialog will cause the quest not to trigger

  2. According to this site, the quest will occasionally not trigger if more than 245 in-game days have passed

  3. I have had people tell me that if you finish the Rescue at Fort Neugard quest for the Stormcloaks, you cannot trigger the Blood on Ice quest. All my save files are from after that quest was completed, so I can't really go back and test if that is the case.

So it looks like I'm just SOL until Bethesda decides to patch the game so people can buy the Windhelm house.

  • well if this makes you feel any better i finished it twice : ) with the same character...once by accusing the wrong person which BTW puts the quest in the Completed list, and then completed it again by talking to the person in jail i had first accused which then resets the quest in the active list. after all that i Still could Not get the buy the house prompt : ( and I'm playing on Xbox360
    – 2 SCooPS
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 23:42

I've done the quest on two characters, one had bought the house when it seemed to open up, the other hadn't bought the house. In both cases, I was simply wandering from the market to the castle when the scene occured. Both characters had done a number of misc quests for the Jarl for cash.

One character is Stormcloak aligned, the other was closing in on the end of the Imperial quest line.

I will offer that my first pass through I accused the wrong person, and it appears to have stalled there even though I later found out via pick pocket and break in who the real killer was by searching through their house. I was able to tour the location before hand, but didn't find the evidence.

On my second playthrough, I had one small problem in reading one of the flyers about the killer, but not actually taking one which lights up a person in town with new dialog. I went back and grabbed a flyer and the person in question lit up with new dialog. I knew they had to have something for me, after someone else told me to talk to them; it just took the flyer in my inventory to make that work. I was able to finish the quest on this character. I wasn't able to tour the killer's home this time, as it never seemed to unlock. I did find the killer and talk to them however, outside their house.

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