Alarrah Playthrough

In Which Alarrah Becomes a Thane of Morthal

I’m afraid I broke my last Skyrim post’s mirror over to Dreamwidth, so for the benefit of those of you reading this post from there, here’s the link to my previous Skyrim writeup:

In Which the Dragonborn Goes to Morthal and Slays a Giant

And now we rejoin our regularly scheduled Dragonborn!

Tonight’s goal: finish off becoming Thane of Morthal, and seeing what all that actually gets me. Answer: my very own buildable house, yay! And a whole extra housecarl!

I had to do a bit of poking around on the Skyrim wikis to figure out exactly what else I could do to trigger the third quest to help the people of Hjaalmarch. I still have a pending quest to get the alchemist Lami a copy of a book she wants, and I’m pretty sure that would have let me do 3/3 on the helping people objective… but the problem is, apparently that book is not to be found without stealing.

And so far I’m not intending to play Alarrah as a thief, despite Paul’s ardent affection for the Thieves Guild plotlines. There is a non-zero chance I’ll want to do a thief-type character later–Rangers and Rogues being the character classes I play the most when I play Nethack, a thief certainly seems like something I could have tons of fun with. But Alarrah is the Ranger archetype here, so it’s not really in character for her to steal.

Which meant I had to find another way to tick off the third item on that quest.

I kept boinging around in fast travel last night, so I’m a little uncertain as to the order of things here, but the actions of note while in Morthal were these:

1. I finally actually settled for taking up the warrior Benor on his offer of a brawl, and that turned out to be more fun than I expected. We just bare-fistedly punched one another in the Moorside Inn, and even though I wasn’t using weapons or magic, I was still armored in all my elven armor. So I kinda feel like I had an unfair advantage over the schmoe, he barely put a dent in my hitpoints before I finally punched him down.

He yielded gracefully though, and then promptly swore his loyalty to me and his willingness to fight at my side whenever I needed him. Ha. Nords. Gotta love ’em. 😉

2. I also asked the Steward if he had any leads on work, to see if that would give me any other leads for people to help. (Of interest: this guy is apparently the Jarl’s husband, and he’s very protective of her, according to the wiki.) So he forked over a bounty to go kill a dragon–

Which, to my bemusement, turned out to be a dragon I’d already killed for Morthal. Up at Eldersblood Peak.

I was willing to go kill it again, though. Thinking that hey, maybe that meant I could make another round of a bounty!

3. So I fast traveled over to the Peak with my ever loyal Lydia at my side, and this was perhaps the fastest damn dragon battle I’ve ever had. The weird thing about it though was that this dragon didn’t set on fire and disintegrate like defeated dragons usually do in Skyrim. Possibly because I’d already killed a dragon in this locale?

I was still able to get bones and scales and loot off of it, though. And more importantly, to fulfill the bounty.

After I killed the thing (with combined throwing Unrelenting Force at it and also wailing on it with Dawnbreaker), I discovered that Lydia hadn’t joined me in the battle–because she was busy fighting a couple of frost trolls!

Then *boing* back to Morthal, to collect the bounty and to check in with the Jarl and get her leave to be her Thane. Leave was given, so now woo, second Thane-ship!

This got me a second housecarl. This guy’s name is Valdimar, not to be confused with Vladimir no matter how hard my autocorrect wants to rewrite the word. (Also not to be confused with Valdemar, the land in which Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds books are set.)

Interesting thing about this guy is that in addition to being a big burly Nord dude, he’s apparently also a bit of a mage. Useful to keep in mind if I need him for battle. But I can’t have two people following me around at once, apparently? I asked him to follow me in the Jarl’s hall, but he declined since Lydia was already my active follower.

Mostly though as I intend to have Lydia continue to be my backup in actual adventuring, I decided to have this guy be the steward for the property I got permission to buy in Hjaalmarch–not in Morthal proper, they had no houses for sale like Breezehome in Whiterun. But they were happy to deed me some land a little ways north of Morthal, not too far away from where the vampire nest I cleared out had been.

Apparently whenever a Jarl makes you a Thane, they also give you a weapon as your badge of office. Whiterun’s is an axe that does frost damage. Morthal’s is a sword that does shock damage. I’d be more willing to wield either of these in battle if they had a chance of matching the fun of my lovely ebony sword, or Dawnbreaker. And as I told Paul, I’m going to need additional houses just to have places to store all these weapons I’m acquiring!

So I bought that land off the Steward, and spent the rest of the night just playing with Windstad Manor.

This is where Skyrim actually has some amusing parallels to Animal Crossing. I showed up in the area where my land was supposed to be, and found a bunch of raw materials and various types of workbenches and an anvil available. This let me set up the first type of house you can build, the “Small House”, and then I was able to expand on that and build a “Main Hall” as well.

Getting all this done did require me to boing around by fast travel a couple more times. The first time for this was down to a mill somewhat southwest of Whiterun, because I had to buy more lumber. This was a mill I hadn’t been to before, so it was another scenario of “what’s the nearest place I can get to that’ll let me get over there”.

I don’t even remember what location I chose? The important thing here was, I boinged out of fast travel, and DRAGON!

This time the thing did actually engage me in combat, particularly after I threw a Shout at it. Went after the lizard with a vengeance, and was amused to hear an NPC shouting in amazement in the background. Once the battle was safely over I found the NPC–he was a traveling Hunter, who threw the same line guards say when they witness you killing a dragon (“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!”), but who was also perfectly willing to sell me a few pelts he had.

Then I went over to the mill, waited a couple hours for daybreak, and bought a bunch of logs off the mill owner.

I actually had to visit her a second time as well, to get all the lumber I needed to build a main hall as well as a bunch of furniture. Likewise, I had to boing once back to Whiterun to sell off some stuff, and to buy a bunch of straw from Belethor so I could actually made beds for the new place. All of which felt a lot like the crafting functionality in Animal Crossing, except for the part where I didn’t have Tom Nook demanding I fork over bells for every additional room to my house. 😀

Somewhere in between all this boinging around was where I saw Valdimar catch up to me on the property, and start patrolling it. Somewhere in here as well was when I decided to send Lydia back to Whiterun to let her rest up for a while. And then I actively engaged Valdimar as Steward for the property, to give him something official to do and to have him be the guy on hand to watch it while Lydia and I travel the land killing dragons. This also gave me access to UI prompts that would let me pay him to go buy supplies or furnishings.

Still though I enjoyed building a bunch of the furniture, which also let me bump up my Smithing by a few points, so I don’t think I’ll resort to just paying Valdimar to buy all the things.

Once the console started demanding to be redocked for charging, I boinged back to Whiterun to work on selling some more stuff (and also to be with Lyds <3).

Next time: Falkreath also has a pending thane-ship for me, but y’know what? Falkreath’s Jarl is a jerk so he can wait. I’m going to go find that Nettlebane weapon for the priestess. And see how big a problem hagravens are going to be for me!

Editing to add

  • 11/30/2023: Corrected typo to fix the name of the Hold Morthal is in.

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.