Yesterday’s Skyrim run actually covered multiple playing sessions, because I played a lot in the afternoon, and then late into the evening as well. The overall goal: getting Azura’s Star.
- Headed to the Shrine of Azura just to check it out
- Met her one remaining follower, Aranea Ienith, who was totally not surprised to see me and who told me to go talk to a mage in Winterhold about recovering Azura’s lost Star
- Found the mage in Winterhold, who told me where to find the Star
- Went to Ilinalta’s Deep to get the Star back
- Took the Star back to the shrine, only to learn that it needed cleansing
- At Azura’s behest, went into the Star to clear it out
Got this action underway just by bopping up to Azura’s shrine, which was up in the same neck of the woods as Winterhold, Wayward Pass, and the dragon lair I’d recently cleared out, Mount Anthor. So since Wayward Pass was another useful nearby landmark, I used that for my fast travel point of reference, and then hoofed it the rest of the way there.
Compared to the Shrine of Meridia, the one for Azura was definitely more remote and forbidding in appearance, and required a lot of climbing of stairs under snowy conditions. (Which certainly strikes me as problematic, but then, there’s no such thing as OSHA in Skyrim.) On the other hand, this place did actually have a worshipper on hand who was tending the place, a worshipper who wasn’t hostile. And not a single draugr or necromancer to be seen, to wit: I’ll take it!
Aranea was entirely unsurprised to see Alarrah showed up, and gave her a spiel about how Azura had foretold her coming and that she would be the champion who would recover Azura’s lost Star, an artifact that functioned as an eternally re-usable soul gem. I knew this already (I’d read the wiki), but I figure Alarrah was probably all “whosaWHATNOW well fuck do I have to do something for yet another Daedra?”
That said, since Aranea was entirely non-hostile and since Azura wasn’t yelling at her bossily in her head like Meridia had done, Alarrah agreed to take on the task.
First step: go to Winterhold and find a mage named Nelacar, who had information on what had happened to the Star. Now, this was the first time I’d actually set foot in Winterhold. All previous excursions had only gotten me near to the place, but not actually in.
On the way into Winterhold, the very first thing we saw appeared to be a husband and wife having a marital spat, which resulted in the husband stomping off to the inn. This didn’t hold a candle to walking into Solitude to a public execution or walking into Markarth and witnessing a murder–but still, I didn’t want to get involved in local drama yet.
So I just settled for following the husband to the inn, so I could rent a room for the night. Which also let me actually find the mage. The dude was hanging out in the inn, having conversations with the innkeeper about some problematic spell-based explosions. He didn’t react well when Alarrah hit him up for info about the Star, and while she did get the story out of him about where it was, he urged her to not take it back to Azura’s Shrine, on the general grounds of “All the Daedra are evil, I tell you! EVIL!”
(Insert GIF of Grandpa Simpson shaking his fist and yelling here.)
Here’s the thing though: the story about the Star’s current status involved another mage, Malyn Varen, who tried to use the Star to make himself immortal but went insane in the process and started killing students at the mage college to get souls to power the Star. Nelacar blamed this entirely on Azura.
I was disinclined to completely buy his story, though, on the grounds of it just being too convenient to blame a guy going on a killing spree on a Daedra. Possibly also with a side helping of suspicion that this Nelacar had gotten kicked out of the mage college, which suggested he wasn’t entirely above reproach.
But then, the game doesn’t exactly give me an option to say “I respect that you believe that, but have you considered the possibility that this guy was just a horrible, horrible person?”
Plus, I just liked the priestess at the Shrine better than this guy, and, given Alarrah’s experiences with the Daedra so far, I also feel she was disinclined to go against Azura’s wishes. So I decided I’d be returning the Star to the Shrine when I got it. Getting it, though, was the tricky part.
I had to travel to a place called Ilinalta’s Deep, which as it turned out was not too far away from my shiny new property in Falkreath. So Lyds and I bopped down there, after stopping off at Lakeview to say hi to Rayya and do a little bit more tidying up of the place. Then I proceeded around the lake to try to find the right spot to get to.
Killed a blood dragon on the way, and not long after that, heard a second round of dragon roaring. I was about to go “holy shit another one this fast?” when I realized the other one was not behaving the same way.
Off in the distance I could see it flying in circles, and I also saw a pillar of scary-looking purple light rising into the sky. At which point I clued in: holy shit, that’s Alduin and he’s raising another dragon from the dead.
Given that she’d already had two passing encounters with Alduin and exactly how dangerous that dragon could be–he had, after all, destroyed Helgen–Alarrah was not in a hurry to get anywhere near that scary column of purple light. So I wound up ducking through a bunch of trees for cover, to get around the curve of the slope I was following, and get further along the path to find our destination.
As I did that, and Lydia tromped along behind me to catch up, I could also hear Alduin’s voice rumbling in the distance, throwing out syllables in the dragon language. If I hadn’t realized which dragon it was before that moment, that would also have clued me in. Yikes.
After that close call, anyway, it was reasonably easy to find our destination. Getting in was reasonably easy, as were the first several rooms. But there was a problematic necromancer a ways in that wound up killing me the first time through–which threw me back to the beginning of trying to get into the place. ARGH.
Second time through, I dispensed with throwing light around, and remembered the critical “shoot the damn necromancers with the bow while sneaking and don’t try to engage at close range” policy. That let me get past that problematic necromancer.
Kept going, winding my way through the dungeon, until I reached the final room with a master necromancer and the broken Star. This guy, Lyds and I were able to take out on the first try, and we escaped the place via a ladder up to the top. There was no obvious way down from there, so it was time to fast travel again.
One other note about this dungeon–killed a bandit while I was in there who turned out to have an Amulet of Mara! Those of you who’ve played Skyrim before know what those are for. If you haven’t played Skyrim before, what they’re for is primarily being the mechanism by which you can propose to somebody in-game! So now I can work on actually proposing to my beloved Lydia, so hold that thought, I’ll be getting back to this on a future adventure!
Stopped off in Whiterun for another round of selling things, and then fast traveled up to the shrine to touch bases with the priestess. Who then informed me that Azura wanted to speak to me directly, and asked me to put my hands on her altar.
Azura basically told me “yep, my Star sure is broken, and I’m going to send you into it so you can kill the asshole who defiled it.” There was no option to do anything but accept her command, so Alarrah told her she was ready. And into the Star she went. The soul of Malyn Varen was certainly displeased at her intrusion, and after throwing some ranting at me, ran off further into the Star and threw some of his minions my way to keep me busy.
And by “minions” I mean “Dremora who kept hurling fire at me and who promptly fried my ass.” Oops.
That death threw me all the way back to Whiterun, so I tried to grab all the resist fire and healing potions I could stock up on and did another round.
The Dremora fried my ass a second time. Thrown back to Whiterun again.
At this point, since I realized I was going to need a lot more supplies to take those Dremora on, I took closer stock of what resources I had available, and considered my strategy for how to get more money.
So I opted for another round of crafting and smithing, and I think it was somewhere in here that my smithing got high enough that I was able to turn on the perk for advanced armors. Which gave me access to Nordic types of armor and weaponry, and that let me start getting some cooler armor onto Lydia.
Then I opted for another hunting expedition out into the Whiterun plains, looking for things to kill. Lyds and I killed an assortment of bandits and took their stuff, and during this particular excursion, I also noticed that Lyds had taken to using the staff I’d given her–which shoots frost bolts. Excellent.
Given that that staff kicks corpses a considerable distance after it kills them, this does make for finding corpses to loot a little more challenging! Still though it was pretty badass to see Lydia firing it off. I will have to remember to periodically charge it for her, perhaps after I see her switch back to the Elven Battleaxe I gave her.
This excursion also let me get my level up to 30, which i also figured would be helpful for getting past those Dremora. And I did a bit of enchanting as well, throwing some fire resistance onto a piece of jewelry. Also, I temporarily switched off my glass boots to some heavy armor steel boots that had a fire resistance enchantment on them.
But the shops in Whiterun still didn’t have enough useful potions, so I decided I was going to have to increase the range of my search for supplies. Next stop: Solitude.
(Fast traveling to Solitude also triggered a bit of dragon-related WTF, because as soon as I came out of fast travel at the nearby farm, I found myself right on top of a dead dragon corpse. Which is a hell of a game glitch. I could only imagine Alarrah teleporting in, and the force of the Dragonborn’s coming being sufficient all by itself to knock a dragon right out of the sky…
LOL. Well, maybe not, certainly not at my level. Also, I’m pretty sure there’s not any in-game explanation for fast traveling anyway, since teleportation doesn’t seem to be an in-character transport option of any kind. But I digress.)
Getting a bounty off the Steward turned out to not be an option, so I had to settle for spending what I could at Angeline’s Aromatics. Fortunately she had a whole bunch of fire resistance and healing potions, so I scarfed everything I could, and made a few potions of my own to sell her and beef up my stock of gold.
Then I decided Lyds and I would hoof it eastward from Solitude to get to the Shrine, in the hopes of killing things on the way and finding additional items to sell. This plan did work pretty well, though we couldn’t hoof it entirely all the way–too much water in the way to go around. So I opted instead for fast traveling to my other property, at Windstad Manor.
And I forgot to not fast travel there directly, which meant when I showed up, we got bandits. One of which actually followed me right into the house. At which point I got to see Valdimar actually being useful for once, so I let him take the bandit out while I doublechecked if anything else useful was stored on hand for selling.
Then Lyds and I stepped outside, and found the other two bandits waiting. Which escalated, as they say, quickly. Because the bandit chief actually killed me and I had to figure out what the hell to do about that. Fortunately the rollback didn’t ping me back far, just to the point of coming out of the house again.
I think I remember the bandit chief taking me out a second time, at which point I was wondering what the hell he was hitting me with. Finally took him out and when I looted his corpse, found he was not only well-armored, he also had a glass battleaxe. YOWZA. No wonder he was packing a punch.
At that point, finally, I was ready to head eastward to the Shrine. Lyds and I set out from Windstad and did go the rest of the way on foot, looking for further things to kill. Found more bandits as well as critters, which got me loaded up well enough with loot that I had to hand some of the stuff I was carrying over to Lydia so she could help carry the load.
Alarrah: C’mere, I need you to carry some of this stuff.
Lydia: Don’t you think that’s a bit much for us to haul around?
Alarrah: Not if you want us to get more money. Also, what’s that you keep saying you’re sworn to do? Oh yes: carry my burdens.
Lydia: <mutters grumpily under her breath in Nord>
Turned out that Lydia for once had a point, because she was already carrying enough stuff that I couldn’t give her heavier things like additional heavy armor. So I had to figure out what else to give her long enough for us to make it to Dawnstar and sell more stuff.
We got into Dawnstar late in game time, so the first stop was to head into the inn and rent a room. While we did that we got assorted NPC commentary about everybody having nightmares still, so I thought, well, maybe we could start the nightmare quest and try to make a bit more money on the way to the shrine?
Which started out innocuously enough. I found the priest who’s supposed to be the giver of the quest–he too was right there in the inn and easy to find. So after sleeping in the rented room, I got him to give me the spiel on what’s going on in Dawnstar and agreed to help him out.
He led Lydia and me up a mountainside not far out of Dawnstar. But we never made it to the target location and this is why–because a couple of cave bears jumped us.
And remember that staff Lydia’s hauling around?
I think she must have hit Nelacar with a blast from it, because after I killed one of the cave bears, I whirled around to find Lydia and Nelacar fighting. YIKES?
Decided I better not let this go any further if I wanted to actually do this quest properly. So I rolled back a couple of saves to the point where we’d arrived at Dawnstar, and then re-did staying in the inn for the night.
Got up the next morning with the goal of doing a walkthrough of the place to see if I could find their general goods store. I didn’t find that but I did find the forge, and that was enough. I was able to sell off all the bandit loot I’d gotten, and buy enough materials off the forge owners to make Lydia a Nordic shield to go with the other armor pieces I’d given her.
Lydia’s current gear now looks way more badass than the dwarven or even the steel plate stuff she had before, so I’m going to have to screencap her again and show you all. Dara says the Nordic gear totally looks like Wolfrider armor from Elfquest, and she’s not wrong. <3
Mercantile business in Dawnstar attended to, we sent out again, pretty much due east, to get to the shrine.
Only one random encounter on the way of note: a trio of cultists. Who were not identified as any specific type of cultists, but as I’m given to understand there’s only the one type, I figure it’s safe to assume they were more of those same cultists bent on destroying “the false Dragonborn”.
This trio didn’t get very far with that. I didn’t bother to loot anything off them but gold, though.
At this point I think this was like the fourth time in this entire process that I’d visited the shrine, and under different types of conditions: stormy vs. clear, daytime vs. dark. I got a couple different screencaps from various points, which I’ll also be puling off the device to show you all.
Regardless, got up to the shrine to meet up with Aranea again, and get Azura to speak with me so I could enter the Star for its repair.
And this time, it actually worked. Quaffed a bunch of resist fire, resist magic, and healing potions, and that finally let me survive fighting all three of the Dremora. I nabbed the dropped Daedra hearts as a result. With them out of the way, I had no trouble hunting down Malyn Varen. Who was a lot easier to kill than his minions were. I didn’t have time to actually loot anything else, because as soon as I killed Varen, Azura pulled me back out of the Star.
At which point, Aranea informed me with some consternation that Azura had told her she wouldn’t be getting any more visions. When I asked her what she’d do, she said she’d continue to tend the shrine, but that if I ever needed her she would be honored to help the guardian of the Star. Aw. <3
Mission accomplished, Lyds and I returned to Whiterun, this time on purpose!
(Note to self: next time you’re in Winterhold, maybe don’t flash the Star around Nelacar?)
Editing to add
3/12/2022: Reformatted this post to make it better match ones in later playthroughs.