Alarrah Playthrough

In Which the Dragonborn Does a Whole Lot of Things Actually

This is a long one, so buckle up! Had multiple sessions yesterday, before and after dinner, and did a lot of things! Bought Proudspire Manor and the property where I could build Heljarchen Hall. Cleared out Raldbthar to get the second Aetherium Shard. Killed a whole lotta bandits. And kept having dead dragons drop on me in the middle of Whiterun!


  • Bought Proudspire Manor in Solitude finally, which let me become Elisif’s thane
  • Helped an extra person in Solitude because the “Assist the people of Haafingar” quest is buggy and wouldn’t clear even though I’d already helped five people
  • Went to Raldbthar to find Aetherium Shard #2, and killed a bunch of bandits, dwarven mechanisms, and Falmer
  • Once back in Whiterun, let Lyds rest up while I headed west to find the Sleeping Tree giant camp and clear it out, so that I could follow up on Ysolda’s interesting backstory
  • Went to Dawnstar to finally buy the property from the Jarl there, and have a place for housecarl Gregor to show up and be steward of; built Heljarchen Hall just a little ways north of Whiterun
  • Had amusing buggy behavior with dead dragons showing up right in the middle of Whiterun
  • Visited Windstad Manor to build a few more things and check on Valdimar, and killed more bandits
  • Walked all the way to Morthal while overloaded, but using Whirlwind Sprint to go faster (lol), and killed more bandits en route
  • Got a courier to bring me another “Letter from a Friend” with a clue about where to find another Word Wall
  • Sold some stuff at the apothecary in Morthal once I remembered the place doesn’t have a forge
  • Had a friggin’ ELDER DRAGON drop right on Morthal and kill me before I could get stuff dropped and actually fight it
  • Whirlwind-Sprinted my way to Solitude when I realized I could get there faster than Whiterun, and discovered the carriage there doesn’t work when you’re overloaded
  • Finally got unburdened by selling all my bandit loot and making armor to sell, and then bought a living room for Proudspire

Solitude, Round One

After yesterday morning’s session, where I got my gold tally up to around 24,500, I was close enough and still had enough things I could sell that I decided to go ahead up to Solitude and get Proudspire Manor. Took Lydia with me on the assumption that I’d be questing after taking care of this, and I wanted her immediately handy.

So I bopped up there, sold a few extra things to get my tally over 25,000, then went to the Blue Palace and did the purchase with Falk Firebeard. So now I have Proudspire, right next to the Bards College. I wish Alarrah could rent the place out to Bards College people! They could probably do with the extra sleeping space, and Jordis could have something to do if she hosted bard parties, lol.

Proudspire, like Breezehome, is one of the pre-built places you have to pay extra to get furnished. But even in its default cobwebby state, the place is still friggin’ huge and already had at least some default furniture in it. Also, there are multiple doors into it from Solitude, and it took me a little bit to figure out which entrance to use in order to fulfill the quest to visit the place. The game wanted me to go in the door that’s up the stairs and facing the property immediately to the west, the house owned by Vittoria Vici.

And, once I got the place bought, I finally got a look at Jordis the Sword-Maiden, my fifth housecarl. (Tally so far: Lydia, Valdimar, Rayya, Gregor, and now Jordis.) Jordis is another Nord warrior, built along the same lines as Lydia. And given that I’ve already decided Alarrah is partial to Lydia, I suspect she’d also find Jordis rather hot. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also have to wonder if Lydia and Jordis would hit it off, possibly in Nord fashion, which I imagine would involve the two of them beating the shit out of one another, then declaring undying fealty to each other and drinking all the nearby mead. ๐Ÿ˜€

While taking care of this, I also noticed that the quest for assisting the people of Haafingar was a little buggy. The quest immediately appeared as soon as I got Elisif to declare me her thane, but since I’d already helped enough people to fulfill that requirement, it couldn’t be fulfilled yet. I had to go help an extra person to increment the counter to six so that the quest could close and disappear.

Which required me to wander around Solitude a little bit to find someone to assist. A bit of judicious research on the wiki showed me I could get a “go kill a bandit leader” question off of Ahtar–the guy who acted as the executioner when I first showed up in town–but I couldn’t actually find the guy, even after wandering around in the dungeons of Castle Dour.

I did however note on the way into Castle Dour that a couple of people were having a conversation about Ulfric Stormcloak planning an invasion of Whiterun. I was pretty sure one of them was General Tullius, who I’d already heard passing mention of in the game, but since I didn’t see either of them I wasn’t sure who the woman in the conversation was. The wiki however says she would have been Legate Rikke, Tullius’s second in command.

Given that Alarrah and Lydia do of course live in Whiterun, I kind of found that little exchange alarming. However, I didn’t know whether going to try to engage in the conversation would require me to more actively engage with the war side of the main plotline, which I didn’t really want to do, so I didn’t try to enter the conversation.

And since I couldn’t find Ahtar anyway in the dungeon, I went back out again to find somebody else in Solitude to help. Fortunately this was easy. One of the market vendors asked me if I could go down to the docks and convince Vittoria Vici (my new neighbor!) to release a shipment of spiced wine for her. This seemed easy enough, so Lyds and I walked down here to take care of that. Got two bottles of spiced wine for the trouble, and was able to clear the “Assist the people of Haafingar” quest.


Next came the real meat of yesterday’s run: going to the Raldbthar dwemer ruins with Lydia, in search of the second Aetherium shard.

This was a place I’d found already in wandering, so I could fast travel there from Solitude. I dropped to the nearest place I could find so I wouldn’t have a dragon fall on me as soon as I arrived. That said, as soon as Lyds and I showed up at the place, we were greeted by the obligatory pissed off bandits.

None of whom, either the ones at the entrance or the ones further inside, gave us any trouble. Not even the bandit leader, who turned out to be an actual named NPC (Alain Dufont), was any problem. By which I mean, it was kind of hilarious how the guy was all ‘I don’t know how you made it in this far, but you’re not making it any farther, here we go’. He gets up to fight me–and I drop him in one blow.

Apparently this guy is important in a Dark Brotherhood plot if you’re playing as a member of that organization? Given that I actively plan to wipe out the Dark Brotherhood when the opportunity arises, I don’t think I’ll miss the opportunity to find out what plot this Dufont guy was involved in. (I did look him up on the wiki, I have an idea of what the plot would have been, as it involves you having a contract to kill him.)

The one thing of interest about Dufont was that he was carrying a named weapon called Aegisbane, which is apparently involved with the aforementioned plot. I did take it. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to do anything involving Aegisbane given that I have no plans to do the Dark Brotherhood plot.

Once the bandits were sorted, Lyds and I proceeded further into the place. Killed a few dwarven automata, but only took soul gems from them since I’d learned from the previous shard quest that those bits of dwarven scrap metal are heavy and I didn’t want to load up until I was on the way out.

Eventually though I got to a place in the ruins that was a problem, because it had a kind of trap I’d never encountered before: spinning blades, positioned in a groove running up a staircase. I could not disable that trap the same way I’d disabled the rotators for the tonal locks–by shooting at it. Nor could I just whack the things with swords. Searching for help got me other players who’d also lamented the spinning blades of death trap, and who asked for help in getting past it.

The best solution seemed to be timing running up the stairs just so that you’d make it up while the blades were out of your range–because there was a spot midway up the stairs where you could stand and be safe. This worked for me.

It did not work for Lydia. And my attempt to go back and help her got me killed too. Oof.

So what I wound up finally doing, once I reset back to the prior auto-save point, was to tell Lydia to stand guard at the base of the trap so she wouldn’t follow me. Then I hit myself with the Become Ethereal Shout, so I could just run up the stairs and not have to worry about the blades hurting me.

This worked well, though it also meant that I’d not be able to take any shortcuts to get out of the dungeon. I’d have to come back by the same route, to pick Lyds up.

Fortunately, nothing else in the dungeon was anything I couldn’t handle on my own. I killed several Falmer–and noticed that while I was sneaking, several of them actively couldn’t find me, possibly because they were blind? I was standing right there, and they never triggered on my presence, even when I had a Candlelight spell active.

Had to do a bit more wiki diving to figure out how to solve the main puzzle to get at the loot, which involved unblocking four blocked gears. Once I did that I unblocked the final bridge I had to cross to get to the shard–and fight a dwarven centurion on the way.

This was my first time fighting one of those, and yeah, that was impressive. And really underscored for me the dichotomy between the technology level of the Dwemer, and the comparative technology level of the rest of the peoples of Tamriel. Dara emphasizes for me that the Dwemer were assholes, to be sure. But it is still intriguing to me, from a general worldbuilding perspective, that the Dwemer made all these automata and none of that technology so far seems to have impacted any of the other cultures.

(My writer brain makes me wonder whether humans or elves will eventually figure out what the Dwemer did (there do at least seem to be scholars in Skyrim trying to research them, like Katria and her asshole apprentice Taron), replicate it, and kick off a Tamriel-wide industrial revolution? Maybe that’ll show up in later ES games!)

Finally got to where the shard was and saw Katria’s ghost again, who greeted me and said I’d see her again soon.

And with that, I made my way back out to rendezvous with Lyds (after doing Become Ethereal again to get past the spinning blades), pick up some of the smeltable scrap metal, and head back home to Whiterun for more selling and crafting.

Sleeping Tree Giant Camp

I let Lyds rest up at home for a bit at this point, and headed west into the plains to find Sleeping Tree Camp–and a plot point I wanted to follow up on, since I’d read on the wiki that that Ysolda, one of the vendors in Whiterun’s market, had a little bit of an interesting story there.

This required me to kill two giants and two mammoths, singlehandedly. That I was able to do this really kind of surprised me, and underscored how far I’ve leveled up since the first time a giant kicked my ass!

The plot point came in when I found a dead orc in the cave at the camp, with a note from Ysolda on it. She and the orc, Ulag, had been working together to sell the sap from the weird purple tree at this camp, a sap which apparently is a drug, but which Ysolda was selling. So I told her Ulag was dead, and sold her the samples I’d gotten from the site.

Building Heljarchen Hall

Next up, took Lyds with me up to Dawnstar so that I could finally buy the property there, and start building that place and get housecarl Gregor set up as its steward.

Ran into the Khajiit on the way–the same group that has Kharjo, the Khajiit I’d helped out before. Bought a few things from them, which knocked my gold tally just under 5K. So I had to sell a few things at the forge in Dawnstar to get the money total back up.

Property bought, I then hoofed it with Lydia down to where the place actually is, just to see what interesting NPCs I could find along the way. This time I found the NPC farmer taking a painted cow off to be sacrificed to the giants. Had a nice little conversation with him, after making sure he was okay and that he didn’t need any help. “You sure about that, I mean, I’ve killed a few giants…” But nope, farmer dude was prepared to go about his business.

Speaking of giants, when we finally made it down to the property, I found that the good news was, it was just a little north of the farm I’d visited on a prior Whiterun plains run, where I’d encountered Cicero. The view from the property is stunning and includes Dragonsreach.

The bad news was, it was also right next to a giant camp. Note to self: do not have Gregor stock up on animals here. Since the game does not, sadly, give you the option of periodically painting cows to give to giants to keep them from smashing your place.

Gregor hadn’t shown up on the property yet so I couldn’t get him to buy additional sawn logs. So I only got the Small House layout portion of the place built and couldn’t do the main hall yet. Will have to follow up on that again later.

From there, hoofed it back down to Whiterun and let Lydia rest up some more.

Whiterun, Round Two

It was while coming back from this run, I think, that I triggered a surprising bug: a dead dragon manifesting right in the middle of the Whiterun market. This was kind of hilarious, as all of the NPCs were going about their business, and it made for some great screenshots as well. Like this one.

What's Wrong with Skyrim
What’s Wrong with Skyrim

Yeah, Jon Battle-born, I can make a pretty good guess about what’s wrong with Skyrim these days. Dead dragon bodies dropping right out of the sky and all. Night Vale must be sending us their Glow Cloud.

Here’s another one!

Dead Dragon Head in Whiterun
Dead Dragon Head in Whiterun

I got the dragon to clear out by closing and restarting the game, but I find the bug amusing just from a QA perspective, wondering exactly what path of logic led to the dragon corpse just showing up out of nowhere. It’s extra interesting to me as well because this was actually the first of two separate incidents of this happening to me in yesterday’s run–both of them being in Whiterun.

So apparently something about my character’s current status, her level or whatever, has started causing this to trigger? Maybe the game’s trying to tell me to get a move on on the main plotline or it’ll just keep dropping dead dragons on me. ๐Ÿ˜€

Visiting Windstad Manor

After all of that activity in Whiterun I had a few thousand gold again, so I decided to bop up to Windstad Manor to check in there, say hi to Valdimar, and see what else I could build.

I did not fast travel directly to the house. I fast traveled to a nearby location. That said: I still got bandits showing up to ambush me at Windstad. Killed all three of them, including the third one who tried to yell “Fall back! We’re routed!’

You sure are, asshole. You attack me on my own property, I’m going to rout the fuck out of you.

The bandit chief this time was well armored, including Nordic armor, which is tasty and valuable. So I didn’t want to just abandon all the bandit loot, even though I was overburdened again, with it as well as the building materials I’d brought up from Whiterun.

So I thought, okay fine, I’ll hoof it to Morthal and see what I can sell.

The problem with this idea: I’d forgotten Morthal has no stores except for the alchemist, so there was fuck all I could sell there.

I hoofed it to Morthal anyway, and realized that on the way, I could shorten things a bit by using a trick I’d learned from the wiki: using Whirlwind Sprint to move myself along even though I was overburdened.

This worked rather splendidly. It gave me practice using the Shout, and triggered a courier running up to hand me another “Letter from a Friend” with a tip on where to find another Word Wall. (Side note: I gotta be impressed with Skyrim’s courier service, those guys can find you anywhere.)

Once I made it to Morthal I did at least sell a few potions to Lami the alchemist. Also discovered that I couldn’t get her to train me, I’d already learned everything she has to teach.

Coming out of Lami’s shop, I got a nasty surprise: a friggin’ ELDER DRAGON dropping down right on Morthal. Unlike the one who’d showed up in Whiterun, this one was very much alive. It started wreaking havoc. Unsurprisingly, all the guards flipped the fuck out and started shooting it, as well as yelling things like “help” and “somebody do something”!

Given that I’m the Dragonborn, of course, that somebody should have been me. Problem was, though, I was still overburdened and did not react fast enough to get shit out of my inventory so I could shoot the damned thing. So it had time to kill me. Oops.

I reset back to the point where I’d come out of Lami’s shop. And um yeah I choose to believe that that Elder Dragon thing? Totally never happened. ;D

Solitude, Round Two

Morthal being quite poor, they didn’t have any hire-able carriage either. So by then, even though it was pretty late and by rights I should have just gone to bed, I was committed to my silly “carry this loot somewhere where I can sell it even if it takes me five damn days” course of action.

Fortunately though I realized that I could actually get to Solitude faster than I could get to Whiterun.

So I Whirlwind-Sprinted my way along the roads to Solitude, with only one slightly alarming point along the way where I saw the shadow of a dragon fly overhead. But it never landed to engage me, so I was okay.

Went through Dragon Bridge, but they didn’t have a forge either, so I had to proceed on to Solitude. Once I finally got there, I thought at first that I would try having the carriage driver there take me to Whiterun. But apparently carriages don’t work when you’re overburdened!

So I had no choice but to proceed on into Solitude. I did stop Whirlwind Sprint before I got too close to the gates, lest I made the guards nervous by throwing shouts around. I did however hear one of them exclaiming in awed tones “the voice of the Dragonborn!”

Hi guys, Dragonborn here, don’t mind me, I’m just coming in to sell a metric crapload of bandit loot to your shops and I’m carrying so much stuff I can’t walk without Shouting myself along. No cause for alarm!

Made it inside finally, and sold a bunch of loot both at Bits and Pieces and to the blacksmith. Which finally got me back down to a reasonable inventory, as well as letting me build up enough gold that I could go to the Blue Palace and buy living room furnishings from Falk Firebeard.

And once I was finally unburdened, I was able to fast travel back to Whiterun. Landed myself at the Western Watchtower again, and hoofed it back the rest of the way. At which point a second dead dragon corpse showed up, once I reached the long walkway up to the Whiterun gates.

Which suggests to me that I’m triggering some sort of weird fast travel bug when the game tries to catch up with me coming out of fast travel, and tries to set up a random dragon/monster encounter, and fails?

Anyway, once I made it home again I could finally call it a night and put both Alarrah and myself to bed!

Next time

Possibly searching for Aetherium Shard #3? Let’s find out!

Editing to add

3/12/2022: Reformatted this post to make it better match ones in later playthroughs.

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.