Last night’s run was me finally going “y’know, I really ought to move the main plot of this game along another notch”—but, being me, that wasn’t all I did, either!
- Bopped up to Shearpoint and killed the dragon priest Krosis, as well as another generated dragon
- Went to Riften to finally find Esbern and save him from Thalmor agents, then get him to Riverwood
- While in Riften, talked with the smith and promised I’d bring him fire salts
- After promising Delphine and Esbern I’d meet them at Karthspire, stopped home in Whiterun to get my stash of fire salts, bought another sample from Arcadia, and bopped up to Solitude to get more from Proudspire
- On the way to Solitude, killed me an Elder Dragon
- Got the Solitude carriage driver out of his loop by having him take me to Riften, rather than fast traveling
- Determined that the generic Dragon I killed at Shearpoint had not cleared the dragon corpse haunting Whiterun
I actually wound up having to restart this session a few times—twice because I couldn’t figure out how to get past Brynjolf in Riften without triggering the beginning quest to join the Thieves Guild, and once because I accidentally killed some Vigilants of Stendarr when I meant to kill vampires. (Sorry, Vigilants. Dawnbreaker really doesn’t like undead and it tends to explode around them, so if you’re in the way of the explosion…)
And I actually wound up having to bypass Brynjolf completely to find out where Esbern was in Riften. But more on this below.
First item of business for the evening was to go check on that Dragon Priest I’d fought at Shearpoint, Krosis. Plus, I wanted to see if I could generate another generic Dragon to kill, and see if that would clear out the dragon corpse that’s been haunting me at Whiterun.
Killing Krosis turned out to be surprisingly easy. I think he must not have regenerated health after my first battle with him, because I barely had to scratch the guy before I took him out. That got me his mask as well as his tasty Staff of Fireballs.
I did also get another dragon to kill, as hoped, and the chest by the Word Wall regenerated some loot. So with that taken care of, next stop: Riften!
The “A Cornered Rat” quest wanted me to find somebody named Brynjolf, which was easy enough as he was out in the market selling so-called Falmer-blood elixirs. When I approached him, he immediately started in on being able to tell I hadn’t earned the coin on me honestly, and tried to recruit me for a thievery task. This is apparently the entry point into joining the Thieves Guild? But given that I didn’t want to actually do that with this character, I kept trying to get him back to the “tell me how to find Esbern” part of his conversational prompts so I could try to persuade or bribe him—but I failed the Persuade check, and I couldn’t get to a point of being able to bribe him either.
So I wound up rolling back three times to Whiterun (after the fight with Krosis) to see about starting this process over again. Two of the times were actually prompted by interactions with Brynjolf; the third, as mentioned above, was stumbling across a fight between Vigilants and vampires, and accidentally killing the Vigilants.
(Note to self: pay more attention to who’s fighting who next time you run across NPCs fighting on the road! And hit the right people with your explody sword!)
Once I finally came into Riften the third time, and after I consulted the wiki, I opted to bypass Brynjolf completely and go for another option: questioning the innkeeper, an Argonian, at the Bee and Barb. After I’d rented a room from her she was willing enough to tell me about rumors of the old guy down in the Ratways, and I didn’t even have to bribe her.
So there, Falmer-blood elixir shyster. 😉
I am a little sad though about losing one of the previous Riften rounds, just because that lost me the interaction I got to have with Mjoll the Lioness, who seems totally awesome. Retired adventurer. Took to me rather quickly, and I was going to get her to let me find her lost sword, even! But I lost that quest hook after the rollback. And I didn’t find her again once I came into Riften the final time.
I did however get the quest hook from the smith, Balimund, to bring him fire salts! He’s the master-level Smithing trainer, which is pretty neat and all, though at this point I really kind of don’t need him given that I am now at 95 in Smithing and making Legendary items.
After that, though, there wasn’t much to do in Riften besides head on down into the Ratway and look for Esbern.
Getting down there was not difficult, nor was fighting the few NPCs who leapt out to attack me. The only real challenge was navigating through the maze of the place to find the Ragged Flagon, and then to find Esbern himself. I did find the Flagon well enough, and after paying for the privilege, got the bartender to tell me where to go next.
(Had I been paying attention, I would have also realized that the Ragged Flagon is where I could have talked to the face sculptor as well, to get that quest cleared out, but I forgot to check for that. Oops.)
On the way from the Flagon to find Esbern at last, I ran into the Thalmor, who were of course also looking for him. Killed a wizard and two soldiers, which was certainly easier at this point than it’d been back at the Embassy. In no small part because this time, I was fully armored, and had Lydia at my back!
As I made my way deeper into the Ratway, I heard a distant voice muttering a litany naming various items. I never found this person, but the wiki tells me she was Hefid the Deaf.
I did however finally make it to Esbern. Who let me in right quick once I told him I was Dragonborn.
From Esbern, I finally learned the next big plot point of the game: that the rise of the dragons, caused by Alduin, is only a harbinger of Alduin’s power to eventually destroy the world. And that the Dragonborn is the only one who can stop him.
NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING.
At any rate, Esbern readily agreed to let me take him to Riverwood once he also realized Delphine was still alive. So Lyds and I got him out of the Ratway—fighting a couple more Thalmor on the way out, as well as an Argonian assassin who’d been sent after me, and who had a note on her signed only by “-E.”
Uh-huh. I see you, Elenwen. I’m going to remember this.
Once we got outside Riften (and once I doublechecked that both Lyds and Esbern were with me), I fast traveled over to Riverwood and got Esbern into the inn. He and Delphine had a few touching lines of dialogue at their reunion. <3
Then Delphine escorted us down into her secret room for a conference about the next things to do. Esbern had knowledge of a place called Alduin’s Wall, which he hoped would provide clues as to how to actually defeat Alduin. We all agreed that I’d meet them at Karthspire, which Delphine signed off on by acknowledging that we might attract less attention if we traveled separately.
I could have traveled there directly with Delphine and Esbern—but I learned from the wiki as well that the Alduin’s Wall quest has a leveled weapon you can get at the end, a weapon which only reaches its maximum potential if you’re at level 46 or above. So if you want the best version of the weapon, the wiki advised, you’d better delay the Alduin’s Wall quest until you’re powerful enough.
Which is all good with me, because I have other business to attend to regardless! I have houses to build out, and there are a couple more places I’m still not thane of, and I gotta find a few more artifacts and join the mages’ college. And by “join”, I mean, “take over”. 😀
(I do find it kind of hilarious that you can take your sweet time doing all the main plot points of this game, with all sorts of action in between the main quests. And the main plot points will just wait for you. Never mind if you take like six months of in-game time to get to them. When I mentioned this to Dara, she did point out how Gandalf fucked off between main plot points all the damn time in Tolkien. She’s not wrong! And I could certainly do worse than being like Gandalf, I feel.)
Once I got Esbern safely delivered to Delphine, I wasn’t quite ready to stop for the night. So I decided to get that fire salts delivery taken care of. I already had a stash of eight of them built up at Whiterun, and I was able to buy a ninth from Arcadia.
And given that I’d just bought the alchemy laboratory at Proudspire, I was pretty sure I’d probably have a tenth fire salt there. So I fast traveled to the Statue of Meridia to hoof it to Solitude on foot from there.
Which, as I’d hoped, triggered me another dragon to kill.
This time, though? It was an Elder Dragon. :O
Y’all may recall this was not the first time I’d encountered one of those; the first time was when it landed right on Markarth and the damn thing killed me before I had time to react to it. This time I was better prepared.
It still took me longer to kill it than previous dragons had done, and I had to hit the healing potions pretty hard—because boy howdy was it doing damage with its bites. I also hit Resist Fire and Resist Frost potions, while I was at it.
But I did finally manage to take it down, and once I’d done that, I had more dragon bits. Which I nabbed to add to the stash I’m starting to build up, now that I’m a scant five ticks away from being able to unlock Dragon Smithing. 😀
Headed into Solitude from there. There were Khajiit parked outside the gates, so I stopped to say hi to them. This was a different set of Khajiit, I think, than the ones I’d run into before. They had a Lockpicking trainer with them, who was willing enough to train me in Lockpicking, though he warned me not to blame him if I got arrested. Snerk.
In Solitude, I was able to pop into Proudspire and confirm that why yes, I did have a tenth fire salt in my shiny new alchemy laboratory! Not to mention a crapton of other ingredients. Falk Firebeard apparently has a great ingredients supplier!
Headed right back out of Solitude, then, and stopped at the carriage to break the poor carriage driver out of his “I can’t wait forever” loop. Got him to take me to Riften, and a warning from him to be careful in Riften in exchange for the ride and my gold.
Balimund was absolutely delighted to get my fire salts, and informed me I could come back to his forge any time, because I was quite welcome. I did not get a prompt for Smithing training off of him, but Paul tells me this is in fact because my Smithing is pretty damned high already and the game does expect you to work on those last five ticks to 100 yourself.
On the way out of Riften, a guard shared a rumor about a fight down in the Ratway. Some said it was Thalmor! Some said it was Thieves Guild! Some said it was both!
I am shocked, SHOCKED I SAY, at word of such violence. (She said, sauntering guilelessly out through the gates.)
One more fast travel back to the Western Watchtower, to see quiet skies above me, no sign of dragons… but I did see the floppy dead dragon corpse again, this time on the long walkway up to the gates rather than at the gates themselves.
Fpfptpbt. I told Paul I felt like I should name this dragon corpse ghost. Paul suggested “Carl”.
How many more dragons does the Dragonborn need to kill to lay the ghost of poor Carl to rest? And if she comes back to Riften, how many thieves is she going to have to pelt before she gets to be thane? And will she finish finding all the Aetherium shards before she finds the last fragment of Gauldur’s amulet? Let’s find out!
Editing to add
3/12/2022: Reformatted this post to make it better match ones in later playthroughs.