In Which the Dragonborn Learns More About How to Defeat Alduin
Since I reached level 46, it was time to proceed with the next part of moving the main questline along–and doing Alduin’s Wall! But before I did that, I took care of a bit more side quests as well, some for Riften, some for the mage college.
- On the way northward to get Mjoll the Lioness’s sword for her, met some bandits pretending to be soldiers
- Recovered Mjoll’s sword Grimsever from the Dwemer ruin Mzinchaleft, where I also killed a bunch of bandits and Dwemer automatons
- Partially cleared Fort Greenwall of bandits on the way down to Riften, but found it was a bigger dungeon than anticipated, so I’ll have to go back and clear it further later
- Returned to Riften to give Mjoll her sword back, and to give the icewraith teeth to Marise, the vendor who wanted them
- Stopped at Mzulft to use the convector there to charge the Warped Soul Gem
- Went back to Deep Folk Crossing to charge the gem in both of the convectors near there
- Killed a Frost Dragon at Dragontooth Crater while heading south for Sky Haven Temple; also killed two random Dark Brotherhood assassins, and a few Forsworn
- Met up with Delphine and Esbern finally, and all four of us wound up having to take on a lot more Forsworn at their camp
- Then we got into Sky Haven Temple and found Alduin’s Wall, where we learned that Alduin had previously been defeated with a Shout–but the wall didn’t say what kind
- And now I have to go talk to the Graybeards to see if they know!
- On the way out of the temple, got the extra-damage-against-dragons sword Dragonbane, thank you, why yes I WILL have some
- Also, a full set of Blades armor, which is Heavy Armor so I won’t wear it but maybe it’ll look bitchin’ on Lydia?
- Leveled up to 47 after checking back in at Whiterun for the next round of making and selling stuff; unlocked the “Investor” perk
For those of you reading along at home, the main reason I was holding off on doing Alduin’s Wall as the next step of the main quest was because the leveled weapon you can get during that part, Dragonbane, is at its maximum if you’re 46 or above. So since I made it to level 46, I headed off to deal with that quest!
But before I did that, I also took care of some side questing. So the first item on yesterday’s run was to recover the sword Grimsever for Mjoll the Lioness, in Riften. She’d lost it in a Dwemer ruin called Mzinchaleft (to which I feel like I should say ‘gesundheit’), which happened to be not too far of a walk north-ish from Heljarchen Hall. So I hoofed it up that way with Lydia, just to see what we encountered on the way.
Answer: a trio of bandits, who’d just murdered a trio of soldiers and stolen their uniforms. Who made the mistake of hitting me up for a fine of 100 gold for ‘interfering with Imperial business’. And, even though I was standing there with over 10,000 gold on me, the whole thing smelled dodgy, so I told the orc I didn’t have any gold to spare.
“You can pay with your LIFE,” he roared back at me, at which point Lyds and I proceeded to show these guys why trying to extort us was a very, very bad idea.
Alarrah: “Okay, so this is how this is going to work. Lydia here is going to kick the asses of these two assholes with you, and I’m going to kick yours.”
Lydia and Alarrah: <proceed to kick asses>
Bandits: <die messily>
Alarrah: “Any questions?”
Then we went on our merry way to Mzinchaleft.
Which, as it happened, also had a bunch of bandits in the outer portions of the ruin. So we took care of those before working our way inward, where we found the by now familiar combo of automations and Falmer.
(Side note: now that I know what I do about the history of the Falmer, I am not entirely okay with fighting them. Particularly given that Falmer ears are an alchemy ingredient, and, well, eww. On the other hand, I think Alarrah wouldn’t yet know what her player knows about the background of the Falmer, so it ain’t like Alarrah’s not going to fight them if they come swinging for her while she’s on their way through her territory. But if the game gets me to a point of her actually finding IC reason to know about their history, I suspect she’ll work a little harder to not outright provoke them. And maybe stop actually harvesting their ears when she kills them.)
It was a fairly sizable dungeon, with one interesting sequence of gates where I had to figure out what order to flip levers in to be able to get through them all. And the main boss was a Dwarven Centurion Master, which was indeed a bit of a fight. Got Mjoll’s sword, though, and made it safely back out again!
Then we headed down to Riften. On the way, I decided to try to go actually through Fort Greenwall rather than around, to see if we could. Answer: yes, but not without fighting another round of bandits.
This wound up taking longer than I anticipated, because the fort wound up having multiple areas. I did not actually finish clearing the fort, just because I wanted to do other things and didn’t want to bother clearing it out. But I’ll have to come back to finish doing that later.
Instead, Lyds and I proceeded on down to Riften to give Mjoll her sword back. She was very happy to receive it and pledged her willingness to follow me into battle if I ever needed her. Awesome. <3 I think Alarrah quite likes this woman, and if she hadn’t already married Lydia, would be eying her rather more intently!
(The wiki tells me Mjoll is a marry-able character. Though my headcanon is totally that she’s probably already involved with Aerin, the dude who rescued her and nursed her back to health after that same Dwarven Centurion Master kicked her ass before. I have no particular in-game evidence to base this on, I’m just a romantic sucker.)
While we were in Riften, I also gave the icewraith teeth to Marise, who was very happy to get those too. She gave me five pheasant breasts and a spell tome. For a spell I already had, Magelight, but I appreciated the thought!
Also wound up helping out another Riften local, Shadr, who was in debt to Sapphire of the Thieves’ Guild. I paid off his debt for him, which Sapphire was willing to allow; she didn’t care where she got the money from. And Shadr gave me a potion of invisibility for my trouble.
Which means I’ve now helped three Riften locals and I think this should mean I’ve done enough helping of the locals to be thane there. But I also need to trigger the main quest to get the Jarl’s attention, which Paul tells me involves clearing out a skooma dealer problem in the city. I’ll be working on that soon.
Next stage of the session was to work on charging the Warped Soul Gem for Arniel at the college. Lydia and I stopped first at Mzulft, since this was one place we could do this and the convector was in the storeroom where I’d found the Aetherium Shard before.
Then I fast traveled hardcore westward, back to Deep Folk Crossing, to find the other two easily accessible ones. That got the gem to a state where I can now take it back to Arniel.
Decided to head south on foot from there, since I didn’t know exactly where I was going and didn’t have an immediately nearby fast travel landmark. This meant I wound up swinging through Dragontooth Crater again–which gave me an opportunity to fight a Frost Dragon!
Also fought a few Forsworn, and not one but two random Dark Brotherhood assassins, both of whom were the female Khajiit type of assassin. So they looked identical. Assassin twins, presumably! Dara theorized somebody paid extra for the deluxe service.
And at this point, Alarrah’s collected like four different assassin notes all signed by Astrid. The in-character priority on dealing with this, I think, is going up. Alarrah is definitely reaching an oh-for-fuck’s-sake status with assassins coming after her.
Once we actually reached Karthspire and Sky Haven Temple’s immediate area, it didn’t take us long to find Delphine and Esbern. Or for that matter, the Forsworn in the big fuck-off camp of Forsworn, right where we needed to be. So we wound up having to clear out the place.
Note that Delphine and Esbern are considered essential NPCs by the game, and as such, cannot actually be killed. Which meant that they could cut a swath through the Forsworn as they liked, and Lyds and I just had to periodically clean up alongside ’em! It’s kind of impressive how well you can clear out a camp of Forsworn when you have a party of four to do it, and two of them are unkillable.
(Another side note: I’ve had a bunch of Forsworn come at me now yelling things like “The Forsworn will take back what is theirs!” And I kind of go “wut” at that, because I’m just not seeing how exactly this goal is going to get accomplished by attacking a passing Bosmer. Particularly a passing Bosmer in dragonscale armor who doesn’t actually have anything of theirs and has no control over whether they get to regain power in the Reach. But this is me trying to apply a bit too much out-of-game logic!)
Once the Forsworn were sorted, we were able to get into the temple unhindered. And the temple itself didn’t actually throw any enemies at us. We did have a couple of interesting puzzles to solve, for which Esbern provided helpful clues. One involved Alarrah having to cut her hand to drip a little blood onto a panel, which would respond to the blood of the Dragonborn and open a secret door for us to go through. The other two involved looking for a particular symbol that meant “Dragonborn”, which let us get a bridge lowered, and also to cross a trapped floor.
Soon enough we reached Alduin’s Wall, and Esbern started in on lecture mode, interpreting the carvings and being very scholarly, which was kind of adorable. So was Delphine periodically reminding him to get a move on and tell us what we were there to find out.
Which was: that Alduin was defeated by the use of a particular Shout.
Problem was, the wall didn’t say which Shout.
As I discussed this with Delphine, the game gave me the dialogue prompt of “Maybe the Graybeards will know”. Delphine acknowledged this only grumpily, and explained when I asked that she has issues with the Graybeards, in no small part because it’s not like they’re actually trying to do anything to help mitigate the war. Or stop Alduin.
My option to close that conversation was basically “looks like I need to go talk to the Graybeards”. So that’ll be the next stage of the main quest, “The Throat of the World”. I know the major spoiler for what happens then–I remember this from when Dara and Paul played before–but Alarrah of course doesn’t know yet what’s coming. Muahaha.
Delphine and Esbern decided they were going to hide out in the temple, just to keep a low profile. Which left Lyds and me to go about our business. On the way out, I made a point of finding Dragonbane! But also checking various chests, which got me a full suit of Blades armor, as well. The armor is Heavy Armor, so I don’t think I’ll wear it, but I’m going to hang onto it for Lydia, probably!
I was overloaded at that point, but I had a potion of strength. So I was able to fast travel back to Whiterun, for another round of crafting and selling. Which let me level up to 47! And that let me unlock the “Investor” perk on the Speech tree of the skills.
So I was able to give some gold to the three stores in Whiterun that I use the most, Arcadia’s Cauldron, Warmaiden’s, and Belethor’s General Goods (even though Belethor is a douche). I also tried to invest in the Drunken Huntsman but apparently that shop doesn’t allow investing? Still though it was pretty neat from both an in-character and out-of-character perspective to be able to do this. As a player, what this’ll get me is bumping up the amount of available gold at these shops, which will let me buy and sell more things easily. And for Alarrah, I figure that since she’s been coming into a lot more wealth lately, she’s pleased to be able to spread it around Whiterun and let some of the people benefit from it.
I will have to see what other stores I’ll be able to invest in. I would totally want to invest in Angeline’s Aromatics in Solitude, because Angeline is a sweet little old lady and already likes Alarrah. <3 But apparently there is a bug involved with investing with her and her gold tally never goes up. 🙁
Report back to the college to give Arniel his charged gem. See about that magic anomaly problem in Markarth. And apparently I’m going to have to go back to Windhelm for the express purpose of triggering the Destroy the Dark Brotherhood quest, because they’re coming up fast on Alarrah’s list of Fuck Those Guys!
Edited to add
3/9/2022: Reformatted this post to make it better match later playthroughs, as part of porting it to skyrim.annathepiper.org.