Alarrah Playthrough,  Dawnguard

In Which the Dragonborn Slays Lord Harkon

This session saw the ending of the main Dawnguard plotline, which was over surprisingly quickly! So I did a few epilogue-type things afterwards, and then a bunch of general building and crafting and selling.


  • Headed into Fort Dawnguard with Serana to report to Isran, who was a little whomperjawed that we did in fact have Auriel’s Bow; he rallied the troops for an all-out assault on Castle Volkihar
  • Notably, he also got to be less of an asshole to Serana, acknowledged that going up against her own father couldn’t be easy for her, and thanked her for her help
  • We all rendezvoused at the castle and stormed the front gates, then the castle’s main hall; wiped out a lot of vampires and gargoyles
  • We actually showed up at the castle at night, doing so during the day when I could have shot the sun with the bow would probably have been wiser
  • But that said, I still had both the bow and Dawnbreaker, and I made a whole lot of things explode with the two of them together, very satisfying
  • Harkon had a lot of bitter snark to throw at his daughter, particularly regarding me; he put up a good fight, kept levitating around and turning into a cloud of bats, as well as throwing up protective shields
  • Once we took out Harkon I checked with Serana to see if she was okay, and to see what she’d be doing next, and to emphasize I’d love to have her along on any future adventures; she said she’d settle at Fort Dawnguard if they’d have her
  • I didn’t get the dialogue options to pursue persuading her to cure her vampirism yet, so will have to follow up on that later
  • Then the Dawnguard forces retreated, leaving me to my own devices; I popped over to Valerica’s study then to enter the Soul Cairn and let her know Harkon was dead
  • She was all “Seriously? Right then I guess I can come home” and gave me free rein to take any potions from her laboratory while she settles in to resume her work as an alchemist and restore the castle
  • I popped next back over to the Forgotten Vale to hit the Paragon Portal and check out the various otherwise inaccessible bits the portals let you get to; found Auriel’s Shield, as well as the Unknown Book Vol. II. Also miscellaneous loose gems and other loot, including some weapons I’d dropped at one point because of being overloaded
  • Blipped next over to Solitude to sell a bunch of stuff; set up both Harkon’s armor and Vyrthur’s on mannequins in Proudspire; sold a whole lot of enchanted weapons, potions, and other things at all four shops, and in fact did two in-game days’ worth of that just because I had so much loot
  • Once I got to a point of being able to either sell or stash enough stuff to fast travel again, I next visited Windstad and spent some of the ore cache I’d built up by doing building there; killed a few bandits with Valdimar’s help
  • Next stop: College of Winterhold, where I sold the four Unknown Books to Urag and got 1000 gold each for them, as well as translations of the Falmer text they contained; also sold him the Elder Scroll (Dragon), about which he was a lot more overjoyed
  • Got another side quest from him to go get a book for the Arcaneum as well; this one will let me go investigate the shipwreck near Winterhold
  • Did a circuit of looking for the trainers to get my round of training in for level 55; got Restoration, Illusion, and Alteration this time
  • Also bought a bunch of spellbooks from all three trainers and learned a bunch of new spells
  • Got another “go close a rupture from the Eye of Magnus” quest from Tolfdir, which will land me back in Solitude
  • Last stop of the night: back to Whiterun! OH HEY Blood Dragon when I came out of fast travel at the Watchtower! And this dragon actually tried to attack one of the nearby farms; I was not having any of THAT
  • The Khajiit were camping out again nearby and they came running over to go !!! at me, so I said hi and bought some stuff from them
  • Back inside the city to settle down at home for a bit, gave Lucia one of the gifts I’d gotten for her (but not all of them, gotta space ‘em out, kiddo), and said hi to Lyds <3
  • Did a round of the Whiterun shops to smith and sell more things, and changed out of the armor for once!
  • Gold tally over 90,000 when I finally saved for the night

Conclusion of Dawnguard plotline

This honestly took less time than I expected. It was suitably dramatic, mind you—just faster than I expected!

Once Serana and I got back to Fort Dawnguard, all we pretty much had to do was report to Isran, tell him we had Auriel’s Bow, and that it was time to take the fight to Serana’s father. Which meant that Isran had to rally all the troops for a full on frontal assault on Castle Volkihar.

And, to my satisfaction, Isran did in fact get to be less of an asshole in his dealings with Serana. He had a few lines with her in which he gruffly acknowledged that going up against her own father had to be difficult for her, and even thanking her for her help. Good. Means I don’t have to beat the guy up. 🤨

I thought briefly about trying to improve either Dawnbreaker or Auriel’s Bow on site, but ultimately decided it wasn’t necessary—because if those two weapons combined weren’t enough to handle any of the denizens of the castle, I still also had the dragonbone weapons with me and could switch off if I needed to.

This approach proved just fine. I fast traveled straight over to the castle, where the Dawnguard forces were all gathered, and we proceeded to storm the front entrance.

I was quite satisfied that I’d stopped at Whiterun to get Dawnbreaker in general, just because this fight was probably pleasing the hell out of Meridia. <3 Many things exploded when I hit them with the blade! Not only the lesser vampires in the place, but also gargoyles.

The wiki actually advises you that if at all possible, time your assault on the castle so that you show up during the day—for maximum ability to take advantage of Auriel’s Bow. My timing for this turned out not to be optimal, because we showed up just before midnight game-time. However, this turned out not to be a problem.

I did make a point of whipping out the bow to take on several castle denizens once we were inside, and hitting them with the Sunhallowed arrows also made for several impressive explosions. 🤩

The final confrontation with Harkon started with some dialogue between him and Serana. As expected, he had a lot of bitter snark to hurl at his daughter, not only for her working with the Dawnguard, but also about me. From what I saw on the wiki, I probably could have actually killed him during this conversation; I was able to draw Auriel’s Bow and get an arrow pointed at him as they were speaking. But I did actually want to see the conversation play out, so I let that happen and get to the point where the last fight of this attack was on.

Harkon was a decent fight. He was in Vampire Lord form the whole time, so he was able to move quickly, levitating the whole time. Also, he teleported more than once, threw up shields several times, and turned himself into a cloud of bat. So his high mobility meant I had a hard time chasing him, and had to rely on Auriel’s Bow for my first several hits on him.

Eventually, though, he did close in on me for up close melee fighting. I don’t remember which blade I actually switched off to at that point, but regardless, I was able to take him down.

At that point, I confiscated all his loot, including his katana-like sword and his Vampire Royal armor. I also checked with Serana to see what final dialogue options I could get with her, and to see if she was all right. She told me she’d probably settle at Fort Dawnguard for as long as they’d have her, as she’d demonstrated to them that having a vampire in their ranks was to their advantage. And I assured her I’d love to have her along on further adventures later.

I did not get appropriate dialogue prompts to see if I could persuade her to cure her vampirism yet, so I’ll have to follow up on that later and see if she decides to do that. Because apparently you can convince her to go visit Falion in Morthal, and become human again—but you have to be supportive and diplomatic about it, and let it be her decision!

With that, the Dawnguard retreated, victorious. This left me to my own devices, so I spent the rest of the session following up on loose ends and loose loot!

Checking in with Valerica

The first loose end I wanted to do was to check in with Valerica and let her know Harkon was defeated. So since I was right there, I decided to pop over to her laboratory, enter the Soul Cairn, and let her know the situation.

Mind you, I had to do that by fast traveling from the front of the castle to where her balcony was, because I didn’t know the correct path through the castle to get from the front to the back. But I was able to get to the portal and into it with no problems.

On the way to Valerica, as well as on the way back to the portal, I did have to fight a few bonemen. They also exploded real nice when I hit them with Dawnbreaker.

And with a little bit of effort, I did actually find the Boneyard again, and Valerica working at her alchemy lab inside. She went !!! at me when I told her Harkon was dead, and promptly agreed that it was time for her to come home.

I was a little sad though that she didn’t give me any dialogue prompts about Serana. I’d have thought she’d ask about her daughter!

Once I came back out of the portal Valerica was also there, which suggested that at least the idea was supposed to be that she’d follow me back from the Boneyard even if I didn’t see her do that. She told me she’d continue her work as an alchemist, and that it would take some time to restore the castle to its former glory. And she thanked me and gave me free rein to take any potions I might need from her laboratory.

(I did not actually do that, as I am a pretty fair alchemist myself at this point, and I am swimming in ingredients. Any potion I need, I can make!)

The Paragon Portal at the Forgotten Vale

Next loose end was to pop back to the Forgotten Vale and check out the Paragon Portal. I wanted to peek into the various otherwise inaccessible bits that the paragons were supposed to let you access, and in particular, get a couple of the unique items that gave you access to.

Two things in particular: Auriel’s Shield, which is actually a heavy armor shield, but which has some neat effects with building up energy for power bashing. And it’s pretty, and I wanted it! And, the Unknown Book Vol. II.

I found both of these things, as well as a bunch of other miscellaneous loot, including a few weapons I’d dropped on the previous visit to get my inventory weight back down. One of the portals dropped me into a room in the Inner Sanctum, where I found elven gear as well as a boatload of loose gems.

So the Paragon Portal was worth a visit, and I’m glad I did that. Also glad that the portal didn’t actually require me to spend the paragons, because now I can keep those as loot, too. They’re also pretty!

Stopping at Solitude

I’d left a metric crapton of loot at Proudspire in Solitude, so that was my next stop. Wound up spending a couple of days in-game in Solitude, just going through all the loot, selling a bunch of it, and also organizing some of the stuff I couldn’t immediately sell.

Some things I did wind up keeping:

  • The Ancient Falmer Armor I claimed off of Vyrthur, which I put on one of the armor mannequins in Proudspire’s basement
  • The Vampire Royal Armor I claimed off of Harkon, which I put on the other armor mannequin in Proudspire’s basement
  • Harkon’s katana-like weapon
  • All the gems and the paragons, which I stashed in the safe in my bedroom
  • The canticle bark and the draw knife from the Ancestor Glade; I’m pretty sure I won’t ever have to read another Elder Scroll with this character, but who knows?

I’d initially thought I could spend some time at Beirand’s forge making things, until I remembered he didn’t have a smelter. Why the hell doesn’t he have a smelter? It makes no sense to me that the smithy in a city as big as Solitude, particularly one where the blacksmith has explicit dialogue prompts about how hard he works providing armor for the Imperials, has no smelter on site. Where the hell is Beirand getting his ingots from? Is the expectation supposed to be that he’s paying to have them shipped in?

It made me want to give him extra money so that he could actually build his own smelter. Sadly, the game does not allow me to do that.

I also sold a boatload of potions to Angeline and a boatload of miscellaneous items to Sayma in Bits and Pieces, and even a few things to the sisters over in Radiant Raiment, as I had a few extra jewelry items I figured were appropriate for them.

Since I was shopping in Solitude anyway, I also made a point of buying a few more things for Lucia. My kid is not going to go without gifts from her mother again if I can help it!

And I really wish I had a barrel down in Proudspire’s basement, for storing alchemical ingredients. There was no such barrel. I think I wound up stashing a lot of them in one of the cupboards in the manor.

On a similar note, I also really, really wish the game had a better interface for letting you store items on shelves that aren’t bookshelves, or into a display case. It is super awkward to have to drop an item on the floor and then maneuver it up onto the shelf or into the case, and hope that you get it situated the way you want. I tried to put some potions on the shelves around Proudspire’s alchemy lab, but that got annoying very quickly, so I stopped only after a few tries.

Eventually, after doing enough selling and/or smithing and/or stashing of things, I got the inventory down to a point where I was able to fast travel after quaffing a potion of Strength. Moving on!

Visiting Windstad Manor

Next stop was Windstad, since that was on the way to Winterhold, and I figured it’d be nice to check in there. I fast traveled directly there for once, and as expected, had some bandits immediately show up.

I killed two of them. And Valdimar was actually out on the property, so he took out the other. Well done there, housecarl.

And since I do have a smelter at Windstad, I used that to convert the pile of ore I’d come out of the Forgotten Vale with into usable ingots. Several of which I spent at Windstad, building things! Windstad has been lagging behind considerably on getting built out, so I’ll need to work on that for a bit.

(Which, as I write this, presents itself as another opportunity to spend a lot of the gold stash I’ve built up!)

I was amused to note again, though, that the area right around the manor building itself does have a lot of tall clumps of grass. Makes me wish Skyrim had the concept of a landscaper I could pay to pretty up the grounds!

Or maybe pay some strong men from Morthal to come over and build a nice fence around the place, to make it a bit more difficult for bandits and/or giants to come stomping through my yard.

Converting my ore to ingots got the inventory back up again. But once I built enough things to spend some of those heavy materials and get back to being able to travel, I then decided to actually use the carriage driver I’d hired to be on site, and head to my next destination!

(Again, something to spend a little money on. Also, if I’m going to actually go to the trouble to pay people to stay at my houses, I should actually periodically let them do their jobs!)

College of Winterhold

Next stop: the mage college. Dropped by the Arcaneum to tell Urag I had some Falmer texts for him, which pleased him, and which got me 1,000 gold each as well as translations of all the books. I will need to relay those to the library I’m building up at Lakeview.

And I also sold him one of the Elder Scrolls, the “Dragon” one I’d picked up during the main quest. That exchange was kind of hilarious, because he initially didn’t believe me when I asked him if he was interested in an Elder Scroll. “Did Enthir put you up to this?” Lol.

But once I explained that I was absolutely serious and it was his if he wanted it, he was all “FUCK YEAH I’m interested in an Elder Scroll!” And this, he paid me 2,000 gold for.

I would have happily sold him all three of the ones in my inventory, but apparently the game will let me only sell him the Dragon one. The other two, I’ll need to sell to the priest Dexion at Fort Dawnguard. So between him and Serana, and possibly also additional side quests, I will have reason to re-visit the place.

And while I had Urag’s attention, I asked him if there was any business I needed to attend to for the college. So I got another side quest from him to go hunt down a book. This one will take me to the shipwreck east of Winterhold, which I haven’t seen before, so hopefully that’ll be fun!

After talking to Urag, I also did a round of the trainers to get in my training for level 55. And this time, I also asked them all what they had for sale, and bought a bunch of mid-level spellbooks for spells I didn’t have yet. This round of training was with Faralda, Colette, Drevis, and Tolfdir. And out of the spells I got out of them, I think the ones I’ll find most entertaining are Chain Lightning and Ironflesh!

Checked with Tolfdir as well to see if he had any college business that needed to come to my attention. He gave me another side quest to go hunt down another rupture from the Eye of Magnus—and this one will be in Solitude territory, so I’ll need to see if that’ll drop me somewhere I haven’t been before in Solitude’s vicinity.

Back to Whiterun

And, finally, I headed home again. The fast travel to the Watchtower dropped a Blood Dragon on me, and this time the dragon got a little friskier than normal. It tried to attack one of the nearby farms and I was not having any of that bullshit.

So I ran after it and started pelting it with arrows to get its attention, and then finally got it to land and fight me directly, without even having to bother to throw Dragonrend at it. (I really need to remember I have that Shout at my disposal now!)

This fight was witnessed not only by the tower guards, but also by the Khajiit, who were visiting again and who came running over to check out the commotion. So since they were there, I said hi and bought things from them.

The Blood Dragon also got me a whole extra pile of dragon bits, and of course that threw my inventory up again. So I had to tromp very slowly back into Whiterun proper. But at least the city was close enough that that didn’t take too huge an amount of time!

Once home again, I told Lucia that I did not want to play a game, but I did give her one of the things I bought for her, one of the dresses. (I have other gifts queued up for her at this point, but I’m not going to give her all of them at once!) And I made sure Lydia saw me. <3

Then I swapped out of the armor for a little while, to be Dragonborn in Downtime mode for a little while. And I tried on the Destruction robes I’d picked up a while back, just to see how they’d look on me, along with the Aetherial Crown. Answer: not quite as impressive as the Arch-Mage robes, but still pretty cool, also given that I was still armed with Dawnbreaker gleaming at my hip.

I did a circuit of the various Whiterun shops, including smithing a bunch of things. Notably, I’d made a dragonbone dagger for Lucia in Solitude, but it was here where I actually improved it up to Legendary. The game lets you give your kid daggers. But I’m torn between “the Dragonborn’s kid should have a proper dragonbone dagger” and “maybe for safety purposes I should let her work her way up”. Heh.

Regardless, I got a bunch of things smithed, and a bunch of things sold. I got Auriel’s Bow improved up to Legendary, though right now that means it’s still not as powerful a bow as the dragonbone one which is my current primary bow.

And that was a good way to end the session. <3

Next time

Side questing for the college! And possibly another round of loot organization in Solitude, and building at Windstad.

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.