This session was yet more “let’s see if Anna can find more new things to do before she has to commit to finishing up the main plot” action! Answer: yes, yes I could find more things to do.
Main action of this session was the Rise in the East plot in Windhelm, but I also explored three areas that were new to me, Yorgrim Overlook, an Abandoned Prison and a cavern system called Darkshade.
And, got in plenty of crafting and magic practice!
- Session number in this run: 73
- Sold some enchanted jewelry to Tolfdir, Phinis, and Faralda at mage college
- Boinged to Solitude to sell more things, drop off things, and say hi to family
- Bought a couple of circlets and generic College Robe at Radiant Raiment
- Boinged to Windstad to craft things
- Fought giant at front steps! Valdimar helped, way to go Valdimar!
- Did more building out of the storage and bedroom wings
- Created some elven armor out of materials I had, just to burn through the backlog and build Smithing back up
- Put on Ahzidal’s armor to get Enchanting bonus and started working on improved magic/Alchemy/Smithing gear
- Slapped double enchantment for bringing down the cost of Destruction and Restoration spells + Magicka Regen on the robe
- Also boosted one of the necklaces with cost reduction for Destruction and Restoration
- And a circlet with Magicka Regen bonus + Alchemy bonus
- Decided to head towards Windhelm on foot, to see if anything interesting happened and also try out new mage gear
- In addition to robe and jewelry, put on dragonscale boots with Carry Weight bonus + Resist Shock, and dragonscale gauntlets with Smithing bonus + Carry Weight bonus
- (I’ll do better at mage gear if I have boots and gloves that’ll improve on what the dragonscale does, which will let me get more off the Mage Armor perk, but at this point I wanted the Light Armor boost)
- Headed southeast towards Windhelm
- Passed noble on horse + Imperial soldier escort, who freaked out when a snowy sabre cat came at me, but I fireballed it before it could do them any harm; y’all have a nice day now, stay safe!
- Found giant camp Red Road Pass, which I remember from Alarrah’s run
- Passed Fort Dunstad; some of the bandits there chased me, had trouble engaging while in magic mode, so I ran and sneaked until they lost track of me
- Found Korvanjund, but can’t run it as I’m not doing the war
- Found Yorgrim Overlook and cleared it, because only two skeletons there, lol that was fast
- Found an apparently lost horse? Not marked as red, so I could have ridden it, I think? No sign of an owner anywhere. Proceeded on foot to Windhelm anyway, so as not to risk getting a horse theft bounty
- Found invisible Viinturuth’s corpse? o.O
- Made it into Windhelm; came in from the west without remembering I had to go along the opposite side of the river to get to the main bridge in, but that’s okay because I wanted to be on the docks anyway
- Found the East Empire company office and Orthus inside, talked to him to start the Rise in the East quest
- Orthus asked me to break into the Shatter-Shields’ office next door, comma, the Shatter-Shields whose house I’d already broken into multiple times. Can do
- However, the other office was worked by a Dunmer and I didn’t want to go too hard on her, so decided not to steal the logbook during daylight hours
- Killed time by selling stuff to Oengul, Nirayne, Quintus, and Revyn
- Popped briefly into the target office to actually check it out, and discovered oh right Suvaris is the Dunmer who the Nord racist assholes were yelling at and accusing of being a spy
- Conclusion: Merawen is sympathetic to her, and this underscored the need to avoid ripping off the office in broad daylight
- Waited until dark, because had no place to safely rest inside (fuck Candlehearth Hall); stole logbook
- Waited until next morning; saw an Argonian named Shahvee go by me on the docks while I was waiting, and who commented about Skyrim not being very friendly to Argonians (and she’s not wrong)
- Gave logbook to Orthus, and got directive to go find the pirates in Dawnstar
- Went to Windstad to get my Guild Master armor as that seemed like the appropriate gear to go have words with pirates
- Fast traveled to Windward Ruins so as not to drop a fast travel dragon on Dawnstar; got dragon! but it didn’t land
- Headed towards Dawnstar; found iron vein, but couldn’t mine it because in combat wait what oh hi there frost troll
- Shot troll to death with Nightingale bow and ebony arrows
- Went into Dawnstar and Windpeak Inn
- Bribed the leader of the pirates to fess up to where his leader is headquartered; was a little sad I didn’t have to kick their asses? Because they were harassing the woman bringing them food, and I should totally have kicked their asses, I’ll need to remember that next time I do this plot
- Headed back to Windhelm, again on foot
- Passed the farmer taking his cow to a giant
- Also two sets of Khajiit? I think two caravan groups must have been traveling together or something? There were eight of them
- Bought moon sugar but not skooma from a Wood Elf skooma dealer
- Killed another frost troll with the stalhrim greatsword—and spotted a riekling nearby in the trees! Hi little blue dude, did you follow me here all the way from Solstheim?
- Passed a courier; tried to talk to him, but he yelled “Somebody help!” and “Somebody do something!” for no apparent reason?
- But apparently he was reacting to the nearby sabre cat even before it actually came over and attacked him
- He had an investor letter about “Abandoned Prison”, about which I went “hey, I don’t know that locale”
- Reported back in at the East Empire office to find Adelaisa giving Orthus shit about his incompetence
- He tried to swear up and and down that he had hired a woman to help out, which got Adelaisa to see me coming in and go “this must be her then” and inform me I was coming with her mercenaries to go confront the pirates
- So I went out to the dock and went to the ship with her men; mercenary asked me if I was the one coming along and if I was ready to go, so I said yes, and we were off to Japhet’s Folly
- Adelaisa told me the plan: there was a disconcerting fog around their target island, so she needed me to go in and take out the battlemage Haldyn, to clear out the fog so they could come in behind me and clean out the place
- I took out most of the Blood Horkers with sneak arrow attacks
- Searched the place and found the remains of the unfortunate Japhet downstairs; he had a journal describing how his attempt to found a settlement went very, very badly
- Then upstairs I found the boss pirate Haldyn and tried to take him out with a sneak shot, but I didn’t hit him with enough damage in one go, and he wound up running right past me
- Got outside and found the exterior under attack by Adelaisa’s ship continent—and holy shit, they were flinging huge fireballs
- Killed a few more Blood Horkers on the way out
- Rendezvoused with Adelaisa, she was all ‘good work’, and we returned to Windhelm
- Waited by East Empire office until daylight, then went in and got pay from Orthus
- Headed south-ish from Windhelm, passed Alik’r warriors bugging the Redguard woman again, geez you guys
- Passed but did not engage with a spider who didn’t actually try to come after me; not sure it realized I was out on the road?
- Did engage a cave bear and yet another thief
- Found but did not engage with Fort Amol
- Noted Abandoned Prison just across the river from Fort Amol; decided to investigate, but killed by one of the ghosts down on the lower level
- Switched off to stalhrim gear for take two, and cleared the place
- Wow the guard captain in the place was an asshole, unilaterally declaring to evacuate without saving the prisoners, and outright saying to either kill them or let them drown; no wonder the ghosts haunting the place were cranky
- Fought Wood Elf conjurer near Hillgrund’s Tomb
- Found and cleared Darkshade; mined two gold veins and took out five trolls; grisly place with lots of human remains
- Went past Valtheim Towers without bothering to engage
- Found remains of battle between two hunters and a spriggan and a bear? Two hunters were both dead, spriggan and allied bear attacked me
- Sold stuff at Honningbrew
- Fast traveled to Heljarchen; did a bit of smithing and building there
- Fast traveled to Solitude; sold items to Gulum-Ei
- Went home to Proudspire; gave gold to Runa, made a bunch of potions, and saved for the night
Oh so that’s why Ahzidal’s gear is useful!
So here’s a thing I discovered as to why you really do want to get Ahzidal’s artifacts via the Unearthed plot on Solstheim: because if you’re wearing at least four Ahzidal artifacts, then you get a +10 bonus to Enchanting.
Mind you, one of the artifacts outright says this on the description on it in your inventory. So at least in theory I knew this already. However, I had not tried it out with Alarrah’s run, and neither had I tried it out with Merawen prior to this session.
Between this and being able to make better Fortify Enchanting potions, this was the difference between 29% and 32% improvements for Alchemy and Smithing on the items I enchanted. And similar improvements for the other types of enchantments I tried, boosts to Destruction, Resurrection, and Magicka Regen.
This got me to a point where I felt like I had good enough enchanted gear to try to run around in mage mode for a while. There’s definitely room for improvement here, but this was still a very satisfying thing to pull off.
A lot of the quest rewards in Skyrim seem like things you never have to actually use again, they just build up with the rest of your accumulated loot in whatever house you choose to store stuff in.
But in this case it’s great to have a reason to actually keep quest reward items around and use them!
Invisible Viinturuth is invisible
On the way over to Windhelm I ran into an oddity: a prompt to search Viinturuth, the dragon I’d killed earlier. Which would lead you to expect that the remains of said dragon should be lying there, except they weren’t. I saw no sign whatsoever of a dragon corpse.
Or any sign for that matter of an actual dragon. The wikis I use for my game reference information say that Viinturuth apparently can respawn, and may be invisible if he does. But this seemed to be a matter of just Viinturuth’s leftover corpse being invisible, as opposed to his respawning and attacking me.
Any way you slice it, though, that was weird. Viinturuth seems particularly buggy as named dragons resurrected by Alduin go!
Rise in the East quest
This was the most significant action I did in this session. Even though it was centered in (fucking) Windhelm, I did nonetheless enjoy it!
I did note to my chagrin that I’d confused which clan was which in Windhelm. Originally, when I had Orthus complain to me that Clan Shatter-Shield was impacting their business, I was all “wait, isn’t that the clan with the contact that let us reestablish the Thieves Guild in Windhelm? This seems counter to the interests of the Guild!”
But then I confirmed, no wait, the Thieves Guild contact was Torsten Cruel-Sea. I think I had the Shatter-Shields in my head just because they are significant to the other major plot in Windhelm, Blood on the Ice.
So with that settled, I was able to decide, okay yeah fine, no conflict of interest for the Guild here!
I did however also note that the Shatter-Shield office where I had to steal the logbook was staffed by a fellow Dunmer. Specifically, the Dunmer you see on your initial arrival at Windhelm being harassed by racist Nord assholes and accused of being a spy. So I also feel like Merawen would definitely be sympathetic to her, and not want to make her life too difficult if she could avoid it.
And it might have been nice to be able to, say, buy off Suvaris by bribing her to give over the logbook, or getting her to quit working for the Shatter-Shields and start working for the East Empire Company instead. Or even helping her migrate to a different city.
Because honestly, lady, do you really want to be associated with pirates?
(On the other hand, if she was actively in support of the pirates—well, then it becomes a matter of Merawen regretfully having to take down an obstacle to the interests of the Thieves Guild, so!)
As for the actual battle with the pirates—I was intrigued by the locale of Japhet’s Folly, by its backstory, and also by the warnings I saw on the wiki about not fast traveling to this place under any circumstances. Because apparently if you try, you will get stuck there!
Apparently, the game treats Japhet’s Folly as its own worldspace, and you have no in-game way of reaching it and getting back aside from the mercenary ship you use as part of this quest. So yeah, note to self, no going back there!
And while clearing out the actual pirate lair wasn’t difficult, it was definitely a change of pace to get back outside and see the place under active attack by the ship. Complete with HUGE LOBBED FIREBALLS hitting things. I had no idea what that was at first, and thought that maybe one of the Blood Horkers was trying to hit me with a staff or something? Or maybe fighting one of the mercenaries with said staff nearby?
Mind you, I don’t know what mechanism the mercenaries were actually using for their attack—the game didn’t make anything obvious on the ship deck during the journey. But hey, maybe they had their own battlemages?
Long story short, fun quest, glad I did it, will probably do it again on playthrough number three. Next time, though, I will totally want to kick the asses of the pirates harassing Karita in Windpeak Inn! Because seriously, fuck those guys.
P.S. Let it be noted for the record that I had a hard time taking the Blood Horkers seriously as a group. Because “Blood Horkers” as a name just sounds silly. Also a little gross!
This was an interesting place to explore just for the backstory involved: Imperial guards deciding to evacuate the place, because it was about to flood out due to a serious storm. And the guard leader had left orders that they couldn’t release the prisoners, so they’d need to either kill them or outright let them drown.
So no wonder the three ghosts down in the cells in this place were cranky! I feel like, though, that this quest missed out on an opportunity. If I’d been playing a Stormcloak, I would totally have wanted to hunt down the Imperial guard captain who left this order and brought them a heaping helping of vengeance for cruelty to their prisoners.
For that matter, if I’d been playing an Imperial, there would be interesting angles to play as well. Such as, was the guard leader acting out of “fuck it, let them die” cruelty to the prisoners? Or were they trying to make a very unfortunate command decision and having to come down in favor of saving the lives of the soldiers actively under their command?
If you’d come to them to confront them, how would they have responded? Would they have been able to make amends to the ghosts of the prisoners? Would they have wanted to, if the prisoners were Stormcloaks? Could you have maybe brought the ghosts an item owned by the captain so that they could go haunt the fuck out of that person for the rest of their natural born days?
Or maybe they were haunted anyway and committed suicide from the guilt over what they’d done! In which case you could go back to the ghosts and go “so that captain who doomed you to die? Totally fell on their sword”. And the ghosts could go “actually, we’re okay with that” and be off to Sovngarde!
This seemed like a larger version of some of the other “clear out a lair of a dangerous animal” type quests, just because this was a more complex cavern system than others I’ve found. And it had five different trolls in it, trolls which had clearly been causing issues, because the place was strewn with a lot of grisly remains of hapless travelers.
It was interesting to run just because I hadn’t seen the place before. And there were also a couple of gold veins to mine, and I won’t ever pass those up!
I’m very close to rolling over to level 70. This’ll probably happen once I do my next round of crafting! At which point I’ll need level 70’s round of training.
List of things I’m interested in doing before returning to the main plot now includes:
- Wabbajack quest
- Forsworn Conspiracy quest
- Running the Volunruud dungeon to get the Shout word there
Wabbajack’s in Solitude. Forsworn Conspiracy is in Markarth. And Volunruud, as I recall, is not terribly far away from Heljarchen.
Given that I still want to work on bumping up my magic so that I can do those upper-tier mage college quests, I may need to just wander around on foot some more and see if I can find anything else amusing to explore!
Editing to add
- 11/17/2023: Fixed missing gallery, and added a session number.