This is a double session post, covering play done on Friday the 19th and Saturday the 20th! Doubling up because Friday’s was a short session, and I was too busy on Saturday trying to plow through my gigantic email backlog to do a Skyrim post. So y’all are getting both sessions in this combined post!
Major highlights: running the Volunruud dungeon to get the Shout word there; beginning the quest to get Azura’s Star; and killing a dragon with Farkas. In theory.
- Play dates: 11/19-11/20/2021
- Session numbers in this run: 21-22
Friday night session
- Started session in Breezehome
- Went over to Jorrvaskr to check out the Harbinger quarters since they are now actually mine
- Vaguely put out that there’s nowhere useful to leave Wuuthrad and Ysgramor’s shield? Oh well, guess they’re going above my bed in Breezehome!
- Chatted with Lars Battle-Born and got him to ask me to get Braith off his back
- Popped into Breezehome and dropped off the shield and the axe
- Got Lydia in follow mode
- Told Braith I’m Lars’ bodyguard, mess with Lars, you mess with me 😉
- She agreed to back off and claimed she wouldn’t have to hit Lars if he’d just kiss her
- Sold the iron greatswords and shields off Breezehome’s bedroom rack to Adrianne
- Off to Volunruud to get that word of power
- Khajiit were standing around outside Whiterun without their tents, so I stopped to buy two rounds of Sneak training from Khayla
- Hammerclanged two sabre cats on the plains
- Made it to Volunruud
- Leveled up to 35 partway in, took the Tower of Strength perk on the Heavy Armor tree
- Cleared Volunruud though it was a little dicey in the boss chamber when i ran out of healing potions; had to punt to throwing a Healing spell and Conjure Familiar, while Lyds fought multiple frost atronachs, and I think she also took out Kvenel’s ghost, for that matter!
- (Note to self: give that woman a raise)
- Got overloaded, but that was okay, as I had a Philter of Strength
- Made it back to Whiterun safely
- On the way in, guard was all “you’re the Harbinger of the Companions! it is my honor to stand before you!” 😀
- Gave Lydia the current Legendary ebony bow i was carrying
- Sold some bandit loot to Adrianne, then shopped with Arcadia and Belethor
- Came back to Warmaiden’s, and made Lyds some ebony gauntlets
- Also improved the extra ebony bow I got out of Volunruud to Legendary so that can be my new bow
- Saved for the night
Saturday night session
- Dropped briefly into the Drunken Huntstman and sold Elrindir the elven battleaxe I’d taken back from Lyds now that she has the ebony warhammer
- Boinged to Lakeview for more building and dropping off things
- Decided to go to the Shrine of Azura next
- Boinged to Wayward Pass
- Oh hey attacked by Vampire Nightwalker and death hound on the south side of Wayward Pass, and then remnants of a battle between three vampires and a werewolf; two of the vamps were already ash piles, presumably killed by the werewolf? (Three vampires vs. werewolf is apparently a known random world interaction)
- I think the game just handed me a sign to go run Dawnguard 😉
- But Azura first
- Tried to mine an orichalcum vein, but rudely interrupted by a couple of ice wolves; Lydia took ‘em out and i mined the rest of the ore
- Frost troll
- Went to the Shrine of Azura and spoke to Aranea
- Headed next to Winterhold
- Couple more frost trolls–but oh hey there’s Torvar from the Companions! Torvar came running up to help us kill the second troll
- And after he did that I realized he was with a whole party of fellow Companions, including Farkas; Farkas wanted to know if I’d ever seen a dragon, and expressed his desire to kill one
- Guess we’re pre-empting Azura’s Star! And Farkas pre-empted Lydia as my follower
- Dragontooth Crater ID’d as quest locale, so fast traveled back to the watchtower so Farkas and I could hoof it from there, except Farkas didn’t actually follow me, and he didn’t catch up to me either as I hoofed it from the watchtower all the way to the crater
- Encountered another Dark Brotherhood assassin, female Argonian this time
- Sabre cat
- Passed Ri’saad’s Khajiit killing a wolf that attacked them; greeted by Khayla, hi Khayla! <3
- Stopped at Gjukar’s Monument just to get it onto the map
- Spotted what were probably bandits outside a hideout, but they didn’t react to my passing so I did not engage
- Did engage a wolf that attacked me though!
- Passed through Rorikstead
- Rorikstead Guard: “I used to be an adventurer like you…” I know, bro, heard it
- Another wolf
- Four bandits at crossroads just before turning west towards the crater
- Bandit: “This what you want, huh?” Me, hammerclanging her: “Yes, yes it is!”
- Went past Broken Tower Redoubt; engaged one Forsworn there, didn’t bother with the rest and kind of lol’d at one yelling “You can’t hide from me” when Delga was sauntering in plain sight right down the road
- Another wolf not far from crater
- Dead bandit with Horror of Castle Xyr Destruction skill book, near a silver vein
- Went past Harmugstahl and made it to Dragontooth Crater
- Pissed off Blood Dragon! However it did not directly engage me, I had to chase it
- Found it attacking some Thalmor! WAY TO GO DRAGON! I almost hate to kill you, but well I am the Dragonborn
- Blood Dragon took out three Thalmor and three Stormcloaks, but I took out the dragon
- Also got word for Elemental Fury off the wall
- Boinged back to watchtower, and there was Farkas: “Now that was a battle!”
- Lolololol okay fine I’ll headcanon you as actually being there even though the game lost track of you, you big puppy 😉
- Farkas headed back to Jorrvaskr after claiming he was going to study the bones so he could tell the story right, otherwise Vilkas wouldn’t believe him, lol
- I stopped to sell things to the Khajiit
- Did a bit of smithing and then sold items at the Drunken Huntsman
- Parked at Breezehome; did a little alchemy, and slept the night
- Picked up Lydia as follower once again for attempt to go to Winterhold, take two
- Sold some stuff to Belethor, then fast traveled to Sightless Pit to get to Winterhold
- Found three bandits fighting ice wraiths, then the bandits tried to fight us; this did not go well for the bandits
- Looted the fuck out of them, also the goat and wolf and ice wraiths they’d killed
- Headed on into Winterhold and reached the inn, where I questioned Nelacar about the Star
- Yes yes yes daedra are evil heard it (said the worshipper of Malacath)
- Paid him to tell me where the Star was, and bought a bunch of spellbooks off of him while i was at it
- Talked to the innkeeper as well and got a bounty on a bandit leader at Snowpoint Beacon
- Derped around on foot a little and came close to Saarthal, then decided to just fast travel to Driftshade Refuge as closest point to Snowpoint Beacon
- Took two tries to kill the bandit leader, dude had an Elven Battleaxe of Lightning, shock damage ow ow ow ow; got him the second time through though
- Then fast traveled to Lakeview, and dropped a bunch of stuff off in exterior chest
- Hi Ogol, hi Rayya, don’t mind us, just lightening the load, gotta go raid that ruined sunken fort across the lake
- Hoofed it down to the water
- Pretty sure I heard the necromancer at the site near Lakeview warning me to back off, but didn’t bother to go engage her
- Swam across the water to the other side and then hoofed it to Ilinalta’s Deep
- Found South Brittleshin Pass
- Found Ilinalta’s Deep entrance while Lydia killed a couple of mudcrabs
- Decided to save there for the night, because this promises to be a long and complicated dungeon fight at my current difficulty level!
Braith, the bully of Whiterun
This, my third playthrough, marks the first time I actually bothered to stop to talk to Lars Battle-Born and ask him what the deal is with him being bullied by Braith. (I’ve actually read up on this on the wiki already, so I knew what the deal was, but my character didn’t!)
As a tanky kind of Orc I’m sure the stereotypical response I might have given was the “grow a backbone, kid” one that the game offered me. However, as I’m playing Delga the Cinnamon Roll, I offered to help the boy get Braith off his back.
I went with the “I’m Lars’ bodyguard, mess with him, you mess with me” option, as I feel like that struck a proper balance between driving the clue home to the kid and not actually outright scaring her. At which point Braith went “okay fine I’ll leave him alone, and I wouldn’t have had to hit him if he’d just kiss me!”
Yikes. Oh, kid.
I’ve read up on Braith and I know that her family is dysfunctional. Her mom and dad don’t talk to her at all, which makes me sad given that her father is Amren and I like that guy. I really wish the game would give me a reason to go talk to her parents, because holy crap, if this kid’s got it into her head to equate “I want this boy to kiss me” with “I should beat the crap out of him”, she needs some serious guidance.
As it stands, I’ll just have to settle for getting Braith off Lars’ back. Run away, Lars! Braith’s entire family needs straightening out and there are other kids in Whiterun you can have healthier interactions with. How about that nice kid Lucia? I bet she could use a friend!
Black Star quest, round one
I’ve figured out how the narrative is going in my head for Delga’s run through the Black Star quest: she’s not a Dunmer or any other kind of elf so far as most of Tamriel is concerned, even if technically speaking the Orcs are part of mer-kind and therefore technically elves. So she doesn’t have any fucks to give about Azura per se.
However, she’s feeling conflicted about who she belongs to god-wise, so I figure she decides to visit the Shrine of Azura to see if she gets any insight from it. And surprise! The priestess tells her Azura wants her to do a thing and has picked her as a champion!
And seeing how Delga is the cinnamon roll who wants to help everybody, of course she agrees. And she rather envies Aranea her certainty of her faith in her god.
At any rate, part one of the work on this quest only went through the conversation with Aranea. Because I had surprise Companion interruption on the way to Winterhold to find Nelacar–and that gave me an opportunity to trigger a Companion side quest to go kill a dragon.
Dragon Seekers quest
It was kind of hysterical to hear Farkas asking me if I’d ever seen a dragon, given how I’ve written before about how everybody in Whiterun at this point has surely got to be aware of how Jarl Balgruuf’s newest thane is Dragonborn and has been seen to kill dragons in battle by multiple Whiterun guards, up to and including Housecarl Irileth.
But apparently Farkas missed the memo, bless his heart. So I imagine Delga just grinning a bit and telling him that yes, she’s seen dragons. And yes, he can totally come kill one with her.
The game decided we were going to go kill the dragon at Dragontooth Crater, clear over on the other side of the map. And with Farkas automatically pushed into being my active follower, Lydia stood down and returned to Whiterun.
(Really, it’s slightly unfair that I have to keep sending Lydia home. I cannot imagine she’d go home just because her thane is going to go kill a dragon! Also, the main plot stacks up Delphine and Esbern as extra followers for you when you go to Sky Haven Temple, so why the hell does Lydia have to go home? But I digress.)
The weird thing here though was that even though Farkas took over as my follower, he did not move with me when I fast traveled to the Western Watchtower to prepare to hoof it into the Reach. Nor did he catch up with me as I made my way all the way to Dragontooth Crater.
My fight with the Blood Dragon was surprisingly entertaining, as it was one of those scenarios where the dragon actually fucked off a little ways to fight something else it considered a bigger threat. And in this case, that threat was the trio of Thalmor I’d spotted on the way into the crater! By the time I caught up with the fight, it had already killed the first two of the Thalmor.
The survivor was doing his damndest to take it out, bellowing about “elven supremacy” the whole time. And I shall neither confirm nor deny that I took my own sweet time sauntering up to that dragon to give it time to kill that Thalmor asshole. Because goodness no I could not possibly have delayed rushing into battle, that would not be the slightest bit honorable of me, now would it?
After that dragon took out the Thalmor, I proceeded to take out the dragon. And only after I did that did I discover it also had apparently slain three Stormcloaks? Or else the Thalmor had done that and the dragon was attracted by their battle?
When I boinged back to the watchtower though, Farkas had finally caught up with me, and he greeted me with an enthusiastic “Now that was a battle!” So clearly the game considered him to have been there even if it lost track of where the fuck he was. Lolololol.
Okay fine, so headcanon-wise, Farkas was totally there. ;D And he claimed to want to study the dragon bones a while longer so that he could get the story right to tell his brother!
Black Star quest, round two
Once the interlude with (theoretically) killing a dragon with Farkas was over, I returned Lydia to active duty and picked up where I’d left off with the Black Star quest.
I am now three for three on running this quest and being entirely disinclined to buy Nelacar’s insistence that “all Daedra are evil, I fell you! Eeeeeeevil!”
Two out of the three characters I’ve played so far are culturally inclined to be outright Daedra worshippers, and that’s a big part of it. But as a player I also still strongly feel like Nelacar’s completely blowing past the possibility that Malyn Varen was just a horrible, horrible person.
The game isn’t exactly clear on what kind of connection Nelacar had to Malyn. But I do wonder whether they were friends at some point? Which might explain why Nelacar refuses to allow for the possibility that Malyn Varen was just a monster and that the whole affair isn’t Azura’s fault at all.
That said: the wiki page for Malyn Varen outright says that Azura cursed him, which corroborates Nelacar’s claim to a degree. But Nelacar still ascribes active malice to Azura. And this does rather contradict in-game info that Azura is broadly considered to be one of the few Daedra that aren’t entirely evil.
Also: the Star is her artifact, and Malyn Varen was fucking with it. Which, in a culture that damn well knows that the Daedra are powers you shouldn’t be fucking with, strikes me as profoundly unwise and also suicidally stupid. How the hell is Azura supposed to take it when her artifact is fucked with?
And, given that Malyn Varen is a Dunmer and that the Dunmer specifically worship Azura as one of the three Reclamations, there are real interesting questions of backstory here. How the hell did he get Azura’s Star to begin with? Did he realizes he was probably going to piss off Azura with his line of research? Did he care? Was the fact that he was dying driving him to an act of desperation? Did it never occur to him to maybe ask Azura for help here rather than trying to deliberately corrupt how her Star works?
So yeah, sorry Nelacar, but I’m still firmly on Team Malyn Varen Got What Was Coming to Him.
On a future playthrough, if I decide to play a human character, I may feel differently about this quest and go the route of “yep, the Daedra sure are evil!” For now, though, not so much.
And we’ll see how long it takes me to get through Ilinalta’s Deep this time! I expect it to be a tough run given how hard it was for Merawen. And also given that Delga is not really inclined to sneaking!
Ilinalta’s Deep, here I come!
Editing to add
- 11/28/2021: Now that my gallery issues are settled, here are the screenshots I wasn’t able to add to this post before!
- 11/18/2023: Galleries broke again, so restored the missing gallery, and added play date and session number markers.