Dawnguard,  Delga Playthrough

In Which Delga Retrieves the Elder Scroll from Mzark

Big session! Major points: running Alftand, making it down into Blackreach to the Tower of Mzark, and getting the Elder Scroll; returning the Runed Lexicon to Septimus, and the first interaction with Hermaeus Mora; and, sadly, losing Ria of the Companions as my steward at Heljarchen Hall, as she was killed by bandits. Rest well in Sovngarde, Ria!


  • Play date: 12/23/2021
  • Session number in this run: 54
  • Began running Alftand and leveled up to 53 a little ways in; took Deadly Bash perk in Block
  • Serana raised everything in sight, including Falmer and the dead Orc Yag gra-Gortwog you find when you jump down off a higher platform (sorry sister, she’s a necromancer, I kinda can’t keep her from doing that, Malacath bless you in your afterlife)
  • Serana did in fact make it past the piston traps! Which meant she made it down into Blackreach with me!
  • Killed by Falmer Warmonger shortly before the centurion, ow
  • Serana has opinions about the Falmer: “Disgusting creatures.”
  • Also killed by centurion ow ow ow; made it through the second time, and clobbered it with the hammer
  • Reached Sulla and Umana, both of whom whirled to fight us when they saw us coming
  • Activated the mechanism and got into Blackreach!
  • Went into Sinderion’s field laboratory and got the crimson nirnroot quest going
  • Did not look for all the crimson nirnroot yet, will save that for between quests later; did get four samples though, counting the one in the lab
  • Made it to the Tower of Mzark and got the Elder Scroll
  • Came out to the surface and blipped to Western Watchtower for a loot run in Whiterun
  • Flyby dragon
  • Grabbed a bunch of things for crafting and selling out of the storage chest
  • Did a bunch of alchemy and smithing, and selling of stuff to all vendors
  • Quaffed a potion of strength and tried to fast travel to Heljarchen but bandits killed Ria 🙁
  • Tried several times to fast travel in different ways, including from The Tower of Mzark which turns out to be literally right up the hill, but at no point was I able to actually get to Ria fast enough to save her; also had a courier show up to tell me about Ria’s death and he even reacted to the ongoing fight
  • Finally decided Ria was just fated to die, so rest well in Sovngarde, Ria! The Companions will drink in your honor
  • Boinged to Windstad to pick up other things, and do a little more building; HI LYDIA GLAD YOU’RE ALIVE
  • Boinged to Solitude next for loot run; sold a bunch of things to Sayma, Beirand, and Angeline
  • Tried to sell at Radiant Raiment but apparently there is a bug where they will accuse you of trespassing?
  • Also picked up stuff at Proudspire; HI JORDIS GLAD YOU’RE ALIVE
  • Boinged to mage college for training for level 53
  • Also sold assorted bits of jewelry to various mages since Radiant Raiment was being stupid
  • Got spell for Conjure Frost Atronach finally from Phinis, and Detect Life spell from Tolfdir
  • Boinged to Septimus’ outpost to give him the Runed Lexicon; he sent me back out to get blood samples
  • Cue first appearance of Hermaeus Mora! This time through I told him I would never be his champion; he warned me i wouldn’t evade him forever
  • Boinged to Riften for loot run at Honeyside; HI IONA GLAD YOU’RE ALIVE
  • Saved for the night

Running Alftand this time

The big bulk of this session was basically running Alftand. Which turned out to be a different experience with Serana as my follower!

I’d observed before that Serana pretty much kills any chances you have of sneaking, really. So do the housecarls, but Serana in particular is even worse for stealth because she is super aggressive and will start throwing ranged attacks around very quickly. Result: oh god yes all the Falmer heard us coming.

But really, since Delga is not really a fan of stealth regardless, it was all kind of okay!

The second big notable thing about taking Serana into Alftand is that she is the first follower I was able to get past the piston traps partway through that dungeon. Doublechecking my previous posts about this dungeon, I see that I specifically hadn’t tried to get Lydia or Jordis past those pistons; I’d been paranoid about doing that and had told both of them to stay put at that point.

(I think I must have had a previous dungeon with a piston trap smack into Lydia? And that’s why I’d been paranoid about getting her through Alftand in Alarrah’s run? But if Serana made it past the pistons, makes me wonder if Lydia or Jordis might have done…)

Third notable thing about Serana in this dungeon: she had a pointed opinion about the Falmer. “Disgusting creatures.”

Last but not least, once we made it down into Blackreach, I triggered a bug with Serana getting stuck on the porch of Sinderion’s field laboratory after we came back out of the building. It’s unclear to me whether this is a Serana-specific bug, or a general bug with the building’s porch, just because the two wikis I use as my reference sources are contradictory on that.

Still though I was able to resolve the matter by an application of Unrelenting Force, which knocked Serana off the porch and let her start following me again. Fortunately, this did not piss her off! Because pissing off a powerful vampire necromancer is not a good idea, even if you’re the Dragonborn.

The other thing I want to note about running Alftand this time: coming down here as a character with a background in the Imperial forces puts a different wrinkle on encountering Sulla and Umana! Because at this point I’m a Legate. But I have no option to bark out an order at Sulla and tell him to stand down in the name of the Emperor, sadly.

And boy howdy did Sulla and Umana both see me and Serana coming. They broke off their own fight and whirled on us. Which is I guess an indicator of how badly getting trapped in Alftand fucked them both up.

Rest well in Sovngarde, Ria

As an interlude, decided to do some loot runs in various places and pick up things I’d left in various storage chests.

As part of this, I also decided to try to go to Heljarchen again to see if the bandits killing Ria was still going to be a problem. Answer: yes, unfortunately. 🙁

I tried to come to the house multiple times, a couple times just fast traveling straight there, and after that fast traveling to the Tower of Mzark. Which, as it turns out, is literally just up the hill from Heljarchen. A thing I don’t think I’d properly appreciated before?

Any way you slice it, though, I could not get to the fight fast enough to save Ria. And this time through I also noticed a courier on site–who was apparently there in response to Ria dying! Which was particularly tragic given that a couple times through trying to do this, the courier was in fact the first person I saw as I approached the house, because he was running off to hide from the battle.

I finally regretfully decided I was going to have to accept Ria’s fate. I couldn’t think of a way to get to her fast enough to save her. Sorry, Ria! Rest well in Sovngarde and I hope Alduin doesn’t eat your soul before I get there to take him out. The Companions will drink in your honor!

Lesson to be learned from this: Ria is too low-level to really be a good steward for the built properties. She level caps at 25, and she wears scaled armor. The higher tier bandits cap at level 28, and they have way better gear than she does!

I’m pretty sure I can get a new steward in there now that she’s dead? The wikis say that you can’t replace a living steward at a property, but a few searches found me some forum threads that suggest I can hire a new one now that she’s been killed. I’ll have to investigate this.

If nothing else I’d like Gregor to not have to defend the place by himself. Gregor level caps at 50, so he actually survived this fight. I think I may have to go get one of the upper tier Companions to come in and help him out. Or one of the Dawnguard NPCs, given that three different Dawnguard NPCs have no level cap at all! So I’ll have to see who’s still alive by the time the Dawnguard finishes storming Castle Volkihar.

Let it also be noted that having Serana and my flame atronach did certainly seem to help the fight in terms of keeping Gregor alive, anyway. And Serana, being Serana, naturally had to raise one of the bandits!

Also of note: the courier didn’t leave immediately. And I also caught him actually using my mill? Which surprised me. Dude, did you happen to be carrying some wheat you needed ground up into flour? Are you planning to make some bread before you go deliver your next message? Do you need to use my oven? I do have one inside!

Weird Radiant Raiment bug

After the loss of Ria, I spent the rest of the session boinging around to various places to grab loot I wanted back–most importantly, my smithing and alchemy gear. But I also wanted to grab assorted crafting materials and either sell them outright, or else make things to sell.

Which led me to Solitude, and also led me to triggering an odd bug with Radiant Raiment. The front door of the place was open, as it was during usual shop hours. But as soon as I walked in, Endarie bitched at me for trespassing!

And what the actual fuck? Geez, woman, my outfit isn’t that shitty! If you don’t want my money, just say so! And if you don’t want customers walking in, then lock the goddamn door.

I didn’t get out of the shop fast enough to keep a guard from running in the first time, so I wound up having to roll back to coming out of the last shop I’d been in, Angeline’s. Second time through I still triggered the trespassing bug, but at least got out fast enough that I didn’t have a guard confront me.

(Apparently, this is a known periodic bug? I’ll have to come back later and see if I’m able to actually enter the store properly again.)

Returning to Septimus, and meeting Hermaeus Mora

Last but not least, I did make it back to Septimus to return the Runed Lexicon to him, and to trigger his quest to get various blood samples.

Which in turn triggered the first meeting the player has with Hermaeus Mora. And that gave me an interesting question to ponder: what do the Orcs think of Hermaeus Mora?

I couldn’t find any really definitive info on this. But I do know a few things:

  • The Orcs are almost universally monotheistic and focus on worshipping Malacath, so he’s still Delga’s primary focus of worship
  • Delga is not above helping other Daedra, as she has done so in this game for Meridia and Azura
  • I feel like her tolerance for acting on behalf of other Daedra though would extend only so far as “does this violate the Code of Malacath or not”
  • And Hermaeus Mora is forthright about telling the player “your helping this guy is making him obsolete and he’s about to stop being useful to me, and you get to be my new emissary instead”… the heavy subtext here being “I’m going to kill him when he stops being useful”. And I don’t think that would sit well with Delga at all

Result: when I got the options to respond to the offer to be his new emissary, I went with “I’ll never join you, vile demon.”

Not the wisest thing to say to a Daedra, but I couldn’t see her pledging to be his servant, either.

Which should make for interesting dialogue choices later when I make it to Solstheim!

Next time

Gotta finish up my loot run, and then I think it’ll be off to Embershard Mine to get that next schematic for Sorine.

And then off to Castle Volkihar! We’ll see if I make it to the Soul Cairn.


Editing to add

  • 11/20/2023: Restored missing gallery, and added play date and session number markers.

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.