Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Discovers the Guildmaster’s Treachery

Main feature of this session was running Snow Veil Sanctum, a critical part of the Thieves Guild’s main plot! But I also did some side questing, and discovered to my surprise that apparently it’s possible to get Shavari—the Thalmor agent you fight during the main quest—to send hired thugs after you even before you meet her.


  • Play date: 2/13/2022
  • Session number in this run: 20
  • Made a bunch of potions, using the newly spawned ingredients in Honeyside
  • Boinged to Windhelm to sell stuff to Niranye, Aval, Revyn
  • Headed out from Windhelm on foot with Iona to go to Snow Veil Sanctum
  • Killed en route: two snow bears and an ice wraith
  • Also encountered en route: random dog, who might have been owned by a hunter? It helped fight one of the snow bears, but then ran off. Was just tagged as ‘Chien’, so probably not a stray?
  • Reached the place and got initial greeting from Mercer—who then ran off to fight a frost troll? Dude? Wanna stay on focus here? OKAY FINE. Killed the troll, then entered the sanctum
  • Note: Iona did not follow me in
  • Took rather a large amount of pleasure making Mercer fight all the draugr as I ran the place; sure, I kept calling up the dremora, but every so often I just lagged a little getting him re-summoned 😉
  • Still though I was killed multiple times when I got spotted by draugr after casting a spell
  • Finally made it in far enough to get the word for the Disarm shout
  • And also the Model Ship to bring back to Delvin (nabbed via Telekinesis :D)
  • Made it finally to Karliah, and cue the cutscene! Shocked, SHOCKED I SAY, that Mercer is a murderous lying bastard
  • Woke up later being tended by Karliah; Iona showed up during this conversation
  • Accepted Karliah’s story and took the journal from her to get it translated
  • Boinged first to Whiterun to sell a bunch of loot
  • Improved the ebony bow I brought out of Snow Veil Sanctum and gave it to Iona
  • Boinged to Winterhold to find Enthir
  • Had conversation with him in the Frozen Hearth inn; pointed to Calcelmo in Markarth
  • Went first up to the college to get training
  • Trained with Faralda, which proved unexpectedly exciting as I thought I accidentally triggered stealing something from her, see below in commentary
  • Got three rounds of training to get up to 50 in Destruction, then bought a bunch of spellbooks from her to get the next higher tier of spells
  • Went over to the Hall of the Elements to look for Colette but no sign of her in the Arcaneum
  • Came out of the Hall of the Elements—and trio of Hired Thugs! Iona killed them while I ran like hell, then nabbed their contract off of one of them; turns out they were sent by Shavari, who I haven’t even met in this game yet lololololol
  • After Iona killed two of the thugs I couldn’t find the third, so I popped back into the Hall of Countenance to look for Colette; finally got training from her for two levels of Restoration
  • Came back out again and oh there’s the third thug, so let Iona kill him too
  • Yoinked items off the thugs
  • Boinged to the meadery after quaffing a carry weight potion, and sold stuff to Mallus
  • Then headed into Whiterun and slept at Breezehome
  • Sold more stuff and smithed a bit as well, re-made a Dwemer bow to take to Calcelmo; also picked up ingredients from Breezehome needed to satisfy Ingun’s quest
  • Went out to hunt nirnroot; ran all around the plains and along the waters near Whiterun
  • Killed a total of four sabre cats, one wolf
  • Boinged through Falkreath, Solitude, Morthal, and Windhelm looking for nirnroot to buy, then boinged to Ivarstead to follow the river back to Riften
  • Attacked by cultists; took them out by way of Iona and storm atronach
  • Found remaining nirnroot, and returned to Riften; let Iona stand down for a little bit
  • Gave Ingun all her ingredients; got her payment and the key to her chest
  • Went to Mistveil Keep to get payment for the dragon bounty from Anuriel
  • Bounced to Whiterun to see if Warmaiden’s still had sneak boots I wanted; answer, no
  • Boinged to Lakeview to see if i could wear the hooded black robe with Morokei mask, answer, no
  • Got Lydia to sell me more logs and did a bunch more building, including most of the alchemy wing; killed skeevers in the basement
  • Boinged to Solitude
  • Radiant Raiment had a +35% sneak ring! Sold stuff to Gulum-Ei and Sayma until I had enough money for it, because fuck yeah I need that, and I was even nice and bought it legit rather than stealing it, despite the temptation
  • Boinged back to Riften to pick up Iona since I decided having her along on the way to Markarth will be necessary, even if I make her stand down for the part where I hit the museum
  • Stopped there for the night

Speaking With Silence quest

I took rather more pleasure than in-character knowledge would justify, making Mercer “Murderous Lying Bastard” Frey do most of the fighting as he and I worked our way through Snow Veil Sanctum.

I mean, Ysani didn’t know yet that she couldn’t trust her Guildmaster! She was just applying the same strategy she’s learned in the field up till now, i.e., she’s squishy and should keep out of the way during a fight, while she summons her dremora or atronachs to do the fighting for her. That this had the handy side effect of making Mercer have to dive in to fight ahead of her? Bonus.

Take that, Mr. “You Lead the Way through This Trap-Filled Draugr Hive”!

Let it be noted for the record though that I did allow Mercer one moment of mercy, and didn’t trigger the oil slick trap that goes off when you take the Model Ship off its pedestal until he was actually out of the way of the oil slick. I let him actually move back with me, before I cast Telekinesis to float the ship off the pedestal! So we were both out of the way when the lantern dropped and burned up the oil slick.

Satisfying to have a good solid reason to use the Telekinesis spell. ❤️

Meanwhile, it amuses me to think of how things must have gone down from Iona’s perspective, since the game didn’t allow her to follow me into Snow Veil Sanctum. Did Mercer lock the door behind us before Iona could come in after us? Did he try to bullshit both of us by telling her to stand guard and wait for us?

I could see that, actually. Particularly given that Mercer had to be feeling salty about my bringing Iona along to begin with, given that she’s not actually officially in the Guild.

Mercer, to me: “Is there a reason you brought this other person along? She’s not Guild.”

Iona: “I have kin in the Guild. I know how to keep my mouth shut.”

Me: “More importantly, she knows how to guard my back and I trust her to do that. Is there going to be a problem here?”

Mercer: “This place is full of traps and it’ll be easier for me to guide one person through here rather than two. And the person we’re looking for may mount a sneak attack.” To Iona: “Stand on guard out here.”

Iona: “My place is guarding my thane.”

Mercer, to me: “You may be her thane, but I’m your Guildmaster. Are you going to make me make this an order?”

Me, reluctantly, to Iona: “Stand guard.”

Iona, clearly not impressed with the Guildmaster: “As you command, my thane.”

So Iona’s out there standing guard and trying not to freeze her ass off, possibly taking periodic potshots at any frost trolls or snow bears that get too close… when she’s then finally hailed by Karliah, who’s carrying my very-near-dead body. There had to have been a super-awkward “who the fuck are you and what did you do to my thane” conversation!

Hard Answers quest, and surprise at the mage college

Going to the Frozen Hearth inn and talking to Enthir about the journal played pretty much the same for me as it did in Merawen’s run. So I won’t go into that here.

But it’s worth mentioning it as the lead-in to going up to the college anyway, since the college was right there, and I wanted to get in some training for level 41.

Stopped in to chat with Faralda, and get three rounds of training with her, enough to get my Destruction up to 50. This also let me get some more powerful Destruction spells from her, which cost me a pretty penny and burned through a lot of the gold I’d made from selling the loot out of Snow Veil Sanctum.

Of immediate interest here: I mistakenly hit a key and thought I stole something from Faralda by mistake. Now, I am a thief. But I’m not going to steal from the mages, because a) I’m the friggin’ Arch-Mage and it would be extremely poor manners to steal from my own mages (not to mention hypocritical given that the whole point of the Thieves Guild plot is to take out Mercer Frey for his stealing from his own Guild), and b) I like the mages and don’t want to steal from them.

As I write this I think I might have accidentally just bumped into Faralda, rather than stealing one of the items in her room? Hard to say, since the sharp line she gave me went by too fast for me to catch.

The important thing to note here though is that at least at first, I thought I’d pissed off Faralda when I had hired thugs jump me coming out of the Hall of Countenance. Which, in retrospect, strikes me as kind of hilarious. I mean, if you’re going to be stupid enough to try to steal from the College of Winterhold’s master trainer in Destruction, it seems silly to me that she’d hire thugs to come after you, rather than just incinerating you on the spot.

Though I suppose that Faralda would not necessarily want to try to incinerate her Arch-Mage? Partly for the whole “would it get her kicked out of the college to kill a fellow mage?” thing, but also “would she run the risk of my incinerating her?”

But as it happened, it was clearly not Faralda who sent those thugs after me, as I eventually discovered. They were sent after me by Shavari.

Shavari, comma, the creepy Khajiit who follows you around Riften while you have the Cornered Rat quest active, when you’re trying to find Esbern in the Ratway during the main plot. A character I haven’t even met yet, given that I haven’t reached that part of the main plot!

But I have done two things that could easily have triggered a Thalmor operative being pissed off at me:

  1. I’ve deliberately fought and killed a trio of Thalmor Justiciars
  2. I robbed the Thalmor Headquarters tower

And I’m pretty sure these hired thugs were in response to my robbing the tower. HA. But the problem is, there’s no evidence for Ysani to actually conclude that in character. All she knows from this is that somebody named Shavari sent thugs after her to “teach her a lesson”. They were not obviously Thalmor agents, though she will certainly suspect that as a possibility.

All she can conclude is that she did something to piss off somebody named Shavari. “Because the Thalmor are after her” is one possible cause. But also, “And I’ve been stealing stuff, did somebody spot me? Dammit!”

Also, this meant I left three corpses lying around the courtyard at the college, corpses which were noticed by both J’zargo and Drevis. And I figure this had to have led to an awkward conversation with Tolfdir, before I left the college again.

Tolfdir: “Ah, Arch-Mage? I need to speak with you about the matter of the altercation in the courtyard…”

Me: “Ah yes. Sorry about that.”

Tolfdir: “If I may ask… is there a reason these individuals saw fit to come into our college and attack you?”

Me, trying not to be too obvious about blushing: “Most likely, but not a reason I’m comfortable sharing with you at this time. I promise you though that I’ll do everything in my power to protect the college and everyone in it. I’ll need to go away again for a while though, if people are after me.”

Tolfdir: “I see. I trust you know what you’re doing. But you do know that all of us here will of course help you, should you call on us?”

Me, smiling, more genuinely now: “I know. Thank you, Tolfdir.”

Tolfdir: “You’re most welcome. Take care now.”

Because yeaaaaah, not exactly going to tell Tolfdir to his face that his Arch-Mage has been committing acts of thievery all over Skyrim, and will in fact soon be taking over the Thieves Guild.

Language commentary

Interesting terms observed:

  • Le silence est d’or: Translated name for the Speaking With Silence quest, lit. “Silence is golden”
  • Obscures réponses: Translated name for the Hard Answers quest, lit. “Obscure answers”
  • Sanctuaire de Voilneige: Snow Veil Sanctum, lit. “Sanctuary of Snow Veil”

I find both of the translated names for the two Guild quests I hit during this session interesting. For the Speaking with Silence quest in particular, I get very different vibes off of the English name for the quest and the French name.

With the English name, I get the vibe of “you say a lot by your significant silence”. But with the French translation, I get thrown back to the English saying “silence is golden”, which is a whole different concept: i.e., that it’s best/wiser to be silent. So that nuance of your silence speaking for you, even if you don’t necessarily mean it to, is kind of lost.

Likewise, there’s a connotation shift for the Hard Answers quest as well. For me as an English-speaking player, “Hard Answers” means “answers to some extremely critical questions, because I need to know what’s going on right the fuck now”.

“Obscure Answers” is, arguably, also accurate for this quest. Because you have the whole idea here that Gallus’ journal was written in the Falmer language, and that is absolutely obscure as far as most of the culture of Skyrim is concerned.

(Side note here: I gotta wonder how much of their own language the Falmer retain. You never see them speaking in-game, and while you see plenty of evidence that they are re-developing building abilities, you see no sign that they can still write. Which makes sense given that they’ve been blind for generations. But if they heard a surface-dweller actually trying to speak their language, would they understand it?)

On general principle I did have to look up how to translate “murderous lying bastard” into French. Answer, according to Google Translate: “bâtard menteur meurtrier”.

LOLOLOL. However, as is often the case when trying to do a proper translation, Google Translate isn’t exactly right here. Because according to my other reference sources, bâtard, in French, doesn’t have the same “this person is a low-life son of a bitch” definition that it can have in English.

There are appropriate words you can use in French, though. Salaud appears to be a good one, and enfoiré as well.

So this looks like the translation I want here is more “salaud menteur meutrier”!

Next time

Hitting that museum in Markarth is the next big thing I need to do for the Thieves Guild plot—and this is the quest that’ll result in my getting the Nightingale Blade. But there’s a known bug with it that means the highest level of that blade, the one that gets generated at level 46+, can’t be tempered. And that’s no good!

Right now I’m at level 41, so I don’t have too much time left before I trigger this bug. So I need to not drag my feet too much getting it.

That said, I’m still going to take care of some other side quests on the way to Markarth, which is why I’m bringing Iona along. I want to clear Avanchnzel, the final locale for the Gauldur amulet quest, and ideally also hit up Arkngthamz to get the Lost to the Ages quest underway. I do need that Aetherial Crown. 😀

So we’ll see how much of that I get done next time!


Editing to add

  • 11/21/2023: 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.