Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Becomes Thane of the Reach, and Also a Nightingale

This is the first of two Skyrim posts today, for the play session on Thursday 2/17! Warm-up action for this session was becoming Thane of the Reach, and getting Vlindrel Hall and Argis the Bulwark as housecarl.

Main action, though? Raiding Mercer Frey’s house and proceeding through the Thieves Guild plot to become a Nightingale. 😀


  • Play date: 2/17/2022
  • Session number in this run: 24
  • Continued running Broken Tower Redoubt
  • Killed a Forsworn with the same spike trap who’d killed me before, but only because she came running at my dremora lord
  • Made it safely out of the place only to discover I couldn’t fast travel back to Markarth, there was an enemy still active on the exterior of the structure
  • She wound up killing me once, second time through I did Become Ethereal and jumped down to fight her more directly, and conjure the dremora closer to her
  • Then fast traveled back to Markarth to collect the bounty
  • Got job from the Jarl to go get his family shield back, target locale Bleakwind Bluff
  • Sold some stuff to Lisbet
  • Tried to get training with Ghorza but she didn’t have the option?
  • Boinged to Lakeview instead; triggered the thing again where bandits tried to spawn but I couldn’t find them
  • So I dropped off a whole bunch of materials, also racked a few weapons I won’t carry, and stored gems and the Gauldur amulet
  • Boinged to Rorikstead to try to go to the two locales for more Markarth side quests
  • Ancient Dragon! Managed to kill it though with Iona + Bound Bow + Slow Time + storm atronach + guards
  • Reached and cleared Bleakwind Bluff with little trouble; threw fireballs at a hagraven till I blew her down the hill
  • Reached and cleared Rebel’s Cairn; oddly, Red Eagle’s sword did not become Red Eagle’s Fury when I put it into the holder, and stayed ‘Fury’ rather than becoming ‘Bane’ when Team Dragonborn took out Red Eagle o.O
  • Boinged back to Markarth to give the shield back to the Jarl
  • Stayed the night at the inn
  • Returned the shield to the Jarl; got his pointer to become thane
  • Went out to help assorted Markarth citizens
  • Sold some stuff to Lisbet to bring up my balance
  • Gave a coin to Degaine the beggar
  • Got Kerah’s quest to take a ring to Calcelmo
  • Got Bothela’s quest to take the potion to the steward; also sold her at least a few potions to pull my gold total up
  • Delivered the ring, got payment for that
  • Delivered the potion, got payment for that
  • Bought Vlindrel Hall
  • Got the thaneship!
  • Bought a few initial furnishings, then went back and sold a loot weapon to Ghorza to pay for a bit more furnishings
  • Oh hey look i have a house! And a housecarl! Hi Argis! Welcome to Team Dragonborn!
  • Dropped off the shield and the axe from the Jarl in the chest in the bedroom, since I don’t have the weapons racks in this place built out yet
  • Got the quest to go clear Kolskeggr Mine, from the miners at Left Hand Mine; went and cleared Kolskeggr! Mmmmm lucrative
  • Fast traveled to Solitude to sell some stuff and take care of a bit more business
  • Sold stuff to Gulum-Ei, then slept the night at the Skeever
  • Sold a bunch of jewelry to Radiant Raiment and bought a few outfits
  • Went up to the Imperial HQ to ask Captain Aldis about Angeline’s daughter; sorry, Angeline, your kid is super dead
  • (Probably not the best time to ask her about ice wraith teeth, nope, I’ll come back later)
  • Sold a bunch of stuff to Sayma
  • Talked to Svari to get the quest to convince her mother to go back to the temple
  • Got the mother to give me the quest to get Roggvir’s amulet out of the catacombs; went to go do that
  • Got one round of Speech training with Giraud on the way
  • Forgot to kill the skeletons before leaving the catacombs, oops, because I couldn’t actually find them? But I heard them once I got back to Addvar and Greta’s house, and yeah let’s not leave them haunted by skeletons
  • Gave Greta the amulet (but ducked the question about whether I think her brother was a traitor)
  • Greta thanked me (but apparently didn’t take the amulet, WTF, will have to see if the quest actually cleared?)
  • Went back to kill the skeletons
  • Sent Iona home to Riften
  • Then, thieving bitch that I am, I went and stole the items out of the house I was just in once I saw Greta head out to the market
  • But I also left all my gold and several gems and three gold ingots, to get to an equivalent of 3K in septims; satisfied Delvin’s and Vex’s jobs at the same time, so that’s three jobs down in Solitude
  • Boinged back to the Thieves Guild; reported in to Delvin and Vex and got the 500 gold from each of them
  • Could not get training from Vipir, he was stuck in “fucking Mercer Frey” mode waiting for me to raid the house
  • Went to go find Maven; hey Maven, will you forgive Vald’s debt? Okay fine I’ll go get the Quill for you
  • Went outside the gates and HI FROST DRAGON! Tried to fight it, but a horse came over and got in the way, and I accidentally hit it with my sword and got a bounty; rolled back!
  • Take two coming out of the gate, no dragon
  • Got the Quill! Though I had to wait until it was light so I could see under the water; went back to report to Maven
  • Saw incoming Khajiit
  • Entered the gates and okay then guess we get to fight a dragon inside Riften; Frost Dragon again; shot it a few times as it perched on top of the orphanage, then it crashed into the graveyard right by the entrance to the Thieves Guild; more or less got killed by half a dozen guards and the priestess, so I barely had to do anything except slurp up its soul and loot it
  • (Cue everybody running back to gawk after they’d started leaving, because HEY SHE TOOK ITS VERY SOUL)
  • Sold a couple things to Balimund and Madesi, which got me enough gold to buy one round of Smithing training from Balimund
  • That let me level up to 46; took next Illusion perk (Kindred Mage) so I can work my way up to Quiet Casting
  • Time to break into Mercer’s place! Went to go give Vald Maven’s document forgiving his debt; he buggered off
  • Ran the house and stole everything I could get my mitts on; didn’t bother engaging the bandits guarding the place; made it down through the Suspicious Cabinet (SO SUSPICIOUS)
  • Got Chillrend and the Bust of the Gray Fox \0/
  • Made it back to Brynjolf with my report on Mercer’s conveniently written down plans
  • Proceeded to the part of the plot where Karliah makes her pitch to make Brynjolf and me Nightingales
  • Went to Nightingale Hall and Nightingaled up; got the armor! Also the quest to go to Irkngthand and take out Mercer
  • But first: boinged back to Lakeview for a loot drop and a bit of smithing
  • Saved for the night

Getting the thaneship of the Reach, and other Markarth side quests

I’ll say this for Markarth: of the five major cities in the game, it dukes it out with Windhelm for my least favorite. But that said? It’s also very, very easy to get the thaneship there, at least in terms of favor quests. There are a lot of them you can run in Markarth, and many of them don’t even require you to leave the city.

So here are the favor quests I did this time through:

  1. Brought Calcelmo the Dwemer bow he wanted (or killed Nimhe the spider, not sure which of these actually qualified as the favor)
  2. Brought Ghorza the book for her apprentice
  3. Gave a coin to Degaine
  4. Took a ring to Calcelmo for Kerah
  5. Took a certain potion to the steward for Bothela

And the last three of these I was able to whip through very quickly, because they were all right in the city. So yay! Now I have Vlindrel Hall and Argis to call upon for backup when I need him.

Bleakwind Bluff was a very easy run, small-ish tower, and only a couple of opponents. Rather satisfying to blow the hagraven downhill with a fireball. 😀

The Red Eagle finale was strangely buggy, though. This was the first time I’d seen any sign of a glitch with the sword, a glitch which caused it to remain called Red Eagle’s Fury in the holder, rather than being renamed Red Eagle’s Bane.

And, I ran the plot to clear Kolskeggr of Forsworn. Which arguably would also have been a good thing to do for a favor quest, but hey, I was already thane! Mostly I was there for the fact that Kolskeggr is extremely lucrative, with 17, count ’em, 17 gold veins. I did not sell ore back to the miners at Left Hand Mine, though, since I knew I’d get way more septims out of turning most of that ore into ingots, and then making jewelry with it.

Still though I did put at least a few of those ingots to another use when I went to Solitude!

Thievery break in Solitude

Tried another new thing this time through: actually talking to Greta, the sister of Roggvir, the guy who gets executed the first time you set foot in Solitude.

My in for this was first talking to her kid, Svari. I wanted to see what that’d be like in French, and I gotta say, it was charming to see the kid get excited when I told her about seeing the dragon in Helgen. Then I talked to Greta, though I rather guiltily ducked her question about whether I thought her brother was a traitor.

(Which is a good question, actually. Ysani is a Breton, not a Nord, and she didn’t grow up in Skyrim. So I feel like she’s not as invested in the issues that caused the war as the actual Skyrim locals are. I think if I’d had to answer the question, I would have reluctantly swung in the direction of “he did what he thought was right”.

But not because Ysani agrees with Ulfric killing Torygg, though. I don’t think she has a strong opinion on that. But she is in a position to understand having to do unsavory things in the name of what one thinks is right.)

Getting the Amulet of Talos out of the catacombs was also not difficult. But it was glitchy. Greta never took the amulet out of my inventory, so now I have this Amulet of Talos I’m carrying around, but marked as Stolen. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to use this to build basement shrines or not, or if I’m going to have to sell it to one of the fences.

Also, Addvar and Greta and Svari are the biggest example of why the Thieves Guild quests to try to steal items from wealthy homes aren’t as well coded as they should be. This family is explicitly poor. They have known conversations about how they’re barely getting by, and how they have barely anything to eat except fish and potatoes. Hell, their kid even steals an apple because she’s hungry.

So yeah, especially after actually talking to Greta, Ysani was not thrilled about having to steal from their home. But it helped her conscience a little to leave them all her gold, an assortment of jewels, and three of the gold ingots from Kolskeggr. (Because I didn’t have 3,000 septims on me, and I wanted to leave enough items to add up to the equivalent in value.)

Again: zero actual impact on the game. But my headcanon here is totally “family freaks out, searches the house for the missing items, finds other items and gold in one of their chests, and realizes whoever took the things that are missing must have left these other things instead.”

And if Addvar and Greta start asking around, they can hear that the same mysterious thing appears to be happening to other homes getting robbed, too. 😉

(Also, memo to Future Me: if you run the “get the Amulet of Talos for Greta” plot again, remember to kill the skeletons in the catacombs before you leave! Otherwise you’ll hear creepy skeleton noises in Addvar and Greta’s house while you’re trying to give the amulet to Greta! Love, Current Me)

And, back to the main Guild plot!

After that Solitude visit was done, though, and I finally leveled up to 46, it was time for serious Thieves Guild action. Which meant raiding Mercer Frey’s place, and getting Chillrend. 😀

The preliminary for this, getting the Quill of Gemination for Maven, went pretty much the same way it had when I did this as Merawen. And it did make it easy to get rid of Vald so I could break into the house.

Running the house, also very easy. Didn’t have to bother confronting any of the bandits inside guarding the place. Only laid actual eyes on the first one, though I heard the other two throwing their random lines. Overall it was super-easy to sneak through, rob the place bare, and then make it down into the tunnels and find Chillrend, the Bust of the Gray Fox, and Mercer’s plans about what he was doing.

(You really gotta love how all the antagonists in Skyrim, no matter what plot you’re running, ever so conveniently write down their secret plans in notes or journals. “No one will possibly find this incriminating journal talking about how I’m going to take over Morthal with vampires!” Or, “No one will possibly find my lengthy journals about how I’m kidnapping young women from Dawnstar and killing them to force their ghosts to serve me in my icy cave of necromancy!” Or, “No one will possibly find my secret plans talking about the rare treasure I’m going to go steal to set me up with fabulous wealth for the rest of my life!”

Hell, even the Thalmor are guilty of this. “Here, we’ve written down all these details about how we know fuck all about why the dragons are coming back, and also, here are extensive dossiers on Delphine, Esbern, and Ulfric Stormcloak. And by the way, did we mention that Ulfric is totally a dormant Thalmor asset? Because HE TOTALLY IS. Fun, innit?”

But at least the Thalmor had the good sense to keep their incriminating documents in a heavily guarded embassy. Which is possibly the only time you will ever hear me say something semi-complimentary about the Thalmor!

Gallus, former Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild, is also kind of guilty of this! But at least in Gallus’ case, he was smart enough to write his journal in the Falmer language, which maybe only five people in the entire game can read. And it’ll be four after I kill Vyrthur later!

But, lol, I digress.)

Once I finished raiding the house, I went right back to Brynjolf to report in. Which led straight into Karliah making her pitch for Brynjolf and I to become Nightingales. \0/

I figure this part of the plot was also narratively important for Ysani. Because this puts her into the position she wanted to be in–i.e., getting stealth skills.

I’m also going to take the liberty of assuming, for narrative purposes, that she’s actually previously read The Nightingales: Fact or Fiction? I think she probably saw the copy in the Arcaneum at the mage college, at some point before she officially joined the Guild. And I think this made her suspect that she would in fact have to join the Guild to get the skills she really needs to take on the Thalmor.

And now, vindication: she knows the Nightingales are real and pledged to Nocturnal. And she’s in.

Also, I gotta say, my intentions to run a pure mage this time are sorely taxed by the acquisition of the Nightingale Armor. Which I love. I think I may have reached the point where I boing back and forth between “pure mage” and “spellsword”. But I’m okay with that!

On a similar note, let it be noted for the record that I really do like Chillrend, too. As it’s supposed to be the deadliest weapon in vanilla Skyrim (aside from dragonbone swords, brought in with the Dawnguard DLC, and Miraak’s sword in Dragonborn), this may wind up being Ysani’s primary weapon for the rest of the game.

At the very least, I feel it appropriate to go kill Mercer Frey with it. 😀

Language commentary

Interesting terms observed:

  • Redoute de la Tour brisée: Broken Tower Redoubt
  • Le Remède de la Vielle: The Hag’s Cure (lit. “the remedy of the old woman”)
  • Dragon millénaire: Ancient Dragon
  • Cairn du rebelle: Rebel’s Cairn
  • La Crevasse: The Reach (lit. “the crevasse”, since the word is the same in English, but it’s interesting to see that used here since that’s not the connotation I get off ‘the Reach’)
  • Mine de Maingauche: Left Hand Mine (lit. “mine of left hand”)
  • Baraquements des mineurs: Miner’s Barracks
  • Catacombes de Solitude: Solitude Catacombs
  • Cristalgide: Chillrend
  • Nocturne: Nocturnal

Most of these are fairly literal translations. But the one that’s actively interesting to me is the translation of Chillrend.

As I’ve posted to Facebook, the ‘gide’ part of the ‘Cristalgide’ name doesn’t make sense to me. Cristal is crystal in English, which seems reasonable given that the blade is made of blue glass.

But the ‘gide’ part of the name doesn’t match any adjective I know. Or any conjugation of verbs I know. Nor is ‘Cristalgide’ itself a word according to my usual sources.

I’ve asked French-speaking friends who follow me on Facebook if they have any insight on this. If I learn anything, I will update this post!

Next time

I’ve already had the next session, a short one which will be covered in the next post, and which will feature heading north towards Yngvild.


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.