Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Slays a Necromancer, Then Slays Mercer Frey

Warmup act for this session: running Yngvild. Main event: running Irkngthand, for the final confrontation with Mercer Frey!


  • Play date: 2/19/2022
  • Session number in this run: 26
  • Ran the Yngvild dungeon; sorry I have to kill you, captive ghosts
  • Got Arondil’s journals, got Arondil slain, got the Stone of Barenziah!
  • Also got enough loot that I became overburdened, so trudged and Whirlwind Sprinted more or less eastward till i reached Saarthal
  • Stuck a couple things in a chest there so I could fast travel to the college
  • Bought one remaining spellbook from Phinis that I didn’t have yet
  • Leveled up to 47 just from talking to him
  • Went to Arch-Mage’s quarters; harvested all ingredients, and did a bunch of alchemy
  • Took the level up, and took conjuration perk for making atronachs 50 percent more powerful; next perk after that will get me Twin Souls, so I can conjure two things at once 😀
  • Did two rounds of training with Colette in between selling her stuff
  • Sold some stuff to Phinis and Drevis but Phinis can’t train me anymore, and I didn’t have enough gold for Drevis
  • Sold a few things to Enthir
  • Got Tolfdir’s Alteration ritual quest since I’m over 90 in that now
  • Got a side quest from Sergius to fetch an item to be enchanted for a client that just happens to be Niranye in Windhelm, how convenient, I need to go there anyway
  • Got one round of training with Faralda
  • Off to Windhelm! Picked up the item from Niranye
  • Sold some things to her, and also Oengul and Quintus, to get the carry weight down
  • Improved the Nightingale Armor some more!
  • Got a couple rounds of Pickpocket training with Silda just to finish out training for level 47 and because my pickpocket was still super low
  • Still had 3000+ gold though, so time to go rob Belyn Hlaalu, sorry Belyn!
  • Sent Iona home
  • Broke into Belyn’s house, took the target items and left him 3,000 gold (spend it discreetly my dude, don’t want to get you in trouble)
  • Boinged back to Riften
  • Collected payment from Vex for Windhelm job; got new Sweep Job in Whiterun for House Gray-Mane again
  • Resolved Vekel’s quest, but yep still buggy and he didn’t take the journals
  • Sold stuff to Tonilia
  • Sold enchanted glass armor to Balimund
  • Gave Marise her ice wraith teeth
  • Sold some things including dragon bits to Hafjorg
  • Got Iona back on duty
  • Boinged back to the college to report to Sergius; collected payment for delivering Niranye’s item
  • Boinged from there to Lakeview for loot drop
  • Nightingaled up with intent to hit Irkngthand
  • Boinged to Western Watchtower to hoof it from there
  • Flyby dragon
  • Game crashed right by the Battle-Born farm, WTF
  • Had to restart but at least was not thrown back too far, just to coming out of Lakeview
  • Re-boinged to watchtower; flyby dragon again
  • Killed a sabre cat
  • Thief who tried to rob me, but I pointed out i’m a member of the Guild and he was all ‘oh shit sorry, right, i’ve seen you at the Flagon, good luck out there’
  • (My dude given that I’m standing here in Nightingale Armor and you can’t see my face, i’m pretty sure you don’t actually know if you’ve seen me, but whatevs XD)
  • Reached Shearpoint again; it had respawned so we re-killed the dragon; I called up a storm atronach, but it actually pissed off Iona by hitting her by accident, and she wound up shooting it to death; sorry about that, Iona!
  • Proceeded to Irkngthand but it took three tries to get it started, see below
  • Made it safely up to the top and in through the door only to confirm yep, Iona can’t follow me, so I went back out and sent her home (knowing I’d wind up completely someplace else getting out of this place at the end, no use making Iona wait in a spot where I won’t come back out)
  • Headed in properly; saw all the initial bandits Mercer took out
  • Had my dremora take out some Dwemer spheres; narrowly avoided them killing me, remembered I can use Become Ethereal, and get the fuck out of the way
  • Rendezvoused with Karliah and Brynjolf; right then, Nightingales, let’s hunt
  • Things got more complicated at this point, though, see below again
  • Finally caught up with Mercer, as written below, including the headcanon for how I feel this actually played out!
  • Satisfying as it would have been to kill him with the Nightingale Blade, Ysani, not being an idiot, did not attempt to engage him hand to hand; that’s what she has the dremora and 100 in Conjuration for!
  • Dremora took out Mercer for me, and I took all Mercer’s stuff, including the Eyes of the Falmer and the Skeleton Key
  • Cue the denouement with the chamber flooding, the ceiling collapsing, and making it up to the tunnel to get out
  • Agreed to take the Skeleton Key back to the Twilight Sepulcher by myself, since Brynjolf had to return to the Guild to keep order, and Karliah was reluctant to face Nocturnal herself
  • But Karliah gave me the Nightingale Bow \0/
  • Parted ways with them and boinged to Whiterun for loot selling
  • Nabbed an ebony ingot to improve the bow; did other shopping as well; grabbed some goat horns from Belethor’s to help finish out the lighting at Lakeview
  • Boinged to Lakeview for smithing and improving the bow \0/
  • Also built a few remaining decorations
  • Saved for the night

Toying With the Dead quest

Still not really a fan of the Yngvild dungeon. Vekel’s quest to get those journals is buggy, and also, who the fuck is asking Vekel for the journals of a mad necromancer who’s specifically killing young women to enslave their ghosts? There are just too many plot questions here.

First and foremost: who the hell knows that Arondil has journals about his activities, given that he’s doing this shit in current game time, so how has word gotten out about what he’s doing?

Second, if you take it as read that somebody has managed to find out Arondil’s doing, what in the name of Oblivion do they want his journals for?

Because if you want to go the route of “they want them for evidence of his crimes so he can be brought to justice”, then why the hell did they try to get the Thieves Guild in on this action? Why didn’t they go to, say, the Companions? Or try to pull in the College of Winterhold to take this asshole necromancer out?

Another possibility I guess is that Vekel’s client is a competing necromancer? Somebody who’s all “I love how this guy thinks, I must know his secrets“? In which case, again, why the hell do they think asking the Guild to bring them the journals is the correct approach?

Why isn’t this person sending in summoned creatures of their own to steal the thing? Are they not powerful enough to take on Arondil directly?

And I gotta say, certainly, as the Arch-Mage, that I feel it appropriate to just burn the damn journals because that shit Arondil was pulling? Fucked up. And Ysani says that as somebody who’s really, really good at Conjuration!

And even if you show up at the Ragged Flagon to give Vekel the journals, he doesn’t even take them anyway. Even though he does give you an enchanted blade as payment. So the quest resolution still leaves you with the damn journals.

Heh. I can’t really come up with a headcanon that actually ends in you keeping the journals. And if I’d had a choice I would have skipped the quest–but Yngvild is one of the places where you can get a Stone of Barenziah. So if you want all 24 of them, you have to run the place. So I did!

Thievery interlude in Winterhold

I’ve bitched already in this run’s posts about the Guild’s jobs theoretically targeting only wealthy homes–and several examples of the actual places you’re asked to rob blatantly contradicting this. Addvar and Greta’s house in Solitude is one example.

And any home in the Grey Quarter in Windhelm is another. This time through I had to rob Belyn Hlaalu’s place. Which, being the home of a Dunmer in the Grey Quarter in Windhelm, was not exactly an ornate bastion of riches. So I took the random three items the job called for me to fetch, but took satisfaction in leaving Belyn 3,000 septims in their place.

(Here’s hoping Belyn is wise enough to spend that money judiciously!)

Blindsighted quest

This time through, running Irkngthand was I think rather more complicated than when I did it as Merawen. I had a few false starts getting into the place, to begin with. It took me three tries just to deal with the bandits on the exterior of the place!

First time through, I was thrown back to just after having killed the re-spawned dragon at Shearpoint.

Second time through, I took the time to swing a little out of the way and get Raldbthar onto the map, since I knew it was nearby, and that I’d want to come there soon to get the last aetherium shard. While doing that, I mined a silver, a quicksilver, and a corundum vein.

But this time, I only made it a little farther in on the exterior and got killed by the bandit chief. This time, though, I got thrown back only to the arrival at Irkngthand, so I didn’t have to re-do the approach to the place.

And, third time through, finally, I played everything out correctly to have the dremora kill most of the exterior bandits, and Iona the remainder.

Once into the dungeon properly, that was also full of fits and starts and basically dying a lot. One big challenge I had here is that Ysani is way squishier a character than any of the previous three were–and after three straight playthroughs wherein I threw a lot of perks onto armor and weapons skills, I still have the force of habit making me try to jump into hand to hand combat like I’m actually going to do enough damage against high-level Falmer to count.

And I had to keep reminding myself no no no, you’re getting through this sneaking. You’re a frigging Nightingale now. Get your Sneak on and avoid all those dangerous Falmer who will hand you your ass if you let them get too close.

(Of course, it still didn’t help much that my two Nightingale followers, like every single other follower you get in the game, still are perfectly capable of setting off traps that can harm or kill you. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, BRYNJOLF.)

Here are the various ways I got killed in this dungeon:

  • Spinning blade trap and okay fine that one was on me, I think, because I forgot where the damn things were from the previous time I ran this dungeon
  • Falmer-induced death number one
  • Making the mistake of trying to shoot at spiders from afar in a large well-lit area, which alerted the nearby Falmer, and made them swarm us for Falmer-induced death number two
  • (At this point in the dungeon, where there’s a centurion you have the option of fighting or sneaking past, I also made the mistake of trying to wake it up so the Falmer could kill it for us. This had the unwelcome side effect of letting them know where we were. Second time through, I elected to ignore the centurion because we were frigging Nightingales and should be Sneaking)
  • Falmer-induced death number three when I triggered a bone trap, which again made the Falmer swarm us
  • Falmer-induced death number four when I was trying to lead us in sneaking around the perimeter of a crowded cavern, but made the mistake of jumping in the wrong place and alerting the Falmer to our presence

That last one I think is also where Karliah throws the player a line about how there are a whole helluva lot of Falmer ahead, and do you want to fight them or sneak past? I imagine the conversation going like this:

Karliah: “Just so you know, there are a lot more Falmer ahead of us in that cavern. Do you want to try to fight them or sneak past them?”

Me: “You guys realize I’m small and delicate, right? And summoning my dremora is kind of loud and noisy?”

Brynjolf: “Right then, sneaking it is!”

Second time through that spot, I think the Falmer honestly just found us because they heard Karliah talking? Because up till that point we were fine, but then she throws her next scripted line and suddenly the Falmer are all RAAAAAAAR. That time though, we actually managed to fight our way past them.

And by ‘we’, I mostly mean Karliah, Brynjolf, and the dremora, because again, Ysani’s small and delicate!

Which came into play as well when we finally caught up with Mercer Frey. And I don’t think I gave him proper credit during Merawen’s run for the smart-assed little clues he leaves scattered through the dungeon as you get further in. Leaving single gold pieces like breadcrumbs here and there is a particularly nice touch.

I still also really like how he smacks Brynjolf with his Nightingale ability, to trigger Brynjolf fighting Karliah and therefore leaving it to the player to take him on single-handedly. Except this time through? I didn’t do it with the sword, satisfying as it might have been to run him through with the Nightingale Blade. Or Chillrend, for that matter.

Nope, yet again, I hit him with the dremora. Which leads me to imagine, starting with Mercer’s actual line in the game:

Mercer: “Then the die is cast, and once again my blade will taste Nightingale blood!”

Me: <heaves a sigh, and calls up the dremora yet again>


Combat ensues up till the part where the dremora vanishes, and Mercer, hard-pressed, quaffs a potion of invisibility!

Mercer: <panting> “A real Nightingale would face me directly! Are you too weak to wield Nocturnal’s blade?”

Me: “Here’s the thing, chuckles: your sword is way bigger than mine, and also, I’m not nearly as good at sword fighting as you are. But you know what I’m really good at?” <conjures the dremora again> “Inviting friends over from Oblivion. Hey, Réjean, kill this murderous lying bastard for Nocturnal and me, will you?”


Mercer: “SHIT!”

I just wish I could have unlocked the Twin Souls perk before this point, because for narrative purposes, it would have been especially satisfying to call up two dremora lords to kick Mercer’s ass. 😀

And also, let it be noted for the record that Ysani has totally nicknamed her dremora lord Réjean. And when she’s able to call up two of them, the other one will be André!

Language commentary

No language commentary this time through; no immediately interesting terms presented themselves to me.

Next time

I figure I better go head over to the Twilight Sepulcher and make it damn clear Nocturnal can rely on me! Don’t want her to think she’s struck a bad bargain, after all.


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.