Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Rescues Esbern from the Ratway

I’m posting this on Tuesday 3/15, but this post is actually for the play on Sunday 3/13.

This session was all about moving the main plot along a bit more, as I followed directly on the raid on the Thalmor Embassy by finding Esbern, getting him reunited with Delphine, and proceeding to the quest to find Alduin’s Wall.

And oh yeah, killing Vuljotnaak on the way, and another Thalmor execution squad. Ysani has definitely made the Thalmor very, very cranky!


  • Play date: 3/13/2022
  • Session number in this run: 48
  • Went hunting for Esbern in the Ratway
  • Took out three Thalmor very quickly via dremora
  • Found him with less difficulty than before though it took me a bit to remember still where to find his door
  • Accidentally sicced dremora on a couple of the Ratway denizens, oops, I thought they were Thalmor; sorry about that, Hefid, I didn’t mean to kill you; that Knjakr asshole, though? Totally
  • Got Esbern out through the cistern ladder exit this time
  • Did not see Khajiit assassin yet
  • Fast traveled directly to Riverwood; did reunion with Delphine and Esbern
  • Decided to actually travel to Karthspire with Delphine and Esbern this time, just to vary it up a little, but it didn’t quite work out that way
  • First attempt: game locked up, had to restart just east of Riverwood
  • Second attempt: thrown back to coming out of the inn; went the other way this time
  • Hostiles fought and killed en route:
    • Unnamed Breton, scarfed his ebony helmet to give to Argis
    • Skeletons
    • Total of three different bears
    • Thalmor execution squad
    • Vuljotnaak!
  • Got way overloaded after killing Vuljotnaak and the Thalmor squad, so had to Whirlwind Sprint + drawn bow into Markarth so I could sell stuff
  • Fought but did not actually kill a frost dragon not far out of Markarth; it kept flying off out of range and I couldn’t pursue because I was overloaded
  • Lost track of Delphine and Esbern though I saw them cross my path heading for our target
  • However, headed on into Markarth
  • Guard asked me to stop Shouting, yes yes fine, I’m almost into the city anyway
  • Sold a bunch of stuff to Lisbet and Ghorza
  • Got five rounds of Smithing training from Ghorza while I was at it
  • Dropped remaining excess stuff off at Vlindrel Hall to sort through later
  • Saved at this point for the night


I haven’t been able to find a list yet of who the voice actors are in the French build of Skyrim, so I don’t know who they have voicing Esbern. (Surely there must be a French voice cast list somewhere?)

So I can’t identify the guy, sadly. All I know is that, unfortunately, he kind of suffers just on the general principle of not being Max von Sydow. This is not in any way that guy’s fault! I suspect many, many actors would suffer in comparison to Max von Sydow. 😉

That said: I did notice one aspect of the French voice actor’s performance that I quite liked. When you find Esbern in the Ratway, he’s very despairing in his initial conversation with you. But when I told him I was Dragonborn, I could hear a catch in Esbern’s voice when he reacted to that. Like he got suddenly choked up with a surge of hope.

Now, you have a few different options as to how to play out the conversation with Esbern. This time through, I got him to let me in by giving him Delphine’s code phrase. And I didn’t tell him I was Dragonborn until after he despaired at me about Alduin destroying the world.

I’m pretty sure I did those conversational choices on previous playthroughs? But I don’t remember von Sydow’s performance having quite that same little aspect to it. The French voice actor sounded like he was playing it to convey that Esbern’s throat must have suddenly closed up with shock. That he might have even teared up a little.

It was subtle, but to my ear it was there, and I really liked that. So monsieur, you may not be Max von Sydow, but I see and respect what you did there!

Let it also be noted that between the three Thalmor killed in the Ratway, and an additional Thalmor execution squad coming after me, that brings the total Thalmor killed so far in this game to 27.

And it seemed entirely dramatically appropriate to have another Thalmor execution squad coming after me this fast! Because I should damn well hope that rampaging through the embassy like that should have pissed them all off enough to try to kill me on sight now. 😉

Though really I still feel like the game should make the Thalmor more of a threat than they actually are. They are after all the secondary antagonists of the game, right after Alduin himself. You’d think that the Dragonborn rampaging through their embassy would have more consequences? That at least I’d stop having random Thalmor + prisoner encounters and that all Thalmor generated near me would be automatically hostile?

Shit, given that I tore through their embassy with a housecarl backing me up as well as two pissed-off dremora, you’d think that that’d piss off Elenwen enough that she’d try to track me down and order the local authorities to arrest me. “Surrender the Dragonborn or else we put your pitiful city to the sword!”

At which point every single Stormcloak-sympathizing Jarl is all “bring it on, assholes.” And the Imperial-sympathizing Jarls are all “well, y’know, we would, except she’s not here. Tell you what, if you can catch her you can arrest her, but you should know she eats dragons for breakfast and call up dremora lords out of Oblivion. You want to go up against that, be our guest.”

Or they’d kidnap my children. Or one of the housecarls. Or Argis, once I actually marry him. “Surrender to the Thalmor or your followers will die!”

At the very least, I should think Elenwen would pitch more of a fit at me at the peace conference in High Hrothgar. She should rage about how I’ve single-handedly wrecked the White-Gold Concordat, how dare I have the gall to call anybody to a peace conference, etc., etc.

But I’ll take what I can get. We’ll see how many more Thalmor execution squads come after me!

Meanwhile, let me offer my regrets to poor Hefid the Deaf, who I honestly did not intend to kill in the Ratway. But while I was talking to Esbern, I saw movement out in the Warrens. I thought it was Thalmor, so I threw dremora out there to handle it. But it turned out to be the cannibal chef NPC, Knjakr, coming out of his little room and trying to come after me.

Hefid reacted to that and tried to flee. But unfortunately the dremora also interpreted her as a hostile and went after her. Sorry about that, ma’am.

Language commentary

Interesting terms observed:

  • Hefid la Sourde: Hefid the Deaf
  • Alduin le Dévoreur: Alduin the World-Eater (lit. “Alduin the Devourer”)
  • Le Temple d’Havreciel: Sky Haven Temple
  • Le Mur d’Alduin: Alduin’s Wall
  • Karthecime: Karthspire

All of these are pretty straightforward translations. But in the case of Karthecime, I actually had to look that up because I didn’t recognize the word cime. But apparently that means mountaintop.

And Karthspire is a mountain, a thing I don’t think I’d actually previously realized? So the translation is appropriate. And I expect that they spelled it Karthecime rather than Karthcime because cime is a feminine noun in French.

Next time

Since this post is going up late, I’ve already played the next session. So I can tell you all that I did:

  • Going to Karthspire with Delphine and Esbern, and making it to Alduin’s Wall
  • Getting the Blades armor and Dragonbane
  • Retrieving the Crown of Barenziah and returning it to Vex at the Thieves Guild
  • Marrying Argis the Bulwark! \0/


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.