Dawnguard,  Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Meets the Master of the Greybeards

Short-ish session that mostly amounted to hoofing it from Heljarchen to High Hrothgar, so that I could seek the knowledge of the Dragonrend Shout–and meet Paarthurnax! Then, returning to Fort Dawnguard to report in to Isran about that whole ‘found a vampire and an Elder Scroll but gave both back to a castle full of vampires’ situation.


  • Play date: 3/18/2022
  • Session number in this run: 52
  • Headed down from Heljarchen towards Riften
  • Sold a bunch of things to Mallus at Honningbrew
  • Hostile creatures encountered: two different cave bears; also, two different flame atronachs summoned by now-dead witches, apparently a bad night for flame atronach summoning; one troll not far out of Ivarstead
  • Hostile NPCs encountered: Dunmer in mixed armor near path up to Hillgrund’s Tomb
  • Prior dead Breton and dead bandits still lying by the road near White River Watch
  • Decided to check out Graywinter Watch, couldn’t remember if I’d ever been in there? Killed two trolls, found two dead bandits, also Froki’s Bow
  • Ore veins mined: iron
  • Hostile creatures on the way up the Throat of the World: one more cave bear, three frost trolls
  • Hey Arngeir, found any other Shouts lately? Ironbind Barrow? FUCK YEAH \0/
  • Also, teach me Dragonrend? No? Geez old dude, what’s your beef with the Blades anyway? Do you want Alduin to eat the world?
  • Thank you, Master Einarth, somebody has some sense around here
  • Learned Clear Skies and went further up the mountain
  • Additional hostile creatures fought: two ice wraiths, two frost trolls
  • Veins mined before Paarthurnax: silver, orichalcum, iron
  • Paarthurnax reached! He sounded pretty good and deep and rumbly in French! Meditated with me on Fus
  • Afterwards got the Zelda goodies, and the Notched Pickaxe
  • Mined the ebony and malachite veins as well
  • Fast traveled from there straight to Thieves Guild to sell stuff
  • Also found Vipir the Fleet and bought five rounds of Pickpocket training
  • Leveled up to 60! Took more stamina points; also took Allure perk in Speech to work my way up towards Investor
  • Back out again to hit Fort Dawnguard
  • Oh hi there courier, with the letter from Quintus and a Letter from a Friend! Target locale for that: Dragontooth Crater
  • But first, Fort Dawnguard! Came in to find the vamps trying to attack the place
  • Hi Isran, so yeah I have news and you aren’t gonna like it, but okay yeah fine I’ll go find Sorine and Gunmar for you!
  • Also, got five rounds of Heavy Armor training off of Isran
  • Saved there for the night


Nothing terribly new here, but still a fun session. Predominantly for the pleasure of hearing how Paarthurnax presented in French!

Now that the Dawnguard plot is officially underway, this means I’m at risk of encountering the Traveler if I linger in a town too long. I’m hoping I should at least be safe if I still sell loot to Mallus (who’s outside Whiterun proper), the Thieves Guild merchants (who I can get to without having to go through any of the rest of Riften), and Gulum-Ei (who I can get to in a quick few steps from the Solitude gates).

Any and all smithing will have to happen at the built houses, though!

Also, one might be justified in raising an eyebrow at my buying Heavy Armor training from Isran. What am I doing buying Heavy Armor training for a character who’s predominantly a mage?

Maintaining my ability to level up, that’s what. 😉 I have both Conjuration and Alteration at 100 at this point, but I am absolutely not willing to reset them to Legendary. And the rest of the Dawnguard trainers (Gunmar, Sorine, and Florentius) aren’t on site yet.

Narratively speaking, I figure this is Ysani having hung around her housecarls often enough to realize that if she intends to stay alive, she needs to have at least some basic competence in various types of armor and weapons. She packs a lot of magical firepower now, but she can run out of magicka. And even if she travels with an entourage that can be anywhere between 1 and 4 depending on how fast she can summon the dremora, that won’t stop a lucky strike from getting at her if her magicka runs out or if her guard is down.

Argis himself, I think, has probably taught her that a wise warrior will be prepared to use whatever weapons or armor she might have available, even if it’s not what she normally uses.

And also? I just appreciate the flexibility! As of this writing, Ysani’s stats are a lot more lopsided than has been typical for my playthroughs, what with her gigantic emphasis on magic. And while I’m not going to bail on that emphasis entirely, I do like having the option to swap between magic mode and melee mode, particularly when it comes to maintaining my ability to level up.

(That said: Ysani, dainty wee thing that she is, is probably never going to tromp around in heavy armor of any kind. Light armor is definitely more her speed. But I might change my mind when I get to Solstheim and have access to stalhrim? We’ll see!)

Language commentary

Interesting terms observed:

  • Mornhiver: Graywinter Watch
  • Tertre de Ferlié: Ironbind Barrow
  • Le Fendragon: Dragonrend
  • La Fracture du Temps: The Time-Wound (lit. “the fracture of time”)

Morne, with an e, appears to be a word for glum or gloomy in French. (Source) (Source)

I don’t see the pages on my dictionary sites showing a form of the word without an e, but that doesn’t mean such a thing doesn’t exist, I guess? That there is no e in Mornhiver suggests that it’s dropped because hiver, which means winter, is a masculine noun.

However, I got nothing for why the Watch part of Graywinter Watch appears to be missing from the translation entirely!

The translation for Dragonrend appears to be another portmanteau, probably using the verb fendre, which means to crack or split. (Source) (Source) Interesting to me as well that it was mentioned as “le Fendragon” in dialogue with Arngeir and Paarthurnax, which makes me wonder if I missed the use of any other articles in front of the names of Shouts?

(I won’t have too many other opportunities to hear the names of Shouts mentioned in play this far into the playthrough–but I might get another shot at it once I start running Dragonborn. I’ll have to see how Hermaeus Mora refers to the Bend Will Shout in dialogue.)

Meanwhile, I gotta talk about Paarthurnax!

There is a distinct rhythm to Paarthurnax’s dialogue in the English build, with how the dragon keeps alternating between the player’s language and that of the dragons. For that language to be French instead of English lends a certain difference in rhythm to how those lines fall on the ear. But that said, I feel that the voice actor in the French cast did a great job. His voice was maybe a touch higher in timbre than English Paarthurnax, but he was still suitably deep and rumbly and draconic-sounding!

I noted as well that he did address me as vous the whole time. Which I expect is indicative of Paarthurnax’s positive opinion about the Dragonborn, as well as his joy in just getting to talk to another of his kind–even if it’s a dovah in a mortal form.

Next time

Going after Sorine will take me into the Reach, and ever so conveniently, also near Dragontooth Crater. So I’m probably going that way next. And on the way back from that, I’ll look for Gunmar as well!

Which should get me to the point of having Gunmar and Sorine on site at Fort Dawnguard. And that will be useful for training purposes, as well as selling stuff.


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.