Dragonborn,  Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Defeats Vahlok, Karstaag, and Miraak

This post covers play done on Friday 4/29 and Saturday 4/30! And these are the final two sessions for Solstheim in Ysani’s run, as the Saturday night session saw Ysani’s successful takedown of Miraak in Apocrypha. Also defeated: Vahlok the Jailor and Karstaag the ghost frost giant!


  • Play dates: 4/29-4/30/2022
  • Session numbers in this run: 93-94

Friday’s play

  • Dropped assorted loot at Severin Manor, then headed out with Argis and Rouleau
  • Heard but did not engage with Black Book madman near Old Attius Farm
  • DID engage:
    • Three ash hoppers, round 1
    • Arch pyromancer vs. arch cryomancer
    • Three ash hoppers, round 2
    • Pissed off random orc
  • Reached, ran, and cleared Vahlok’s Tomb
  • Didn’t fall off the magic bridges this time–though on the way out, Argis and Rouleau did
  • Got all three words of the Battle Fury Shout, and Tharstan’s happy payment for helping him out
  • Dremora and Argis and Rouleau killed Vahlok the Jailor for me
  • Headed out from Vahlok’s Tomb and proceeded north past Thirsk Mead Hall and the Skaal village
  • Fought en route:
    • Lurker Vindicator AND cultists attacking all at the same time (with extra bonus horker)
    • Single frost troll
    • Two more frost trolls shortly thereafter
    • Snow bear vs. two ice wraiths 
  • Mined two orichalcum veins
  • Reached Glacial Cave; mined malachite vein there, and got another East Empire pendant
  • Cleared the cave and got Karstaag’s skull
  • Swam around the top of the island and returned to Northshore Landing
  • Hit the small stalhrim island by there
  • Fast traveled to Castle Karstaag Caverns since I couldn’t find a good route up to the main Karstaag cave, and I didn’t want to go through the respawned riekling village (past which I also saw the respawned dragon still flying around)
  • Took out Karstaag in one go!
  • Saved for the night

Saturday’s play

  • Boinged from Castle Karstaag Ruins to Ramshackle Trading Post since it was after midnight
  • Sold stuff to the trader finally!
  • Then headed over to the Skaal village to talk to Storn, and RIP Storn, you died valiantly
  • Went straight from Storn’s death and the final word of Bend Will to reading the Black Book right outside the Skaal village
  • Ran the rest of the Waking Dreams level, which yet again was easier with dremora!
  • Got the Song of the Alchemists book; reading it put my alchemy at 100
  • Fought Miraak with magic, and also dremora, this time–because mage!
  • Didn’t actually feel like rearranging any of my perks
  • Did denouement with Frea and got her advice and warning
  • Spotted character named Herkja, who I’d never seen before, wandering through the village and I’d never seen her before?
  • Returned to Severin Manor
  • Did a boatload of enchanting and ran enchanting up to 100; set both Enchanting AND Alchemy Legendary
  • Leveled up to 76; took Health bump
  • Dropped a boatload of perks on Destruction, also some on Light armor and One-Handed, and opened up a couple more things back on the Smithing tree
  • Sold stuff to dremora merchant, then gathered a bunch of things and sold them to the Raven Rock merchants
  • Did one last pass through Severin Manor to grab other books and misc. items
  • Then went back out and bye Raven Rock! Arvak’d to Windhelm
  • Bought Sofie’s flowers; sold stuff to all the merchants
  • Invested in Quintus’s White Phial ‘cause hey I like that guy; did not bother to invest in Oengul or Revyn though I may come back and do that later
  • Rode Arvak out to the front of Windhelm and oh good yes the Khajiit were on hand; sold stuff to Ma’dran
  • Arvak’d to mage college
  • Took five rounds of Destruction training with Faralda; sold her every staff I was hauling around (except for Miraak’s and the Wabbajack), and some other items as well
  • Also sold stuff to all the other mages that sell things, including Enthir
  • Arvak’d next to Riften
  • Landed at the stables and triggered an attack by a spider, which was taken out by the guards and Argis and Rouleau–then went through the gate and discovered I ALSO triggered a bear but on the INSIDE the gate; bear was promptly slain by Ingun, Bolli, Argis, and Rouleau
  • Dropped off some books, the Blackguard’s Armor, Bloodscythe, and Soulrender in Honeyside
  • Went back out and sold a bunch of things to Bersi, Elgrim, Balimund, and Madesi; then went down into the Guild and sold things to everybody there
  • Also gave Sapphire Glover’s letter; did not pester her for her life story this time
  • Went back topside and out the back gate, then Arvak’d to Windstad
  • Attacked by two wolves which were promptly slain, Argis got one of them and I think either Valdimar or Iona shot the other, since I saw both of them out when I came in
  • Dropped off a bunch of stuff, including most of the armor I was carrying, and several weapons
  • Filled up Windstad’s bookshelf and dropped clothes off in the wardrobe
  • Stashed Miraak’s stuff in a chest; also stuffed the Ahzidal artifacts in their own storage
  • Dropped all of the gems down in the bank of five safes by the cellar forge
  • Got down under weight and saved for the night


I was pleased to not have any issues running the magic bridges in Vahlok’s tomb this time. That said: Argis and Rouleau were not so fortunate, on the way back out! I think Argis started shooting at some of the corrupted shades down below, and for whatever reason, he and Rouleau either jumped off or fell off of the bridge. So I had to jump down there after them, so that I could go up the stairs to open the access door from the other side, to let them rejoin me properly.

Bit of a jump to do that, but nothing the Become Ethereal Shout couldn’t handle!

Let it also be noted that I didn’t even have to kill Vahlok myself. Argis, the dremora, and Rouleau took him out for me, on the other side of the room! Which just underscores my ongoing strategy for how to survive higher-tier difficulty levels in Skyrim: have an entourage to fight for you.

Also, still feel slightly guilty about taking out Vahlok the Jailor just because in theory, he was opposed to Miraak, right? But, well, I can look at this at putting Vahlok to proper rest so his soul can go on to Sovngarde while I take care of that Miraak problem for him.

I was surprised and pleased that I was still able to take out Karstaag in one go. He delivered a hell of a wallop to me, but I was able to make it through by keeping my head and remembering to quaff a boatload of healing potions to keep my health bar up.

Did not actually throw dremora at him, partly because a) I queued up flame atronachs to hit him first, because he’s vulnerable to fire, and b) once he took out the atronachs I kinda didn’t have a chance to do any further summonings. Because he came right after me, and I had to focus on hitting him hand to hand.

And yet again I did it by sword fighting. Probably should have tried throwing magic at him, but so far in my experience I still default to “hit monster with sword” even if I have powerful magic at my disposal. And fighting with magic in Skyrim is a much more careful process for me, as I always have to take a few seconds to think about whether I need to quaff a restore magic potion, or to queue up the next spell. When the opponent wailing on me is as formidable as Karstaag, I find it really hard to go against the instinct of “OH SHIT MONSTER HIT IT WITH THE SWORD”.

Thing to keep in mind on future playthroughs, I think.

Finally got to see Falas Selvayn, the mysterious trader who hangs out at the Ramshackle Trading Post between midnight and 5am. I could not get a good screencap of him, just because the Switch build runs so dark, and I couldn’t make the pic I took come out well. But it was pretty much the exact same shot as this one on uesp.net.

And, that said, he was not hugely interesting as a character. Mostly interesting in terms of another person I could sell stuff to, really. The wikis say he’s got a unique bow you can get if you feel like jumping through appropriate hoops to get it, but I couldn’t muster enough giveafuck for that. I’m not hurting for good bows at this point!

Fighting Miraak I did with magic. And also dremora. And the Dragon Aspect Shout, though I don’t think that at any point Miraak got my health bar low enough that I triggered the Ancient Dragonborn to fight for me; I don’t remember seeing it manifest.

Surprisingly, I found that I didn’t actually feel like rearranging any of my perks. I’m going to have to take a hard think about that, though, as I head into the end game. I don’t want to try to hit Skuldafn and Sovngarde under-powered or under-protected.

Got one other minor surprise as I did the plot denouement with Frea, spotting a character named Herkja. Herkja is one of the Bujold’s Retreat Nords, though I do not remember seeing her before. I must have, because she’s one of the ones enthralled at the Beast Stone, but apparently I never paid close enough attention to her before?

I do know at least that she was not in on the fight when the rieklings and I raided Bujold’s Retreat. And when I looked her up on the wiki, I saw mention of a known bug with her re: exactly what happened with me, i.e., running into her in the Skaal village even though I played through the riekling side of the Thirsk conflict.

When this happens, you can’t interact with her either. I tried, and all she would say was “We just keep waiting for Bujold to say the word…”

And, um, well, awkward. Probably for the best that I couldn’t talk to her. 😉

(Seriously though, Herkja, why don’t you just move in in the Skaal village anyway? Much better defended and their chieftain isn’t an unworthy asshole. You’ll be much happier there.)

Language commentary

Interesting terms observed:

  • Tombeau de Vahlok: Vahlok’s Tomb
  • Vahlok le geôlier: Vahlok the Jailor
  • Grotte de glace: Glacial Cave (lit. “cave of ice/frost”)
  • Vieux pinceur: Old Salty (lit. “Old Pincher”, I think? Or maybe “Old Pincer”)
  • Ruines du château Karstaag: Castle Karstaag Ruins
  • Apocrypha : Membres constricteurs: On Apocrypha: Boneless Limbs
  • Les occasions de Sadri: Sadri’s Used Wares (lit. “Sadri’s Bargains”)

I happened to get a screencap of only one of the extra four books that you have to pick up while running Waking Dreams–the Boneless Limbs one. But I note here that the translation of “Boneless Limbs” to “Members constricteur” is not exact. I’m pretty sure the translation more or less would come back to English as “Constricting Limbs”.

I like the translation choice for the name of the mudcrab at Northshore Landing, though. Old Salty has some character to it, but so does Old Pincher/Pincer. And Old Pincher is certainly appropriate for a mudcrab.

Lastly, the use of occasion in the name of Sadri’s shop in Windhelm stood out for me, as it uses the word occasion in a way I hadn’t picked up on before in French: i.e., to mean bargain. So Sadri’s Bargains is how that name translates back to English.

Next time

Going to finish up the loot selling run, and then ponder my next options and see if there’s anything else I want to run before I head back up to the Throat of the World and take on Alduin!

Kind of want to go meet up with Delphine and Esbern, and try running some Blades quests because that’s one of the few things in the game I haven’t done yet.


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.