Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Obliterates Northwatch Keep and Brings Jenassa to the Blades

This post covers play done on Tuesday 5/3 and Wednesday 5/4. Main action: taking Jenassa on a trip to free Thorald Gray-Mane from Northwatch Keep, and then taking her to be a recruit for the Blades. Side action: general adventuring, including running Shalidor’s Maze and slaying the dragon at Eldersblood Peak.


  • Play dates: 5/3-5/4/2022
  • Session numbers in this run: 97-98

Tuesday’s play

  • Stopped at Windstad, picked up extra copy of the Ancient Shrouded Armor and the Black Bow of Fate, here, Jenassa, have some presents!
  • Also grabbed Chillrend, and Nightingale’d up so we could be stealth twins (and LOL, Jenassa gave me the line about being one and the same)
  • Boinged to Icewater Jetty to get close enough to Northwatch to run it
  • Landed in the middle of the day though, so started circling the place for recon
  • Snow bear got cranky so Jenassa and I had to fight it, after I tried settling it down with Pacify spells
  • Still middle of the day though so I decided, fuck stealth; called up the dremora and shot at the guard at the northeastern gate, which pissed them off, and BATTLE ON
  • Ripped through the place; dremora expired pretty quickly, but honestly I didn’t need them; dual-wielded Chillrend and the Razor
  • Got Thorald rescued and his password phrase to give to his mother
  • Nabbed loot off almost all the Thalmor, except one who was unlootable for some reason
  • Total Thalmor vanquished: 18, fuck yeah
  • Then went on a circuit of fences to get that armor spread all over Skyrim
  • Arvak’d to Solitude and sold to Gulum-Ei
  • First guard I passed in Solitude had a line I hadn’t seen before, LOL
  • Arvak’d to Windhelm and sold to Niranye
  • Arvak’d to the Thieves Guild; sold stuff to Tonilia and bought an ebony bow and dagger to give to Jenassa; took back the Black Bow of Fate just because the ebony bow was actually better unimproved and I wanted the named weapon back
  • Sold to the merchants at the Flagon that deal in armor; headed topside and also sold a few pieces to Balimund
  • Boinged from Riften to Whiterun; sold a few more pieces to Elrindir
  • Found Fralia and gave her the word from her son to resolve the quest; she gave me an enchanted mace made by her husband
  • Boinged from there to Sky Haven Temple
  • Went out to the courtyard to find Delphine; started to talk to her about Jenassa
  • At which point a fucking dragon showed up because OF COURSE IT DID lololololol; since it rudely interrupted my conversation, not to mention made the very bad decision to try to attack the Dragonborn, a couple of Blades, and a skilled mercenary, we all promptly killed it
  • Then I resumed telling Delphine, hey I brought you a Dark Elf; Delphine swore her in as a Blade
  • First recruit down! Two more to go!
  • Saved for the night

Wednesday’s play

  • Boinged to Lakeview for loot check; dropped off assorted jewels there
  • Boinged to Windstad, and Revered Dragon! Tried to fight it a little ways from the house so it wouldn’t kill my horse, and Iona got in on the fight as well
  • Dropped off Black Bow of Fate back on the weapons racks
  • Boinged to Heljarchen; made a little leather armor with some of the hides I was carrying
  • Dropped off the dragon bits i was carrying from the Windstad dragon, as well as the one I’d killed with the Blades at Sky Haven Temple
  • Also did some enchanting
  • Hoofed it down to Honningbrew
  • OH HEY LOOK THALMOR! Sauntered along with them and got several warnings, but none of them actually outright attacked me, damn 😉
  • Sold stuff to Mallus at Honningbrew
  • Decided to hoof it across the plains and head for Eldersblood Peak
  • Went within shooting range of Silent Moons Camp, did not actually discover it yet for the map
  • And since i was Nightingaling it up, went invisible to lose the bandit trying to shoot me
  • Bandit lost me but found a mammoth; this did not go well for the bandit
  • Continued to stealth my way north-ish; reached Labyrinthian, took out a troll
  • Ran Shalidor’s Maze! Got the Diadem of the Savant
  • Came back out again to find Valdimar fighting a troll; helped him out with that, then we killed a second one!
  • Went from there towards Eldersblood Peak
  • Spotted one of my rieklings! HI RIEKLING! How the hell did you get over here from Solstheim?
  • Mined iron vein
  • Made it up to Eldersblood, passed occupied hunter camp, didn’t bother the hunter
  • Took out the Revered Dragon at the lair with storm atronachs and dual wielded lightning spells
  • Came back down and cut through Cold Rock Pass; mined corundum vein; didn’t bother to fight the troll in there
  • Hoofed it southward to the road to Whiterun
  • Encountered en route:
    • Arch cryomancer vs. arch pyromancer fight
    • Argonian thief
    • Thalmor just hanging out by the road, not actually moving? That was weird
    • Giant crossing the road just a little ways past them
    • General random pissed off Argonian near the Western Watchtower
  • Khajiit were camped outside Whiterun! Hi Ri’saad, please buy my stuff
  • Yes, Lucia, you may have another 1,000 gold, buy the hell out of the marketplace!
  • Put the mace from Fralia on a weapons rack in Breezehome
  • Saved for the night


RIGHT THEN, so the Missing in Action plot, running Northwatch Keep to rescue Thorald Gray-Mane from the Thalmor, is an immensely satisfying plot to play if you’re deliberately running a character intended to be as anti-Thalmor as possible.

This plot was superbly appropriate for Ysani, and since I came in at level 76, I was basically able to lay waste to the place, driving my enemies before me and hearing the lamentations of–well, them. Didn’t even bother to keep summoning the dremora. I didn’t need them. Dual-wielding Chillrend and Mehrunes’ Razor was great fun. I’ve also been having fun using my dragonbone dagger with a Soul Trap enchantment as the left hand weapon! And in general, I’m developing quite the appreciation of dual-wielding as a battle technique.

Total number of Thalmor vanquished: 18. I’m pretty sure that’s even more that I vanquished running the Thalmor Embassy. And while I’ve lost precise count, I think this probably puts me at 48 total Thalmor vanquished for this run so far!

Looting all those foes also meant I got a metric crapton of valuable glass armor. So I went on a spree selling off bits of that to various fences. The game doesn’t give any mechanism to identify Thalmor armor in particular. But I could totally see a scenario where in Skyrim in general, armor and weapons might have maker’s marks on them. And it would be absolutely reasonable for Thalmor armor to have such marks. So I imagine Ysani going, “Let’s get this very expensive glass armor into the hands of people who can get the marks off and get it sold.”

The first guard I passed in Solitude had a line I hadn’t seen before, LOL. But it was in French so I had to go find the English version, which was:

“From what I hear, you’re the one that gave the Thalmor a black eye. Sure know how to pick your enemies, don’t you?”

Lolololol. Ysani, who has now vanquished nearly 50 Thalmor: “I’m going to need you to get a little more specific.”

Also, Skyrim guards. LOL. Gotta love ’em. No matter what you do, or how stealthy you try to be doing it, they always know what you did, what you’re carrying in your inventory, and what your skillset is. Skyrim guards know everything. Each and every Jarl should totally be employing them as spies.

Resolving the quest was kind of sweet, really. Thorald runs off to go join the Stormcloaks and have the protection of their ranks, but gives you a passphrase to take back to his mother so she knows he is in fact alive. And she’s grateful enough that she gives you a weapon hand-crafted by her husband. Aw.

I put it on a weapons plaque in Breezehome just because I feel like it would have been rude to actually sell it!

After that, it was very satisfying as well to take Jenassa to present her as a Blades recruit. Though I kind of wish that the game would actually, y’know, let you ask your recruits first if they want to be Blades. I get that it saves you a couple of steps, sure. But narratively speaking, I feel like there should at least be some back and forth between the Dragonborn and potential recruits before you take them to Delphine!

Still though, I found it particularly hilarious that I showed up with Jenassa, and the instant I get there, a dragon drops out of the sky. Which I suppose is the exact best way to present a recruit to the Blades, if she successfully helps you kill it.

Also kind of hilarious to fight the Revered Dragon with Iona at Windstad, and to have her throw the line afterwards about how “it’s just like the ancient legends! Dragonborn!” She threw that line specifically while wandering off about her steward business, as opposed to standing around gawking at the dragon skeleton. Which just goes to show you that your housecarls are way less thunderstruck by you killing dragons than other citizens of Skyrim, I suppose. 😉

I think I wondered this the last time I saw rieklings follow me back from Solstheim, but I’ll wonder it here too: how the hell do your rieklings actually make it over? Do they sneak into Raven Rock and stow away on the Northern Maiden? Do they build their own little primitive rafts? Do they steal boats from Nords or Dunmer on Solstheim? Do they know how to open Oblivion Gates? Do they have their own spells to summon undead mounts they can fast travel on? The possibilities are endless!

Speaking of things that are badass: I’ve dropped enough perks now on the Destruction skill tree that I can disintegrate opponents if I’m using lightning spells. And I did this to the dragon at Eldersblood. I HAD NO IDEA I COULD DO THAT.

I got in the killing strike, and the dragon’s entire body just up and evaporated. There were a few swirls of black smoke for a second or two, but the skeleton was just frigging gone. I thought maybe I’d blown it over the side of the lair or something, but no! And as I walked over to investigate, I got the animation for absorbing the soul. So that still worked, even though I didn’t get the dragon bones and scales.

Takeaway from that: if I really want the dragon bones and scales, not to mention whatever loot the dragon may be carrying, I may need to avoid actually killing any more dragons with lightning!

And I gotta say, when you can literally disintegrate your opponents with lightning, I daresay this makes you way less likely to be intimidated by the next Arch Pyromancer vs. Arch Cryomancer fight you see. Got one of those and I could only see Ysani thinking “Oh for fuck’s sake, this again? Fuck off, both of you, I literally just disintegrated a dragon and do not have time for your bullshit.”

Let it be noted that I also disintegrated both of those mages.

Was also disinclined to accept the bullshit of an Argonian thief who tried to rob me. And there I was standing there in Nightingale Armor, too! The wiki claims that any such thieves encountered in the wilderness are supposed to show you respect if you’re wearing Nightingale gear, but so far I have yet to have that actually work.

Maybe it’s a bug in the Switch build specifically? Neither of the wikis I use as reference sources seem to call this out as a known issue. But a bit of a broader search suggests that the trigger for this bug may actually be becoming the Thieves Guild Guildmaster. Next time I play through the Thieves Guild, I’ll have to deliberately wander around in Nightingale armor and see if I can trigger a thief encounter before I become Guildmaster.

I found three more Thalmor, just hanging out by the road and not moving, as they usually are when I find Thalmor without a prisoner. Nearby I also saw a giant about to cross the road, so I circled wide to avoid the giant, and then circled back to try to see if I could actually interact with the stationary Thalmor. They did throw me the standard warnings to fuck off, but again, I couldn’t provoke them into actually attacking me just due to my proximity.

Didn’t bother to provoke them further, though, just because I wasn’t in the mood.

Language commentary

Interesting terms observed:

  • Dédale de Shalidor: Shalidor’s Maze
  • Épreuve de conjuration: Trial of Conjuration
  • Pic d’Antésang: Eldersblood Peak (lit. “Peak of before-blood”, maybe?)
  • Col de Gelroche: Cold Rock Pass

Next time

Still not sure who Blades candidates two and three are going to be. I kind of want them to be people within range of a couple other interesting spots I want to run–most notably, Forelhost, since there’s one more Thalmor agent there I really gotta go fuck up!

I need to do a bit more poking around on the wikis to decide who some interesting followers to try might be, and where they’re near that might get me another Word of Power or two.


Editing to add

  • 11/21/2023: Restored missing gallery, and added play date and session number markers. Also added “I become Guildmaster” at the end of a previously unfinished paragraph, above.

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.