Faanshi Playthrough

In Which Faanshi Becomes Thane of Whiterun

In keeping with my play patterns established by previous runs, I made it through Bleak Falls Barrow, the first real dragon fight at the Western Watchtower, and having Balgruuf proclaim me his thane!


  • Play date: 5/10/2022
  • Session number in this run: 2
  • Began in inn in Riverwood; slept a few hours
  • Went and sold things to Riverwood Trader; bought Oakflesh and Lesser Ward spellbooks
  • Leveled up to 2 while selling things; took Magicka boost and first perk for Destruction magic
  • Got the prompt to get the golden claw back
  • Got Camilla to escort me to the bridge; headed up to the barrow
  • Killed a wolf on the way up
  • Ran initial tower and killed that set of bandits, and then the bandits outside the temple
  • Leveled up to 3; took Health boost and first perk for One-handed
  • Made it in and killed the third set of bandits
  • Got eventually killed by the two skeevers on the spiral stairs
  • Second death: Wounded Frostbite Spider
  • Freed Arvel only to have him bugger off as he does
  • Third death: first draugr near the spike trap, which threw me back to having to fight the spider a third time
  • Second time freeing Arvel, I accidentally hit him with my dagger, oops
  • So after I got him free he initially ran off then came back and started fighting me, so I had to take him out that way to get the claw and his journal
  • Took multiple tries (fourth through seventh deaths) to get past the initial span of draugr, around the spike trap and initial swinging blades trap
  • Finally just decided sneaking was better part of valor and avoided the whole damn pack of draugr
  • Pretty sure that somewhere in here was when I leveled up to 4; took Magicka boost; took first Light Armor perk
  • Made it to single draugr by gate; took him out by sniping
  • Leveled up to 5 at that point via sneaking; took Health boost; took first Archery perk
  • Killed once more by draugr past second blade trap
  • Leveled up to 6; took Stamina boost; took first Restoration perk
  • Had a real hard time with the final draugr; finally had to use a tip on the wiki, as described below
  • Got first Unrelenting Force Shout word, and all the loot, so of course i’m overloaded! But hey, I need the gear to sell! 😉
  • Got out, and mined corundum vein
  • Tromped along until I reached Anise’s Cabin
  • Killed by random Argonian, and thrown back to Anise’s Cabin; this happened three times!
  • Went the goddamn opposite direction fourth time through
  • Also explored the cabin a little; read the Song of the Alchemists book though did not take it; did not enter the cellar
  • Crossed the river and came out just below the Guardian Stones
  • Saw camp nearby, did not disturb it, but did mine the iron vein
  • Made it back into Riverwood but after hours, and couldn’t rent a room in the inn; waited outside till morning
  • Sold extra armor and weapons to Alvor
  • Gave the claw back to Lucan; also sold stuff to him
  • Bought three more spellbooks, Clairvoyance, Frostbite, and Fury
  • Headed towards Whiterun, killed by assassin
  • Thrown back to coming out of the trader shop, so sold extra armor to Alvor; improved the best fur armor i took from bandits, also improved the steel sword, dagger, and remaining hunting bow I had
  • Set out once more for Whiterun
  • Hi M’aiq! <3
  • Passed farmer heading off to join the Stormcloaks
  • Reached Whiterun, and shopped at all the shops; sold a bunch of things, including various gems, to Belethor, which let me buy and improve a full set of leather armor
  • Then headed up to Dragonsreach to check in; gave Farengar the Dragonstone
  • Hi Delphine!
  • Cue Irileth and the arrival of the dragon
  • Took three or four tries to battle Mirmulnir at the tower, but finally pulled it off
  • Cue boggling! Holy shit! The cat is Dragonborn!
  • Also cue the Greybeards yelling DOVAHKIIN
  • Reported back to the Jarl, got proclaimed thane!
  • Hi Lydia! <3
  • Saved at Dragonsreach for the night


I don’t think I’ve adequately documented this in previous playthroughs, so I’m going to do so here as a note to Future Me: that Wounded Frostbite Spider in Bleak Falls Barrow is a bastard for a low level character. And particularly a low level character with light armor. I have definitely got to remember that the proper strategy for dealing with this spider is to not engage it directly. I need to hit it from a distance, and use the large pillar at the front of that chamber for cover.

I also need to remember that frequent saving is called for at lower levels, particularly if I’m running on higher difficulty settings. Because if it’s hard to fight that Wounded Frostbite Spider once, it’s harder to have to do it three times if I keep getting killed by skeevers or draugr past it and thrown back to the spider locale!

New thing I discovered: that if you happen to hit Arvel with your dagger by mistake when freeing him, apparently he’ll run off as per usual, but then he’ll come back and actually fight you. Oops. Welp, at least it only counted as an assault for me!

Another new thing I discovered: actually tried to use the Mayhem scroll I found, but I couldn’t get it to work as intended? Pretty sure this was because I wasn’t suitably positioned to have draugr get pissed off and attack each other rather than me. If I find any more Mayhem scrolls I may try this again, preferably after my Sneak is higher.

Likewise, that last draugr in Bleak Falls Barrow is a bastard. I had a real hard time with him this time, because I could only get in a few potshots at him with my Hunting Bow and steel arrows (or with throwing Flames at him) before he caught up with me. And in close range, I was not a match for him.

What actually finally worked: following a tip on the wiki that mentioned a spot across the river in the chamber that the draugr couldn’t reach. And when I parked there, I was able to safely take potshots at him until he was down.

Derped around Anise’s Cabin a little bit, just because I hadn’t been in there before and I wanted to see what it looked like. I found the trap door down to her cellar—but noted it was locked. Anise doesn’t mind if you derp around the top floor of her cabin, but she will attack you if you enter her cellar. And, while the wikis do say that Anise’s Cabin can be a good starter home, you kinda have to kill her to actually get it. A thing I still can’t really bring myself to justify for any character.

At least, not without making her attack you first. But that requires actually entering her cellar. I could kind of see a thievery-inclined character deciding to break in there, but it seems definitely unwise to do so. I mean, Anise is right there, so how is a low-level thief going to think that they can break in there without being seen? It doesn’t make in-character sense to me.

Still though, it was at least interesting to take a peek at the top floor of her cabin. The layout looked pretty similar to the Alchemist’s Shack in the Rift, with the exception of the trapdoor down into the cellar. And it was at least useful to read the copy of Song of the Alchemists there, and get the Alchemy bump off of that.

(And now I know, in character, that there’s a copy of that book there! Later when Lami asks me for a copy, that might give me cause to return to the site.)

Once I got the claw back to Lucan and headed back to Whiterun, I have to admit it was funny to run into a Dark Brotherhood assassin in my very second session. And I mean what? I haven’t even had time to piss off anybody to put out a contract on me! Except maybe the bandits at Bleak Falls Barrow, and well, I kinda killed all of them.

Plus, she was a fellow Khajiit, even. Hrmph. Rude.

(Still though there is an interesting question of character backstory to be considered here. I’d decided that Faanshi’s trading caravan got mostly slaughtered by bandits, and that the intervening bandits got killed and/or captured by the same Imperials that caught her. But maybe she almost killed one of them and that person escaped? Maybe they sicced the Dark Brotherhood on her!)

Fighting Mirmulnir was not as hard as that last draugr in Bleak Falls Barrow, but it was definitely difficult. I finally had to do a strategy similar to Ysani, using the watchtower itself for proper cover, after getting fried a few times. Because like Ysani, Faanshi is pretty small and delicate! And also not yet resistant to anything, especially dragonfire.

But within the watchtower, I was able to periodically pop out and hit Mirmulnir with a combo of the Sparks spell and steel arrows. And be careful about where I was standing, because I kept falling off the damn ramp when I turned in bad directions!

Cue all the NPCs going “holy shit! She’s Dragonborn!”

About which I giggle this time, just because that reveal is IMO a mindfuck no matter what kind of character you’re playing. But it has to be especially weird for a Khajiit. You’re already very much a stranger in a strange cold land, surrounded by furless, tail-less weirdos who are generally so suspicious of your kind that they won’t even let your trading caravans into their cities.

Then you get captured by the Imperials and almost executed.

And then you help an entire guard force of these furless, tail-less weirdos fight a dragon, only to have the lot of them flip out about you, tell you you have to go talk to their mysterious holy figures up on the mountain, and make you thane of their city.

That is a hell of a pivot for any character type. But extra crunchy, if you’re playing a Khajiit. Because you’re an extra special obvious target for racial discrimination! So you’re pivoting from “almost being executed by one group of humans” to “revealed to have some bizarre-ass power that makes you suddenly special to an entire city of humans”.

So I’m imagining Faanshi going, “You are letting Khajiit into your city now, and making her your thane? And why do you say she is born of dragons? She thinks you are all taking too much skooma. Or else she is not taking enough. Khajiit is very confused.” <pause, delicate burp> “Also very full of dragon soul. Please excuse Khajiit.”

Which raises another amusing character point: i.e., what level of fluency Faanshi possesses in Tamrielic. From what I’ve seen of Khajiit NPCs in the game, several of them speak comfortably in first person, but third person speech is also a thing. J’zargo in the mage college seems to exclusively speak in third person. Other characters who commonly use first person do sometimes still periodically go third person and refer to themselves as “Khajiit” rather than by their names, or by pronouns.

I feel like the Khajiit probably do some measure of code-switching, actually, and that they’d adjust how they communicate depending on their audience? Or perhaps on circumstances as well?

This is, I suspect, exactly what Faanshi will be doing. Though she may eventually get more comfortable with communicating in first person the longer she is in Skyrim, and the longer she goes without anybody giving her active shit for being a Khajiit.

Next time

Excellent question! Not entirely sure yet. Need to decide whether I want to go straight to the Greybeards, or maybe do some jobs local to Whiterun first. I need to start building up my initial cache of gold!


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.