This was another session in which I did way more than I could easily fit in the post’s title! Lots of fishing challenges pursued here, but also going to Karthspire for Alduin’s Wall and the resolution of the Crypt of the Heart quest, so now I have Ebony Spell Knight armor! Plus, I may not be playing an official thief with this character–but I did move the Gray Cowl plot a little further along, and amused myself with breaking into Erikur’s house in Solitude. And more even beyond that, but those are the main highlights!
Alduin’s Wall, though, gets the title lead since it’s main plot stuff.
- Play date: 7/8/2022
- Session number in this run: 34
- Started at Heljarchen
- Boinged to Riften, and fished at the spot by Honeyside
- Went to the fishery and checked in with Viriya
- Got the Alik’r fishing rod; also got the bounty from her for the next quest, Tusked Terror, in Windhelm
- Fished the fishery spot and finally caught a second goldfish for Mila
- Fished the Faldar’s Tooth fishing spot
- Fast traveled to Heartwood Mill
- Got a courier from Swims with next job from him: Frozen Fish
- Also got a DRAGON, so had to kill the dragon while courier and mill guard were watching
- Finally caught another pygmy sunfish to take to Arcadia in Whiterun
- Boinged to Whiterun; sold a bunch of stuff to Adrianne and Belethor
- Then gave Arcadia her pygmy sunfish; also sold her a few potions
- Gave Mila her second goldfish; she gave me a note and a key to her Very Secret Treasure–which she is hiding from Braith! Good for you, kid, fuck Braith 😉
- Boinged next to Lakeview to drop off stuff; did some improvement of dragonscale and studded dragonscale armor items
- Boinged back to Riften to check in with Swims; got his quest for arctic fish but realized I had three of the necessary four fish back at Lakeview
- So boinged back there to get them, and boinged back to Riften to drop them off; got a fish bounty for a spadefish for Bothela in Markarth; gave Swims the arctic fish and got his next quest, for underground fish and reading his fourth book
- Boinged to Windhelm to run the Fangtusk quest
- Spotted the Khajiit outside but they didn’t have any amber
- Found the spot to drop off the fish for the horker, then realized I didn’t actually have the arctic grayling I needed, because I’d given the one I had in my inventory to Swims, oops
- So boinged back to Windhelm so i could fish off the fishing spot at the docks there; got a grayling
- Boinged to stables and went by Khajiit again, confirmed they had J’datharr with them, so made a note to come back and deal with him
- Went and dropped off the grayling to summon Fangtusk and kill him; got the Vampiric Ring and a few other vampire items off of him
- Then swung back to hit Yngol Barrow
- Fugitive came up to give me a Glass War Axe of Burning–but no hunter?
- Ran Yngol Barrow and got the helm
- Returned to Windhelm and got payment for Fangtusk from Jorleif
- Went back out to talk to Malborn in the cornerclub; promised to take out the assassin for him
- Went out to the Khajiit camp but didn’t actually see them? Lost track of my quest markers and wound up boinging to Riften looking for the Khajiit
- Found Viriya anyway and got her next job, fishing lessons in Markarth; sold loot to Ma’dran then got him to point me at J’datharr
- HEY J’DATHARR MALBORN SAYS HI <STAB>
- Boinged back to Lakeview; picked up spadefish to take to Bothela
- Did a quick pass through Heljarchen and built a few more things
- Boinged to Windstad to see if I had any materials pending there
- Iona had the prompt to let me make her steward?
- Boinged next to Karthwasten to try to get to Dragontooth Crater–only TWO ANCIENT DRAGONS YIKES, who promptly fried me, ow
- Tried to boing to Karthwasten a second time; this time i only had the one Elder Dragon; killed it with magic, which nudged my Destruction skill up a bit
- Hoofed it towards Dragontooth Crater
- Found another hunter who needed a Cure Disease potion; stupid vampires
- Then made it to the dragon lair; just a regular dragon there; Iona, Gogh, summoned Seducer Archer, and I all took it out; got word for Elemental Fury and boss chest loot
- Boinged to Markarth to collect on the bounty
- Shopped in various shops; gave Bothela her spadefish
- Entered Understone Keep for the first time with this alt, and yep, Thongvor Silver-Blood’s still a dick
- Collected dragon bounty from Raerek
- Went to Silver-Blood Inn, found Lynea again, and gave her her fishing lesson; she gave me her enchanted Amulet of Dibella
- Told the witchfinder that nope, don’t know nothin’ ‘bout that abandoned house
- Boinged to Reachwind Eyrie to get the Mightier Than the Sword quest done; killed the three looters and found Casival’s dead body
- And as expected the quest was borked, because I’d already been in there and taken the dwarven plate mail; debug console to the rescue!
- Returned to Markarth with all the tower loot; sold assorted items to Moth in Understone Keep
- Did some smelting of the dwarven metal items; made three dwarven bows and sold them to Ghorza
- Headed out to find Swift Wind, saddle up, and saunter towards Karthspire
- Made it there, only to have a Blood Dragon show up on the scene; Team Dragonborn, now plus Delphine and Esbern, took out the dragon
- I also went after Simon Rodayne’s heart and recovered that, had to fight Beldama Witches as well as Forsworn to get to it
- Boinged from there to Purewater Run to get to the knight’s grave–which had the immediate result of Thalmor execution squad, and that was entertaining just to hear Esbern yelling “FOR THE BLADES”
- Pretty sure a bear also showed up because everybody went after something I couldn’t get to, because at that point I was fairly overloaded
- Made it to the gravesite and Altar of Mara; purified the knight’s heart; saw his ghost and that of his beloved appear and then vanish; and I got the Ebony Spell Knight Armor 😀
- However, boy howdy overloaded much?
- Stopped in Dushnikh Yal to try to sell stuff and level up a bit more, because still not to level 46
- Sold a bunch of stuff to both the alchemist and smith, including the loot from the Thalmor; got five rounds of One-handed training from Chief Burguk
- Still overloaded though, so boinged to Lakeview for emergency loot dropoff
- Dropped off the Spell Knight armor and iron that I’d bought off the smith
- Did a bunch of alchemy to try to burn through ingredients and get closer to leveling up
- So set out again on unicorn-back, to see what if anything would happen if I traveled back the long way
- Dispatched en route:
- Four bandits
- Six zombies
- Thalmor that won a fight with Stormcloaks, not far from Hendraheim
- Thalmor warned me off, I don’t fucking think so, you arrogant bastards! Three more Thalmor dispatched! Fuck you, strong letter in the name of Talos to follow
- Stopped at Hendraheim to drop off the coral dragon claw and this round of Thalmor loot
- Encountered in next leg of route:
- Ri’saad’s Khajiit, threatened by bear, dispatched (the bear, not the Khajiit); shopped with Ri’saad but he had no amber <sad>
- Two different wolves, dispatched by Delphine even before I got off Swift Wind
- Refugee farmers
- Heard but not encountered: distant dragon
- Made it back to Karthspire; killed one more Forsworn outside and the two inside as well
- Decided to go ahead and run the place even though I hadn’t cleared level 46 yet, I can live without five points of damage on Dragonbane
- Triggered a bug with Delphine getting stuck in the corridor and not coming to Alduin’s Wall though; had to roll back to previous autosave, and tell Iona and Gogh to stay put while I did the Wall with Delphine and Esbern
- Got directive to go talk to Arngeir; got the Blades armor and Dragonbane
- Went back out to pick up Iona and Gogh
- Boinged back to Lakeview to drop stuff off and also grab building materials
- Boinged to Heljarchen; got Rulnik to replenish the log supply
- Boinged to Windstad next; confirmed Iona doesn’t seem to think she’s steward
- Sent Iona home to Riften
- Boinged once more to Lakeview to drop stuff off
- Accidentally quaffed the Bittercup when i thought I’d stash some extraneous potions, hit the wrong key, oops; now my Magicka shows red on my Skills tree
- Sent Gogh home to his cave, for important ‘because i have to go break into a house in Solitude’ purposes
- Boinged to Solitude; sold a bunch of stuff to Radiant Raiment and Bits and Pieces
- Tried to get Gisli to talk to me about the deed for the Gray Cowl plot, but she was not interested in her generally bitchy way
- So I broke into Erikur’s house 😀
- Got the suspicious letter, then went back to talk to Gisli; now she started paying attention
- Bribed her 8000 gold for the deed, and heh, she seemed rather satisfied, maybe that’s her price for sticking it to her brother 😉
- Got a directive to go check a barrel by the Winking Skeever for further instructions
- For now though decided to run Folgunthur and use up more of J’zargo’s scrolls
- Ma’dran’s caravan was outside the gates so stopped to say hi to them
- Fast traveled to Folgunthur; Blood Dragon flyby
- Ran the place mostly with scrolls but periodic summons as well
- HI DRAUGR HAVE A BEAR RAAAAR
- Threw a Seducer warrior into the boss chamber with me though
- Finally leveled up to 46 when I found a dislodged skill book on the floor and read it; took Magicka bump and next Alchemy perk
- Got out safely, but overloaded; unicorn fast traveled to Whiterun
- And there’s that courier for level 46! And the Cause quest! Fuck yeah
- Sold some stuff to Adrianne
- Parked in Breezehome and stashed some books
- Saved for the night
Various bits of fishing action
Started off the fishing action in this session by getting the Alik’r Fishing Rod from Viriya, so now I have three different fishing rods.
My favorite part about bringing Mila in Whiterun her second goldfish: how she gave me a key to her Very Secret Treasure, which she keeps behind Dragonsreach, and the note in it which very sternly informs you NOT to read it “because it’s illegal to read things that don’t belong to you!” I really kind of adore that she has a secret treasure spot behind Dragonsreach, and that she is explicitly hiding her little treasures from Braith. <3 Good for you, Mila!
And now she has two goldfish, so hopefully those goldfish will live happy goldfish lives in the trough next to her house. (I shall assume for the sake of narrative that she’s just not setting them up to be skeever bait, since she’s keeping them outside. Let the kid have her fun!)
One more thing about Mila: now that this little plot is done, I’m also seeing that when she goes by me in Whiterun, she’s back to delivering her usual “I work with my mother” line when I’m in her proximity. Which makes me wonder if Lillith Maiden-Loom’s also got some sort of AE plot related to her that I haven’t found yet? The wiki doesn’t show her being connected to one. So not sure about that.
From there, I was able to get in more fishing action too: killing the horker Fangtusk near Windhelm (and getting the Vampiric Ring), taking sought-for fish as ingredients to both Arcadia and Bothela, and giving Lynea her fishing lesson.
I’m really appreciating the escalating nature of the Fishing quests. This whole plotline is definitely becoming one of my favorite things about the AE/Creation Club content. <3
And let it also be noted that I really kind of liked that Fangtusk was so dangerous a beast because it had apparently eaten someone wearing the Vampiric Ring, ha! So VAMPIRE HORKER. LOLOLOL.
Hey J’datharr, Malborn says HELLO
While doing the fishing action at Windhelm, I also noted that the Khajiit were on site–and they had J’datharr with them, indicating that I was now at a point where I could go talk to Malborn and take care of his little Thalmor problem for him.
Which I did with gusto. The only difficulty here was that I also had the quest marker active to go back and talk to Viriya in Riften, so I got distinctly confused as to where the hell Ma’dran’s caravan was. So I wound up boinging a couple of times between Windhelm and Riften, until I finally turned off the competing quest marker and found them properly. Didn’t help that the game was confused about when to show me the Khajiit camp, too, because at least one time I checked, their camp was just frigging gone from where it should have been by the Windhelm stables.
Still, though, I gave J’datharr Malborn’s message. And by message, I mean, stabbing! So it had a happy ending after all.
Fugitive vs. Hunter broken again
Had another incident of a Fugitive running up to me and giving me a stolen item, only to have no sign of the expected Hunter coming after him. That’s three times now, I think, that I’ve seen this happen in Shenner’s run.
So this appears to be one of the few instances where running the USSEP seems to have actually broken something rather than fixing it? Not a huge deal but it’s happened enough times now that it’s noteworthy. Kind of wondering if this is related to the bug that caused all my randomly encountered NPCs to be Afflicted Refugees for a while there. But I don’t know for sure, since this behavior doesn’t appear to be documented on the wikis I use for my reference sources.
Iona, Schroedinger’s Steward
So I could have goddamn sworn Iona volunteered to be steward of Windstad in an earlier session. I had it documented in that prior post and everything.
But in this session, when I took her back there, I saw clearly that she had the prompt to take the steward job when I tried to talk to her. And I also saw that when I dismissed her, she walked right off to head presumably back to Riften.
And I did not document any kind of a rollback in there, which would have retconned her taking the stewardship. So I don’t know WTF is up with this, aside from this being an example of something being buggy in a different way with the USSEP running, vs. the buggy behavior I’m used to on the Switch.
So I guess Windstad’s stewardship is still open? I’ll have to try coming back with Iona or some other follower again, just to see if I can get that set back correctly.
More buggy behavior at Reachwind Eyrie
As I’d seen warned in the wiki, trying to do the Mightier Than the Sword quest when I’d already been to Reachwind Eyrie kind of fucked things up a bit. Because I’d already taken the dwarven plate armor from there, and therefore could not do the final stage of the quest to close it out.
Fortunately, this was at least easily fixed with the debug console. And I had no qualms about resolving the quest that way, given that technically speaking, I’d already recovered the loot in question. I just hadn’t done it when the quest thought I should. ;P
(MInd you, I’m trying to be sparing in my use of the console and only fixing things when something’s actively broken, like this, or like the Bard’s College Burning of King Olaf festival being borked. And I’m really appreciating that I can in fact fix broken things that way. This power alone is letting me appreciate playing on the PC in ways that I can’t do for the Switch.)
So I did the setstage command, after being very careful to check against the wiki to verify the exact right syntax. Because yeah, you don’t want to fuck up entering stuff in the debug console. Read wiki twice, type once, etc.
Resolving the Crypt of the Heart quest
My overall main goal for this session, aside from all of the side action I did, was to get to Karthspire. For one thing, I wanted to run the Alduin’s Wall part of the main plot. For another, I also wanted to recover the corrupted heart of Simon Rodayne, so that I could resolve the Crypt of the Heart plot and get the Ebony Spell Knight armor.
Took me a couple of tries to do this, actually. So since this action was overlapping, I’ll talk about the Crypt of the Heart plot first.
I went with the option of restoring the knight’s heart by purifying it on the Altar of Mara. If you don’t do that, then the version of the armor you get has offensive enchantments on it, which are arguably interesting. But it seemed more narratively satisfying to me to purify the heart. Particularly since it gave me a glimpse of Simon’s ghost, as well as that of his beloved Daenella, as they are reunited.
(Skyrim’s real big on the ghosts of lovers being reunited, and I’m here for that. D’aww. <3)
So I got the version of the armor with defensive enchantments. Works for me, especially given that magic resistance is part of those enchantments. Very, very helpful.
And this may now be my new favorite armor in general. I really like the look of it, and I think I’ll stick with this a while until I get to a point of really beefing up the studded dragonscale a little further. I need to exercise my Heavy Armor skill anyway, for level up purposes!
In and out of Karthspire, for Alduin’s Wall
Took a couple of tries to really get into Karthspire properly, what with the overlap with the Crypt quest–and also with dragon action on site. I wound up getting pretty overloaded, and had to go all the way back to Lakeview for an emergency loot dropoff.
Which, I just have to not fret too heavily about. I’ve already written before about how the open-world nature of Skyrim means you can do stuff in whatever order you damn well please. Even if it means that the NPCs who are super anxious for you to go look at the secret carving with the big clue about how to defeat the terrifying world-eating dragon keep following you around through three or four other places. 😉 Delphine, at least, just kept pointedly saying “Lead on to Sky Haven Temple.” And Esbern dropped a line about “I’ve told you the location of Sky Haven Temple, I trust you’ll get us there in one piece.”
Heh. Working on it, you guys, I’m Dragonborning as fast as I possibly can!
And at least for a stretch of it, I was kind of deliberately taking my time because of trying to make it up to level 46. I finally got to a point of going ‘fuck it’ and coming into Sky Haven Temple at level 45, just because I wanted to go ahead and get that part of the plot completed.
And as it happened, getting into Sky Haven Temple actually took two tries as well. Having Iona and Gogh with me triggered yet another bug I hadn’t seen before–where Delphine got stuck standing down by the temple’s entrance, rather than following Esbern and me up to Alduin’s Wall. So she never came up to continue her conversation with Esbern, and I had to roll back to come into the temple a second time, leaving Iona and Gogh waiting just outside.
This means I have a slightly less powerful Dragonbane in this run, but I’m kind of okay with that. My experience with Dragonbane in previous playthroughs is that it usually winds up just being a secondary sword for me at best; almost always, dragonbone and stalhrim blades are my favorites. Or Chillrend and the Nightingale Blade, if I’m running a thief.
This also now means I have a second set of Blades armor. I don’t think I need two of them. But it wouldn’t feel appropriate to just sell them! So I may need to give a set to a housecarl.
The fucking Thalmor, man
Let it also be noted that while boinging back and forth with my entire entourage in tow, including Delphine and Esbern, we got two completely different sets of Thalmor to fight with.
The first set was an actual Thalmor execution squad, who came at us at Purewater Run as I was trying to bring Simon’s heart back to his grave. That fight was entertaining in no small part for the chance to hear Esbern shouting “FOR THE BLADES” as he started throwing magic around in combat.
The second set of Thalmor weren’t originally targeting us–they were part of a Thalmor vs. Stormcloaks fight that we happened on, working our way back from Lakeview towards Karthspire.
After one recent fight with the Thalmor already, and knowing what she knows at this point from Delphine about the Thalmor wiping out the Blades, I figure Shenner made an explicit point of coming over to check out the fight. Not making any overt moves–but also not backing off when the Thalmor started snapping at her to walk away.
Yeah, you assholes, I don’t think so. Not when you’re standing over the bodies of my dead countrymen, and I’ve got two pissed off Blades at my back.
Heh. Shenner keeps this up, she may catch up with Ysani for number of Thalmor killed. 😉
Gotta be careful with the Bittercup
In the middle of trying to pull down my carry weight, I had the plan of putting potions into one of my storage chests. But I wasn’t paying attention to what button I was hitting on the damn controller, and wound up hitting A instead of X. Which meant I quaffed the Bittercup without actually meaning to.
But now I can at least say I’ve tried it. And it definitely did what was advertised, buffing my Stamina and nerfing my Magicka. (Not sure if it also nerfed Health?) It set my Magicka number to a red font, too, which I normally see only if I’ve caught a disease. But I didn’t see any active effect that said whether my Magicka was permanently nerfed. I will have to see if I can keep raising that number on future level ups, and if it stays red or what.
Also, I’ll have to see if the Bittercup refills itself like the White Phial does.
More Gray Cowl plot
Since I’d already had Iona stand down, I also decided to have Gogh do so. Which meant I’ve sent him back to his cave, since the game doesn’t give me a mechanism to let him specifically call one of my houses ‘home’. Otherwise I’d have told him to wait for me specifically at Lakeview.
(I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll go back and retrieve Gogh later. I’m getting powerful enough that I don’t need followers as much now. And I’ve found a few times that Gogh’s storm atronach does actively get in my way. So I may just assume for narrative purposes that Gogh was missing his fellow goblins, and Shenner managed to figure out that he wanted to get back to his people in Cyrodiil. But still pondering that!)
Having any follower at all though was detrimental to what I wanted to do next: follow up on the Gray Cowl plot.
Heh. For a run where I’m not officially in the Guild, I’m still amused at opportunities presenting themselves for a little light thievery. The plotline wanted me to steal a deed by pickpocketing Gisli in Solitude. But I decided instead to go break into her brother’s house and search the place–which got me information I could take back to her, and persuade her to actually sell me the deed instead.
This was amusing for a few reasons:
- Gisli’s already on record as being bitchy in general, and her “not my problem” response when I tried to initiate conversation with her about the deed was in character
- It was entertaining to break into Erikur’s house just to see what it looked like in there; answer: pretty swank! Maybe even swankier than Proudspire
- Coming back to Gisli shortly thereafter to confront her with what I discovered, and offering to buy the deed off of her for 8,000 gold, got her to sound rather satisfied about taking that offer; I headcanon this as, she really hates her brother and is absolutely on board with helping out any shenanigans that make his life more annoying, and I can respect that, ha
Then I found additional instructions in a barrel behind the Winking Skeever, with a note from the mysterious stranger who was actually rather impressed that I’d bribed Gisli for the deed rather than just pickpocketing it off of her. And now I have additional directives to follow which’ll send me next off to Silverdrift Lair.
And, cool. This is shaping up to be one of the larger and more involved plots, so even though I’m dubious about the utility of the Cowl itself, I’m enjoying the journey getting there.
Folgunthur, then back to Whiterun
The other reason not having followers was useful at the end of this session: because I wanted to go run Folgunthur, as an easy way to find some draugr to blow up with more of J’zargo’s scrolls.
Fairly easy dungeon to run when you’re level 45! And I did use up the rest of J’zargo’s scrolls just for the amusement of setting draugr on fire. Just to vary it up a few times, I also threw a bear at a couple of them, just before the puzzle door when six crypts all fly open.
I gotta say, I’m kinda grooving on being able to summon my own bear. I just feel like it ought to be a ghost bear, like the wolf familiar. 😉
Went for the Dark Seducer Warrior, though, in the boss chamber for the fight with Mikril Gauldurson.
Finally leveled up to 46, running that dungeon. And when I got out again, and back to Whiterun?
Got the courier I’d been waiting for, with a message from a stranger asking to meet with me in private with a dire warning about events in progress connected to the Oblivion crisis. NOT THE SLIGHTEST BIT OMINOUS OR ANYTHING.
Fuck yeah. This’ll be fun.
The Cause looks like it’s a big crunchy quest, so I may need to get a follower back on duty for this. Rulnik, I’m looking at you.
Probably need to do a general equipment and materials check, go get Rulnik, and then get this plot underway in earnest. 😀
Editing to add
- 11/22/2023: Restored missing gallery, and added play date and session number markers.