Dawnguard,  Faanshi Playthrough

In Which Faanshi Joins the Dawnguard

Got tired of running side quests, so moved the main plot along a little more for Faanshi, which resulted in her first meeting with Hermaeus Mora. And then I went to go investigate a mysterious cavern for the Dawnguard!


  • Play date: 7/21/2022
  • Session number in this run: 41
  • Started at Whiterun
  • Boinged off to Lakeview to drop off a bunch of things
  • Boinged to Heljarchen and did some building
  • Got Jordis back on follower duty
  • Boinged to Geirmund’s Hall so I could ride to Avrusa Sarethi’s farm and give her the crimson nirnroot
  • Passed what was probably a mercenary when I made it to the bridge leading to the farm
  • Got Sinderion’s tome and the Serendipity perk
  • Got Avrusa’s quest to get Jazbay grapes
  • Boinged from there straight to Septimus’ outpost; gave him the Lexicon, and got the blood extractor
  • Asked him why exactly he wants in the box for a change of pace; got him to talk about his lord being Hermaeus Mora, and some rather disquieting actions he’s taken in Mora’s name
  • Which makes him even more pitiful given that Mora was waiting for me up at the cave entrance and was all “Septimus is no longer useful to me”
  • Nonetheless took the polite option; I think Faanshi knows all too well what it’s like to be overtly hostile to somebody quite a bit more powerful than you, even if she has power now
  • Off to the college from there
  • Wanted to train with Colette but couldn’t find her; sold a bunch of enchanted jewelry to Phinis, Drevis, and Faralda
  • Trained Illusion with Drevis (and hit 90, so can’t go any further with him), and Destruction with Faralda
  • Fought Ancient Dragon in the courtyard twice, first time through it chomped me; second time through I kept pelting it with arrows while storm atronachs zapped it and Jordis fought it head on
  • Enthir witnessed the fight, and actually seemed legit distressed in his “It may be dead now, but where it did come from?” line; something actually able to rattle you, Enthir?
  • Boinged down to Riften, directly to the city so that horse could hang out at the stables
  • Went out the back gate on foot to head for Dayspring Canyon
  • Encountered en route:
    • A couple of single cave bears
    • Ancient Vampire that resurrected a nearby dead treasure hunter
    • Hag vs. flame atronach
    • Random Imperial in mixed armor
  • Reached Dayspring Canyon; hi Agmaer!
  • Greetings Isran of the Dawnguard, this one wishes to assist in the killing of vampires
  • Got a crossbow and bolts and directive to go check out Dimhollow Crypt
  • Boinged to Windstad to get there (again, safe place to leave horse)
  • Made it to Dimhollow
  • Very easy to blow through vampires with two dremora, but ohnoez Tolan chose poorly (clearly he did not have two dremora, and he probably would have disapproved of me calling them to kill vampires anyway)
  • Ran the place and freed Serana
  • Got out of Dimhollow and boinged to Honningbrew to sell Mallus a bunch of stuff
  • Boinged to Steepfall Burrow as close landmark to Castle Volkihar
  • And, critter melee! Featuring:
    • Frost Dragon!
    • Snowy sabre cat!
    • Ice wraith!
    • Horker!
  • Amazingly, the horse actually survived the fight, well done there horse
  • Dropped off Serana at Castle Volkihar
  • Heard the watchman deliver a line I hadn’t heard before: “Way I hear it, Lady Serana’s been gone a real long time.”
  • Khajiit will pass on being a vampire, thank you
  • Banished back out to the beach
  • Saved there for the night


Started off this session by heading to Avrusa Sarethi’s farm to give her all the crimson nirnroot. And this time through, I got there late enough that she and her sister were actually inside the house, rather than outside. However, it was not late enough that their door was locked, so I went on in to see if I could find Avrusa and give her the nirnroot anyway. Also, I hadn’t been inside the house at this farm before and I wanted to see what it looked like.

Answer: not a super fancy home, but large enough that there were at least a couple of rooms, and a cellar where Avrusa had set up her alchemy table. She was working at that, and was happy to accept the crimson nirnroot and give me the quest reward.

After that it was time to do more main plot action. By which I mean, returning to Septimus to tell him, “Khajiit has good news! She brings to you the Lexicon, inscribed with the knowledge of the Elder Scroll. (Which she also has. But that is going to the Throat of the World. Please do not ask her for that.)”

I don’t recall whether I ever asked Septimus exactly why he wants to get into that great big Dwemer box. But on the assumption that I’d never done it in a previous playthrough, I took that dialogue option this time.

This led Septimus to enthuse at length about what the box is, how it contains the heart of a god and how he’s been taking certain actions to satisfy his lord. When I asked him who his lord was, I got this rather disquieting line:

The Daedric prince of the unknown. Hermaeus Mora. I thought there were no secrets left to know. Until I first spoke to him. He asks a price — to work his will. A few murders, some dissent spread, a plague or two. For the secrets I can endure. In time, he brought me here. To the box. But he won’t reveal how to open it. Maddening.

And just like that, Septimus is not just a harmless crank out on the ice. What the hell have you been doing in Mora’s name, old man? 🤨

Now that said, this led right into my own first encounter with Mora, right up at the entrance to Septimus’ cave. At which point Mora gave me his pitch about Septimus’ time being about to come to an end, and how he’d like me to be his new emissary.

And even though Septimus has clearly been doing some bad things in Mora’s name, this additional dialogue path I took with him also served to make him rather more pitiful. Especially given that his lord is right up there going “meh, my servant is no longer useful, howsabout you take his place?”

Dude! Outside voice much? Septimus is right down there!

(Of course, I could see this being one of those things where nobody else reacts to an interaction the Dragonborn is having, because nobody else can see it? Mora manifesting so that only the player can see him here is plausible. Or, I suppose, Septimus is so far gone that he literally can’t pay attention to anything that isn’t right in front of his face, or giving him new access to the box.)

Regardless, I took the polite response to Mora this time. Not because Faanshi wants to serve him–I don’t think she does. Especially given what Septimus had just told her. But given the history I’ve set up with her and the Thalmor, I think she understands extremely well what it’s like to be pressed into service by someone significantly more powerful than you, and what kind of risk she’d run by being overtly hostile about it. And even though she’s amassed considerable power as the Dragonborn, she’s not quite brazen enough to flaunt it at a frigging Daedric Prince.

Random interesting point about fighting the Ancient Dragon that showed up at the mage college this time: Enthir saw the fight, and afterwards, delivered the line “It may be dead now, but where did it come from?” What interested me about this: his voice actor delivered that line in a legit distressed-sounding tone. Which suggests that Enthir, usually so cool and calculating, can in fact be rattled by something!

Random interesting point about fighting an Ancient Vampire on the way to Dayspring Canyon: a dead treasure hunter also spawned near the site of our fight, and she wound up resurrecting the hunter to fight for her. Which meant that the hunter disintegrated into ash when I killed the vamp.

And while I was able to get the treasure hunter’s note about what treasure he’d been seeking out of the ash pile, this did not trigger an objective to go find the item. Presumably because the note lost its connection to the hunter when he disintegrated?

Then, finally, I made it to Dayspring Canyon. And found the fresh-faced farmboy Agmaer, as one does!

“A peaceful greeting to you. Yes, Khajiit has slain a few vampires. In fact, this one and her friends here with her slew one on the way to this very canyon. It is helpful if you have well-armed friends and can summon dremora. Khajiit recommends you learn how.”

And then it was on to Isran, and his opening scene with Vigilant Tolan.

“Khajiit has heard you seek vampire hunters. She has killed a few vampires and seeks to help you kill more. How may she assist?”

Ran Dimhollow Crypt, and freed Serana!

“Khajiit is not sure it is a good idea to assist a vampire. But you have not attacked her and her friends, as these other vampires we have slain did. For now, she will help you. And she wishes to know more of this Elder Scroll you bear. You will not tell her more? Fine. Khajiit will follow you until you do.”

Let it also be noted that the critter melee I had erupt when I fast traveled to Steepfall Burrow was quite impressive–not only for how many creatures showed up during the course of the fight, but also that the horse actually survived it!

Well done there, horse! Keep running away from big scary creatures, because you are a level 4 horse and I’d really like you to survive for a few more sessions.

(Really, I’m frankly stunned the horse has lasted this long. This is the third session and counting that Faanshi has had a living mount. So far this strategy of minimizing how much riding I do on the horse seems to be extending its lifespan. Good!)

Escorted Serana all the way to Castle Volkihar, and this time through, paused to look at the watchman at the front door. Apparently this character exists only when you bring Serana back; he never shows up again. Notably, he’s also not a vampire. So apparently he’s a trusted enough thrall that he’s allowed watch duty?

I also heard him deliver this line: “Way I hear it, Lady Serana’s been gone a real long time.”

So apparently he’s been around enough to hear the Volkihar vampires talking about Serana, too.

And, of course, I declined Harkon’s offer of his blood. So he banished me back out to the beach!

Next time

I’ll pick up where I left off, and now that Dawnguard’s active, visiting towns is problematic. So I’ll probably barrel through all the various major highlights of the Dawnguard plotline over Faanshi’s next several sessions. Since I’m alternating her with Shenner, this’ll probably take me a week’s worth of session scattered out across the next couple weeks.

But at least for the immediate next session, I’ll probably have time to report back to Isran, and proceed to the part where I recruit Gunnar and Sorine.


Editing to add

  • 11/23/2023: Restored missing gallery.

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.