Dawnguard,  Faanshi Playthrough

In Which Faanshi Quests Through Castle Volkihar and the Soul Cairn

We’re now reaching my favorite parts of Dawnguard in Faanshi’s playthrough! In this double session post, I got her to Castle Volkihar with Serana, and into the Soul Cairn to look for Serana’s mother Valerica–and many of the other fun things in the Soul Cairn as well.


Monday’s play

  • Play date: 7/25/2022
  • Session number in this run: 43
  • Started at Bilegulch Mine
  • Boinged from there to Lakeview to drop off things, dragon bits and the Daedric battleaxe I found
  • Boinged next to Honningbrew to sell a few things to Mallus
  • Then finally boinged to Icewater Jetty to run getting through Castle Volkihar to Valerica’s lab and the portal to the Soul Cairn
  • Nothing too out of the ordinary compared to previous playthroughs
  • Faanshi being squishier though definitely meant I needed to throw the dremora around
  • Also, I did get Sanguinare Vampiris off of the feral vamp in the catacombs, but fixed that with a potion of Cure Disease
  • And remembered at least once to use Become Ethereal to keep a gargoyle from beating up on me until I could actually re-summon said dremora
  • Declined Serana’s offer to make me a vampire, and did the partial soul trap route instead
  • Entered the portal
  • Grabbed a couple of soul husks that were right there
  • Saved for the night

Wednesday’s play

  • Play date: 7/27/2022
  • Session number in this run: 44
  • Started running the Soul Cairn
  • Got page 8 and page 6 of Jiub’s opus
  • Triggered a dialogue line from a Soul about Potema, which I hadn’t heard before, lolololol 😆
  • Found the soul of Arvak’s owner and got directive to find Arvak’s skull
  • Found the building with the chest with page 3 and a Daedra heart
  • Hit a lightning attractor to turn one of my greater soul gems into a black one
  • Hit assorted fissures and collected assorted soul husks
  • Swung back along the wall and got to the stairs where page 1 could be found
  • Went through the gap in the wall and swung around to say hi to Morven; got him to give me some random light armor since I had 25+ soul husks; got page 10 off the barrel by his wagon
  • Took out the first Keeper and got his dragonbone axe
  • Got the Conjure Wrathman spellbook
  • Hit the Reaper lair; had to bring him out by throwing fire runes around; discovered that I can use the Detect Dead spell to find the reaper and his hidden bonemen; took them all out
  • Hit another lightning attractor
  • Got page 5 of Jiub’s opus
  • Found Jiub; got his quest to get all his pages
  • Saved there for the night


I do have to admit that this time through sneaking through Castle Volkihar, I was halfway tempted to go ahead and become a vampire. I had two opportunities, too–because the feral vamp in the catacombs hit me with Sanguinare Vampiris, and then of course Serana offered to turn me, to let me make it into the Soul Cairn.

But ultimately I decided against it. Mostly because I don’t want to try to start being a vamp this far in on a playthrough, and also because I don’t want to try it at Master difficulty, either. And, heh, I figure it would have been disingenuous to let Serana turn me after curing myself after the fight with the feral!

Meanwhile, it was a good thing I remembered to use Become Ethereal again in the middle of a fight. Otherwise that gargoyle would have pounded me into kitty paté.

This time through the Soul Cairn I pretty much what I did with Ysani’s playthrough: followed the wiki to make sure I hit all the good places, and also to keep myself from getting turned around too much. Because even with this being my fifth time playing this part of Skyrim, I still find it easy to get turned around when running it!

That said, I can still apparently trip dialogue that’s new to me, talking with the various Souls in the place! This time through I got this delightful line:

“All I said to Potema was I thought she looked a little portly in that gown. How was I supposed to know?”

LOLOLOLOLOL. I’m surprised he got away with Potema just soul trapping him. 🤣

Taking out the first Keeper was definitely a “throw the dremora at him” situation. And while he was occupied with my dremora boys, I wailed on him from behind. Surprised and relieved he didn’t kill me!

Went ahead and hit the Reaper lair, even though I get to it first following the walkthrough, before I actually find the Reaper gems. (I’ll have to try it the other way around maybe when I run the Cairn with Shenner?) Main new aspect of running the lair this time was that I discovered I can find the Reaper and his hidden bonemen by using the Detect Dead spell, rather than Detect Life.

Which is useful to know. Last time I tried this, it was via using the Aura Whisper Shout. And magic replenishes faster than my Shouts do!

Next time

Finishing up the Soul Cairn, which should involve taking out the other two Keepers, finding the other two conjuration spellbooks, getting Arvak’s skull, finding Valerica, and fighting Durnehviir!


No screenshots this time.

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.