Dragonborn,  Shenner Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Shenner Finds a Mask and Rehomes Some Nords

More action with the secret Tribunal cult on Solstheim! Got the Mask of Vivec, and also just generally explored the temple. Also, did another round in Kolbjorn Barrow, and helped the Nords led by Bujold get back their home.


  • Play date: 8/21/2022
  • Session number in this run: 53
  • Started at Severin Manor
  • Sold some items to Fethis
  • Went back to Ashfall’s Tear to pick up the letter to be translated from the priest in there
  • Took it out to Aphia who is apparently totally a secret Tribunal worshipper; gave it to her to translate, also got pointer from her to find the missing curate back on the Skyrim mainland
  • Then headed over to run Kolbjorn Barrow round 2
  • Killed en route: Khajiit in mostly ebony armor at Old Attitus Farm
  • Ran Kolbjorn, got the Ring of Necromancy
  • Paid Ralis his 3000 gold to rehire more staff
  • Returned to Raven Rock and picked up the letters to be translated from Aphia
  • Started handing them out to the townsfolk; gave one to Drovis, one to Geldis, one to Rethis, all in the Retching Netch
  • Then went out to wait for a Redoran guard to go sauntering off to Old Attius Farm
  • Trailed him there while sneaking on the ridge overhead
  • Spotted mage fight in progress as I got close to the farm; cryomancer won the fight as I approached, and came over to start shit; threw a Seducer warrior at him and solved that problem
  • Then broke into the cellar and killed both the guard and his buyer
  • Got the Mask of Vivec; also swiped all the stuff off of both of them
  • Returned to Severin Manor
  • Did some alchemy, enchanting, and smithing for a while until morning
  • Then went back out and tried to persuade Milore to take the last propaganda letter; she wouldn’t take a Persuade so finally had to bribe her <snerk>
  • Sold stuff to her and Glover and Fethis
  • Went back to Ashfall’s Tear, and spent some time exploring it (see below)
  • Then went back out and this time headed towards Bujold’s Retreat
  • On the way: netch hunting party at Old Attitus Farm, helped them out with the hunt, all the hunters survived, yay!
  • Fought near Tel Mithryn and Dusty the Silt Strider: cranky Dunmer in mostly ebony
  • Fought near Bujold’s Retreat: three werebears
  • Reached Bujold’s Retreat and offered to help them take back the mead hall
  • Ran up there and helped them kill rieklings
  • Only discovered after that a frost troll had apparently gotten into the place, and was lying dead by the doors? Not sure how that happened
  • Bujold asked me to help her go to Hrothmund’s Barrow
  • Actually decided to help her keep it quiet that Hrothmund reamed her a new one (see commentary below)
  • Returned to the mead hall and told Kumar “it was an honor to stand with her”, and I feel like Shenner actually kinda meant that, fellow female warrior and all
  • Talked to Hilund and gave her the 50 riekling spears
  • Then went over to position myself to hit the Deathbrand hoard
  • Saved for the night


I really gotta admit, for all of the “people hiding out in a cave” type hideouts in Skyrim, Ashfall’s Tear is hands down the nicest one I’ve seen. The designers of this particular Creation did a really nice job on it. The living quarters looked surprisingly comfy, with nicer-looking beds than the standard cots I’m used to seeing in this game. And there were lovely green inlaid floors all over the place.

Not to mention the huge statue of Almalexia! No doubt carved by the NPC I found who was actively working on sculpting. So clearly these people are not only dedicated enough to their cause to claim some space of their own on Solstheim, but they also are motivated enough to make it look pretty damned nice, actually. I could easily see this maybe trying to recreate some of the feel of architecture that was probably destroyed when Red Mountain blew.

And I’ll also say this for their hideout: it’s underground. On the Skyrim mainland, that would equal Falmer balt. But on Solstheim, or at least on Solstheim’s southern half, it’s another level of protection from the ash storms. Mind you, I’d expect that the Bulwark would take the brunt of any ash headed in their direction? But the access into the cavern system is up on higher ground, and that at least is still in line with getting hit by ash. I’ve walked through that area often enough to know that.

(Real curious now whether the look of Ashfall’s Tear is going to have an equivalent somewhere in Morrowind, now that I’m playing it. Raven Rock is House Redoran territory, so it looks like the architecture I’ve now seen in Ald’ruhn. But what in Morrowind, if anything, will look like Ashfall’s Tear’s design?)

I wound up spending quite a few minutes just wandering around the temple and checking it out. I found the new vendors that showed up in there once I passed out the propaganda letters to people–a blacksmith as well as an alchemist. And I found where an enchanter table is available.

Heh. I kinda feel like Shenner would be half-tempted to sleep in this place if they offered her and Rulnik and Gogh their own quarters. If nothing else because it looks way nicer than even Severin Manor does.

There is an armory, but apparently I don’t get access to that until I’ve finished more questing involved with this plotline. Okay then! Gotta go get that curate rescued! But I may not be able to do that until I take care of Miraak.

One other thing I’ll note here which I feel like ties in well with the retaking of Thirsk: I feel like Shenner probably spent time exploring the temple just in the name of introspection, and doublechecking with herself how she felt about helping this people. And I’m going to run with the headcanon that what she sees here is their matriarch legit trying to give spiritual guidance to the people–and a temple that is sure as hell getting a lot more attention from the people than the one inside Raven Rock proper.

So even if she doesn’t necessarily want to worship Almalexia herself, I think Shenner respects their intent. And is thinking heavily about who she does want to worship, if her faith still lies with Talos, and such.

Which led her back over to check out those Nords marooned on the beach, and ultimately agree to help them, too. Because while Solstheim may be predominantly Dunmer territory, the Nords are her people.

And I was legitimately surprised, this time through, to find myself deciding to not only help Bujold’s tribe take Thirsk Mead Hall back, but also to support Bujold rather than challenging her, after Hrothmund’s spirit rejected her as unworthy.

This is why: I think Shenner’s in a headspace at this point where Bujold’s intent to forge a new tradition resonated with her. Shenner herself is weighing the traditions she’s grown up with, which have had no conception whatsoever of what it means for her to be Dragonborn. So she’s very much feeling like she has to forge her own path. So she really kind of respects Bujold for wanting to do the same.

And I gotta admit, there was also a fairly hefty amount of “fuck the patriarchy” sympathy for a fellow female Nord warrior here, too. Because fuck you, old ghost. Bujold fucked up once and now is no longer worthy? There’s no room here for redemption? And “no leader is better than a bad one”? So you’d have her people fall into petty squabbles amongst themselves rather than try to reforge themselves into a fitter, stronger tribe, because they have nobody else to give them any sense of guidance?

Heh. I still don’t exactly like Bujold. I think she’s unnecessarily bitchy to her people, always harping on them about being fat and lazy, and showing very little sign of encouraging them to break out of that pattern at all. But as I write this, i find myself thinking that her being unnecessarily bitchy could very arguably be her response to the traumatic event of their losing the mead hall. She has to be carrying around a fair amount of internalized guilt about it, because it happened on her watch. And I’d not be surprised if she dragged her heels trying to do something about it because she was genuinely not sure if she could, at least until the Dragonborn finally showed up.

I don’t exactly like her. But I think that as of this playthrough, I understand her rather more. And I’m very pleased that even on this, my sixth Skyrim playthrough, I’m getting this kind of food for thought.

(When I come over to Solstheim with Faanshi, though? I am totally going Team Riekling. Faanshi will need the backup of three, count ’em, three occasional riekling warriors to help her out!)

So yeah, really liked this session over all. Great narrative mileage for the Ghosts of the Tribunal part of the play, and surprisingly strong mileage for retaking Thirsk Mead Hall, too!

Next time

Getting the Deathbrand hoard is next! But that’ll be reasonably quick and definitely won’t be the whole session. I still have plenty more places to visit on Solstheim, and I’m kind of feeling like Benkongerike may be next?


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.