Dawnguard,  Shenner Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Shenner Goes Adventuring for the Dawnguard

And now, some catchup in regular Skyrim! I’ve gotten in periodic Shenner sessions while playing a bunch of ESO, advancing her through the Dawnguard plotline when I can.

So here’s a catchup post about going to Ruunvald with her to rescue Florentius, returning to Castle Volkihar and running the Soul Cairn, retrieving schematics for Sorine, and then running Ancestor Glade to get the location of Auriel’s Bow.


  • Play date: 10/23, 10/24, 10/26, 10/29/2022
  • Session number in this run: 66-69

Sunday the 23rd

  • Picked up where I left off with running Ruunvald with Shenner and Serana
  • Ran and cleared the place
  • Noted as expected that yes, the fourth journal in Ruunvald was in fact properly on the barrel as hoped, thank you, USSEP
  • No issues clearing the place, particularly with Shenner at level 66
  • Set Florentius free and got him on board with Team Dawnguard
  • Daedric-horsed back to the fort, but Florentius hadn’t shown up yet
  • So I sold stuff to Gunmar, and returned the first schematic to Sorine; got her quest for the second one
  • Boinged from there to Heljarchen Hall to check on family; dropped a few books off there
  • Saw the girls and Rulnik safely ensconced there with Gregor <3
  • Boinged to Lakeview next and made a bunch of armor to burn through backlogged smithing materials
  • Took it all to Whiterun and sold it, also sold a few extra things to Belethor and Arcadia, and that got me nicely down under carry weight
  • Boinged next to Castle Volkihar to head in to Valerica’s lab
  • Paused this time to see if I could shoot down a bone hawk; yes, but it took some doing and I had to switch off from ebony crossbow to Bow of Shadows
  • Also kept getting interrupted by skeletons! Stupid skeletons! But Serana and Gogh handled that problem nicely
  • The bone hawk I shot down fell in the water but I was able to jump in and retrieve bits off of it, will have to see if that gives me enough bits to make something later
  • Climbed back out of the water over the boat wreck right by me, then parked at the entrance
  • Saved there for the night

Monday the 24th

  • Ran the Castle Volkihar ruins to the point of reaching the Soul Cairn
  • As per usual got lost in the damn place ;P
  • Also, super-dark playing on the Mac even when I had a torch active, I may need to adjust the brightness?
  • Partway through, lost track of Gogh
  • Took the usual “partially soul trap me” option with Serana
  • Saved as soon as we entered the Cairn

Wednesday the 26th

  • Briefly ran some of the Soul Cairn
  • Got first five pages of Jiub’s opus
  • Got the initial encounter with Arvak’s owner and the quest to find the skull

Saturday the 29th

  • Picked up where i left off running the Soul Cairn
  • Killed all three Keepers
  • Noteworthy difference playing in Ultra tier graphics: trapped souls with large beams of light feeding the Keepers, similar to what you see with the wizards feeding Morokei in Labyrinthian, COOL
  • Got most of Jiub’s pages and two of the spellbooks
  • Made it to Valerica and played out meeting her and fighting Durneviir
  • Accepted Durneviir’s request
  • Got Jiub’s final page and took all the pages back to him
  • Did not get Arvak’s spell or the third summon spellbook yet, will have to get those when I come back for Valerica; too overloaded to do it this time
  • Exited the Soul Cairn and Daedric-horsed to Lakeview to drop off a bunch of things
  • Then boinged to Whiterun to sell stuff, at which point Gogh finally rejoined me!
  • Boinged to Hendraheim and then Bloodchilll Cavern to drop off things
  • Went to Redoran’s Retreat to pick up the next schematic for Sorine
  • Boinged to Riften only to find BLOOD DRAGON; killed it
  • Went into Riften and sold a bunch of things to Balimund
  • Then hoofed it overland to Dayspring Canyon
  • Went past a Stormcloak courier running the other way, I think, around Riften’s perimeter
  • Ambushed by vampires on the way into Fort Dawnguard but took them out
  • Also, not sure I remember actual banners being up at the gates? Or two tiers of gates for that matter? Not sure if this was an Ultra graphics thing or a bugfix patch thing?
  • Gave Sorine her schematic and got her next quest for one, pointing at Bilegulch Mine
  • Also bought a Daedric crossbow off of her
  • Bought spells off of Florentius
  • Got training in Smithing from Gunmar
  • Went to talk to Dexion to advance the plot some more and got pointer to go to Ancestor Glade
  • Boinged back to Lakeview to get within range of the Glade
  • Courier! With news of the death of Shadr, aw damn; the dragon must have fried him, but sorry Shadr, not rolling back to a previous save for you
  • Hoofed it to Ancestor Glade
  • Killed mudcrabs and a bear by the pond, and bandits by the stream
  • Ran Ancestor Glade as per usual and yep it sure did look pretty in ultra <3
  • Got the usual vampire hit squad on the way out, and extra vampires once I was almost back to Lakeview!
  • Parked in Lakeview and saved for the night


This is another post where I’m actually covering four sessions, which is not typical for me. As I said on my last ESO post, a big part of this is because I have in fact been playing a lot of ESO. So that eats into my Skyrim time.

But also, since I’m running Dawnguard with Shenner and that’s pretty much familiar territory at this point, not much new I can say about that. So I’m trending in a direction of only compiling Skyrim posts when I have enough interesting commentary to warrant a new one.

Main interesting thing about running Ruunvald this time was confirming that yes, with the USSEP active, I was able to get the fourth journal with no problems. It was sitting on the barrel where it was supposed to be. Also, running Ruunvald at level 66 was definitely a lot easier than it’s been for me in previous playthroughs. 😀

On the way into Castle Volkihar’s back entrance this time, I paused to try to shoot down a bone hawk, just because this wasn’t a thing I’d done before and I wanted to see if I could do it. Answer: yes, but it took some doing. My precision with the crossbow was not good enough, so I had to swap off to the Bow of Shadows. And once I finally shot down one of the hawks, it fell into the water nearby, so I had to jump in and swim to it.

And heh, damn good thing I had to only do that briefly, and also that I’m not running Survival Mode in this playthrough. Shenner is a Nord and therefore arguably hardier than other character types in cold water. But that doesn’t mean she’s immune to hypothermia!

For these sessions, I was playing on my new MacBook, where I’ve set up a Windows 11 VM and have Skyrim running in that now. This is working splendidly, and the game looks really, really good. But it was also super dark inside the Volkihar ruins, even when I had a torch active. So this contributed to my ongoing problem of always getting lost about halfway through those ruins.

I lost track of Gogh as well, somewhere partway through the ruins run. He didn’t catch up with me again until I fast traveled to Whiterun, after getting out of the Soul Cairn. Possibly specifically because that fast travel wasn’t via Daedric horse? I was a little surprised he didn’t catch up with me at Lakeview when I fast traveled there off the Castle Volkihar balcony.

Similarly, as pretty much always happens to me, I eventually got thrown off course in the Soul Cairn as well. But I did manage to hit the major things–getting Arvak’s skull, all ten pages of Jiub’s opus, and killing the Keepers. I didn’t bother with the Reaper this time, mostly because I was quite overloaded and didn’t want to tromp around any more than absolutely necessary. Having the ability to summon the Daedric horse, even inside the Soul Cairn, helped mitigate that some. But it didn’t solve the problem entirely!

Also, because of the same issue, I wound up not actually finding Arvak’s owner and getting the spell to summon Arvak. I also missed getting the third of the three spellbooks. But since I do have the Daedric horse, summoning Arvak’s not as critical for this playthrough. I will, however, swing back to take care of that when I come back in later to get Valerica, and I’ll pick up that missing spellbook as well.

I’ll say this for running the Daedric horse in the Soul Cairn: it did actually look totally badass against the spooky background of the Soul Cairn. And like any other horse I’ve ridden in Skyrim, if it was still physically present when I confronted baddies, it totally jumped in on the fight. Which was really cool to watch.

Oddly enough, I arguably didn’t even really need to run Jiub’s quest either. Because my main interest in doing that is always getting his locket and the +50 bump to Carry Weight. However, Shenner’s already carrying a necklace that gives a bump that big, just because I got my enchanting up well enough thanks to running Dragonborn first.

But that said, I am still totally glad I ran Jiub’s quest. In no small part because I overheard him muttering to himself and I caught a line I’m pretty sure I missed before:

“Now what was it I said to that prisoner? ‘Stand up, there you go. You were dreaming…’ Yes, that was it.”

And now that I’ve started a Morrowind playthrough, I was able to go lolololol at that. 😀

I don’t know if this line was missing from the Switch build or what on all the prior playthroughs I’ve done, but hearing this here was delightful.

And OH YEAH, definitely worth noting that the Soul Cairn looked amazing in Ultra tier graphics. Several spots of it had much sharper shadows of trees thrown across the ground, which greatly improved the general spookiness. And I also noted that when I got to the first two bastions of the Keepers, I saw the same trapped souls I’d seen before in playthroughs–but this time, they had lines of light coming out of them to the Keepers. Similar to how the trapped wizards feed Morokei in Labyrinthian!

I am legit not sure if this was a bugfix patch thing, a thing involved with playing in Ultra graphics, or maybe the simple fact that this is the PC build of the game rather than the Switch build. Regardless, it looked really cool.

Post-Soul-Cairn, I had to grin a little at going by Bloodchill Cavern specifically with Serana, since the place really kind of looks like a less horrible version of Castle Volkihar. I kinda wonder whether Shenner would offer Serana the place as an extra hideout if she needs it.

And I must pour one out for poor Shadr, since he was apparently killed by the Blood Dragon that attacked Riften when I showed up there to sell things. Sorry about that, Shadr! I hope you get to ride the noblest of horses in Sovngarde.

One more oddity I noticed: when I came back to Fort Dawnguard, there was an additional outer layer of gate and a whole bunch of banners up with the Dawnguard sigil on them that I legit did not remember seeing before. They looked really cool, but not familiar. And I am not sure whether this is a case of:

  1. The Switch build never had those details
  2. It’s another thing fixed by the bugfix patch
  3. The game realized I was playing in Ultra tier graphics and threw in the extra details
  4. Possibly implemented as an Anniversary Edition fix in recent builds of Skyrim
  5. By the time I reach this point in Dawnguard I’m usually fast traveling straight to the fort’s front door and I legit may have just missed them before

I’m going to have to boot up Faanshi’s playthrough and blip over to Fort Dawnguard just to see what it looks like for her, now.

Next time

I got Shenner down under carry weight limits, but she’s still pretty heavily loaded. And I need to fix this problem before I tackle her next major action: heading to the Forgotten Vale!


All of the screenshots here are from session 69, played on Saturday the 29th. I didn’t have screenshots from the other sessions covered by this post.

Editing to add

  • 11/24/2023: 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.