This was a solo run, but which had unexpected drama and plot weight–because I stumbled my way into a plot that involved no less than Almalexia, one of the three Tribunal gods of Morrowind. And in so doing, I accidentally played a piece of the overall zone quest line for Deshaan!
Single session post, because I have a lot to say in this one.
- Play date: 11/10/2022
- Session number in this run: 39
- Did a bit of inventory management, making a bunch of things to try to clear out the bank list some
- Wayshrined over to Othrenis to try to make my way into Deshaan, and find that jewelry materials site
- Which took way longer than anticipated
- Found the gate into Deshaan, but quickly found that a large chunk of it was under an active quarantine, YIKES?
- And that a bunch of plague zombies were basically rampaging all over the place
- Nonetheless managed to reach a skyshard
- Killed a whole bunch of plague zombies before running like hell
- Then stumbled my way through what looked like a giant bandit camp and had to run like hell from them, too; this may or may not have been Malak’s Maw, the orc camp?
- Charged through there as fast as possible because massively outnumbered
- Wound up trying to get the fuck out of Deshaan back through the gate i’d first come through and then veering west through Stonefalls, to try to find a different way south that didn’t go through zombieland
- Which eventually led me to discovering another Dark Anchor site, Varanis Dolmen, and fighting an incursion there
- Found Magmaflow Overlook, which had a skyshard near it that I could not get to for the life of me, but also a set station for Ashen Grip
- Found the city of Kragenmoor
- Finally decided to try to get back into Deshaan and wayshrined back in, to try to avoid the plague village
- That finally got me on the road into Mournhold, where I got intercepted by an Ordinator who told me I had to register with the town registrar
- Went to do so, and found a large group of people waiting to talk to him, but nobody stopped me from going into the building, so I did
- The guy told me Almalexia wanted to see me; apparently she knew I was coming? YIPES?
- On the way in, was intercepted by Naryu Virian, who turned out to be highly entertaining and had “shady” written all over her even though she never identified her “organization” to me, LOL
- She dropped a bunch of hints about the Maulborn being loose in the city, and wanted to get word to those in power, which led to me offering to take the news to Almalexia
- Almalexia wanted to thank me for helping her people (to wit: wait what? See below), and she also gave me a magical lantern
- When I told her there was worry about the Maulborn being in her city, she authorized me to go and deal with it
- Went to the nearby tavern to talk to Naryu, who wanted me to help her slip a mickey to a courier from the nearby Dres farm; persuaded her to do it instead so she had me fetch a bottle of wine for her, and she seduced the courier to get him upstairs, then knocked him out
- Took his key and hightailed it off to the plantation
- (But stopped to find the mineral seam on the way, finally)
- Got to the plantation and searched a suspicious farmhouse, and oh hey look a trapdoor!
- Naryu caught up and we infiltrated the place; found a hidden stone door which required a bit of puzzle work to get through, then found Daedric wards
- Ran the place and killed several of the Maulborn in there, till I hit the main fight
- Almalexia herself bamfed in to wipe out the ones I didn’t get, freed a captive who’d been forced to activate the wards, and sent her over to the Mages Guild for tending
- Went over to the Guild afterwards to talk to her and got her backstory
- Told an Ordinator about it and got a quest reward from Almalexia
- Ordinator had a line about needing to go see her again, but I think that was part of the the actual Ebonheart pact quest line and I didn’t actually trigger a new quest
- Went on my way, and hunted down the clothing materials cache my other map was for
- Found a couple more wayshrines on the way
- And another Dolmen, Redolent Loam, and helped fight that one as well when it triggered
- Leveled up to 32 at that point
- Finally found that clothing materials cache, and scampered over to the nearest wayshrine to get the hell out and go back to Alinor
- Did inventory management some more, and then logged off for the night
Important safety tip: Western Deshaan not good for tourists
“What crafting survey maps am I carrying in my inventory right now?” I said.
“Oh, Deshaan, right, let’s go check that out,” I said.
In hindsight, I should have realized what I was walking into when I wayshrined to Othrenis, got near the gate into Deshaan, and on the way found a document lying around called Come for the Cure. At the time, however, I didn’t think anything of it.
Boy howdy should I have paid attention to that.
Because not long after I set foot in Deshaan, I rapidly discovered that the place was under some kind of quarantine–and that furthermore, it was overrun with what basically looked like plague zombies. Yikes. I wound up fighting quite a few of these, sometimes several at once, and eventually picked a direction and ran like hell, because I was severely outnumbered.
I was trying to get to a point on the road south of Mournhold, since that was where my jewelry crafting survey wanted to send me. But getting there was clearly going to be a goddamn problem, if the countryside was overrun by plague zombies.
And just trying to find a way out of Plaguetown in general sent me charging at one point through what looked like a giant bandit camp–every NPC in there I passed was hostile and came at me as I went by. I didn’t actually properly note the name of the location at the time, but after checking the wiki, I’m pretty sure it must have been the Orc camp at Malak’s Maw? Because nothing else I could find matched the description of what I rode through.
Mind you, I didn’t get a good enough look at any of those NPCs to say for sure if they were Orcs. They could have been! But all I really noticed was “oh shit, five hostiles coming at me fast, RUN AWAY”.
Meanwhile, back in the ash-ridden hellscape of southern Stonefalls
Y’all know how I said in the previous post that I was surprised to discover that Morrowind actually had multiple volcanos within its borders?
Well, in this play session I got to experience more of that terrain. Because cutting through southern Stonefalls to try to find another path into Deshaan took me very near Tormented Spire! And there was some hardcore lava action going on in those parts. I found Magmaflow Overlook, in particular, which was very appropriately named. As well as frustrating–because there was a skyshard very near the Overlook, and I spent at least a good half hour trying and failing to find a path to it that didn’t involve trying to traverse lava.
A couple of times Paul and I had a conversation that basically went like this:
Paul: “Have you tried just crossing the lava?”
Me: “That would kill me.”
Paul, pointing at a couple of shalks he could see on my screen: “Those things are crossing it!”
Me: “Those evolved in this terrain and can survive in it.”
Paul: “How about just putting a foot on it?”
Me: “I’d only lose what, three toes?”
Paul: “Or a leg!”
We eventually became semi-sure that the only likely way I could get over there would be jumping off the side of a nearby bridge to reach the spur of land the skyshard was on. But I was not comfortable doing that, even as I saw at least a couple of players actually make it to the skyshard. I couldn’t figure out how they got over there, though, and couldn’t discern from the map of the area I found on the wiki what route they might have followed from another direction.
I feel like if this had been the original Morrowind game, this would have been an excellent opportunity to use the Levitate spells and potions and enchantments I’ve been acquiring in that game. And if it had been Skyrim, this was a situation tailor-made for either the Become Ethereal or Whirlwind Sprint Shouts.
But as this was ESO, and I did not have any of these useful lava-traversing means, I eventually gave up. Though I do have these questions that are eventually going to need answering:
- Could I have safely jumped off that bridge over to the bit of land with the skyshard?
- If the bit of lava is narrow enough, can you actually run over it without killing yourself? Or do you do yourself only a little bit of fire damage? <snerk>
- Are there means in ESO to protect yourself from fire damage that I have yet to discover? I found a “Resist Flame” thing mentioned on the wiki, but that appears to just be a racial ability for Dunmer characters, so Gyllerah wouldn’t have access to that. And the only mention of levitation I’ve found on the wiki is an attack possessed by certain bosses, not a thing that player characters can do.
All that said, I was also pleased to get to play with the Ashen Grip set station. And I gotta giggle at whatever Dunmer crafter saw Magmaflow Overlook and went “here! Here I shall set up my crafting stations! Because I am inspired by being twenty yards away from an active river of lava!”
Same deal for these bridges I’ve been finding going right over lava flows, for that matter. I have to assume those were magically shaped. Otherwise that would require your bridge-building team to be pretty much impervious to fire, and that’s asking a lot, even for Dunmer! Maybe mages summoned atronachs to do the building?
Last but not least, I did briefly run through the city of Kragenmoor, just for the sake of trying to find a way south into Deshaan. I was not successful, but I certainly glimpsed enough potentially interesting NPCs to get a sense that the place was in an overall very tense mood. Possibly at risk of attack, though I didn’t see any active fighting going on.
Back into Deshaan, and this time safely to Mournhold
After that I finally decided to try to boing via wayshrine back into Deshaan, but this time aim for one of the wayshrines east of Plaguetown, for the sake of trying to make it to Mournhold. This time, finally, I was successful. And then things got interesting.
As soon as I crossed through one of Mournhold’s gates, an Ordinator hailed me and asked me to stop. I did, and when I turned and talked to that person, they asked me to report to the registrar as Mournhold had an edict requiring all visitors to register. So I agreed to this, and got a quest pointer to go find the registrar.
I found a group of about half a dozen NPCs all apparently waiting to talk to this registrar. All of them complained when I spoke to them about being asked to wait for several hours to get registered, which in several cases was costing them business. I wasn’t sure what to do at this point, and finally just attempted to walk into the nearby building. Nobody stopped me from looking around. Eventually I found the registar upstairs, just standing around with no obvious backlog of people to get his attention. So I wasn’t at all sure exactly what the holdup was on his talking to the NPCs outside.
As soon as I talked to him, though, he was all over talking to me. Because apparently he’d been given my description by no less than Almalexia herself, one of the three living gods of Morrowind, who’d issued orders to her people to be on the lookout for me. The guy asked me to go see Almalexia immediately at the Tribunal Temple.
At this point I’m thinking Gyllerah had to be pretty rattled. See my previous commentary re: her being aware of the Tribunal now, and the difference between being aware of living gods and their being her gods. That’s an important difference, but in this case, I also feel like Gyllerah would be smart enough to be respectful. So I did immediately go to the Tribunal Temple. And I envision Gyllerah thinking, “Shit, an actual goddess wants to talk to me? Right now? When I stink of smoke and lava and whatever the hell those big ichor-spitting bug-looking things were that I killed on the way here?”
And on the way in, another intriguing thing happened. I was hailed by an NPC named Naryu Varian, who looked shady as fuck, but who wanted my help. She claimed that a group called the Maulborn were infiltrating the city, and she wanted to bring this to Almalexia’s attention, by which she meant she wanted me to bring it to her attention.
(And by “shady as fuck”, I mean, I played most of this plot thinking Naryu might be Thieves Guild or maybe Dark Brotherhood? But the wiki says she’s actually Morag Tong. And also a recurring character, HA! I was delighted to note that, because she was highly entertaining and I’ll look forward to seeing more of her.)
This conversation was sign number one that I’d actually stumbled into a piece of the larger zone-wide Deshaan plotline, a thing I didn’t realize until I was done running this quest. But writing this, and doublechecking Naryu’s lines on the wiki, I see that her dialogue was clearly written in a way that seems to expect her to have already had some dealings with me. She talks about my having “clout” and doesn’t seem very surprised that I actually have been summoned to speak with Almalexia. Since I hadn’t actually seen this person before the game appeared to try to kludge this by having her give me an opening line of “You’re the one everyone’s talking about? I expected you to be bigger or something.”
Which is kind of awkward, conversational-flow-wise. I agreed to relay her message to Almalexia nonetheless, and then went in to talk to the goddess herself.
Which seemed to really also be an encounter that expected me to have been doing a broader quest, I think. Because Almalexia wanted to thank me for helping her people, and she presented me with a lantern that could light itself up. This seemed a surprising gesture given that the only prior activity I’d done in Morrowind at all was in Matin-Akus Egg Mine with K’sragi, and then my solo activity in Ebonheart.
For my purposes, though, I have to go with the assumption that Almalexia (and possibly all three of the Tribunal) were aware of even those relatively minor adventures. Most likely Ebonheart in particular being the one that got Almalexia’s attention–because I also noted, as I went back out into the city after talking to her, that a few of the Ordinators periodically noticed my passing and threw off lines at me about being the one that helped save Ebonheart from attack.
That kind of guard reaction is a thing I’m used to getting in Skyrim, of course, but I had not previously had it happen in ESO. Which makes me wonder whether local guards will in fact react more to me as I play through larger quests. Am I going to have the guards in Summerset start reacting to me differently when Paul and I finish the Summerset zone quest, for example?
Also, I should note here that at this point, Gyllerah has no earthly idea who the Maulborn are, aside from having seen them mentioned on that Come for the Cure pamphlet. But a shady-as-fuck-looking NPC explicitly reaching out to her about this, and seeming concerned about it, probably had her thinking “okay yes fine, since I’m going in to talk to this goddess anyway (yipes), I might as well mention this?”
And that gave me sign number two that I was coming into a piece in the middle of a larger plot, because that was when Almalexia gave me her authorization to go and investigate the Maulborn problem as I saw fit. Which seemed an awful lot of gratitude to get from a goddess, considering what little activity I’d had in Morrowind so far!
I got a conversational prompt to ask her about the lantern, which got her to archly inquire if I always questioned gifts from a god. But she did at least answer the question, since she was apparently in a generous mood. LOL.
Investigating the Maulborn
Next phase of this plot was my going to the nearby tavern to talk to Naryu some more. She wanted me to slip a mickey to a courier from the nearby Dres plantation, because from what she’d been seeing, some of this Maulborn activity seemed to be suspiciously connected to that farm.
I actually got to pull a Persuasion check on her, now that I have that ability unlocked on the Mages Guild skill line. So I got her to actually do the heavy lifting here instead, which meant all I had to do was get her a bottle of wine and then stand back and watch as she seduced the courier, got him upstairs in the inn, and then knocked him out.
Then I nabbed the key and hightailed it off to the Dres farm.
(On the way, I did actually also find that jewelry materials cache, which was the entire reason I’d come to Deshaan to begin with. And which I was finally able to locate, without worrying about a horde of plague zombies attacking me.)
I’m still not entirely clear on when I do and do not need to sneak in ESO. But in this particular case, I actually decided to do a little sneaking, just because I’d been spooked by both the plague zombies and the (probably Orc) bandits earlier in the session. I wasn’t exactly eager to get swarmed by pissed off farm mercenaries or whoever else House Dres had guarding their farm.
So I dropped into Sneak and edged my way around the periphery of the farm, until I found the specific house my quest marker wanted me to go to. At which point I had another round of “oh look, other players are also running this quest!” But I got in there and found the various Suspicious Things that the quest wanted me to find, ending with a trapdoor under a Suspicious Rug.
(Side note: I appreciate having all the other player characters running around in a city, it helps make the cities feel lively and lived in. But when I’m specifically trying to run a quest and two or three other players are also sneaking into the same place I’m trying to sneak into, that kind of wrecks my immersion a bit! I’ve had to start training myself to mentally adjust for that, and just ignore the other parties coming through.)
Naryu showed up at that point, and she and I headed down through the trapdoor. I was right behind her, and yet, she gave me shit for being slow following her. Snerk.
This was an intermediate stage of running the place, though. Because I found a hidden door mechanism that was stuck in place, and I wound up having to kill a couple of alit loose in these underground chambers in order to get grease to un-stick the mechanism. Only when I did that did my companion and I finally reach the main part of the dungeon. Which contained active Daedric wards, which alarmed Naryu, who pulled a retreat, saying she was going to try to pass along some anonymous tips to get help from the Ordinators, if not Almalexia herself.
Which left me to run the place alone. I took out several Maulborn, until finally making it to the end chamber and the big fight with their main forces. Into which Almalexia herself appeared–apparently, Naryu did get word to her. Almalexia vaporized the remaining opponents, and wound up also teleporting a bound captive off to the Mages Guild for healing, instructing me in the meantime to go find that person there.
So that was a rather abrupt end to the battle! I went out to find the local Mages Guild, and did indeed speak briefly with the captive, who tiredly told me about how the Maulborn had captured her and forced her to activate the wards inside the tunnels for them.
At that point, I got a quest objective to go speak to an Ordinator again, which led me to get another quest reward from Almalexia. And the final sign that I’d just played out part of what was clearly a larger quest line–because the Ordinator’s last line to me was to tell me that the Sacred Lady still had need of my services, and that I should go speak to her again in the Temple.
But I didn’t have a quest activate to do so. Which was really confusing, and which sent me back to the wiki to confirm that yes, this entire little quest was part of the zone-level Deshaan quest line.
RIGHT THEN. That was overall a little awkward to play out in the middle of the plot, and it wasn’t entirely seamless an experience, I think; there could have been other ways to set up some of these character lines to make it play more smoothly for someone coming into it like I did. But even given that, though, it still worked pretty well narrative-wise with what I’ve played out so far.
Yet more Dark Anchor action
But wait, there’s more!
On either end of the whole plot in Mournhold, I had encounters with not one but two different Dark Anchor sites, which I’ve now learned from the wiki are called “Dolmens”. I found two this session, the one at Varanis and the one at Redolent Loam.
I was legit unsure about diving in at Varanis, just because I went by there just as it was firing off, and at least for a few minutes didn’t see any other PCs in sight. But I did hang out some distance away just watching the action, out of general curiosity, because I wanted to see what would happen. Likewise, Paul watched my screen for a bit with me, because even though he’d fought at a few of these sites on his own solo adventures, he hadn’t hung back to just watch one starting up, not yet.
The big interesting thing for me there was how several of those cultists that gathered to activate the thing seemed to actually get sucked up into the air. I couldn’t tell if they were getting vaporized by the power pouring down with the anchor, or if they were getting yoinked into Coldharbour, or what. Knowing at least that these Dark Anchors are in fact the work of Molag Bal, I could legit see either possibility here!
But players did zoom in shortly after that and so I went ahead and leapt into the fray.
Same deal with the dolmen at Redolent Loam, too. I managed to come through there just about when the cultists showed up to trigger it, so I got Dark Anchor action twice in one session!
And now that I’ve started finding these things, I’m trying to make a point of throwing off heals when I can. I’m not sure if that actually helps the other players around me when I’m fighting at a Dark Anchor? But at the very least it seems polite. I’ll have to try to pay closer attention and see if I can confirm for sure that I can heal other players in those battles, even if they aren’t grouped up with me.
This was a lot so I kinda feel like my next session will have to just be relaxed and groovy, writs and artifact hunting on Summerset, unless Paul wants to run a delve tonight or something!