In Which Gyllerah Visits Blackwood, and Also Fights the Schemes of Nocturnal
Triple session post! Main highlights: visiting Blackwood for the first time, and then moving the main Summerset plot further along, almost to the end game, and discovering the truth of Nocturnal’s schemes. This is a big long post with a lot of commentary! And some pseudo-RP! So buckle up.
- Play dates: 11/10-11/12/2022
- Session numbers in this run: 40-42
- Ran most of my writs, but couldn’t do the alchemy one
- Wound up getting an extra copy of the Blackwood jewelry map
- So retrieved the third Blackwood map I had, and wayshrined over to the one spot i had on my map for Blackwood: Leyawin
- Clothing map locale was closest so went there first
- Reaching the jewelry cache and then the alchemy cache took longer as they were over on the eastern part of the map and I had to zero in on them
- All three maps this time were actual maps with a rough spot for the locale marked on them
- Paul also gave me the useful tip about setting a custom destination, which helped keep me on target
- Notable locations discovered en route:
- Plateau of the Traveler
- Withered Root
- Xeemhok’s Lagoon
- Vunalk (or at least, its wayshrine)
- Notable monsters fought:
- Miregaunt, which handed me my ass
- Bog dogs
- Since this was swamp territory, found lots of places to fish and use up my backlog of Foul Water bait
- Finally successfully reach both the alchemy and jewelry locations
- Returned to Alinor to finish up writ activity
- Ran writs
- Had to buy treacleberry tea recipe from the brewer in the inn
- Otherwise either had all the materials I needed, or else got them out of the bank (had to pull comberries from Guild bank)
- Did inventory management
- Made myself level 32 armor in Dark Elf style, tried out the same color scheme as the previous Breton, but was not entirely happy with the style
- Put up with it for now though as Paul and I resumed running the Summerset main plot
- Boinged to Artaeum to talk to Oriandra, who pointed us at Leythen for language help
- Leythen was snarky but sent us to Ebon Stadmont, with a rune to invoke so he could see what we were doing from Artaeum
- Nocturnal’s earl interfered with Leythen seeing us though
- She dropped hints that the Daedric Triad wasn’t really united, and also that the Ritemaster could find the Heart of Transparent Law if he uttered a phrase at the right time
- (Interesting note: according to the wiki this character showed up in a different plot, more on this below)
- Leythen re-pinged us and urged us back to Artaeum
- Returned to find Iachesis giving Oriandra shit for pointing us at Leythen
- Briefed the Ritemaster who told us to go find Darien; did so, and heh, found him shirtless and doing pushups 😉
- Darien asked to talk to us at which point he dropped an interesting hint: asking if we remembered him
- Wiki says pre-Meridia he is heavily involved in a plotline with the Daggerfall Covenant
- I expect this hit Gyllerah a little harder than the average player! (more on this below)
- Then we went to go see the Ritemaster in the Dreaming Cave; he opened a portal to the Evergloam
- We went through the place and killed a bunch of gloam wolves and shrikes and night terrors
- Made it to the end, at which point Clavicus Vile and Mephala showed up and started fighting over the Ritemaster
- Nocturnal showed up and muscled into the fight–and ripped the Ritemaster apart, yikes, and took Dawnbreaker
- Valsirenn threw open a portal so we could all get the fuck out
- Clued in Oriandra about what had happened; she reported that Sotha Sil had come back and wanted to see us
- He gave additional info about how exactly Nocturnal could take over the Crystal Tower
- Then had to go stop Valsirenn from killing her husband; Leythen begged for the opportunity to warn Mephala
- I told Valsirenn trusting Mephala and Clavicus Vile was a super bad idea
- So we went to the Crystal Tower to try to help the Sapiarchs re-stabilizing the place; this did not go well; the tower started glowing and yep that’s super bad
- With Razum-dar, we had to fight off Daedric attackers while Valsirenn tried to help the Sapiarchs with their ritual–which didn’t work
- So we had to punt to the ‘try to get Mephala and Clavicus Vile to help us’ plan
- Returned with Raz to Alinor to warn the Proxy Queen, but Raz pointed us at Barbas, who showed up in dog form wanting to talk to us
- Barbas gave us the info on where to find Clavicus Vile to talk to him
- Went to the Vaults of Heinarwe and talked to Vile there, after fighting Daedra on the way in, and had to fight more on the way out
- Got astral-pinged by Valsirenn, who told us Darien had taken matters into his own hands and taken Leythen to go talk to Mephala, so we had to go to the Cathedral of Webs to find them
- Confronted the earl of Nocturnal, who now had Dawnbreaker; she flounced triumphantly off and left us to have to trust Leythen to summon Mephala, which he did outside
- Mephala was not impressed by this and only gave us a ‘maybe’ about whether she’d help us
- Returned to Artaeum and clued Valsirenn in; she gave us another quest reward and reported that Sotha Sil wanted to see us again
- Paused there for the night
- Paul and I returned to Alinor for inventory management
- Ran writs and made a new set of level 32 armor, reverting to Breton style but in different colors
- Paused there until next time
Compared to the rest of this post’s action, this part was relatively calm: visiting Blackwood for the first time, which is Argonian territory!
My first overall impression of that zone was that it was a nice refreshing change of pace from the ash-ridden hellscapes in Morrowind.
My second impression: strongly reminding me of stretches of rural Kentucky (at least around the less swampy parts, which arguably would be more evocative of the deeper South). Particularly every time I saw a willow tree. And while these specific details were not presented to me by the game, I also feel that:
- Blackwood was probably humid as fuck
- And also swarming with mosquitos that were all too happy to eat Gyllerah alive
I expect that more than once, making camp, Gyllerah probably sullenly reflected that at least in Morrowind, no bugs were trying to bite her to death.
Third impression: yikes miregaunts are scary, what?
Last but not least, it was unexpectedly satisfying to be able to get to burn through every bit of Foul Water bait I had in my inventory. Because, unsurprisingly in swampy humid Argonian country, there were Foul Water fishing spots all over the place.
Oh hey look another recurring character
This play crossed two specific quests of the main Summerset story: Lost in Translation, and A Necessary Alliance. And there was a whole helluva lot packed into those two quests!
First interesting thing of note: Nocturnal’s earl, Tundilwen, is apparently a recurring character. The wiki says she was previously known as Veya Releth, and you apparently meet her if you run the zone quest line on Vvardenfell. I have not. But this raises the question: if I were to go run Vvardenfell’s quest after finishing Summerset’s, would I meet Veya/Tundilwen in her prior point in life? Or would I have broken those quests by going out of order?
Given previous behavior I’ve seen on solo plots I’ve run, I kind of suspect I’d see her anyway. Either way, it would play very weirdly.
And it kind of feeds into my overall impression that even though ESO’s story arcs do in theory have a chronological order, you cannot get hung up on playing them specifically in order. In fact, I suspect it’s almost impossible for a new player to do so. As I said before, the current new player tutorial literally lets you land all over the map, without forcing you to drop into a specific starting point. So the vast majority of new players are going to be doing exactly what Paul and I are: just picking a quest line and location, and running with it.
And, since the game gives you a few different mechanisms to just wander all over the map exploring (the crafting materials maps, but also the Antiquities system), it’s inevitable that players will run into other quest lines out of order. Especially when some NPCs specifically follow you around until you actually stop and interact with them.
(And yes, I know that I could just exit out of the conversation with such NPCs and not accept their quests. But that feels brusque and dismissive, and goes against my sense of RP in these games. So I don’t want to do that, even if the NPC is distracting me from important Finding the Jewelry Cache business!)
All of this adds up basically to my beginning to think Gyllerah is not only amnesiac, but she may also be a little displaced in time, due to the effects of going through that portal in Balfiera. (And, although she doesn’t know it yet, what’s going to happen in the Main Quest once Paul and I finally play it.) Because heh, yeah, I’m still a writer, and I still try to come up with a way to make an open-world RPG make at least a little narrative sense. 😉
Kind of a given that I’d be partial to a roguish knight, really
And speaking of recurring characters and making sense of the narrative: gotta admit I’m getting to like Darien Gautier, Meridia’s golden knight. He feels very Han-Solo-ish, and anybody who knows my background in MUSHing, not to mention my affection for Harrison Ford, will understand why this totally catches my interest. I could totes see a young Harrison Ford playing this guy.
(And okay yeah sure you could also cast him as any number of younger actors also currently known for playing roguish characters, but hey, Harrison was my first. So work with me here. 😀 )
He got more interesting, too, by throwing a question at Paul and me at one point in this part of the plot: did we remember him?
This question would, I think, hit Gyllerah harder than the average player character because of the whole amnesia angle. At the very least I imagine her going a little pale and looking shaken at Darien’s question. If this guy has any observational skills at all (and the plotline seems to indicate he’s quite roguish and impulsive, but not entirely dense), he’d probably pick up on that, at least enough to ask if she’s all right. So let’s say the conversation plays out like this:
Darien: “Do you—do you remember me? I’m not talking about here in Summerset. I mean—from someplace else.”
Gyllerah, looking rattled: “I…”
Darien: “Wait, what did I say? Are you all right?”
Gyllerah, almost over the tail end of his last few words: “No. I mean, don’t take it personally, I don’t remember a lot of people. I fell through this portal, you see, and landed in Balfiera, and it scrambled my head a bit and I haven’t quite gotten over it…” She pauses at Darien’s odd look. “What?”
Darien: “I was going to say, if you didn’t remember me that’d be okay. Meridia told me time works differently in Oblivion, and what’s happened for me might not have happened for you yet. But you clearly have more than that going on.” And as Gyllerah nods, he nods back. “And now I know why you’ve been so keen on helping the Ritemaster.”
Gyllerah: “Yes. Because if we can help him remember what happened to him…”
Darien: “Then you’ll have more hope of remembering what happened to you.”
Gyllerah, reluctantly: “Yes. I talked to a healer on Summerset, of course. She said that physically, I’m fine. Then she ran a scrying gem over me and told me she could see echoes of magical resonance. Which could have been anything. The portal I fell through, what magic I’ve been able to call up in combat, or…” She shrugs. “I don’t know.”
Darien, with a skewed little grin: “You haven’t had any Daedric princes calling you their champion lately, have you?”
Gyllerah, snorting: “No.”
Darien: “No voices speaking to you in your dreams? Or through any other means, for that matter?”
Gyllerah: “Just the Psijics, so far. And the Augur of the Obscure. Who isn’t a Daedric Prince… I think. At least, the Psijics don’t think so.”
Darien: “Good.” This time, he pauses, and when he goes on he looks more resolute. “Look, Gyllerah. Thank you for trusting me with this. And if it’s any comfort, I can give you this in return: when you see me again elsewhere, and you will, you’ll remember. You told me something I didn’t make any sense of at the time, but I can quote you what you said. ‘And by the way, Darien: you were right. It all came back.’ You wouldn’t tell me then what you meant. But I understand it now.”
Gyllerah, with a bit of rising hope: “I don’t suppose there’s anything else you can share with me about when we met before?”
Darien, ruefully: “No, I’d better not. Time flows weirdly enough for me without saying any more than necessary about future events. Especially if for me they’re also past events. Just take my word on it for now: you’ll be okay.”
Gyllerah, not entirely satisfied, but comforted nonetheless: “Thank you. That helps.”
Darien: “I live to serve.” Then he flashes a broader grin. “So let’s go see what the Ritemaster wants, okay?”
I must also document my amusement that, as a female player character, I got a conversational prompt that Paul did not. I.e., I got to comment upon Darien being shirtless. And flirt with him a little: “I could get used to this.” HAR. I am simultaneously pleased by this, because yeah, I think Darien’s kinda smoking, but also miffed that male players don’t get that same option! In K’sragi’s case I can handwave it a bit on the assumption that a Khajiit might not necessarily find a Breton attractive regardless of gender. BUT STILL.
Nonetheless, I will take it as read that yeah, Gyllerah does think he’s kinda hot.
Then it was onward into the Evergloam. Which I might have liked more if not for the hostile gloam creatures and shrikes that kept attacking us! And also the whole “Nocturnal wanting to rewrite reality” thing that was revealed as part of this plot.
Dammit, Nocturnal, why you gotta be the baddie here
After writing out the above conversation for this post, I can only also think that subsequent events rather punched Gyllerah a little harder than they would the average player character. Particularly:
- Gyllerah being particularly bent on helping Iachesis, out of general solidarity about memory problems, only to see him destroyed by Nocturnal (YIKES)
- Darien then going off on his own with Leythen to the Cathedral of Webs
I imagine Gyllerah feeling really fucking salty about that. Here she’s gone and opened up to this guy, and what does he do but get pissy and take the asshole Mephala cultist off to speak with his prince without telling her. Mind you, I think Gyllerah would probably also be salty because part of her would be thinking Darien’s not wrong.
And it puts an extra spin on the subsequent interaction with Tundilwen, too. Because Gyllerah’s now wondering if in fact a Daedric prince has fucked with her memories somehow. And if she wound up making some kind of a deal with one like Iachesis did, and if that’s going to come back and bite her in the ass later.
And here’s Tundilwen, very clearly fervently believing in Nocturnal and willing to help her mistress completely rewrite reality. That gives Gyllerah a mixture of awe and dread, I think. Awe because she can’t help but envy that depth of devotion and worship, and the sense of belonging that it must give Tundilwen. And dread because, well, Nocturnal wants to rewrite reality.
Gyllerah may be amnesiac, but she’s not blind. She likes reality. She wants to keep it. I mean hell, she’s only recently started finding her place in it again!
And now she’s got the idea in her head of trying to get a sense of whether any of the Princes are, in fact, responsible for her state. And if she feels called to follow any of them. So far she’s 0 for 4 on the princes she’s either talked directly to or at least laid direct eyes on: Meridia, Mephala, Clavicus Vile, and Nocturnal.
As Paul and I proceeded through what we played here, Gyllerah certainly got more than enough evidence to find Nocturnal fucking terrifying. Nor has it escaped her attention, either, that several of the creatures in Nocturnal’s realm seemed to be made of the same shadowy stuff that the gryphon following her around is made of. So she has to be giving poor Smoky a side-eye, legit wondering at this point if that creature’s going to attack her in her sleep. Or if it’s going to try to recruit her to Nocturnal.
Or maybe, just maybe, whether it defected from Nocturnal. She’s kind of hoping for the defection option here.
I’ve got a session post coming after this one, featuring Gyllerah doing a solo visit to Solitude in Western Skyrim (and boy howdy do I have things to say about that), and joining the Antiquarian Society!
Darien Gautier’s personal timeline is first in the zone quests for the Daggerfall Covenant, next at the end of the main Molag Bal quest, and finally as the Golden Knight in Summerset. Given that he has that line in Summerset about time being jumbled, I presume that means he won’t recognize the protagonist if encountered earlier in his timeline.
As for Darien’s sexual interests, those are made clear by his standard greeting in Shornhelm in Rivenspire, “Welcome to Rivenspire! Land of beautiful women and an ugly war!” In contrast, an equally suave male Breton named Jakarn, who is encountered in Stros M’Kai, in the prologue quest to the High Isle chapter, and on High Isle itself, flirts with all sexes.
You covered a lot of territory in Blackwood. The miregaunts are tricky to fight (their totems heal them as well as damaging the character), the hackwings are annoying, and the Kotu Gava mosquitos are common, but worse in the swamps of Murkmire.
For the story of whether a Daedric Prince messed with Gyllerah’s memory, I doubt the triad did it. Nocturnal prefers to act more sublty from the shadows, Clavicus Vile delights in people knowing that he tricked them, and Mephala traps people in delusions with their memories clouded, but keeping people trapped is her motive. Of the other Daedric Princes, Sheogorath has the skills to mess with people’s minds any way he wants, but he wants people to remember maddening details. Besides, Sheogorath interacts often with the protagonist in ESO, so a backstory involving him could run into story conflicts. Vaermina has the strongest reputation for stealing memories. Her minions are active in Stormhaven in ESO, but she barely interacts directly with the protagonist.
I knew Darien was involved with the Daggerfall Covenant quest, yeah. I suspected he’d be involved in the Main Quest. Looking forward to how any further encounters with him play out. 😀
I have not yet decided whether Gyllerah’s amnesia was due to a Daedric Prince deliberately messing with her, a side effect of magical trauma, or a side effect of what’s going to hit her in the Main Quest. I am also now aware of the Soulburst, which according to the wiki happened a couple years prior to the timeline of the game. Considering the prospect of whether she’s a victim of that; I’ve seen a passing reference on the wiki to an NPC who had something similar happen to him. But I haven’t fully committed to that yet either. I may decide organically based on what happens in RP! Like, say, that conversation with Darien helping me move her personal plot along a little–that led me to decide that yes, she will eventually remember.
So now I get to look for prompts to decide what she will remember when!
I know the Kotu Gava bugs from Summerset, but they certainly seemed more common in Blackwood. But I wasn’t even thinking of those per se, I was also just thinking of more normal mosquitos! Though yeah I expect Gyllerah probably had to swat off a bunch of Kotu Gavas as well as regular mosquitos. 😀