Harrowhark Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Harrowhark Gets Some Houses

This session picks up immediately where the last one left off, partway through Shroud Hearth Barrow. Action also featured: running Redoran’s Retreat to retrieve Amren’s sword, doing the In My Time of Need plot, getting silver armor for Lydia, getting the Hedge Mage Armor for me, and last but not least, acquiring both Hendraheim and Breezehome.

Play by play

  • Play date: 12/13/2022
  • Session number in this run: 7
  • Finished running Shroud Hearth Barrow; skipped the side passage in the water area, and also the waterfall that had a sword behind it; no trouble getting through the rest of it
  • Leveled up to 9 partway through; took Health bump and first Lockpicking perk
  • Tried to resurrect a couple of skeletons in the boss fight but failed the cast, damn XD
  • Got overloaded but was able to mitigate by giving Lydia a steel warhammer, and the Imperial Bow of Sparks I found before; also gave Vilja a Dwarven axe and an Orcish bow
  • Exited the barrow and fast traveled back to Whiterun
  • Vilja gave me a bit more of her background on the way in
  • Checked the Huntsman and confirmed Elrindir wasn’t up
  • Came out and got the courier with the letter from the Jarl of Falkreath
  • Rented a room at the Bannered Mare
  • Got up and talked to Saadia to trigger her quest
  • Went up to Dragonsreach and destroyed a few items on the enchanter table
  • Went to the dungeon to question the Alik’r prisoner
  • Also got M’Sharra’s confession while I was in there, and the two books pertaining to the Crimson Dirks, which started the Beyond the Grave quest
  • Went down and did alchemy at Arcadia’s; sold her assorted things including dragon bits
  • Also sold things to Belethor
  • Went down to the forge and finished the tutorial quest since I’d forgotten to finish that before
  • Headed out to quest
  • Khajiit on site, sold things to Ri’saad
  • Headed off to Redoran’s Retreat to get Amren his sword back
  • Passed M’aiq by the watchtower
  • Passed Barleydark Farm on the way, farm occupied by Dunmer NPC Mithorpa Nasyal
  • Vilja and Lydia conversed more about traveling together and Lydia swore she’d defend her; Vilja teased her about carrying her burdens, which made Lydia laugh
  • Once we reached Redoran’s Retreat, ran the place pretty quickly; the dog in there did not attack us even though I shot its master
  • Pretty close to maxed on inventory so returned to Whiterun
  • Gave Amren back his sword; got the bump in One-handed and Block
  • Went back out again to head for Swindler’s Den; ran the place and this time did it in favor of Saadia
  • Odds worked out pretty good! Battle also went surprisingly quickly and was mostly due to Vilja and Lydia; we fought them out in the open as well, in the water by the stairs rather than in the tight constrained tunnel, good to know for future reference
  • Got Elven bow out of the boss chest there; overloaded once I looted it, but not badly enough that I couldn’t compensate with a Potion of Strength to fast travel back to Whiterun
  • Note: forget exactly where, but somewhere in here was where I leveled up to 10, took Stamina bump and Destruction perk
  • When I came back through the Whiterun gates, got the quest to find out about the Dawnguard but for no apparent reason? I don’t think I heard the guard deliver a line?
  • Sold off a bunch of things to get the inventory weight down
  • Returned to the inn and crashed, then got up in the morning and reported to Saadia that she was out of danger
  • Next jaunt out: going to Rorikstead with intent to get the silver armor for Lyds
  • Passed refugee farmers on the way, gave them 5 gold
  • Vilja gave me a line about being ‘fond’ of Lydia, with significant pause, ha
  • Made it to Rorikstead, marked it for the map–and had the Hedge Mage Armor quest trigger, which I’d forgotten about, fuck yeah Hedge Mage Armor!
  • Reached Lund’s hut–which of course was surrounded by skeevers, yuk, but they left me alone
  • Got the armor out of the chest; emerged and was attacked by the Imperial captain and East Empire warden
  • Right in the middle of the resulting battle, a Fugitive showed up as well and thrust me a Leather Armor of Minor Destruction–and was then promptly killed by a skeever?!
  • Got overloaded looting the fallen, but gave the silver armor to Lyds
  • Trudged slowly back through the town and aimed for the Hedge Mage’s camp; found her journal and the armor, then swapped into it and gave Vilja the Leather Scout Armor, blue looks good on her <3
  • Since we were close to Hendraheim decided to do that next, but this also put us in the path of Fort Sungard
  • The Forsworn spotted us, so we had a skirmish–which did not go well for the Forsworn, particularly once I called up the Flame Atronach
  • Climbed carefully down the rocks to the road and headed to Hendraheim; passed very near some wolves who also did not attack us
  • Made it to Hendraheim and told Eydvina I’d gotten her letter
  • Fight on! Which didn’t last very long since it was three to one and nobody told Vilja and Lydia I had to fight this solo; Hendraheim claimed!
  • Since I have Ars Metallica in this run i was able to smelt down a lot of the loot armor into ingots to quickly get down under weight
  • Improved all the Hedge Mage armor, and also found that I could improve the hood with a linen wrap, which, conveniently, I found one of in the house
  • Put away several items:
    • A bunch of books in the shelves in the back
    • Clothes in the wardrobe
    • The Sapphire Dragon Claw downstairs
    • Scimitar from the Alik’r warriors on a weapon plaque on the wall
    • Eydvina’s armor on a mannequin
  • Smithing work let me level up to 11; took Magicka bump and Elven smithing perk
  • Lydia got stuck by the same mannequin that caused a problem during Shenner’s run, but I fast traveled to Hendraheim and that freed her
  • Went off on foot for Whiterun; passed two giants near Barleydark Farm and they got pretty close but not hostile
  • Saw Faldrus the Pilgrim again
  • Spotted M’aiq again by the tower, but also a third giant
  • Mined one of the ore veins by the tower to get an iron ore vein for Hedge Mage enchanting
  • Returned to Whiterun! Smithed a bit at the forge, then sold assorted things to Elrindir
  • Got over 5,000 😀
  • Proventus was not out in Dragonsreach so went to the inn instead; pleased to see some of the guards actually hanging out in the inn, cool
  • Gave Vilja an apple because she was hungry
  • Rented a room and crashed for the night, then got up the next morning and went to Dragonsreach to buy Breezehome
  • Found Proventus upstairs at the map table with Irileth and the commander of the guard
  • Irileth actually sounded like she was giving Vilja shit about her outfit and needing to take a bath? Sounded like some of the same lines I’ve gotten from Sabine during the Thieves Guild plot, which made Irileth come across as unnecessarily rude to Vilja, I feel
  • Breezehome bought! But only had enough gold for loft decorations; will need to build up more money to furnish the rest of it out
  • Saved there until next time


It is slightly odd that, in running two parallel playthroughs again, both of them now have access to Anniversary Edition content. So I can’t use that as a differentiator. Instead, I have to use “Harrow’s run has mods” and “Kendis’ run has Survival Mode turned on.”

This is particularly obvious when the last couple sessions have had Kendis and Harrow both needing to do pretty much the same things–like getting Hendraheim, or running the In My Time of Need quest. But it also comes into play when I realize that Harrow has the luxury of fast traveling, so she can get more done in a single session than Kendis can, right now.

Which is why this was a very busy Harrow session.

Shroud Hearth Barrow, Redoran’s Retreat, Swindler’s Den

Finishing up Shroud Hearth Barrow went well enough. I wound up skipping a couple of the side bits, like the flooded tunnel in the chamber with the water, about halfway through. Or the waterfall in the same room, with a sword behind it.

Redoran’s Retreat went easily enough, and showed me the first of three signs that I still had the Voice of the Sky blessing from High Hrothgar still active. The dog in there, despite my having just shot its master, didn’t attack us. And now that I’ve looked it up, I’m reminded that Voice of the Sky lasts 24 hours real time once you activate it, not 24 hours game time.

Saw another sign of Cutting Room Floor in effect: Barleydark Farm, another location on the road heading west from Whiterun. This place has a single NPC living there, a Dunmer farmer who made a rather salty crack to me about whether I’d come there to gawk at the Dark Elf. If there was any other interaction I could have with him, I don’t know what it was, because I immediately exited the conversation and went on my way. Harrow’s patience does not allow for time to suffer unfriendly Dark Elves gladly.

Went ahead and ran the In My Time of Need quest, even though I’d already just done it with Kendis. This time through, though, I explicitly sided with Saadia. Not only because it felt more appropriate for Harrow, but also because Harrow’s run includes the USSEP, which means I don’t have to care about the Alik’r warriors being marooned at the gates of Whiterun for the rest of the game. Bug fixes are love. <3

Also, running Swindler’s Den as a party of three did considerably help the odds. So did confronting the Alik’r warriors in a more open area, as I discovered you could actually do. As Merawen, I’d pulled a retreat back into the tunnel that leads into that open watery area. But as Harrow, I didn’t have the chance to do that. Lydia and Vilja joined battle as soon as Kematu accepted I wasn’t going to back down.

Which meant, in turn, that Lyds and Vilja did a pretty damn good job of taking out most of the warriors. I got in several shots, but it was definitely a team effort. And calling up the flame atronach also didn’t hurt. Three armed women + flame atronach = six dead Alik’r. Very satisfying.

I forgot where this happened in the progress of events, but I also ran into the Revelers, the mead-drinkers who invite the player to share mead with them. None of the dialogue options you get with them really seemed appropriate for Harrow, but I wasn’t exactly happy with choosing the “I’d love to share a bottle with you” option. It felt forced. I think it’d have been more likely that she’d very dubiously have accepted a bottle, mostly if she saw Lydia and Vilja perk up at the prospect of mead. And she probably gave them the bottle.

I do need to remember though that talking to the Revelers is a way to get a necklace with a carry weight enchantment on it. This is less immediately crucial for Harrow, but it will be very important for Kendis if she sees them.

Followup on previous session’s Vilja/Lydia conversation

Vilja and Lydia had another interesting conversation this session, in which Vilja did some of that downplaying of her abilities that I’m starting to find a little annoying–but Lydia explicitly encouraged her, and even promised to protect her. Even though this was surely a randomly selected conversation by the mod, I feel like it was a real interesting followup to the previous conversation.

Particularly given how I’m envisioning Vilja playing peacemaker, when the two of them discover teasing Harrow about certain things is really not a good idea. Lydia by contrast is more open-natured and more prone to laughter. So she’s in a better position to respond to Vilja’s humor.

I see Harrow explicitly staying out of that conversation. She’s aware that she was probably over the line in how she snapped at them before, and she is honestly not sure how to handle the fact that the two of them don’t seem to want to bail on her. So for now, she handles it by keeping her mouth shut and just allowing herself a bit of relief that she’s still got some companions.

And on the way to Rorikstead, Vilja also dropped another interesting line directly at me, asking me if I was “fond” of Lydia. With a significant pause. I wasn’t sure whether this was Vilja shipping me and Lyds, or Vilja testing the waters to see if she could make a play at me. 😀

Rorikstead and vicinity

I’d headed for Rorikstead mostly intending to get the silver armor for Lydia at Lund’s hut. I had forgotten that this also put me in range of getting the Hedge Mage Armor, one of the mods I’d installed and which I was actively interested in. The quest for that triggered off as soon as I marked Rorikstead for the map.

I did however do Lund’s Hut first. And this was the second place where Voice of the Sky was still active, because none of the skeevers there were hostile. At least not to me and Lyds and Vilja. We got in there, got the armor, and got back out again…

Only to, of course, be attacked by the Imperial captain and a single East Empire Company warden.

We also happened to spawn a Fugitive, who handed me a Leather Armor of Minor Destruction and tried to deliver his spiel about “hang onto this, if you rat me out I’ll kill you”–except it didn’t go as he planned, because while he was doing that, he got attacked by the skeevers. And killed. LOLOLOL.

I handed off the silver armor to Lyds, and then tromped very slowly towards the locale where the Hedge Mage’s camp was supposed to be, a bit south of the town. Fortunately I didn’t have to go far.

The camp was abandoned, and a bloody mess. It’s not explicitly spelled out in the mage’s journal what happened to her, but there’s a strong implication that she was caught and killed by people who thought she was responsible for the nightmare situation in Dawnstar. How her armor pieces were all conveniently lying there for the taking is arguably an exercise best left for the reader. 😉

But regardless, I took the armor, and I do rather approve of the rather dark, not entirely monochrome look on Harrow. It seems to suit her better than the blue of the Leather Scout Armor, which I handed off to Vilja to improve upon the Hide armor she was wearing. (And really, the blue does look good on Vilja.) And now I’ve got the quest to do the first fortification of said armor.

Harrow is, I think, going to really identify with the unknown woman who’d written that journal. And when she makes it over to Dawnstar, I think she’ll be heavily side-eying the place.

Fort Sungard and Hendraheim

My path from the Hedge Mage’s camp over to Hendraheim took us past Fort Sungard. And within visual range of the Forsworn, who started coming at us. This did not go well for the Forsworn.

Heading up from the road to Hendraheim, got a third instance of Voice of the Sky being in effect. Because we went past a couple of wolves that didn’t attack us.

Unsurprisingly, Team Harrow had a much easier time taking out Eydvina than Team Kendis did (more to come on this in Kendis’ next post). It took only one round. This is what Eydvina gets for not specifying in her letter that I had to fight her solo!

So now Harrow has Hendraheim. And I noted as I went in to drop things off and case the place that Vilja threw off a couple of lines about the place being a mess, and wondering if she was the only one interested in cleaning it up. This is another borderline type of commentary coming out of her. If she’s in the company of a female Dragonborn, I can kind of better accept this as her happening to be the one of these three women who’s a bit more domestically inclined.

But if you think about this in the context of Vilja following a male Dragonborn, it gets more problematic. So yeah. I’m still eying whether I want to keep Vilja as a long-term follower. So far I already know I’ll be ditching both her and Lydia, probably as soon as Harrow gets vamped, but whether I come back to Vilja later is going to be an open question.

Aside from that, though, two good thing I noted at Hendraheim both had to do with smithing. Since I have the Ars Metallica mod active, this means that I can smelt certain armor and weapons and other items to break them down for component materials! This was a super fast and super convenient way to get quickly down under my carry weight. The main thing I’m having to look out for here is, making sure I don’t smelt a weapon or piece of armor I’m actually actively using. Or which I might also want to do later.

Relatedly, I noticed that the hood portion of the Hedge Mage Armor wanted me to improve it with a linen wrap, not with a piece of leather. I don’t know if this was a consequence of the Hedge Mage Armor mod specifically, or whether some other mod kicked in to impact this. It’ll be interesting to see if other hood-type or other clothing-type items I find will be things I can similarly improve with linen wraps.

Damned good thing I did in fact have a linen wrap as part of the items available in Hendraheim!

I settled in at that point to put a bunch of items away. And the big interesting thing about that was, I noticed that the suit of Alik’r clothes I’d gotten off one of Kematu’s men looked different! And rather nicer and fancier than the standard Redguard attire in the vanilla game. This was clearly a consequence of the Armor and Clothing Extension mod.

Back at Whiterun

Once I got back to Whiterun after all of that adventuring, I went into the Bannered Mare for what’ll arguably be the last time I need to rent a room there. And I noted with pleasure that the inn was quite crowded, and even some of the guards were hanging out in there, seated around the fire.

I thought this was really cool. And I think that Immersive Citizens is rapidly becoming one of my favorite mods in this run, just because of all the various small but significant changes it implements to NPC behavior! Because the inn should be a social gathering spot at night in Whiterun.

I’d like it even more if the guards could actually occasionally take off their helmets! Difficult to eat or drink when you’re wearing a full-face helmet, after all. 😀

But I did finally have the money to buy Breezehome, so I went ahead and did that. I didn’t have much beyond that, though. So I only bought the loft furnishings. I’ll have to swing back in waves later and get the rest of the place furnished out.

Finding Proventus to actually pay him the money led me upstairs, where I found him, the guard commander, and Irileth gathered around the map table. At which point Irileth had an interaction of note with Vilja–giving her shit about her outfit and telling her to bathe. It sounded like much the same lines I get out of Sabine Nytte when running the Dainty Sload plot with the Guild. I don’t like those lines coming out of her, and I wasn’t a fan of hearing them come out of Irileth, either.

Another thing about the Vilja mod I’ll have to keep an eye on.

Next time

Vilja’s started throwing off commentary thinking we ought to go get the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. But I kinda feel like, before I do that, I’d like to do a few other things first. I want Breezehome furnished out. And I’ve got the thaneship of Falkreath to attend to. I’ll need to take a gander at Harrow’s quest journal and see what stands out as the thing I want to do next.


Editing to add

  • 11/25/2023: 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.