In Which Kendis Becomes Thane of Hjaalmarch and Goes to War
Three-session post here, because I got a little behind getting posts written this past week. Lots of action in this one, as I got the civil war plot officially underway in Kendis’ run. Some ruminations here too about what motivates a Redguard to fight on the side of the Empire.
Play by play
- Play dates: 2/13, 2/15, 2/18/2023
- Session numbers in this run: 33-35
Monday the 13th
- Started at Myrwatch
- Headed over to Morthal to get Laid to Rest underway
- Tried to stop in the Jarl’s longhouse, was told by the steward to GTFO
- Waited a little and then came back in to get Idgrod’s mandate to investigate the house burning
- Went over and chatted with ghost Helgi
- Did some fishing to kill time; caught a few fish and a couple of junk items
- Waited a short time longer until 7pm game time; found the coffin but Helgi wouldn’t talk to me
- Wandered around a little and actually found Laelette spawned on the other hide of the little hill; she was peaceful though and didn’t attack
- Returned to the coffin and once it was 8pm, Helgi told tell me to make Laelette go away, at which point, BAM, she was hostile; took her out
- Cue Thonor showing up and refusing to believe Alva was a vampire
- Went over to break into Alva’s house, take out Hroggar, and get the journal
- Returned to the inn to rent a room and sleep
- Got up the next morning and went to see the Jarl, again apparently too early, Aslfur told me to GTFO
- Waited a little longer then successfully entered
- Showed the Jarl the journal, and she sicced me on Movarth
- Headed over to Movarth’s lair with the band of villagers
- Ran most of it okay, but then got to the part where Movarth and his minions repeatedly handed me my ass (see below)
- Got decapitated once even :O
- But finally took out all the damn vampires
- Overloaded and had left the unicorn in the town, so tromped back over very slowly
- Made it back to Idgrod before her house locked up for the night; got the offer of thaneship
- Automatically had one favor ticked up which I’m pretty sure was Thonor
- Went back to the inn and took another snooze until morning
- Got Idgrod the Younger’s quest to take the letter to Whiterun
- Tried to talk to Lami but she didn’t have the right prompt for me to bring her Song of the Alchemists? I don’t think I brought her that book yet as this alt? Went looking for my copy of it just in case
- First boinged back to Whiterun to drop off the letter with Danica Pure-Spring
- Got Danica to give me five rounds of Restoration training
- Leveled up to 37; took Magicka bump and first perk in Illusion
- Bought iron and corundum
- While I was in Whiterun, stopped to adopt Lucia! Hey kid, wanna come live at my house in Falkreath? There are nice strong women to protect you, and you’ll have your own bed and everything
- Boinged to Goldenhills, but forgot that the alchemy room resets when you furnish it so no longer had a copy of the book there
- Got farm profits from Golldir though, 18,000 gold, fuck yeah 😀
- Boinged to Lakeview to check there for the book, not there
- Lucia was in the house but didn’t seem properly updated there yet
- Boinged to Hendraheim and oh good, there’s the book; nabbed it and boinged back to Lakeview
- Saw Lucia again but she threw the line about needing to get her things and tell everybody bye
- Had Lydia stand down so I could her to buy a bunch of logs; also queued her up to do the remaining furnishings in Lakeview, except for the cellar
- Boinged back to Morthal and still couldn’t get Lami to take the book
- So found the Jarl’s housecarl instead and got his letter to take to Captain Aldis in Solitude
- Boinged over to Solitude to drop off that letter
- Boinged back to Morthal and checked in with the Jarl
- Hurray, I’m thane! HI VALDIMAR
- Hunted around a little till I found Aslfur, and bought the land for Windstad
- Mounted up and headed over there
- Bandits at Ustengrav respawned, so had to fight them as we went by; threw a Golden Saint at them to help out Valdimar
- Then finally was able to settle down and build the house; built the overall Main House structure and converted the front bit to an entryway
- Started in on the initial furnishings, but no beds yet, so c’mon Valdimar, you’re coming with me to Riften
- Boinged down there and sold things to Balimund, then got more iron from him
- Stopped at the fishery and found Viriya; gave her the juvenile mudcrab and got her next bounty for Falkreath
- The fishery was locked so I couldn’t get in to talk to Swims
- Went over to Honeyside and did some enchanting to kill a little time
- Slept and got up the next morning
- Followed Wujeeta and Viriya back over to the fishery but front door was still locked
- Went around to the back and saw Wujeeta go in, then went back around to the front
- Door was finally unlocked, so went in and talked to Swims
- Turned in the first round of fish, and got his mandate for the second round of fish and to get his lucky hat back
- Exited the fishery and saved there for the night
Wednesday the 15th
- Started in Riften
- Heard From-Deepest-Fathoms throwing her usual “it is done, I won’t go back to Avanchnzel” lines, since I was standing on the dock
- Headed out with intention to ride north and get to the mad smith’s forge just north of Mistwatch
- However, plans to mount up interrupted by Frost Dragon–and the damned thing divebombed the fishery
- Went back in after the dragon battle and confirmed that yep, Fathoms had totally vanished off the walkway around the fishery
- For good measure went over to the Hall of the Dead to see if she had a coffin in there yet but no
- Went back out to mount up and ride forth to deal with a crazypants mage
- Killed a whole bunch of critters en route
- Turned the wrong direction at the junction near the path up to Cragslane, headed west when I should have headed east
- Briefly spotted some Stormcloaks but did not engage; turned around and headed west
- Got to the proper route to the mage’s camp that way
- Got off Yngvi and headed over on foot to engage Evethra; Validmar and I took her out
- Getting all the swords as well as other loot overloaded me
- Could not frigging find Yngvi; he’d run off after fighting that last bear
- Wound up having to Whirlwind Sprint my way to Windhelm as the closest place to sell stuff
- Briefly considered hitting that new dwarven home locale but decided not to because overloaded
- Felt vaguely guilty about selling arms and armor in Stormcloak Central now that I’m actually with the legion, but hey, consider it spy work >:D
- Sold assorted things to Niranye, Oengul, and Revyn, and that got me under carry weight
- Fast traveled to stables just to get Yngvi caught up with me
- Fast traveled to Windstad
- Valdimar volunteered to be steward, so I let him, which had him stand down
- Built more furniture in Windstad so he’d actually have a bed to sleep on, until I ran out of iron
- Boinged down to Lakeview; dropped off assorted materials, including the new amber and madness items
- Boinged to Tundra Homestead; dropped off Staada’s helmet and the sapphire dragon claw
- Came outside and found a student mage who asked me to help him with his wards so he could try to apply to the college; agreed to help, and he went happily on his way
- From there, rode towards Korvanjund
- On the way, stopped at the remains of the caravan involved with the Wraithguard and Sunder quest, which is kind of out of order, but now at least I completed that objective
- Rendezvoused with Legate Rikke’s squad; dismounted from Yngvi there
- We all ran in to launch our attack on the outside of the place, and took out a bunch of Stormcloaks
- Saw problem I’d seen during Delga’s run where it was just tough for me to hit the right people with so many combatants
- The Lord’s Mail helped a bit, since I could see the effect directly impacting Stormcloaks, which made them a little more obvious
- Ran the place pretty much same as Delga had done; barely looted anything, and then only on the way out
- Looted a bunch of the outside Stormcloaks as well as dead bandits who were presumably killed by the Stormcloaks; that overloaded me right good though
- And again, could not find the unicorn, so tromped back to Whiterun as closest place to sell stuff
- Did the sneak while having a drawn bow thing, and cut across the plains as the shorter route
- Reached Whiterun, and sold all the excess loot
- Bought more iron, and also moonstone to use for amber armor later
- Boinged to Solitude and went up to Castle Dour to talk to General Tullius
- Gave him the Jagged Crown and got his orders to take the message to Balgruuf in Whiterun
- While in there, also talked to the commander who could give me access to the chest with the Imperial Dragon armor and weapons in it, so I can go run that quest
- Boinged back to Whiterun
- Improved up the Dragon armor–only to then have the game crash on me
- Thrown back to coming out of Castle Dour
- So saved there for the night
Saturday the 18th
- Did take two of boinging back to Whiterun and improving the Dragon armor
- Headed out for the Imperials vs. Stormcloaks fight near Tundra Homestead
- Saw Lucia coming into the city, and she threw the line about “it’s everything I could have hoped for, I have a family again”
- Got Yngvi and rode over to the site near Tundra Homestead for the Imperials vs. Stormcloaks champion battle
- Killed once, though, got overwhelmed by not paying good enough attention to everybody in the melee
- Thrown back to coming out of the Whiterun gates
- Did take two of passing Lucia on the way in, and getting Yngvi to ride over and have the fight
- This time was successful, threw Ironflesh spell on myself first, and also summoned a Golden Saint warrior
- I and one lone other Imperial were the last soldiers standing, after my Saint evaporated
- Looted all the fallen soldiers, and mounted back up to ride back over to Whiterun and sell all the generic gear
- Got a courier with the citation from the commander for bumping up recruitment
- Boinged down to Lakeview and left all the Stone Bear and Dragon champion gear in the armory there to get my carry weight down, and because I wanted to focus on wearing the Lord’s Mail for now
- Boinged back to Whiterun; had a sleep in Breezehome
- Then headed to Dragonsreach so I could deliver Tullius’ message to the Jarl
- Balgruuf gave me the axe to take to Windhelm
- Boinged directly to Windhelm and went to the Palace of the Kings, which marked it officially for Kendis’ map
- Talked to Ulfric to drop off the axe and got his reply that Whiterun should expect “visitors”
- Boinged directly back to Dragonsreach to relay Ulfric’s reply, found the Jarl in conference at the map table, and got the Legate’s orders to report directly to the front lines outside the city
- GAME ON
- Mostly kept my fighting outside the city, and killed several of the attackers, including a female general in Stormcloak Officer gear
- Saw a message about failing to protect the drawbridge, but we still eventually fought off all the attackers
- Looted some of the fallen this time, too
- Boinged back to Solitude to report to Tullius; promoted to Quaestor
- Ma’dran’s Khajiit were outside the city so sold some of the battle loot to them, though I kept the officer gear
- Thought about riding into the Pale but wound up stopping in Dragon Bridge and doing the Over the Edge plot there, with the bandit in hiding
- Got the enchanted Steel Soldier Armor off of that
- Boinged back to Lakeview to drop off that armor and a few more things
- Saved there for the night
- (Forgot to note where I leveled up to 38 in previous session and 39 in this one, but at least for 39, I took Health bump and first perk in Heavy Armor)
Running Laid to Rest
This time through on Laid to Rest, I saw something I got an indication of earlier in Harrow’s run: i.e., that it’s possible for Laelette to spawn even if it’s not dark yet in your game.
With this session of Kendis’ run, Laelette wasn’t invisible, though. She was visible and in a non-hostile state. Her wiki page on uesp.net says this is definitely a possibility with her, so apparently this is a known issue and was not related to the mods I’m running in Harrow’s run.
I’m kind of surprised this isn’t a thing that got fixed in the USSEP. Not surprised I saw some sign of it in Kendis’ play, though, since it’s completely unmodded.
And heh, completely frigging forgot that I didn’t have to rent a room in Morthal’s inn, Myrwatch is right there. But hey, I guess I could consider it investing in the town in the name of goodwill and setting myself up to be thane?
Ran into a small problem as well with not being able to enter the Jarl’s longhouse at 8am. Apparently this counts as “you’re trespassing” time? Wiki seems to think Highmoon Hall has some issues with you being considered to trespass even though it’s supposedly a public place.
Once I proceeded to the actual attack on Movarth’s Lair, Movarth and his minions were once again a tough battle. They repeatedly handed me my ass.
I did various tiers of summoning: frost atronach, flame atronach, Golden Saints, Dark Seducers. Just about all of them died pretty quickly.
What did finally work: repeatedly utilizing the Slow Time Shout, keeping my cool, and having the patience to go through as many potions of healing and various resistances as needed. I also deployed Denstagmer’s Ring, my necklace of Resist Frost, and a mix of dragonscale boots, gauntlets and helmet, the Lord’s Mail, and the Remnant shield.
Lesson to be learned here: really, I gotta hit Movarth’s lair with either a bigger cadre of followers, the ability to do a lot more damage at once, or both.
But all that said: it was a pleasure, at least, to go in there without having to worry about being infected with Sanguinare Vampiris! Fuck all you guys, I’m already a werewolf. RAR.
(Which, by the way, I also tried–but I was outnumbered enough that even the damage output from wolfing out wasn’t enough to deal with several extremely well-armed vamps. All of whom were still able to hit me with health drains even if they couldn’t infect me. And the Orc minion in particular was troublesome, that asshole decapitated me once! And it’s still shocking to me when that happens in the game. :O)
Trying to get Lami her book, and becoming Thane of Hjaalmarch
I am pretty sure I hadn’t actually given Lami Song of the Alchemists in this run yet. But I couldn’t get the right prompt from her to give her the book, even after I hunted around for the copy of it that I’d recovered from Goldenhills.
This is now two characters in this run whose favor quests I couldn’t seem to launch, Noster Eagle-Eye being the first.
And this made a little bit bumpy getting the thaneship from Idgrod. I had to punt to talking to her housecarl to get his letter to take to Captain Aldis in Solitude to do the third required favor. And it’s always a little lollerstastic to me when “helping Idgrod’s people” includes “helping her housecarl sneakily send a letter to an Imperial captain investigating whether he can have her overthrown”.
I decided to go ahead and adopt Lucia, since I already had beds for kids set up at Lakeview. But I saw a little bit of weirdness with how Lucia responded to that, which I hadn’t seen before. The next couple of times I showed up at Lakeview after that, she seemed to be stuck in a loop of wanting to go back to Whiterun to tell the other kids goodbye, and get her stuff.
Which you’d think would have been a thing she’d have done before leaving Whiterun, but hey!
I’ll have to see if this persists, or if she finally breaks out of it on her own. Or, if it breaks when I adopt another kid.
In the third of the three sessions I’m covering in this post, I also saw her coming into the city–presumably to actually talk to the other kids? Which meant, heh, she walked all the way over to Whiterun from Lakeview. By herself. Note to self: give this kid a weapon in case she has to fend off wolves for any further walks she does.
Problems at the Riften fishery
My troubles getting into the fishery to talk to Swims-in-Deep-Water about his next round of fish were a little worrisome. I was pretty sure Swims couldn’t be killed off, but I had trouble getting in to actually talk to him. So I was relieved to finally make it work.
However, From-Deepest-Fathoms is vulnerable to dragon attack, as I already knew. And this time I actually saw the dragon that got her. Because as soon as I stepped out through the gates at Riften and spawned a dragon, the damn thing flew over to the fishery and attacked it first, before I even had a chance to start shooting at it to bring it down.
My immediate reaction: shit, that thing totally just killed Fathoms, didn’t it?
And I was right. After I took out that dragon, I ran back into the city and confirmed that yes, she’d totally vanished from the walkway around the fishery.
So I ran over to the Hall of the Dead, just to see if she had a coffin in there yet. Answer: no. I think maybe the game takes a short bit to place coffins for dead citizens into the Hall of the Dead?
Dammit. At least this time I did get the Lexicon from Fathoms and didn’t have to steal it out of her coffin. Still, though, sad for her! Sorry, Fathoms. I will return the Lexicon for you.
And yeah, she’s definitely not going back to Avanchnzel now.
Getting the Jagged Crown
As of this post, I’m officially getting play under way for the Skyrim civil war.
Running Korvanjund for only the second time meant that the place is still a little fresh to me by comparison with a lot of the rest of the game. But then, I also blazed through it pretty much the same as I’d done with Delga. It’s difficult to really pay attention to things in detail when you’re running through a barrow with a half a dozen Imperial soldiers, and your main goal is to get past the Stormcloaks and draugr in there, get the crown, and get out.
That said: running place is still profitable. In the monetary sense for the large amount of loot you can get off of looting the enemy soldiers, but also in the power sense for the word for the Slow Time Shout. Kendis will be able to get all three words in her run. 😀
Battle of the Champions quest
Finally got this fight played out, just to get it done and dealt with.
And as with running Korvanjund, I again had the problem of having to work to keep track of a lot of combatants in a small space, even though this was an open plain. I will have to remember that Slow Time is a weapon I can use in these situations!
I felt slightly guilty about looting all the fallen soldiers afterwards. Well, the fallen Imperials, anyway. Those Stormcloak rebels? Fuck ’em. 😉
I shall assume for narrative purposes that I and the one remaining Imperial standing took the time to give our fallen comrades a proper burial. But not sorry about repurposing their gear. We need that gear!
Fighting the war for the Imperials as a Redguard
I got to thinking that it’s a trifle odd for a Redguard to be signing on to fight for the Empire. As per game lore, Hammerfell actively left the Empire after the Great War, because they were fucking pissed that Titus Mede II tried to sign over a big chunk of their territory to the Dominion.
So here Kendis is, a Redguard in Skyrim, and as a citizen of an independent nation she has no horse in the race that is Skyrim’s civil war. So why does she give a fuck about fighting for either side? Particularly given that the Empire tried to execute her in Helgen?
The game doesn’t exactly give you an opportunity to interrogate your character’s motives on signing on in the war; that never comes up. So I have to go with headcanon here.
The wiki says that Hammerfell seceded from the Empire in 4E 175. Skyrim is set in 4E 201, twenty-six years later. Which tells me that Kendis is a tad too young to have been born while Hammerfell was still part of the Empire–but her parents, and all her older family members, would have been part of this transition.
How much Kendis’ immediate family and town would have been invested in it is a very interesting question, though. Since I decided Kendis was born in Elinhir, and Elinhir is considered a small town by the time of Skyrim, that suggests that the place was very insular. In addition to it turning hardcore against open practice of magic, I could very easily see it being a place whose primarily political tone could be anti-Empire, with a focus on keeping to themselves.
Which would put Kendis into an interesting position from a political standpoint as well as a magical one, when she originally went to Skyrim. Because not only is she wanting to take up practicing a thing most of her family and townsfolk are against, her only option for doing so is to enter Imperial territory. I could see a lot of her family not taking that well at all. She may be persona non grata to her family now, as well as her town in general.
But that doesn’t mean she hates Hammerfell; it means she’s had to make a super difficult choice about where she can pursue her life goals.
So she enters Skyrim, and her first direct impression of the Empire is, these fuckers actually try to execute her in Helgen. That’s a lot to get over.
But now she’s also been in Skyrim long enough to learn a few things.
One: she’s seen a bunch of Redguard citizens who’ve settled here. And it’s very plausible that they were Redguards who did actually support the Empire before, but who wound up migrating to Skyrim because they were no longer considered welcome in Hammerfell. So she knows there are some of her people in this province. And even if she can’t necessarily act in the name of Hammerfell in general, acting on behalf of her own people is a thing that would appeal to her.
Two: she’s seen enough of the Stormcloaks to know that even though they aren’t the ones who tried to execute her, they do tend to be racist bastards. She is not okay with this.
Three: she’s helped the Remnants, agents of her own people, who are active in Skyrim and whose express goal is to fuck things up for the Thalmor. She is definitely down with that. And I could easily see her thinking that, even if she’s still feeling pretty fucking salty about the whole Helgen thing, she’s willing to put that aside in the name of contributing to make Skyrim more stable.
Because fighting for the Empire seems to be the better choice in the name of protecting Redguards that live in Skyrim. And the better choice for continuing a situation where the Remnants can continue to operate.
I see her having a long conversation with her housecarl Rayya about this, the best Redguard NPC who could actually talk this out with her. Rayya could possibly grudgingly observe that while she’s not happy with the Empire’s decisions regarding their homeland, she also feels like the Empire keeping its shit together is ultimately the best defense against the Thalmor.
Because if the Empire is weakened further by the loss of Skyrim, that’s an Empire who will probably not be able to stand against the Dominion. And by extension, since Hammerfell took a bad beating in its own fight against the Thalmor, a stronger Dominion would put them at risk.
So yeah, I’m going with that. Kendis is committing to fighting for the Empire in the name of stability for her people in Skyrim, and also for the bigger picture goal of a weakened Empire making the Dominion stronger, and therefore threatening Hammerfell.
Attack on Whiterun
Playing out the initial “take the axe to Windhelm” thing worked out pretty much the same way Delga did it. I noticed in Delga’s playthrough, and again here, that Ulfric comes across as pretty fucking brutal in that dialogue, as he’s somebody absolutely willing to sacrifice some of his own people in the name of fighting off the Empire.
Arguably, I should have taken less time in between getting Tullius’ orders and showing up at Dragonsreach to give Balgruuf his message! I mean, urgent war-related message and all. But heh, this is yet another thing in Skyrim that mysteriously never takes a hit if you decide to bugger off and do something else first. I gotta love it.
I’m amused as well by the mental picture of Kendis strolling right into Windhelm wearing Imperial gear. I actually briefly thought about swapping her out to her gold Redguard outfit, but just didn’t bother doing so in the name of time.
I think headcanon-wise, though, she did think to swap into civilian clothes to keep anybody from giving her shit for showing up at Windhelm in clearly Imperial armor. Just because nobody in Windhelm (at least, in an unmodded Skyrim) gives you any shit for that, and I feel like that’s more plausible if you show up not being blatantly obvious about your Imperial allegiances.
Then it was back to Whiterun, and taking that message to Balgruuf (with a side jaunt to the nearby battlefield to take out the Stormcloaks and their champion there), and then helping repel the Stormcloak invaders.
Like the last time I ran the war, this was definitely intense. And a little alarming. Particularly when I found Lucia hanging out in the Wind District! For fuck’s sake, kiddo, get undercover. Your new adoptive mom has to go fight off Stormcloaks now. Do your mom a solid and don’t let yourself get flattened by flaming catapults, mmkay?
Successfully fought off all the invaders, anyway! And reported back to Tullius, and got his orders to be a free agent in the field to find whatever creative ways I could to fuck up things for the Stormcloaks. Now that he and Rikke are both calling me “auxiliary”, I think that also ties in well with the idea of Kendis not actually technically being a citizen of the Empire at all.
And I’ve got a full set of Stormcloak officer gear now which I will cheerfully use for disguise purposes, for the next phase of the war plot. 😀
Over the Edge plot in Dragon Bridge
Finally did the little plot in Dragon Bridge involving the bandit who’s pretending to be an Imperial, and who killed a guard to keep his secret.
Didn’t play it particularly differently from Shenner’s run, but it’s still a good little plot so I was happy to get it done. Will have to think about if the enchanted steel soldier armor needs to go to one of the housecarls.
Now that I’ve gotten the war underway in earnest, I’ll head off into the Pale and find the Imperial camp there. Which should set me up nicely for finding that courier I have to steal orders from!
But I may also go ahead and do side quests, as well as the nightmare plot, to get myself into a position to get the thaneship from Brina Merilis once she becomes Dawnstar’s Jarl.