Harrowhark Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Harrowhark Learns of Her Guildmaster’s Treachery

Triple session post because I got behind putting posts up this past week, and I wanted to get Harrow caught up. Main action in this post: getting Volendrung; finishing up the Saints and Seducers plotline; and last but definitely not least, returning to the Thieves Guild plotline and running Snow Veil Sanctum, with Mercer “Murderous Lying Bastard” Frey!

Play by play

  • Play dates: 2/20, 2/22, 2/24/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 36-38

Monday the 20th

  • Picked up at Riften
  • Immediately had to fight a fire-breather Blood Dragon, since apparently one had spawned just as I was saving out the last session; no obvious other casualities
  • Boinged from there to mage college
  • Did a bunch of training in the Hall of the Elements
  • Got Alteration up to 75 and Destruction up past 50, but Phinis and Drevis never showed up, so I didn’t get to train with them
  • Did at least buy the Ebonyflesh and Detect Dead spells from Tolfdir
  • Boinged next to Heljarchen to get within range of Shrouded Grove, to get the Ring of Pure Mixtures; killed assorted critters outside and inside the cave, and got the ring
  • Rode back eastward to head for Svarig’s Seducers bandit camp; took that out fairly easily with Lucien and Inigo on hand, but also summoned the daedroth to really bump up the odds in our favor
  • Got the note out of the carriage wreck’s chest while at it
  • Overloaded with loot at that point, so boinged back to Riften, and sold most of it to Balimund and Bersi
  • Went back out to get Hjalte and rode around to the back of the city so we could head for Avanchnzel–but changed my mind and decided to do Largashbur first
  • Showed up and found the giant attacking as expected, but this time Ugor was actually alive! Go Ugor! So got to see her conversation with Atub play out properly
  • Since I already had a Daedra heart and troll fat on me, handed those over to Atub
  • Proceeded straight to doing the ritual; cue Malacath going YOU SUCK, YAMARZ
  • Fought a few bears on foot as Yamarz ran off to Fallowstone
  • Then remembered I didn’t have to go on foot after him, I could call my horse!
  • Rode around the city when we got back to Riften
  • More bear action en route to Fallowstone
  • Reached the cave and actually lost track of Yamarz; he showed up again when I got to the entrance to Giant’s Grove though
  • Told him yep, it sure is your job to kill the giant, and as per usual this time he died in one hit; cue Malacath telling me to take the hammer back to the tribe
  • Looted the giant and also Yamarz, which got me overloaded
  • Tromped back out through Fallowstone
  • Saw entrance to a side tunnel the wiki says had a spider and a dead bandit in it; will have to look for that next time I run this plot
  • Came back out again and would have mounted up, but attacked by gargoyles! Took them out
  • Fast traveled back to Largashbur to report in to Atub
  • Sold a bunch of stuff, including Yamarz’s own armor, to the stronghold smith; got a bunch of iron from her
  • Boinged back to Lakeview; dropped off Volendrung and got Lydia to replenish the log supply
  • Boinged to Windstad
  • Built out structure for the Bedroom wing, started on the Alchemy wing in the back, and built more things in the cellar until I ran out of iron
  • Saved there for the night

Wednesday the 22nd

  • Picked up at Windstad Manor
  • Decided to go after the rest of the Saints and Seducers plot
  • Boinged to Western Watchtower to do some riding; got flyby dragon
  • Killed a couple of sabre cats near the crossroads that lead off to Rorikstead
  • Spotted Imperial trio going the other way; they did not help with the sabre cats
  • Initially took incorrect fork past Lost Valley Redoubt
  • Wound up at Old Hroldan Inn, and since it was late and rainy, for RP purposes stopped at the inn
  • Rented Tiber Septim’s room to trigger the ghost showing up
  • Ghost called me “Hjalti” like he does, and I think Harrow was all “Wait what? Hjalte is my horse
  • Talked to the innkeeper to get her to tell me where to look for the sword the ghost wants; answer: Bruca’s Leap Redoubt, will get back to that later
  • Went back to the road and took the other fork
  • Engaged the three Forsworn at Kolskeggr Mine
  • Went past Blind Cliff Cave but did not engage
  • Reached Karthwasten and hit up the Saints camp
  • Mostly didn’t have to attack anybody myself; threw the scamp at the bandits; scamp, Inigo, and Lucien cleared the place
  • Had the same thing happen here that I did with the first Saints camp: quest marker didn’t clear off the fallen Kinthal, so had to get into the debug console
  • Saved on the deck and jumped to my VM for better console access
  • Reset the overall quest line, then set stage to everything up until talking to Ri’saad, since at that point I’d legit almost run the whole quest
  • Boinged off to Solitude, and sold a bunch of stuff to Gulum-Ei
  • Got that me unloaded well enough to head down into the sewers–and this time I actually ran it in one go
  • Helpful: having the mortar and pestle so I didn’t have to go top side to make potions with the odd ingredients! Did a bunch of alchemy with the ingredients I gathered
  • I think it was here that I leveled up to 44? Took Stamina bump and Dragon Smithing perk so I could unlock Scout Armor, fuck yeah 😀
  • Called up the daedroth once we got to the final fight with Thoron, and between the daedroth, Inigo, and Lucien, that battle was over fast
  • Got the sword, all the Dark and Golden gear lying around, and Thoron’s loot from his little nook
  • Came back out via the escape tunnel
  • Did some smithing at Beirand’s forge to kill time till he showed up and I could sell him stuff
  • Sold things to him and then to Fihada
  • Got courier with the message from Staada as I came back down the ramp from the upper level
  • Also sold things to Sayma and Angeline
  • Inigo suggested that I lose the dragon bits, but did not sell them, I have plans for those!
  • Went out to get Hjalte once all the shopping was done, and rode over to rendezvous with Staada
  • Saints bandits showed up pissed off about Kinthal, so we killed them
  • Gave Staada the sword, and took the other useful items lying around the camp after she disappeared back to the Shivering Isles
  • Boinged back to Lakeview to drop stuff off and check on supplies
  • Smelted amber and madness ore, then stashed the ingots
  • Grabbed other useful building materials
  • Boinged off to Windstad where I still had a backlog of other dragon bits
  • That let me make Scout armor!
  • Meanwhile also took tally of what all I had for the next round of fortification to the Hedge Mage armor
  • Had everything but a luna moth wing, so boinged off to the mage college to follow up on that; got in pretty late in the afternoon, too late for training in the Hall of the Elements
  • Found Phinis though, and got five rounds of Conjuration training
  • Found the new NPC alchemist Sleeps-in-Blossom, and got her to sell me a luna moth wing; that let me do the fortification
  • Elder dragon showed up in the courtyard while I was wandering around through the college looking for Sleeps; Inigo, Lucien, and I killed it after it landed up on top of the Hall of Countenance
  • Inigo wanted to know how many souls I needed, and cautioned about becoming addicted to them, LOL
  • Returned to Arch-Mage quarters and saved there for the night

Friday the 24th

  • Picked up at Arch-Mage’s quarters
  • Did a sleep and then went down for more training
  • Got Conjuration up high enough that I could then buy the storm atronach and dremora lord spells, fuck yeah!
  • This kicked me up to level 45; took Health bump, and I think here was where I took the Night Thief perk in Pickpocket
  • Got five rounds of training with Colette in Restoration as well
  • Then headed out with Lucien and Inigo to get my horse, because it was time to go see Mercer Frey at Snow Veil Sanctum
  • Several distractions on the way!
    • Ice wolves
    • Frost trolls
    • Seducers bandits pissed off I’d killed their leader
    • Ice wraiths
  • Finally made it to Snow Veil Sanctum and rendezvoused with Mercer
  • After having Inigo and Lucien settle in at the camp I built, I got Mercer down into the ruin to unlock the door
  • Proceeded to run the place
  • Nabbed a bunch of loot and eventually did get overloaded
  • Got the Model Ship courtesy of telekinesis
  • Got in some satisfying sneak shots with the Scout bow
  • Finally made it to the Word Wall and got the word for the Disarm Shout
  • Got final loot out of the boss chest just up from the Word Wall
  • Headed in for the scripted encounter with Karliah; cue Mercer being a murderous lying bastard
  • Apparently Karliah’s paralytic poison works just as well on vamps!
  • Woke up at her camp just by where I’d put my camp, close enough I could in fact hear my horse
  • Got the encoded journal from Karliah and agreed to help her
  • Got up and went over to get Inigo and Lucien back in follow mode, and broke down the campsite
  • Rode back to Winterhold since we were close by anyway
  • Saw a snowy sabre cat that appeared to be in a stuck state by an iron ore vein
  • Killed one more ice wolf on the way into Winterhold
  • Tromped up to the college and found Enthir coming down the bridge towards the town, so hit him up right there on the bridge for the pointer to Calcelmo in Markarth; did not however take any other dialogue option with him because we were standing out there on the fucking cold bridge 😉
  • Headed in and sold at least a few things
  • Boinged off to Solitude and sold a bunch of things to Gulum-Ei, and did other shopping
  • Thought about robbing Evette’s house for pending job there but decided to hold on it for now
  • Boinged to Windstad instead and built stuff
  • I think here was possibly when I hit level 46? This would have been Magicka Bump and Advanced Heavy Smithing perk (though I’m not sure yet what that lets me smith besides orcish armor)
  • Gave Lucien my studded dragonscale armor; it looks better on him than the orcish plate does! Also gave him ebony sword acquired from draugr in Snow Veil Sanctum
  • Boinged down to Lakeview
  • Bandits spawned inside the walls of the house, so shifted from Deck to VM so I could invoke the console; used tcl to get into the walls and fight the bandits
  • Bandit chief actually killed me a couple of times! He turned out to be wearing a few pieces of studded dragonscale and wielding a sword that did lightning damage, no wonder he kept kicking my ass
  • Finally took him out and restored object collision properly
  • Parked at Lakeview for the night

Once more into the breach with the Cursed Tribe

Since I am now to the point in my overall Skyrim experience that I wonder more about the backstory with a bunch of this game’s plots, here’s a thought that crossed my mind while running the Cursed Tribe again: has Yamarz always been a shitty chief? Or has it just been recently that he got fucking lazy at his job?

The plot really doesn’t give much background about that, so I find myself speculating about the history here. Maybe Yamarz is a weak son of a stronger chief? Given that Yamarz has his ass handed to him by a giant, I have a hard time buying that he’d have successfully defeated the prior chief in battle–unless he did so via treachery, which would seem to be in character for him.

This time through I actually lost track of Yamarz once I entered Fallowstone. I’m not sure why! From what I see on the wiki, there isn’t another full tunnel he could have taken. There are side tunnels but they don’t seem to lay down a full path through the place.

And since I’m running mods, the overall look of the place was a little different, even though the structure of it was not. I had a hard time finding my way through, honestly.

Ah well! Yamarz did show up again once it was time to head out into Giant’s Grove, so the plot did proceed as expected.

I’ll also note that this was perhaps the first time that I legit considered actually taking Yamarz up on his offer to kill the giant for him. Harrow is a member of the Brotherhood now, so she’s clearly not above the idea of killing for money. But she wasn’t working in Brotherhood capacity here, and moreover, it was very obvious that Yamarz was a coward. And I feel like that probably factored in heavily on Harrow’s decision here.

It’s particularly hilarious given that I did come into the grove with Lucien and Inigo at my back. Had Yamarz actually been aware I had followers, this could have played out very differently! He could easily have asked me and my two heavily armed followers to play defense for him in the fight.

But of course, that wouldn’t have led to his getting killed and the tribe having to take on a new chief at Malacath’s orders.

This is only the second time I’ve run Cursed Tribe with the USSEP active, so it’s still kind of a pleasant shock to come into the place and be able to sell things to the smith! Or see more of the NPCs alive!

Finishing up Saints and Seducers

Main item of interest here is that this is the third time now I’ve run this plot: Shenner, Kendis, and now Harrow. And this is the first time I was able to get to Thoron and take him out in one go.

So yeah having more than just one follower helped there a lot. And probably being up into the mid-40’s level wise didn’t hurt things, either. This will probably influence future runs I do of this particular plotline.

Going back and searching my earlier posts, I don’t see that I ever actually used the Conjure Staada spell in Shenner’s run. So I’m really going to have to try that spell, because Staada clocks in at better stats than the generic Golden Saints the other spells let you call up. So I’m going to have to plan to get the necessary ingredients for this–which will mean probably having to return to the Solitude sewers to see if I can catch a bliss bug.

And right now Harrow is the better candidate to do this spell, too, since she’s better at Conjuration than Kendis is. So we’ll see how this goes!

Amusing bits of commentary out of Inigo and Lucien:

  • Lucien chatted about hunting for treasure in caves when he was a kid
  • When I paused to do alchemy with my mortar and pestle, Inigo kept having impatient comments that showed he clearly wanted to be moving along
  • Inigo thought it was an unusually nice cave

Scout armor

Unlocking Dragon Smithing finally let me start making Scout armor! Which, to my delight, looked fairly badass. My only quibble with it was that it has clipping issues with the Hedge Mage hood.

And I only had enough dragon bits for now to make the armor. I’ll need to keep it in reserve until I get more dragon bits and can make the other pieces. I really want to see how the capes and helmets look. Those come in different colors for different terrain, cool.

There’s no shield per se–but there’s apparently supposed to be a blocking dagger you can use as a shield. So that’s interesting! It would allow blocking and dual-wielding.

Speaking With Silence

And now we’re back to happy fun Thieves Guild times!

I acknowledge that knowing in advance that Mercer Frey is a murderous lying bastard really colors my perceptions of him. So I totally reached Snow Veil Sanctum thinking, “Yes, yes, I know it took me a while to get here, so sorry, important Dragonborn business to attend to! Oh, were you standing out here in the freezing cold? How unfortunate!”

But okay yes fine, Harrow doesn’t know yet that this guy is a dick. So I expect she applied the same cool “don’t say a damn thing she doesn’t have to say” attitude to him that she did to Astrid at the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary.

Notable differences this time before heading inside:

  1. Actually spotted Karliah’s camp, where there was a dead horse and a living horse, presumably the living horse was Mercer’s
  2. Got Mercer to tell me his version of what happened to Gallus, which he delivered with practiced ease, clearly he’d had time to perfect that story over the years
  3. He also gave me the background on how the Guild was consumed by infighting just after Gallus’ death, until he finally took over; that part I actually kinda believe, it sounds like he absolutely planned for that

I discovered that having Lucien and Inigo along prevented Mercer from coming down into the ruin to unlock the door–same behavior as I saw during Faanshi’s run. So I went back up out of the ruin, and dropped my tent there to give Inigo and Lucien somewhere to hang out and wait.

Which meant, an opportunity to practice making camp, and even trying making a campfire. But I didn’t have fuel for the campfire, and didn’t want to take the time to figure it out right then. I’ll have to learn how to do that later.

Notably, Mercer did not give me shit for being noisy, so presumably my Sneak was high enough for his satisfaction? And I am a vampire and get Sneak bonuses!

I’ve said it before and will doubtless say it again: it is never not funny to see Mercer have to fight six or seven draugr at once. And by that point, I think he’d probably made Harrow smirk a time or three just by condescendingly warning her not to set off traps, then setting off the fucking bone chimes himself. Harrow was not impressed by this guy.

So during one particularly large draugr battle, when I was parked up out of the way on a pile of rubble, I kicked back and watched Mercer getting his ass handed to him by six Draugr Deathlords at once. And I think also a Draugr Wight! This was not necessarily vindictiveness on Harrow’s part–this was pure practicality. She knows she’s not going to do as well in a fight with a large number of opponents.

But she’s also not necessarily eager to let her Guildmaster die, even if her player knows the guy is a murderous lying bastard. So I did regularly throw the daedroth, and sometimes my shiny new dremora lord buddy, into the fray to help him out!

Still, though? Harrow’s not impressed with this man. And after his commentary to her about his arrangement with the Dark Brotherhood and how Thieves Guild strife is supposed to be handled internally rather than bringing the Brotherhood into it, it must also occur to her to wonder if he knows she is Brotherhood now.

Next time

I have officially hit level 46, which means I am go to go after Chillrend. And Dragonbane.

But before I can do either of those, I need to hit up the museum in Markarth. Which means I’m going to have to park Lucien and Inigo somewhere to keep them out of the way!

And I feel a visit to the Thalmor Embassy coming on, too. Muahahaha.


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.