Kendis Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Kendis Joins the Dawnguard and Seeks Elder Scrolls

Main action in these sessions: getting started with Dawnguard, and in fact making serious inroads on the plot, getting all the way through running the Soul Cairn and getting Valerica’s Elder Scroll. And in between all of this, I kept bouncing back to Whiterun trying to spawn the Traveler. Which did in fact finally help me solve the problem with Carlotta and Mila being stuck!

Meanwhile, I also picked up the thaneship in Winterhold! For free, pretty much, since I’d already helped enough people and had put the new Jarl into power by way of winning the war.

And last but not least, I got onto the trail of finding the Dragon scroll, needed not only for Dawnguard, but for the main plot as well.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 3/28, 3/30, 3/31/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 53-55

Tuesday the 28th

  • Picked up in Whiterun where I’d left off trying to deal with the frozen Carlotta and Mila situation
  • Boinged to Gromm’s Pass as closest marker to get to Fort Dawnguard (and of course had to fight a bear as soon as we showed up)
  • Rode from there over to Dayspring Canyon, which also meant that we passed the entrance to Broken Helm Hollow; fought the exterior bandits but didn’t go in
  • Headed into Dayspring Canyon and hi, Agmaer! Yes, you can walk up there with me, and now that you mention it, I have in fact killed a few vampires
  • Had opening scene with Isran and Brother Tolan; got request to go check out Dimhollow Crypt and Tolan’s insistence on meeting me there
  • Boinged to Heljarchen Hall as closest means to get to Dimhollow
  • Killed a giant and wolves not far past there
  • Passed Fort Dunstad, which is of course now in Imperial control and safe to walk past! Hi, fellow Imperials! Keep up the good work!
  • Reached and started running Dimhollow, really not a problem with ability to summon a dremora
  • Only slightly bumpy bit was falling into the water when trying to dodge the fight with Lokil and his minions
  • Got Serana out of her prison, and out of the place in general
  • Got the Necromantic Healing book on the way out, and the word off the Word Wall
  • Boinged to Rimerock Barrow to make it down to Castle Volkihar
  • Killed a couple of critters on the way to finding the way down to the beach properly
  • Came across the Thalmor camp with the iron plate armor, and LOL, Serana raised the dead Argonian Pale-Eyes, so I had to wait for him to disintegrate before I could take the armor
  • Killed the Thalmor real good though!
  • Therefore, overloaded as I rode Yngvi over to the boat
  • Took the boat over anyway and went into the castle with Serana as per usual
  • Harkon was definitely condescending about my being a werewolf, so told him no as per usual, and was banished back out to the beach
  • Took the boat back over so I could get Yngvi back
  • Mounted up and boinged back to Whiterun to sell things
  • No sign of the Traveler yet, so saved there for the night

Thursday the 30th

  • (This day’s play is not in chronological order, because there was a lot of bouncing around)
  • Picked up again in Whiterun
  • Boinged back and forth between Whiterun and various other places, trying to get the Traveler to spawn; kept dropping off stuff at Lakeview as well
  • Boinged back to Fort Dawnguard to report to Isran about Serana
  • Got his directive to go and recruit Sorine and Gunmar
  • Boinged to Mor Khazgur to get within range of Sorine
  • Killed a couple of sabre cats hoofing it overland to her, but got her recruited safely
  • Boinged to Shor’s Watchtower to get within range of Gunmar; rode from there to get him
  • Killed an Argonian Dark Brotherhood assassin en route
  • Found Gunmar at Clearspring Tarn
  • Helped him kill the bear and troll inside Clearspring Cave
  • Got the Bow of the Hunt
  • Boinged back to Fort Dawnguard to check in
  • Had followup scene with Isran and Serana
  • Sent Iona home to Honeyside so Serana could follow me
  • Got directive to find the Moth Priest, and boinged back to Whiterun for this in fact
  • Talked to Hulda in the Bannered Mare to get the rumor about where the Moth Priest had been seen; she gossiped quite cheerfully about this, though I had to pass a Persuade check to get her to tell me he’d been heading for Dragon Bridge
  • With Serana, boinged to Statue of Meridia to get within range of Dragon Bridge (so I could come in without dropping a dragon on the place)
  • Which was the correct choice, because an Elder Dragon showed up, and we had to fight it
  • Also got a trio of Volkihar vampires right on the heels of that battle
  • Got Dragon Bridge guard to tell me the priest’s group had headed south
  • But ohnoez! They got ambushed! Went over to Forebears’ Holdout to rescue Dexion, which went very quickly!
  • Got Dexion out safely and boinged myself off to Fort Dawnguard to catch up with him
  • Got him to read Serana’s Elder Scroll
  • Got Serana’s request to help her find her mother and Valerica’s Elder Scroll
  • Boinged directly to Castle Volkihar for that
  • Went around to the back and fought the exterior skeletons
  • Got in and ran the Castle Volkihar ruins
  • After some flailing, got into Valerica’s lab and found the ingredients to activate the portal into the Soul Cairn
  • Did the partial soul trap thing and started running the Soul Cairn
  • Did not bother with the Reaper this time, but did get Arvak, Jiub’s pages, and all three of the Conjure spells
  • Killed two of the Keepers before I finally went ahead and talked to Valerica, at which point I was reminded that there is in fact a barrier up around the Boneyard until the Keepers are killed, so I couldn’t walk all the way to Valerica
  • Killed the third Keeper
  • Returned to Valerica and got her to agree to give us the scroll
  • Fought and slew Durnehviir, then agreed to call him in Tamriel, after he reconstituted himself
  • Returned to Castle Volkihar with Serana
  • Boinged to Hendraheim to drop off the dragonbone weapons I got off the Keepers, since all the weapons racks in Lakeview are full
  • Boinged back to Whiterun and finally got the Traveler!
  • Melee broke out, I called in a Golden Saint warrior and tried to stay out of the way; Serana, Gogh, Gogh’s storm atronach, the Golden Saint, and the Whiterun guards all pretty much took out the Traveler for me 😉
  • Carlotta did run over! And threw the line “Oh well, must have run off”, hee! So now she is officially unstuck
  • And I saw that Mila had moved as well!
  • Saved there for the night

Friday the 31st

  • Picked up in Whiterun
  • Slept in Breezehome
  • Confirmed I could, in fact, give Mila her goldfish, and got her gold piece
  • Headed out from there to High Hrothgar
  • Talked to Arngeir and got a pointer to Eldersblood Peak for the Shout Word there
  • Then asked him about Dragonrend, and cue Arngeir going rar rar rar about the Blades
  • Also cue Brother Einarth telling Arngeir to sit the fuck down and let me go talk to Paarthurnax
  • Got the Clear Skies Shout and went up to talk to Paarthurnax
  • Killed en route: two ice wraiths and a frost troll
  • Talked to Paarthurnax and got the pointer to find the Elder Scroll; also meditated on Fus with him
  • Got the Zelda goodies out of the Easter egg chest
  • Went up to get the Notched Pickaxe and mine the veins up there
  • Boinged from there straight to Riften
  • Got courier with the note from Quintus asking to come see him about remaking the White Phial
  • Also got a Letter from a Friend pointing at Sunderstone Gorge
  • Sold a few things to Balimund
  • Talked to Viriya to get the next fishing bounty, for the contest in Morthal
  • Headed out from Riften on foot because I didn’t have Yngvi with me, because of having summoned Arvak in the Soul Cairn
  • Found the Khajiit outside so stopped to shop with Ahkari
  • While I was talking to her, a trio of Volkihar vampires showed up!
  • Didn’t have to kill any of the vamps, the Khajiit, the guards, and the stable guys got in on it, as did Serana and Gogh; Serana raised one of the vamps, too, LOL
  • Only after the fight did I also see a courier show up again, this time with a Letter of Inheritance and oh shit who died? Answer: Shadr of the stables 🙁
  • Finally summoned Arvak and rode to Windhelm, felt like going the long way
  • Killed en route: five cave bears, one regular bear, and two wolves
  • Noted but not engaged: two different giants crossing the road at a couple of different points
  • Made it to Windhelm
  • Sold things to Oengul since he’s not pissy at me anymore; that got me under carry weight again
  • Talked to Quintus, and got directive to bring him the ingredients for repairing the Phial
  • Fast traveled to the college
  • Doublechecked, couldn’t get training, had already trained for level 49
  • Talked to Urag in the Arcaneum about where an Elder Scroll might be
  • Got pointer to go talk to Septimus
  • Rode Yngvi down into Winterhold, at which point I got yet another courier, this one with the note for Mila asking for the second goldfish
  • Checked in with the new Jarl, hi, how’s it going, you doing okay in your new job? Need anything? A new thane? Why yes I will accept the position
  • Went straight to being thane since I’d already helped enough Winterhold people, and got the Blade of Winterhold
  • Rode out from there to Septimus’ stronghold; got him to point me at Alftand and Mzark
  • Fought on the way back across the ice fields: snowy sabre cat and assorted horkers, at least two of which were raised by Serana in the process
  • Overloaded again, so boinged from there to Heljarchen to unload
  • Saved there for the night

Launching Dawnguard

This set of sessions basically saw me get Dawnguard underway. I was starting to feel like it was time to run Dawnguard with Kendis anyway, but this time through, it was extra important because I wanted to see about spawning the Traveler to break Carlotta and Mila out of being frozen. (Which did work! More on this in a moment.)

Running Dimhollow Crypt really wasn’t a problem at all, with the ability to summon a dremora. The only bumpy bit at all was falling into the water when I tried to dodge the fight with Lokil and his minions. And since it was pretty dark down there, I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to make it back up to the level of Serena’s tomb.

But only a bit. Nothing that a bit of Candelight couldn’t handle. I made it back up safely, and by the time I did, the dremora and Iona and Gogh had taken out the vampires.

Next notable thing was Harkon’s offering to make me a vampire, and my getting the dialogue prompt to tell him I’m a werewolf. I knew how he was going to treat that because I’d read it on the wiki, but it was still fun to see the line in live play:

“Yes, I can smell it on you. The power of my blood will purge that filth and make you whole again.”

I don’t think Kendis was really sold on the “make you whole again” option being “having vampire blood instead of the wolf blood”. Especially given now that she knows how to purify the wolf blood anyway, by chucking a witch head into the flame in Ysgramor’s Tomb.

So yeah. Told Harkon no as per usual, which meant I was now in a position to try to get the Traveler to spawn.

Here I am just a perfectly innocent Whiterun citizen who could not possibly fight off vampires

The game does not really give me a narrative reason to keep boinging back to Whiterun in between doing all the bits of Dawnguard that I did in these sessions. So I’m going to arbitrarily invent one.

Let’s say that once Rulnik found out I joined the Dawnguard, he warned me that he’d heard rumors in town of someone highly suspicious, who was only ever seen wandering the streets in a black robe. I shall further say that Rulnik saw the guy up close only once, and that while that exchange was perfectly civil, he still felt something was decidedly off.

Kendis: “That doesn’t sound like much to go on. Did you see him do anything out of the ordinary?”

Rulnik: “No, my love. And I don’t like to accuse a man without any proof. But this talk of vampires has a lot of folk in the city nervous. No one admits to seeing him do anything, and yet, everyone gets nervous whenever he passes by. You asked me to watch out for the girls while you travel. And now that they’re our daughters… I’m nervous too. For them.”

Kendis: “Then I’ll keep an eye out for him. The Dawnguard will have me busy… but I’ll make a point of coming back here regularly to check on you and the girls. And on the city. If this strange traveler turns out to be anything but an innocent visitor, I’ll make sure I know of it.”

Rulnik: “Thank you. Keep safe in your travels. We’ll look for you.”

And once she found Serana, I think she laid down the law: “I get it. Your father is a problem. And I will help you–but I also need to look out for my family. So I will be checking regularly on Whiterun while we work on the bigger problem. If you want to come with me, you can. If not, just tell me where you need me to meet you next.”

I shall assume for the sake of narrative that Serana was in fact mostly okay with this. Though I expect it kind of weirded her out a little bit to see Kendis’ found family being a lot more functional than hers is. Not to mention maybe just seeing children also weirded her out.

One of these bounces back to Whiterun, even, was one I could work into the ongoing narrative. Because that gave me an opportunity to use Hulda the innkeeper for my source of information about where the Moth Priest went! And it was kind of delightful how she immediately gushed about how the city had been talking about his visit for three straight days. LOL.

And, happily, my efforts did actually pay off. Because I did get the Traveler to spawn after multiple attempts. And more importantly, triggering a fight with him did pull off what I needed to have happen: i.e., breaking Carlotta and Mila out of their stasis, so that I could in fact proceed with Mila’s fishing quest!

So I was very pleased that that actually worked. If I do another playthrough on the Switch (not sure I will, given that now that I know how to mod, the appeal of doing Skyrim on the switch has lessened), I’ll have to keep this in mind as a solution if the problem comes up again.

And heh. I think I maybe got in one whack on the Traveler myself at most. But I definitely envision Kendis strolling back to Breezehome after that, and being greeted by an anxious Rulnik already on the steps. Probably with a spell queued up in his hands already.

Rulnik: “I heard fighting! What’s happening?”

Kendis, with satisfaction: “You were right about the man in the black cloak. And he won’t be a problem anymore.”

Meanwhile, back at Castle Volkihar

I’ve played this game enough times now that you’d think I’d know this better, but yet again, I got turned around a lot trying to find the final passages into Valerica’s lab in Castle Volkihar.


I must remember to look for the portcullis that opens up when I pull on that chain behind the gargoyle. If I’m in the room and facing the gargoyle, the portcullis is on my left.

Hopefully, Future Me will remember to check this post next time she runs a playthrough!

This also keeps happening when I run Dawnguard: I was briefly tempted by the idea of letting Serana make me a vampire. Just because the plot leans real hard on the idea of you and Serana trusting one another, and having her make you a vamp is a much different question than having her father do it.

But still. I don’t think Kendis would have felt good about Serana doing it. Not after being revolted by Harkon’s attitude about her blood having “filth” that needed “purging”. If anything, it’s just strengthened her resolve to make another trip to Ysgramor’s Tomb.

This was, I think, possibly the fastest I’ve run the Soul Cairn? Because I have run it a lot now, and I’ve gotten better at finding all the things. But I do still need the wiki’s thorough walkthrough to make sure I don’t miss anything–because the Soul Cairn is still very hard to see in, with all its gloomy lightning. Judicious use of quest markers was also helpful.

I think I also need to reconsider the strategy of killing the Keepers before finding Valerica, just on the grounds that if I haven’t killed them yet, that’s extra quest markers I can trigger. And that is super helpful.

And now the kid finally has her goldfish

With Mila and her mother finally getting unstuck, I was finally able to give Mila her goldfish! Though the kid alarmed me a bit when she didn’t immediately run back to her house with the fish when I gave it to her. Instead, she went down to her mother’s stall, had a conversation with her, and then ran off to the house to deposit the goldfish in the trough.

But at least it happened! And later on, I even got the second note from Mila asking for another fish so that the first one could have a friend.

(Note to the people of Whiterun: Nobody tell Mila having the goldfish in a trough outside is totally going to mean that the next cat that comes along is going to eat those fish for a tasty, tasty snack.)

Some thoughts about Arngeir really being down on the Blades

I don’t think I’d properly thought this out on previous playthroughs, but it occurred to me to wonder about the background of why the Blades and the Greybeards hate each other so much.

We know from Delphine’s dialogue to the player that the Thalmor basically wiped out the Blades during the Great War, roughly twenty-five years before the game’s timeframe. Which raises some questions for me.

One: Where does Arngeir’s animosity to the Blades come from?

Dara points out quite correctly that the Greybeards are naturally predisposed to be anti-Blades because the master of their Order is, after all, a dragon. And the Blades by definition are dragon hunters.

But I went and checked Arngeir’s page on the wiki and discovered something interesting. There are a couple of dialogue options I don’t commonly take when coming to ask him about Dragonrend, and in both of those, he warns the Dragonborn that the Blades claim to serve the Dragonborn, but actually do not.

That’s a real strong accusation to throw around. I know from lore (and from Oblivion, for that matter) that the Blades used to be the direct eyes and ears of the Septim emperors. It would seem reasonable for this to be what Arngeir’s talking about.

This, however, leads to the next question…

Two: What does Arngeir know about the history of the Blades?

On the one hand, the wiki’s lore page about the Greybeards says:

Despite this intervention, they were criticized by some for not becoming more involved in Skyrim’s affairs. They have been bitter enemies of the Blades since the Blades first came to Tamriel as the Akaviri Dragonguard. The Blades despise the Greybeards for their inaction and for protecting the Blades’ enemy. The Greybeards, for their part, distrust and fear the Blades, viewing them as genocidal meddlers, a cabal of bloodthirsty Akaviri barbarians, who have always sought to turn the Dragonborn away from the path of wisdom. The two groups vied for influence over the Last Dragonborn, but who the champion favored is unclear.

And this certainly suggests that Arngeir’s contempt may be just more broadly general, as opposed to based on actual personal experience. He certainly could have studied up on this history, and therefore knows the background of the Blades even if he hasn’t been out in the world directly interacting with them.

But on the other hand, his reaction to the Dragonborn showing up to ask about Dragonrend is kind of strong. Strong enough that he instantly goes to fuck you I won’t help you anymore, and has to be rebuked for it by Brother Einarth before he stands down and tells the Dragonborn about Paarthurnax.

Now, he does stand down, and recognizes he’s being an asshole about it. But that he had that strong an instinctive reaction to begin with, even after his decades of training and being the speaker for his fellow Greybeards, suggests that there’s something a bit more personal there than just “he hates the Blades because of what he knows studying up about their history”.

Which makes me real curious about Arngeir’s background. What was he before he became a Greybeard? He’s old enough that he would absolutely have been around during the Great War.

Was he training to be a Greybeard all his life, though? Or did he come to it as a grown man? If the latter, what was he doing up until that point?

The game doesn’t say, and neither does the wiki. But there are interesting headcanon possibilities to be considered there.

RIP Shadr

When trying to leave Riften, and talking to Ahkari of the Khajiit on the way out so I could sell her stuff, a trio of Volkihar vampires showed up. Which was fucking bold of them, given that a) it was broad daylight, and b) it was also right the hell by a city.

I didn’t even have to attack any of the vamps, thanks to the melee that broke out. The Khajiit went after them, as did the guards and the guys from the stable. Not to mention Serana and Gogh. And of course, being Serana, she did in fact raise one of the three vamps with her necromantic power.

(Which, y’know, I would think would have caused some issues, right there next to Riften with a dozen witnesses. But apparently everybody blew it off because Serana’s with me, and I’m the Dragonborn?)

But it was only after the fight was over, and I had another courier suddenly show up with a Letter of Inheritance, that I realized that there’d been a casualty! Shadr of the stables, sadly.

RIP Shadr! I assume you fought well, though in all honesty I didn’t see it!

(Note to self: warn Alessandra in the Hall of the Dead to do some extra strong rites of Arkay on Shadr’s body. Can’t have a risen vampire running around any city I’m thane of!)

So apparently Oengul can be appeased?

I’d noted earlier in Kendis’s playthrough that I had in fact apparently successfully appeased Oengul after the conclusion of the war. And I saw that in play again here, as I stopped by his forge to sell him stuff in Windhelm. He greeted me with “May the gods watch over your battles, friend.”

So apparently, he totes got over the whole “Ulfric getting killed in battle, and Windhelm being handed off to the Empire” thing? And all I had to do was bring him Queen Freydis’s sword, LOL.

(Note to self: never, ever tell Oengul I was, in fact, the one who killed Ulfric.)

I do not apparently have any way to make Hermir not be pissy at me. But then, she was also a hardcore Ulfric fangirl.

Next time

Before I can get any farther in Dawnguard, I need that Dragon scroll. Which means running Alftand, and making it down into Blackreach. So Kendis and Serana and Gogh will probably take that on next.


Editing to add

  • 11/26/2023: 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.