Harrowhark Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Harrowhark Learns Dragonrend and Saves Dawnstar

Kind of a mishmash of action here, with Harrow finally getting her first encounter with Alduin on the Throat of the World–but also settling the nightmare problem in Dawnstar, and getting the thaneship there. Plus fishing. So much fishing!

Play by play

  • Play dates: 5/7, 5/10, 5/12, 5/14, 5/16/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 69-73

Sunday the 7th

  • Picked up on the Throat of the World ready to read the Elder Scroll and fight Alduin
  • Took two tries; first time on the Deck I got through the cutscene, but crashed as soon as Alduin showed up
  • Later came back to try again on the VM, and found that I’d taken an autosave coming out of the cutscene, so didn’t actually lose anything, awesome
  • Knocked Alduin down with Dragonrend and kept him down, so between that and having three followers on hand (including Lydia), very short battle for once
  • Alduin delivered his snark and made his escape
  • Talked to Paarthurnax and got the pointer to see about Dragonsreach and trapping a dragon, but wasn’t in the mood to do that yet
  • Discovered that the Elder Knowledge quest still wanted me to transcribe the Lexicon, at which point I went “Fuck, did I leave the fucking thing in the Tower of Mzark?” Decided I’d have to go back and look
  • But first boinged to Alchemist’s Shack to go drop off crimson nirnroot with Avrusa Sarethi
  • Got within range of her farm and found a troll fighting an Orc skooma dealer; killed the troll
  • Went over to the farm and waited until daybreak, at which point I tried to talk to Avrusa to give her the crimson nirnroot–but she ran off in alarm before I could finish the conversation
  • Went after her and successfully handed off the nirnroot; realized as I was talking to her that something was attacking nearby, but followers were handling it
  • Got the quest to get the Jazbay grapes (of which i already had 14 so just need 6 more)
  • Discovered Team Dragonborn had taken out a zombie, but could only find one? No sign of a horde?
  • Also found the skooma dealer dead so something apparently killed her?
  • Inigo got in a good joke with Lydia: “What’s the difference between a knitting needle and giant’s poop?” “I’ve never held a knitting needle.” LOL
  • Attempted to go find the Tower of Mzark which was not marked on the map, because I’d come out without the damn Lexicon
  • Boinged to Alftand first because the quest marker wanted me there, but confirmed I was not able to get into the lift
  • Boinged to Whitewatch Tower to try to ride over there, only to get hit with a horde of zombies who proceeded to kill Lydia
  • Was not going to let this stand, so rolled back, which threw me back to the lift at Alftand
  • This time i boinged to Whiterun instead and sold a few things
  • Headed out on foot from there to try to get to the tower
  • Doublechecked location on the wiki and found it soon enough; confirmed that a) the lift was still open and b) I had in fact left the Lexicon in there
  • Lucien got neat commentary about the machinery, see below
  • Retrieved the damn Lexicon, went back outside, and correctly marked the location for the map (I needed the Lexicon in my inventory)
  • Boinged from there to Septimus’ outpost to give Septimus the Lexicon
  • Cue Hermaeus Mora; Harrow lands on the side of not repudiating him outright, I think
  • Boinged back to Whiterun and sold more things
  • Checked on Rulnik to conclude that quest
  • Went out on foot to do fishing; didn’t catch anything interesting by the crossroads
  • Boinged to Riverwood to fish there; put on the Ring of Kynareth to make it rain; got a replacement for the spadefish I’d accidentally eaten, and another one for Swims’ quest; also picked up a pearlfish
  • Tried to fish at the Guardian Stones but didn’t catch anything else interesting
  • Boinged back to Lakeview for supplies dropoff
  • Saved there until next time

Wednesday the 10th

  • Picked up at Lakeview
  • Boinged to Windstad to check on what needed building
  • Was reminded I’d left a boatload of building materials in the exterior chest but still didn’t have enough corundum
  • Boinged off to Dawnstar to run the nightmare plot
  • Khajiit were on hand so stopped to shop with them
  • Headed over to the inn just as something showed up that triggered people going into fight mode, but that happened exactly as I was heading inside; when I came back out, whatever it was was gone (though a couple of guards and the Jarl were still poised in fight mode on the inn’s porch)
  • Oh-welled and entered the inn, and talked to Erandur to trigger the quest
  • Took a couple of the more confrontational dialogue options this time, just because Harrow is less patient than her predecessors, but did finally head over to Nightcaller Temple with him
  • Called up the dremora to take out the three frost trolls outside the temple
  • Expecting none of my followers would be able to head in with me, dropped a tent outside (not that I needed to but this was a roleplay gesture)
  • Headed into the temple then and ran it with no issues
  • Let Erandur destroy the Skull of Corruption, then looted the place and came back outside
  • Got the tent
  • Overloaded, so called Hjalte and mounted up to ride back down to the town
  • Slept at the inn; got up the next morning and went over to talk to the Jarl
  • Cue the initial confrontation outside the longhouse
  • Got the Jarl to give me the task to go take out a giant, this time at Tumble Arch Pass
  • Fast traveled to Shrouded Grove as a pretty damn close location; landed into getting attacked by a pack of six grey wolves, and a frost troll as well
  • Then went over to confront and take out the giant; looted the camp chest and got mammoth cheese; did not bother the mammoth
  • Fast traveled back to Dawnstar and got the invite to become thane, but had only fulfilled one of the three required quests!
  • Was however able to go ahead and buy the land for Heljarchen hall, so did so
  • Doublechecked WIndstad since I’d bought corundum from Seren in Dawnstar, and wanted to finish up business at that house; built out most of the Alchemy wing till I ran out of iron
  • Grabbed all remaining materials
  • Boinged back to Tower of Mzark to get within range of the plot for Heljarchen Hall
  • Built up the Small House structure
  • Boinged down to Whiterun to sell stuff and pick up more materials
  • Boinged back to Lakeview for final inventory managing
  • Saved until next time

Friday the 12th

  • Picked up at Lakeview
  • Fished at Guardian Stones, Riverwood, by the Whiterun crossroads
  • Fought Elder Dragon by Honningbrew Meadery
  • Tried to go to Stony Creek Cave a couple of times by fast travel but kept crashing; also crashed once just at the third fishing spot
  • Lesson learned: updating Proton on my Steam Deck did not fix my Skyrim crashing problems ;P
  • Tried again to just ride up north and then east into Eastmarch
  • Met and took out Viinturuth; however, got another crash and rolled back from that
  • Tried again on the VM and picked up from the fishing spot by the crossroads
  • Then was able to safely fast travel to Stony Creek Cave; fished there
  • Rode down to the road
  • Ran into three dremora vs. Vigilants of Stendarr, did some cleanup from that fight
  • Fast traveled down to Riften to sell stuff
  • Fished at both the fishery and at Honeyside’s dock; finally caught the fourth of the fish I needed for Swims-In-Deep-Water, but no extra goldfish yet for Mila
  • Gave Swims the fish and also his lucky fishing hat; got the Argonian fishing rod
  • Headed out again on horseback to go through Eastmarch looking for Jazbay grapes
  • Fought a few critters en route, also a trio of bandits near Shor’s Stone
  • LOL Lydia got in on the random singing; Inigo asked her for a song about ‘bottoms’ and she sung a bunch of bum ba bum syllables, well played Lydia
  • Got enough Jazbay and headed onward to Windhelm
  • Lucien and Inigo again both very vocal about not liking it there; it’s okay, boys, I’m only here to rob the fuck out of the place
  • Forged the ledger in the Candlehearth Inn, then robbed Belyn Hlaalu’s place
  • Interesting conversation with Lucien about the Elder Scroll here, see below!
  • Melted down a bunch of stuff in Oengul’s smelter
  • Then got out again and returned to stable to mount up, and boinged back to Riften
  • Reported in with the Guild
  • Got fresh jobs from Delvin and Vex and oh hey look I can get a Bedlam Job, fuck yeah!
  • Sold a bunch of things to Tonilia, but still wasn’t back under carry weight yet

Sunday the 14th

  • I didn’t take proper notes for this session, but the screenshots say I played on the 14th, so I guess I did, LOL
  • Hit Autumnwatch Tower to get the Word of Power there (and take out the dragon)
  • Dropped a campsite right near there and wound up hanging out and chatting with both Lucien and Inigo
  • Took Rustleif the book and got Captain Wayfinder his fine-cut void salts
  • Got thaneship of Dawnstar, which put Gregor on duty at this alt’s instance of Heljarchen Hall
  • Dismissed Lydia, though, see below

Tuesday the 16th

  • (Not entirely in chronological order because I took notes a day after, but I don’t care)
  • Picked up at Lakeview
  • Hit the usual fishing spots on the way to Whiterun to see if I could get Mila’s goldfish
  • Mined the iron ore by the Guardian Stones
  • Sold things in Whiterun
  • Dragon by Honningbrew, which Team Dragonborn, guards, and Idolaf Battle-Born fought (Idolaf had to be cranky about that dragon coming near his family farm)
  • Mined the ore vein near Honningbrew
  • Tried to move the Wraithguard & Sunder plot further along, found the wrecked caravan near Tundra Homestead
  • Blood dragon showed up while I was heading towards that with Lucien
  • Quest was out of order though, I’d already found the caravan near the Dark bandits camp by Forsaken Cave, so visiting that again didn’t get me anything
  • Inigo and Lucien killed a couple of skeletons though
  • Did circuit all around Lake Ilinalta trying to fish for a goldfish again; lost track of Inigo?
  • Finally caught a goldfish, having remembered that the chances of rarer fish go up if I use the Argonian fishing rod
  • Returned to Whiterun and triggered Inigo’s “where are you” quest to make him catch up with me
  • Dropped off dragon bits and iron ore in Breezehome
  • Checked the Hall of the Dead but then confirmed yeah I already had the letter from there
  • Gave Mila her goldfish; noted a clipping crate by Mila’s house, there is apparently a Dawn of Skyrim patch for this
  • Returned to Riften to check in with Viriya; got her next bounty to go to Morthal
  • Ran the fishing contest there
  • Boinged to Solitude and sold a few things to Gulum-Ei
  • Slept at Proudspire (HI JORDIS)
  • Went out on foot to go to Broken Oar Grotto to find Noster’s helmet
  • Went the wrong damn way and had to circle all the way back to Solitude to find the right path in, but then ran the place with no problems
  • Returned to Solitude and gave Noster his helmet
  • Noted that Gulum-Ei is not in his nook all the time, and I found him even once sitting closer to the counter but could still trade with him
  • Boinged back to Riften to check in again with Viriya; got her next quest for the first of the crab encounters at Dawnstar
  • Parked in Honeyside for the night

Regretfully re-dismissing Lydia

With some reluctance, I decided that I needed to have Lydia stand down again. Two main reasons for this.

One: I’m pretty sure that I was getting a bit of a performance hit having a third follower regularly following me. I don’t know this for a positive fact, just because Harrow’s game is pretty far in at this point and I have certainly observed that my Skyrim playthroughs do tend to get glitchier the longer they’re running.

But that said, it did seem like I was getting more frequent performance hits with Lydia along.

Two: More importantly, I also wound up not really caring for the lines Inigo tended to throw off in the vein of Lydia being a bit of an idiot. He had a line about bringing her along broadening her horizons, to which I gotta say, Inigo, dude, she was adventuring with me before you were. Miss me with that assumption of Lydia not being experienced.

And there was an entire conversation he had with her as well about whether Lydia thought about anything at all that I didn’t care for, either. Now okay, yes, fine, I can grant that sheer intelligence doesn’t have to be Lydia’s strong point; she’s a fighter, after all. Her job is to hit things for her thane, preferably with the largest available weapons. But this doesn’t mean she’s actively stupid.

And here’s the thing: Inigo had a different conversation with Lydia, in which she had a great reply to his joke about giant poop and knitting needles. Which contradicts the whole idea of her not being quick-witted, and Inigo even says that that wasn’t the answer he was expecting. Which suggests to me that in the conversation I didn’t care for, Lydia might have been deliberately fucking with him on account of his having asked a stupid fucking question to begin with.

She had a funny comeback for Inigo too, when he asked her for a song about “bottoms” (we shall leave aside how Inigo doesn’t seem to ask Lucien for songs about bottoms, or, for that matter, me).

So I maintain Lydia absolutely has a sense of humor and a quick wit. And I’m totally down with her humor being on the coarse side, because again, she’s a big burly warrior chick, I don’t expect her sense of humor to be refined. 😉 But if she’s got a quick comeback at all, this contradicts the implication that she’s stupid.

This is my headcanon, anyway. Everyone else is perfectly welcome to their own interpretation of Lyds! I just found the interactions with Inigo on the disappointing side, and was hoping for something better, after seeing all the fun interactions he has with Lucien. Oh well.

Tangentially related, I was rather alarmed to see Lydia killed during the zombie attack we fought off on the way to Mzark, too. Even though she was wearing Daedric plate, and even though she was a party of four heavily armed and armored people. That was alarming enough in fact that I tried to change her gear out to the Ebony Spell Knight gear instead, and also give her a better weapon. But ultimately I had to dismiss her anyway, just because of the reasons above.

The quotable Lucien

Lucien got a bunch of good lines in these sessions, including:

Reacting to the entire idea of going to Dragonsreach and trying to talk Balgruuf into trapping an ally of Alduin’s:

“So I was thinking… if I were a Jarl, and an adventurer showed up asking to trap a live dragon in my palace, I’d hit them. Or arrest them. Or both.”

A much belated reaction to the mechanism in the Tower of Mzark, which I will now totally headcanon that Lucien actually said the first time Harrow set foot in the place, and seriously my dude, you shouldn’t have to speculate too hard as to what this thing is for:

“Just look at this machine! Remarkable. Light enters from above and then these lenses must focus it onto particular points… but for what purpose?”

And on the way back out of the tower, which again, I headcanon that Lucien actually said when I fetched the scroll before:

“We actually have an Elder Scroll… I can’t wait to write to my father about this!”

After we return to Septimus, and I get my first encounter with Hermaeus Mora (and, well, he’s not wrong):

“You do know you can’t trust him, right? Deals with Daedra never, ever go well. At least this one doesn’t actively want us to kill anyone we know.”

Lucien has opinions about the essence extractor from Septimus (and again, LOL, he’s not wrong):

“That Essence Extractor is a horrible device. Just look at those needles. Urgh.”

This one in particular does amuse me, just because I cannot imagine that Harrow would be carrying the damn thing around in plain sight. But then, Lucien is upholding the fine tradition here of NPCs commenting at will on every single thing I’m carrying around, so apparently the entire contents of my inventory are public domain. 😀

And one more notable thing out of Lucien was an entire conversation I had with him about the Elder Scroll. This happened in Windhelm as I was about to tell him to wait outside before breaking into Belyn Hlaalu’s house. He threw me a surprise request to actually look at the Elder Scroll, since it was right there and he was clearly champing at the bit to be able to look it over.

I had an option to ask him if that wasn’t dangerous–but didn’t take it. Which in retrospect I probably should have done! I haven’t played Dawnguard yet with Harrow, but she did get the books from Urag when asking him about Elder Scrolls, so she should in theory know that unprotected minds can suffer ill effects from trying to read them.

But at that point she also knew that she read the thing on the Throat of the World to learn Dragonrend–and as far as she can tell so far, she didn’t suffer a problem. So I think that meant she was willing to let Lucien have a look, with the thought that she’d immediately take the thing back if he looked like he was impacted by it. And I’ll also make the assumption that since she knows Lucien is a scholar, she was willing to trust that he knew what he was doing.

And really, the entire exchange was a great little nugget of character development. Lucien was clearly over the moon about the chance to read the Scroll–and just as clearly deeply disappointed that he didn’t get anything out of it. His dialogue to me indicated that he fell into the first category of people described in Effects of the Elder Scrolls, i.e., unlearned subjects.

Which, given that this boy is a scholar, had to be a blow to his pride!

I really do wonder what he was hoping would happen, though. And it’ll be interesting to see if I get anything else out of him about it as the playthrough proceeds.

Emergency return to the Tower of Mzark

I was rather chagrined to discover that I’d left Septimus’ Lexicon back at the Tower of Mzark when I’d claimed the Elder Scroll there. Oops.

And because I hadn’t actually brought the Lexicon out of the tower, I also didn’t have the marker for it on the map. So while I knew that it was more or less very close to Heljarchen Hall, I had to derp around a bit to actually find the location again. Fortunately this was not difficult, and equally fortunately, it hadn’t been long enough that the place had reset. So I was able to quickly get back in and retrieve the Lexicon.

See above commentary about Lucien, since returning to Mzark actually did trigger some reactions out of him! (The reactions I should have gotten out of him when I set foot in Mzark to begin with, but which didn’t happen since I got ahead of both Lucien and Inigo in that session.)

Next time

Not sure, really! Waffling between pushing the Main Quest further along, but also working on Thieves Guild and/or Dark Brotherhood stuff. Though if I go the latter route I’ll need to put Inigo and Lucien on standby. For important stealth purposes and all.


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.