Elder Scrolls Online,  Marwyth Playthrough

In Which Marwyth Defeats a Plague-Bringer, and Also Skin-Stealers

Covering a large span of days in this ESO post. But it’s fewer days played than you’d expect, since I didn’t play Marwyth every single day for most of July.

Main action in this post: finishing up the zone plot in Deshaan, and defeating Magistrix Vox; nudging the main quest a little further along; and beginning action in Shadowfen in the next phase of the Ebonheart Pact storyline.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 7/5, 7/7-7/11, 7/13, 7/15, 7/16, 7/21-7/22, 7/25/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 35-46

All days

  • Writs, and on some of those days, also ship robbing

Wednesday the 5th

  • Picked up where I left off running the plot in Deshaan, which required me to go find the Vestige of Saint Veloth
  • Noticed a nearby delve in passing, the Corpse Garden, hold that thought
  • Veloth’s Vestige needed me to fetch pieces of his reliquary
  • While working on this, also got a side quest to close some portals that Daedra kept coming through
  • Had to kill watchers at each of the wards
  • Got all the reliquary pieces, only to then learn that ohnoez! I also need to fetch Veloth’s skull!
  • This required me to head into a tomb (not the delve), and I had to kill a daedroth to recover the skull
  • Then finally I was able to return and rebuild the reliquary; Veloth gave me his blessing and sent me on after Vox
  • I think here or so was where I leveled up to 34
  • Found another acolyte with a quest marker, who asked me to take a sack of dremora hearts to a healer at the camp by Eidolon’s Hollow
  • But before I did that, went over to run the Corpse Garden, mostly because I wanted the skyshard
  • Could not find a local plot that I could actually trigger, so just ran the place and took out a bunch of skeletons, got the skyshard, and killed the boss
  • Then came back out and headed off to the next stage of the plot, at Eidolon’s Hollow
  • Greeted there by an Ordinator who addressed me as the Hand of Almalexia
  • Handed the dremora hearts off to the healer who needed them, then talked to the Ordinator, who asked me to park it by the fire
  • Almalexia appeared in a vision and instructed me to take out some wards
  • Got hailed by another Ordinator who asked me to basically kick a bunch of ass (killing daedra and Maulborn) since the Ordinators were severely underpowered
  • Took out a bunch of opponents while finding the various wards and destroying them, then got the objective to enter the Hollow
  • Talked to Aspera the Forgotten, a ghost, who was real interested in what I was doing and rather snarky about it as well; she showed me three visions of Vox’s backstory
  • Then the vision threw me a curveball because Vox saw me; to wit: wut?
  • Aspera then told me I was ready to face Vox, and this is where the plot got a little dodgy for me
  • I confronted Vox and she made me an offer to join her, and I took the “I’m listening” approach in answering her
  • She smacked me upside the head with the hammer, which “killed” me
  • I had no plot options at that point except to free the souls she’d trapped anyway, including her son, and she showed up to fight me anyway
  • Specifically told the soul of her son that he’d committed murder in the name of worshipping Daedra, and that Almalexia had executed him
  • When I took her out and Almalexia showed up, Almalexia showed no signs of being pissed at me either
  • Screwed things up a bit at this point; there was a portal that was going to get me back to Mournhold, but I did not realize this; derped around a bit going “how am I supposed to get out of here” and fighting a few more monsters in the Hollow before I finally went ‘fuck it’ and teleported back out to Cliffshade
  • Wayshrined back to Mournhold to see about finding the person who had my next plot hook
  • This guy was hanging out near the northwestern bridge into the city, and he asked me to go to Stormhold to help out the vicecanons there (with a side helping of being insulting to the Argonians)
  • Returned to Cliffshade for inventory managing, and blipped back to Gyllerah to make armor

Friday the 7th

  • Got Legerdemain up to 20 and unlocked the achievement for that, awesome

Saturday the 15th

  • Ran the Valley of Blades part of the main quest; got skill point off of finishing that
  • Also leveled up to 35 and got two more skill points from the level up
  • Dropped all three points on leveling blacksmithing, clothing, and woodworking
  • Came back to rob the Lydia a second time in the name of trying to raise enough coin to buy a replacement Dawn-Prism for Amy

Saturday the 22nd

  • Made enough to get up to 55K in my character bank and bought another 10 bank slots with it
  • Had to actually buy a small quantity of game to finish off my Provisioning writ, and got ingredients for the Alchemy one out of the Guild bank
  • Ran the plot to get into Shadowfen and start helping out Stormhold, which required me to investigate some murders caused by skin-stealers and Dominion agents
  • Had to rescue the Nord vicecanon and some other prisoners, and settled things down in the city
  • Met the vicecanons at a nearby ruin thought to possibly be the Dominion base; found the vicecanons’ forces disarrayed
  • Discovered that the Nord vicecanon’s force in particular had been infiltrated by the skin-stealers
  • Entered a ruin to try to track down what was going on
  • Found Lyranth (!!) again, bound and being used to create the skin-stealers
  • Accidentally hit teleport home so took the time to unload some inventory in expectation that I would shortly be leveling up to 36
  • Came back and resumed, and found an Argonian who told me he’d come into the ruin with friends in search of Daedric artifacts, but his friends had been captured and he was trying to escape; he warned me Lyranth couldn’t be trusted
  • I had to choose whether to follow Lyranth’s escape plan or the Argonian’s
  • Opted to help the Argonian, which pissed Lyranth off but there wasn’t much she could do about it
  • Leveled up to 36 partway through this ruin! Swapped into the level 36 gear since I was carrying it all
  • Destroyed the stones that contained the souls of the Argonian’s friends, and took out the skin-stealer who was impersonating the long-dead Nord vicecanon
  • Learned from Lyranth the alchemist driving this overall plot had absconded with something called the Mnemic Egg and wanted to take over all of Blackwood
  • Reported this to the surviving vicecanons who asked me to meet them at the Hatching Pools
  • Returned to Cliffshade at this point to work on gear rearranging; blew up all the level 30 gear
  • Handed the level 36 gear back to Gyllerah for improvement, as much as I had mats for, then geared up with a new color scheme to run for a bit
  • Logged off for the night

Tuesday the 25th

  • Bunced back and forth a lot between characters to share resources
  • Did a harvesting circuit on Summerset; hit the Welenkin Geyser while doing that
  • Discovered poison on my weapon only sometimes overrides enchantments and suddenly Marwyth is a little more likely to use poisons, I think
  • Shot a springbok to get game, and flour from Gyllerah looting containers on Artaeum
  • Had to buy Bugloss to finish off writs

Finishing leveling Legerdemain

I started robbing the ships in Daggerfall because it was an easy way to level the Legerdemain stat. I was surprised, though, to discover that that stat only goes to 20. (Most of the stats in ESO go all the way up to 50.) So I reached that milestone in this set of sessions!

Therefore, arguably, I didn’t really need to rob the ships anymore. But I continued to do so because it’s fun. And also profitable. 😀 Not only money-wise, but also an excellent source of ingredients. I’ve continued hitting those ships in no small part as an easy way to nab ingredients to finish off writs!

As of this point I’m not hitting the ships daily any more. But I reserve the option to do so, just in case!

Fellow Vestige solidarity

I was vaguely surprised as well that the Vestige of Saint Veloth did not seem to know that I was a Vestige. I mean hell, people in this game keep figuring out all the time that I’m running around with no soul! I’d kind of think that if anybody ought to be able to recognize a Vestige, it’s another Vestige?

This portion of the Deshaan plot was perfectly acceptable “kill some daedra and close some wards” action. There was a bit of bumpiness, though, at least at one of the wards. One of the watchers, at the third ward I found, didn’t seem to spawn correctly. But it came back properly when I went off to take out the fourth ward and then came back.

The Corpse Garden delve

I could not find a local plot to run when I went in to hit the Corpse Garden delve. The wiki says there are plots to run there, but not ones I could trigger just by showing up and talking to any NPCs that happened to be standing around.

This was slightly disappointing, just because as I’ve written before, if I’m going to hit a delve, I like there to be a more interesting reason to go in there than just “I want to kill monsters and get the skyshard”.

Mind you, this didn’t stop me from doing it. I was just disappointed in the lack of immediately accessible local plot. ;D

Action at Eidolon’s Hollow

Apparently Almalexia did in fact spread the word that I was now one of her Hands, because an Ordinator at Eidolon’s Hollow greeted me as such. I think Marwyth is real unsure about that. And now that she’s actually getting called a Hand of Almalexia by not only Almalexia herself but also other authority figures in Morrowind, she’s not seeing a way to back out of this gracefully. Ohnoez!

Likelihood of stress relief by running off back to Abah’s Watch and stealing the fuck out of things, rising.

This part of the plot started getting more intriguing though when I was greeted in the Hollow by Aspera the Forgotten, a ghost. Who had real interesting (and snarky) commentary about what I was up to. The wiki suggests she was actually an avatar of Boethiah–and this seems plausible to me. She knew way too damned much about Vox’s past to not have had direct witness to it. And she came across as way too arrogant to have been some random underling or servant in Vox’s periphery.

Plus, she had the ability to show me those visions of Vox’s backstory. Which was, straight up, a good strong backstory. Her son had been a Daedra-worshipping fanatic, opposing the Three, and Vox had tried to talk him down but he’d blown her off.

He stole Veloth’s Judgment and killed a bunch of people with it, but was caught and confronted by Almalexia. At which point he called her a false god to her face.

Almalexia executed him, in front of Vox, who boy howdy did not take this well. And under the encouragement of a Shadow of Boethiah, she turned against the Three, stole the hammer (again? Why the hell didn’t the Ordinators lock this thing up after her son took it?), and unleashed the plague on Deshaan.

All of this, I figure, had to have struck a chill in Marwyth’s heart. Because here she is, already a an Ashlander heretic, and having severe doubts about having come into Almalexia’s orbit to begin with. And here she is seeing visions of what Almalexia does to people who dare to call her out.

Which put me into a position to then be disappointed by where the plot went next.

I really did like the surprise of Vox actually sensing me when I saw that third vision–which I feel like is another argument for “Aspera” having actually been some aspect of Boethiah, because I could totally see Boethiah letting that little vision be a two-way communication channel.

I was thinking, Marwyth has got to have some measure of sympathy here for this woman, she’s lost her son and she’s one of the few Dunmer willing to go THE TRIBUNAL ARE FALSE GODS! But on the other hand, she’s also spread fucking plague all over Deshaan and how, exactly, is this going to help the Dunmer shake off the rule of the Tribunal?

I took the “I’m listening” approach to the offer, but here’s the thing: it didn’t actually go anywhere.

She smacked me with Veloth’s Judgment, which “killed” me. (And I take issue with that given that, y’know, I’m supposed to be dead and all already. But I’ve had this same quibble about various things which have “killed” Gyllerah.) But then I had no plot options except to go ahead and rescue the souls she’d trapped, including her son’s.

And in the case of her son in particular, who didn’t remember what he’d done, I explicitly told him what his prior actions had been. I figure at this point Marwyth was pissed off enough at Vox, and not particularly thrilled about the son having committed murder in the name of his cause, that she wasn’t going to let the guy off the hook.

All of which made Vox show up to fight me anyway.

Once I finally took her out and Almalexia showed up, there was also no sign of Almalexia actually being pissed at me. So I came out of this disappointed that the plot didn’t actually present me with a legit way to actually take Vox up on her offer. It feels to me like that narrative wants you to at least consider it, but it doesn’t actually follow through on that.

And I suppose that practically speaking, it kind of can’t. We’re in the Second Era in this game, and we know for a fact that the Tribunal don’t lose power in Morrowind until the rise of the Nerevarine, and the Red Year. So nothing in ESO’s available plots is going to be able to raise an unresolvable threat to the Tribunal.

And the Vestige, IMO, would be an unresolvable threat. Particularly a Vestige post-Coldharbour. A hero powerful enough to go at it with Molag Fucking Bal, if she gets it into her head to turn against the Three, is either going to eventually take them down (which would break canon) or be destroyed by them (which wouldn’t be fun to play).

So I guess the closest this storyline can get is to let you be tempted by Vox’s offer. This is at least how I’m taking this, that Marwyth was seriously tempted, but pulled back at the last minute. Because again, this woman’s been spreading fucking plague all over Deshaan.

This will, I think, be a formative shift in Marwyth’s opinion of the Three, and of Almalexia in particular. I don’t think she’s willing to commit to actively worshipping them at this point, but she sure as hell respects that they are carrying some massive levels of power. Power that at the moment appears to be favorable to her–and which, I think, is going to cause her some consternation for a while as she wrestles with the implications of her getting the blessing of gods she’s grown up believing were false.

Onward to Shadowfen and Stormhold

Shadowfen is for the record definitely a change of pace after spending a bunch of plot time in Stonefalls and Deshaan. This started off with a murder mystery! And I enjoyed running that, particularly the reveal about the skin-stealers.

Plus, this is the first I’ve seen agents of the Dominion showing up in the Ebonheart Pact storyline. I knew Dominion agents were present in Shadowfen; I’ve seen signs of them just by general exploration through the area before. But now that I’m actually running story in Shadowfen, I get to see what exactly they’re doing.

Answer: shenanigans. And not very savory ones either, murdering citizens and using skin-stealers to impersonate them.

Not necessarily as big a deal for Marwyth, but I feel like Gyllerah is definitely not going to approve of this.

And, there was bonus Lyranth! Who had been captured, and was being used as a power source for the creation of the skin-stealers. My immediate reaction to this was “Geez lady, for an allegedly all-powerful dremora you sure do get captured a lot!” (Though in her defense, as I know from Skyrim, dremora lords get summoned all the damn time by powerful mages. But on the other hand, what exactly compels the dremora to answer?)

The part of Lyranth’s presence in this plot that intrigued me, though, was the Argonian artifact hunter who warned me that Lyranth couldn’t be trusted. This led me to have to decide whether to follow the Argonian’s plan for getting out of there, or Lyranth’s. An intriguing dilemma, given that so far, Marwyth hasn’t necessarily had any reason to not trust Lyranth in her dealings with her… but I went with the Argonian’s plan anyway. On the general grounds of she’s a frigging dremora. And Marwyth, I feel, is naturally suspicious.

(Which is to say, she probably didn’t necessarily trust the Argonian either. But at least the Argonian was a bit less likely to destroy her.)

Mind you, it is a testament to the strength of Lyranth as a character that I legit felt guilty about doublecrossing her. 😀 And it did piss Lyranth off. But she also seemed to not necessarily take it entirely personally; she seemed to think it was wise to not trust her. It’ll be interesting to see if this impacts any later RP with Lyranth, especially once Marwyth finally makes it into Coldharbour.

Next time

Marwyth’s urge to return to Abah’s Watch is going to have to be delayed, though. Because her next post is going to feature running the Azura prologue plot for Morrowind–and then heading off to Vvardenfell to begin the zone storyline there!


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.