Elessir Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Elessir Becomes Thane of Falkreath and Joins the Bards College

First of two posts I intend to put up today, to get caught up on Elessir’s playthrough. Main action in this one: becoming thane in Falkreath, running Ustengrav, and joining the Bards College. With a side helping of frustration over false starts and crashes!

Play by play

  • Play dates: 8/6, 8/10/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 6-7

Sunday the 6th

Getting the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller

  • Rode out and up past Tundra Homestead
  • Played out the meeting with Cicero; talked Loreius into helping him with the cart
  • Rode further north and west-ish to get into the area between Morthal and Dawnstar
  • Killed some frostbite spiders on the way
  • Went past the house that got torched by something
  • Fought with the bandits camped out nearby as per usual
  • Looted all their stuff but left it in the chest at the door of the ruins so I could come back and get it later
  • Then ran Ustengrav
  • Nothing too unusual this time through, though Lucien was definitely not impressed by the place, he called it horrendous 😉
  • Got the word for Become Ethereal
  • OHNOEZ there is no Horn
  • Looted dead bandits at the start of the barrow on the way out, and picked up the bandit loot in the chest
  • Had to tromp over a bit to get to Hildr, but mounted up and went off again

Moss Mother Cavern

  • No real surprises here, this was pretty much as previous playthroughs
  • Gave Valdr a healing potion
  • Helped him kill the spriggans and accepted his dagger as a payment
  • Also got Runil’s journal

Knifepoint Ridge

  • Coming in with a bigger Team Dragonborn meant this went pretty well all things considered
  • Took out all the bandits first, then looted everything, including the Daedric Plate armor

Getting the thaneship in Falkreath

  • Returned to Falkreath to give Runil his journal back
  • Found him in the Hall of the Dead; Thadgeir was also in there, so got his ashes quest too
  • Sold Mathies a potato to get his favor quest, which got me three favors done
  • Reported to the Jarl to get the thaneship

Loot management

  • Left the Daedric Plate, the Sapphire Dragon Claw, and Herebane’s sword and shield at Hendraheim
  • Got Witchplate armor and gauntlets, decided this would look bitching on Lydia, and made her a hood to round out the set

Leveling up

  • As of my last save I was level 19, so i took two more levels since the session before
  • Pretty sure I took Dwarven Smithing and the second rank of Armsman in One-handed as my perks

Getting Lakeview

  • Bought the land for Lakeview and started building it, but had only enough logs for the Small House
  • Had a boatload of iron and other mats but not enough logs
  • Tried to go to Half-Moon Mill to buy logs but there was no sign of Hert
  • Even dropped my tent and made a campfire just across the way from the mill, camping until the next morning, but Hert never emerged from the house and it stayed locked
  • Built exterior things at Lakeview anyway, and a few things inside, until I ran out of logs
  • Bonus side effect of camping: chatted enough with Lucien that i unlocked the ability to train him; taught him the Oakflesh spell, since I picked up an extra copy of that
  • Made Hunter armor since I had enough materials on hand for that, but not sure I like it, it doesn’t look as good on Elessir as the crimson archer stuff does
  • Left off with Lydia and Lucien at Lakeview


  • Got peddler vs. Forsworn coming out of Hendraheim, and saved the peddler

Thursday the 10th

  • Trouble getting started this session, between a crash and then getting killed by wolves 😛

Round 1

  • Started in Lakeview
  • Decided to try the mill once more to see if I could confirm that Hert was still alive
  • Encountered en route:
    • Hunter and horse
    • Madwoman fighting a bonewolf
  • Madwoman gushed at me about Sheogorath in his Solitude, like she does if you haven’t run the Wabbajack plot yet
  • Reached the mill and oh good Hert was still alive, finally found her and bought 100 logs
  • Returned to Lakeview and started on the Main House, but realized I had no corundum to make a lock for the door
  • Boinged to Whiterun and sold a bunch of stuff to Belethor, then bought corundum from Adrianne
  • Tried to boing back to Lakeview to work further on the house–and crashed between zone transitions 😛

Round 2

  • Again, started in Lakeview
  • Re-did going to the mill to get logs
  • Encountered en route:
    • Bear, dispatched same, for bear number 7
    • A couple of Vigilants (nope, sorry, no Daedra here just a perfectly normal Dark Elf citizen)
  • Re-did buying logs
  • Boinged to Whiterun first this time to get corundum
  • Boinged back to Lakeview and built a bunch of things
  • Lyds volunteered to be steward so I let her
  • Boinged back to Whiterun, wasn’t sure if Lyds came with me, she was still acting like she was following me
  • Slept at Breezehome and got up in the morning with just Lucien as follower
  • Decided to try to ride to the College of Winterhold
  • Cut northeast-ish across the plains
  • Encountered en route:
    • Thalmor execution squad, dispatched
    • Multiple wolves in different spots
  • Hit corundum vein near unmarked bandit camp under the overhang
  • Found Whitewatch Tower
  • Found Heljarchen (the town, not the house) and also Yorgrim Overlook
  • Killed by ice wolves right by Yorgrim Overlook just as I was trying to throw the Kyne’s Peace Shout at them, ouch
  • Thrown back to Lakeview, just after coming out the door from building things because I remembered to quicksave

Round 3

  • Picked up with Lyds re-volunteering to be steward so I let her
  • Bought more logs, as much as I had gold for, and did more building
  • Improved my steel sword and the chainmail mage hood I made before
  • Dropped my tent outside Lakeview because I didn’t have any straw for beds yet
  • Slept until morning and got Lydia back on duty
  • Fast traveled to Western Watchtower and rode northeast-ish along the plains
  • Got three bandits vs. conjurer and got in on that battle, pretty even fight; looted everybody after it was over
  • Very close to unmarked bandit camp but not close enough to piss off the bandit I saw looking at us
  • Re-did that corundum vein and finding Whitewatch Tower
  • Had another fight with a wolf that couldn’t seem to make up its mind about whether to attack us, but Lucien finally took it out
  • Got horse back in follow mode since that’s helpful on the road
  • Made it to Heljarchen and sold bandit loot there to their smith
  • Went through Wayward Pass
  • Decided to try to hit Bloodchill Cavern, which was a big mistake–got my ass handed to me half a dozen times

Round 4

  • Re-did going to the mill to buy logs and this time I just fast traveled there, HI HERT SELL ME LOGS PLEASE
  • Went to Whiterun to buy corundum and straw this time so I could make beds in Lakeview
  • Returned to Lakeview and built out more of the place
  • I think Lyds volunteered to be steward again, but it didn’t seem to take? Or else I was mistaken, because I had to ask her again later
  • Got enough stuff built out in the Main House to have the bed in the front as well as the beds upstairs, and to start in on the other rooms and the cellar
  • Once I ran out of logs again, decided to boing to Solitude and start on the Bards College
  • Got in there fairly late but Viarmo and Malukah were awake so I was able to do the initial ‘sign me up please’, including getting a room to sleep in
  • Slept the night, then played through Malukah’s quizzes up until drum proficiency
  • Remembered I actually had a drum back at Whiterun, so didn’t try to make a new one
  • Got a bounty off Corpulus at the Winking Skeever–Ironback Hideout 😀
  • Went off to run that and acquired tasty crossbows for Team Dragonborn
  • Returned to Solitude to have another round of sleeping, then got up the next morning to sell all my bandit loot to Beirand and also assorted things to Sayma
  • Got the quest to show off Radiant Raiment clothes to Elisif and sure yeah why not, Elessir should know style 😉
  • Discovered the blue bandanna I bought him clips through the red cowl though, and that’s no damn good, oh well bye bandanna
  • Got Noster’s quest for his helmet, this time at Rimerock Burrow, where I’ve already been
  • Went up to the Blue Palace to collect the bandit bounty; also got the hook for the Potema quest, to go investigate Wolfskull Cave
  • Boinged to Whiterun to pick up the drum
  • Confirmed the Bards College books still won’t show up on bookshelves this playthrough either
  • Boinged back to Lakeview for building
  • Had to ask Lydia to be steward again, so I could get her to buy logs
  • Did a lot more building out of the Main Hall, and saved there until next time


I forgot to take notes about the session on the 6th just after I ran it, so I had to reconstruct it from memory! I make no promises about it being in chronological order.

I am not sure if I ever knew that that torched house between Morthal and Dawnstar, which I do know I’ve run into before, was super close to Ustengrav. This discovery comes courtesy of coming at Ustengrav from a different angle, I guess! Because I was coming in from the east this time, versus coming in through Morthal which is what I’ve usually done in previous playthroughs.

In my notes I’d written that I was still having trouble with Whirlwind Sprint and getting past the puzzle with the gate. And that I still wasn’t clear on whether I should just hit Left Bumper or Left Bumper + Left Stick. This right here is why I specifically practiced this when I took Finds-The-Way to Ustengrav! But this session was run first, so I didn’t have that knowledge yet.

Nothing too unusual otherwise in running Ustengrav this time, though I was amused again by Lucien being horrified by the place. Oh, you sweet summer child, just wait till you see some of the other places the Dragonborn is going to take you.

Lucien’s line was, and I quote:

“Yep. This place seems great. Ustengrav, party capital of Skyrim. Oh wait, my mistake. It’s horrendous.”

LOL. I note he said this pretty much as we were coming in, too. Before we got to all the walking draugr and the pissed-off necromancers and skeletons and giant spiders!

I continue to be dryly amused by running Moss Mother Cavern and seeing Valdr claim he’s going to hang around and bury his dead friends, and then promptly walk right out of the cave. So by “bury his dead friends”, he clearly means “wait for the game’s corpse cleanup scripts to despawn them”. ;D Still, I assume for the sake of narrative that Valdr did, in fact, bury them.

Had some similar amusement at finding Runil in the Hall of the Dead to give him his journal back–and finding Thadgeir there at the same time, to get his “give his friend’s ashes to Runil” quest. Why Thadgeir didn’t just give Runil the ashes himself, since he was literally in the same room with him, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

I’m feeling kind of underwhelmed by most of the Heavy Armor options in Immersive Armors, to be honest. But I do kind of like the Witchplate. At first glance it looks like standard steel armor, but the added details of blue trim and the glowing Daedric letters are neat without being too blatant. And I like the hood. I’ve got Lydia wearing the Witchplate now, and it’s nice to have her armored up with something that lets me still see her face.

Mind you, I’m also fairly sure the Witchplate isn’t exactly lore-friendly. And that anything calling itself “Witchplate” really ought to have enchantments on it. (I see this question was in fact addressed by a mod that specifically puts enchantments on that armor, at least for non-SE Skyrim.) Once Elessir is powerful enough at enchanting, I will in fact probably enchant that armor for Lyds.

Light-armor-wise, I’m definitely preferring the Crimson Archer. I also made a Hunter set since I had materials for that, but I’m not sure I like it. It does seem to be higher caliber armor than the Crimson Archer, but it also looks too bulky on Elessir.

Finding Hert to buy logs at Half-Moon Mill proved surprisingly challenging. I showed up there during the day and found no sign of Hert being out, and the door to the house was locked. I even made a camp to hang out nearby, but never spotted her. And it’s only when I came back later, at night, did I realize that Immersive Citizens probably rearranged her behavior. I found her out at the mill and was able to buy logs from her at that point.

And it does make sense that Immersive Citizens would make her nocturnal. At least, I’m assuming it’s Immersive Citizens? Cutting Room Floor or maybe the USSEP might be factors here.

Still, it was disconcerting at least for a bit. I was briefly concerned that Hert might have been killed by something–which would have raised the interesting question of what, exactly, would happen to her body. Falkreath’s Hall of the Dead doesn’t have anywhere to actually put dead bodies! And I’ve seen in previous playthroughs that people that die in Falkreath in fact just lay around dead for the reason of the game.

Which does seem problematic, given Falkreath’s rep as being so gloomy and the place where so many people, well, die. But its Hall of the Dead just seems to be a tiny building. And Falkreath, unlike everywhere else in Skyrim, has an actual graveyard. So at least in theory, I’d assume that the dead of Falkreath would be buried in that graveyard. Clearly, though, the game’s not set up to handle that automatically.

Playing on the 10th was frustrating, due to multiple false starts. The crash that killed my first attempt was weird, a crash I’d never seen before, one that happened in zone transitions. I tried to fast travel from Whiterun to Lakeview. The UI froze on a still of the front of Lakeview–but with the UI for loading screens, and the text in the lower right corner kept changing, like it does if the loading screen is up for more than a few seconds. I finally had to hard reboot the Deck to get out of this.

And then I made the mistake of trying to hit Bloodchill Cavern. Since I ran Bloodchill as a vamp in Harrow’s run, that meant the only other time I’d done this was as Shenner–and I’d forgotten the damn waiter is level 65. I re-confirmed this when I checked previous playthrough posts.

Elessir, at level 19, was not ready to take on that waiter. I’m going to have to come back when I have a lot more firepower.

But at least on the fourth time through on that session, I finally kept going. And was able to get the Ironback Hideout bounty in Solitude, which let me clear the cellar with the tasty, tasty crossbows. These will be handy later.

I was a bit surprised that Noster’s quest for his helmet pointed at Rimerock Burrow. I wasn’t expecting to get repeat locations this early in the playthrough!

Next time

I’ve already run Elessir’s next couple of sessions, and I’ll cover those in his next post. Main action there will be running the Potema quest, and also going with Delphine to Kynesgrove to fight Sahloknir.


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.