Elessir Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Elessir Saves the Gildergreen and Joins the College of Winterhold

Since I’m running three different playthroughs concurrently right now, I decided I don’t want Elessir and Finds-The-Way doing the exact same things. So while Elessir will be headed eventually for the Thieves Guild, Finds is running that right now. So Elessir’s heading to the College of Winterhold!

Also featured in this post: saving the Gildergreen, and getting a swanky new set of armor.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 8/18, 8/22/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 10-11

Friday the 18th

  • Forgot to record last session that I got up to level 23
  • Did a bunch of shopping in Whiterun to lighten the load and get more iron
  • Destroyed some things on Farengar’s table, and bought a bunch of spells from him in Destruction and Illusion schools
  • Got him to give me the prompt to go to the college
  • Sold a few more things to Ri’saad outside Whiterun
  • Boinged off to Solitude; came in late so went to the Bards College to sleep in my bed there
  • Got up the next morning and did some instrument practice, then found Malukah and passed the flute playing exam; got directive to study the Poetic Edda next
  • But first went to the Blue Palace to check in with Elisif, who happily gave me permission to buy property in the city
  • Boinged next to Lakeview to drop off a bunch of things, and slept again
  • Rode out the next morning to head to Autumnwatch Tower
  • Encountered en route:
    • Stormcloak, probably from nearby camp
    • Probable hunter, the one who usually hangs out near Haemar’s Shame with a horse
    • Thalmor + prisoner, who told me to fuck off; did not bother engaging them
  • Killed a couple of wolves
  • Cleared the Alchemist’s Shack, re-discovering it this time because last time had been wiped in game problems
  • Re-picked up Thistle the bunny and got the bun following me
  • Headed on over to the tower, and re-discovered Imperial camp
  • Fought with bandits from Bthalft since they ran over to start some shit; this was a poor life choice on the part of the bandits since we were better armed
  • Just for that, assholes, I’m taking all your stuff and also looting your camp at the ruins, so there!
  • Found and killed a sabre cat who I think must have also killed the pit wolves and bouncer from Craglane that I found lying around
  • Took out a bear
  • Cleared the nearby corundum and silver veins
  • Found the tower, the dragon, and the Word Wall, then killed the dragon, taking it out with a snipe from up on the tower while Lydia and Lucien fought it down on the ground
  • Looted the tower on the way back down, then got the dragon soul and looted the dragon
  • Returned to Lakeview
  • Built a chest in the cellar and also the shrine to Dibella
  • Did some alchemy to burn through backlog of ingredients
  • Took another sleep
  • Next day’s adventure: heading to the Sleeping Tree giant camp
  • Set out onto the road near Lakeview to head west–and IMMEDIATE DRAGON, oy 😆
  • Took it out quickly, then set back out on the road
  • Also encountered:
    • Hunter and horse
    • Skeletons, dispatched
    • Thalmor without prisoner, did not bother to engage
    • Probably Hern walking towards Half-Moon Mill?
  • Reached the giant camp but the giant I had to kill was inside the cave; avoided the other one, and the three, count ‘em, three mammoths
  • Lyds, Lucien, and I took out the giant in the cave
  • Found Ysolda’s Orc contact dead
  • Also found a new journal on him, and an entire set of Apotheus Armor; took all of that, and all of the extra sap that was on him and in his backpack
  • Returned to Whiterun and slept at Breezehome
  • Got up the next morning and reported to Proventus to get the giant bounty
  • LOL, caught Hrongar and Proventus having the convo where Hrongar tries to get Proventus to talk the Jarl into engaging in the war, but they were having it right in front of Balgruuf, so that seems a poor life choice on Hrongar’s part ;D
  • Got the bounty, and also bought Tundra Homestead since I had enough gold for it
  • Checked in with Ysolda about Ulag, but kept all the Sleeping Tree sap so I could use it to improve the armor
  • Bought more iron from both Adrianne and Ulfberth at Warmaiden’s
  • Returned to Lakeview to do more building; put smelter and safes and some of the aquarium stuff in the cellar
  • Improved all the Apotheus armor
  • Took another sleep
  • Returned to Whiterun to talk to Danica about the Gildergreen; got the quest to go after the hagravens for Nettlebane
  • Random Redguard woman attacked me on the road to Riverwood, at the bend where I’ve seen M’aiq before (and he was there this time, too, and ran out of the way of the battle)
  • Continued on after taking out the Redguard
  • Leveled up to 24; took Health bump and Apprentice Destruction perk
  • Reached Orphan Rock and took out the witches and the hagraven; got Nettlebane
  • Boinged right back to Whiterun; did the convo with Danica and picked up Maurice as follower
  • However, Maurice buggered off for some damn reason on the way to the Sanctuary, and he did not show up again
  • Tried to run the quest by getting the sap, but I am not happy with the idea of doing the quest this way, so rolled back to Lakeview for a do over
  • Re-did getting the quest to go after Nettlebane
  • This time, giant and cow, but also M’aiq again, at the bend in the road
  • Got Nettlebane again
  • Leveled up to 24 destroying a circlet on the hagraven’s enchanter table; took same perks as before
  • Boinged back to Whiterun to check in with Danica after a sleep; got Maurice on board
  • This time fast traveled to Mixwater Mill to keep the doofus alive long enough to finish the quest
  • Sapling acquired! Maurice left safely at the Sanctuary! So I don’t have to think about him again! ;P
  • Fast traveled back to Whiterun to give it to Danica
  • Bought a bunch of iron at Warmaiden’s
  • Boinged back to Lakeview to build more things, but realized I needed corundum too, oops
  • Mostly added aquarium stuff and furniture upstairs
  • Improved the Apotheus armor a little further
  • Saved there until next time

Tuesday the 22nd

  • Picked up at Lakeview and did some building
  • Got Lucien and Lydia back on duty and set out on Hildr; rode from Lakeview to Tundra Homestead
  • Encountered en route:
    • Wolf, dispatched by Lucien, who was surprisingly aggro chasing it from the road!
    • Wedding party trying to get to Solitude, did not speak to them
  • Reached Tundra Homestead and unlocked it
  • Picked up useful stuff by the forge; cleared the corundum vein
  • Rode on from there, and encountered:
    • Random courier
    • Guard of the Pale
    • Frost troll, dispatched
  • Reached Heljarchen; sold some pelts to the smith to get some more coin
  • Did a performance at Nightgate Inn just to get it into my book and also get a room
  • Read the note to get the quest for the Iron Plate armor, Brothers in Iron
  • Took the guard’s journal out of the barrel
  • Got a bounty from the innkeeper to kill the bandit leader at Fort Fellhammer
  • Slept in my room, then got up in the morning to ride on to the College of Winterhold–which took three tries
  • Take one:
    • Went through Wayward Pass
    • Discovered Alftand
    • Killed an ice wolf and a frost troll
    • Spotted a pack of six white wolves
    • Then the damn game crashed 😛
  • Take two:
    • Thrown back to coming out of the inn
    • Went through Wayward Pass again
    • This time got bandits vs. ice wraiths, took them out and looted everything
    • Re-marked Alftand for the map
    • Mined an orichalcum vein
    • Trudged onward to Winterhold
    • Killed a ridiculous number of ice wolves and snow bears
    • Saw the white wolves a second time
    • Killed by a spriggan and her sabre cat >_<
  • Take three:
    • Not thrown back very far this time, just back to the orichalcum vein
    • Yet more ice wolves and snow bears
  • Saw the initial convo between Birna and Ranmir
  • Parked Hildr at the base of the bridge up into the college
  • This time Faralda asked me for a Magelight spell; CAN DO
  • Lucien still thoroughly disgusted by how easy the entrance exam is ;D
  • Went in to talk to Mirabelle and get set up as an apprentice
  • Did initial lesson with Tolfdir, who then proclaimed it to be a good idea for us to all go to Saarthal! With night falling! And it being COLD AS BALLS because we’re in fucking Winterhold XD
  • And as soon as we all got outside: BLOOD DRAGON
  • It crashed onto the Hall of Countenance and died pretty damn fast, I barely had to throw any lightning at it
  • Ran up to slurp the dragon soul, then headed out to Saarthal
  • Got Hildr into follow-me mode on the suspicion I’d be overloaded by the time I got out again
  • Got there way ahead of the other mages, and had to go back up to the top of the stairs to see where the hell they were
  • Hildr was also at the top of the stairs, apparently didn’t want to follow me down the ramps
  • Tolfdir and the others finally showed up–including a frost atronach and a flame atronach so they must have been fighting something on the way
  • Proceeded to run Saarthal; went fairly easily with Lyds and Lucien as my backup
  • Killed once by early draugr but not thrown back very far, and the fight with Jyrik at the end went very quickly
  • As expected did get overloaded, but got through okay
  • Got directive to return to the college to tell the Arch-Mage about the orb
  • Got word for Ice Form off the Word Wall, and got boss loot
  • Notable loot: Einherjar Dark Cuirass, but not sure I like the look of it
  • Got out and got on Hildr, and rode back over into Winterhold
  • Sold Birna a bunch of the extra stuff I was carrying
  • Came out of her store and heard a guard yelling help, and saw a red dot on the compass; horse ran off a bit, and Lucien went into attack mode–but I did not see what provoked this
  • No sign of a dragon, so maybe a critter got too close to the town and ran off again? Dunno!
  • Went up to the college to see Savos and reported to him about the orb
  • Got the Staff of Magelight which made me overloaded again, also got directive to talk to Mirabelle
  • As I came downstairs, got intercepted by Faralda who warned me about Ancano; bought Destruction training from her
  • Leveled up to 25; took Magicka bump and Apprentice perk in Alteration
  • Went over to Hall of Countenance, found Mirabelle and got her instruction to report to Urag for research
  • Headed into the Arcaneum and looked at several items in there for the skill bumps
  • Urag gave me the directive to go find Orthorn and get the books from him at Fellglow Keep
  • Intercepted by Ancano on the way out who was all I EXPECT A REPORT FROM TOLFDIR
  • Elessir: “Yes, and? This is my problem why?”
  • Went back down to the town to get my horse; mounted up and fast traveled back to Lakeview
  • Had to kill a giant that was hassling Rayya, then dropped off a bunch of things
  • Boinged to Whiterun to sell stuff and stock up on corundum
  • Elk running amok when I fast traveled to the stables! We had to take out the primary amok elk, and the others ran off
  • Boinged back to Lakeview
  • Tried to start the Armory Wing only to realize I was out of logs dammit, and didn’t have enough money anymore to pay Lydia to replenish the logs
  • Saved there until next time

Apotheus Armor

First thing I want to call out for this post is finally finding how you get the Apotheus armor set with Immersive Armors: you need to clear Sleeping Tree Camp!

I gotta say, I quite liked the journal the mod adds in for Ulag the Orc. It fills in a pretty good little backstory explaining how he got kicked out of Dushnikh Yal because of having a skooma problem, and how he continued to have a skooma problem even as he wound up in Whiterun and tried to take up as an apprentice to Eorlund Gray-Mane. Yet, even as he was wrestling with his skooma problem, he did manage to come up with an excellent armor design…

Only to be caught on skooma by Eorlund and kicked out of Whiterun. Oops. Awkward.

So he tries to go back for more of the sleeping tree sap, only to be slain by the giants, who really do not like the smell of skooma. Awkward^2.

But this explains why he’s got the armor and why you need Sleeping Tree Sap to improve it, because that’s how he designed it.

And I was surprised to like it as much as I did! It’s sleeker than the Crimson Ranger, and it’s got a hood that’s friendly to elf ears. I expect that by extension, it is probably also friendly to Khajiit ears. It’s very good that the hood is an option–because I’m not a fan of the helmet, really. It’s too close-fitting on the head for my tastes.

I’ve now made it Elessir’s primary armor. I will have to go back to that camp again later to get more of the sap, though, for further armor improvements. Which means I do actually now have a reason to revisit the place!

Still not a fan of Maurice, but…

I learned this time through that when running the quest to do the restoration of the Gildergreen, even though I really don’t like Maurice as a character, I like the prospect of doing the “get the sap that Danica asked for” version of this plot even less.

I tried that this time, partly because Maurice ran off on the way to the Eldergleam Sanctuary. And may have gotten killed by something, I don’t know. What I do know is that even though I did wait for him for several in-game hours by the Sanctuary, he never showed up.

And wow I was really not comfortable running the “get the sap” version of the plot. I still very much feel like it’s not fair to the worshippers in the Sanctuary that the spriggans kill them, because they didn’t do anything. And, heh, to just dig the knife in a little further, Lucien had a reaction line that made me wince:

“It’s awful saving the Gildergreen led to such violence. I only hope Kynareth can forgive us.”


So, yeah. I wound up rolling back and re-doing the entire quest, just because I was really not comfortable with that outcome. Even though Maurice is absolutely a douche, particularly when he whines about how taking the sap to save “that half-breed stump in Whiterun” is a complete 180 from him giving shit to Danica about the condition of that very same tree.

I still want to redo this entire plot, mind you. But until such time as I have the skills to write a Skyrim mod, I’ll have to settle for running it in Maurice’s favor. And preferably getting his ass to the Sanctuary as fast as possible so the doofus doesn’t die on me.

Getting College of Winterhold underway

After this many times running the College of Winterhold plotline, I still have to giggle anyway over how Tolfdir gives his apprentices one lesson and then decides it’s a good time to cart everybody off to Saarthal! This is particularly lolworthy if he does it when night is falling, just to make extra special sure that it’s cold as balls, because the college is in Winterhold.

(Which does underscore for me, I feel, that it wrecks my ability to get into Survival Mode if I’m walking around with a bunch of mages in robes, none of whom appear to be the slightest bit troubled by the cold, while I myself am freezing to death. ;P)

This time through, I got the extra surprise of a Blood Dragon showing up as soon as we all exited the Hall of the Elements. I’ve commented before that the College of Winterhold is a poor choice for dragons to attack in general. But this time it was a particularly bad decision on the dragon’s part, with the courtyard full of half a dozen mages, all of whom were capable of throwing ranged Destruction spells around. Plus one cranky housecarl with a crossbow!

The dragon died very fast. I barely had time to throw a lightning bolt at it. LOL.

I saw multiple atronachs summoned at that point, which provoked me into looking up which spells the three apprentice characters know. Onmund knows five spells, J’zargo knows thirteen, and Brelyna knows fourteen, including Flame and Frost Atronach. So one of those atronachs summoned was definitely hers.

What confuses me here though is that the wiki does not show Tolfdir as knowing any atronach spells. Onmund and J’zargo, likewise. So not at all clear who the hell summoned the other atronach. I haven’t taught Lucien how to call one yet! And I’m pretty sure that neither he nor Lydia picked up an atronach conjuring staff.

The only conclusion I can draw here is that Brelyna has 100 in Conjuration and can therefore summon two atronachs at once if she wants to. But if she’s packing that level of magical ability already, why the hell is she bothering with the College?

(I guess this all ties into Tolfdir’s advocating the kind of magical control that comes from decades of study and practice? Brelyna’s clearly packing a lot of power, but doesn’t have much in the way of experience yet…)

Also a question here of whether one of my mods actually bumped up Brelyna’s power. I have never seen her summon two atronachs at once in a non-modded playthrough.

I think I’ll need to look at her Conjuration stat in both Elessir’s and Finds’ playthroughs, just to see what it’s set to! That’ll be interesting. If I understand the relevant console command correctly, if I’m in the same room as her, I should be able to launch the console, click on her to make her the active ID, and then enter:

getAV Conjuration

I’ll try this later. 😀

Favorite Lucien lines

As I noted above, Lucien’s line reacting to the sap version of the Gildergreen quest was a big ol’ ouch. But here’s the rest of his notable lines from these sessions, some of which I already noted during Harrow’s run, but I’m noting them again here anyway, because they made me LOL.

While chatting with me at the campfire, during my attempt to wait for Maurice to catch up to us at the Sanctuary:

“He was around in the Second Era. Got involved in all sorts of things – the Alliance War, Molag Bal’s Planemeld, a disproportionate amount of crocodile fighting…”

While I finished up playing the get the sapling version of the Gildergreen quest:

“A new Gildergreen… it’s a drastic solution, but it seems right. Kynareth would approve.”

Reacting to Faralda’s testing me on the bridge into the college:

“This is all it takes to join the College of Winterhold? Not even a written paper? Pah. The Arcane University would never allow such nonsense.”

And he will not shut up about the test, either, even while we are walking in earshot of the Destruction trainer who gave me said test, LOL:

“Well in spite of the farce that was that entrance exam, this place is definitely worth seeing. Let’s go and get that tour!”

Reacting to Mirabelle ordering me off to the Arcaneum to research the orb we found in Saarthal:

“Oh, excellent, looks like we’ve got some old-fashioned research to do. My speciality.”

I get the sense I could lose Lucien completely in the Arcaneum if I didn’t pay active attention to his whereabouts. ;D

Next time

Fellglow Keep, most likely. Where I will need to remember to get the goldfish out of the pond, because I’ll need those later for Fishing quest purposes!

And I want to get that Armory Wing at Lakeview underway, so I’ll need to replenish my gold supply. Which running Fellglow should do nicely.

And since I’ll be within range of it, a visit up to Shearpoint will also be called for. Because I want that Throw Voice Shout, oh my yes.

Time permitting, I may also swing back to Solitude and hit up the books about the Poetic Edda.


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.