Kendeshel Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Kendeshel Comes to Skyrim in Search of Relics

NEW PLAYTHROUGH! And this is a big chonky playthrough start, because in this one, I’m running Legacy of the Dragonborn. And Alternate Start. Which means I had a whole new way to experience the start of a Skyrim run, with a whole big new gigantic mod to play with. This is going to be fun. 😀

Play by play

  • Play date: 9/3-9/4/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 1-2

Sunday the 3rd

  • Created Kendeshel but didn’t play for real yet, just tested that my chosen load order was working
  • Started off with Alternate Start – Live Another Life, really liked the simplicity of that, and the room to park in to let all the mods do their thing before I did anything out of the gate
  • Chose “I took a ship to Skyrim” off the Mara statue and told it to drop me in Solitude, which gave me the option to come in as a hired relic hunter for the museum, which sounded good so I took that
  • Used the nearby empty bed to initiate play
  • Landed on the docks at Solitude, wearing Relic Hunter gear and carrying a few other basic things
  • Got a letter from the person in charge of the museum
  • Saved at that point

Monday the 4th

  • Headed into Solitude; cue the execution!
  • About which Kendeshel was rather appalled, but she’s here on business, so headed over to the gallery to check the place out
  • Spoke with Auryen the curator who gave me his “ten septim tour”
  • Also got some initial suggested places from him to start gathering relics–including Helgen and Bleak Falls Barrow, HOW CONVENIENT
  • Spent a considerable amount of time just exploring the space, and picked up the Curator’s Guide book as per Auryen’s recommendation
  • Slept in the safehouse and then got up to go prep to go to Helgen
  • Got a reminder to pray, so did so, via the Pray option on my Powers menu
  • Saw an unfamiliar NPC (clearly added in by Legacy) so stopped to chat with him; he talked about being independently wealthy though he doesn’t dress it, so he has the luxury to just be out enjoying the day
  • Stopped at the Winking Skeever to chat with Corpulus and get some rumors
  • Got a rumor about something going down in Helgen, GOSH I WONDER WHAT THAT COULD BE
  • Also got a bounty to go run Ironback Hideout, awesome, will be back later for that tasty crossbow action, but not doing that at level 1
  • Chatted with Blaise the stable boy a bit just because I hadn’t ever done so before, but sorry kid, I can’t adopt you yet
  • First task: bought the Wild Horses map from the stablemaster
  • Then walked down through Dragon Bridge to get over to the area to find the Dappled Brown Wild Horse
  • On the way, found Frost River for the map
  • Also found an Altar of Z’en, why hello there Wintersun addition, I see you
  • Spotted Khajiit going by
  • Got past Frost River and found Meeko! Oh hey, I think I could use a doggo as a level 1 starting character
  • Followed Meeko to the shack and got him to follow me; took his dead owner’s journal and cleared the place of food, and read the skill book lying there
  • Hoofed it over to find the wild horse and tame it
  • Fast traveled back to Katla’s Farm so I could register it
  • Paid for steel armor
  • Also paid for registering and naming the horse, who is now named Rigmor, looks like i’m riding a stallion this time!
  • Convenient Horses started up, and I discovered i could bypass the whole training sequence, good
  • It cost me 500 gold, not so good, that wiped out most of the money I had left ;P
  • Set the horse up the way I like in the settings, then set out again to go to Helgen for reals this time
  • But it was getting late in the day so stopped at the inn in Dragon Bridge
  • Tried to see if I could run the Steel Soldier Armor plot; answer, NO
  • Peladius killed me a few times and almost killed Meeko, which was NOT ACCEPTABLE
  • Retreated back to Solitude and sold some stuff I was carrying, including most of the gear off the dead guard
  • Discovered Sayma has different hair because of the Redguard hairdos mod i’m running, cool
  • Earned enough gold to get additional leather to improve some of the Relic Hunter gear I’m wearing
  • Got some steel to improve the Imperial bow off the dead guard
  • Burned through ingredients in Angeline’s Aromatics; sold her a potion I made out of that, which she called an “interesting” mixture, LOL
  • Also told her sorry, I hadn’t been to Whiterun; weird answering her question that way!
  • Sold rings at Radiant Raiment
  • Took the cart to Whiterun
  • Saw the convo with Uthgerd and Skulvar about Cicero and his cart
  • Discovered I could in fact get into Whiterun!
  • Rented a room at the Bannered Mare and slept the night
  • Headed back out to head for Riverwood; killed a couple of wolves en route
  • Passed some Imperials with a prisoner who all immediately drew their swords and told me “this is not your concern, citizen”; did not engage
  • Made it to Riverwood and rode on through over to Helgen–at which point I spotted Alduin flying away, GASP
  • Immediately failed the urns objective I’d gotten from Auryen
  • Went in to investigate the place since I triggered an objective for that (and I was curious!)
  • Found a burned corpse with an adventurer’s journal that basically described the normal cart sequence, LOL
  • Investigated the place a little further, grabbed a few items to sell, and decided to investigate the caves the journal mentioned
  • Found the entrance into the cave that you usually come out of in a vanilla run
  • Found Hadvar lying wounded nearby
  • He was all basically WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE WE HAVE TO WARN RIVERWOOD, and asked me for a healing potion, which I gave him
  • We got out together and the normal game flow kicked in at that point
  • Stopped at the Guardian Stones and chose Mage
  • Killed three wolves, an alpha and two regular ones, near Riverwood
  • Played out the usual scene with Hadvar cluing Alvor in as to what was going on
  • Got request to go to Whiterun to warn the Jarl
  • But first, went into the trader to sell stuff and get the quest to get the Golden Claw
  • Got Camilla to show me the path up to Bleak Falls Barrow
  • Headed back to Whiterun; this time the city was locked as per usual, and I got the guard to let me in with the line about Riverwood being in danger
  • Headed on up to Dragonsreach and played through talking to the Jarl and Farengar as per normal
  • Got quest to go get the Dragonstone
  • It was very late game time though so rented a room at the Bannered Mare again and slept the night
  • Sold some stuff to Belethor in the morning
  • Reached 500 gold so hired Jenassa!
  • Headed back out with her trekking along with me and Meeko
  • Killed a couple more wolves on the way
  • Cleared the initial bandit tower
  • Found the first of three Fate Cards acquired in this session, in the chest in that tower
  • Also: spotted an icon on the compass indicating another shrine nearby, but did not find it before getting up to Bleak Falls Barrow proper
  • Fought all the exterior bandits with Meeko and Jenassa’s help
  • Got in and took out the first two bandits; looted them too as well as the two extra corpses
  • Think i leveled up to 2 around here somewhere? Took Stamina bump and first Light Armor perk
  • Found a rolled up painting on the chest by the bandit bedrolls
  • Proceeded on through the barrow and hit all the usual spots, but looking for anything I didn’t know from previous playthroughs
  • The chest just before Arvel the Swift had turquoise in it! That’s new!
  • Being overloaded though made the two swinging blades traps in the barrow a problem; had to heal myself a lot going through them
  • Found a dig site in the boss chamber! Dug at that and found a couple of Nordic fragments
  • Then got the word off the Word Wall and fought the boss draugr
  • Found another Fate card in the boss chest
  • Confused by my quest markers–thought I’d missed something and stashed a bunch of loot in the boss chest so I could go back and check
  • But unfortunately I found that the damn blades trap turned back on again after I passed it
  • And it killed Meeko, dang
  • Leveled up to 3 somewhere in this dungeon; took Health bump and first perk in One-handed
  • Got my loot back and got out
  • Stopped to mine the corundum vein
  • Called my horse; we shall assume for narrative purposes that I had the horse camped nearby 😉
  • Fast traveled back to Riverwood and sold a bunch of bandit loot to Alvor
  • Turned in the Golden Claw to Lucan
  • Bought a Clairvoyance spell from him, a dark leather backpack, and a small tent with a bedroll
  • Came back out and mounted up to return to Whiterun
  • Reported back to Dragonsreach and turned in the Dragonstone
  • Cue Irileth showing up with warning about the dragon, and Balgruuf drafting me to help go fight the beast as per usual
  • Jenassa was still actively following me, so she fought the dragon with us at the watchtower too
  • Paid closer attention this time to Mirmulnir’s dialogue and heard him calling out in the dragon tongue as well as Tamrielic
  • Took him out finally after some attempt to fire on him from inside the tower, and then on top of it
  • Sent back to Whiterun, cue the Greybeards going BOOM
  • Got back inside the city and reported to Dragonsreach
  • Got the quest to go to High Hrothgar, and got thaned up; got the Greatsword of Whiterun, clearly a Legacy change to the weapon
  • HI LYDIA! Asked Jenassa to stand down so I could get Lydia on duty
  • Went back to the inn and rented a room again so I could sleep
  • Got up the next morning and went back to Dragonsreach to get the quest for the Bow of Shadows
  • Bought a bunch of spells off of Farengar on the way out
  • Went to Arcadia’s shop; did a bit of alchemy at her table, and got the business ledger
  • Went to the Hall of the Dead and got Andurs his amulet back, after killing a few skeletons
  • Read the note about the skeever
  • Came back out again and went to the stable to get the note and the spellbook and stuff
  • On the way out got stopped by the two Alik’r warriors at the gate looking for Saadia
  • Headed off on Rigmor to Silent Moons Camp
  • Took out the exterior bandits–though I discovered that of course I don’t have the magicka to call a flame atronach yet ;P
  • Cleared the Lunar Forge and found another Fate Card in that boss chest
  • I think this is where I leveled up to 4?
  • Still had quest marker wanting me to go inside for further investigation for the gallery, but the bandits in there were a bit too high level for me and Lyds, we had to retreat
  • Returned to Whiterun instead to finish the Bow of Shadows plot
  • Sold bandit loot at Warmaiden’s on the way in
  • Took the level up and a Magicka bump on the way up to Dragonsreach
  • Went in to take out the assassin, startling the Jarl’s daughter as we did so–though Lydia, and then the Jarl and irileth, actually did most of the work
  • Got in the last shot on the assassin, at which point I discovered that the Bow of Shadows had been renamed Bow of Obfuscation :O
  • Checked in with Proventus and got his reward for taking out the assassin
  • On the way out of Dragonsreach took Novice Conjuration perk
  • Slept at the Bannered Mare
  • Did some smithing
  • Went back up to Dragonsreach and blew up stuff on Farengar’s table to learn the enchantments
  • Leveled up to 5; took Stamina bump and Novice Destruction perk
  • Bought a bunch of spells off of Farengar again
  • Got his quest to take frost salts to Arcadia, and dropped those off
  • Headed back to Silent Moons Camp to see about finding the bit I needed to investigate
  • Realized I could get to where the quest marker was pointing by using the walkway in the back to jump down into the ruined tower, and then go through the trapdoor from there, which let me bypass the bandits entirely
  • Climbed down into that final room with the boss chest in it, and since the gate was in place, the bandits didn’t come in to bother me and Lydia
  • Found that the quest marker was pointing at a strongbox that had the Ring of Denstagmer in it
  • Notably, found a dead body with a journal that triggered another new Legacy quest
  • Came out of there and mined the silver veins nearby, finally; Lyds took out the nearby mudcrabs
  • Fast traveled back to Solitude and checked in at the museum
  • Got the courier with the level 5 notice about the necromancer ritual site
  • Spent some time exploring the museum some more and finding a bunch of the stations that do interesting things
  • Found Auryen and got another “go find a relic” quest off of him, this time pointing at Yngol Barrow
  • Used the prep station, which resulted in a total of 18 things being on display, but I do not know where they all are, I need to find them
  • Saved there until next time

Legacy + Alternate Start

Since this is a playthrough that not only features Legacy of the Dragonborn but also Alternate Start – Live Another Life, I should start by talking about the experience of running those two mods together.

This was my first time running Alternate Start. I knew it existed, but hadn’t read up on it, so had no real idea of what to expect. I think thought that I expected something a bit more complicated!

I really liked being dumped straight into RaceMenu so I could design my character. Saves a boatload of time. 😀 And since the mod puts you into a prison-type cell with minimal furnishings, there’s time for any other mods you’re running to do all their initial setup. I’m looking at you, Immersive Armors.

Now mind you, I don’t find this experience at all immersive for RP purposes, particularly the part where you then interact with the talking Mara statue. Which is definitely weird if you’re playing a character who grew up not worshipping the Divines directly! Like, say, a halfbreed Redguard/Altmer.

But that’s okay. I can handwave this as some sort of very weird dream my character had at some point! Maybe even on the ship on the way to Solitude. The sheer convenience of a super quick character setup is too damned appealing to worry about the immersiveness here all that much.

(Though now I am totes intrigued by all the other options available off that statue, and I may need to try one or more of them out at some point. Especially if I want to redo a vampire playthrough, after Harrow’s run imploded.)

Which leads me into how Alternate Start plugged into Legacy, which is to say, very well. When I chose the option to come into Skyrim on a ship, I was asked which city I wanted to travel to. When I chose Solitude, it asked me if I was coming specifically to the museum. I told it yes, and that landed me right on the Solitude docks.

I got a letter from Auryen, the curator of the museum, which laid down the backstory for why I was there: he’d approached me about joining his staff as a relic hunter, being familiar with my work at the Gwylim University. His offer came with an initial stipend and room and board.

All of which was a real nice initial explanation for why I was coming to Skyrim. And it also ties nicely into…

And speaking of my background, and how it ties into Legacy

… the whole question of my character’s background. I’ve filled in a draft of that on the Kendeshel Playthrough page, but what I’ll touch on here is how well she took to Auryen. Who is, after all, an Altmer.

If I assume Kendeshel grew up amongst her Redguard father’s family, and most naturally identifies herself as a Redguard, she probably had some really strong antipathy to any Altmer she met at first. But I also think that spending some years in the Imperial City, and getting trained at both the Arcane University and the Gwylim University, helped take the edge off of that. I’ll assume that she met enough Altmer who had fled from the oppression of the Thalmor that she was able to focus that antipathy onto the Thalmor in particular.

And I daresay it would have helped for any Altmer she met to also be interested in her particular fields of study! So I’m seeing her as professionally courteous with Auryen, and respectful enough of his ambitions and work that she was interested in taking him up on the offer of joining his staff in Skyrim.

I really liked the core idea I got out of Auryen’s letter and his “ten septim tour” that he’d noticed a strange trend of a high number of powerful relics showing up in Skyrim. That has a really neat magical implication to it, the idea of something coming that’s so important that it’s simply drawing sources of magical power to the area.

And, as Dara pointed out when I discussed this with her, this includes the player character. Because even if you aren’t going in with the assumption of being a mage, you are still the Dragonborn. And it makes excellent narrative sense that you yourself would also be caught up in whatever metaphysical forces are drawing things to Skyrim.

Getting started once I reached Solitude, and first impressions of the museum

It was legit weird and fun to come into Solitude as a level 1 character, when I’m used to not reaching Solitude at least until somewhere in the teens levels, if not up into the twenties. So of course the first thing I see happening is Roggvir’s execution! Even in a vanilla game Sayma at Bits and Pieces has a line to the player about how that was a lovely first impression, and she’s not wrong. It’s even more of an impactful first impression if it’s the very first thing you see in Skyrim at all!

I think Kendeshel was enough of a seasoned traveler from her background, though, that she wasn’t as thrown for a loop as a less experienced traveler might have been. I did pause to watch the execution play out, thinking that this was basically Kendeshel assessing the situation, and finding out if this was a thing she was going to have to care about.

Fortunately, the answer to that question is “no”. So I was able to proceed to the museum to check the place out.

And speaking of first impressions: holy shit the Gallery is legit amazing. And huge. I spent a big initial chunk of this play session just exploring the place, after having the initial greeting scene and tour with Auryen. It is much bigger than any other building in Solitude, and that includes the Blue Palace. It’s also hands down the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen in Solitude, and that includes the changes I’ve seen in the Bards College mod!

It’s also definitely the nicest living space I’ve ever had in a Skyrim run, with a staggering array of not only standard craft stations and storage areas, but custom ones as well. There’s functionality in there that I’ve never seen before, including things like a soul gem transmogrifier and a disenchanter.

And there was a hot tub! With towels and soap and everything! It was there purely for visuals from what I saw on the LotD wiki, but OMG, that was neat. Particularly all the sprigs of lavender lying around. As lavender is one of my favorite scents, I damn near swooned at the idea of my character getting to have a lavender-scented bath! (And now I’m legit curious if you can make that tub work if you have a bathing mod installed?)

Museum-wise, the number of displays to fill in just blows me away. I’m given to understand that there are something on the order of 3,500 of them, give or take, maybe also depending on which other mods you’re running? This will take a while. This will take a lot of whiles.

This is definitely going to lower the priority of my having to buy Proudspire, that’s for sure. Or, for that matter, having to sleep in the Bards College. And now that I know the museum safehouse can in fact be set up to house your followers and/or children depending on what mods you’re running, I’m a little sad I didn’t think to get appropriate mods for that. But this at least would be an argument to get Proudspire just to have somewhere to put kids if I decide to make Solitude my main HQ! Which, even at this stage of the game, seems fairly likely.

Also, since there is so much storage space in the museum, this seems like it will lower the priority of needing to store stuff anywhere else. I will also need to think about what kinds of wings I’ll want to put on Lakeview, Windstad, and Heljarchen for this alt.

First impressions of Wintersun

So far, I think I like this. I’ve been getting periodic reminders to pray, so I’m stopping every so often to do that, no matter where I am. That says interesting things to me about Kendeshel’s religious inclinations, too. I chose to make her a follower of Satakal, since that was the one I liked best out of the starting options it presented me for a Redguard character.

I have a suspicion that veneration of Satakal is probably one of the few holdovers in Kendeshel’s mindset of her time with her father’s family. Maybe specifically a thing she holds onto out of respect for her aunt Agifa, the one family member who wasn’t openly hostile to her. It’ll be interesting to see how long she holds onto this, though. Particularly once she learns more about Alduin.

And I’ve already seen a couple of new shrine locations added in, which I also like. It just makes the world feel a bit bigger and richer.

Going to Helgen

It became apparent pretty quickly that even though I’d come in with Alternate Start, the game was going to really, really want me to go to Helgen. LOL. One of Auryen’s first tasks for me was in fact to go to Helgen, Silent Moons Camp, and Bleak Falls Barrow. How convenient!

Likewise, Alternate Start clearly pushes you in a direction of going to Helgen as soon as possible. I’d seen on the Nexus page for that mod that you can start the main quest just by chatting with any innkeeper, so I talked to Corpulus in the Winking Skeever just to kick that off.

So from Auryen, I had the objective to go to Helgen and pick up some urns from someone there. And I learned from Corpulus that the Imperial Legion had been seen massing down there, too.

Both of these mods pushing you to go to Helgen is necessary, really. Because you do need to eventually kick off the main plot, and I had no particular reason or desire to delay that. So after my initial chat with Auryen and my exploration of the museum, I set about prepping to go to Helgen.

My first priority was getting a horse. And since I was starting in Solitude, this meant my usual starting horse, the Wild Red Horse near Whiterun, was not an immediate option! So I looked up which one was closest to Solitude, which was the Wild Dappled Brown Horse. I bought the necessary map from the local stablemaster, and then set off to track that horse down.

(I could have just bought a horse from the stablemaster, sure. But I wanted the wild one! If nothing else because cheaper.)

I also discovered for the first time that I could bypass the training quest in Convenient Horses, which I found a relief after having done it twice already and being kind of annoyed by the unnecessary complications with getting gear. So while I was a little miffed that taking that shortcut cost me 500 gold and therefore depleted most of the rest of my money, I was mostly very fine with this.

Once I had the horse, I was ready to try to go to Helgen for reals. But since it’d gotten late in game time, I decided to stop in Dragon Bridge for the night. And while I was there, try to see if I could run the Over the Edge plot, the one for the Steel Soldier Armor.

This was a bad idea.

Over the Edge quest in Dragon Bridge

Here’s the problem with starting off as a level 1 character in Solitude: I was a level 1 character.

And since Solitude is in the northern half of the map, things around you are going to be a lot more hostile to a level 1 character than they would be to a level 15-to-20-ish character, which is when I usually make it to Solitude.

This includes the bandit Peladius, who handed me my ass multiple times in succession as I tried to fight him on the bridge. He almost killed Meeko as well, which I was finding entirely unacceptable. So I wound up abandoning that plan after three or four tries, and returning to Solitude to regroup.

I sold some things to try to build a stock of money back up, and have enough on me to take the cart to Whiterun. While doing this, I also chatted with Angeline in her alchemy shop–and it was legit weird telling her nope, sorry, I hadn’t been to Whiterun before!

Lesson learned, anyway: if running Alternate Start and/or Legacy, and starting in Solitude, get my ass to Helgen ASAP as the mods are clearly trying to make me do. And don’t try to kill bandits en route. I’ll have to come back and kick Peladius’ ass later. (But oh yes there will be a reckoning.)

First arrival in Whiterun, and proceeding on to Helgen

Here’s the next consequence of running Alternate Start and Legacy: I couldn’t get to Helgen directly, or even Riverwood, by the cart in Solitude. I had to go to Whiterun first.

So I saw the conversation between Uthgerd and Skulvar play out by the stables, about Cicero and his cart. And I discovered that I could in fact just walk right into Whiterun, without being challenged at the gate by the guard.

Which makes sense! Because they hadn’t gotten the word about Helgen yet!

After renting a room at the Bannered Mare for the night, I got up the next morning and set out for Riverwood and then Helgen. And when I got to Helgen: SURPRISE! The place was a smoldering wreck!

Moreover, I also saw Alduin flying away.

At which point I see Kendeshel freezing on her horse and then muttering to herself, “I guess I’m not getting those urns now, am I?”

I also however saw an objective fire off to investigate the place, which I’m pretty sure is how Alternate Start chimed in on this again. I headed into what was left of Helgen, which I daresay was still stinking very strongly of dragonfire. The air was probably smoky as fuck. And I see Kendeshel maybe for about two seconds thinking “maybe I could find the urns” and then going to “I should see if anybody’s still alive and needs help”.

Soon enough I found a burned corpse that happened to have a journal describing the unfortunate soul’s arrival in Helgen, brought in as a prisoner on a cart, and LOLOLOL I see what you did there, mod. But I also liked that the journal mentioned Hadvar and Ralof “setting aside their differences” and teaming up to try to get survivors out of Helgen via the caves, which I think was a nice touch. <3 I then got an objective to go directly to Riverwood to warn them or to look in the cave, so I opted for the latter.

It was definitely weird heading into that cave system from the opposite direction. And now that I know where that cave emerges in relation to Helgen’s actual gates, it was closer than I’d thought! So I learned something new about the geography of the game, awesome.

Inside the cave, I saw two quest markers and went to the closest one. This turned out to be Hadvar, in the Imperial hero armor from Immersive Armors, curled up in a ball because he was wounded. He did not have voiced lines, but he did have subtitled ones, so damn good thing I usually play with subtitles on anyway. He coughed out a “why the hell are you in here, you idiot, run” kind of line at me, and then admitted he needed a healing potion to go any further. I had some! So I gave him one, and that got him up and moving again.

We got out of the cave, at which point the normal flow of events kicked in, and he and I proceeded to Riverwood. This was mostly the same as usual, although Hads didn’t throw his lines about my getting a pardon from General Tullius–because this time through, I’m not an escaping prisoner! Also, his lines at the Guardian Stones were a little wonky. He didn’t throw his usual line about them until after I’d actually chosen the Mage Stone.

Learned something else as well, on the way to Riverwood–the Alpha wolf I’d seen leading a couple other wolves in recent playthroughs was not from Realistic Animals and Predators, it was from Cutting Room Floor. Because I got that again this time as the wolf encounter on the road, and I don’t have Realistic Animals and Predators in this run. Good to know!

Back to Riverwood, and back to Whiterun

Before leaving Riverwood to go warn Whiterun, I stopped at the trader to sell stuff. I’d nabbed a few things in what was left of Helgen, out of sheer practicality. Kendeshel, having grown up in the Alik’r, probably learned quickly to grab anything useful she can find if she has to for survival purposes. So even though she went into Helgen mostly looking for survivors, she also grabbed a few random items because she’d spent most of her money getting down to Helgen to begin with.

And, since she’d already heard Hadvar mention Bleak Falls Barrow on the way back into Riverwood, I figure she also thought she might ask about the place in the trader shop. Cue the siblings bitching about Camilla wanting to investigate the loss of the claw!

And, conveniently, Camilla knowing exactly where Kendeshel needed to head. “And hopefully this place won’t also get destroyed by a dragon,” thinks the wary relic hunter.

Returning to Whiterun, again, was mostly the same as the vanilla experience. This time the guard did block me at the gate, and I went in and up to Dragonsreach to bring the word in. As appropriate, the dialogue options with Balgruuf did not include the one about getting a good view of the dragon when the Imperials were about to cut off my head.

And this time through, their asking me to get the Dragonstone out of Bleak Falls Barrow tied in well with my already active quest, since I wanted to go there anyway! I suspect Kendeshel probably had a smartassed remark in the back of her mind about running back and forth in different directions before she finally got to where she wanted to be in the first place. But since there was a Jarl in the room, she was wise enough to keep that to herself. ;D

And finally, off to Bleak Falls Barrow

I scrounged up enough money to get back to 500 gold, at which point I decided to try another new thing: taking an actual follower with me into Bleak Falls Barrow. So I hired Jenassa! I figure that Kendeshel was pulling a Tharstan here–she’s a skilled relic hunter, and probably knows at this point that that’s her gig, less so being a warrior, and she’s smart enough to hire skilled persons to guard her back when heading into an unknown ruin.

Having Jenassa and Meeko with me on the run to Bleak Falls Barrow definitely was a change of pace. It made stealth less critical, and since I could let Jenassa mostly kick all the ass, I was able to grab a bunch of loot. Yes, this meant I got overloaded fast. But well, that’s what I brought the horse and the mercenary for. 😀

The drawback to having a follower and a dog along, though, not to mention being overloaded, was that I wasn’t dealing as much damage. So I didn’t get my usual initial level ups in this barrow.

What I did get, though, was some loot clearly brought in by Legacy. I started finding cards in chests that looked like tarot cards, and the first of these threw off a description of what it was: a Fate Card. These things are apparently collectibles that you can use to get special abilities if you get a full deck of the same type. Cool.

I also started finding rolled-up paintings lying around, the first of which was on the chest just inside Bleak Falls Temple, where the bandits were camping. So I nabbed that too. (What the bandits in fur armor thought they were going to do with a rolled-up painting in a hideout in a ruin, I leave as an exercise for the reader.)

In the chest just before Arvel the Swift caught in the spider web, I found a bit of turquoise. That was kind of cool, though I have since learned that I apparently can’t actually do anything with it except put it on display in the museum. So that’s slightly disappointing. But if it helps fill out the museum I guess that’s okay!

Periodically Jenassa threw a line about not asking her to take any treasures out of the place, as she didn’t want to risk the anger of the dead.

I figure that probably caused Kendeshel to stop and throw her an arch look. “You do realize that bringing relics out of this place is exactly why I’m here? If you disapprove, why did you agree to my hiring you?”

Jenassa: “What you do in this place is not for me to question, as long as you’ve paid my fee. I’ll defend you if something tries to kill you. Just… do not ask me to carry anything you’re gathering.”

Kendeshel, with a small crooked grin: “Don’t worry. I’ll handle that. You just stab anything that comes near us.”

The boss chamber had a new thing in it, too: a dig site. So I dug at that to see what would happen, and found a couple of Nordic fragments. I also got a message about archaeology skills improving. Excellent.

After taking out the boss draugr, though, things got problematic. I got confused by my quest markers, because I thought I had one indicating I had to still investigate something in the barrow. So I stashed a bunch of stuff in the boss chest so I could go back and check, only to realize, derp, I’d already satisfied the objective to investigate Bleak Falls Barrow.

I only figured this out though after I’d come back through the second swinging blades trap.

Which reactivated when I tried to go back to the boss chamber.

And the damned thing killed Meeko.

I stopped there for a few moments, thinking goddammit, and thinking very hard about whether I wanted to just hit Meeks with a console resurrect. But then I also remembered that every single time I’ve had Meeko along as a follower, he’s always been short-lived. So, reluctantly, I let him go.

RIP, Meeko! You were a good but very briefly lived doggo.

Back to Whiterun and fighting Mirmulnir

One little bit of the Jarl drafting me to help Irileth fight the dragon struck me as weird: his line about how the player has survived Helgen, so you know more about dragons than anyone else there. He uses this as the justification for wanting the player in on the fight.

Except this time, I didn’t actually survive Helgen. It was already trashed when I got there.

And at this point, Kendeshel’s thinking, what the hell, I’m not a warrior, I’m a scholar, how the hell can I be useful in this battle?

Dara pointed out to me though that even in this alternate way of starting the game, I’m still an eyewitness to Alduin’s departure from Helgen. And I’m still also the closest thing to an authority on what the dragon can do that they’ve got on hand–because neither Hadvar nor Ralof are around.

Having an active follower along put a different flavor on having to join the guards heading out to the Western Watchtower, too! Since Jenassa was there, I can see another brief exchange between her and Kendeshel as soon as the Jarl gives his orders:

Kendeshel: “Look, the Jarl wants me to do this, so I guess I’d better, but you’re under no such order. You don’t have to come..”

Jenassa: “The Jarl didn’t say it, but I will: you are no warrior. If you were, you wouldn’t have hired me. The others will be busy, so I’m coming. I’ll guard your back.”

Kendeshel: “But you’ve already done more than I hoped for when I paid–“

Jenassa: “This isn’t just about you. I live in Whiterun, and Whiterun is now threatened. I’ll do my part to help. I’m coming.”

And off we went to the Western Watchtower!

After which, of course, I was revealed as Dragonborn. At which point the relic hunter scholar is going WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK JUST HAPPENED AND WHAT NOISE WAS THAT THAT CAME OUT OF MY MOUTH.

Cue the summons of the Greybeards, and getting thaned! And getting Lydia!

I dismissed Jenassa at that point so I could have Lydia for a while–though I expect this may not be the last I see of Jenassa. We’ll see!

Getting the thaneship at this point was another thing I saw changed by Legacy. Because the weapon that Balgruuf gave me was called the Greatsword of Whiterun and did not have an enchantment on it!

Surprise! The Bow of Shadows is not the Bow of Shadows!

Once I got all the dragon action out of the way, I proceeded to what’s become another important early thing I do in a playthrough: getting the Bow of Shadows.

But this playthrough threw me a curveball on that. I’d installed Legacy’s patches for the Creation Club content, because I knew those were needed. But I did not know that one of the reasons they were needed is because a boatload of the artifacts introduced by the CC content had already been introduced in Legacy. So the patches are helping clean that up.

In some cases, this apparently means tweaking the CC quests in certain ways. Like renaming artifacts.

Which meant that the bow I went after was named the Bow of Obfuscation! Not the Bow of Shadows!

And I presume from this that I should be finding this playthrough’s actual Bow of Shadows later.

Though now I also gotta wonder if there’s any sort of handwavy lore explanation behind the artifacts that get renamed in these patches! Like, what’s the story on the Bow of Obfuscation? Is it another artifact of Nocturnal? Or did some devotee of Nocturnal try to make a bow when they couldn’t get hold of the actual Bow of Shadows?

Really, though, the important thing here is, I got that bow. I don’t particularly care what it’s called, as long as it works! And I’ll be interested to see where this playthrough’s Bow of Shadows shows up later.

Character moment in the Hall of the Dead

When Andurs asked me if I knew Arkay, I think Kendeshel was cosmopolitan enough to not give him any snark about worshipping him as Tu’whacca. She’ll have spent enough time in Cyrodiil long enough to have learned of the similarities between the Redguard gods and the Divines. And knowing that a lot of her people get cranky about the Imperialization of the gods, I feel like she’s explicitly chosen to accept those similarities.

But I think she’d still pray to Tu’whacca, anyway. At least, if she weren’t already explicitly praying to Satakal!

Silent Moons Camp

I usually don’t come to Silent Moons Camp this soon in a playthrough, either. Which is why the bandits there kicked my and Lydia’s asses!

But when I came back for a second try, I realized that the quest marker I’d thought was pointing to the interior where the bandits were was actually pointing at the final room past the bandits. A room which, as it happens, I suspected was accessible from the outside.

And I was right. I knew there was a walkway up in the back of the structure, so I went up there and found that I was able to jump down into that ruined tower space with the trap door. I pulled the chain to let Lydia in through the gate, and then got down into the space under the trap door.

Which is where I needed to be. And since the inside gate of that room was down, no risk of the bandits getting in to fight with us! Awesome!

So I looted the place with impunity, and found that the quest marker was pointing at a strongbox. Inside that strongbow, I found the Ring of Denstagmer–another artifact I’m already familiar with from the Creation Club, which calls it Denstagmer’s Ring. So this was the second artifact in one night that I’d seen impacted by Legacy’s changes.

This version was the Legacy version of the Ring, though, with a better enchantment on it than the one provided by the ring in the Fishing Creation. So it’ll be interesting to see if I get a variant when I start fishing with this character.

Also, looting that room got me a hook into another Legacy quest. Because there was a dead guy in the room, and he had a journal, and that journal had some fascinating things to say about a hunt he’d been on for a Daedric artifact. This sounds highly relevant to Kendeshel’s interests.

Back to Solitude

Once I got the Bow of Shadows Obfuscation, I decided it was time to return to Solitude and check in.

Kendeshel: “So, ah, Lydia… look, I know your Jarl just made me thane of Whiterun and everything. But you need to understand, my employer is in Solitude and I need to check in with him there. Are you okay with following me there?”

Lydia: “My place is at your side, my thane. And even thanes need to eat, so if this is how you make your coin, let’s go to Solitude!”

I was slightly disappointed to not have a conversation with Auryen about all the action I’d just played through. 😀 Because I can just see how she presented her delay in getting back to Solitude to him:

Kendeshel: “So, ah, you know those urns you sent me to Helgen for? I wasn’t able to get them.”

Auryen: “How unfortunate. What happened?”

Kendeshel: “The place was destroyed. By a dragon. I don’t even know if your contact Borgoth survived. I tried to search the place for any sign of him, but–“

Auryen: “Wait. Hold on. Did you say a dragon?”

Kendeshel, at this point speaking rather faster than is normal for her, because she’s nervous: “Yes. A huge black monster. And then an Imperial soldier I rescued needed to get back to Riverwood, and they sent me to Whiterun to warn them. And Whiterun wanted me to go to Bleak Falls Barrow too, as it happened. Their court wizard wanted a Dragonstone. So since you wanted me to go there anyway, I did get there, took a mercenary in with me for backup. We found wall with Dragon language runes all over it, you should have seen it, I need to write a bunch of notes, but that isn’t even the most important part.”

Auryen, now a trifle bemused by her outburst, but letting her run with it: “I see. There’s more?”

Kendeshel, running a hand back through her hair: “When I got the Dragonstone back to Whiterun, a dragon showed up at their watchtower. Not the same one I saw at Helgen. The Jarl, ah, he asked me to go with their force to fight it.”

Auryen, looking at her intently: “I know you’re capable of defending yourself, and far be it from me to question a Jarl’s tactical choices, but that’s an awfully strange expression on your face. What else happened?”

Kendeshel, weakly: “I, ah… absorbed something off that dragon when we killed it. All the guards that survived the fight noticed. They started babbling at me about it.”

Auryen: “They what? You what? What did you absorb?”

Kendeshel: “Fire… magic… something. It streamed off the dragon’s body and into me. I don’t know what to call it. One of the guards told me to try to Shout. And all at once I remembered a rune off that wall I found in Bleak Falls Barrow. So I turned and tried to shout that word. FUS. But… what came out of me was bigger than any noise I’ve ever made in my life.”

Auryen: “Auri-El preserve us. What happened then?”

Kendeshel: “The housecarl told me to return to Whiterun to report to the Jarl. And then I heard something else. Like thunder, but it had words in it. DOH-VA-KIIN. I got back into the city and the Jarl’s court told me it was the Greybeards up on High Hrothgar. They’re calling me. Because I’m… Dragonborn. So, ah… what? What are you thinking?”

Auryen, his eyes lighting up, and a huge smile spreading across his face: “That I knew I chose well when I hired you, my friend. I found a museum about the Dragonborn legends… and a real live Dragonborn is on my staff? Julianos himself could not have given us a better scholarly opportunity!”

Kendeshel: “But you hired me to bring you relics.”

Auryen: “And I want you to do that! You should absolutely go and speak with these Greybeards. But on the way, should you find additional relic leads, I expect you to take extremely comprehensive notes.”

Next time

Whoo boy, after this big bang of a start, legit not sure yet. Now that I’ve got Lydia on deck, and I’m up to level 5, I may see about taking another run through Dragon Bridge to see if we can take out Peladius. I think Lyds needs that Steel Soldier Armor!

But before I set out again, I may do some local to Solitude things first. The Bards College is right there. And I do have a bounty to run on Ironback Hideout!


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.