Kendeshel Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Kendeshel Acquires Dawnbreaker and the Masque of Clavicus Vile

As has become standard in the early stages of my Skyrim playthroughs, I did the double header of running A Daedra’s Best Friend parallel with The Break of Dawn. Because Barbas is just too damned useful when it comes to going after Malkoran!

Also, I ran Robber’s Gorge, took out the bandit Peladius at Dragon Bridge, claimed Hendraheim as a house, took out Kematu and his warriors to resolve the In My Time of Need quest, worked on building out the farm at Goldenhills Plantation, and got Noster Eagle-Eye his helmet back.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 9/17, 9/20-9/21/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 5-7

Sunday the 17th

  • Started at Breezehome
  • Decided to go after the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller
  • Rode out from Whiterun and swung up past Tundra Homestead; marked that for the map and took the for sale notice
  • Went past Whitewatch Tower
  • Saw guards fighting bandits there, but the fight was over by the time I showed up
  • Made it to Cicero in time to go talk to Loreius before he and his wife went to bed; convinced Loreius to help Cicero, and then moved on from there
  • Made a camp just a little ways north of there, just after the terrain turned snowy
  • Slept for the night then proceeded towards Ustengrav
  • Marked the Shrine of Mehrunes Dagon, Stonehills, and Kjenstag Ruins for the map
  • Got to the ruins during daylight hours so didn’t get the ghost action; hit the chest there though
  • Proceeded to Ustengrav, and took out exterior bandits and necromancer
  • Tried to enter the barrow and had a crash to desktop
  • Thrown back to Kjenstag Ruins where I’d quicksaved, so didn’t lose much
  • Did take two of fighting bandits and necromancer
  • This time made it safely into the ruins, and ran the place
  • And the spiders did not bother me because I still had Voice of the Sky in effect! :O
  • Got to the final chamber and ohnoez! There is no Horn of Jurgen Windcaller!
  • Got out of there and decided to report back to the museum next because Solitude was closer than Whiterun
  • Auryen gave me yet another weapon, this time the Cleaver of St. Felms; went ahead and put that on display, which got me up to 154 displays, I think?
  • Dropped off a whole bunch of stuff in general
  • Put up a painting in the entry hall and that turned out to be a portrait of Elisif, which seemed quite appropriate; put up a different painting on the opposite wall
  • Tried to join the Bards College again but Speech was still too low, Malukah told me to go away and practice some more
  • Headed back out again
  • Got Old Orc who wanted a good death at the crossroads near Meridia’s temple, but before he finished talking to me he ran over to fight with an incoming troll! Gave him his good death after
  • Cut through Dragon Bridge and decided that I’d take another crack at Peladius; this time I got him, because I was level 13 at this point and also had Lydia
  • After that, was in the mood to run Robber’s Gorge; however, first time through, killed by bandit chief
  • Thrown back to Dragon Bridge, and had to re-do the fight with Peladius
  • This time when I got his armor I equipped it, to see if that’d protect me better against bandits
  • Killed a second time, but third time through cleared the place, came at the archers on top of the fortification first and that whittled down my opposition
  • Killed the bandit chief last and started in on the cave underneath the fortification
  • Got overloaded clearing that out, so trying to swim out to the treasure chest took a bit of doing–and there were also slaughterfish, so I’m lucky i made it to the opposite shore!
  • Once I cleared the chest, did a Horse Call to get Heidrun over, so I could fast travel right back to Robber’s Gorge and pick up the rest of the bandit loot
  • Killed one last remaining bandit while I was at it
  • Got Meridia’s Beacon out of the boss chest in that final gathering of loot! Welp, TIME TO PREP FOR DAWNBREAKER
  • Loaded up all that loot and proceeded towards Hendraheim
  • Killed the usual set of bandits at the crossroads near Rorikstead
  • Noted a couple more shrine icons on the compass that I need to check out
  • Made it to Hendraheim and confronted Eydvina Shield-Hearth, and gave her her sendoff to Sovngarde
  • Claimed Hendraheim, and smelted down a bunch of the bandit gear so I’d have usable ingots
  • Threw the stash supplies spell to chuck a bunch of those back at storage in the museum
  • Next up: decided to swing down to get Barbas! Because he’d be useful for going up against Kematu and his warriors, in addition to clearing Kilkreath
  • On the way, realized I was going past Hunter’s Rest and Moss Mother Cavern
  • Decided to run Moss Mother Cavern, but this took a couple of tries, because the spriggans took over Meeko–and Lyds and/or Valdr killed him >_<
  • Third time through, deliberately left Meeko outside, and re-ran the place without spriggan interference with my doggo!
  • Got Valdr’s dagger
  • Hit the iron and gold veins in there and found two different dwarven war axes and other loot
  • Went past farmer refugees at Half-Moon Mill, which I also marked for the map; gave them five gold
  • Stopped at the Roadside Ruins and noted with relief that the spriggan in there was already dead so no threat to Meeks (even though I’d told him to wait nearby)
  • Made it to Barbas and did initial convo with him, then started heading to Haemar’s Shame
  • Killed en route by bandits pretending to be Imperials >_<
  • Thrown back to coming out of Moss Mother Cavern, so had to re-do going past Half-Moon Mill
  • Got the refugees again and gave them 5 gold
  • Re-did roadside ruins, and reaching Barbas and getting on board with him
  • Reached Helgen, but got ahead of Barbas as I went around it, and had to wait for him to catch up
  • Reached Haemar’s Shame but as soon as I tried to enter, crashed to desktop, AUGH
  • Thrown back again but not quite as far this time because quicksaving
  • Re-did getting on the road with Barbas again
  • Once again went around Helgen, but Barbas cut through Helgen directly this time, and I had to open the gate for him to get through
  • Finally made it to Haemar’s Shame safely and ran the place
  • Some of the initial opponents were still alive but Lyds and Meeks and I had no issues taking them out
  • As per usual, Barbs took out the major opponents at the end, including the master vampire
  • Talked to Vile at his shrine and got the directive to go after the Rueful Axe
  • Got the prompt to become a follower of Vile if I wanted to, and yeaaaah no I don’t think so
  • Looted dead vamps, looted boss chest, and got out
  • Mounted up and boinged to Solitude, so I could unload some before doing anything else
  • Left Meeko at the city gates and went back to the museum
  • (Would also have left Barbas but wasn’t sure if I could tell him not to follow me without making him just fuck off to Rimerock Burrow, which I didn’t want to happen)
  • Dropped off a whole bunch more stuff and got up into the 180’s for displays
  • Saw a couple more unfamiliar NPCs hanging out enjoying the exhibits, a mother and her son in the main dining room
  • Mother sounded Irish, heh; maybe we can assume she was a Breton? ;D
  • Figured out how to use the Archaeology station to make things out of fragments
  • Also saw a pull chain in the dining room in the Safehouse, which I came back to investigate later
  • Smelted down a bunch more things and put the ingots in storage for later
  • Slept in the Safehouse, then went out with Lyds and Barbas and returned to the city gates to pick up Meeko
  • Talked to Giraud on the way to Bits and Pieces and bought five rounds of Speech training from him
  • Sold stuff at Bits and Pieces and to Beirand on the way out
  • Got a couple more pieces of Ringmail gear just to try them, but they’re not as good as the Relic Hunter, so i’ll just keep the Ringmail Hood for a while since that does match the Relic Hunter gear pretty well
  • Got Meeks and headed out; saved out on the road until next time
  • But went back and doublechecked which perks I took for the level ups, so I could correct my notes
  • Then saved again
  • Side note: forgot where exactly this happened, but I got a notification that my deity had abandoned me, oops
  • Level ups taken:
    • 14, Stamina bump, second Light Armor perk
    • 15, Health bump, second Speech perk
    • 16, Magicka bump, first perk in Enchanting
    • 17, Stamina bump, Apprentice Alteration perk

Wednesday the 20th

  • Picked up where I left off on the road with Lyds and Barbas and Meeko
  • Set off for Rimerock Burrow
  • Passed Imperials with prisoner, they drew swords and told me to move along; I moved along
  • Passed Talsgar the Wanderer, and then M’aiq the Liar
  • Aaaaand crash to desktop
  • Setting out for Rimerock Burrow, take two!
  • Got Imperials coming again but not close enough to actually pass me, spotted them just beyond the crossroads where I turned
  • Fought and killed random hostile Orc
  • Aaaaaaaand crash to desktop again
  • Take three! Passed Faldrus the Pilgrim
  • Finally made it to Rimerock Burrow, and one-shotted the flame atronach before we had to engage it
  • Took out Sebastian Lort pretty quickly and got the Rueful Axe
  • Looted the back room for any interesting books
  • Headed out from there towards Kilkreath to run getting Dawnbreaker
  • Found dead Nord on the way with an unfamiliar treasure map lying nearby, this needs followup later
  • Reached Kilkreath and got the word for Elemental Fury off the Word Wall
  • Ran the initial convo with Meridia at the statue, then got prompted about whether I wanted to worship her
  • Declined for now, kinda feeling like Kendeshel is pretty areligious at the moment, and not really appreciating being hijacked into getting a weapon for a Daedric Prince
  • That said: ran Kilkreath anyway XD
  • Made a camp by the steps up to the statue and left Meeko there because I knew there was a swinging blade trap in there, then headed in to run the place
  • Noted with interest that Herebane Sorenshield was not out on the balcony, even though I’m running Cutting Room Floor; he must have been patched out by Legacy?
  • Made it through okay to the end without any particular issues
  • Killed once but only once by Malkoran, edge of a frost blast
  • Let Barbas lead the charge and that helped a lot, and stopped to throw heals on Lydia to sustain her during the fight
  • Finally got Dawnbreaker and got out again
  • Boinged from there to Goldenhills since that was reasonably near Smuggler’s Den
  • Picked up a little bit of money from Golldir even though I hadn’t finished the farm tasks yet
  • Checked but didn’t really have materials to start doing building there
  • Slept in the farmhouse, then proceeded over to Swindler’s Den in the morning
  • Noted what looked like spriggans running in the distance, and gave them a very wide berth now that I know they can fuck with Meeko
  • Circled around to Swindler’s Den and took out exterior bandit, then headed in to run it
  • No issues from the bandits, particularly with an armed and armored housecarl and two dogs
  • Reached the Alik’r and told Kematu I was there to kill him, period
  • Killed on first attempt, but second attempt, made it through! 
  • Again, let Barbas lead the charge, and Meeko also did pretty well
  • It also helped to throw my familiar into the battle
  • Looted all of the Alik’r warriors as well as Kematu
  • Hit the boss chest and HA! Found a Redguard doll
  • Then got out again, and loaded up a few things on Heidrun so I wouldn’t be overloaded
  • Boinged to Haemar’s Shame to drop off Barbas
  • Got in there and returned the Daedra doggie to his master 
  • Got the Masque of Clavicus Vile and got out again
  • Boinged to Whiterun, checked in with Saadia to let her know she was safe, and told I’ll always be welcome at the Bannered Mare <3
  • Returned to the museum to turn in a bunch of things, which kicked up my display count over 200
  • Somewhere in here I got to level 18; took Health bump, and the Elven Smithing perk

Thursday the 21st

  • Did more display of stuff, including a bunch of things i crafted at the forge in the Safehouse
  • Boinged to Goldenhills after that to work on the farm
  • Realized I needed supplies so boinged off to Whiterun to buy stuff (corundum and straw)
  • Returned to the farm and built out everything I had supplies for
  • Paid Golldir to buy livestock and furnish the farmhouse
  • Headed off to Falkreath to try to complete favor quests
  • Visited Edward’s grave and got the quest to go hit up Knifepoint Ridge
  • Did the one to take Thadgeir’s ashes to Runil
  • Sold potatoes to Mathies
  • Could not get the journal quest off of Runil–but discovered this was because I already had a “fetch a thing” quest active with Noster in Solitude
  • Tried to go to Half-Moon Mill to sell firewood to Hert as my third favor quest, but couldn’t frigging find her even at night
  • Realized also that I had neglected to clear the bandit camp for Balance of Power while I had Barbas, oops; welp gonna have to come back, when I can summon flame atronachs!
  • Finally boinged back to Solitude to run Shadowgreen Cavern for Noster’s helmet
  • Left Meeko outside of that because spriggans
  • Killed multiple wolves and bears and spriggans in there, and got the helmet and other boss loot
  • Got Meeks back and then returned to Solitude
  • Gave Noster back his helmet and got the Sneak bump
  • Returned to the museum for a little more display creation, taking the count up to 226
  • Somewhere in this session I went to level 19; took Magicka bump and Bladesman perk in One-handed

More on Meeko

I am still not used to thinking ahead about whether or not to bring Meeko into a dungeon. Only after I got in there did I realize that Ustengrav was possibly going to be problematic–there are no swinging blade traps in there, but there are multiple fire traps.

Meeks did okay, though! He made it okay past the fire traps partway through, just before you get to the part with the Word Wall. The fire traps in the area with the spiders, after the gate puzzle, were more of a problem. But I threw a bunch of heals on him when he got too low.

Really do need to be careful with the doggo, though! I want to keep him alive at least long enough to adopt a kid, and then let the kid claim him as a pet. I don’t want the poor doggo to have to live out the rest of his days at a shack.

I am a little sad though that I won’t be able to park a family at the Safehouse in the museum. This is apparently possible only if you have the Hearthfire Multiple Adoptions mod installed, which I had neglected to do when setting up Kendeshel’s load order. But I feel like since Solitude is clearly shaping up to be Kendeshel’s primary headquarters, buying Proudspire Manor will be called for. And I can park a family–and Meeko!–there.

And at this point, I’m honestly more worried about losing Meeko to spriggans than I am about losing him to traps. I hadn’t quite realized that Hunter’s Rest and Moss Mother Cavern were right next to each other–and even though I had explicitly read before that spriggans were a danger to dog followers, I’d also kind of forgotten that Moss Mother Cavern’s primary threat was in fact spriggans.

So when I decided to run the place, those spriggans took over Meeko and turned him hostile. 🙁

I tried a couple of times, which provoked Lydia into killing the dog once, and Valdr killing him the other time. This was no damned good so third time through, I explicitly told Meeko to wait outside the cave. Since Valdr tells the player what threats are in there before you go on, I figure Kendeshel is justified in deciding not to risk that dog being slaughtered by a bear at the very least, even if she doesn’t necessarily know at this point that spriggans can take over dogs.

(I think I’ll also headcanon here that Valdr warned her about that. Maybe he and his friends had a dog with them that they lost?)

The spriggans thing continued to impact my choices through the rest of this set of sessions, too. When I spotted spriggans from afar on the way to Swindler’s Den, I stayed the hell out of their way. And I also left Meeks outside before heading in to run Shadowgreen Cavern.

And speaking of dogs

I was really kind of amused running two dogs at once, Meeko and Barbas. However, not sure I’ll want to do that again, unless I find out there are mods to correct a couple of problems.

For one thing, Meeko and Barbas do look identical, and that’s visually confusing. I may have to look into dog mods that vary up what dogs look like in the game.

But just as importantly, I want to look for mods that will adjust the size of a dog’s hitbox. Having one dog shoving me in different random directions is vexing enough. Having two doing it makes the problem worse!

Important side note to self re: when to run Ustengrav

The spiders at the end of the path through Ustengrav did not bother me in the slightest. Or Lydia. Or Meeko.

And it legit took me a minute to realize that this was because I still had the Voice of the Sky blessing in effect, from running High Hrothgar and going up to talk to the Greybeards!

Conclusion: strong argument here in favor of going after the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller as soon as you talk to the Greybeards. Because it’s honestly kind of a relief to not have to give a fuck about those spiders while running this barrow.

Some general museum stuff

I had a couple more NPCs spawn at the museum, presumably provoked by getting a high enough number of displays. These were Lorna and her son Henry, and what I noted right off the bat about them was that Lorna had a very Irish-sounding accent!

Which I suppose could maybe make sense for a Breton? I looked her up on the LotD wiki, though, and her page has contradictory information. The main body of the page says she’s a Breton, but the info sidebar about her identifies her as a Nord. From what they say on the LotD Discord, she’s apparently officially a Nord. This makes more sense, given that her son Henry is also shown as a Nord on the wiki. (She still totes sounds Irish to me, though, presumably because the voice actor is Irish? Maybe Lorna’s from a particular area of Skyrim with a lot of Breton influence, LOL.)

I really do like though that more patron NPCs have started showing up, even ones that don’t necessarily fall into the wealthier social tiers of Solitude. Lorna doesn’t necessarily strike me as poor per se, but I also don’t see obvious signs of wealth on her; she’s not wearing Fine Clothes, for example. I can totally envision her though as a single mother trying to get her son some culture by encouraging him to hang out at the museum. <3

(Because I so far have not seen any sign of Lorna having a spouse. Does she have a spouse? If yes, where is that person? Do they work a lot elsewhere in Solitude? Are they off fighting for the Legion? Especially if Lorna’s spouse is off fighting in the war, I could definitely see that being a reason why she decides she needs to encourage Henry to hang out in the museum, just for a thing for her kid to do to keep him distracted from worrying too much about whether Daddy or Other Mommy will be coming home any time soon.)

Figuring out the Archaeology station was fun, and it’s good to know now how to utilize those fragments I keep finding when I hit those dig sites in various burrows.

I forgot to record in my notes when exactly I investigated what the pull chain in the dining room in the Safehouse does, so I’ll go ahead and note that here: I found that it opens a secret passage that leads out into the streets of Solitude.

And that was certainly a big ol’ pile of how very interesting. Because it ties into a question I raised in a previous post: why, exactly, does a museum of relics and antiquities need a Safehouse? Why is it a Safehouse, specifically, as opposed to just the main living area for the upper tiers of the museum staff?

Going to be real curious about when, exactly, the mod serves me a plot that requires that secret passage to actually be used and hopefully to also answer the question of why a Safehouse exists in this building to begin with. Doing my best to not look this up in advance, to avoid spoilers. 😀

A thing I’m going to have to doublecheck, too, is which treasure map I found on the random dead Nord lying near the road, on the way from Rimerock Burrow to Kilkreath. The treasure map was not familiar, obviously one added in by Legacy. I checked the wiki, but couldn’t find a page matching the map I saw. I’ll need to actually go find where it’s on display, and doublecheck from there which map it is, so that I can then try to figure out where the hell it wants me to go.

Oops, I pissed off Satakal

I forgot to write down exactly where this happened–around Kjenstag Ruins, maybe, but I don’t remember if it was the first or second time through–but I got a notification that my deity had abandoned me. Apparently I didn’t pray enough to satisfy Satakal!


I need to find an appropriate rhythm for praying, to take full advantage of Wintersun, clearly. It is not part of my Skyrim habits, so I find it very, very easy to forget I have to do that. And I am not used to looking for the reminders about prayer, either.

So I’ll take this as an opportunity to just assume that mostly, Kendeshel bailed on worshipping anybody some time ago. Particularly the Redguard pantheon, since that reminds her too painfully of her father’s family rejecting her. Going with the flow for now and seeing whether any additional changes in her narrative lead me to choosing a specific new deity for her to follow. So far, none of the options that have presented themselves (either off of Daedric shrines or out of books I’ve picked up and read) have struck me as appropriate for this character.

I’m kind of feeling like she might eventually wind up a follower of Julianos, since that seems appropriate for her magical background and for how I’ll soon be sending her off to the College of Winterhold. And she does at least have at least an inkling of respect for Tall Papa. But I don’t know for sure yet. We’ll see what happens!

A sidebar about Saadia

It occurred to me while running In My Time of Need this time that aside from how this plot makes a deliberate point of being ambiguous about which side is on the level, I was legit not sure about whose story seems more plausible to me, Saadia’s or Kematu’s.

I think my main sticking point here is how I know now that Hammerfell spent five years fighting the Thalmor after it seceded from the Empire, and how this informs my ability to buy Saadia’s and Kematu’s claims.

On Saadia’s side, she claims that the Alik’r warriors sent after her are assassins hired by the Thalmor. I side-eye this just because I have a hard time buying that the Thalmor, after having their asses handed to them by Hammerfell, would be inclined to hire Redguards to do their dirty work for them. ‘Cause I mean hell, Thalmor execution squads show up all the damned time to come after the Dragonborn. Why not just send a Thalmor execution squad after her if they think Saadia is a threat for having spoken out against them?

Unless, of course, Kematu’s band of warriors are explicitly mercenaries, or even bandits, living on the edge of Redguard society. Kematu seems mostly honorable enough in his interactions with the Dragonborn, but he’s also not above dropping insulting commentary about Saadia and whether she appealed to the Dragonborn’s hormones to plead her case. This suggests a man embittered enough by his experiences that even if he started off honorable, he’s now really fucking jaded.

On Kematu’s side, he claims that Saadia is wanted for treason, because she sold her city out to the Thalmor. I have a bit of a time buying this, too, because what exactly could one woman have done to sell out Taneth to the Thalmor, and tip the balance in the Thalmor’s favor? The lore on the UESP wiki says that the Dominion swiftly took control of southern Hammerfell, where the city in question is. So at least in the early parts of the Dominion/Hammerfell conflict, it sounds to me like the Thalmor were taking that territory just fine without any help from traitorous locals.

And if Saadia really did sell out the city to the Thalmor, why exactly then did she flee to Skyrim? Why is she now not in the employ of the Thalmor as one of their agents? It would seem to me that if she already helped the Thalmor once, they would consider her an asset and put her to further work elsewhere.

But no, we have her hiding out alone in an inn in Skyrim.

Honestly, what this suggests to me is that the true story may actually lie somewhere between Saadia’s version of events and Kematu’s. I smell a scenario here where Taneth was sold out to the Thalmor, but not by Saadia–and that more powerful persons in her house, working together in a conspiracy, were actually responsible. And they totally framed her to take the fall, in a bid to keep their power now once the situation shifted in Hammerfell’s favor and the Thalmor were driven out.

And I think they did legit hire Kematu and his men. But either they didn’t give Kematu’s band the whole story, or Kematu’s band doesn’t actually give a fuck. Because again, Kematu’s inredibly fucking jaded.

Aside from all of that, though, it seemed appropriate this time through for Kendeshel to support Saadia rather than Kematu. For purposes of Redguard exiles sticking together, particularly if they hate the Thalmor! <3 Plus, I had correct mods in place to avoid the whole “warriors stuck at the Whiterun gates for the rest of the game” problem!

Next time

Bundling three sessions into this post rather than one or two, because the next post I put up is going to start the hard push of multiple sessions I just did to go through the plot for the Project AHO mod–which landed on me while I was on the way to Kynesgrove to kill Sahloknir with Delphine!

I have a lot to say about that, and have already put up a non-spoiler review post. Spoilery details to come in the next Kendeshel post!


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.