Elessir Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Elessir Defies Maven Black-Briar and Becomes Thane of the Rift

Latest action out of Elessir, my non-Legacy of the Dragonborn modded playthrough! Main action in this post: running Goldenglow Estate and then Honningbrew Meadery for the Thieves Guild plotline; running the Interception plot to help out the Remnants agents; confronting Kinthal’s Saints bandits near Karthwasten; helping the Orc stronghold Largashbur with a giant problem; running Avanchnzel and returning the Lexicon there; buying Honeyside and becoming thane in the Rift; and returning Azura’s Star to Aranea, and heeding Azura’s directive to cleanse Malyn Varen’s soul out of it.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 10/4, 10/10/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 20-21

Wednesday the 4th

  • Started off at Lakeview
  • Told Lucien to stay put so I could go run Goldenglow on my own
  • Boinged to Riften
  • Avoided burning the beehives, so Aringoth was willing to give me the key
  • This also made the mercenaries no longer hostile, so I got in and got out again without any issues
  • I did take his Bee in a Jar though, as well as the Queen Bee to bring to Delvin
  • Returned to the Guild to report in to Brynjolf
  • Got pointer to go talk to Maven, and was deliberately bitchy about it
  • Sold the Queen Bee to Delvin
  • Also deliberately bitchy to Maven’s face; appropriately, she did not care
  • While in the Bee and Barb, decided to hire Marcurio, so I could take him to Goldenhills and get him set up as my steward there
  • Got him set up and had him hire farmhands, but didn’t have enough materials to get serious building done
  • Boinged back to Lakeview to pick up Lucien, for backup running Honningbrew Meadery
  • Also picked up some building supplies
  • Boinged to Whiterun and talked to Mallus at the Bannered Mare
  • Bought straw from Belethor
  • Warned Sabjorn to cancel the tasting
  • Took out Hamelyn in one try, with Lucien as backup–which meant that we had two atronachs in on the fight, too
  • Poisoned the nest and also the vat, since the quest expects me to do that
  • Gave Sabjorn his money back to get access to his office and get the promissory note
  • Returned to Goldenhills for a bit and built more things–and a dragon showed up (Elder Dragon, frost breather), LOL XD
  • Marcurio got in on the fight as well as Lucien–and heh, you thought being the steward of my farm was going to be boring? 😉
  • Built out the remaining exterior things but didn’t have enough money to have Marcurio furnish the rest of the farmhouse
  • Finally returned to Riften
  • Maven of course was spitting nails but Elessir had no fucks to give about this 😉
  • Then went to report back to Brynjolf, who also mentioned making amends to Maven, but I told him we’re the Thieves Guild, not Maven’s lapdogs, and he seemed to like that
  • Got directive to report to Mercer and did so
  • Got objective to go to Solitude and talk to Gulum-Ei, but didn’t want to proceed with Solitude yet
  • Returned to Lakeview for supplies dropoff
  • Boinged to Hendraheim to drop off the Bee in a Jar
  • Rode out from there into the Reach
  • Got a dragon near Lost Valley Redoubt but it was a flyby
  • Made it to Dushnikh Yal and this time I did get noticed by the orcs inside
  • Got quest to get the Forgemaster’s Fingers; will return to that later
  • Proceeded towards Purewater Run
  • Got close enough to the grave for the Spell Knight quest that I triggered Forsworn attacking me, so had to take those guys out
  • Set up a camp near Purewater Run and then went in to talk to Fijeh
  • Got objective to go to Karthwasten and Ivarstead, but stopped in Markarth first to sell stuff
  • Let’s get this Forsworn Conspiracy party started! Was overloaded, so didn’t try to save Margret this time
  • Got Eltrys’ note but didn’t read it yet
  • Went into Lisbeth’s shop and sold her stuff, then came back out again and moved along
  • Rode from there and took the north branch of the road to head to Karthwasten
  • Took out the Forsworn near Kolskeggr
  • Rode up to Karthwasten—and was immediately attacked by the bandits from Kinthal’s camp :O
  • They killed me and that threw me back to coming out of Markarth
  • Take two: rode over to fight them, and once again took out the Forsworn at Kolskeggr
  • This time, dropped a quicksave as soon as I turned onto the road to Karthwasten
  • Killed a second time by the bandits and thrown back to that quicksave point
  • Third time through I started using the Elemental Fury shout to give myself some speed, which helped!
  • Finally took out all of the bandits and looted the camp; got Kinthal’s journal and the pointer to the wizard in Solitude
  • Went over to talk to Josla and got her note
  • Boinged to Ivarstead and talked to Siranyar to get his note
  • Boinged to Whiterun and sold a bunch of stuff, including just about all of the Golden gear off the bandits (but I kept the arrows)
  • Boinged back to Lakeview for inventory managing
  • Experimented with making a set of heavy dragon knight armor
  • Saved there until next time

Tuesday the 10th

  • Picked up again at Lakeview
  • Boinged off to Purewater Run to check in with Fijeh
  • Got the chest key for the Remnant armor
  • Boinged to Hendraheim to get within range of Sunderstone Gorge
  • Didn’t bother to suit up in the Remnant armor, just because I didn’t have corundum on me to kick it up to Legendary, so what I was wearing was already better armor
  • Passed horse + dead bandit at spawn point by the crossroads
  • Fought a couple of wolves on the way to the Remnant agents
  • Then it was game on and really I didn’t have to do anything, the Remnant agents and Lucien took out the Thalmor XD
  • I freed Rakid though, and helped myself to stuff on the cart, including a generic Remnant sword
  • Hunted around with a torch until I found all the downed bodies, then got all the Thalmor loot and the Boneshaver sword off the traitor
  • Returned to Hendraheim
  • Passed Vigilants vs. ancient vampire on the way back since I was overloaded and couldn’t fast travel; Lucien got in on that fight but he was moving faster than me
  • Then I remembered tromping along overloaded is stupid when I can just call my horse, LOL
  • So did that and got back to the house faster
  • Smelted down almost all of the elven stuff
  • Left the generic Remnant sword and Boneshaver on the weapons racks, and one suit of elven armor on a mannequin
  • Boinged back to Lakeview to drop off all the ingots for my smithing stash
  • Boinged to Riften to sell stuff
  • Got in late so slept down in the Thieves Guild until I could get up in the morning
  • Sold stuff until I topped 8K
  • Went to Mistveil Keep and bought Honeyside from Anuriel
  • Bought furnishings for it until I was out of money
  • Then checked with Laila Law-Giver and got thaned up!
  • Went over to the house to unlock it, find Iona, and get her on housecarl duty
  • Headed out through the northern gate to get my horse
  • Dragon showed up so we had to kill it
  • Mounted up and rode around to the other side of the city, so I could head for Avanchnzel
  • Saw giant out causing trouble by Largashbur as expected so ran over to help kill it
  • Ugor was actually alive so I got to hear her full conversation with Atub
  • Atub begged me for help as she does and asked me to bring her a Daedra heart and troll fat
  • Back later, lady! I gotta go raid a Dwemer ruin first
  • Rode over to Avanchnzel but had to kill a couple of bears en route, and also a goblin hunting party
  • Reached Avanchnzel and ran the place
  • No particular problems and of course I got overloaded, but having Lucien and Iona was enough to handle most things thrown at us, especially when Lucien used his atronach staff
  • Had a bit of LOL with the ghost of From-Deepest-Fathoms reacting to a fight we got into, LOL, see below
  • Returned the Lexicon and got the boost to Smithing
  • Got out again and mounted up to fast travel back to Riften
  • Sold more things until I could buy the rest of the furnishings for Honeyside
  • Returned to Lakeview for another supplies check
  • Did a bunch of alchemy and did have a bunch of troll fat so grabbed one of those for Largashbur
  • Realized hey I could give Iona the Dragon Knight armor I made 😀
  • Boinged to Azura’s shrine to check in and return the Star
  • Talked to Aranea and she pointed me at the altar
  • Talked to Azura and got her to send me into the Star
  • Made it through the dremora by being careful about the fight, and pausing every few seconds to take advantage of my potions and Unrelenting Force when required
  • Took them all out and got their daedra hearts, and took one example of a Daedric robe
  • Managed to take out Malyn pretty quickly and loot him before Azura yoinked me out
  • Azura gave me the Star and Aranea asked to follow me if I needed her, as they do <3
  • From there, boinged off to the College of Winterhold
  • Came in late so slept in the Arch-Mage’s quarters
  • Loaded up some mannequins with Malyn’s armor, the Daedric robe, and my Novice mage gear
  • Then participated in the morning training in the Hall of the Elements
  • Didn’t have quite enough money to buy a full round of training off of Faralda, but did at least get a few bumps in Destruction
  • Still not high enough in Conjuration to get Conjure Storm Atronach and Conjure Dremora Lord, daaaang–but did get Invisibility from Drevis, and Detect Dead from Tolfdir 😀
  • Got a bit of a Restoration bump from Colette
  • Bought a pair of Master mage boots to get the 25 percent bumps to fire, frost, and shock resistance, and shifted over into wearing those and the Arch-Mage gear
  • Got quest to locate the missing apprentices from Phinis
  • Saved at the college since my next action with Elessir will be to run the Fall of Winterhold plot stuff

Running Goldenglow Estate

I gotta giggle a bit at how Goldenglow Estate is almost ridiculously easy to run, if you’re running Thieves Guild for Good Guys. Just to try it out, I took the option of not burning the beehives, so that I could actually talk to Aringoth and get him to give me the key to his safe. This worked, and had the additional bonus of making his mercenaries no longer hostile. So I was able to get down to the safe and get out again without being confronted.

And that’s nice and all! But it also takes a significant bit of the fun out of running this location, I fear. I like running the Thieves Guild plotline in no small part specifically because of the challenge of sneaking past hostiles and getting out without being detected. If the hostiles aren’t actually hostile, where’s the fun in that?

That said… I do also kind of feel that it’s true to Elessir, and to the character he’s named after, that he wouldn’t burn down the hives just because Maven Black-Briar demanded it. In fact, Elessir’s namesake is contrary enough that he might refuse to burn down the hives specifically because Maven Black-Briar demanded it. Maven’s fulfilling the role of the power figure Elessir’s namesake goes up against, for sure.

This Elessir is taking no shit from Maven Black-Briar, is what I’m saying here. ;D

Getting on Aringoth’s good side also had an extra benefit I haven’t been able to do in prior playthroughs: getting his Queen Bee to take back to Delvin, as well as the Bee in a Jar. So that gave me something new to do here, which was cool.

And speaking of Maven…

Since the next thing I did was run Honningbrew Meadery, I also took the opportunity to be deliberately bitchy to Maven’s face.

And I gotta say I appreciated that Maven was not impressed by this. Which is true to Maven. But boy howdy I do wish that I could have had Elessir be equally unimpressed by her threat to have him killed. Because he’s already killed multiple Dark Brotherhood assassins who’ve come after him.

Maven: “The only reason I’m not having you killed right now is because Brynjolf made amends.”

Elessir: “Have fun sending your lackeys after me, lady. Do you know how many Dark Brotherhood assassins I’ve already killed? I consider it my daily workout. And I’ve started using the orders they’re carrying as tinder for my fire.”

(Which now has me envisioning the Brotherhood refusing to go after him when Maven demands it, because they’ve already lost five of their number to unsuccessful attempts to take down the Dragonborn!)

All of this is also fun given that I’ve also avoided extorting the shopkeepers, which got them on my side. And Talen-Jei in the Bee and Barb even told me, “You have a kind heart; much too kind for Riften.”

Rogue with a heart of gold, indeed.

Bandits being weird at Kinthal’s camp

It was while going into Karthwasten that I saw some unusual behavior out of the Saints bandits, at Kinthal’s camp very near to the town. I didn’t actually go up to their camp–but they ran down and attacked me.

So I don’t know what was up with that. Not sure if it’s something in this specific load order or what, since I didn’t write about any such behavior during Harrowhark’s run, or Shenner’s.

What finally got me through this fight was finally realizing I had something in my arsenal that could help: the Elemental Fury Shout. This is not a Shout I’ve historically used often! I tend to forget about it because I carry enchanted weapons so much–and the Shout won’t work if your wielded weapons are enchanted. But I hadn’t actually bothered yet to enchant Elessir’s current favorite sword, so I was in fact able to throw that Shout.

And it did help. Third time through I was able to take out all the bandits.

Takeaway from this: don’t disregard any of my Shouts.

Running the rest of the Remnants quest

I did take a few of the more mercenary dialogue options in the quest to help the Remnants. E.g., “I don’t work for free. Before this goes any further, we need to talk about payment.”

This, I think, is a matter of the Remnants being an active force of spies and such. And arguably needing Elessir’s help rather less than say, shopkeepers. Not that Elessir isn’t sympathetic to the desire to stab some Thalmor, because oh my yes. 😉

Dragon Knight armor experiment

One of the armors available in Immersive Armors is called Dragon Knight–and I actually kinda like it. It looks badass, and sleeker than standard dragonplate. Once I made a test set of it and tried it on, it even made me think I could keep it around in case I felt like going into Heavy Armor mode with Elessir.

But then I realized I had another option, once I picked up Iona as a housecarl: I gave it to her. And it looks great on her. I’m definitely going to let her keep it for now. I really appreciate that the character’s eyes are visible through the helmet, too!

Here’s a weird bit about this armor, though: I actually found some boots that said they were Dragon Knight, but light armor rather than heavy. And I doublechecked my settings; I hadn’t customized that armor to be light. So not sure why I found that piece. I can’t craft it except in heavy, either. I’ll have to see if I find any other pieces that are tagged light rather than heavy!

Learned something about the ghosts in Avanchnzel

I started noticing this time through Avanchnzel that the ghosts were rendering for me first as regular NPCs–and then they went all glowy, an overlay that did not always work completely for them. So I frequently saw them with only part of their bodies with that red glowy look they usually have.

This suggested to me that Skyrim does in fact treat them as regular NPCs, and takes a couple of extra steps as they render to make them start behaving like ghosts.

And this got demonstrated pretty clearly when I hit the part of the ruin where the ghosts of the party appear and talk to one another about whether they should actually sleep in Avanchnzel or not. Just before they started that conversation, Lucien and I got into a fight with some Dwemer machines.

Which the ghost of From-Deepest-Fathoms actually reacted to, lololol. She threw the “I’m staying out of this” line regular NPCs sometimes have when they see a fight break out in front of them!

So I managed to get her in that exact little window of time when she’s still a regular NPC, and before she shifts over to a ghost. Ha!

Interestingly, according to the wiki, From-Deepest-Fathoms actually has a separate refID for the actual NPC who lives in Riften–and the ghostly form of her in Avanchnzel. Also, she and the other ghosts in Avanchnzel are considered part of the “Dwarven Automaton” faction! There doesn’t seem to be a “Ghost” faction in the game data.

And just to be thorough, I looked up how the ghosts in Labyrinthian are treated–they’re in a whole separate faction. Funky!

Finishing up with Azura’s Star

I thought about taking the snarkier dialogue options with Azura. But out of all the Daedric Princes, Azura strikes me as the one that Elessir might actually be respectful to. Grudgingly respectful, but respectful nonetheless! She is, after all, one of the Reclamations–and he is a Dunmer.

Mephala and Boethiah, though, might be a different story. I’ll need to think about this, especially if I do go ahead and run the Brotherhood with him.

I was a little nervous about whether I had adequate fire resistance to handle the three dremora inside the Star. But it all turned out fine. What helped was keeping my head, pausing every few seconds to refresh my potions–and remembering to throw Unrelenting Force when necessary to knock back a couple of those bastards, so I didn’t have to fight them all at once!

Since I was able to actually loot Malyn Varen before Azura yanked me back out of the Star, I found he was wearing a combo of Witchplate and Spellbinder armor from Immersive Armors. Both of which are Heavy Armors so not really my thing, but I plunked all that armor onto mannequins in the Arch-Mage’s quarters for later just in case I want to outfit another housecarl or two.

Notable Lucien lines

When teaching him the Stoneflesh spell:

“Ooh, gosh. A most peculiar sensation. I wonder if it’s affecting my heart. This must be what my aunt Silvia feels like all the time.”

When we’re on our way into Markarth for the first time:

“They used to call this city ‘Nchaund-Zel’, back when the Dwemer were in charge. ‘Markarth’ does seem to roll off the tongue better, don’t you think?”

While we’re running Avanchnzel:

“Spiders are bad enough, but spiders that shoot lightning? What were the Dwemer thinking?”

Heh, I expect this conversation happened after that line:

Elessir: “Probably that spiders that shoot lightning would keep people like us from coming in here and taking their stuff.”

Lucien: “But we’re returning the Lexicon, not taking it!”

Iona: “The spiders don’t know that. Also, my thane has been breaking into every chest he sees on the way in here.”

Elessir: <grins wickedly>

Next time

Elessir’s next session after this has been run, and that featured running the Fall of Winterhold quest included with the Immersive College of Winterhold mod! And as a tasty after-dinner mint, running the rest of the Cursed Tribe quest and getting Volendrung.

After that, I think it’ll be time to move the Thieves Guild plot further along with him.


Editing to add

  • 11/26/2023: 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.