Kendeshel Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Kendeshel Becomes Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold

This post for my Kendeshel playthrough primarily features finishing off the College of Winterhold plotline, and becoming Arch-Mage of the college. Some minor spoilers here for the Project AHO mod (involving usefulness of quest rewards from that), as well as minor spoilers for Legacy of the Dragonborn (more details about the beginning of the Shattered Legacy plot, and of a side quest available at Mzulft).

Play by play

  • Play dates: 10/18, 10/21/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 20-21

Wednesday the 18th

  • Picked up again at the Safehouse
  • Did some general inventory managing
  • Improved the Daggers of Riften, and enchanted them, fuck yeah
  • Checked with Latoria and gave her my boatload of ruined books
  • Took the Dev Aveza back to the College of Winterhold
  • Took the books back to Urag and got the directive to talk to Tolfdir
  • Did a bunch of training in the Hall of the Elements
  • Also bought Destruction training from Faralda and Restoration training from Colette
  • Overall that bumped me up from level 40 to level 42
  • Then had conversation with Tolfdir, and cue the interruption by Ancano
  • Went to the Arch-Mage’s quarters for the convo with Quaranir
  • Got Mirabelle to tell me where the Augur of Dunlain is
  • Noticed that Lydia had buggered off again, but went into the Midden anyway
  • Killed a couple of ice wraiths and the one draugr
  • Found a surprise in a strongbox by the Atronach Forge: a Ring of the Vipereye
  • Made it down to the Augur and conversed with him as usual
  • Got directive to tell the Arch-Mage we need the Staff of Magnus
  • Found Savos Aren in the Hall of the Elements and he pointed me at Mirabelle
  • She pointed me at Mzulft and the Synod
  • Midway through running college stuff, got pointer to return to Auryen and hear what he’d researched
  • Returned to Solitude
  • Got Latoria to give me a bunch of scrolls and a spellbook from the ruined books I’d brought her
  • Auryen told me yep this sure is a shard of the Amulet of Kings, that guardians of the other shards may be coming to Skyrim and might be in danger, and that it would be a good idea to go to High Hrothgar and find out more
  • Did a bit of smithing work to make additional things for displays, including a couple of replicas, just to burn through backlogged materials
  • Took the Dev Aveza down to Riften
  • Went after the unicorn
  • Passed some Stormcloaks on the way, but heh, they didn’t bother to attack me
  • Successfully tamed the unicorn after a couple of tries, and returned to Riften riding her
  • Registered with the stable, unicorn is dubbed Ran, Norse mythos says Ran is a goddess of the sea, so okay this unicorn is a mare!
  • Did a bit of evaluating of quests (Kendeshel’s journal is very full!) and seeing where the last two people for the Explorer’s Society are; answer: Markarth
  • Decided to go ahead and run Avanchnzel to clear it out of my journal and get rid of the Lexicon (so maybe I can make a replica of it back at the museum)
  • Got to see the big landing pad for the AHO there, and an extra door leading over to the control pedestal for calling it
  • No issues whatsoever running Avanchnzel, and didn’t have to worry about being overloaded, thank you Stash Supplies spell
  • Took out the last centurion, put the Lexicon back, got boss loot, and got the hell out
  • Returned to Riften
  • Saved on the Dev Aveza until next time

Saturday the 21st

  • Picked up again at the Dev Aveza in Riften
  • Did some fishing to start with; caught a couple of glassfish, both for the first Fishing quest and for Zaria’s bounty in Falkreath, but nothing else interesting
  • Sold a few junk items fished up
  • Then headed out with Lydia and picked up unicorn Ran to ride to Mzulft so I could run the place
  • SO MANY GODDAMN BEARS en route, also assorted wolves; took a while to get there just because of having to kill all the critters
  • Passed Khajiit on the way but wrong set of Khajiit! I didn’t have Kharjo’s moon amulet yet, and I still needed to find Ma’dran to trade the Ring of Masser
  • Passed mead revelers close to the steps up to Mzulft but did not directly engage (I have the Charmed Necklace already anyway)
  • But another bear did show up and freak them out; I was able to kill it before it got any of them
  • (Let that be a lesson to you, revelers: do your drinking somewhere that isn’t rampaging bear country)
  • Headed on up to Mzulft
  • Remembered I had not yet gotten the aetherium shard from this place, the one I already had was from Deep Folk Crossing
  • Discovered a surprise inside the storeroom, though: BABY GIANT FROSTBITE SPIDERS, and a big ol’ open spidery cave right behind the pedestal with the aetherium shard
  • No obvious loot or quest objective in that cave though
  • Started running Mzulft proper, and this went quite well thanks to being able to call up an atronach squad; didn’t have quite enough magicka to call up three storm atronachs at once, but was getting close as of this point
  • Periodically called up a single dremora just to vary it up, and because that gave me faster Conjuration bumps
  • Atronach squad definitely useful against that last cluster of Falmer, and also against the centurion
  • Played through the end of this ruin, including talking to Paratus and then getting the “get your ass back to the college” vision from Nerien
  • However, before getting my ass back to the college, tried to find that hidden chamber the Legacy side quest wanted me to deal with, for excavating a secret room
  • Climbed back down to where I’d parked the unicorn and thought the quest marker wanted me back in the Aedrome section of the ruin, but then the quest marker seemed like it wanted me outside
  • So ran all the way back out again, and found that the marker was pointing me at a spot just past the storehouse
  • Went over there and found an excavation to activate; it told me I dug for 12 hours, and then unlocked another storeroom type chamber
  • More loot in there but nothing that seemed particularly plot relevant, no interesting display items or artifacts, but I did find a Staff of Fading (not sure what mod this is from?) and some Stalhrim Heavy Armor of Invigoration (!!)
  • Boinged back to Riften to pick up the airship, and then flew to the College of Winterhold
  • Got in and played through to the point of things exploding and killing the Arch-Mage
  • Ran down to Winterhold with Faralda and Arniel to take out the anomalies; this went pretty well with my being armed with the Daggers of Riften
  • Mostly I just stood and whipped the daggers at the things as they came at me, and I got a pretty good pile of nine ghostly remains around me
  • Ran back up and reported back to Mirabelle, and got the directive to go to Labyrinthian
  • Went straight there on the airship since that was a viable stop for the Dev Aveza
  • Soon as I showed up, SO DID A DRAGON, and hey you scaly motherfucker, BACK THE HELL OFF FROM MY AIRSHIP
  • (Dragon clipped over the ship a couple of times as I was trying to shoot it)
  • Also had to take out the usual couple of trolls before heading into Labyrinthian proper
  • Got killed a couple of times trying to use J’zargo’s scrolls to blow up some draugr (and also came too close to pissing off Lydia doing that, I need to watch that shit)
  • Finally proceeded on through, and got the spell for Telekinesis Arrows at the start of the dungeon, and the Equilibrium spell
  • Also found a Dragon Plate doll on the table with the Telekinesis Arrows spellbook
  • Nice refreshing change of pace to not have to be overloaded the whole way through, THANK YOU Stash Supplies spell <3
  • Spellcaster trap corridor killed me once, but got through the second time okay with careful arrow shots to displace the soul gems
  • Got the word for Slow Time off of that Word Wall
  • The final spectral draugr, and Morokei himself really, not much of a problem when I can summon a dremora lord or an atronach squad
  • So got through okay and took out Morokei; got his mask and staff, and also the cloak since I’m running Cloaks of Skyrim
  • Estormo likewise not much of a problem; son, I literally just kicked a dragon priest’s ass, do you think I’m going to be scared of a single Thalmor mage? 😆
  • Got out again, jumped down off the ledge, and killed another troll on the way back to the ship
  • Returned to the college and played through using the staff to take down the exterior barrier
  • Sergius got trapped behind the gate into the courtyard, oops
  • Remembered this time to actually hold on zapping the eye with the Staff until Tolfdir yelled for me to do so
  • Kept flame atronachs coming to work on setting Ancano on fire as well as any anomalies that showed up, though I had to finally run over and deliver the killing blow to Ancano myself
  • Hurray the world is saved! Cue the Psijics showing back up to get the Eye, and cue my becoming Arch-Mage
  • (But I gotta pour one out for the college guard who valiantly gave up her life in the fight with Ancano, RIP college guard, I promise not to let Phinis use your body for Conjuration experiments)
  • Keeled over for a sleep in the Arch-Mage’s quarters
  • Trained with Faralda in the morning, bought five rounds of Destruction training from her as well as doing a bit of the hall training
  • Took the Dev Aveza back to Solitude to do a bunch of display managing
  • Got 40 different additional things onto display, including replicas of the Arch-Mage robes and a couple other things I’d found; display count cleared 700
  • Did a survey of all the armor I’d been accumulating in the armory and wasn’t convinced I wanted to keep it all, so chucked a bunch of it into the sell box
  • Experimented with making a full set of Triibunal robes and some Ebony Mage robes as well, just because I feel like Kendeshel may want to have a variety of robes on hand as she grows in power as a mage
  • Put some armor that’s actually important to her in character on the mannequins in the Safehouse, like her Imperial armor and the Explorer’s Guild armor; mostly though I think she’ll keep swapping between the Crimson Archer and the Relic Hunter gear
  • Saved in the Safehouse until next time

Loving me some Daggers of Riften

I’ll admit I was a little dubious about the prospect of actually wielding any of the special thane weapons you get if you’re running Legacy of the Dragonborn–until I got my mitts on the Daggers of Riften.

I already knew from running Marwyth in ESO that I groove on dual-wielding daggers. And that same energy is coming to Kendeshel’s playthrough now. I improved both of the daggers up to Legendary, slapped a Fiery Soul Trap enchantment on one and a shock damage enchantment on the other.

And now, each of them individually does more damage than my Ancient Dwarven Sword. Together, they are badass. Particularly if I pull off a paralyzing strike with them, as I’ve seen them do a couple of times now. Fuck yeah.

I am however a trifle surprised that you can’t make replicas of the thane weapons. But from what I see on the LotD wiki, the thane weapons in general appear to be a “put the actual weapons on display” or “carry and use them” situation. There’s no sign of any replica recipes for the daggers when I’m at one of the replica stations.

Eh well. I’m grooving hard enough on the daggers that I can live without putting them on display, at least until I get anything more badass than they are! I know for a fact I won’t be filling out the museum completely, so this may just have to be one of the known and accepted gaps I don’t fill in.

Training at the College of Winterhold

A side effect of having run Project AHO in this playthrough: I have to make myself remember that oh right, yes, I already have all the various spells I want so I don’t actually have to buy them from the college trainers. I do however still need to build up my abilities so I can cast these various spells.

Phinis kept doing a line I’d never heard before, while I was standing near him for Conjuration training, and periodically summoning frost atronachs along with him. He kept saying “No, I do not approve at all”. I have no idea what was up with that. Did he find my frost atronachs subpar or something? No clue!

Meanwhile, I noted with interest during that same training session that Tolfdir did not take his usual place for giving Alteration training. Presumably this is because he was waiting for me to have my conversation with him to move the college’s main plotline along. Which I did, but I held off on it until after that round of training was over! Because education is important, yo.

Sidebar: shouldn’t I be familiar with the Synod?

While talking to Mirabelle to get the pointer to go off to Mzulft, I did of course have the usual dialogue options to ask her about the Synod. But I kinda think that given what I’d established for Kendeshel’s backstory, she should actually have already known who the Synod were. She did study in Cyrodiil.

I don’t think there’s a dialogue path I could have taken with Mirabelle that would have avoided my having to ask her that question. So I guess I can just handwave this by assuming Kendeshel either skipped that question entirely, or else asked Mirabelle about it anyway just to see what the college staff thought of the Synod.

Oh hey look I picked a deity!

Just before talking to Mirabelle about Mzulft, I spent a little time looking at the various things on the shelves in the Arcaneum–and this included triggering the shrine of Julianos on the bottom shelf there.

Which immediately gave me a prompt to follow him.

And I decided to go ahead and leap on this. As Julianos is the Divine of logic and wisdom, and is also heavily associated with history and magic, this seemed extremely relevant to Kendeshel’s interests.

Plus, in the aftermath of her experiences at Sadrith Kegran, grounding herself in the worship of this specific Divine is probably really comforting to her. I expect she probably has always been rather partial to him, as someone who studied in Cyrodiil. But now, I’m seeing her just eying that shrine in the Arcaneum, and being hit with a bit of an epiphany about oh this Divine is right for me.

So since that point I’ve been working on making sure she prays every time I see a prompt to do so. Or whenever I get up from sleeping, whichever comes first.

Yep, that red shard sure is plot-relevant

So now Kendeshel knows that the shard Byron brought her is in fact a shard of the Amulet of Kings. But given that Shattered Legacy is a big important plot and I am not yet ready to run it, I held off on pursuing this any further for now.

I suspect my next action here will be once I finish rounding up all the necessary members of the guild, as well as nabbing more of the fancy items from the Tools of the Trade quest.

My next likely visit to High Hrothgar will be once I have to show up to talk to Paarthurnax anyway and learn about Dragonrend. So I can layer the LotD action in with that.

And speaking of those last two Guild colleagues

Apparently they are to be found in the vicinity of Markarth, which Kendeshel has not yet visited. I will need to work my way over there soon, I think. Just a question of when.

Now that Kendeshel has cleared level 46 I should be good to proceed with the game’s main quest, which suggests that going to Karthspire with Delphine and Esbern might be a good point at which to stage my first arrival in Markarth. But I also need to run Lost to the Ages, and Arkngthamz is within range of Markarth as well.

So we’ll see what my mood dictates in Kendeshel’s coming sessions.

Surprises at Mzulft

I had a Legacy quest pointing me at excavating a hidden chamber at Mzulft. I didn’t know where exactly this was supposed to be, though. So I showed up there with my usual plan of action: hitting the storeroom first, so that I could get the aetherium shard.

Once I got in there, I found a surprise: a bunch of baby giant frostbite spiders skittering around. And behind the pedestal that contained the aetherium shard, the wall had a large gaping hole in it that led down to a cavern system. Which was, as the baby spiders telegraphed for me would be the case, full of webs and larger spiders.

To my surprise, though, this did not appear to be the place the side quest wanted me to excavate. But neither could I see any particular reason for that chamber and its spiders to be there. There was no obvious loot, and I didn’t trigger any quest objective by going down there. Nor was it clear to me whether this was something added in by Legacy, or by one of the other mods I’m running. Guess I’ll find out eventually?

Running Mzulft itself went more easily than usual, in no small part thanks to the Stash Supplies spell.

But afterwards, when I tried again to find that secret chamber that the side quest wanted me to excavate, there was a bit of confusion with the quest markers catching up. I got back out to my unicorn, only to find that the quest marker was acting like it wanted me back in the Aedrome section of the ruin. When I got partway back in, though, it moved to wanting me outside the ruin.

Once I finally found the place, just past the storeroom with the aetherium shard pedestal (and the spiders, at least this time through), I found it admittedly a bit anticlimactic. It was just a slightly fancier version of the excavations I’d been finding in other places, with a bit of mildly interesting loot (a Staff of Fading, and also a Stalhrim Heavy Armor of Invigoration). Otherwise, nothing plot relevant.

Inside Mzulft, one of the Falmer I fought was a “Falmer Loremaster”–a type added in by Legacy. When I killed that one, he dropped 100 Ancient Falmer arrows!

Playing through the rest of the College of Winterhold plot

Nothing particularly new here, other than the Stash Supplies spell being my very best friend when running Labyrinthian as well as Mzulft. <3

And for all of the bitching I did about Project AHO, gotta admit, being able to call up a bunch of atronachs made getting through Labyrinthian way easier.

So now Kendeshel is Arch-Mage, and this means I’m done with the college plot in all three of the active playthroughs! (Finds-The-Way’s post about being Arch-Mage isn’t up yet, but it’s on the queue.) I still need to run the Fall of Winterhold with her, though.

Next time

I finally ran Moon and Star, so I’ll have some thoughts about that in Kendeshel’s next post!

And also, acting on some helpful tips from another player (thanks, Mangouste!), I started running some side quests to find some super-fancy, super-helpful goodies to make relic hunting easier. More on this in the next post, too!


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.