Elessir Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Elessir Battles Mercer Frey, Thalmor, and Forsworn

Just about everything in this post for Elessir’s run is familiar territory, but I still found things to comment on! Main action: moving the Thieves Guild further along; running the Thalmor Embassy; heading to Karthspire to hit Alduin’s Wall; and meeting Paarthurnax at the Throat of the World.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 10/28, 10/31/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 28-29

Saturday the 28th

  • Picked up again at Lakeview
  • First objective: going to Irkngthand to kick Mercer’s ass for him
  • Boinged to Tundra Homestead to get within range of Irkngthand first
  • But forgot I needed to drop off stuff to whittle down the carry weight, so went into the house and left some books in there, and dropped a bunch of things I didn’t want to carry with me into a chest
  • Came back out again and got attacked by a trio of Imperials for no apparent reason o.O
  • Lucien went after a few of them, and then they came after me
  • Took them out with no sign of incurring a bounty, or having it classed as a murder on my stats, so there was that at least
  • Dropped all of their stuff inside in the chest, then finally set out properly for Irkngthand
  • Killed critters on the way
  • Had to re-kill the dragon at Shearpoint because it had respawned; re-looted the boss chest too
  • Then proceeded to Irkngthand
  • Took out all the exterior bandits without too much trouble at all, with Lucien + summoned daedroth
  • Dropped bandit loot into saddlebags on Rigmor the unicorn before proceeding into the ruin
  • Ran it mostly as per previous playthroughs, see below
  • Played through until the confrontation with Mercer at the end
  • Took him out pretty quickly, quicker than I expected in fact!
  • Got the skeleton key off of him as well as the rest of his loot
  • Had to wait for the cavern to fill with water of course before we could get out, and that went a little weird this time, see below
  • Finally got out though, and Lucien was in the cave passage beyond
  • Had final convo with Karliah about returning the Skeleton Key to the Twilight Sepulcher
  • Boinged with Lucien and Rigmor back to Tundra Homestead to pick up the loot stash I’d left there
  • Then boinged back to Lakeview for inventory managing
  • Broke down a bunch of armor and weapons items into ingots, and did a big wave of crafting to try to level up; made it to 50
  • Went to Falkreath and sold some stuff
  • Solaf: “Steal anything from my shop, and you’ll regret it.” Elessir: .oO (Only because you don’t sell anything in here worth my time to steal, pal…)
  • Headed off to the Twilight Sepulcher
  • Tried to stop first at Cracked Tusk Keep to clear the place and get the shards of Mehrunes’ Razor
  • Reached and started running the Twilight Sepulcher–but killed by Nightingale Sentinels, and thrown back to coming out of the shop in Falkreath
  • This time through didn’t bother to stop and pick a fight with the Orcs, just went straight to Twilight Sepulcher
  • Got into a fight with a Scavenger who was stealing off the corpses of Stormcloaks and Imperials
  • Re-started the Twilight Sepulcher, and this time made it through okay
  • Narrowly avoided getting spotted by sentinels, thanks to deploying potions of invisibility
  • Returned the key, and picked Shadowcloak of Nocturnal as per usual
  • Witnessed Karliah’s final convo with Gallus <3
  • Then got out of there and rejoined Lucien
  • Returned to Lakeview and did more inventory managing
  • Boinged off to Riften and sold stuff to Tonilia
  • Went off to run Crystaldrift Cave
  • Dragon just outside the Riften gate, so had to fight that
  • Made it to the cave after killing multiple bears and a couple of sabre cats; nultiple critters inside the cave as well
  • Got the hammer, and Lucien was once again not wrong that sometimes, y’know, I could just not put the amber and madness ore into a fire? 😉
  • Of course this triggered arrival of bandits, and Lucien and I had to take them out
  • Hit Evethra’s forge site north of Mistwatch (and had a TestJeremyBig sighting on the way!)
  • Took Evethra out and got the Arcane Blacksmith’s Apron and her notes on forging amber and madness ore
  • Boinged off to Solitude next and sold a bunch more stuff
  • Swung over to the Steed Stone to get the carry weight up
  • Finally boinged back to Lakeview and saved there until next time

Tuesday the 31st

  • Picked up at Lakeview
  • Rode over to Riverwood to meet Delphine about going to the Thalmor Embassy
  • Then boinged to Solitude and came in late, so slept at Proudspire
  • Lucien gushed about being spies and threw the line in the Winking Skeever about “anybody seen a shifty-looking Wood Elf?” LOL
  • Gave a bunch of things to Malborn to take to the embassy:
    • Nightingale armor
    • Sneak ring
    • A fuckton of useful potions
    • Shock resistance necklace
    • Critical weaponry
  • Headed over to meet Delphine at Katla’s farm and pick up the invitation and the party clothes
  • Used the drunk for my distraction again since Elessir wasn’t thane in Hjaalmarch yet
  • Snuck successfully out to the side of the solar, and swiped a bunch of items on the way
  • Got spotted once by a guard but took out the guy
  • Mostly threw my daedroth out to clear the way, and that took the wizard at the door down
  • The daedroth also cleared the way inside the solar
  • Got all the evidence and ran down to get the final book about Esbern
  • Then came back up to trigger the arrival of the two soldiers who captured Malborn, and took them out too
  • Freed Etienne and got safely out into the escape tunnel
  • Took out the troll before it could harm either Malborn or Etienne
  • Got the Stone of Barenziah and other loot out of the tunnel
  • Malborn did not bitch at me about the Thalmor hunting him for the rest of his life, hmm
  • Boinged back to Riverwood to follow up with Delphine and get my stuff
  • Got pointer to find Esbern in the Ratway, so boinged off to Riften to do that
  • Spotted Shavari as soon as I headed down into the Ratway; she was going the other way along the lower level dock
  • But she also spawned inside the Ratway as soon as I entered, and attacked me; this did not go well for her
  • Proceeded on to the Ragged Flagon and got Vekel to tell me where Esbern was, then headed down to find him
  • Killed round one of Thalmor agents on the way
  • Every conjurer’s favorite game: see how fast your conjured Dremora lord can decapitate Thalmor 😀
  • Found Esbern, got him on board with coming to talk to Delphine, and started leading him out of the Ratway
  • Round two of Thalmor agents!
  • Crazy former soldier came over to help us fight them; thank you, crazy former soldier, carry on
  • Fast traveled to Honningbrew so as to not drop a fast travel dragon on Riverwood if I could avoid it
  • Something alerted Lucien into combat mode on the way into the town though; didn’t see what it was, didn’t hear a dragon roaring, so I dunno WTF
  • When I entered the inn, Delphine and Esbern were also in combat mode
  • Was about to roll back when the combat music stopped and Delphine and Esbern stood down
  • They had their reunion lines, and then we went downstairs to talk, at which point Lucien also caught up with us
  • Told Delphine I’d meet them at Sky Haven Temple
  • Left the inn with Lucien and fast traveled straight to Markarth
  • Ducked into the Silver-Blood Inn long enough to read the book to get the quest pointer for Crypt of the Heart, then rode over on unicorn to do part one of that plot
  • Followed the ghost to his grave and fought the three Forsworn there
  • Got the shaman’s note, and the Iron and Steel Spell Knight armor, which I loaded onto Rigmor to get the carry weight down
  • Headed over to meet Delphine and Esbern at Karthspire
  • Spotted Ri’saad’s Khajiit caravan going towards Markarth–and then spotted a Blood Dragon
  • The Khajiit ran back the other way, presumably to get the fuck out of the way of the fight 😆
  • The dragon started attacking Delphine and Esbern, so ran over to help them; we finally took it out
  • Loaded dragon bits and loot onto the unicorn
  • Then we went over to run Karthspire and took out most of the Forsworn
  • Got the corrupted human heart off the altar to take back to the grave site
  • Made it safely into Sky Haven Temple
  • Triggered the bug with Delphine being stuck down at the door into the temple, but found a fix for it, see below
  • Got the directive to go talk to the Greybeards about a Shout
  • Got the Blades gear and Dragonbane on the way out
  • Got a second dragon on the way back to the grave site, and that one crashed right by the skeleton of the one we’d fought on the way in
  • Returned to the grave site and purified the heart, and got the Ebony Spell Knight gear
  • Then boinged back to Lakeview for inventory managing
  • Set Smithing Legendary so I could take the points and put them elsewhere
  • Decided to wear the Ebony Spell Knight gear for a while as it looks pretty bitchin’ on Elessir
  • Put one perk each on Heavy Armor, Enchanting, and Alchemy; dropped the rest onto Speech so I could unlock clear up to being able to invest in stores
  • Boinged to Whiterun to sell some stuff
  • Invested in Warmaiden’s, Drunken Huntsman, and Belethor’s shop
  • Realized I wasn’t going to be able to smelt ebony again for a while, so bought some ebony ingots to improve the Spell Knight armor (when I re-unlocked Arcane Blacksmithing)
  • Boinged to Tundra Homestead and left the Iron and Steel Spell Knight armor there, and the Blades gear
  • Finally boinged to High Hrothgar to talk to the Greybeards about Dragonrend
  • Got a quest for a Word of Power out of Arngeir, this time pointing at Forsaken Cave (I’ll be going there anyway for White Phial purposes so sure why not, let’s stack ‘em)
  • Asked him about Dragonrend and he got cranky, but Brother Einarth talked him down, and he took me out to give me Clear Skies to get to Paarthurnax
  • Went up the mountain, Shouting the whole way
  • Took out a couple of ice wraiths and a frost troll as you do
  • Made it to Paarthurnax and talked through his convo; got directive to find an Elder Scroll
  • Got the Notched Pickaxe while up there and hit the ebony and malachite veins
  • Boinged back to Lakeview for a bit and chatted with Lucien about what he knows about Elder Scrolls
  • Boinged to Riften to see if Dravin was still alive so I could give him his bow; answer: yes!
  • He and his wife were still out in their field even though I showed up fairly late, so gave him his bow and he gave me some jewels
  • Parked in Honeyside until next time

Mystery Imperial attack at Tundra Homestead

It was very weird coming out of Tundra Homestead and getting attacked by Imperial soldiers. I am not playing a Stormcloak, of course, and I have no idea what else I might do to piss off Imperial NPCs–unless I accidentally killed an Imperial at some point earlier in this run?

But I have no real idea. And I didn’t have a bounty of any kind so far as I know.

I couldn’t find any info about bugs pertaining to this on the wikis I follow, either about Imperial soldiers or about Tundra Homestead. But it is not the first time I’ve had random WTF attacks from NPCs in this playthrough. So I’ll just have to see if this trend continues, I guess?

TestJeremyBig sighting

I had thought I was going to go my whole playthrough without a TestJeremyBig sighting, because I’d been under the impression that this issue was going to only repro in battles for the civil war. But apparently not! Because I finally spotted a TestJeremyBig wandering around in Elessir’s run, too.

Which tells me this bug can repro any time Stormcloaks spawn. Good to know. And I think for my next playthrough I may have to shift off to yet another of the mods that adds in female guards and soldiers. We’ll see if that one works without any bumps.


Ran this pretty much like previous playthroughs–mostly. But this run does include Cutting Room Floor, so I had that extra little exchange with the dying bandit in the initial bits of the ruin–where he was freaking out about being killed by a shadow. I do still really like that little bit of dialogue, and wish it would have been in the final released game!

I tried to play it sneaky for the most part, but a couple of times, alerted Falmer anyway. So this run wasn’t without its fighting. And this time through, I also used the spinning blade trap on the two Falmer in the slave pen room, just because I’ve had trouble sneaking past them in prior runs.

Once I reached the point of confronting Mercer, I noticed in the conversation with him what I’d seen already in previous bits of this modded version of the Guild’s questline: i.e., that a bunch of the player lines had been expanded out. But I don’t necessarily approve of the changes in the dialogue. They make the Dragonborn come across as a lot more emotional than the default lines do—and that may or may not be appropriate for your Dragonborn. It’s definitely not appropriate for Elessir, at least.

(But I’m accepting it just because I do by and large like the changes to the questline that the Taking Care of Business mod does.)

I had trouble actually spotting the proper entrance to get out of the cave this time, once the ceiling collapsed. Also, I wasn’t entirely sure of this, but it felt like the cavern filled with water faster this time. What actually let me get out properly was trying to periodically turn in the direction of the quest marker–I didn’t actually see the ceiling break open as I usually do.

Delphine getting stuck at Sky Haven Temple

This time through Sky Haven Temple, I triggered a bug I’d seen before during Shenner’s run: Delphine getting stuck just past the door into the temple. Before, I hadn’t known what to do about this.

This time through, though, I looked it up and saw that one solution on the wiki was to force Delphine to equip a torch via the console.

I can now confirm that this worked for me. She got unstuck, and came over to pick up her part of the conversation with Esbern.

As per the wiki page for the Alduin’s Wall quest, the console command that worked for me was:

equipitem 0001D4EC 1 left

So for benefit of Future Me as well as any other readers who might come by this post, this is what to do to fix the problem if it repros for you.

Notable Lucien lines

I think I noted this line during Harrow’s run but what the hell, noting it again because LOL. This is his reaction to getting the hammer called Nerveshatter:

“Congratulations on your magic hammer. Looks spikey. Wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end.”

Lucien’s reaction to Evethra:

“Gosh, she was a bit bonkers, wasn’t she? Good at making fancy armor though. I should note down her recipes, might make a good paper one day…”

Getting a little too heavily into the whole secret meeting with Malborn thing:

“Are we spies now? We’re spies now. We’re spies who’ve been sent by a spy to meet a spy who’ll send us spying. How exciting!”

Definitely noted this during Harrow’s run but noting again because LOL, Lucien when we enter the Winking Skeever to find Malborn:

“Hello everyone! If I could have your attention please. Has anyone seen a shifty-looking wood elf? No? Nobody? Looks like we re on our own.”

And, Lucien getting all academic at Esbern:

“This prophecy you’ve been talking about. The end of the world, and how only the Dragonborn could stop it. I just wondered how exactly you knew that?”

Esbern is not exactly helpful in his reply, and Lucien opines about prophecies in general, raising a very valid point:

“That’s a pity. Prophecy has always been a strange concept for me. The idea of our fates already being determined. Who did the determining? And when?”

Lucien definitely getting into the whole idea of going to Sky Haven Temple, and yes, my friend, we’re going there right now:

“Sky Haven Temple. Alduin’s Wall. These sound absolutely fascinating. Please say we’re going there now. I simply have to see them.”

Lucien getting his history geek on, and noting quite correctly that the Reachmen do have a long history of being surly at everybody:

“The Reachmen have a bloody history since long before the Forsworn Uprising. Some of them even tried to help Molag Bal invade in the Second Era.”

If there’s anything Lucien likes as much as science, it’s making bad puns:

“I always wondered if you could sharpen your nails on one of those. But then, I’m not one to point fingers.”

Lucien finds another reason to love Tundra Homestead:

“Whoever owned this place before you had a wonderful collection of books. I approve.”

Lucien puts two and two together and gets DRAGON:

“Paarthurnax. Paarthurnax. Curious name. I wonder… no, surely not. A ridiculous notion.”

Because Elessir just keeps throwing Lucien all the best adventure goals, amirite? And don’t worry, Lucien, pretty sure we’ll figure this out:

“Isn’t it splendid? We need an Elder Scroll. My father could have helped you if you’d asked him thirty years ago but now, now it’s going to be tricky.”

He continues to be a bubbling font of information:

“Not as much as I wish I did. They used to keep them at White-Gold Tower, where I studied for a while. They had a library of them there.”

Why, Lucien, are you actually suggesting thievery? Do I need to get you officially inducted into the Guild? Fortunately for you, you do know the guy who’s about to be Guildmaster:

“They’d have resisted, of course, but we could always have pinched it when they weren’t looking. It’s been done before.”

Next time

Elessir’s next post will feature helping Malborn out with his Thalmor problem; slaying the dragon Vuljotnaak; investigating the suspicious actions of Mythic Dawn cultists; taking over Bloodchill Cavern; and gaining thaneships in both the Pale and Hjaalmarch!


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.