Kendeshel Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Kendeshel Becomes Thane of the Pale and Saves Esbern from the Thalmor

Back to Kendeshel’s Skyrim playthrough. Main game action: saving Dawnstar from nightmares and becoming Thane of the Pale; beginning the building of Heljarchen Hall and getting Gregor as housecarl; acquiring Azura’s Star; running the Thalmor Embassy; and saving Esbern from the Ratway.

This post contains minor post-plot spoilers for Moon and Star and Project AHO, involving characters you can encounter after running Moon and Star, and location of the AHO. And minor spoilers for Legacy of the Dragonborn, involving functionality available in the Safehouse and the locations of a couple of items for Tools of the Trade.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 11/1, 11/4/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 24-25

Wednesday the 1st

  • Picked up at the Safehouse
  • Main goal of this session: a fuckton of side quests!
  • Came out of the museum and was immediately greeted by a courier with the note to kick off the Cause quest, since I cleared level 46
  • After that, was greeted by a DRAGON, which I proceeded to kill at Castle Dour
  • Picked up Heidrun from Katla’s Farm, then rode to Broken Oar Grotto to take out the bandit leader there
  • Mostly didn’t loot the place all that much, just made a circuit of it and took out any hostiles
  • Took out the bandit leader as per the bounty
  • Returned to Solitude and reported to the Blue Palace
  • Passed Bryling and Erikur on the way in and Bryling threw a line about her friend dying
  • Got the scene with Varnius asking for help with Wolfskull Cave, finally; let that scene finish
  • Then talked to Falk and got his payment for the bandit bounty and the quest to go check out Wolfskull Cave
  • Stopped back at the Safehouse for a sleep
  • Prayed the next morning and maxed out my favor with Julianos, fuck yeah
  • I think here was where I decided to set Kendeshel’s Smithing to Legendary
  • Dropped perks onto Speech, enough to get her up to the point of being able to sell anything to anybody; also dropped perks on Alchemy and Enchanting
  • Airshipped over to Dawnstar
  • Sold iron ore to Beitild, which was my third favor quest, so reported to Jarl Brina and got thaned up
  • Also realized while doing this that I hadn’t run the nightmares quest for Dawnstar yet
  • So marched right over to the inn to find Erandur and deal with this nightmare problem
  • Ran the place without any trouble, conjured Dremora helpfully took out just about all opposition for me
  • Found a few books for displays and also a helm called the “Ancient Daedric Face of Terror”
  • Triggered a bug where the two priests at the end actually attacked each other, LOL
  • Specifically avoided bothering that last Orc in the corner on the way out
  • Slept in the Dev Aveza
  • Got up the next morning and talked to Silus at his museum to get the quest to go after Mehrunes’ Razor
  • Got prompted to follow Mehrunes Dagon when I started looking at the little displays in Silus’ house, HARD PASS
  • After that, since I was in Dawnstar anyway, took the boat over to Giant’s Tooth to move the Bittercup quest further along
  • Got in, hit the ironwood grove, killed the spriggans in there, and got out again with the fruit
  • Thought I was going to be able to leave the island without fighting the giants, since they buggered off out of their camp and my path to the boat was clear, but they’d just gone a little ways down the beach fighting ice wraiths
  • So Lydia and I had to take out both the giants and the ice wraiths, then we were able to return to Dawnstar
  • From there, took the airship to Whiterun, and checked on the girls in Breezehome
  • Made ironwood soup for Rulnik in there, and took the soup over to the temple
  • Found Danica actually outside and gave the soup to her there, but this resulted in slightly buggy behavior, because then she threw the line to Rulnik about feeling better soon
  • Got prompt to come back in a day and check on Rulnik
  • Also noted that Danica threw a line about a friend of hers dying, which made me go ?!?! Because I wasn’t aware of anyone in Whiterun dying
  • Ducked into the Hall of the Dead to look around, and killed the respawned skeletons while in there
  • Did not see any coffins with citizens’ remains in there? Wiki says citizens’ remains could also be in urns, so I’ll need to check again
  • Went out to ride to Heljarchen Hall and start building it
  • On the way spotted dragon vs. giant right around Halted Stream Camp
  • Stopped to try to get in on that action but the dragon eventually won, and I got distracted fighting the exterior bandits at the camp
  • Got in a few shots on the dragon but it eventually flew off
  • So just proceeded on to Heljarchen Hall and started building it
  • Built the Small House structure completely, inside and out, and all exterior items
  • Kind of amusing seeing the AHO very nearby! That ought to raise Gregor’s eyebrows when he shows up to watch over the place 😀
  • Doublechecked proximity of any of the fancy “tools of the trade” items
  • Realized a couple were within easy range of Heljarchen Hall so rode eastward to check them out
  • Wound up at Shearpoint, which I had not hit yet with Kendeshel, so took out that dragon
  • And then took out Krosis, which went very quickly thanks to the Time Break spell
  • Got the Throw Voice shout and unlocked all three words
  • Found the burned remains of “Stonehands” right by the word wall; took the enchanted gloves and a journal off the corpse
  • The other nearby quest marker for was for Kriana’s quill, but the wiki says that’s in Raldbthar so I’ll have to come back for that later once I’m properly running Lost to the Ages
  • Returned to Whiterun and checked on Rulnik; resolved the quest with him and got his dagger
  • Next stop: College of Winterhold, though I fucked it up and fast traveled there first
  • So then had to fast travel back to the ship so I could then airship properly to the college
  • Talked to Enthir about Onmund’s quest
  • Got prompt to find the staff for Enthir at the Falkreath Watchtower
  • Then went out to build the northern outpost for the Guild, not far from Saarthal, also not far from Alftand for that matter
  • Got the site built okay, and wound up sleeping there for the night since it was late
  • Got up in the morning and aimed for the Shrine of Azura
  • Found the Shrine of Riddle’thar and activated it just to wake up the display for it, though it rejected me as a potential worshipper given that I am not a Khajiit
  • Then reached the Shrine of Azura, and found the Nerevarine there
  • Chatted with him a bit and got his advice along the lines of “how to cope when you’re somebody perceived as a worldwide hero”
  • Took a couple of levels of One-handed training with him, but only two because I’m high up enough in One-handed that any new levels are expensive
  • This let me level up to 47 though; took Basic Smithing perk, and bumped my Magicka
  • Launched the Azura’s Star quest with Aranea
  • Returned to Winterhold and talked to Nelacar in the Frozen Hearth, and bribed him for info
  • Finally returned to the museum, checked in with Patero, and let him know the outpost was built
  • Did a bunch of putting things on display, and a bunch of crafting
  • Experimented with the Disenchanting Font to see if I could improve enchantments on stuff I had already, but managed to de-improve my Crimson Archer armor, oops
  • So went to the Hunter armor for a while, because it does look pretty similar to the Crimson Archer
  • Saved at the museum until next time

Saturday the 4th

  • Was already in Solitude at the Safehouse anyway starting this session, so decided to go ahead and run the Thalmor Embassy
  • Put a few things away in the Safehouse, then changed into fine clothes for equipment handoff, and headed over to the Winking Skeever
  • Gave Malborn all my stuff
  • Actually found Ma’dran’s Khajiit at Solitude but decided to not give him the Ring of Masser for now, because I wanted it for important sneaking through the embassy purposes
  • Went to the stables and got the party clothes and invite from Delphine, then headed to the embassy
  • Got the drunk on board as my distraction again, and did a surgical strike on the place
  • Confirmed that I can, in fact, summon THREE DREMORA LORDS AT ONCE, so apparently the Strategist perk is not limited to atronachs despite the description of it suggesting so
  • Got Malborn and Etienne out safely
  • Also yoinked all the evidence and cleared the chest by the trapdoor, which had a Light Dragon Knight Shield in it
  • Made it safely out through the tunnel after killing the troll
  • Boinged to the Guardian Stones as an RP maneuver since going back immediately to Solitude felt unwise and too high profile if I tried to take the airship to Whiterun
  • Lydia, Ran the unicorn, and Thistle all showed up with me
  • Rode the unicorn over to Riverwood
  • Checked in with Delphine and told her the situation, and got pointer to head to Riften to find Esbern
  • But went to Lakeview first to lay low
  • Got up in the morning and built out some of the Kitchen wing, then headed out, intending to hit Ilinalta’s Deep
  • Aaaaand killed by an Ancient Dragon! Going to Ilinalta’s Deep, take two
  • Spotted a dragon the second time but this time it was a flyby, so no worries
  • Since I was in the vicinity, went to Falkreath Watchtower and got the staff for Enthir, taking out the necromancer who was there; also got elite necromancer stuff off of him for displays
  • Hoofed it over to Falkreath and dropped off the glassfish for Zaria
  • Got her quest to give the disguised invisibility potion to the guard in the barracks; did that, and got the Ring of Surroundings
  • Also got the quest for the Elven Hunter armor while I was in there
  • Came back out again and hoofed it back to find my unicorn
  • Spotted some Thalmor as I rode towards Half-Moon Mill but hung back from them because I didn’t feel like fighting with them
  • Did fishing at Half-Moon Mill; I think here was where I fished up the ‘Ring of Agility’, which is Legacy’s replacement for Denstagmer’s Ring
  • Also fished at the fisherman camp at the end of the lake
  • Went from there over to Ilinalta’s Deep
  • Got killed once in there because I wasn’t paying attention to my health bar, but only once, and made it through the second time
  • Got Azura’s Star and other loot and got out again
  • Got prompted to follow Azura as I picked up the Star, but declined since I am now in high favor with Julianos!
  • Returned to Azura’s shrine, and the Nerevarine was still there
  • Talked to Aranea and Azura, and got sent into the Star
  • Taking out the Dremora in there not a problem when i’m able to summon three Dremora myself
  • My Dremora took out Malyn Varen for me
  • Didn’t get a chance to loot him; I was overloaded and couldn’t reach him before Azura pulled me out
  • Nerevarine was gone when I came back out of the Star
  • Took the Moon and Star ring out of the strongbox for display purposes
  • From there, boinged to the College of Winterhold and dropped off the staff with Enthir
  • Also did a bunch of training
  • Returned to Solitude and got the Dev Aveza, then finally boinged down to Riften
  • Took care of fishing business first:
    • Got the quest to get Mila her goldfish from Viriya
    • Fished up remaining necessary fish for the Fair Weather Fish list
    • Got the quest for the Rainy Weather Fish and the Lucky Fishing Hat from Swims
  • Entered Honeyside after fishing at the bottom of the back steps–and was immediately attacked by two Morag Tong assassins
  • Dropped the corpses down Honeyside’s stairs, and they had despawned when I got up the next morning
  • Also noted while sauntering my way around Riften that Shavari was on site and following me
  • Talked to Keerava to get the info on the Ratway, and avoided Brynjolf
  • Headed down into the Ratway, and got the note about the ghost
  • Was not in the mood to be sneaky so tried facing off with the two thugs–and passed an Intimidate check with Drahff, because an actual conversation was added back in courtesy of Cutting Room Floor
  • Drahff ordered Hewnon to let me on through, guess they get to live in this playthrough!
  • Took out Gian the Fist though and got the Gloves of the Pugilist for displays
  • Found the entrance to the Guardian Vault but decided not to run that quest for now
  • Got the key to Skritch’s cage but also left that for later
  • Reached the Ragged Flagon, bribed Dirge for info on Esbern, and got the pointer to proceed to the Ratway Warrens
  • Got the expected first group of Thalmor and delivered death by Dremora
  • Also got Dravin’s bow
  • Made it down to Esbern and had convo with him as usual
  • Headed back out again but things got a bit violent at that point! Second group of Thalmor showed up and we killed them, but the Dremora got a little overeager and took out the cannibal guy as well as the poor deaf woman
  • Left her in Esbern’s digs, sorry about that Esbern, don’t think you’re gonna wanna come back here though
  • To my surprise did not find Shavari in the Ratway, either coming or going, though I did spot her out in Riften proper
  • Made it up to the airship; Lydia and Esbern did not come on board with me, but when I landed in Whiterun they caught up
  • Fast traveled directly to Riverwood since I wasn’t in the mood to ride the whole way
  • Went into the Sleeping Giant and had usual reunion scene with Delphine and Esbern
  • Told them I’d meet them at Karthspire
  • And got a frigging dragon on the way out, anyway, LOL
  • Killed dragon, then boinged back to Whiterun and told Lydia to stand down
  • Then took the Dev Aveza to Markarth, which put it on the map for me for the first time in this run
  • Noted that the airship parks just by the guard tower and I do get a gangplank down, not a ladder
  • Also confirmed that as soon as I reached the area by the gate, the attack on Margret still happened, cue the beginning of the Forsworn Conspiracy!
  • Saved there until next time

Initial general commentary

I think this is the third in-Solitude dragon attack I’ve had since implementing my patch. Which definitively confirms that dragons in Solitude have not been eliminated as a threat, but they’ve definitely been reduced. And I’m okay with that.

Got multiple incidents of NPCs reacting to other NPCs dying, in these sessions. Bryling’s in Solitude made sense–because Irnskar Ironhand was her bodyguard/housecarl, after all. What didn’t make sense, though, was Danica’s remark in Whiterun, because I still have no idea who actually died that she’d react to. (Note to self: still need to doublecheck Whiterun’s Hall of the Dead and see if I missed any urns in there.)

I’ve done better on the second attempt to have Kendeshel explicitly having a deity, which now gives Wintersun more of an impact on this playthrough. And I think Kendeshel has definitely taken some comfort in worshipping Julianos in particular. Very much a “restore some order to my world” religious move on her part. And I suspect it’s based not only in her experiences with Sadrith Kegran, but also with the stress of being Dragonborn!

Point of order about getting the thaneship of the Pale, and running Waking Nightmare

Normally, in any playthrough that doesn’t involve my fighting the civil war, getting the thaneship of the Pale requires that I run Waking Nightmare first. But this time through, since Kendeshel did fight the war, I already had Jarl Brina very favorably disposed to me. So all I had to do was do the favor quests to get her to make me her thane. Good to have confirmed that I have that leeway, in a playthrough that involves the Imperials taking over Dawnstar.

But that said, I went ahead and ran Waking Nightmare anyway, just because it’s a good quest and I wanted to see what I could achieve for the museum by doing it.

And I deliberately avoided bothering that last Orc. I noticed that he did not rouse as of when I drew near him, or threw the Dremora lord into the vicinity–so apparently he only wakes up if I activate him with the A button. So this suggests that that Orc in particular is just a bit buggy, since every single other hostile in the temple rouses as soon as you get near them.

I know, right? Shocked, shocked I say, that there’s a bug in Skyrim!

Speaking of which, I also triggered a behavior I’d never seen before while running this quest–where at the end, just after Erandur is confronted by his two former fellow priests of Vaermina, Veren and Thorek actually started attacking each other.

The wiki says that apparently this can sometimes happen! And well, LOL, Erandur does tell the player that the Miasma can break the brain if someone is exposed to it for too long. So I guess that must have happened there!

One more thing of note here: I did find a few books for museum displays, and a helm called the “Ancient Daedric Face of Terror”. So running the quest had additional usefulness for Legacy purposes.

Point of order about the Strategist perk from Project AHO

I discovered during these two sessions that despite how the description of this perk talks about being able to summon three atronachs at once, it also works on Dremora lords. So the description of the perk is just outright wrong.

I noticed this first when running Waking Nightmare, because I found myself able to summon a second Dremora lord. And confirmed it for sure later on, once I dropped enough perks on Conjuration to unlock Expert on that skill tree, and brought the casting price of Conjure Dremora Lord down.

Mind you, I don’t particularly care that the description of the perk is wrong. I usually prefer to conjure up Dremora lords anyway, once I’m able to call them at all! But it does underscore for me that this perk really is kind of ridiculously overpowered.

Because I mean honestly, there is nothing I’m going to fight in this game that’s worth throwing six Dremora lords at!

Starting the Pieces of the Past quest

Starting off this quest hits differently if you’re playing Legacy of the Dragonborn! Or at least, if you’re playing Legacy once you’re established as Auryen’s relic hunter. Because:

Kendeshel: “Huh, new museum opening in Dawnstar? Better check this out!” <shows up in Dawnstar> “Seriously?! This isn’t a museum, this is half of your house. Do you not have any funding at all for this?”

Silus Vesuius: “And what exactly are your credentials to critique how I’m setting up my new museum?”

Kendeshel: “Relic hunter for the Dragonborn Gallery and Guildmaster of the Explorer’s Society, yo. I know what I’m talking about, my dude. Seriously, I know Auryen in Solitude, we can help you out with this, let me–“

Silus: “Just bring me the bits of the Razor, okay?”

Kendeshel: “But do you not have any wards to set up to protect a Daedric arti–“


Kendeshel, finding this guy incredibly slipshod in his methods as well as deeply sus: “Okay FINE.”

But she is reserving the right to commandeer that relic if she thinks Silus is not going to take adequate care of it, and as of when she set foot in his little impromptu museum, he was not impressing her. But she didn’t say this out loud of course, because professional courtesy!

And I got prompted to follow Mehrunes Dagon when looking at the various artifacts in Silus’ house, which, hard pass. I also got a blessing of Dagon off of them, which canceled out my blessing of Julianos. I’ll need to fix that later, because don’t want Dagon’s blessing, thank you very much.

Slightly buggy behavior taking the soup to Danica

When I showed up in Whiterun to give ironwood soup to Danica for Rulnik, I actually found Danica outside hanging out by the Gildergreen, as she does sometimes. I was still able to give her the soup there. But the dialogue she has was clearly intending for her to be inside the temple, because she then threw lines that were intended for Rulnik.

It didn’t seem to break my ability to finish the quest though, and that was the important part.

Building the northern outpost for the Explorers Society

The locale for building the Explorers Society’s northern outpost turned out to be right near Saarthal. And, for that matter, right near Alftand. Apparently the whole area is just chock full of potential for SCIENCE, I guess? And LOL, one hopes that the Society will do better in the area than the poor sods who tried to explore Alftand!

Also, certainly, having the outpost there will be helpful once Kendeshel is ready to run Alftand! (And it would not surprise me if that was in fact a consideration when the Legacy team decided to make this one of the locations for an outpost.)

The Nerevarine at the Shrine of Azura

I was expecting to find him there, and I did indeed do so. It was kind of nice to have a chance to speak with him and even get in a little One-handed training! I feel that if you’re going to bother to put the Nerevarine into a Skyrim playthrough, having him just up and vanish again when you’re done with the plot is kind of anticlimactic.

And now though I’m totally headcanoning that he offers to help Aranea out by building her a better place to live in while she’s tending the shrine. Maybe even get in a little shipping action there! 😉 If Azura has blessed them both with visions, anyway, they’re definitely compatible religion-wise.

Experimenting with the Disenchanting Font

Since I hadn’t done so yet, I took some time to experiment with the Disenchanting Font in the Safehouse. This was very useful for upgrading my smithing gear. And less useful for upgrading my Crimson Archer armor!

Because i discovered two important lessons:

  1. DO NOT PUT MULTIPLE THINGS IN THE FONT AT THE SAME TIME, because it will eat all but one of them, oops, had to roll back slightly from that.
  2. Also, it will eat improvements on armor and weapons as well as enchantments. So now my Crimson Archer gear has reverted to not improved at all! And since I set my Smithing legendary, I am no longer in an immediate position to improve it back. Oops.

But that’s okay, that’s what I have backup armor for! So I jumped over to using the Hunter armor for a while, because of having discovered that I like it better on a female character than I do on a male one. And it looks fairly similar to Crimson Archer, really, on a woman.

Second attack of the Morag Tong

This pair of sessions confirmed for me that yes, I can get attacked more than once by the Morag Tong following the end of Moon and Star.

What I don’t know yet is whether it can happen more than once at the same house. I’ve had only two attacks so far, both of which were at standard vanilla Skyrim houses. I don’t have Proudspire or Vlindrel Hall yet (though since this play session, I’ve gotten Hjerim, more on this to come). So the question remains open as to whether I can expect to be attacked in those places once I have them.

I’ve set foot multiple times in the Hearthfire houses as well as the ones added by the AE, since finishing Moon and Star, and no sign of any assassin attacks there. The AE ones being out of bounds makes sense since Moon and Star was written before the Creation Club content was released. Also not surprised that the Safehouse is out of bounds as well, since Legacy is a whole different mod.

I do have a patch in place that gave me a Moon and Star display in the museum. But it’s reasonable to not have the Safehouse as a place where assassins could reach you. If they could, it wouldn’t be a very good Safehouse, now would it?

I am taking this happening a second time, though, as justification to have Lydia stand down and plunk her back at Whiterun to directly guard the children. Because if those fuckers are coming after me where I live, that means the children are potentially in trouble, and someone needs to be there to directly look after them!

I expect as well that Kendeshel was not pleased about having to ask Lydia to stand down, and Lydia wasn’t very pleased about it either. But Kendeshel convinced her on the grounds that a housecarl sworn to protect her and all she does is still fulfilling her duty if she looks after children under the Dragonborn’s protection. Bonus: she can teach them about fighting!

I think though that I’ll also have to up the priority of finding Kendeshel a spouse and settling the family in Solitude as a security measure. Rulnik is my best candidate right now, since I married him in Kendis’ playthrough and Kendeshel is take two of that same character. But we’ll see if I feel like having him stand down from being my active follower.

Also, I’d like to just take a moment to call out that one of the assassins in Honeyside looked a little like Elessir, as he looks in my other playthrough. Which was a trifle disconcerting! Maybe in Kendeshel’s timeline, Elessir did in fact join the Morag Tong? 😉

I chucked the corpses down Honeyside’s stairs, and noted that they did despawn when I got up in the morning. So that’s good anyway. If I have to put up with multiple assassin attacks in my houses, hopefully I won’t wound up with a stack of corpses!

Surprises in the Ratway!

When I went down into the Ratway to track down Esbern, I got a surprise: an actual conversation with Drahff and Hewnon, the two thugs who hang out down there and intercept any Thieves Guild hopefuls that Brynjolf sends down.

This turned out to be a conversation returned by Cutting Room Floor, and involved these two chucklefucks trying to mug me. This was a very poor life choice on their parts, but just for giggles, I tried an Intimidate check first. And succeeded! So they immediately backed off and Drahff babbled out an order to Hewnon to let me through.

I didn’t even have to have my Dremora rough them up. I had just summoned them, though, so I daresay that helped Kendeshel’s intimidation factor. 😀

Second surprise: the Dremora got a little overexcited when we took out the second round of Thalmor. They also wound up killing the crazy cannibal guy, and the poor deaf lady right in Esbern’s quarters, and yeaaah, sorry about that, Esbern? But pretty sure you won’t be coming back here, right?

And the third surprise: even though I spotted Shavari topside in Riften, she did not attack me inside the Ratway, either coming or going. Nor did she intercept me before I made it to the airship. I don’t know if this’ll mean I’m off the hook for her attacking me, or if she’s going to still try to come after me next time I’m in Riften. We’ll find out!

Next time

Kendeshel’s next post will be a busy one, featuring:

  • Running Karthspire and Sky Haven Temple with Delphine and Esbern
  • The Crypt of the Heart quest
  • Recruiting Madras and Kyre for the Explorers Society
  • Helping out the Hall of the Dead in Markarth with its cannibal problem
  • Helping Left Hand Mine with its Forsworn in Kolskeggr problem
  • Talking to a shard guardian at High Hrothgar to move the Shattered Legacy quest further along
  • Meeting Paarthurnax and getting the quest to find the Elder Scroll
  • Saving Gogh the goblin and picking him up as a follower
  • Running Wolfskull Cave and Dead Man’s Dread
  • Picking up Rulnik as a follower
  • And last but not least, commencing the excavation of Windcaller Pass with my full guild of archaeology types!


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.