Finds-The-Way Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Finds-The-Way Slays Mercer Frey and Adopts Some Daughters

Back to Finds-The-Way in Skyrim, now! In this run, primary action was getting my Nightingale on: taking out Mercer Frey in Irkngthand, and then returning the Skeleton Key to the Twilight Sepulcher. And also, I adopted both Lucia and Sofie!

Play by play

  • Play dates: 11/11, 11/14/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 34-35

Saturday the 11th

  • Picked up at Lakeview
  • Did a bit of initial boinging between Lakeview, Windstad, Heljarchen, and Whiterun
  • Got Lydia to buy more logs to bolster the logs supply
  • Picked up all my cached building supplies
  • Sold some stuff
  • Built out more things at Windstad, including all three wings, until I ran out of iron
  • Boinged to the College of Winterhold to make the Conjure Staada spellbook, but discovered that the Sabre Cat Pelt I thought I had was actually a Snowy Sabre Cat Pelt, oops
  • I did however make Void Salts for improving the Nightingale armor pieces
  • Decided to ride Alvis the unicorn for a bit
  • Returned to Lakeview to drop off leftover supplies
  • Boinged next to Tundra Homestead to ride over to Irkngthand from there
  • Initially thought I’d drop off stuff inside Tundra Homestead, but then discovered Find hadn’t actually bought it yet, LOL
  • Dropped off a few non-critical things in the chest at Tundra Homestead’s forge
  • But got a dragon so had to stop to take that out
  • Dragon blasted Battle-Born Farm, which resulted in Alfhild Battle-Born running over to attack the dragon with her knife; fortunately, she did not get fried
  • Looted the dragon once I took it out, which meant more things to drop off in the chest by the forge
  • Set out for Irkngthand finally–and got attacked by a non-snowy Sabre Cat, how convenient, that gave me a pelt to use for the spellbook crafting!
  • Proceeded on past the spawn point near Fellglow Keep
  • Spotted a Vigilant of Stendarr in a fight with some skeletons; did not stop to engage
  • Did however have to stop and fight the re-spawned dragon at Shearpoint
  • Word Wall still made chanting noises even though I have Throw Voice already
  • The dragon didn’t give me a soul, because respawned
  • Looted it though as well as the re-spawned boss chest
  • Proceeded over to Irkngthand
  • Fought a frost troll right by the Tumble Arch Pass giant camp, which also alerted the giant
  • Had to kill the giant along with the troll; looted both as well as the chest at the camp
  • Did not try to engage the nearby mammoth!
  • Got close enough to Irkngthand to trigger its map marker for the map
  • Immediately fast traveled back to Tundra Homestead to drop off stuff in the forge chest, because yep I sure was overloaded at that point
  • Boinged right back to Irkngthand to start running it
  • Fairly standard run of Irkngthand at this point; mostly made it through without killing Falmer
  • Leveled up to 47 partway through, and took Quiet Casting perk finally 😀
  • Used Throw Voice to get the two Falmer in the slave pit out of the way
  • But either Karliah or Brynjolf triggered a bone chime–which brought other Falmer running
  • I froze in sneak mode and also quaffed an Invisibility potion
  • The others froze right behind me, and none of the Falmer actually spotted us! Go go Nightingale sneak mode!
  • Snuck through most of the remaining caverns, but we did get into a fight at the final gate
  • Threw a flame atronach over to help Karliah and Brynjolf out, then we went in to confront Mercer
  • Played through taking him out, getting the Skeleton Key, and escaping the cavern
  • Got the Nightingale Bow from Karliah
  • Returned to Whiterun to sell stuff
  • Got the random encounter with the mage who wanted to duel me; took that guy out
  • Whiterun guard went by and did not bother me in any way about this!
  • Returned to Lakeview to drop off stuff; slept and got up in the morning
  • Then rode over to the Twilight Sepulcher to run the place, as per previous playthroughs
  • Returned the Skeleton Key and got the Shadowcloak of Nocturnal ability!
  • Saw final convo with Karliah and Gallus
  • Got the Darkness Returns achievement for finishing the quest
  • Boinged back to Whiterun and bought Tundra Homestead finally
  • And also adopted Lucia! That let me unlock an Adoption achievement
  • Sent Lucia off to Lakeview, and found her safely there later when I showed up again; she thanked me for all I’d done for her ❤️
  • You’re welcome, hatchling, now be good for Rayya and Lydia, okay?
  • Boinged back to the College of Winterhold and made the spellbook for Conjure Staada finally
  • Bought five rounds of Conjuration training from Phinis
  • Found the unicorn and the Dwarven Horse at the bottom of the bridge up to the college, and swapped back to riding Das Zwergenpferd
  • Boinged down to Riften to pop into the Thieves Guild
  • Dropped off the Left Eye of the Falmer with Delvin
  • Got jobs for Windhelm from both Delvin and Vex
  • Went over to Shadowfoot Sanctum and stashed the Nightingale gear there, and the Right Eye of the Falmer
  • Saved there until next time

Tuesday the 14th

  • Picked up again in Shadowfoot Sanctum, and slept a few hours
  • Freed Skritch the Skeever from his cage, but did not get him following me right now
  • Ran the Guardian Vault and got Dawnfang/Duskfang and the Blades gear; summoned flame atronach and also Staada for help with all this
  • Left new acquisitions in Shadowfoot Sanctum, then went topside
  • Since I had the key to Bolli’s house, went in and got the stuff for the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal quest
  • Went out through the gates and saddled up the Dwarven Horse to head to Windhelm for questing
  • Stopped immediately to help Ahkari’s Khajiit fight a frostbite spider and a bear, then went on my way
  • Stopped to fight three cave bears at the spawn point on the path, again with Staada for help
  • Killed fourth cave bear past Shor’s Watchtower, and a frostbite spider right by the steps up to Northwind Mine
  • Raining! I think Finds like rain ❤️ 🌧️
  • Two wolves right around turn off the path up to Stony Creek Cave, and then another frostbite spider
  • M’aiq the Liar ❤️
  • Cave bear number five just shy of steps up to Mzulft
  • Stopped to mine the silver vein
  • Skooma dealer past the vein, did not engage
  • Sabre cat just past Steamcrag Camp
  • Two Vigilants of Stendarr, did not engage
  • Went to Traitor’s Post and cleared it without any issues; fought all the bandits and a couple of frost trolls that showed up
  • Random Stormcloak that might have been a courier ran past; she tripped over a nearby bear trap, ow
  • Snow fox also got killed in the fight, so got a snow fox pelt off of that
  • Got the stuff off of Erwan and her victim, and the directive to trade the Ring of Masser or buy the Daedric Mail off of Ma’dran
  • Looted all the bandits and got overloaded but hey, bandits
  • Leveled up to 48; took Stamina bump and a perk in Alchemy
  • Recovered Dwarven Horse and tried to returned to Windhelm
  • But a Madwoman showed up and got in the way of my taking out a third frost troll; accidentally hit her and got a bounty, so rolled back from that
  • Redid level up, but this time took Magicka bump
  • This time got frost troll, but no madwoman, so made it to the Dwarven Horse and then to Windhelm
  • Got in late enough that I decided to go ahead and hit the Atheron house
  • Passed both of the assholes on the way into the Gray Quarter, and I only regret that I can’t punch Rolff twice ;P
  • Robbed the Atheron house safely
  • Went over to the forge and found Silda; gave her a gold piece and bought five more rounds of Pickpocket training from her
  • Improved some of the bandit loot, and also made myself a couple of camping kits
  • Enchanted a bunch of things on the nearby enchanter table
  • Waited a few hours, then sold a bunch of stuff to Oengul and Niranye
  • Tromped over and sold more stuff to Revyn in his store
  • Adopted Sofie! Here, kid, go off to Lakeview and meet your new sister Lucia
  • Then went out on the dock to give a gold piece to the beggar there
  • Left the city and rode over to confront Tyra Blood-Fire–which turned out to be more exciting than expected!
  • Got cultists and an Elder Dragon; took out the cultists first
  • Took some crossbow potshots at the dragon, but it also flew up to fight with some of the mages at Morvunskar up the hill
  • While it was doing that, I went ahead and took out Tyra Blood-Fire; got the Ebony Plate armor off of her
  • Dragon finally came back down low enough that I could start fighting it again; it landed at the river, and fought a snowy sabre cat, back within range of my crossbow
  • Took out the snowy sabre cat and the dragon
  • Boinged to Riften to leave the Ebony Plate armor there
  • Reported in to Delvin and Vex to say I’d done their jobs
  • Got a Bedlam Job for Solitude from Delvin, and Sweep Job for Whiterun from Vex; didn’t bother with the quicksaving and reloading thing with Vex
  • Went back topside, and sold things to Balimund and Bersi
  • Boinged to Lakeview, and found Sofie safely there \0/
  • Dropped off mats in the cellar and in the ingredients barrel
  • Saved until next time


I think I intellectually knew this already of course, but at the Whiterun stables during the first of these two sessions, it finally sank in that I could actually see gears turning inside the body of the Dwarven Horse. I thought that I was kind of cool!

It does bolster the argument though of the mod I’ve seen that adds mechanical sounds to this thing. It definitely seems appropriate for the Dwarven Horse to actually make mechanical sounds, as opposed to sounding like a flesh-and-blood creature all the time!

Had a fairly standard but still satisfying run through Irkngthand. This time through, I tried to be as stealthy as possible and avoid killing Falmer if I could. Partly because I find that approach more fun and challenging in general, but also because I was pondering whether Finds was offended at Mercer’s tactics.

I think she sees the value in sneaking up on an enemy and taking them out before they can see you. So I don’t think she particularly objected to Mercer sneaking up on Falmer and killing them necessarily. Or even sneaking up on bandits. But she did see that the bandits in the camp at the very first bit of the ruin were slaughtered, very messily and bloodily. And I think that’s the part that offends her. I think she finds that extremely crude.

Also, she had a large measure here of “We’re here to take out Mercer Frey, not to take out the Falmer”. And, getting into fights with the Falmer does break stealth, and she and Brynjolf and Karliah needed to focus their energies on following Mercer quietly.

So I see her here as very much wanting to stay on mission. Which plays well into the whole question of Brynjolf and Karliah wanting her to be Guildmaster, too!

Back in Whiterun, I got another round of an encounter I haven’t had much: the mage who wants the player to have a magical duel with him. Finds wasn’t any more impressed by this asshole than Ysani was! Cheerfully threw Ironflesh on myself to protect myself, then let him exhaust his own magicka by flinging spells at me that didn’t work. And then ran him through with the Nightingale Blade.

Well, it kinda counts as a magical attack, I guess, if the blade is enchanted. ;D

And I imagine the Whiterun guard who went by just after this fight was all “Ah, we thought that one looked shifty. Thank you for making sure we didn’t have to throw him in the dungeon!”

Point of interest about this being a non-modded playthrough: even though I’m not a hundred percent happy with the Thieves Guild For Good Guys mod, boy howdy did I miss its presence when I had to get new jobs to run from Delvin and Vex. Because if you want jobs in the same city, it is a pain in the ass to have to save and reload over and over until you get the city you actually want.

Achievements unlocked

  • Darkness Returns: For completing that quest (returning the Skeleton Key to the Twilight Sepulcher and taking a Nightingale ability)
  • Proud Parent: For adopting a child

Achievements count as of this post: 31.

Language commentary

Interesting terms observed:

  • Steinbogenpass: Tumble Arch Pass
  • Irkngthand: Arcanex: Irkngthand Arcanex (the first zone of Irkngthand)
  • Irkngthand: Große Höhle: Irkngthand Grand Cavern (the second zone)
  • Falmerschattenmeister: Falmer Shadowmaster
  • Stummes Zaubern: Quiet Casting (the perk) (lit. “silent magic”)
  • Bei Shors Knochen!: Shor’s Bones! (lit. “by Shor’s bones!”)
  • Ungetüm: Monster (used by Brynjolf to describe the centurion spotted partway through Irkngthand)
  • Irkngthand: Sklavenquartiere: Irkngthand Slave Pens (lit. “Irkngthand: Slave Quarters”) (the third zone)
  • Einerlei: All the same (used by Karliah when telling the player that attacking the Falmer or sneaking past them is all the same to her, as long as they get to Mercer)
  • Ehrgefühl: Sense of honor (used by the player when snarking to Mercer about still having honor)
  • Nachtigallen-Blut: Nightingale blood
  • Bronzewasserhöhle: Bronze Water Cave
  • Ich kann kaum fassen: I can hardly believe it (used by Karliah after Mercer is slain)
  • Rückgabe: Return (used by Karliah when discussing returning the Skeleton Key to the Twilight Sepulcher)
  • Bogen der Nachtigall: Nightingale Bow
  • Herausforderer: Challenger (the mage who challenges you to a duel)
  • Nachtigallwächter: Nightingale Guardian (i.e., Gallus in the Twilight Sepulcher)
  • Der Pilgerpfad: The Pilgrim’s Path
  • Der Schattensee: The Ebonmere (lit. “the shadow lake”)
  • Vierteljahrhundert: Quarter of a century (how long Gallus has been guarding the Twilight Sepulcher)
  • Dämmergrab: Allerheiligstes: Twilight Sepulcher Inner Sanctum (lit. “Twilight Sepulcher: Holy of Holies”)
  • Schattenseeschloss: Ebonmere Lock
  • Ein Tätscheln Eures Kopfes: A pat on your head
  • Einen Kuss auf Eure Wange: A kiss on your cheek
  • Gleichgültig: Indifferent
  • Sichelmond: Crescent Moon
  • Für den Agenten des Schattens: For the Agent of Shadows
  • Halbmond: Half Moon
  • Für den Agenten des Täuschung: For the Agent of Subterfuge (lit. “for the Agent of Deception”)
  • Vollmond: Full Moon
  • Für den Agenten der Zweitracht: For the Agent of Strife (lit. “for the Agent of Discord”)
  • Raubzug: Series of robberies/crime spree (what Karliah plans to do once the player takes a Nightingale blessing, LOL)
  • Zauberbuch: Staada beschwören: Spellbook: Conjure Staada
  • Linkes Auge der Falmer: Left Eye of the Falmer
  • Das Wächtergewölbe: The Guardian Vault
  • Schild der Klingen: Blades Shield (lit. “shield of the blades”)
  • Klingenrüstung: Blades Armor
  • Helm der Klingen: Blades Helmet (lit. “helmet of the blades”)
  • Klingenpanzerhandschuhe: Blades Gauntlets (23 characters!)
  • Kingenstiefel: Blades Boots
  • Schwert der Klingen: Blades Sword (lit. “sword of the blades”)
  • Morgenzahn: Dawnfang
  • Verräter-Posten: Traitor’s Post
  • Rolff Stein-Faust: Rolff Stone-Fist
  • Bettler: Beggar
  • Älterer Drache: Elder Dragon

Specifically because this is the German build of Skyrim, I ran into a bit of confusion regarding the translation of Snowy Sabre Cat Pelt as well as Sabre Cat Pelt. The game actually shows the same text for both of them: Säbelzahntigerpelz. Technically speaking, this is still correct for both items!

But it did throw me off when I tried to go to the College of Winterhold to create the Conjure Staada spellbook at the Atronach Forge. What I had in my inventory was a Snowy Sabre Cat Pelt, not the regular one the spellbook recipe demanded. And I didn’t catch beforehand that even though the German version of the game translated both versions the same way, it still showed me the correct graphic for each one in my storage chest! And I just grabbed the wrong one.

Which raises the question of why the translation team chose to use both terms. Next time I see a Snowy Sabre Cat in Finds’ playthrough, I’ll need to see how the living creature’s name gets translated.

Once I started running Irkngthand, I noticed that the mocking backwards message Mercer leaves for his pursuers on the wall was still in English. Presumably the translation team left that alone because changing it would have required generating a new asset.

When finishing up running Darkness Returns in the Twilight Sepulcher, I found that the portal back to the entrance of the temple was still partially in English. Minor localization oops.

Next time

Finds’ next post is going to feature more main plot action: raiding the Thalmor embassy, getting Esbern out of the Ratway, and going to Karthspire and Sky Haven Temple! Also, a side helping of my new adopted hatchling asking to adopt a dog I did not apparently actually have. Because Skyrim bugs, amirite?


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.