Elder Scrolls Online,  Gyllerah Playthrough

In Which Gyllerah Meets an Arcanist and Frees a Slave

Gyllerah had big action on ESO in the middle of January, so this is another somewhat shorter post, with only three sessions covered. Main action here is picking up Azandar as my third Companion, and also running the first part of Ember’s personal quest once I unlocked that.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 1/15-1/17/2024
  • Session numbers in this run: 335-337

January 15th

  • Thought I was going to go run more of the Necrom plot, and headed into Apocrypha with Mirri to do that–except on the way to where I needed to meet Leramil, I actually found Azandar
  • And decided to start running his quest to get him as an available Companion
  • Dismissed Mirri since I thought it was weird to have one Companion with me while running the quest to get a different Companion
  • He was trying to find a colleague of his, to seek help in resolving an issue with what he described to me as “frayed fates”
  • So I had to help him gather some components for a summoning ritual, and once he did that, we mustered up a Watcher called Tem
  • Who did not want to talk to Azandar but was willing to talk to me, because he realized I was the chosen proxy of Hermaeus Mora, apparently?
  • He told me Azandar’s missing colleague Martina had gone to the Underweave
  • Agreed to meet Azandar there, and cut through some tunnels to get there
  • Picked up a side plot on the way when I found a dead Argonian with a note with instructions to acquire a certain grimoire
  • The grimoire in question was in a nearby backpack, so I took it and got an objective to go talk to Cipher Plautis
  • But for now proceeded to the Underweave, which turned out to be a public dungeon
  • On the way in found a watchling called Ogle wailing about losing a fated glyphic
  • Ogle begged me for help and I agreed to help it get the glyphic back
  • Headed into the dungeon with Ogle and Azandar
  • Ogle gave me a boon which let me track the path to the glyphic, and that was visually cool
  • But while tracking the glyphic, we reached a point where the trail to it split up into a bunch of different trails
  • Ogle freaked out
  • Another character showed up, Thaddeus Cosma, who appeared to be some kind of a time traveler–who knew me and had met me before, and tried to give me a spiel about understanding that I’d be confused by this
  • He had me deactivate three particular thingamabobs to get a better bead on the glyphic
  • But by the time we reached the spot it had already been broken down, so I had to recover its remains, and we had to do another thing to actually reconstitute it
  • While we were doing all of this, Thads and Ogle kept having amusing arguments, apparently Thads had specifically charmed Ogle into sending the glyph off to be broken down
  • Ogle was in a righteous fury over that, but as he’s a cute little Watchling, not much he could do about that
  • Thaddeus kept calling me ‘meddler’, which did not please Gyllerah very much
  • The glyphic turned out to be a fate about him, as we determined when I got outside the Underweave again
  • So he saw a vision of his future self who warned him to say no when the time came
  • He ended his part of the quest by going off to ponder that some more, and gave the glyphic back to Ogle
  • Meanwhile, overlapping the end of the bit with the glyphic, I went with Azandar to find Martina’s sanctum
  • They turned out to be dead, and surrounded by a lingering ominous looking magical aura
  • Their journal indicated they were going fairly batshit, and suffering more severe versions of what Azandar was experiencing
  • He took this as signs of what to do further, and after he attended to Martina, asked me to meet him at a new location to continue the quest
  • Left off at that point until next time

January 16th

  • Did a lot of juggling of sales with Guild traders, plural, since Swamp Haven picked up a trader for the event about to start on the 18th
  • Continued Azandar’s quest, which required me to go to the Fathoms Drift delve in Apocrypha
  • Picked up local quest there with a young Altmer trying to find out what happened to his father and his father’s ship
  • Local quest resulted in discovering that his father had bargained with Hermaeus Mora to specifically save his son at the cost of his own life and his crew’s
  • Father’s ghost had promised to act on Mora’s behalf to guide the dead
  • Son wasn’t happy about this, and I had to choose between an offered new deal from Mora which would bring the father back to life at the cost of the son forgetting him, or letting the father’s original deal stand
  • I went with the father’s original deal
  • Meanwhile Azandar’s quest had a couple of his frayed fates showing up
  • In one he was a sailor on one of the wrecked ships in the delve, and another of his fates, in which he was clearly a mad mage of some kind, killed that fate
  • Az considered this a successful investigation and asked me to meet him back at his quarters at Cipher’s Midden
  • Did that and that resolved his initial quest to get him on board as a Companion
  • Ran dailies with Az to try to level him up:
    • Fighters Guild: Dolmen in Deshaan
    • Mages Guild: Root Sunder in Grahtwood, that was a fun quest
    • Undaunted: Aldunz in the Alik’r Desert
  • Did a few rounds of Infinite Archive, still not breaking past cycle four, but I made it past one of the bosses that kicked my ass before
  • Dragons as a boss though still a goddamn problem! Needed to level Az some more
  • Got him some blue grade heavy armor pieces and jewelry, with the Prolific trait, as per the build i’m trying on him
  • Also moved the Necrom plot further along
  • Did a lot of hunting through the Infinite Panopticon, which was very large and convoluted, and required me to go through a bunch of portals after a spell cast by Leramil went a little haywire
  • Made it into a memory of Hermaeus Mora in which he destroyed a statue of Vaermina
  • And Mora himself spoke to me after, hinting that he did something horrible here, but even he didn’t remember what had been forgotten
  • He claimed things could still go okay if Leramil and I continued to work together, so I returned to Leramil’s study in Cipher’s Midden and conferred with her
  • Learned from Curate Gadayn that the magister we were looking for was getting called into a Telvanni conclave
  • Meln the Mouthless claimed I wasn’t getting into that conclave at all with an obvious mark of Hermaeus Mora on me
  • So got objective to go to his tower and get some ingredients, so he could walk me through a concealing spell to make it less obvious that I was an agent of Mora
  • Held off there until next time

January 17th

  • Had to go looking for mudcrab chitin, so ran some antiquities
  • Did several master-tier antiquities in the Telvanni Peninsula, and killed several mudcrabs, which nabbed me rapport points with Azandar, lololol
  • That also let me get enough chitin to finish up my seventh writ
  • Then went with Az to run dailies
  • Fighters Guild: dolmen in Shadowfen, hit the one in Percolating Mire
  • Undaunted: ran Mehrunes’ Spite delve in Auridon, which required me to gather 10 sigils to banish Daedra
  • Also picked up a side quest to return a tamed scamp to its owner Gaireth in Skywatch
  • Mages Guild: ran Rulanyil’s Fall in Greenshade
  • Which turned out to have local plots involving a Merethic Society of relic gatherers who were having trouble with the Worm Cult
  • And their leader was trying to pass off the dead body of a colleague as an Ayleid king ;P
  • Gyllerah was not, I feel, terribly impressed with this society
  • Mages Guild wanted me to get a sample of wabbajerky out of there, and LOL wabbajerky
  • Switched over to Ember and ran her quest to find her contact in Skywatch, who had a lead on where one of her childhood friends had wound up, i.e., sold into slavery on Vvardenfell >_<
  • Finished the side quest to return the scamp to its owner
  • Had to go to Sadrith Mora to try to find Jhaka
  • Lead from the contact pointed at a specific inn so we went there first
  • Owner was snide and dismissive of Ember’s presence with me and refused to give me any info unless I acquired a particular bracelet for him, so we went looking for the vendor who had it
  • Ember got the idea to turn me into a monkey so I could distract the woman, while she picked her pocket for the bracelet, and, well, LOLOLOL
  • Also: I knew Ember was capable of transforming others from her intro plot, but still, YIKES XD
  • She successfully nabbed the bracelet, and the inn owner was snotty about that, too
  • Ember was very mature and did not actually stab the guy to death
  • He grudgingly told us he’d sold her friend to bandits who’d gone to Pulk, so we headed over there to run that delve
  • Killed a whole helluva lot of bandits, including their leader, and freed Ember’s friend Jhaka
  • He had some additional info on the fates of their other two friends, too
  • And dropped a hint that one of them, Song, might have maybe been in on the plan to get them captured? DUN DUN DUN
  • Then switched back to Az and ran the vampire/dreamwalker part of the Eastmarch plot arc, just to level up Az some more and also get more skill points
  • This let me level Az to 7 and I picked up another skill point off the plot, and one from skyshards
  • Az also unlocked another skill slot so I put a Mages Guild ability there just to level that skill up for him
  • Got the skyshard at the farm I’d seen before as Marwyth
  • Played plot almost the same way Marwyth did, except that I spared the Redguard wizard in Darkwater Crossing, which let me get the reagents for Stormy-Eyes
  • That in turn saved the life of Sister-of-Winds
  • Played through to breaking Jorunn out of his enforced sleep and getting the directive to go to Jorunn’s Stand
  • Also of note: while running this plot, managed to solo a world boss in the vicinity of Valeric’s manor, with Az as backup! THAT WAS COOL
  • Then had another build accident and had to rearrange my builds again
  • This time though I just blew away the broken build entirely and respecced myself to be completely empty and saved that as a reset build
  • Meanwhile made current backups of my profiles in Dressing Room and Caro’s Skill Point Saver, including the empty build, to save my ass when Future Me inevitably does this again

Picking up Azandar as Companion number three

I highly enjoyed running the plot to get Azandar! Hi, Az! Welcome to Team Vestige!

Azandar is mightily entertaining. He struck me as sort of a Redguard Arcanist version of Everett in O Brother Where Art Thou?

“I scry that like me, you are endowed with the gift of gab.”

— Azandar, probably

I appreciate a number of things about him. He’s eloquent, he takes pride in being a scholar, and he loves tea. As a long-time tea drinker, I kind of adore that he loves tea. <3

Also, I appreciate that he is not young. He has gray hair, and regular lines to the player after a battle about how he’s going to need a minute, because he’s not a young man. And at the same time, when Az is on, he’s absolutely feisty. It’s refreshing to me to see an older character demonstrated to be an active and effective fighter! We do get this in other contexts in the Elder Scrolls games, mind you, but so far in my experience it’s not common for NPCs that can actually be the player’s follower/Companion. At least, not without mods/addons, anyway!

I’m not sure what I think about his abilities as an Arcanist. He is without question one of my most effective Companions, and I’ve chosen to set up him with a support build from Hack the Minotaur. As of this writing, I’m not done fully leveling him yet. But even with him in the upper teens for level, and most but not all of the recommended gear and skills in place for this build, I find him very, very helpful in battle.

But on the other hand, I’m really not a fan of how he slings forth a bunch of tentacles in a lot of his attacks. This in general seems to be an Arcanist thing; player characters of that class do it too. It’s obviously an indicator of that class’s connection to Apocrypha, and possibly also Hermaeus Mora himself? Certainly Azandar swears by Mora a lot.

Clearly the abilities are powerful; they’re helping Azandar be one of my most effective Companions, after all. And I’ve certainly seen a boatload of players with Arcanist characters, both in my Guilds and outside of them. It’s obviously a very popular character class.

Me, though, I just kinda go “yuck” every time I see attacking tentacles. Gooey!

Overall though, Azandar does have a highly entertaining personal plot. Definitely more complex than the previous Companions released!

For now, I’ll focus on part one of his personal plotline, since that’s what I played here. This means all of the action played up to the point of unlocking Azandar as my new third available Companion.

Martina, non-binary representation, and pronouns

One aspect of that plot that I want to call out separately here is that Azandar was looking for a colleague of his named Martina. I noticed in conversation with both Azandar and Tem the Watcher that Martina was referred to as both she and they.

The wiki says Martina is implied to be non-binary. Which I want to like, but I found the pronoun choices awkward. It seemed like both Azandar and Tem changed pronouns at random to talk about Martina. And in my experience, that isn’t how pronoun usage actually works. Because if you know if somebody prefers certain pronouns, you use those pronouns, in general.

And if the person in question hasn’t expressed a strong preference to you for one set of pronouns or another, that doesn’t generally lead to you choosing pronouns at random throughout the same conversation. People don’t talk like that, or at least nobody I know does. And if people are trying to talk about somebody with ambiguous pronouns without a clear preference expressed by the person in question, chances are very, very high they’re going to just default to whatever pronouns seem natural to them. So if the person has a feminine-sounding name and presents more or less as female, chances are very high someone’s going to default to “she”. Particularly if the person in question isn’t around to offer actual guidance on preferred pronouns.

Now mind you, Tem is a Daedric creature so who the hell knows what Tem thinks about gender. But given what I also learned of Azandar’s personality as this plotline progressed, I could also find it kind of hilarious that Tem gets the pronouns consistently correct, while Azandar struggles with the right ones. That’s how I’d have written it, anyway!

Given what the wiki says about Martina, anyway, I’m going to assume that they were in fact non-binary, and use they/them pronouns for this character for consistency.

And one more note about Martina: I’d also appreciate non-binary representation in this game a lot more if the character in question did not turn out to be dead.

But anyway, back to the plot.

The Underweave, Ogle, and Thaddeus Cosma

A bunch of the action for Azandar’s plot took place at the Underweave, the public dungeon available to players in Apocrypha. When I got there, I met a couple of NPCs every bit as colorful as Azandar himself.

Ogle the Watchling followed the pattern I saw established in the Infinite Archive by the filers, in that he had very fun lines. And a running personality clash with the other NPC who showed up, Thaddeus Cosma.

Now, this guy I have to side-eye a bit. It’s made clear in dialogue that not only is he some kind of time traveler, but that he’d also met me before. He tried to throw me an airy spiel about how I’d doubtless be confused by this. At which I just have to giggle.

Gyllerah, dryly: “My good sir, you have no idea of the adventures I have with the flow of time. I run into people I don’t know that I’ve apparently met before ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. So I just run with it at this point.”

It’s also made clear that Thaddeus threw some magical charm or other onto Ogle to kick the whole scenario at the Underweave into gear in the first place. And once Ogle finds out about this, he is naturally incensed. The characters spend most of the rest of this part of the plot bickering!

And my takeaway from this was in general that Thaddeus Cosma is kind of a dick. He and Azandar actually seem to be cut from similar cloth, i.e., both of them are arrogant and three hundred percent focused on their own ends. But Thads comes across a lot more (to use his own phrase) morally gray than Azandar does. In no small part because as Azandar’s plot progresses, he shows some signs that he’s matured some with age and isn’t entirely a self-absorbed asshole.

Thaddeus? Not so much.

And his penchant for calling her “meddler” didn’t exactly endear Gyllerah to him, either. That’s definitely more bothersome than being constantly called “Vestige”!

Really, the guy came across to me as a louder and gruffer version of Abnur Tharn. His using a character model similar to Tharn’s no doubt contributed to that impression! Though I’ll also note that in all the plots I’ve run to date that involve Tharn, even he has flashes of not being entirely an asshole. Which gives him one up on Thaddeus, for sure. Because you know if somebody makes Abnur frigging Tharn look good, they really are an asshole!

Plot at the Fathom’s Drift delve

This was the second half of the “Sign up Azandar for Team Vestige” quest line, and the local plot here was as engaging as the one in the Underweave. I really liked the overall ideas here that Hermaeus Mora was venerated by sailors, and that a father had struck a deal with Mora to save the life of his son when their ship went down in a storm.

It turned out to be another of those player choice type plots, which I like if the choices make sense and flow organically from the plot details that led to them. In this case, they did. Mora’s handling of the deal seemed entirely on point, because while it makes him seem a bit more sympathetic to be willing to spare the son’s life, it was a good reminder that Hermaeus Mora is a Daedric Prince. And as such, should not be expected to let the father renege on his deal without a price.

Thoughts on Hermaeus Mora, and the overall Necrom plot

That said, I gotta say here that all of this Hermaeus Mora mileage in ESO makes him a lot more interesting than his portrayal in Skyrim. I’m not going to go so far as to call him sympathetic, because oh my no, he is still after all a Daedric Prince. But whenever I run the parts of Skyrim that involve him, I almost always come down on the side of “fuck off, you tentacled monster”–because he unilaterally vaporizes poor Septimus, is considered enough of a demon that the Skaal oppose him (which he then justifies by murdering Storn Crag-Strider), and gets pissy at Miraak and tentacle-stabs him when a shiny new Dragonborn comes along.

But in ESO, there’s some extra nuance to balance that. Azandar clearly reveres him enough to swear by him. And I’ve run into a whole bunch of NPCs in Apocrypha at this point who follow him. And he expressly hires the Vestige, showing you his favor in the process, because he wants you to save Apocrypha and Nirn. Which, as Daedric Prince motivations go, is almost noble.

I don’t think Gyllerah’s about to sign on to worship him any time soon. But I think she may actually wind up… well, not objecting to his existence. Which is a lot more than she can say about certain other Daedric Princes!

And the last thing I want to talk about here is that I got far enough along in the Necrom plot to see the big memory of Hermaeus Mora actively destroying a statue of Vaermina… and then being told by Mora himself that not even he remembered what horrible thing he apparently did.

Now, mind you, I have since actually finished the Necrom plot. But even at the time of these sessions, I knew that it was gearing up for the big reveal of the forgotten Daedric Prince. That isn’t really a spoiler per se, as it’s gotten mentioned in recent Zenimax promotional material for the forthcoming Gold Road ESO release. And as of that point in my playthrough of the plot, they had me hooked pretty hard. I’ll have more to say on this in forthcoming posts.

Meln the Mouthless, the ghostly mage who’s a supporting character in this plot, told me outright that I wouldn’t get into the Telvanni conclave with a big obvious mark of Hermaeus Mora on me. He’s not the only NPC I’ve seen comment that Gyllerah is marked by Mora, either. Which makes me wonder, how was she marked by Mora? Because there was no obvious physical sign of it. Did I have ethereal tentacles undulating around my head that you can only see if you’re a mage or a Daedra or something?

This whole idea is kinda why I’ve been very tempted to activate the Abyssal Cephaliarch’s Face Art, which I’ve earned as a quest reward. I kinda like the look of it… except for the part where it alters what Gyllerah’s eyes look like. And I’m not on board with that. But still I figure if characters are going to be going on at me about having a mark of Mora on me, I feel like I ought to, well, have a mark of Mora on me.

(Though I’m not sure how Gyllerah would actually feel about being visibly marked by a Daedric Prince. Probably not any better about it than Marwyth feels about being marked by Vivec.)

Meanwhile, action with Ember

Azandar wasn’t the only Companion I had action with in these sessions, since I also played through the first stage of Ember’s personal plotline. This involved following a lead to find one of her long-lost childhood friends, Jhaka, who had been sold into slavery on Vvardenfell.

And I liked this plot, too. It gave me my first look at the very eastern edge of Vvardenfell, since I had to go there to get to Sadrith Mora. It also underscored that the owner of the inn in Sadrith Mora, the guy who’d bought Jhaka and who we had to question for info, was a racist slaving dickweed.

I did respect Ember for not actually stabbing the guy to death on the spot or frying him with lightning! Well done, Ember!

I also liked the part where she got the bright idea to turn me into a monkey so I could distract the merchant who had the necklace the inn owner wanted. So Ember could, of course, steal it from her. Which only makes me think of Ahkari’s line in Skyrim: “They call us thieves and smugglers.” And I imagine Ember pointing out that some of her people haven’t thieved or smuggled for five whole months! 😉

I have since proceeded with Ember’s plot on all three of my current alts, so more on this to come.

Note on build accidents

This was the set of sessions where I wound up setting up a reset build on my armory station. Which I can vouch for saving my bacon later, and it’s a policy I have implemented with Marwyth and Veghra, too.

Gyllerah has three builds slots on the station whereas the other two characters only have two. But I don’t really find this a huge problem. Dressing Room lets me save different gear configurations, and I find that more than adequate for the other two characters.

Plus, even with Gyllerah, I’m far enough along with her on gathering skill points that swapping back and forth between the stamplar and magplar builds I’ve set up is slowly growing less critical. Just because I’m running out of things to spend skill points on on Gyllerah’s skill lines! I’ll have to start dropping points on stuff I’m pretty sure I’ll never use. Like the Psijic skills or something.

Next time

Gyllerah’s next post will feature January’s Guilds and Glory event kicking in–which gave me my first opportunity to play with a temporary trial of ESO+. And visit a bunch of areas I hadn’t been able to see before! Namely, Wrothgar, the Gold Coast, Fargrave, the Deadlands, and Southern Elsweyr.


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.