Last night’s run broke down into two overall categories:
- Getting the artifact dagger called Nettlebane, in the quest The Blessings of Nature, to help the priestess Danica Pure-Spring in Whiterun, and
- Doing some building work at Windstad Manor and getting jumped by bandits on my own goddamn front porch. BOOOOO.
First though let’s talk about Nettlebane!
The quest here involved learning that the sacred tree called the Gildergreen, in front of the temple of Kynareth in Whiterun, was dying. Danica Pure-Spring was upset about this, as the tree was sacred to worshippers, and a dead tree couldn’t inspire the visitors to the temple. So the ask as presented by Danica to me was, go get Nettlebane, and then use it to get a sample of sap from an even older tree called the Eldergleam, which might heal the Gildergreen.
I liked the overall idea of this quest, in no small part because the idea of a sacred tree gave me yet another thing in Skyrim that heavily reminded me of Tolkien: i.e., by giving me mental callbacks to the Two Trees in Valinor, and to the White Tree of Gondor.
The execution of the quest, though, I found a little lacking.
Getting Nettlebane was surprisingly easy. I had to go find a place called Orphan Rock, and that was somewhere I could get to just by boinging down to Helgen and going east from there. Once I found the place, I took out a witch, a hag, and a hagraven, and of the three, only the hagraven put up any real fight. She was fond of throwing fire. She was not so fond of being hit by Dawnbreaker and being set on fire herself.
Nettlebane retrieved, Lyds and I boinged back to Whiterun. And Danica, amusingly, was a little surprised to see I’d actually come back. Ma’am, I’ve been killing dragons, you think one hagraven is going to stop me?
And in the temple, we entered the next stage of the quest. This involved a pilgrim joining us for the journey to find the Eldergleam, one Maurice Jondrelle. I did the dialogue prompts to allow the guy to come with Lyds and me on the journey, and then fast travelled over to Mixwater Mill to get as close as possible to the Eldergleam sanctuary.
Cue DRAGON when coming out of fast travel!
This was, I think, a type of dragon I hadn’t run into before: a Blood Dragon. Didn’t put up a significantly different fight than other dragons I’ve gone up against yet though. Maurice tried to help me fight it, which… dude, I applaud your bravery, but you have NO ARMOR WHATSOEVER so you might want to consider getting out of the way?
Anyway, dragon dispatched, and this time there were other witnesses as well, a trio of passing Stormcloaks who were all “WELP that was certainly a thing” before they returned to their NPC dialogue and going on their way. Since they weren’t hostile, I let them go and continued on in search of the Eldergleam.
This led me northward through some hot spring territory, and that was kind of cool given that was a bit of terrain type I hadn’t seen before. And the Eldergleam Sanctuary was legitimately beautiful. There were a couple of worshippers in there who made initial friendly noises at me, but once one of them (Asta) saw I had Nettlebane, she got… well, not actively hostile, she didn’t attack me or anything, but she definitely got aloof real quick.
And I had to use Nettlebane to actually get the tree to move its roots. What was not immediately obvious to me though was what to do once I made it to the tree, and it took a couple of times to actually do it right to get the quest to conclude.
First time through I figured out I could use the A button to activate the tree, which translated to “use Nettlebane to get the sap Danica asked for”. Thing is though this immediately triggered an attack by a spriggan, and furthermore, the spriggan killed Maurice.
Given what I knew about this quest—i.e., that Maurice was critical to triggering the choice that was the point of the quest—I followed Paul’s advice and backed up to a prior autosave.
Second time through though the game somehow lost track of where Maurice was, so he wasn’t even at the tree with me when I got there. So there was still no way to trigger the appropriate dialogue for the choice to come up.
Third time through I finally realized that I could sheathe Nettlebane at the tree, which gave Maurice an opportunity to catch up. And then proceed to give me shit about being “a woman of violence” (well okay yes, legit, hi have you MET ME? I’m the Dragonborn, you DID just see me kill a Blood Dragon back there, pal). And why hadn’t I told him what I was planning? That, though, I don’t feel like is quite so legit. I mean, dude horned his way in on this journey specifically after overhearing my conversation with Danica Pure-Spring at the temple, so how could he have missed what the whole point of the journey was?
Also, it’s not like I had any opportunity to actually tell him what we were doing. I actually tried chatting with him a time or two on the journey to the Sanctuary, but hitting A to talk to him didn’t actually trigger any interesting dialogue prompts.
So don’t give me shit about not talking to you if I have no opportunity to actually talk to you, pal, is what I’m saying here. ;)
Anyway though I did finally get Maurice to offer me the alternative to actually harming the tree: to let him pray to Kynareth and get the tree to actually help us a different way. By which I mean, getting it to spawn off a sapling which I could then take back to Danica. This being the way I wanted to go in the first place—in addition to it appealing to me as a player, I figure that Alarrah as a Bosmer would not want to harm a tree if she can avoid it—I took that sapling and vamoosed back to Whiterun.
Danica was initially a little put out that I hadn’t gotten the sap, and protested that a baby tree would not command the same awe and respect that a grown tree would. But I relayed Maurice’s argument that renewal, not maintenance, would be more appealing to Kynareth. And she found that argument sound and happily accepted the sapling. Quest concluded.
And now I have “you restored the Gildergreen, that honors the people of Whiterun” as a random dialogue option from passing guards. Nice. <3
Nettlebane does not seem terribly interesting as a weapon so I think it’s going to go into my weapons cache in one or the other of my existing houses. Nor did I get any other really interesting loot out of either the hagraven camp or from the Sanctuary—taking anything from the Sanctuary seemed disrespectful so I made a point of not actually looking for anything I could nab. But I did get one thing of note out of the hagraven camp: an Iron Helmet of Major Archery.
So that, I took up to the enchanter at Dragonsreach so I could nuke it and learn the Fortify Archery enchantment. :D
Once I got that done, and a little more shopping out of the way, I decided to boing up to my other house and get more building done.
At which point I discovered three things:
- Lydia had not come with me
- Valdimar was in the house but didn’t seem interested in interacting with me other than the standard canned dialogue responses
- There was a trio of FRIGGIN’ BANDITS RIGHT OUTSIDE THE HOUSE
I heard their dialogue as I went over to start crafting things, and to the smelter in the back to take care of some ore. And there were three of the bastards, and they killed me RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY OWN HOUSE.
No sign of Valdimar coming out to join me in this fight, either.
And I couldn’t fast travel to get out of there either, the game won’t let you fast travel if there are enemies nearby. So I had to figure out what the hell to do to take these bastards down. The bandit chief in particular was a problem; he packed the biggest punch. I eventually had to sprint off a ways from the house to put some distance between me and these attackers, and see about picking them off one by one.
Their archer was good. She kept hitting me from a distance. But I smacked her back with Unrelenting Force, and was annoyed enough at this point that I made a point of holding down the button to get all three syllables out. Fuck you, bitch, stern letter to follow, attacking me in front of my own goddamn house.
Lost track of the other two so I thought to duck back inside and see if I could get anything else done. But as soon as I popped back out again, the other two bastards caught up with me and jumped me AGAIN.
At this point I thought maybe I’d better damn well get Valdimar out there to give me an assist. But when I ducked back into the house, the bandits CAME INSIDE WITH ME.
So finally I had to kill them not only on my property, but inside my own entryway as well.
No sign of Valds, either. As a player I am pretty damn sure this was actually because Valds was in “Steward” mode and not in “active follower” mode, I think he probably would have joined the battle if I’d told him to follow me? But at least in character, Alarrah is NOT amused with this guy and if she had an option, he would be so, so fired. ;)
Anyway, looted each and every object off those bastards, because if you’re going to attack me in my own goddamn house you better believe I’m going to strip your dead bodies naked. Also, I wanted to know what the hell they were hitting me with that they were able to kill me multiple times before I finally prevailed. The bandit chief turned out to be wearing steel armor, and he and his compatriot both had steel weapons. So yeah. Both of them packing pretty serious punches. But at close quarters, with a couple good whacks from Dawnbreaker, they still didn’t like being ON FIRE very much at all.
The battle finally won, the next question was going to be whether these dead bandits were going to be lying there in my house for the rest of the game. Fortunately, no. I boinged back to Whiterun once or twice to sell their stuff but also to stock up on building supplies, and enough gold to pay Valds to get a new stock of sawn logs onto the property for building purposes. (He is at least good for something!)
And once I did that I was able to furnish the place some more so that it looked less like a barn. Lots more shelves and wardrobes and cupboards and tables and chairs, and also beds, so that when Valds is in “night” status he can actually sleep in a bed rather than just standing in the empty part of the house that’s supposed to be his bedroom.
Lesson learned from this little adventure: whenever I come back to Windstad Manor, find Valdimar first and make sure he’s in “follow” mode. Because according to the wiki, bandits or draugr or giants can frequently spawn here. Seriously, game? You mean I might also have to fight friggin’ giants on my own property?
Let it be noted for the record that Alarrah is not exactly thrilled with Morthal right now, selling her property far enough out of the town that it frequently gets attacks. Boooooo.
When I get this game to a point of finally proposing to Lyds and perhaps adopting a kid or two, we will not be officially residing in Windstad Manor. Also not coming back to this property without Lydia. JUST SAYING.
Meanwhile, Valds, you useless lump, be damn glad I’m actually building furniture for you and maybe next time HELP ME FIGHT THE BANDITS.
Next time: maybe finally down to Falkreath? We’ll see, next time on the adventures of Alarrah the Dragonborn!