In Which the Dragonborn Becomes Thane of Falkreath

Major highlights of last night’s Skyrim run:

  • Took on the 2nd of three quests to become thane of Falkreath, and recovered a journal for the Altmer priest Runil
  • Took on the 3rd of those quests, which involved a little light thievery for former Jarl Dengeir
  • Killed not one but two different dragons
  • Killed a vampire at the behest of Falkreath’s former Jarl
  • Actually became Thane of Falkreath, and gained housecarl #3
  • Had Lydia get killed on me three times which was not acceptable, so time to improve her armor
  • Did a bit more building of things at Windstad Manor

Details behind the fold!

Quest number two for helping the people of Falkreath: getting a lost journal for Runil, the Altmer priest of Arkay who oversees Falkreath’s cemetery. It is of interest to me that this character is an Altmer in a Nord-heavy place like Skyrim, and it’s also of interest to me that the character is specifically pretty old and played as such. Elves are of course super common in modern fantasy, and elves that are several hundred if not several thousand years old are all over Tolkien in particular. But at least in terms of things I personally have read over the years, elves that are specifically actually old are still kind of rare. So I found it amusing to have one here.

He sent me off to find a journal he’d lost some time ago, the last known location of which was in the obligatory distant cavern with obligatory enemies to kill. (Which does raise all sorts of amusing questions as to when exactly Runil left the journal in Brittleshin Pass and exactly what he was doing at the time…)

Getting the journal was a little harder than it should have been, just because I got cocky and tried to engage the one actual threat in the cavern, a necromancer, at close range. I am still not as good as I’d like at hitting enemies at close range with the bow, and I don’t switch weapons fast enough either. I’m not even as good as I’d like hitting enemies at close range with the sword, for that matter. But at least with the sword I don’t have to worry so much about aiming!

The necromancer did kill me once, anyway. So when I came back for round 2, I made a goddamn point of hitting him from afar with the bow. Then I was free to loot the cavern to my heart’s content, including getting the journal. And, as it turned out, a new shiny thing: a pair of glass boots! Which is a nice bump up in armor rating from the elven boots I’ve been wearing, even though it pains me slightly to no longer be wearing matching armor. Working my way up to glass will be neat, though. I recollect what the glass armor looks like from Dara’s previous games, and I’ve also seen screenshots of it on the wikis. Very flashy and over the top, and I’m looking forward to making those screencaps of what Alarrah will look like in it. :D

The third and final quest to become Falkreath’s thane, it turned out, required me to do a little petty thievery.

Falkreath is not terribly big, and the number of NPCs around who need you to do things is somewhat limited. So my only real final option was to talk to Dengeir, who happens to be the former Jarl who was deposed by the current one, and agree to steal a letter for him. This dude is paranoid AF as well as being a passionate Stormcloak supporter, so he’d gotten it into his head that Imperial spies are everywhere, and was convinced that the blacksmith Lod was conspiring with the Imperials.

So he asked me to break into Lod’s house and steal a letter for him.

Fortunately, as high as my Sneak was at this point, this was trivial. Flipped Sneak on, lockpicked my way into Lod’s house, yoinked the letter off a table, and un-Sneaked as soon as I was back out on his porch. Took the thing back to Dengeir in the inn, which got him to grudgingly admit that okay fine maybe Lod was just ordering iron ore, but this didn’t mean Imperial spies weren’t everywhere.

(And speaking of blacksmith Lod, who had after all sent me off on that quest with the Daedra-dog, I did check back with him about the dog. Dude was surprisingly chill about me not being him the dog he’d asked for and he paid me anyway. Note for the record that I had this conversation with him before I broke into his house. Which I do still find a little morally dubious so I feel like I ought to make a point of buying something from Lod later!)

This was enough at any rate to win Dengeir’s trust and get him to recruit me to go kill a vampire for him. Turns out his family had an ancestor who’d become a vampire and who was still running around, a stain on the family honor. So I agreed to go after him.

Which turned out to be a surprisingly complicated proposition, in no small part because I had trouble finding a good path down to where the vampire was! His quest marker wanted me to go pretty far south of Falkreath, far enough south that I actually hit the southern edge of the map. (It was pretty funny to be right in a road that visually clearly continued but which refused to let me actually go any further.)

And I kept having to veer to the east as well as to the west to try to find a way around the big peak I needed to get around. This let me discover a couple of interesting places on the way to the vampire, which had both good and bad consequences.

Bad: found a place called Ancestor Glade, which turned out to have spriggan earth mothers in it, which are significantly more badass than regular spriggans. I was able to kill the ones that attacked us. But they took out Lydia. :(

(It was also a little unclear to me during the battle exactly how many spriggan earth mothers I was fighting. It looked to me at the time that there was just the one apparently resurrecting itself, but after checking the wiki, I was able to see that there were actually three of them. Also, they’re level 30 monsters so no damn wonder I found them a hard fight.)

So I had to roll back to get Lyds back, and the next pass through, I did not go that route.

Good: Discovered two different dragons and killed both of them.

Bad: One of those dragons also killed Lydia. :( Roll back number two, at which point I lost that dragon kill. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t kill that same dragon twice? But I did so much rolling back to save Lydia last night, as well as myself, and so much fast travelling that I kind of lost track of what I killed when.)

Good: The dragon kill I kept though was the result of finding a dragon lair tagged on the map as Ancient’s Ascent. This did result in me finding another Word Wall. Which gave me the first word of the Animal Allegiance Shout.

Anyway, after restoring from save to recover from dragon-induced Lydia death, I also found Bonechill Passage and wound up going back and forth through that a couple of times trying to figure out where I needed to be. I also stumbled across a fort-like structure that tagged itself as “Bloodlet Throne” (charming) when I found it.

I initially ignored the fort, for previously noted “because two women vs. an organized fort of enemies is probably a bad idea” reasons. Turns out though that that was my actual destination, which I didn’t realize until I finally resorted to the wiki to figure out where the hell this vampire was.

So, final major action of the evening was to get into that place and take out the vampire.

As i write this I realize that a lot of my major interactions in last night’s run did in fact involve older characters–Runil, Dengeir, and also the vampire, Dengeir’s ancestor Vighar. Some of my previous commentary re: old elves in this post also applies here re: old vampires, because Vighar turned out to not only be a vampire, but one with a visibly aged appearance as well.

In my personal experience with genre properties (one’s mileage may of course always vary), aged vampires are more common than aged elves. If a  vampire actually looks old, it’s often a mark of how ancient a vampire they are, and/or how powerful. The same idea may certainly have been in play here, since Vighar had enough of a following of lesser vampires and thralls that he was able to command a small fort. And he’d set up a kind of gladiatorial arena in the boss chamber of the dungeon, where he had some wolf-like creatures that turned out to be death hounds (charming!) primed to attack Lyds and me when we fought our way there.

And yet again, Lydia got taken out. By this time I was going AUGH, and decided that it was about goddamn time I did some improvements to her armor.

So after coming out of the next rollback of the night, I fast travelled with Lyds back to Whiterun, kept her in follow mode long enough to get her armor, and then let her sit tight at Breezehome while I ducked next door to Warmaiden’s. Bought all the corundum ingots they had available and settled down to improve the fuck out of three out of four pieces of Lyds’ armor. (Only reason I didn’t do the fourth one was because the boots are enchanted and I don’t have enough Smithing mojo to improve magical items yet!)

Also made a point of buying several potions relevant for a heavy armor type character like Lyds, and gave her those. I am not actually a hundred percent sure Lydia will use potions? From what I’m seeing in searching the net, it seems like follower NPCs like Lyds will only use stock health potions you buy from stores and not anything you brew yourself. So I’m going to have to keep an eye on this and see which of the potions I gave her actually get used.

One other thing worth noting about diverting back back to Whiterun: I found another shiny, shiny thing at the Drunken Hunstman: an Elven Bow of Thunderbolts. A bow that does shock damage in addition to the actual damage of the arrows? Fuck yeah I’ll have some. Mind you, not ditching my prior Elven Bow as that thing’s still enchanted with Soul Trap!

Bought the hell out of that thing and also poisoned it up for round two at Bloodlet Throne.

I also actually finally made a point of trying the Healing Hands spell when I saw her health bar showing as low. Which got an amusing reaction out of her as she blinketyblinked at me and was all “Are you a priest?”

No honey, I’m just your thane who doesn’t want you to die! Hold still and let me heal you, mmkay?

Second time through the fort I also made a point of being sneakier (what the hell is the point of having a Sneak closing in on 70 if you don’t take advantage of it, amirite?), and taking out more of the preliminary opponents that way. Also made a point of getting off a couple of early shots on Vighar before he finally came running for close range combat. Given that I was wielding that aforementioned shiny new Elven Bow of Thunderbolts, this made taking out opponents from afar another layer of entertaining. :D

And this time, Lyds survived the fight! Mission accomplished!

Now mind you, I could have gotten to be thane of Falkreath right after the thing with the letter, I didn’t have to go kill Vighar first, but I did it anyway mostly due to how the in-game timing worked. Once Vighar was safely finally dealt with, I finally boinged back to Falkreath to make with the en-thane-ening.

Prior to that last jaunt back to Whiterun, I’d actually had enough gold on me to buy the property you can get as Falkreath’s thane. But after getting that bow and bumping up Lyds’ armor, I no longer had that gold. So I had to settle for the time being for just getting the title, as well as the housecarl: Rayya, a Redguard, who happens to dual wield a pair of scimitars in combat. Sweet.

Once I got her on Team Dragonborn, I decided that my last action of the night was going to be paying another visit to Windstad Manor and take Rayya along for an initial outing. So I sent Lyds home to Whiterun, and asked Rayya to come with me. Then I fast travelled to Ustengrav, one of the known points not too far away from my house–

And, bandits, boom, right out of fast travel. Kind of as expected. But with Rayya as my backup I actually had no problem dealing with that, so that was cool.

Made it over to Windstad Manor to also find a couple of dead draugr lying outside the place. Heh. This is now the second time I’ve found pre-dead draugr when showing up there. This seems like a possible game bug? I’ll assume for now though that Valdimar is clearly killing them off-camera, and just being a bit less thorough than I’d like about disposing of the remains. ;)

Once I determined there weren’t any problems on the property that needed killing, I sent Rayya back to Falkreath and hit up Valdimar to make him re-stock the wood supply. And then I built a few more things to furnish the place up a bit more, including a stable, but also interior furnishings like shelves and display cases. I need somewhere in there to put the Blade of Hjaalsmarch, after all!

And i think I will see about what I need to do to get Valdimar to hire staff so at least he has a couple more NPCs to keep him company at the place.

Next time: Thalmor Embassy, finally!