In Which the Dragonborn Follows Up on that Wolf Queen Problem

Highlights of last night’s Skyrim run:

  • Taking another crack at Mount Anthor and finding out about the “source of power” there
  • Getting a direct request from Elisif the Fair to take her slain husband’s war-horn to a shrine of Talos
  • Returning to Solitude to report in on that–only to learn from Falk Firebeard that oh shit Potema’s spirit is still active and loose in the Solitude Catacombs

Started off last night’s deciding I wanted another crack at Mount Anthor. Because hi, I’m a completist and by the Divines, I want me all of those Shout words. :D

This time around, when fast travelling over to Wayward Pass, I went the other way–north from the pass rather than south. This let me bypass Fort Kastav until such time as I’m ready to actually deal with the place.

So Lyds and I veered around to the northeast, coming out of the pass. First notable thing that happened as we did this was that we came across what looked like the immediate aftermath of a serious fight: three vampires vs. three Vigilants of Stendarr. A battle which, I might add, had not gone well for the Vigilants–they were all already dead when we got there, and stripped of all their gear.

I’d heard of the Vigilants before from Paul, who informs me that they’re an order dedicated to hunting Daedra. They’re also super militaristic and aggressive about it, with one of their typical dialogue lines being “Walk always in the light, or we will drag you to it.”

Charming. Given this, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to encounter any members of this order. On the other hand, I also hadn’t expected to have my first encounter with them involving the Vigilants in question all being already dead. Here’s the thing though: given Alarrah’s and Lydia’s experience in the game so far, I don’t think they’d exactly argue that battling vampires is a really good idea.

Which is exactly what Alarrah and Lydia proceeded to do! We took out the vamps and went on our merry way, eventually finding Mount Anthor.

It should surprise exactly zero people who are familiar with Skyrim that Mount Anthor was of course a dragon lair. Found the Word Wall well enough, which provided a word of the Ice Form Shout. Also found a very, very cranky Blood Dragon, which put up a pretty good fight–actually had to down a few Resist Fire potions, as well as healing ones, to get through the battle.

With that taken care of, boinged back to Solitude to sell the resulting bits of dragon bones and dragon scales, and the loot scarfed off the vampire battle. Got to Bits and Pieces to sell things–at which point I was surprised to have Sayma, the owner of Bits and Pieces, be all “you look sick, do you need to sit down?!” at me.

Which made me realize, goddammit, had those vampires actually infected me?

(You do get a message in the upper left corner of the screen if a vampire manages to infect you during battle. But it’s also easy for me as a player to miss that, if I’m focused on what’s going on in the middle of the screen, i.e., the actual battle.)

But, well, that’s what Potions of Cure Disease are for! So I knocked back one of those to make sure I didn’t have any traces of Sanguinare Vampiris (Skyrim’s disease that leads to vampirism) in my system. Then I proceeded to take care of  what I was there to begin with: selling Sayma my stuff, and then proceeding over to the Blue Palace to see about the next main goal of the run: talking to Elisif the Fair to see if I could get her to give me the quest to take care of her husband’s war-horn.

I’ve found so far that whenever I’m in a Jarl’s court, the steward usually makes noises at me about taking any business with the Jarl to them first. But nobody stopped me from stepping close enough to Elisif on her throne to speak with her directly. And Elisif did address me kindly, apparently now quite pleased with me since I’d taken care of the problem with the Pelagius Wing of the palace.

And she did give me the quest for the horn, which she’d take as a personal favor. From the IC perspective, I feel like Alarrah was very ready to do that for her, in no small part because visiting a shrine of Talos would be bound to piss off the Thalmor and she is totally all right with that.

Actually getting to that shrine required another little bit of a road trip. It also required fast travelling back to Whiterun’s general vicinity, since the locale was northeast of Whiterun. So I actually fast travelled to the farm near Whiterun, just to make sure to avoid dropping any dragons at the Whiterun gates, and headed east along the roads with Lyds.

First notable random encounter this time was finding an armed scavenger who was looting some dead bodies, people who presumably had been previously killed by other bandits? The scavenger flipped out when Lyds and I got close enough, and tried to come at us; we took him out. He was wearing a motley mix of Imperial and Stormcloak armor, which was kind of hilarious. Nothing worth taking for ourselves, though, and we also didn’t loot any of the bodies since that seemed disrespectful.

Next encounter was more bandits–at a locale I’d actually already cleared, Valtheim Towers. Presumably the bandits I’d previously cleared out got replaced by more bandits; bandits do seem to be one of Skyrim’s more renewable resources! No scruples whatsoever about looting this place, though I noted a bug with an enchanted bow on a table that I wasn’t actually able to pick up.

Stopping at the Towers proved to not actually be useful for my goal of getting across the river on the way to the shrine of Talos. It did however teach me that Alarrah is currently able to survive a fall off the bridge at that lair–because I did fall off the bridge while fighting with one of the bandits. Landed in the water and was able to swim to shore. Not bad, given that I was of course in full armor and armed to the teeth.

Rejoined Lydia, anyway, and continued on our way. Had to go further east to finally find a way across the river, and then swing back to the west cross-country, since the road kept going north.

The cross-country trek resulted in triggering two new discovered locations: Raldbthar and Irkngthand. Both of these were inhabited by bandits, at least around their front entrances. Lyds and I killed a couple of the bandits at the first place, but did not engage with the bandits at the second. I noted with interest that at the second place, a bandit did in fact take the time to warn us off, and nobody came after us when we did in fact keep going.

I looked up both of these places on the wiki and saw that they’re apparently Dwemer ruins. Which may be highly interesting to investigate–later. For now I’ll be amused at their names, because I have to wonder how to pronounce them given how many consonants are smashed together here. Apparently the Dwemer were really fond of hard keyboard-smashy consonant clusters.

Finally made it to the shrine, which provided no hostiles whatsoever, not even a cranky Thalmor. Left the horn at the shrine as Elisif had requested, and fast travelled back near Solitude to go back to the Blue Palace and report in–

At which point a courier came running up with a message from Falk Firebeard, warning that the ritual for summoning Potema hadn’t been as conclusively broken as we’d thought, and asking me to come talk to him.

Convenient timing, courier! I was on my way there anyway!

On the way into Solitude this time (as I’ve also noticed other guards sometimes doing), I got curt commentary thrown at me: “Hands to yourself, sneak thief.” This apparently happens if your sneak is high enough, whether or not you are in fact playing as a thief. I’ve also had guards sternly admonish me not to go mucking around with any locks, or ask me if I can enchant their weapons for them (because of my enchanting work) or brew an ale for them (because of my alchemy). Which raises amusing questions about how the hell any guard anywhere keeps track of what your skills and stats are.

I mean honestly, are all the guards of Skyrim sending each other messages?

“Hey, if you all see the Dragonborn coming into Morthal, give her shit about her lockpicking and then ask her to brew you an ale, that’ll be hysterical.”

“Ooh you should have seen the dirty look she gave me when I called her a sneak thief!”

“Did you all tell her about the Dawnguard yet? We really want her in the Dawnguard. That undead-fighting sword she’s got would be really helpful—”

“YES, RAGNAR, WE TOLD HER ABOUT THE DAWNGUARD TWENTY TIMES ALREADY, give it a rest!”

Anyway, guards aside, got back to the Blue Palace to report first to Elisif that I’d delivered the horn for her. Got her blessing to purchase property in Solitude and become a thane, which I’ll have to work on later because Proudspire Manor costs 25,000 (!!!) gold and ye cats that’ll take me a while to save up.

So for now I focused on talking to Falk to get the news from him about what’s going on with Potema. Note: Falk, out of all the stewards I’ve interacted with so far in the various holds, actually seems to be the nicest. He actively addresses me as “friend” at this point and has lines about my stout heart. Which does help make me kindly disposed towards Solitude. <3

The news from Falk was this: that ritual I’d interrupted to summon and bind Potema didn’t actually get rid of her. Her spirit was still free, and had been discovered in the catacombs underneath Solitude, bringing dark servants to her and even breaking through the wall underneath the Temple of the Divines. Furthermore, since I’d been the one to interrupt the ritual before, Falk begged for my help in dealing with this and sent me off to talk with Styrr, a priest of Arkay over in the Hall of the Dead for further info.

Styrr gave me the background on Potema’s history–vicious would be-empress and powerful necromancer, damn near destroyed Skyrim about 500 years ago, and ironically would actually be the last legit member of the Septim dynasty if she managed to come back to life. He also clued me in that since I’d interrupted her ritual before, I now had a connection with her, which was why it had to be me to go and take her down. I’d have to recover her physical remains and bring them to be sanctified to really put her spirit to rest.

Lucky, lucky me!

Fortunately I didn’t have to actually leave Solitude to deal with this. I just had to head up into Castle Dour, which is where the Temple of the Divines is, and then get down into the lower levels of the temple to find the place where Potema’s servants had broken through. That gave me access to the catacombs.

It also gave me access to her various servants: draugr and vampires. One of the vamps killed Lydia, so I rolled back a save to take care of this–by now, I’d started saving at regular intervals so I wouldn’t have to re-do the entire level if either Lydia or I got killed. And at one point during the initial rooms, I threw a powerful enough Unrelenting Force Shout at a vamp trying to attack us that I pitched her off the walkway and down into the room below, where she landed on a table and sent a bunch of random items flying all over the room. Which I discovered when I got down there. HA.

Also, even aside from the Shout damage, Dawnbreaker was an excellent weapon to have out in these catacombs as Dawnbreaker really, really doesn’t like the undead. I exploded multiple vampires and draugr. :D

Got fairly far into the catacombs, but did not make it to the final battle with Potema yet. Her voice sounded in my head, though, telling me to come on in and that when her servants killed me, she’d resurrect me so I could take my place at her side.

Yeaaaaah, no. Hard pass, Wolf Queen.

And I’ll demonstrate this to you as soon as I catch up with you. Next time!

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