In Which the Dragonborn Becomes Thane of the Pale

Decided to head back to Dawnstar last night, and finish up the necessary steps to become thane there. Plus, the obligatory selling, smithing, and hunting! Highlights:

  • Interacted for the first time with Dawnstar’s Jarl Skald and got a quest from him to go kill a giant
  • Killed the giant at Red Road Pass, and his mammoth
  • Helped out a ship captain by retrieving lost Fine-Cut Void Salts for him; killed a dragon on Eldersblood Peak again on the way to that
  • Helped out a mine owner by selling her some iron ore
  • Got declared Thane of the Pale, and got housecarl number four, Gregor, and permission to buy land
  • Killed a second dragon when fast traveling back to Whiterun’s Western Watchtower
  • Killed an assassin of the Dark Brotherhood who was apparently contracted to take me out
  • Killed some more bandits near Whiterun
  • Got my Glass Smithing unlocked

As of this point in my gameplay experience, a thing I have come to learn about the Jarls of Skyrim is this: all of them seem to be rather flawed people in various ways, and at least two of them are active douches. The ones I actively like so far are Idgrod Ravencrone in Morthal, and Elisif the Fair in Solitude. But Falkreath’s Jarl is the biggest douche of the lot so far, and now Dawnstar’s Jarl is kind of right behind him.

I was not impressed by the guy ranting at his housecarl when I came in to talk to them. Skald, the Jarl, was going on about how the men of Dawnstar would not be denied their chance at glory by helping drive out the Empire from Skyrim. Which, okay got it, this guy backs the Stormcloaks—but his housecarl, I feel, has a very valid point in that they shouldn’t leave Dawnstar undefended while a lot of them go off to help the Stormcloaks.

Also, Skald was a total asshole to his servant Bulfrek.

Still, I’d already started racking up the necessary quests to get to be thane of this place, and I didn’t see quite enough reason here to back out. So I addressed the Jarl and got the prompt off of him to go kill a giant for him.

This turned out to be at Red Road Pass, very near to Dawnstar. On the way there I passed a group of Khajiit having a conversation, and I saw them go by me on the road once I got near the giant camp. But I had stashed all my gold back in Whiterun, so I couldn’t stop to see if they had anything interesting to buy.

I noted with a little bit of trepidation that this particular giant camp didn’t have much in the way of nearby cover I could use to pick off the giant from a distance. However, this turned out to be moot.

Because my darling Lydia—bless her forthright, non-sneaky, battle-thirsty Nord heart—went charging right into confronting the giant AND the mammoth as soon as we got close enough.

And I was a little bit surprised that we actually pulled off killing both the giant and the mammoth in close melee combat! Which, I suppose, is an indicator of exactly how much I’ve leveled up since the last time I tried to fight a giant at close range and it pounded me into the dirt.

It was also both slightly alarming and slightly hilarious that the mammoth fell in such a way that the game clipped rendering it and Lydia in the same space. I initially saw her foot beneath the mammoth and was all “eep did the mammoth fall on her?” But I then realized I also saw a Talk (A) prompt on her, which meant she wasn’t dead, she was just occupying the same space as the mammoth corpse. Lol.

Apparently that Nordic armor I suited her up with is a lot better than I expected. :D

Since this was a one-giant camp it didn’t have as much loot as other ones I’ve cleaned out, but there was a chest, so I got into that. Also got a bit of mammoth cheese and charred skeever hide. And with that, went tromping back to Dawnstar to follow up with the Jarl and tell him “that giant you wanted taken out? Done.”

The Jarl was still a bit of a douche at me, though (“You’re not as dumb as you look!”) he did tell me he’d make me thane if I helped out his people. So I went off to do that. I’d already ticked off the first item on this quest by helping out the alchemist over in the Mortar and Pestle, so I wandered around a little until I found a couple more Dawnstar people to help.

The first of these was a Captain Wayfinder who was new to his job and who lamented at me about losing some Fine-Cut Void Salts. (I swear, the people of Skyrim seem to have a hell of a problem with losing valuable things in caves. I gotta wonder how well their economy would improve if people stopped taking valuable things into caves with them!)

As seems to be the common case with the “find a thing to help out a person in the town” type quests, the locale to go find the thing wasn’t anywhere near the town. In this case, I had to head off to Brood Cavern, southwest of Morthal, and a little ways west of Eldersblood Peak where I’d killed a dragon before.

It was also near Orotheim, a bandit lair I’d cleared out. I tried Orotheim as the first fast travel landmark to get to, but that proved difficult, as the ways I could find to get eastward of there to get to the cavern got me blocked. So I tried to fast travel instead to Eldersblood Peak.

Which, naturally, meant I got a dragon as soon as Lyds and I arrived. We dispatched it. (Yes, this is totally me using the ‘get a random fight when I come out of fast travel’ thing to my advantage, why yes I do want those dragon bits to sell, thank you!) And since this was a dragon lair I’d already cleared out once, I had that thing happen where the dragon corpse didn’t burn up. Instead, it lay there kind of twitching, which was… not an improvement. Heh.

As soon as we killed that dragon, though, I also had a frost troll show up right behind it. So I dispatched that, too.

After that, Lyds and I were able to head east from that spot and finally find the target cavern.

Which proved to be pretty easy as far as caverns go. This was not a draugr nest—it was a natural cavern, full of plant life. But also full of very, very cranky bears. I think we killed like five bears before we finally found the chest with the void salts in it.

Also of note while out on this jaunt: I found an iron ore vein to mine, which let me do the third “help a person of Dawnstar” quest item. I’d already encountered Betild, who runs an iron mine in Dawnstar, and who apparently has it in for the guy who runs the quicksilver mine on the opposite side of town. (From what I see on the wiki, they’re actually a feuding married couple. Oh joy? I don’t know if they’re the same arguing couple I saw on the way into Dawnstar the first time, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were.)

Anyway, got back to Dawnstar to give the captain his void salts, and then I sold the mine owner three iron ores. That was enough to let me return to the Jarl and get him to declare me thane. Gregor was assigned to me as housecarl, which means I now have two women and two men as housecarls.

I will need to come back to Dawnstar later and set up my property there, so that Gregor actually has a place to live and be steward for me. For now, I took the Blade of the Pale (not to be confused with the Pale Blade which I got on an earlier quest), and headed back to Whiterun to sell a bunch of loot and make a bunch of things.

Got a second dragon when I landed at the Western Watchtower, as I was kind of hoping for at this point. Lyds and I dispatched it, and got a guard this time who did the “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!” thing.

“Hi there, yeah, I kinda do this all the time. You want the rest of those bones? They’re valuable!”

Heh. Anyway, back to Whiterun! Slowly, because at this point I was carrying two dragons’ worth of dragon bits. But that only meant I had a very profitable run at Belethor’s, selling him all the dragon bits for a whole slew of useful, lower-weight items. Also got Glass Smithing unlocked, which let me start fashioning myself a suit of glass armor.

Got my gold stash in my chest built up to 16,500 gold, but I wasn’t ready to call it quits yet for the evening. And I also had a lot of soul gems that needed powering up, so that I could enchant a bunch of silver jewelry I’d made and get that sold too.

So off I went into the plains for another hunting run!

This time my first interesting NPC encounter actually turned out to be an assassin from the Dark Brotherhood—with a contract to kill me. This is apparently a standard random encounter type thing as opposed to an a quest hook. So I took out the Khajiit and took her stuff, and I figure now that Alarrah has had this happen, she is now inclined to be less than pleased with the Brotherhood. I may have to go wipe them out now.

After that, and after taking down a total of four deer and elk, I wandered a ways northward and took out a round of bandits. I swear, I’ve cleared out the same bandit camps a few times now around Whiterun, and they keep coming back. I feel like Alarrah ought to start posting signs.

“ATTENTION ALL BANDITS: The Dragonborn lives in Whiterun, and she regularly hunts on these plains. Use this camp at your own risk.”

Liberally looting all five bandits who attacked me, as well as their camp, got me another large round of loot. I got overloaded again, so getting back into Whiterun was slow, and by the time I made it back in I didn’t have time to do much before the device ran out of power and had to be re-docked.

Next time: Paul tells me there is considerable profit to be had in investigating Dwemer ruins, and I do have a quest pointer for one of those! So I think I may be heading off to Arkngthamz tonight!