In Which the Dragonborn Quests to Repair the White Phial

This session was mostly all about the side quests, some longer than others, with the primary one being the final stage of the quest about the White Phial in Windhelm. Highlights:

  • Went back to Haemar’s Shame, a vampire nest I’d cleared out before for the Daedric quest for Clavicus Vile, to find the book Urag wanted for the college
  • Went to Lost Tongue Overlook to find another Word Wall; killed an Elder Dragon there
  • Stopped in Riften to sell things, unload, and say hi to my new housecarl Iona
  • Tried to go on the quest to get the item that needs enchanting, but discovered it’s actually in Raven Rock, which is on Solstheim, and I am not prepared to go there yet, so skipping that for now
  • Instead, took the book back to the college, and got the Illusion trainer to bump me up a couple of ticks to finish out my training for level 48
  • Then went to Windhelm to follow up with Quintus Navale about the White Phial; got the request from him to find three particular ingredients, and went off to hunt those down
  • Re-visited the top of the Throat of the World, said hi to Paarthurnax, and went a little higher this time to find the Unmelting Snow—and also, bonus enchanted pickaxe, malachite and ebony ore veins, and the gold chest full of the tunic, shield, and sword that are a Zelda easter egg in the Switch build of this game, lol
  • Second thing I had to get was powdered mammoth tusk, and for that I had to raid a giant camp
  • That camp turned out to be one of the ones within walking distance of Heljarchen, so I stopped off there to say hi to Gregor, put the Zelda gear on one of the mannequins in the armory, and do a little building of additional furnishings
  • Hoofed it from Heljarchen down to Whiterun; on the way, saw another dragon (Blood Dragon this time) attacking the Halted Stream bandit camp; tried to take on the dragon, but it never got close enough to engage and finally it flew off; discovered that yep, the dragon had killed the bandits, so I scavenged the place a little
  • Dropped off more things in Whiterun, said hi to Lydia, and proceeded to look for the third and final ingredient, a briar heart, at a Forsworn camp I hadn’t been to before
  • On the way to the Forsworn, killed another dragon, a named one this time, Nahagliiv
  • While clearing the Forsworn camp, triggered a side quest to find Red Eagle’s sword by reading one of the books they had
  • Went back to Windhelm to bring the ingredients to Quintus, who hastily repaired the Phial—and wound up giving it to me

First up: hunting down the book Urag wanted for the library. This turned out to be in another dungeon I’d visited before, Haemar’s Shame, the vampire nest I’d had to clear for the Daedric quest for Clavicus Vile.

I went on foot to this place from Whiterun, and on the way, got jumped by another trio of cultists. I’m pretty sure that I pulled a Pontificus Interruptus on at least two of them, shooting them before they could finish ranting at me about being the false Dragonborn. Awesome. After that, it was on to the dungeon!

I’m getting far enough along in this game that the risk of repeating dungeons is going up—which is an argument for getting a move on and proceeding faster through the rest of the main quest line, so I can go on to the new content for Dawnguard and Dragonborn.

For the time being, though, it was amusing to play everyone’s favorite game, Sneak Attacks on Vampires!

I basically snuck my way through that entire dungeon, and took potshots at all the vampires and vampire thralls that had re-spawned there since the first time I’d come in. Most of them I was able to take down with one shot. Very satisfying!

I did not re-engage with Clavicus Vile’s shrine while I was down there. I’m pretty sure the game wouldn’t have done anything if I had, but at least from a purely in-character perspective, I feel like Alarrah would not want to re-engage with that particular shrine any more than she had to. If it’d been Meridia or Azura, she’d have stopped to pay her respects. Clavicus Vile? Not so much. ;)

Second item of this session’s business was to find Lost Tongue Overlook and get the new Shout word off the Word Wall there. The dragon in this lair was an Elder Dragon, and was decently challenging to kill. Made a point of trying to stay the hell away from its head, and to keep pelting it with ebony arrows.

On the way to the Word Wall, which was south of Riften, I passed an NPC I’d seen before: a Dunmer woman in full armor, who had a distinctive red mohawk. The game identified her as a mercenary, and her line to me when I passed her was that she’d received word of nearby trouble and was on her way to investigate. She looked fairly badassed, so I snapped a pic of her!

Dunmer Mercenary
Dunmer Mercenary

The Shout word was one of the Dismay Shout, essentially a fear spell. On the wiki, it says that this thing would be useful if you are outnumbered and you have to level the playing field some. I’ll have to keep this in mind!

I’d thought I would also do the quest to acquire the item that needed enchanting for the college. But it turns out that item is in Raven Rock—and Raven Rock is on Solstheim. And I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t go there quite yet. So that enchantment item is going to have to wait a little longer.

Instead, I returned to the college to give Urag the book he’d asked for. While there, I also got a couple more ticks of training from the Illusion trainer, to finish out my allotted five ticks of training per level.

From the college I hoofed it down to Windhelm. On the way, got jumped by yet another Dark Brotherhood assassin. That’s five.

At Windhelm, I got in late enough that I needed to stay at the inn for a rest; I wasn’t quite interested enough to go see if Hjerim had been cleared out of the murder evidence yet. So I slept at the inn, and got up the next morning to visit the alchemist shop.

Quintus, the assistant, told me he’d been doing some research and thought that he could restore the White Phial for his master if I brought him three things: a patch of Unmelting Snow from the top of the Throat of the World, some powdered mammoth tusk, and a Briar Heart from a Forsworn Briarheart.

So I set out to do these things. And ever so conveniently, I had just recently been up to the top of the Throat of the World, so I could now fast travel there!

I stopped to say hi to Paarthurnax just because that seemed respectful. Once I’d meditated on a Shout word with him, I then proceeded a little further up the mountain. And, entirely without planning to, I found the chest that contained a tunic, shield and sword that are Zelda easter eggs for the Switch build of this game!

Here’s what the chest looks like. I’m not going to say where exactly I found it (other than, ‘past Paarthurnax on the Throat of the World’), in case other Skyrim Switch players still haven’t found this thing yet.

Zelda Gear Chest
Zelda Gear Chest

Paul also advised me that there was a special fancy pickaxe up at the very tippy top of the mountain, too, so I didn’t want to leave without finding that. Mind you, this pickaxe is actually not interesting to me at my level since it gives a boost to Smithing and I’m already Legendary at that. It also does shock damage if you happen to wield it, but I’ve got plenty more powerful weapons that do that already—Dragonbane, I’m looking at you.

That said, I wanted it anyway. And also wanted to find the malachite and ebony ore veins I knew were up there too.

This basically required me to free-climb my way up the rest of the mountain peak, because for the life of me I could not find an actual path. But I did manage to get up there, with the help of a lot of hitting the Jump button!

And the view from the top of the tallest spot in Skyrim was pretty spectacular. Looked a lot like what I saw when Meridia pulled me into the sky during her quest—and I did feel like I should say hi to Meridia up on this peak. While also saying “I can see my house from here!’

After that, the next item I had to get was powdered mammoth tusk. Mind you, I’d seen this sold at least once by Arcadia in her apothecary in Whiterun. But I’d already used that ingredient trying to figure out what if anything I could make with it, and the quest marker wanted me to specifically go to a giant camp, anyway.

Where I proceeded to take out both giants from afar with one shot from my Dragonbone Bow. This is a far, far cry from the earlier parts of this game where I couldn’t get near a giant without it stomping me into the dirt!

I looted the camp as well, and got enough loot that I was overloaded as a result. Fortunately, though, this particular giant camp actually turned out to be one of the ones within walking distance of Heljarchen Hall! So I trudged there to say hi to my housecarl Gregor, and see how much of the stuff I was carrying was stuff I could leave at the hall.

First and foremost I wanted to leave the Zelda items on one of the mannequins in the armory I’d built there. I mean, the whole point of my building an armory in this house was to display a lot of the shiny armor and weapons I didn’t need to haul around with me!

But that said, I also just wanted to try on the Zelda gear and see what it looked like! Here’s what it looked like on Alarrah:

 

I actually kind of liked that, partly because the blue on that tunic is arguably one of the brightest colors I’ve seen on any piece of clothing in Skyrim. This game is gorgeous, I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again multiple times before I finally play through it all, but the color palette does not typically lean towards bright. Whereas what screencap of Zelda I’ve seen (at least the more modern Zelda games) are a lot brighter color-wise, and this Champion’s Tunic reflects that.

Once I tried on the gear myself, I put it on one of the armory mannequins. Here’s what that looked like:

 

Took care of a little more business in Heljarchen while I was there, too. Built a few small furnishing items, shelves and wall sconces and such, that I had materials on hand for. Also wound up destroying a couple of the enchanted weapons I’d been hauling around, just so that I could learn their enchantments.

Note: it is super helpful to have access to your own enchanting table.

Once I got the inventory down low enough that I was no longer overburdened, I set off on foot down to Whiterun. On the way down, I saw a dragon fly down and start attacking Halted Stream, one of the bandit camps on the plains west of Whiterun. I tried to take on the dragon, but it never got close enough to me to engage and seemed more interested in burning down the bandit camp.

After it flew off out of my firing range, I checked the camp. Unsurprisingly, every bandit I found in there was already dead. So I did a little judicious looting—just a little, I didn’t take everything just because I hadn’t fought these bandits myself, so it didn’t seem entirely fair—and then headed on down to Whiterun.

Where I said hi to Lydia. <3 Note also that now that Lydia is my actual spouse, she does a lot more activity in Breezehome than she had before. I see her moving around both floors of the house, and often sitting downstairs or even cooking something at the cooking pot. She doesn’t just cycle between sweeping in her room, or sitting in the chair in mine.

Next thing after Whiterun was going after the third and final ingredient for the Phial: a Forsworn briar heart. Which, by definition, meant I had to kill a Forsworn Briarheart.

So it was off to the west again, to clear out another Forsworn camp! This one was a little ways west of Rorikstead, but I wound up doing a large circuit on foot just because it was a location I hadn’t been to before and I had to figure out how to narrow in on it.

On the way there, I fought another dragon. This time, though, it was a named one—so another one resurrected by Alduin. This one’s name was Nahagliiv. It was not as challenging a fight as the Elder Dragons I’ve been taking on, though. Or the occasional Ancient Dragon, either!

I fought Nahagliiv fairly close to the Forsworn camp I needed to get to. And I’ll say this for the Forsworn: they look savage, but they are good fighters. Their archers are fast; I’ve repeatedly had trouble hitting them just because they move a little too fast for me to keep up with them.

I do kind of wish though that the game would give me a solution to “go to this place and get this thing” that didn’t require me to have to kill every living thing in the location. As I’ve written before, I have at least a little bit of sympathy for the Forsworn—at least as far as their desire to reclaim their homeland goes. They squander that sympathy when they attack peaceful settlers, though. Or peaceful travelers, for that matter.

This time, though, I had at least a tiny bit of sympathy as one of the last people I fought in that camp yelled for help, not realizing that I’d already killed all his compatriots.

I think next time I have to infiltrate a Forsworn camp I might have to try doing it while invisible and sneaking. Just to see if I can actually get the thing while minimizing how many adversaries I need to kill. I mean, what’s the point of having a near-Legendary sneak if I don’t actually use it?

All that said, I did actually find the thing—because there was a Briarheart on site and I did take him out. And while I was looting the camp, I also managed to trigger another side quest, because they had a book about Red Eagle and the book triggered a quest to find his sword. So I’ll need to follow up on that in a later session.

With all the ingredients acquired, I finally returned to Windhelm.

Quintus was very relieved to see me show up with the items, and he quickly proceeded to repair the Phial and take it upstairs to show his master. Who managed to gasp out one last “marvelous!” before finally dying of his illness. Aww.

A grieving Quintus then told me he’d like me to have the Phial by way of reward for my help, and because he felt like having it around would just be a painful reminder of his master’s obsession with the thing. He set it up to be a “boost my magicka for 300 seconds” type potion, after giving me several options to choose from as to what kind of fluid I wanted it to retain.

With that, I saved for the night while still in Windhelm’s market.

Next time: Paul says I could safely go to Raven Rock in Solstheim to take care of the side quest without having to worry about provoking anything related to Miraak yet, so maybe I’ll give that a try to see how taking the ship from Windhelm works. And while I’m in Windhelm, I figure I better also find that orphan kid who’ll give me a hook in to destroying the Dark Brotherhood!