In Which the Dragonborn Takes on Alduin, Round One

This was a big crunchy run too, not just for length of play time yesterday, but also for big significant plot points that got carried out. And big significant bugs that interfered with my ability to do that, even though I did finally make it through the buggy parts!

Skyrim is a ten year old game at this point, but I know of at least one player now playing it on the Switch who hadn’t ever played it before. So for the sake of hiding major game plot points, I’m putting everything behind the fold.

Highlights

  • Ran around a little bit on the plains of Whiterun, practicing my Bound Bow spell to summon a magical bow, and then shoot things with it–Archery and Conjuration practice at the same time!
  • Went to Heljarchen to build out a couple more of the shrines in my cellar
  • Went to the Throat of the World with the Elder Scroll; was greeted by Paarthurnax, who urged me to take to the Time-Wound nearby to read it and see the vision of the past
  • Got the vision of the three Nord heroes using Dragonrend to take on Alduin and then banish him, but the vision cutscene was glitchy as fuck and I had to do it multiple times before finally getting it to work
  • One of my attempted workarounds involved trying to go read the Elder Scroll in a completely different location and then waiting 24 hours in game time before returning to the Throat of the World and trying again
  • So I went to the college for my round of level 52 training, and tried reading the Scroll there
  • While waiting for the 24 hours to elapse, re-did my visits to the Mage Stone and the Steed Stone, this time while actually wearing the Aetherial Crown, so I could get that thing to store the Mage Stone boost correctly. Result: I’ll be able to wear this to have the Mage Stone boost when I want it, and keep the Steed Stone as my primary current boost.
  • Dropped in at Lakeview to build a few things there
  • Returned to the Throat of the World for what I think was my fourth time attempting the playthrough of the cutscene? What finally worked was to not move at all until Felldir’s line “so be it”
  • The cutscene finished, I got the Dragonrend Shout, and when I popped back into the present OH HEY HERE COMES ALDUIN
  • Holy shit, he can summon meteors, okay he’s scary, it’s official
  • The fight with Alduin was tough but not impossible, he only killed me once before I got the hang of throwing Dragonrend at him to get him to land, and then pelting him with dragonbone arrows
  • Alduin fled the battle, roaring about how he couldn’t be killed here, by me or anyone else, but apparently I could fuck him up rather well nonetheless ;)
  • Had immediate post-battle consult with Paarthurnax to discuss next steps, and he advised me to get the Jarl of Whiterun on board with using Dragonsreach to trap one of Alduin’s allies, and question him about where Alduin might have retreated to
  • Back to Whiterun, this time for actual plot-relevant purposes, to go talk to the Jarl!
  • On the way into Whiterun, got met by another courier with another Letter from a Friend
  • Went to talk to the Jarl, and agreed that I’d work on arranging a ceasefire so that the Jarl could actually help me with my absolute batshit plan
  • Decided to go after the Word Wall after the chat with the Jarl, before moving on with the main plot
  • The Word Wall was in Forsworn country, so off I went to Lost Valley Redoubt to fight a bunch of Forsworn and hagravens before finally making it to the wall, which got me the third word of Become Ethereal

I’m not a hundred percent sure that I have everything in chronological order here. I bounced around a lot when wrestling with the glitchy behavior of the important cutscene in the Alduin’s Bane quest, so I’m not entirely sure which of the smaller miscellaneous things I did before that, and which I did during the break between attempts.

So I’m going to split this post into sections accordingly.

Miscellaneous things

I got in a little practice with the Bound Bow spell I’ve had for some time and which I never bothered to use. Now that I’m actively trying to improve my magics, though, it seemed like I could practice Conjuration and Archery at the same time if I ran around the Whiterun plains for a bit, conjuring up a magic bow rather than using one of my actual physical ones.

And I did more building, this time visiting both Heljarchen and Lakeview, though I realized pretty quickly that I was running low on iron and would have to replenish my supply to do more building later. I did build a few things in both places though that didn’t need much iron out of me, like shrines in the basement at Heljarchen, and at least one shrine at Lakeview as well.

Redid the Mage Stone/Steed Stone plan, and this time I got it right, triggering the Mage Stone first with the Aetherial Crown actually on, then going to the Steed Stone while I was still wearing it. Which got me to the point I wanted to be at, with the Steed Stone as my primary active stone, but with the Mage Stone as secondary any time I wear the crown.

The general idea here being, I rather want to wear the crown any time I’m also wearing the Arch-Mage’s robes. This is a purely in-character thing, since I know the robes qualify as “clothing” rather than “armor”, so it’s not like I’m likely to wear them into battle unless I get way, way better at magic. But I do like the idea of wearing the robes when I’m doing something in an “official” capacity.

(Like going to the Jarl of Whiterun to talk to him about using Dragonsreach to capture a dragon; see below!)

And since the robes actually have a bit of a bug with them that allow me to wear a circlet at the same time as the robes, I can wear the crown with them and it looks pretty neat. I’ll have to get a screencap to share with you all.

Also, I stopped at the college to get my round of training in for level 52, and to make one attempt to read the Elder Scroll somewhere that wasn’t the Throat of the World (see below).

Alduin’s Bane quest at the Throat of the World

This was the big major focus of this entire session, trying to move the plot along by finally doing my first major confrontation with Alduin. This required me to return to the Throat of the World with the Elder Scroll, show it to Paarthurnax, and get his guidance on what to do next.

Which was, stepping into the Time-Wound not far from where he spoke to me, and reading the Scroll there. This triggered a vision of the past, where three ancient Nord heroes took on Alduin and used the Dragonrend shout on him, before finally also using the Elder Scroll to banish him out of their point in time and into the present.

Problem was, I had to attempt this something on the order of four times–because the important cutscene that plays, in which you see the vision of the ancient heroes and learn the Dragonrend shout from what you see, never actually properly finished when I was trying to watch it!

I kept getting as far as Gormlaith’s line “We shall see soon enough. Alduin approaches!” Except he never actually approached. He was clearly flying around in the distance, roaring up a storm, but he never landed to confront the heroes.

Which was a goddamn problem. I had to go searching for advice as to what to do about this, and found a rather expected array of posts suggesting this or that console command (which, again, not useful to me on the Switch). I also found two workarounds, both of which I tried:

  1. Fast traveling to a different location, reading the Scroll there, waiting 24 hours in game time, then returning to the Throat of the World to try again–this didn’t work for me, but I don’t know if I did it right? I think the idea may have been trying to fast travel during the actual vision, which I didn’t do. Instead, I’d tried to go to the Throat of the World and get to the point of the Time-Wound before fast traveling off somewhere else to read the Scroll.
  2. What did actually work for me was the recommendation to not move at all during the cutscene, not even to rotate my viewpoint so I could follow the action. This was sub-optimal for purposes of actually seeing the scene, but it did actually let it proceed. Once I got past Gormlaith’s quoted line above and heard the response “So be it” from the character Hakon, I was able to then rotate my viewpoint finally and see the rest of the scene proceed.

Which then finally did let me learn the Dragonrend shout and return to the present. At which point: OH HEY LOOK INCOMING ALDUIN, exactly as Paarthurnax had warned.

Paarth and I then had to engage him in battle. Paarthurnax kept yelling at me to use Dragonrend if I’d learned it, but it took me several tries to get the hang of it and actually hit Alduin with it. Which was challenging, given that he was airborne and moving quite fast.

And then came the part where he did a Shout of his own that dropped A RAIN OF FIERY METEORS DOWN ON MY HEAD YIKES, okay yeah, that was scary, it’s official. :D

Even when I got him to land where I could actually damage him, Alduin was every bit as formidable as I expected. I had to be careful to stay out of the range of his maw, which meant hitting him with arrows–and at first I realized I was still wielding my steel arrows, at which point I went WHY THE HELL AM I STILL ON THE STEEL and switched off to the dragonbone.

It still took a whole bunch of those to drop Alduin’s health down to zero, too. I am very, very glad that I took the time to actually make them.

Surprisingly, he only killed me once. And on the second time through, I got the hang of hitting him with Dragonrend as fast as I could, then keeping the dragonbone arrows flying even as he threw a blizzard blast in my face.

I finally beat his health down to zero, at which point he proclaimed “I can’t be killed here, by you or anybody else” and flew off. Apparently, though, I could fuck him up nicely, since he did in fact retreat. Which was still pretty gratifying!

The game then threw me three concurrent goals, speaking to either Paarthurnax, Arngeir, or Esbern to decide what to do next. Since Paarth was right there, I went with that option and had a hasty post-battle consult with him as to what to do next, and where Alduin might have gone.

Paarthurnax’s counsel was to recruit the Jarl of Whiterun to use Dragonsreach to capture a dragon again, as it had been used of old, so that we could capture one of Alduin’s allies and question him. I agreed to do this, and headed off back to Whiterun–this time for actual plot-relevant purposes!

On the way into the city I was met by another courier, with yet another Letter from a Friend. So I decided to go deal with that before meeting with the Jarl.

Finding the Word Wall at Lost Valley Redoubt

The Word Wall I wanted this time was at Lost Valley Redoubt.

This was in Forsworn country, more or less west-ish of Rorikstead. I followed several of the same roads I’d hit before heading in that direction, so the territory was more or less familiar, though I had to circle around a bit before I finally got to where I needed to be.

And as Forsworn camps went, this one was large and a bit of a challenge. There were a whole lot of tents at various levels of the ruin, and as I moved further into it, more powerful Forsworn. One of them killed me with shock damage twice before I finally made it through.

(I don’t know this for a positive fact but I’m pretty sure the one that killed me was a Briarheart? Apparently some of those are mage types and some of those are warriors?)

The big confrontation at the end of this particular lair was with two hagravens who were in the process of making another Briarheart. Which was pretty gruesome. And I had to kill both the Briarheart and the hagravens, because they were doing this ritual right in front of the Word Wall.

The wall in question gave me the third and final word for Become Ethereal. And with that sorted, I returned to Whiterun to speak to the Jarl.

Talking to the Jarl of Whiterun

And since this was super-official business, I stopped at Breezehome to actually put on the Arch-Mage robes and the Aetherial Crown. Then I headed up to Dragonsreach for an audience with the Jarl.

(It probably says something that I never can remember this guy’s name, despite how he’s the Jarl that first made me a thane! I had to look it up! Balgruuf!)

I am of course paraphrasing but really, the conversation more or less went like this:

Me: You know what would be fun? And by fun, I mean absolutely vital, because Alduin the World-Eater has returned? Using your keep to capture a dragon so we can find him. How about it?

Balgruuf: WHAT BATSHITTERY ARE YOU ON ABOUT oh shit wait you’re serious? Look, Dragonborn, I’d love to help you. But you may or may not have noticed, there’s a war going on.

Me: I’ll take care of that. Hold that thought, I’ll be back.

So now I have to work on negotiating a ceasefire!

Next time

Not entirely sure yet? I don’t know if I want to move on to the next stage of the main plot, or take a bit of a break and go do the crimson nirnroot quest!

 

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