After the big excitement of the last session I wanted to take a break from the main plot, so I went to do the side quest triggered when I found the crimson nirnroot down in Blackreach. Which meant needing to return to Blackreach! And after that, I went to High Hrothgar to have a word with Master Arngeir about Current Events.
Highlights and details behind the fold!
- Visited Lakeview to build more things, primarily working on the greenhouse and library
- Went with the full Shrouded Armor for returning to Blackreach, since sneaking around down there was kind of paramount
- Returning to Blackreach pretty much meant having to return to Alftand since that ruin had the access point I knew best; wound up grabbing some extra items if I had to go through Alftand again, including dwarven metal scraps but also a few examples of dishes
- In Blackreach, my first stop was the field laboratory set up by the dead alchemist Sinderion, who’d been researching the plant but was killed there
- Got his field notes and the next quest action to find thirty samples of the plant
- Went hunting all over Blackreach for the samples, several of which were hard to get to!
- Avoided several Falmer slaves since I didn’t want to fight the poor souls (and the game gives me no mechanism to help them actually get out)
- Also avoided the docked centurions I saw, as well as a giant that somehow got down into the cavern, who knows how
- Killed a bunch of Falmer, though!
- Found the lift that took me straight to the surface, so I didn’t have to go all the way back through Alftand to get out again
- Blipped down to find Avrusa Sarethi’s farm and bring her the crimson nirnroot samples, which she was happy to receive; she gave me a copy of Sinderion’s greatest work on the plant
- Returned to Whiterun for another round of smithing and selling
- Went to High Hrothgar to have a word with Master Arngeir
Stopped by Lakeview to build some more things. Now that I’ve figured out that the Hearthfire-type houses let you build different types of add-ons, I’ve decided to finish building out each house but to vary up the additional wings a bit. And at Lakeview, I’m doing a greenhouse and a library.
I am getting a whole lot of books on various adventures, and I figure it’d be nice to have somewhere to actually formally keep them! Breezehome has only two bookshelves in it and can’t hold all that many books.
Returning to Blackreach
The main thing I wanted to do for this session, though, was the crimson nirnroot quest that got triggered when I found one of the plants down there. Which, by definition, meant I had to return to Blackreach. I also just wanted to explore the place more because it was spooky and cool.
Getting back into Blackreach, though, pretty much meant that I needed to get back into Alftand for a third time–because while there are three different access points from the surface, Alftand was the one I’d used most recently, and it also had the access point closest to the first place I needed to get to once I was down there.
On the way in through Alftand, I grabbed a few more loot items this time: some metal I could smelt down into ingots later, as well as a few dishes. I’ve written before about how I feel like examples of more prosaic Dwemer items like plates and bowls and things would be just as interesting on the surface as anything else you could pull out of there. So purely from an in-character perspective, even though I know that dishes aren’t as valuable as armor, I grabbed a few anyway so that Alarrah could sell them to Belethor in Whiterun.
Heh, maybe she could fetch enough of them out of ruins to start a fashion trend amongst Skyrim’s elite! “Oh sure, that pottery is nice and all but I serve all my finest feasts on rare Dwemer plates!”
Got through Alftand without any issues; the dungeon hasn’t had time to respawn yet. So made it straight down to Blackreach, and found Sinderion’s laboratory.
Poor sod had been killed right there in the building, presumably because the Falmer hadn’t appreciated him setting up shop. He had a sample of the plant in a pot, as well as several other ingredients that I appropriated. And I got his field journal, which triggered the next stage of the quest when I read it: finding thirty samples of the plant.
This required me to basically hunt all over Blackreach. Which took a while, especially given that several of the plants were in hard-to-reach locations that took a little bit of strategic climbing. I was down there long enough, hunting for plants in the spooky and ethereal semi-darkness, that I expect Alarrah will have dreams for a while of eternally hunting through Blackreach for red humming plants.
It was a good workout for the Shrouded Armor, though, which I wore to maximize my Sneak. I did successfully elude at least a few Falmer–though I wound up having to kill others who found me anyway. And I successfully eluded other entities I specifically didn’t want to fight, such as the Falmer Servants, the non-Falmer I’d spotted down there on the previous visit. Turns out the Blackreach Falmer keep slaves. And since the game doesn’t give me a mechanism to free them, and I also didn’t want to actually fight the poor souls, I made a point of evading them.
Likewise, I didn’t bother either of the centurions I spotted in their docking stations. Or the giant I saw lumbering past me at one point. How a giant actually got down into Blackreach is a damned interesting question, and I’m apparently not the first player to go “hey wait how…” I found a forum post on the very topic. :D
Also while I was down there, I mined a whole bunch of geode and ore veins. Which let me get a boatload of various types of ore, as well as various soul gems to build up my stock. But I had to eventually skip further veins, as my inventory got loaded up enough (even with my carry weight bonuses) that I couldn’t take on more. And this, I think, will also figure into Alarrah’s eventual dreams of eternally wandering around Blackreach.
One other thing I remembered was that having that dragon priest mask Volsung on meant not only a carry weight bonus–but also the ability to breathe underwater. Which was helpful, given that at least a few of those nirnroot samples did require me to swim to get to them. Even if I found the water in Blackreach kind of unnerving, since it looked weird and milky in the Blackreach gloom!
Eventually though I did find all thirty samples the quest required, and then got the hell out of Blackreach. By then I was pretty done exploring the place, and I didn’t even go into all of the buildings. Alarrah was definitely done, and glad to escape to the surface when she found the lift that let her do so.
Coming out into the snowy sunlight was a relief, even if there was a dragon roaring overhead! But the dragon never landed, so I didn’t have to fight it.
Visiting Avrusa Sarethi
Next stop: Avrusa Sarethi’s farm. Her backstory is that she’d learned from Sinderion everything he knew about nirnroot, which let her be the only person in Skyrim who can actually grow the stuff. (Though there is now the interesting question of whether I could grow it, in my gardens at any of my houses…)
She was delighted to get the samples of crimson nirnroot I brought her. She told me I’d done alchemy a great service, and gave me a copy of Sinderion’s greatest treatise on his work by way of reward.
Sure hope she doesn’t get too startled by the bodies of the three cultists who jumped me on the way into her farm!
Returning to Whiterun
Then it was back to Whiterun for a little while. I know I don’t need to, at least as far as game mechanics are concerned, but I made a point of letting Alarrah change out of her armor for a little while and just wear regular clothes.
She spends so much time in armor that I figure regular clothes must feel weird to her! But also perhaps strangely liberating. Even the Dragonborn needs to stand down for a while and take a breather.
So i did some smelting, and some armor and weaponry improvements, and some selling of things. My gold balance is now back up over 30,000! I’m going to have to think about what else I can spend a bunch of gold on, if I want to bother to become thane in Markarth–and whether I will be able to be thane in Windhelm once the truce is established.
Which brings me to…
A word with Master Arngeir
Last thing I did in the session was to suit back up in the dragonscale, get Lydia to actively follow me again, and go to High Hrothgar for a word with Master Arngeir about hosting a peace conference.
The dialogue prompts in our conversation were a little weird, because I got a prompt for asking Arngeir how to find Alduin’s portal into Sovngarde–and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t learned yet that that’s where Alduin went! So I think the game might have maybe expected me to speak to Arngeir instead of Paarthurnax first, after that first fight with Alduin? I don’t know!
I was at any rate able to get Arngeir on board with the idea of doing a peace council, which means I now need to go have a word with Ulfric Stormcloak in Windhelm and General Tullius in Solitude. Which is why I wanted Lydia along–I figure Alarrah will look a trifle more authoritative if she does this in full Dragonborn mode, with her wife also armed and armored, backing her up.
But while I was talking to Arngeir, I also took the time to trigger the dialogue prompts that let him give me a clue as to where to find another Word Wall, just because I want to hunt down more of those.
He pointed me to a place called Valthume. Looked it up and determined that that place has a dragon priest, so fuck yeah, I’ll go clear that out. :D
Definitely going to Valthume next, and after that, it’s time to arrange the peace conference!