In Which the Dragonborn Defeats Alduin

This is not my last Skyrim post—this is only the one in which I finish the main plot, and there is still the DLC stuff to play through, for Dawnguard and Dragonborn. Plus, chances of a second playthrough are high, as there’s still a lot of stuff in the game I haven’t done yet, just because I didn’t feel like those quests quite fit with this character as I played her.

But this is the one in which Alarrah does defeat the World-Eater, Alduin, and as such it’s definitely a milestone!

Details and screencaps behind the fold!

Highlights

  • Picked up right where I left off, with getting Odahviing to fly me to Skuldafn
  • Skuldafn turned out to be a fairly standard draugr-hive type dungeon, with the added wrinkle of two dragons to fight, and two more that I didn’t
  • And also, a dragon priest who turned out to be surprisingly anti-climactic
  • The portal to Sovngarde was pretty nifty
  • And Sovngarde itself was glorious; very distinctive and beautiful graphics, also beautiful music even though the music sometimes overwhelmed the dialogue I was getting from NPCs
  • The dialogue was also very mythical
  • Very cool to meet up with the three heroes I’d seen in the earlier vision, and team up with them to actually take down the dragon
  • Which played a lot like it had the first time, only now I had backup
  • Tsun, the gatekeeper of the Hall of Valor, gave me a new Shout to call a hero of Sovngarde if I ever had the need, and Shouted me back to the world of the living, where I landed at the Throat of the World
  • Where I was greeted by a gathering of dragons, all of whom basically were roaring their greeting, and I got final dialogue from a mournful but accepting Paarthurnax
  • And a confirmation from Odahviing that he acknowledged the strength of my Thu’um, and that if I ever needed him I should call, and he will come if he can
  • Went to the hall of the Graybeards for a final check in with them and got final dialogue from Arngeir as well
  • And then returned to Whiterun, to Lydia and Lucia, where I closed this chapter of play by playing hide and seek with Lucia <3

So yeah that was exciting. :D It played rather quicker than I expected, though.

I picked up where I left off, with Odahviing being ready to fly me to Skuldafn. There was less animation to play there than I’d hoped for, given Odahviing’s line about how, once I’d seen the world as a dovah does, my envy of them would only increase.

Other than  a shot of Odahviing launching into the air, though, there wasn’t much before we reached the destination and he dropped Alarrah off. I suppose this is because making a glorious flying animation would have been expensive for Bethesda, without providing much that the game didn’t already have?

I got an amusing farewell from the dragon at that point, though, who told me he’d wait for my return–or Alduin’s.

Alarrah and Odahviing
Alarrah and Odahviing

Skuldafn, the first phase of this final act of the main plot, was a pretty standard draugr-hive type dungeon. The only different things about it were that I did fight a couple of dragons at the beginning—but they were both standard generic Dragons. I was kind of surprised that they weren’t leveled up to match me, or at least named dragons? Since this place was supposed to be protecting Alduin’s portal to Sovngarde, I’d have expected his loyalists to be a bit more powerful. At least, I’d have expected to have to fight at least one Ancient Dragon.

I did at least kill both of the initial dragons, which let me replenish my supply of dragon bones and dragon scales. And this didn’t even overburden me, given that I had the Steed Stone bonus active, and I’d made a point of whittling down the inventory before going on this final stage of the plot.

The draugr were plentiful, and most of them were Draugr Deathlords, but I’ve been able to take those guys out with one or two arrow shots for a while now. And I did get a Draugr Death Overlord as well, but he too wasn’t all that hard of a fight.

I got another dragon claw for my collection, as this dungeon did have a puzzle door of that type. This particular claw was a diamond one.

And I also got another dragon priest mask. Here, too, the fight was easier than I really anticipated. I knew I was going to have to go through a dragon priest to get to the portal. But I was not expecting to be able to take that priest out with a single shot before I ever got near him!

But I did get his staff and his mask, and the staff was necessary to open the portal to Sovngarde. Which really rather reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, given that it was a portal I pretty much had to jump down into.

Portal to Sovngarde
Portal to Sovngarde

I’ve seen in reading up on the net that some players have found it a little odd that non-Nords can get to the Nord afterlife. I myself certainly found it a little odd that Sovngarde was a place I could physically get to, especially given that Alarrah is a Bosmer, not a Nord. But as Dara correctly pointed out, this has all sorts of precedent in various mythologies of the world—Greek leaping immediately to mind, since Hades was a place the living could physically visit. (Though the analogue here is not complete, given that Sovngarde’s Hall of Valor is essentially Valhalla for the Nords.)

It was also very mythical to be greeted by a mysterious mist that barred my way, and which was clearly generated by Alduin as a means to snare the souls of the valiant dead so he could chomp on them. The souls knew they were being stalked, too, given that I met a couple of them who tried to warn me off. But I threw a lot of the Clear Skies Shout around to open my way, and eventually found my way to the Hall of Valor.

There I was greeted by Tsun, who basically acted as the gatekeeper to the place and told me I’d have to prove my worthiness before he’d let me in. I told him I claimed the right of birth as Dragonborn to enter the hall, which he didn’t dispute, though he did also challenge me to fight as the final trial before he’d allow me to enter.

Which didn’t take long. I didn’t have to kill him, just best him, and it only took a few swings of my dragonbone sword before he yielded and let me through the door.

Inside, I found what I pretty much expected, i.e., Valhalla for the Nords. Lots of souls of the valiant dead feasting and fighting and singing. But the three souls I was specifically meant to find were the three who I’d seen in the vision earlier: Gormlaith, Hakon, and Felldir. All of whom leapt at the chance to take on Alduin at my side, and which we did as soon as I showed up.

The Three Ancient Heroes
The Three Ancient Heroes

And this wasn’t particularly complicated, either. We all went back outside, and the others urged that we should Shout together to clear away the mists. It took three tries. This was not the first time that Alarrah had used Shouts with someone else—the Graybeards taught her, after all, and Paarthurnax got her to Shout at him, too—but this I think probably was a whole new ballgame for her as this was a question of Shouting in unison with others, as a prelude to battle.

In friggin’ Sovngarde. Which was about as epic as it gets.

Once the skies were clear and Alduin was suitably challenged, he showed up to engage us in battle. It played a lot like the battle I’d had with him at the Throat of the World, because he absolutely started throwing meteors around. But this being Sovngarde, the setting was more celestial. And this time, Alarrah had three more warriors to fight with her.

(Granted, the skies of Sovngarde looked a lot like some of what I’d seen in the skies of Skyrim, with all the glorious aurora action that the game gives you. Sovngarde is like that, only more so. Which I suppose makes sense for the afterlife of the Nords!)

Celestial Glory
Celestial Glory

Gormlaith, too, kept yelling for us to use Dragonrend. I needed the reminder, because yeah, Alduin is impossible to damage as long as he’s in the air. And it was tough for me to actually hit him with the Shout, because he’s also very fast in the air as well. I’m a lot better with the Switch controls than I was at the start of this game, but it was still challenging for me to actually time it correctly to hit him properly and get him to land.

Once he did that, it was just a question of keeping those arrows flying. I didn’t even switch off to the dragonbone arrows—I kept pelting him with the ebony, just because I came into this battle with so many of them and only spent a fraction of my store on the draugr and the dragon priest.

When we killed him, he disintegrated in a blaze of light even more impressive than any other dragon Alarrah had killed. He didn’t leave a lootable corpse, and she didn’t get his soul either—which didn’t escape her notice.

And with the battle won, Tsun returned to join with the others to pay Alarrah homage. Tsun also told me that he would look forward to welcoming me formally to Sovngarde when the time came (again, kind of amusing given that Alarrah is a Bosmer), but that for now, he would give me a new Shout that would let me summon a hero of Sovngarde if I ever needed aid.

And, since I still numbered among the living, he would need to send me home.

He did that with a Shout, which threw me back to the world of Tamriel, and I manifested on the Throat of the World surrounded by roaring dragons. Paarthurnax and Odahviing, but others as well. They all were there to acknowledge Alarrah’s victory, and I spent a few minutes just pivoting my point of view to see them all.

I feel like Alarrah just stood there listening to them, kind of overwhelmed. As a player, I was kind of overwhelmed myself! There was a definite emotional catharsis to actually taking Alduin out, which was very satisfying.

I also really appreciated the interactions with the dragons in general. Not surprisingly, Paarthurnax was not exactly happy that Alduin had been defeated—on the grounds that he’d considered Alduin a brother, once. (It’s not clear to me if Alduin was his literal brother? Or his figurative one? I think Paarthurnax was speaking figuratively here though.) But he also acknowledged that his defeat needed to happen.

Odahviing also made a point of speaking to me, acknowledging the strength of Alarrah’s Thu’um, and promising that he would come if he could if Alarrah ever needed to call him again.

And with that, her ears ringing with the dragons’ roars, Alarrah made her way back down the mountain.

For the life of me I couldn’t quite remember the proper path to get to the courtyard behind High Hrothgar. And I knew I wanted to check in with the Graybeards, given that I’d seen on the wiki that there were final words to be had with Arngeir as well. I wound up just fast traveling to get back to the front entrance, and went in that way—but my headcanon remains that Alarrah totally stumbled in the back way, still kind of overwhelmed.

I found the Graybeards in the council room where we’d had the negotiation. Arngeir came over to greet me, and knew instantly what had happened. He had some nice final words that were another opportunity for the game to make the most having Christopher Plummer in the voice cast. <3

And I particularly liked this line: “Now it is up to you to decide what to do with your power and skill.”

At this, I think Alarrah finally grinned a little and said, “I hear they’re reforming the Dawnguard in that old fort near Riften.”

For now, though, her only goal was to return to Whiterun. So after I talked to Arngeir, I fast traveled to the Watchtower. Where the sky was free of dragons and full of sunlight, and I walked into the city unhindered and made it back to Breezehome to greet Lydia and Lucia. <3

And when Lucia piped “Mama! You’re home! Wanna play a game?”, I think Alarrah beamed at her and said “Yes. Yes, I do.”

So she played hide and seek with the daughter of her heart, her version of Sam Gamgee’s returning to the Shire and telling Rosie, “Well, I’m back.”

<3 <3 <3 <3

I saved at that point, and didn’t try to play anything else last night, just because I needed to savor the victory and the close of the main plot. But like I said—totally not done with Skyrim yet. There will be more adventure to come.

Vampires of Skyrim, you are on notice.

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