In Which the Dragonborn Seeks Auriel’s Bow

This was a shorter session, for general Sunday night reasons (night before the work week, also not wanting to try to play Skyrim while watching Columbo). But I did get in a bit more play time last night and moved the Dawnguard plot along a little more!

Highlights and details below.

Highlights

  • Discovered how to get safely out of Valerica’s lab, she has a balcony that’s apparently specifically there as a fast travel shortcut, lol
  • Returned to Fort Dawnguard to discover Dexion was no longer in a position to help with the Elder Scrolls, because oops, he’d gone blind from reading the first one
  • He did however have a plan for how I could read it safely, so Serena and I headed to Ancestor Glade
  • But I stopped first at Lakeview to stuff a bunch of extraneous stuff out of my inventory into my workbench chest there so I could come back and get it later
  • Then went on foot south from Lakeview to where we needed to get; jumped by bandits, killed same; also killed a couple of mudcrabs
  • Heard, but did not see or fight with, a dragon flying overhead
  • Didn’t actually fight with anything in Ancestor Glade once we found it, which surprised me
  • The place was gorgeous and I really rather liked the whole idea of “get all the Ancestor Moths to follow me”
  • And I liked the visuals of standing in a beam of light, surrounded by all the moths, reading the Scrolls; also neat visual involving a mental map in that sequence
  • Told Serana that I’d discovered we needed to get the bow from Darkfall Cave, so we began to head out and were immediately ambushed by a bunch of vampires and thralls; killed same
  • Darkfall Cave turned out to be pretty much in the exact same area where I’d found and recruited Sorene, lol
  • It also turned out to be pretty frickin’ dark
  • There were frostbite spiders and I got poisoned at least once by one, which may have triggered buggy behavior in which this blurry gray overlay kept interfering with my field of view
  • Found the remains of a camp of a dead Breton who was apparently there to research trolls
  • Also found the Chantry of Auri-El, and Knight-Paladin Gelebor
  • Got the backstory of the Falmer from Gelebor, as well as Gelebor’s offered deal he’s been giving to everybody else who keeps asking him for Auriel’s Bow: kill his brother, you get the bow
  • Also got him to tell us how to get to his brother, which would require us to visit assorted wayshrines and pour sacred water at them; Serana and I agreed to do this

Commentary

So yeah, short session, but still entertaining.

I began where I’d left off, at the portal in Valerica’s laboratory, and the first item of business was to figure out if there was a shortcut from this lab back outside. Because we couldn’t go out the front way (for previously mentioned obvious reasons), and I didn’t want to go back out through the back way unless absolutely necessary (because it had been a pretty long and gruesome slog to get to the lab to begin with).

Fortunately there was in fact a shortcut, which I found when I consulted the wiki. There’s a door out to a balcony which is apparently there specifically so it can serve as a fast travel location, ha!

Which is good to know since I figure I’ll need to come back here at least once, just to be able to return to the Soul Cairn to tell Valerica when Harkon is defeated.

For the time being, Serana and I just had to return to Fort Dawnguard and check in, and bring the Scrolls. We did this, only to discover the next wrench in the works: the old priest Dexion would no longer be able to help us. Because he’d gone blind reading the first of our set of Scrolls.

This put the burden of reading the Scrolls onto me. And this is another point in the game where I feel like it would have been appropriate to the narrative to actually be able to say “look, I’ve read the Dragon scroll already”—though to be fair, the main plot also had to go through a bit of a convolution to let me read that one safely, too.

Still though this plot also goes through a bit of setup to explain why I’m able to safely read the Scrolls. Dexion offered me the theory that the Elder Scrolls clearly meant for me to find them, and that therefore it might actually be safe for me to read them as long as we took certain precautions. I would need to go to an Ancestor Glade, attract the Ancestor Moths who lived there, and draw upon their energy and presence to be able to read the Scrolls.

I agreed to do this, and so since I was pretty much the only other person in the place who didn’t want to kill her on sight, Serana stuck with me.

The Ancestor Glade in the game is one I’d discovered before on a previous run, and where I’d had my ass handed to me by spriggan earth mothers. That particular encounter had been retconned by that kill, since it had rolled me back to a previous save, and I no longer had the location on my map.

However, the location turned out to be almost due south a short ways from Lakeview Manor. So I fast traveled there, and took the opportunity to dump a lot of stuff out of my inventory into my workbench chest. (And a big part of this weight was the dragon bones and scales I was lugging around!) And from there, I set out with Serana on foot.

A few bandits tried to jump us not far south of Lakeview. This did not go well for the bandits. And I hadn’t meant to attack the mudcrabs just south of my house either, but Serana went after one of them, so I went ahead and took out the other one.

As we got closer to the glade I saw a dragon shadow go by me on the ground, and I heard the roar overhead. However, the dragon never landed to engage us.

Getting into the glade this time was trouble-free. No sign of any spriggans, earth mother or otherwise. We were able to find the beautiful central chamber, and get the appropriate tool to use to scrape bark off one of the canticle trees. Once I had a sample of that, I just had to wander around a little bit attracting swarms of the Ancestor Moths.

This was kind of neat. It was a fairly gentle moment in an otherwise violent, intense game. The mental image of Alarrah cautiously edging around this glade, while Ancestor Moths flutter up and go HI WE LIKE YOU, makes me smile.

Once I had enough moths (I had to attract seven swarms of them), a brilliant beam of light came down from the top of the cavern to show where I needed to stand to read the Scrolls. So I headed into that. (Serana did not, again for generally obvious reasons.)

Got the Scrolls read, and the animation sequence for that was pretty neat. It resulted in a map-like vision manifesting on the screen, in a very Indiana-Jones-y kind of way. Once I came out of the vision, I stepped over to Serana to tell her what had happened. Her first line to me was to check that I was all right, because I’d apparently gone white. Aw. What a nice concerned vampire. <3

I told her I knew exactly where to go to get the bow: Darkfall Cave.

So we turned to set out again—and immediately got jumped by a gang of vampires and thralls and a gargoyle, who’d come in and snuck up on us. The battle did not go in their favor.

Onward then to Darkfall Cave. Which turned out to be almost the exact spot where I’d found and recruited Sorine to the Dawnguard, lol! The game did not give me any opportunity to do so, but I feel like Alarrah would totally have gone “WAIT the damn bow was here all this time? I’ve already been here! Three or four times now!” (Because Dragontooth Crater was almost immediately south of the spot, and I’ve used the crater as a fast travel marker several times at this point!)

The notable main factor of this cave was that it was very, very dark. And given that the Switch build of Skyrim runs darker than other builds, this made a light source absolutely necessary. I blew through the initial torch I was carrying (and found a few others later), but also threw around a lot of Candlelight spells. Which made sneaking pointless, but ah well.

There were also multiple frostbite spiders. I got poisoned at least once, which appeared to trigger some buggy behavior with my field of view going gray and blurry. This effect didn’t dispel even when I took potions of Cure Poison and Healing, so maybe I didn’t have enough of Cure Poison, I don’t know?

The vision obscuring is apparently specifically a poison damage effect, but it happened to me two or three times in this dungeon. Given how dark it was down there, this made it extremely hard to navigate as long as it was in effect. The problem did finally subside, though I also noticed that the effect wearing off seemed buggy. There was a distinct line between “clear” and “blurry” as the effect slid downward on my screen.

Aside from that, I liked the detail of having to go across a rickety bridge to find a dead end—only to have that bridge collapse out from under you and pitch you down into a river, OHNOEZ.

Fortunately I didn’t have to worry about drowning, because I had Volsung on. (And, as I type this, I realize that I had Volsung on even back in Ancestor Glade, which makes me wonder exactly how Serana was able to tell I’d gone pale while reading the Scrolls…? Ha, I shall have to assume that I’d taken the mask off, in character.)

We finally got to where we needed to be: a larger open cavern, where we were greeted by a polite voice who bid us come forward and that we’d meet no harm there. The speaker turned out to be Knight-Paladin Gelebor, one of two last surviving Snow Elves, the people who had eventually become the Falmer. He was entirely unsurprised to see us, and furthermore knew that we were here for the bow—because nobody ever came to this place unless they were looking for the bow. And he gave us the same offer he’d given to everybody else: we could have the bow if we helped him by killing his brother.

(Side note: as I’m writing this, I’m finding I keep wanting to call this guy Celeborn. I have to fight to not type Celeborn instead of Gelebor!)

Naturally, this was a trifle startling, and I got an appropriate dialogue prompt for that, along the lines of “uhh, and we need to kill your brother why, exactly?” Gelebor explained that while his brother was the only other surviving Snow Elf, his brother had become “corrupted”. He seemed to blame this on the Falmer, who he called the Betrayed.

And that led into Alarrah finally getting the opportunity to actually learn the backstory of the Falmer: i.e., that they’d been driven into blindness by their being slaves of the Dwemer. Gelebor did also note though that he didn’t necessarily buy that the toxin that caused the Falmer to become blind was also responsible for their modern devolved state.

Further, Gelebor explained that he couldn’t go after his brother himself, because he was under sacred vow to guard the Chantry. So this left the task of going after the brother to Serana and me. Gelebor advised that we’d need to visit a series of wayshrines and do a ritual initiates into his religion did in times past: gathering water into a sacred ewer. This would eventually lead us to the location where we could get at his brother.

We agreed to do this, and stepped into a little shrine-like building he’d opened for us to show us an example of what a wayshrine would look like. This had a portal in it we had to go through.

After we stepped through the portal, I stopped and saved for the night.

Next time

Picking up where I left off, and going through the sequence of wayshrines to get to Arch-Curate Vyrthur!