In Which the Dragonborn Quests All Over Solstheim

This was a session pretty much all about the side quests, since Solstheim has many to choose from, and a lot of corners to explore. I wanted to make sure and get those corners checked out before I finish off the main quest!

Highlights

  • Confronted the Severins, Milli and Tilisu, in Severin Manor; Lydia and I killed them both, and then searched the manor for evidence
  • Took a letter proving an actual plot to Adril Arano; he proclaimed he’d send a couple of the Redoran Guard to Ashfallow Citadel to put down the conspiracy once and for all, and asked me to help
  • I promised to meet the Redoran Guards at the citadel, but when Lydia and I got there they were already killed by Morag Tong assassins
  • Lydia and I cleared the place, including killing Vendil Severin, a.k.a. Vendil Ulen, the son of the Dunmer Councilor Morvayn had had executed
  • Returned to Raven Rock to report what we’d done; Councilor Morvayn granted me citizenship in Raven Rock, and ownership of Severin Manor and everything in it
  • Spent some time dropping off assorted loot in the chests of my new digs, and then selling a bunch of stuff I didn’t want, both out of my loot and out of the stuff the “Severins” had stashed there
  • Then went out again, and cleansed the Earth Stone not far from Raven Rock
  • Went with Lydia up the west coast of the island in search of the other two Deathbrand pieces of armor; killed a couple more reavers at Bloodskal Barrow, as well as a couple on the hunt for the armor; also cleansed the Water Stone, and killed a generic Dragon there
  • Returned to Raven Rock to drop off the armor; checked my ingredients stash as well as the ingredients the manor’s prior owners had left behind, and came up with two taproot for the quest for the Tel Mithryn apothecary; bought another taproot from the apothecary in Raven Rock
  • Began searching for the headwaters to dip the taproot into; on the way, encountered my first rieklings, including the ones who took over Thirsk Mead Hall and whose chief demanded my help with “Bilgemuck”; also killed another Serpentine Dragon
  • Made it to the headwaters, only to be jumped by spriggan earth mothers both outside and inside the relevant cave; finally got the taproots dipped
  • Also cleansed the Beast Stone
  • Headed down to Tel Mithryn to meet up with the apothecary; got her instruction to take one and plant it in the withered part of Neloth’s tower; got the taproot planted, and the alchemist gave me a few potions of well-being
  • Neloth’s apprentice came up to me as I exited the tower and begged for help dispatching the ash guardian he’d summoned, which turned out to be hostile, oops; dispatched same
  • The grateful apprentice gave me a staff of fear and I also bought a bunch of spellbooks off him, as well as some Conjuration training
  • Tried to talk to Neloth only to get his mini-quest prompt to look for his missing steward; tracked down said steward after learning from the Dunmer in the kitchen tower that she’d headed towards Raven Rock for supplies; she’d been killed by ash spawn; Neloth grumpily ordered me to find him a new steward
  • Returned to Raven Rock to take care of a bit more loot re-arranging, then went out once more in search of the Deathbrand treasure hoard
  • Found that, killed two reavers outside the place, and a whole slew of ghosts within; got the treasure hoard as well as the pair of named scimitars
  • Since the Skaal village was nearby, went over there to check in–and found two of the villagers discussing that the smith had gone missing; as I agreed to help, this triggered the quest A New Source for Stalhrim

Conclusion of the Served Cold quest

Since I left off right in the middle of this quest the last time, I picked up immediately where I left off for this one–i.e., going ahead and taking the direct approach with investigating Severin Manor.

The game does not give you any opportunity to try this diplomatically. The house is locked when you get there, and as soon as you enter, even with your authorized key, Tilisu and Mirri attack you. Given how heavily armored and armed Lydia and I are, this battle did not take very long.

Neither did searching the place for evidence. I eventually found the Severin Family Safe, and in that, a letter blatantly demonstrating that yep, there sure is an assassination plot going on! So I nabbed this, and took it to Adril Arano immediately.

He declared he’d dispatch a couple of Redoran Guards to Ashfallow Citadel, and asked me to go provide them assistance. I agreed. Lyds and I headed over there, only to find that oh shit, the guards had already been killed by the forces in the place: Morag Tong assassins.

(I looked up the Morag Tong; apparently they’re an order of assassins based in Morrowind?)

Which basically meant that for the second time in this game, I had to wipe out an entire hive of assassins. I wound up killing nine of them, and got myself overloaded nabbing all their loot, but solved that problem by stashing everything in a nearby chest until I was able to clear the place.

Since I’d already taken out Tilisu and Mirri back at the manor, the final fight in this place was with the so-called “father” of this so-called “family”, Vendil Severin. Or rather, Vendil Ulen. Who as it happened was the son of the guy that Council Morvayn had ordered executed.

(And who, as it happened, was apparently having an affair with his so-called “daughter”, Mirri? Which I only discovered after the fact, reading about the backstory of this plot on the wiki. I found this an odd narrative choice since it had no bearing on the plot whatsoever, and seemed to just be an excuse for the people of Raven Rock to comment about how Mirri seemed strangely close in age to her so-called father, whenever the Dragonborn asks for information about the family.)

After taking this guy out, I got all his loot too and then the stuff I’d stashed in the chest. And returned to Raven Rock to report in and go “your assassin problem: sorted”.

It was slightly hilarious how the resolution scene went, too, since both Adril Arano and Councilor Morvayn were in the exact same room when I came to report to Arano. Presumably therefore Morvayn heard the entire conversation, since he was right there, but Arano still re-explained the whole situation to him. And also told me to follow him to go talk to the Councilor, for values of “follow” meaning “stand there while I get up, turn around, and talk to the guy who just heard everything you already said to me.”

That bit of weirdness aside, Councilor Morvayn was very grateful for my saving his life. He also proclaimed that he’d grant me citizenship in Raven Rock and the right to take over Severin Manor and everything in it, given how the previous owners had proven to be criminals.

Which was what I was going for. Having safe crash space on Solstheim is necessary, not only for having somewhere to sleep, but also somewhere to stash all the new loot I’m amassing. Mind you, I’m not entirely sure how much time Alarrah will ever spend here again once she actually leaves Solstheim, given that this place is kind of terrible! But it’s nice to have the town grateful.

So after being given free rein to take over the house, I spent some time rearranging all the stuff in it, both the stuff I was bringing in and the stuff that the Severins had left. I dropped a lot of books on the shelves, a lot of weapons on weapons plaques, and a lot of armor on mannequins, and filled a few chests with a bunch of other things.

It was a little weird also to be basically handed an entire furnished house without having to pay for it, or pay for it being decorated either. On the other hand, it’s a fully furnished house with all the immediately necessary crafting areas–a forge, an armor workbench, a grindstone for weapons, a smelter, an alchemy lab, and an enchanter. So it’ll be nice to have all of those immediately available to me for the rest of my game play in this locale.

Once I had the inventory back down to more manageable proportions, I stepped out again to sell a bunch of things I didn’t actually want, and then proceeded to the next phase of this session’s shenanigans.

Deathbrand quest plus Cleansing the Stones, round one

The Earth Stone was not too far out of Raven Rock, so I stopped there to throw a Bend Will Shout at it and cleanse it. Which freed a few townsfolk from working on it–including, notably, at least a couple of the Redoran Guard.

After taking care of that, I made my way up the west coast of the island looking for the other two pieces of Deathbrand armor. This let me see a couple spots of Solstheim that were actually pretty, so I screencapped those, and also a couple little family groups of netch floating over the water.

Took out a couple of reavers around Bloodskal Barrow, which Lydia and I passed on the way up the coast. And soon enough, we also found the Water Stone–where some of the people nabbed were sailors from a nearby ship.

Cleansing the Water Stone pissed off a nearby dragon, so I had to take that out in addition to the cultist who was cranky about my interrupting the whole “have entranced slaves build this shrine” plan.

Along with the final bit of the Deathbrand armor, I also found a key to a new barrow–and that triggered the final phase of that quest.

Healing a House quest, with a side order of rieklings

Before I went to go find the final resting place of the Deathbrand crew and hoard, though, I wanted to work on the quest from the Tel Mithryn alchemist, to get her taproots for healing Neloth’s mushroom house.

So since I had to go back to Raven Rock anyway to drop off stuff at the newly acquired house, I also took care of checking my current stash of alchemy ingredients just to see how many taproots I had on hand. Answer: two. The house already had two in its stores. And I was able to buy a third in Raven Rock. Which made the next order of business finding the headwaters to dip them into.

Trying to figure out where the hell those headwaters were finally let me discover the rieklings, the species of goblin that lives on Solstheim. I found these little guys in two waves, actually–once near the dragon lair where I’d previously fought a Serpentine Dragon, and where I had to fight one again in fact. (Which managed to kill me, but only once. I didn’t let that happen again.)

The second time, I actually got stopped by a Riekling Hunter NPC who tried to talk to me. Not coherently, mind you, but it was at least able to tell me that it wanted me to follow it. It took me into a nearby built structure–the Thirsk Mead Hall–where a tribe of rieklings had settled in. And their chief, who had a few more coherent words than the hunter had done, demanded I go find “Bilgemuck” and give it meat to bring it back.

I do have to admit, the rieklings are kind of cute. But I read ahead a little and saw that the riekling chief’s quest sets me on a path of having to decide between helping them keep Thirsk Mead Hall–or helping the Nords they actually kicked out of the place. I’m still mulling this one, not sure how I’ll play this out yet.

Meanwhile, dealing with the taproots was my higher priority. I found the headwaters, only to get jumped by a few spriggan earth mothers, both outside and inside the cave where I had to do the dipping. But I finally got those taproots dipped.

And, while I was at it, found and cleansed the Beast Stone, the last of the five that I needed to hit in order to advance the main quest.

For now though I headed back to Tel Mithryn to check in with the alchemist. She cheerfully confided she’d be keeping two of those taproots–that Neloth didn’t need to know about them–but also that I should take the third to Neloth’s house and plant it in the wilted bit. I went to go take care of this, and for my trouble, got a couple Potions of Well-Being.

From the Ashes quest

On the way out of the tower after planting the taproot, Neloth’s apprentice Talvas came running up to me and begged for help. Seems he’d finally managed to summon an ash guardian–only, it was hostile and starting to destroy things. Oops.

I told him I’d destroy it for him, and did so. He gave me a Staff of Fear as a reward.

And while I was at it, I also bought a bunch of Conjuration training off of him, though he told me not to tell Neloth about this or else Neloth would confiscate the money I gave him for it. Don’t worry, Talvas, your secret is safe with me.

I also bought a bunch of spellbooks off of him, some of which I’d forgotten I already knew, but several of which I did not.

Reluctant Steward quest

While dealing with Talvas, I also tried talking with Neloth since I knew he had plenty of other side quests that could trigger–and i got one, involving him complaining that he couldn’t find his steward, and wanting her to bring him his tea.

Note: this plot underscores that Neloth is totally an asshole, as he’s way more concerned about getting his tea than where the hell his steward might be. I was however amused by this exchange:

Me:  Hey, I’m not your servant.

Neloth: Obviously not, or you would have a cup of tea in your hands.

I agreed to go look for Varona, despite Neloth being a douche. And I learned from the Tel Mithryn cook that she’d headed for Raven Rock to get supplies. However, she never made it; she was very, very dead, killed by ash spawn. Who I also had to kill.

Nor was Neloth particularly concerned about Varona’s fate, as he immediately commanded me to get him a new steward.

There is some question here of “and I’m putting up with this guy ordering me around why?” But for now, the answer to this is, he’s my pointer to the rest of the Black Books. And he’s also got a side quest involving hunting down the same necromancer who resurrected Falx Carius. Who definitely needs some taking down.

He had to sit tight though, as I had things to do before getting him his new steward.

Deathbrand quest conclusion

Namely, tracking down Gyldenhul Barrow and the hoard of Haknir Death-Brand!

Followed the quest marker to a little mini-island just off the west coast of Solstheim. Fortunately, not so far off the coast that Lyds and I couldn’t swim to it.

Not much of a challenge actually getting into the place. As is the case on the Skyrim mainland, so too here on Solstheim: barrows tend to have bandits/reavers camped out next to them. This barrow was no exception. But there were only two reavers, easily dispatched.

Inside I found a dead adventurer with a scrawled note about how he’d locked himself in to protect himself from bandits. And how his pickaxe couldn’t even dent the stalhrim deposits he’d found. He clearly didn’t have the right kind of pickaxe, but I did–the Ancient Nord Pickaxe I’d gotten from Glover Mallory. So I mined the hell out of the stalhrim deposits and got six new samples for my trouble.

One of those two deposits actually was the way through to the hoard, because as soon as I cleared it, I found a passage beyond that took me down into the treasure room.

Which was, I gotta say, impressive. See screenshots below! There was enough gold lying around in that room that I had a hard time visually parsing it as gold–it looked like some sort of weird yellow flowers all over the floor.

Practically speaking it wasn’t really gold I needed, as it was only a fraction of what I’d already amassed. I think I nabbed something like 10-12K just in that room alone. But it was pretty neat regardless seeing what that much money looks like when piled around in Skyrim, and now I’m halfway tempted to drop a bunch of money in one of my houses just to make a hoard pile. Lol.

But that was only the teaser for the main event of this dungeon, which was to say, getting through to the boss chamber and battling not only the ghost of Haknir Death-Brand, but also the ghosts of all his crew. I think Lyds and I probably fought about a dozen ghosts in that room, and that was an exhilarating fight! At the end of it, though, we defeated all comers and I got Death-Brand’s twin scimitars, Bloodscythe and Soulrender.

And, since the Skaal village was very nearby, just back across the water and up the slope a little ways, I went up there next to check in.

And, as I’d hoped because I already knew about this quest and this was the one I wanted to trigger, I immediately found two of the villagers discussing the missing blacksmith. And I got one of them to ask me for help in finding him!

Next time

Going on the search for the missing Skaal blacksmith, and maybe swinging back for more side quest action from Neloth while I’m at it!

Screenshots

Usual disclaimer for readers looking at this post on Dreamwidth applies: the gallery code I use doesn’t render well in my Dreamwidth posts. I recommend you click over to the original WordPress post to see these pics rendering properly!