This session was all about getting the remaining Stones of Barenziah, pretty much. And by extension, I wound up triggering the quest to get the Daedric artifact Mehrunes’ Razor, just because that gives me a convenient way to go to one of the remaining locales for the Stones! Plus, it was a quest I hadn’t done before.
Screencaps are back for this post!
- Popped over to Lakeview to practice the telekinesis spell, with interesting findings; see below
- Fast traveled to Honningbrew to sell stuff and OH HI DRAGON, just a flyby though
- New-to-me NPC in Honningbrew when I showed up: Eimar
- Snuck into Jorrvaskr to steal the Stone of Barenziah, finally
- Snuck into Mistveil Keep to steal the Stone of Barenziah from the Jarl’s quarters, took the back way in through the barracks
- Decided to make my way northward to get the rest of the Stones in sequence
- Spotted Khajiit parked outside Riften, and they spotted a troll and attacked it
- Got Kharjo into follower mode just to give him a try and see if he could have my back through Ansilvund
- Cleared Ansilvund with Kharjo’s help, got Ghostblade and the Stone of Barenziah; gave Kharjo the Ebony shield I got out of chest loot by way of gratitude for his help
- Headed north towards Windhelm to go get the two Stones there
- Fought a pit wolf and a Bouncer, ah okay right these are from nearby Cragslane Cavern, which I couldn’t clear this run because of not being able to be thane of Riften
- Killed a sabre cat that took out a farmer
- Dragon flying in the distance as I was crossing Eastmarch, probably re-spawned Bonestrewn Crest dragon?
- Buggy behavior with a bear I tried to hit with a lightning bolt, it seemed like the bear was stuck? It didn’t charge me, only attacked me when I got near enough for sword range
- Thief attacked me but did not register me as Guild Master? Had to take her out when I failed Intimidate check; took her stuff
- Fight alerted nearby mammoth and giant so I ran like hell
- Arrived in Windhelm after hours
- Stole the Stone from the House of Clan Shatter-Shield, and the one from the wizard’s room in the upstairs in the Palace of Kings; guard was particularly oblivious as he followed me into the room, even chatted with me, then turned right around and walked out so I could close the door behind him and start sneaking, lololol
- Killed a little time enchanting a bunch of loot from Ansilvund on the enchanter table behind Niranye’s booth, which let me up my Enchanting a little, and also level up to 50; dropped another notch on the basic Enchanter perk
- Then sold a bunch of things to Niranye, and a little to the smith as well
- Decided I’d better stop by the college next now that I was level 50 and get in my round of training
- Also triggered next phase of Arniel’s Endeavor, getting info from Enthir about the whereabouts of the courier; running the journal translation quest and getting Enthir’s disposition up didn’t really make him less cranky this time through for this quest, lol
- Courier’s body was at Uttering Hills Cave so I popped back there to search the place again
- And killed several more Summerset Shadows (but couldn’t re-burn their banner, darn)
- Saw the Redguards still hassling random Redguard women
- Also saw Kharjo’s Khajiit jumped by an Argonian caster and I didn’t even have to intervene, they took him out, way to go Khajiit
- Trio of Frostbite Spiders ganged up on me (yuck)
- Made it into Dawnstar (because level 50 and I still hadn’t made it to Dawnstar this game) and got the intro to the town having nightmares
- Tried to stop at the forge only to have somebody shout for help, there was an ice wraith attacking, but townsfolk took it out before I could get to it
- Visited the museum and got the intro exchange between Silus and Madena, then talked to Silus
- Agreed to get the pieces of the Razor
- Went to Morthal to bribe the mill owner there; no trouble bribing Jorgen and getting his permission to take the hilt out of his chest in his and Lami’s house
- Went to Lakeview to make a few things and pick up Rayya so I’d have her at my back hitting the other two locations
- Gave her a Dwarven bow and Ebony Armor, Boots, and Gauntlets to up her offensive and defensive game some
- Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary as landmark again
- Dragon! Same dragon as when I went to the Sepulcher? Maybe?
- Discovered Roadside Ruins
- Dragon caught up with us: Ancient Dragon!
- Reached Cracked Tusk Keep which is full of Orc hunters and bandits
- Cleared the place, got a lot of loot and got overloaded, so had to do the armor tricks + potion tricks to be able to fast travel to Markarth
- Unloaded a lot of things with Endon and also Lisbet
- Left Markarth then to find Hag Rock Redoubt (and Dead Crone Rock)
- Guard finally called me out on my Thieves Guild armor, lol
- Same farmer lady passed me and told me her husband gets cranky if he doesn’t get enough sleep; so say we all
- Used Clairvoyance spell a bit to try to find my way, since that was a new thing
- Passed Imperials + Stormcloak prisoner just before waterfall
- And some Forsworn we did not engage
- Found Hag Rock Redoubt and saved for the night
Playing with Telekinesis
As a followup to my previous post, in which I was not able to get Zephyr off the log in Arkngthamz by using Telekinesis, I decided to play around with that spell to practice it.
So first thing I did with this round of playing was bounce over to Lakeview, as a safe spot to practice magic in without interfering with any NPCs. Doublechecking my inventory also reminded me that oh hey, I had a Master Robe of Alteration! And Telekinesis is an Alteration spell!
With this in mind, I learned a few things very quickly:
- Unless I’m wearing something that gives me a magicka boost, right now, Telekinesis really is too expensive for me to cast. My Alteration is not at 50 yet (almost there, but not quite), and I haven’t yet gotten the correct perks to make higher level spells eat less magicka.
- In order to be able to use the spell on an object, I apparently need to see the text prompt that signifies that object on screen. With this practice, I saw that if I dropped a thing and backed up from it, I could still get a text prompt identifying it. In Arkngthamz, I never got this prompt. I don’t know why, whether it was a “because getting the bow off the log is buggy” thing, or a “because the dungeon was dark and I never got my pointer properly situated on the bow” thing. Or maybe a little of both.
- Possibly also a distance thing? I need to experiment with how far away you need to be from an object before you can’t get the text prompt for it that lets the spell work. The times I tried it in the dungeon, I might have been too far away from the bow.
- Casting the spell in broad daylight at Lakeview made it very, very obvious how it worked. I needed that text prompt for the target object on screen. Then I threw the spell, which caused the object fo float to me, at which point I was able to see the prompt change to include telling me to take it with the A button.
- Casting the spell with my dragonscale armor on made it clearer that yeah, I do not have the magicka for this yet. I could still cast the spell, it just wouldn’t frigging work. When I changed over to the Master Robe of Alteration, as well as the Adept hood I have that gives me 50 more points of magicka, then casting it was a lot easier.
- Forum threads I’ve seen in searches about this are right: you can level up Alteration very quickly just by playing with this spell. I got it from 46 to 48 just by derping around a bit with this. :D
Now, there are obvious implications here as to whether this spell will be useful for thievery!
I’m to the point with Merawen that additional thievery is entirely optional. But there are still a few more things I can steal! The rest of the Stones of Barenziah, as well as a couple more items if I feel like finishing off the Litany of Larceny quest.
The thing is, casting a spell is still a noise that can alert others to your presence. I’ve had multiple Falmer and draugr be alerted when I’ve tried to throw the Candlelight spell!
So it stands to reason that if I’m trying to sneak into a place—like Jorrvaskr, or a Jarl’s quarters—then throwing the Telekinesis spell would be something that somebody could hear me doing.
Which strongly, strongly suggests that if I want to use this thing for thievery, I also need the Quiet Casting perk. Until I have that perk, I’ll just have to risk getting close enough to the object to physically yoink it!
The Companions are just not that damned alert
And speaking of thievery, I finally broke into Jorrvaskr properly and stole the Stone of Barenziah in Kodlak’s quarters. Which I forgot to get screencaps of, dammit! 😆
But, lol, getting in there was way easier than I expected. Even given that I went past no fewer than four different NPCs on the way to the right room—two servants, I think, as well as characters I’m pretty sure were Vilkas and Kodlak. Vilkas and Kodlak were sitting in chairs right by the doors into Kodlak’s bedroom, and did not react in the slightest as I snuck right up to them, opened the bedroom doors, and went through.
Wow. For a guild full of warrior werewolves, these guys are remarkably unobservant! Sheesh, you guys, you didn’t even smell or hear me coming? What kind of werewolves are you?
Of course, I can always balance this out by noting that a) the game does not have a mechanic for tracking character ability to smell things, and b) I am a Nightingale, and I went in geared up in the Nightingale Armor and with my necklace of Sneak on, as well.
But I didn’t even have to activate my Shadowcloak of Nocturnal ability. I just pulled this off on the sheer strength of my Sneak, and the Muffle off my Nightingale boots! Thank you, Nightingale boots. ❤️
I ranted a bit at Dara about this, and she noted with amusement that I sounded actively miffed, and I was, kinda! I was all focused on possible strategy to get into that bedroom, if I was going to need to do Invisibility potions or the Shadowcloak of Noctural or the Throw Voice Shout… and all I had to do was Sneak past these guys. Lolololol.
18 Stones down, 6 to go.
Also, where the hell are the guards in Mistveil Keep?
Since yoinking the Stone in Jorrvaskr was that easy, I also tried getting the one in Mistveil Keep in Riften. Which proved also surprisingly easy once I found the back way into the Jarl’s quarters, which involves cutting through the keep barracks and behind the back of the dude who hangs out in the War Room, studying the map.
Not a single guard challenged my passing, even before I started sneaking. And I’m not even thane here.
Though, lol, I am Guild Master, and maybe Maven Black-Briar has warned these guys to leave me be?
Or, they could just not be that damned alert. Could be either option! I’m leaning more towards option B, given that I went past at least four or five guards each way, into and out of the Jarl’s quarters, and not a single one actually spotted me. Even when walking right by me, close enough that I was sure they’d actually bump into me. But I managed to keep out of everybody’s way!
19 Stones down, 5 to go.
Keeping this Stone-swiping spree rolling: Ansilvund
Decided to keep this little shopping spree rolling by making my way northward and getting the rest of the Stones in sequence. Which meant running the dungeon of Ansilvund next!
That was north of Riften, and a locale I’d hit before as Alarrah. So I left Riften on foot to make my way up there.
Outside the Riften gates, I found the Khajiit were back, so I thought ooh hey, Kharjo! I could try to get him as a follower!
Before I was able to do that, the Khajiit spotted a troll charging at us out of the trees. So they rushed over to attack it. Me, I had a fire spell queued up so I hit the troll with that. Which, to my amusement, made one of the Khajiit go “fire is not a toy” at me.
And I got Kharjo on board with being my follower for a bit, so I would have somebody at my back going through Ansilvund.
I liked this dungeon when I ran it as Alarrah, so I was happy to do it again. Though as with many of the places I’m re-running with Merawen, I didn’t do it in nearly the same depth. This time through, my objectives were just to get in there, take out Lu’ah the necromancer, and get that Stone of Barenziah. Anything about that would be cake.
As for Kharjo, I did like him as a follower! I liked this line of his in particular:
“If anyone sneaks up on us, I’ll smell them coming. Or I might not. We’ll see.”
Lol. So he was pretty relaxed and groovy. Kind of fragile, though, even with the default steel armor and weaponry I’m used to seeing with the housecarls. I healed him a few times and liked his response line to that, too:
“Ah! I feel like I just woke from a nap.”
With his help, I got through the dungeon, clearing out the draugr and mages as we went. And I dismissed him once we were done, but not without a little parting gift: I gave him the Ebony Shield I got out of chest loot. He may not be one of my housecarls, but I like that cat, and I’d like to see him better able to protect himself!
Side note here: both of these lines of Kharjo’s are in first person. I’ve noticed that whether or not any given Khajiit speaks in first vs. third, and whether or not they use their name, seems to be inconsistent. I’ve seen Kharjo use both first-person I statements like the ones above, and third-person lines such as “these sands are cold, but Khajiit feels warmness from your presence.”
On the assumption that this was a deliberate game choice, it says interesting things about how the Khajiit language works, and possibly also varying levels of facility individual Khajiit have with the language of Tamriel? It’s enough to make my inner language nerd perk up.
At any rate, got the Stone of Barenziah from there, as well as Ghostblade from the grateful ghosts of the lovers Lu’ah had tried to corrupt to her purpose.
20 stones down, 4 to go.
Windhelm’s guards aren’t any more alert than Riften’s
After dismissing Kharjo at Ansilvund, I went on foot to Windhelm just to see if anything amusing would happen. Had a few interesting random encounters, as called out in the Highlights above.
The most interesting of these being, the random Thief who did not realize I was the Guild Master, and I doublechecked, I was wearing the Guild Master’s armor set. But I never got the dialogue prompt with her to make her realize who I was. So that seems like a bug.
Got into Windhelm after hours, so it was a good time for thievery! Headed straight for the House of Clan Shatter-Shield to get their Stone, and had no issues whatsoever getting in there.
After that theft, I got a guard going “hands to yourself, sneak thief” at me on my way to the Palace of the Kings. Cue Merawen walking past him entirely straight-faced.
Inside the Palace, the guards were particularly oblivious. One even followed me into the wizard’s chamber as I opened the door to it, throwing two different chat lines at me, before turning around and walking out again. I did take the precaution of closing the door behind me, just to make sure he wouldn’t see me drop into Sneak and yoink the Stone.
He didn’t. Neither did the wizard, who I’m pretty sure was asleep nearby? I didn’t really see the guy but I’m pretty sure I heard him making “sleeping” noises somewhere close.
Got the Stone and got out again. Passed several guards, and none of them thought to challenge the woman in the mysterious all-black armor that almost completely covered her face. Apparently this wasn’t the slightest bit suspicious.
22 Stones down, 2 to go.
After I was done stealing Stones, I decided to unload some loot. It wasn’t quite shopping hours yet, so I killed some time by working at the enchanter table right behind Niranye’s booth in the open-air market. Got several items enchanted and burned through my stock of lower-grade Soul Gems, and also bumped Enchanting up by another couple of points as well as leveling up in general.
Then I sold a bunch of those items to Niranye, and a couple more things at the forge as well.
Mage college break
Since I leveled up, I decided I’d better go back to the mage college for another round of training. And while I was there, I triggered the final phase of the Arniel’s Endeavor quest, getting him to direct me to Enthir for info about the courier that never showed up with the item Arniel had ordered.
Notably, even though Enthir is arguably more friendly to me in this run because of the Thieves Guild plot, he still got cranky at me for coming at him about the Arniel situation, ha! But he also pointed me at the courier’s last known location, which, this time, was “somewhere in Eastmarch”.
Amusingly, that “somewhere” turned out to be Uttering Hills Cave. Which I’d already cleared out wiping out the Summerset Shadows.
The place had respawned so there was a fresh set of Summerset Shadows to fight. But none of them were a problem. I was a little sad they hadn’t put up a new banner for me to burn, though!
Found the courier’s body behind one of their cage doors, got Keening, and got out again. Did not return to the college at this point, as I’m saving that for when I level up to 51.
Next stop: Dawnstar.
Oh hi Dawnstar how have I not gotten here yet?
I was a little surprised to realize that I’m up to level 50 in this game, and am only just now finally setting foot in Dawnstar. But Merawen hadn’t had a reason to, before now!
Since it was my first time there, I got all the various NPCs fretting at me about everybody in town having nightmares. Which was about as creepy this time through as it was the last time, if nothing else just because of the “wait what why are you all telling a complete stranger this?” factor.
But hold that thought, Dawnstar NPCs. I’ll get back to this.
On this first visit, my main goal was doing that “visit the museum” miscellaneous quest item, so I could trigger the actual quest that’d take me to the locale for Stone number 23: the quest for Mehrunes’ Razor.
Pieces of the Past quest
This was a quest I tried to start as Alarrah, but which I wound up backing out of. I can’t find the appropriate post about it, but I’m pretty sure something rolled me back to make me lose that attempt to start the quest, and I never bothered to go finish it.
It’s one of the Daedric quests right on the border of my comfort level—because it’s one of those ones where you have to kill the quest giver in order to get the artifact. But I say “border” here, because I did look ahead and I know it’s possible to tweak the flow of events so that if you kill the guy, you do at least do it in self-defense.
And that way, I’m kind of okay with. Particularly given that you get a heavy vibe off of Silus, when you visit his little museum of the Mythic Dawn, that he’s not exactly on the up-and-up.
I got the initial mini-scene of him talking with the wizard Madena, who was clearly unhappy about his little project. And I got him greeting me with “I have a job you look perfect for”—again, not the slightest bit suspicious as a thing you say to a complete stranger who comes up because she’s answering the invitation you sent out via courier!
Likewise, his enthusing about how his ancestors were part of this sacred order who took out Uriel Septim and caused the Oblivion Crisis, like this is something to be proud of, is not the slightest bit suspicious.
And given that Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric prince of destruction and ambition, yeah, this guy has “I WANT TO RESURRECT THE MYTHIC DAWN” flashing in bright lights over his head.
Fun thing is, dude’s now made his pitch to a Dunmer. Who’s coming out of a society where Mehrunes Dagon is considered one of the Four Corners of the House of Troubles—so Merawen’s take here is going to be different than Alarrah’s would have been. She’s not exactly going to worship Dagon, but she will perceive him as a holy power intended to test her.
Plus, Merawen’s of a more mercenary bent than Alarrah. So she’s certainly willing to let the guy pay her to go get the pieces of the dagger he wants. Once we get to the end game and Mehrunes Dagon actually comes into the picture, well!
For purposes of this session, at least, I focused on getting the pieces.
Getting the pommel
First stop was in Morthal, since I knew that’d be easiest. I just had to stop by the mill and talk to Jorgen, to get the pommel he’d been guarding in a locked chest in his house. I was able to bribe him to let me have it.
Clearly, the dude is a little bit mercenary himself. After all, he does have a mill to maintain!
Thank you, Jorgen, pleasure doing business with you. And fret not: I won’t let this dagger start a new Oblivion Crisis.
Getting the blade shards
After that, I blipped off to Lakeview. Because I knew the other two parts of this hunt would be more dangerous, and I didn‘t want to tackle them without a follower.
So I showed up at home—because yeah, Lakeview‘s kind of becoming more “home” to Merawen than Breezehome in Whiterun—and made a few things. Got a dwarven bow created and improved up to Legendary, and also Ebony Armor, Gauntlets, and Boots. Gave these all to Rayya to get her kitted up, and then brought her on duty to have my back.
(Would have given her the extra Daedric bow I have on a weapon rack upstairs, but that thing isn’t improved enough yet and right now the Dwarven bow does better damage. But I do need to get that Daedric bow improved and handed off to at least one of the housecarls!)
And with Rayya on duty, I headed out to look for Cracked Tusk Keep.
This was another location west-ish of Falkreath, but not quite as far west-ish as the Twilight Sepulcher. So I used the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary as the fast travel landmark again, to get close enough to walk in on foot.
Not surprisingly, this triggered a dragon, which may or may not have been the same dragon I evaded on the way to Sepulcher? No way of knowing. And it took a little bit to catch up with us, because I had enough time to find a new landmark en route: Roadside Ruins.
Didn’t check out the ruins locale, though. Too busy fighting the Ancient Dragon that dropped onto our heads!
Tough fight, too. I don’t really have enough data to back this up, but it seems like I’ve had more Ancient Dragons in Merawen’s run than I did with Alarrah’s? I don’t know if this is a matter of the way her run has gone meaning I’ve had more opportunities for fast travel dragons to generate—or whether my higher difficulty setting has impacted the levels of dragons I’ve seen. Or maybe both!
Still though it’s definitely made things a bit more interesting this time though. It’s got me thinking about things like “I really need to get better equipment to all of my followers”, as well as being a bit more strategic about when I enchant my own equipment. And I’m enjoying that aspect of this playthrough a lot.
With Rayya’s help, I got that dragon sorted. And then we got Cracked Tusk keep sorted as well. It was full of Orcs, Orc bandits and Orc hunters. The various Orc hostiles were not particularly interesting other than being Orcs, which was a bit of a switch. I did like that the Keep had a few interesting variations on traps, and some button triggers that had the added crinkle of being hidden behind metal grilles that you had to unlock and lift in order to access them.
The blade shards were not on the Orc bandit chief, so after taking out the chief, I still had to hunt around a bit through the place to find them. This required getting down into the catacombs underneath the Keep and getting through several more traps to finally reach the proper chest.
Came out of the place with a pretty high amount of loot, enough to get me overloaded. So I had to switch off to the Guild Master’s Armor and also put on Volsung, and then quaff a potion of Strength to let me fast travel over to Markarth for a loot-selling run.
Plus, I needed to get to Markarth anyway to get in range of the final location.
Preparing to get the hilt
In Markarth, we showed up just as shopping hours were commencing. And I found Endon almost immediately, so cheerfully sold him a whole pile of things to get my inventory weight back down. Then I sold another pile of things to Lisbet in the general store.
Once that was done, I headed out of Markarth to aim for Dead Crone Rock—and by extension, Hag Rock Redoubt. This locale is one I did as Alarrah, but not until I ran Dragonborn. This was a notable spot for multiple reasons, only one of which being that it has a Stone of Barenziah.
It’s also a dual kind of dungeon, because when I ran it as Alarrah, I found that I had to fight my way through Hag Rock Redoubt in order to reach Dead Crone Rock. Which was challenging even as Alarrah on Novice settings. As Merawen, on Apprentice settings, I kind of expect that getting through that swarm of Forsworn will be even more problematic.
Plus, there was that bit of Hag Rock Redoubt where the Giant Frostbite Spider was stuck in the tent, which crippled Alarrah’s run at that point.
The wiki’s telling me that it’s possible to get into Dead Crone Rock without having to run the whole of Hag Rock Redoubt, though. And I may need to try this, just because the interesting things I want to do here are all in Dead Crone Rock, i.e.:
- Get the hilt of the Razor
- Get the Stone of Barenziah
- Get the word off the Word Wall there
But of course, first I have to get to Dead Crone Rock.
Rayya and I made it to the correct location, though coming at it from Markarth vs. coming at it from Whiterun did mean needing to find a different path to do so. And this time I actually played with the Clairvoyance spell a bit, because the wiki mentioned it and because I hadn’t really used it before. So it was helpful to have that queued up as a guide. I remembered Alarrah having trouble finding the place!
Once I found Hag Rock Redoubt, though, I stopped for the night. Because that was a good breaking point.
Going to pick up where I left off, and try to get into Dead Crone Rock. I’m going to try the easy way in, as per the strategies suggested by the wiki for this quest. This’ll require me to park Rayya somewhere and proceed in Sneak mode. Let’s find out if the Forsworn are any more alert than the guards of Skyrim, shall we?
Once I clear Dead Crone Rock, that’ll probably be a good chunk of the next session. We’ll see if I have time to then return to Dawnstar and finish the quest.
Time permitting, I may or may not also head to Solitude to steal the final Stone of Barenziah at the Blue Palace!