More civil war action in this session! The main objective for this part of the Reunification of Skyrim quest: getting back the Pale, where Dawnstar is, for the Empire. Which required me to indulge in a little light espionage, and then joining in the attack on Fort Dunstad.
- Under orders to head to the Pale and see about helping out the Empire there
- Fast traveled to Mzinchaleft as nearby marker for the Imperial camp
- Headed into the camp; welp, they certainly have nicer tents than bandit camps :D
- Reported to Legate Rikke; ordered to intercept a Stormcloak courier and get documents to bring to her so she can forge info to be passed off to the Stormcloak commander, so as to fuck up their plans
- Pointed at either Nightgate Inn or Candlehearth in Windhelm as possible courier drop points
- Nightgate it is! Because probably not exactly wise to set foot in Windhelm again so soon
- Convinced the innkeeper that the courier’s life is in danger (not even a lie, just conveniently avoiding mentioning it is in danger from me and Lydia)
- Headed towards Windhelm, as the quest marker for the courier was definitely heading that way
- Snow bear by Forsaken Cave, gave me bone break fever booooo
- Male Argonian Dark Brotherhood assassin by crossroads leading to Wayward Pass
- Intercepted the courier—a woman!—on her way back
- She said “no time to talk, out of my way”; told her straight up I wasn’t there to talk, I wanted her documents
- She turned hostile and attacked; Lydia killed her before I had to, but it still counted as a murder on my stats, booooo, but at least I didn’t get a bounty
- Stole her Stormcloak gear too, this might come in handy later?
- Right then back to report to Legate Rikke!
- But first, FROST DRAGON! Hammerclanged it when Lydia and I got it to land after enough arrow fire
- Vampire masquerade! Hammerclanged them too!
- Fort Fellhammer had fresh bandits who just had to shoot at us; Lydia, my flame atronach, and I convinced them that was a bad idea
- Two more snow bears, and got bone break fever again, damn good thing I stocked up on Cure Disease potions
- Attacked by three bandits that turned out to be from that unmarked camp with the campfire and the salmon rack that I found as Merawen before
- Called up the atronach again and dispatched bandits, then looted their camp
- Quaffed a Draught of Strength to make it to the Imperial camp
- Sold the Imperial quartermaster the extraneous bandit loot
- Got Rikke’s orders to take the now-forged documents over to Dawnstar and hand them off to the Stormcloak commander there
- Not far from Dawnstar, saw three bandits fighting two giants and a mammoth; this did not go well for the bandits
- Ddeclined to engage the giants and mammoth ‘cause kinda on a mission here; took the bandits’ stuff though!
- Put on the stolen Stormcloak armor to aid my cover
- Lol, commander was hanging out in the Jarl’s house and didn’t bat an eye at me coming up to him (convenient that the Stormcloak helmets are full face)
- Handed off the altered documents and then reported back to Rikke
- She ordered me to join the men poised to take over Fort Dunstad, so headed out to do that
- Battle for Dunstad was pretty badass, particularly given that Lydia dived into the combat too :D
- (Presumably so she could guard my back but I feel like at this point she’s invested in taking down Stormcloaks for attacking her city, even if she hasn’t formally signed on with the Legion
- (I kinda wonder if she would if the game actually let her do that, it seems like it would be appropriate to the narrative, but the game doesn’t let her do that)
- Fort Dunstad secured!
- Quest updated for me to report back to Tullius in Solitude; did so, and he promoted me to
- Praefect and gave me an orcish shield (note to self: do not tell the general I can make better than this shield in my sleep, it is unwise to be ungracious to your commanding officer)
- Got his next assignment to report to the Rift to give assistance there
- Did a little shopping with Sayma and Angeline and Radiant Raiment before leaving
- Decided to go hit Ironbind Barrow before reporting to the Rift
- Fast traveled to Wayward Pass as fast travel marker
- Cleared the barrow though it took me two tries, Warlord Gathrik killed me the first time through; second time through I put the good armor back on ;P
- Second time through Salma, weirdly, just walked out the way we’d come and didn’t do her epilogue of figuring out her companion was a lying murderous bastard? Ah well
- Got the word off the Word Wall for Become Ethereal, also got the Steel Battleaxe of Fiery Souls :D
- And a helm of waterbreathing off the pedestal trap, and a spellbook of waterbreathing
- And an ebony shield off of Gathrik, awesome, i needed to have one of those to round out my ebony armor set
- Boinged back to Whiterun to check in there and drop off stuff
- Bought an ebony ingot at Warmaiden’s so I could improve the shield up to Legendary
- Hold the phone, Heimskr is out preaching again? I thought he was permanently gone? Wiki says he might sometimes not stay in jail? So maybe somebody paid his bail XD
- Destroyed several items at Farengar’s enchanter to learn their enchantments
- Leveled up to 39 and took another Archery perk
- Dropped a heavy armor enchantment on my ebony armor, also a fiery soul trap on the ebony battleaxe
- Shopped with Belethor and Arcadia
- Did alchemy in both Arcadia’s shop and Breezehome
- Got a fortify smithing potion made
- Stashed the Imperial heavy armor as well as the Stormcloak gear to lighten the load
- Also stashed the fourth Amulet of Mara I have acquired (the game appears to be telling me to get married f’r godsakes)
- Went to Warmaiden’s and made an Imperial light shield to go with other Imperial light gear; that can be my ‘on duty’ gear for the time being to help keep the weight down but if shit really gets serious, switch to the ebony
- Saved at that point for the night
A False Front quest
This was was one that I think Merawen would probably have enjoyed a lot more than Delga, because this involved a little light espionage, forging of false orders, and trickery directed at the Stormcloak commander. And Merawen would have been all fuck yeah let’s do this!
Delga, on the other hand, bless her heart, is a tank and a cinnamon roll and too damned straightforward to think of how to do espionage shit on her own. And that’s just Delga herself. Since she’s also an orc, she’s coming out of a culture where being sneaky is frowned upon. She’s much more inclined to be all “see enemy, charge at enemy, hit enemy with great big hammer.”
So for purposes of this narrative I am totally going to headcanon it that Lydia is the one who suggests to her, “Okay, my thane–this is what you do. When we intercept that courier, take their armor. Then you can totally pretend to be a Stormcloak when you take the forged orders to the commander.”
“Lydia, I’m an orc. Aren’t I going to look weird in Stormcloak armor?”
“No, it’ll be fine, see, the helmet covers your face! He won’t know you’re an orc just by looking at you. He might just think you’re a Redguard because you’re brown. Point is, don’t tell him!”
“Hrmph. I don’t like all this sneaking around.”
“I know, my thane, I know. I’d just as soon go in directly and bash some heads myself. But I gotta say, this time? Discretion is the better part of valor.”
So yeah. As a player I really rather liked this part of the plotline, even if I felt slightly guilty about bullshitting the innkeeper at the Nightgate Inn. And slightly peevish that Lydia being the one who killed the courier counted as a murder in my stats! But, well, she is my housecarl, so her actions are in my name, I guess?
Slightly surprising to me as well that the Stormcloak commander I had to take the papers to was actually hanging out in Dawnstar in the Jarl’s house. I would have thought the guy would be, oh, I dunno, with his troops? And there isn’t any kind of troop presence in Dawnstar proper even if Jarl Skald is blatantly pro-Ulfric.
Heh, though. Maybe he was there to pay a social carl on the Jarl, just as a political gesture? I could see that.
More importantly, from a gameplay perspective, I’m given to understand that now that I’m an Imperial, if I tried to set foot in a Stormcloak camp they would be instantly hostile. So I can’t actually set foot in a Stormcloak camp now! So they had to put the commander somewhere where I could get to him.
And it was pretty hilarious how Rikke was all “muahaha let’s just rearrange these orders a little”. The way Claudia Christian delivered her dialogue at that point, with just a touch of delight, played for me as implying Rikke took a surprising amount of satisfaction in falsifying the documents. ALSO: given that she presumably did this well enough that the documents passed muster when inspected by her Stormcloak counterpart, this strongly suggests Rikke was rather good at forging false orders. Says real interesting things about her background here!
(The wiki gives no sign of anything amusing in her backstory, and her dialogue about why she joined the Legion was that her parents were legionnaires and she followed in their footsteps. But I think I shall headcanon a little misspent youth in there in which Rikke discovered she was really good at forgery! And she is fine with utilizing this in the service of the Empire. Lol.)
The Battle for Fort Dunstad quest
This part of the plotline, in contrast to the previous, was a lot more straightforward. And a lot more to Delga’s tastes, as it was very much “see enemy, charge at enemy, hammerclang enemy into Oblivion.”
And I didn’t really get a chance to explore the fort in depth–because as with the Jagged Crown quest, I was too busy with the charge being done by my fellow Imperials. Plus, all the enemies we fought were in the exterior of the structure, either in the courtyard in the middle or up on the walls around the sides. We didn’t go inside anywhere.
So now this fort should get garrisoned by the Empire. And, this means Dawnstar should now be under Imperial control, and Brina should take over as Jarl! I’ll now feel a lot better about going back there to become thane.
Carrying out this battle got Tullius to promote me to Praefect once I reported back to Solitude.
Coming of Age quest
Made a point of visiting Ironbind Barrow since it was on my queue thanks to that last Letter From a Friend, and I really wanted both the word for Become Ethereal and the weapon with the Fiery Soul Trap enchantment. :D That enchantment is too damned useful once I get into higher levels.
Third time through I do still like the side plot here with young Salma and her companion Beem-Ja! Little weird though that I didn’t get her reaction to discovering Beem-Ja’s treachery. She just wandered off back the way we’d come, about two seconds before Beems tried to kill me. I heard her say something about “must have been my imagination”, but didn’t catch if she said anything else.
From what I saw on the wiki she can periodically do this, apparently? And she winds up back out at her original campfire, at which point you can still get her closing interaction out of her. I didn’t bother to return to the campfire as I wanted to go out the back way and hit that unmarked Dwemer ruin just up the hill. I take the liberty of presuming that that final interaction happened anyway, just for the sake of the narrative!
Off to the Rift! And we’ll see about retaking the place for the Empire. Sorry I’m going to have to boot you out, Laila Law-Giver, after you made me your thane and all.
Screenshot status check
I’m chugging slowly through reformatting all the old galleries into a different gallery type supported by my plugin. Once I’m done with that, I’ll be able to resume adding galleries to these posts. I’m up to the galleries for Merawen’s sessions on Solstheim and have about another thirty or so to finish converting, including Delga’s initial ones. Hoping to finish that up this weekend!
Editing to add 11/28/2021: Screenshots!
Gallery issues are fixed! So here are the screenshots for this session: