Beyond the Grave

This is part of my playthrough of the Dawnguard DLC for Skyrim. You can find earlier bits of this adventure on the Ongoing Series page.

When we left off, I had dealt with the Moth Priest bug, and was then sent on my way to find the other two Elder Scrolls needed to hear the rest of the prophecy. The Elder Scroll that the Priest read to us detailed Auriel’s Bow, which is some ancient uber weapon, the other two were relating to the sun and an elder vampire’s blood, or something to that effect. See, I don’t have to warn you about potential spoilers, because I can’t even remember important plot points! Anyway, through my earlier travels, I had acquired an Elder Scroll and sold it to the same ugly orc that runs the College of Winterhold. Yeah, that guy; So I headed there first.

"Give me my book back!" "I'll give it back to you when we leave!"
“Give me my book back!” “I’ll give it back to you when we leave!”

Nevermind that Reservoir Dogs reference. So Urag here tries to extort me for the Scroll, but I pulled my Arch Mage weight and got it back for half of what he was asking. See, doing all of the major questlines has its advantages! While I was doing this, Serana headed back to Castle Volkihar, where the plan was to sneak into some courtyard where her mother used to tend a garden. Reportedly her father hated that area of the castle, and sealed it off. We were going to look for clues as to where her mother may have went, as she held the final Elder Scroll. Going through the front door of the castle wasn’t an option though, so we had to use a “hidden entrance” round the side.

No need to guard this area, really.
No need to guard this area, really.

There were a bunch of skeletons wandering the area, and once inside the side of the mountain, there was also a vampire that had summoned them all. A note on his body revealed that he was once a resident of the castle, but was banished for some unknown reason. It did explain the skeletons though.

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Once inside the courtyard, we found the garden in a state of decay. There were various nodes to harvest and some junk littered around, but the main focal point was the moondial, that Serana insisted “just isn’t right.” WP_20140218_006

A puzzle of sorts, I had to locate three different discs that were missing from the dial. Once found and placed it the appropriate locations, the moondial revealed a secret stair case that lead below the courtyard.

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Inside was a secret chamber that was probably long forgotten, occupied by more skeletons and quite a few animated gargoyles. The brutish variety were the tough ones to take down, but Serana’s magic combined with my strength proved superior. I had a couple more pics to throw in right about here, but looking at them now they came out a bit blurry so I’ll skip a couple. Eventually we had cleared out all of the baddies, and the quest marker was pointing me in one direction, but I couldn’t seem to find where I needed to go. At one point I said “fuck it” and sat in a chair in the room closest to where I was supposed to be heading. Serana joined me.

Stay a while, and listen
Stay a while, and listen

Turns out this fireplace in front of me had a visible draft (not visible in the pic though) so I started looking for a way to open the door that had to be here. The candlebra on the left side ended up clickable, and there was my door way I had been long searching for!

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Inside was the secret laboratory of Serana’s mother. Alchemical ingredients lined the shelves, and an arcane enchanter was present. I took the opportunity to disenchant and enchant some stuff in my bag, and ended up getting a level out of it, I’m at almost 47 at the time of this writing. In this room, Serana said we would find her mother’s journal, which would help us to find a recipe for a portal to the Soul Cairn (think limbo or a place where souls are trapped) where her mother went with the Elder Scroll we need.

Found it!
Found it!

The recipe called for ingredients found around the lab, along with some of her mother’s blood, but I suggested that Serana use her own blood, and that seemed to work. The portal stood before me.

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Unfortunately, as a non-vampire, standing in the portal did nothing except cause damage over time. Serana offered to make me into a vampire, and again I refused, so she partially soul trapped me, and I was able to enter. As a vampire, she had no problem following through. Welcome to a strange new world, indeed.

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I started to wander around a bit, but found that there wasn’t really anything to interact with, and few mobs spawned here and there, so I beelined to my objective, which was a building where Serana’s mother was supposed to be holed up. We found it fairly quickly, but it turns out that to protect the scroll, Valerica had erected safeguards — there was a magic barrier between us and her. Of course.

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After Serana explains to Valerica what’s going on, she reluctantly agrees to give us the Elder Scroll, but first we have to wander around to three points on the map where large towers are shooting energy into the air. At each of these points, we have to fight a keeper, and after all three are killed the force field will be dropped, allowing us to enter into the Boneyard, which is where the Scroll is. Those keepers were tough bastards to take down.

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Once inside the Boneyard, we were attacked by an undead dragon called Durnehviir, who was a little challenging, but not too terrible considering my resume. I am Dovakiin after all.

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All was well and good, and we retrieved the Elder Scroll. It was now time to leave this cursed place. Upon exiting the Boneyard, Durnehviir reared his ugly head once again, though this time it was a peaceful interaction. He offered me a deal. He is unable to leave the Soul Cairn, but would be able to temporarily through my call (a shout that he would teach me). He asked that I call him when I return to my world.

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From here, it was out of the Soul Cairn, and then out of Castle Volkihar, and back to Fort Dawnguard. Upon my arrival, I located the Moth Priest eager to see what was next on my to-do list. Unfortunately, the Priest was wearing a blindfold, and when asked told me that the reading of the first Scroll took it’s toll on his vision, rendering him blind. He was supposed to take some necessary preparations that he did not, and paid the price.

What is to come, I do not know.

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