As one of the oldest cities in Skyrim, Windhelm is an impressive sight with its snowy surroundings and impenetrable stone walls. Known as the City of Kings, it also acts as the main headquarters for the brewing Stormcloak rebellion at the start of the game. Here, Ulfric Stormcloak plans his next step after the events of Helgen, while disregarding his own city which lies in a mix of disarray and persecution of non-Nords.
Windhelm is a city of great inequality, where the divide between Nords and Dunmer is most visible. Worse yet, Argonians aren’t even allowed within the city walls, making it worse than most other Skyrim cities. And yet, Windhelm has quite a bit to offer for the Dragonborn, from some of the most important and engaging quests in the game to a fabulous player house once they become Thane.
The first faction is the Stormcloaks, led by Ulfric from the Palace of the Kings. The Stormcloaks represent the other side of the civil war and fight against the Imperial Legion, who in turn reside in Solitude.
Joining the Stormcloaks is pretty easy, and simply requires you to speak with Ulfric. Depending on who you sided with in Helgen, you may have already received an invitation to join from Ralof. Regardless of your race, Ulfric will let you join after you’ve proven yourself in an introductory mission.
The Stormcloak questline is very linear and involves you capturing and clearing out forts for the rebellion, and eventually attacking Imperial encampments. The questline then culminates in a battle in Solitude, where the last of the Imperial Legion is slain in an epic battle.
Aside from game achievements, you will receive Stormcloak Armor and Stormcloak Officer as the main rewards for completing quests for the rebellion. While the loot isn’t fantastic, it does provide some decent leveled, random gear with every mission.
The second faction which isn’t located in Windhelm but the story of which certainly starts here is the Dark Brotherhood. If you’re looking to join this faction, you should head over to Aventus Aretino’s house located on the eastern side of Windhelm, break in and speak with the boy.
Aretino will ask you to assassinate Grelod the Kind, the head of an orphanage located in Riften. Once you’ve taken care of her and returned to Aventus for your reward, sleep for ten hours and you’ll wake up in the Abandoned Shack where Astrid, head of the Brotherhood, will speak to you.
In order to join the Dark Brotherhood you must choose one of three people to kill. It doesn’t actually matter which one you choose. Astrid will then invite you to your new home located near Falkreath, a hidden Brotherhood sanctuary where you begin your journey as an assassin.
The Dark Brotherhood has some amazing rewards and perks, making it more than worth joining. This includes the Blade of Woe, the Jester’s clothing set, Shrouded Armor and Ancient Shrouded Armor, which has some of the highest perks for assassin and stealth characters. You will also receive Shadowmere, a rare black horse and if you kept Cicero alive, he becomes available as a follower.
The Dark Brotherhood is also fantastic for continuously making a lot of money. Contracts pay quite a bit, and even after you’ve completed the main quest and rebuilt the sanctuary over at Dawnstar, you will continue to receive contracts endlessly in the form of a radiant quest, starting from 400 gold up to 1200 gold.
While there’s no general goods store in Windhelm, the marketplace and the Gray Quarters offer three different merchants who can buy and sell a large variety of items just like a regular general goods merchant.
- Sadri’s Used Wares: located in eastern Windhelm, he buys and sells a variety of items, and also has the rare and unique Copper and Onyx Circlet worth collecting.
- Aval Atheron: located in the marketplace, he’s also a general merchant despite having food on display.
- Niranye: also at the marketplace, she’s the best general merchant in Windhelm, especially after she’s unlocked as fence in the Thieves Guild questline.
For more specialized merchants, visit the blacksmith just opposite of the marketplace, or The White Phial located right next to the marketplace. These are all found in western Windhelm. Additionally, for spells and enchanting, visit the Palace of the Kings to see the court wizard.
- Blacksmith Quarters: for all of your basic smithing needs, there’s also a forge, grindstone, smelter, tanning rack, and workbench you can use.
- The White Phial: ideal for buying potions and alchemy ingredients, Nurelion will also let you use the alchemy station here for free.
- Wuunferth the Unliving: he sells a selection of spells and soul gems on the second floor of the Palace of the Kings, and his enchanting table is also free for you to use.
For food and drinks, there’s two inns and one food merchant you can visit.
- Candlehearth Hall: facing the main entrance to the city, you can find drinks and food here, as well as get a room for a night.
- Hillevi Cruel-Sea: located at the western marketplace, she sells food items for cooking.
- New Gnisis Cornerclub: found in eastern Windhelm in the Gray Quarters, it’s a smaller inn but still ideal for food and drinks, without the option to stay the night.
Trainers And Followers
If you’re looking to advance your skills in Pickpocketing, Two-Handed or Destruction, there’s a trainer for each of these specialties in Windhelm.
- Expert Pickpocket trainer: Silda the Unseen, usually found around Candlehearth Hall.
- Expert Two-Handed trainer: Torbjorn Shatter-Shield, typically found wandering the marketplace and Blacksmith Quarters.
- Adept Destruction trainer: Wuunferth the Unliving, always inside the Palace of the Kings on the second floor in his room.
As for followers, there’s three that can be unlocked in Windhelm. Stenvar is a mercenary who can be hired at Candlehearth Hall for 500 gold, and is a powerful follower until level 40.
After completing Rise in the East in Windhelm, Imperial soldier Adelaisa Vendicci will be available as a follower and marriage partner, though her level cap is only 25. Once you become Thane, you can also have your Housecarl Calder as your follower, but more on that further below.
Quite a few NPCs in Windhelm are available for marriage only, without offering any follower or hireling services. If you’re just looking for someone to stay home and keep up a shop, here’s what you have to choose from when it comes to Windhelm. Remember to have an Amulet of Mara equipped.
- Revyn Sadri: the Dunmer owner of Sadri’s Used Wares, he lives in the Gray Quarters. If you side with him during Viola’s quest concerning her ring, he’ll be available as a follower.
- Shahvee: an Argonian worker outside of the city at the Argonian Assemblage, she’ll agree to marry you if you help her find her Amulet of Zenithar.
- Viola Giordano: an Imperial older woman who wanders the streets of Windhelm looking for clues on the Butcher, if you let her know Revyn has her ring she’ll agree to marry you.
- Angrenor Once-Honored: a beggar at the Candlehearth Hall, after you hand him a piece of gold he can be married.
- Quintus Navale: assistant of Nurelion at The White Phial, once you’ve completed both Phial quests and repaired it, he’ll agree to marry you.
- Scouts-Many-Marshes: a worker at the Argonian Assemblage, he will marry you if you speak to Torbjorn about the rights of the dock workers.
- Calder: your housecarl after you become the Thane of Eastmarch, he can be married immediately.
Becoming Thane And Benefits
Windhelm is a particular city where in order to become Thane, you need to pick your political allegiance carefully. There are two paths through which you can reach the status of Thane: the Imperial path or the Stormcloak path.
In both cases, you will be awarded the status of Thane of Eastmarch. You’ll also receive Calder as your personal housecarl, and he can be either married or become your follower. Calder is a very good companion due to his level being capped at 50, and he pairs well with any ranged fighters. However, he’s not an essential character, so he might die in battle.
If you choose the Stormcloak path, you need to complete the quest Rescue from Fort Neugrad, which is a sub-quest of Liberation of Skyrim, after the major battle of Whiterun. Speak with Ulfric after Falkreath is liberated, and he will offer the position of Thane for you, if you assist five of his citizens and buy property.
If you choose the Imperial path instead, the road is much longer. You must complete the entire civil war questline, until the Battle of Windhelm, in order to have the Jarl of Windhelm switched to Brunwulf Free-Winter. The new Jarl will instantly offer you the position, provided you help five of his citizens and buy property.
There’s a myriad of minor quests that count towards helping five people in Windhelm, but here are the easiest ones to start. These also don’t require you to leave the vicinity of the city.
- Give a piece of gold to Silda the Unseen and/or Agrenor Once-Honored. These two count as two separate ones.
- Give Torbjorn Shatter-Shield alcohol.
- Give Viola’s ring back to her from Revyn Sadri.
- Win a brawl against Rolff Stone-Fist at the Candlehearth Hall.
- Help Shahvee find her Amulet of Zenithar.
- Agree to steal double-distilled Skooma for Stands-In-Shallows.
As for buying property, Hjerim is one of the best but also the most expensive homes in the game. For the house alone, you’ll need to put down 12 000 gold. To complete all of the upgrades, an additional 9000 gold fee is required. Moreover, since the house is a murder site, a 500 gold cleaning fee needs to be paid.
All this said, there are some major advantages to Hjerim. It has excellent access to a bunch of facilities, including the blacksmith quarters and the marketplace where a Thieves Guild fence is also located. Moreover, the home itself has an extensive armory and both an arcane enchanter and alchemy lab.
Windhelm is the site for many major quests worth completing, including the civil war questline and some secondary quests. One of the earliest quests is no doubt Innocence Lost, which will have you visit this city in search of Aventus Aretino, and eventually join the Dark Brotherhood.
Another major quest with fantastic rewards is located at The White Phial. Nurelion will ask for your help in retrieving a rare artifact the shop is named after. Unfortunately, the Phial is broken. To fix it, make sure you complete the quest Throat of the World to receive word from Quintus Navale, who will invite you back and ask for your help in fixing the Phial.
The final reward is the White Phial itself, which can carry one type of potion and regenerate it every 24 hours. You can choose from a variety of options to basically have a limitless potion.
Blood on the Ice is one of Windhelm’s signature quests that has you solving a murder mystery and tracking down a killer who plagues the citizens of the city. To start this quest, walk to the graveyard north of the marketplace after 7 PM to see guards and citizens gathered around a bloodied scene.
The reward for figuring out the real killer is the Necromancer’s Amulet, which will slow down your regeneration of Health and Stamina by 75% but boost your Magicka by 50 points and lessen the cost of Conjuration spells by 25%.
Another major side quest, Rise in the East, has you handling a group of pirates that are disturbing the East Empire Company’s business between Solitude and Windhelm. As it turns out, the local Shatter-Shields have hired a group known as Blood Horkers to disrupt the Empire’s dealings.
After tracking the pirates down and defeating their magician leader, Haldy, return to Orthus Endario to receive a payment and Adelaisa Vendicci as a potential new follower and marriage partner.
There’s a few smaller quests in the city, including simply favors for citizens. However, slightly more prominent minor quests include the following:
- Summerset Shadows: a Thieves Guild side quest, where a rival group of thieves must be dealt with in order to unlock Niranye as a fence.
- Harsh Master: help Kjar at the docks of Windhelm by dealing with some bandits, and he’ll reward you with a random, leveled amount of gold.
- Find the Thalmor Assassin: after rescuing Malborn from the Thalmor Embassy during the main quest Diplomatic Immunity, find the Khajiit assassin who’s after him and kill him for 250 gold.
If you’re looking to get some quick loot by simply visiting the city and not completing any of its quests, keep an eye out for these following skill books.
- Alchemy skill book: A Game At Dinner, found at the New Gnisis Cornerclub
- Sneak skill book: The Red Kitchen Reader, found at the New Gnisis Cornerclub
- Illusion skill book: The Black Arts On Trial, found at The White Phial
- Destruction skill book: A Hypothetical Treachery, found inside the Aretino house
- Conjuration skill book: 2920, vol 10 – Frostfall, found inside Belyn Hlaalu’s home
- Heavy Armor skill book: The Knights of the Nine, found inside the Palace of the Kings
The quest No Stone Unturned will also have you hunting down those pesky Stones of Barenziah. There are two in total be found in Windhelm.
- One inside the house of Clan Shatter-Shield
- One inside the Palace of the Kings, where Wuunferth the Unliving keeps shop
Next: Skyrim: Smithing Skill Guide – Trainers, Fast Leveling & More
Tea lover and video game obsessed writing enthusiast with her very own Overwatch team, Anastasia writes about games that leave an impression on her and make her come back time and time again.
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