Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Becomes a Thief

In this session, the main highlight was Merawen making it into the Thieves Guild. And now I’ve got a couple of quests queued up with them, which are going to require me to do some preliminary work on my skills before I tackle them for real!

Highlights, commentary, etc., all behind the fold.


  • Session number in this run: 4
  • Tried to aid Brynjolf in his little “plant a ring on Brand-Shei” endeavor, and failed, as the guards immediately caught me trying to pick the lock on Madesi’s cabinet
  • Fortunately, I was just able to pay a bounty and not have to be in jail
  • Failing the quest didn’t keep me from getting into the Guild, though; Brynjolf gave me another shot, and told me if I could get into the Ratway in one piece, we could talk further
  • Getting past the two thugs at the front of the Ratway gave me some problems at first, so I backed off for a bit and just ran around outside Riften practicing my Sneak and my Archery
  • Ran into Balbus, the NPC who’s the fanboy of the Gourmet, who I only found in Alarrah’s run after he got killed by frostbite spiders; this time I actually got to talk to him!
  • Also killed a hostile Orc and assorted wolves, spiders, and bandits to get more loot to sell
  • Got a courier bringing me the message from the Jarl of Falkreath to come be his thane; don’t know when I’m going to follow up on that yet?
  • Then I headed back in and tackled the Ratway again; this time I was able to get past the initial thugs when I fought them one on one and remembered to hit them with Flames
  • Getting past the thug further in with the Pugilist gloves also took a little bit of work but he only killed me once
  • Made it to the Ragged Flagon, finally, to find Brynjolf getting shit from the others down there about his “this one is different” line being bullshit, exactly as I walked in, lol
  • So Brynjolf gave me another shot to prove myself, and ordered me to go lean on three people in Riften to get them pay outstanding debt to the Guild; he also gave me a couple of pointers as to weaknesses I could exploit
  • Brynjolf got Mercer Frey’s buyoff on me joining the Guild once I did that; I was sent to talk to Vex, Delvin, and Tonilia, who gave me some initial briefing on their functions in the Guild; Tonilia gave me a set of armor
  • Mercer and Brynjolf ordered me to take a job involving burning some beehives on an estate; at the same time, I took a side burglary job off of Vex to practice something simpler first
  • Thing is, the burglary job sent me right back to Solitude; I hoofed it from Riften to Solitude just to find locations on the way and see what NPCs I encountered to work on combat skills; also just wanted to get the hell out of Riften for a little while after intimidating the various NPCs I had to get payments from
  • A couple of bandits gave me problems until I remembered my Oakflesh spell!
  • Got in a lot of practice on the Flames and Healing spells, too
  • Went through Windhelm long enough to sell some loot, and see a Dunmer NPC being harassed by Nords about not actively supporting the Stormcloaks; also got shit from the innkeeper about being a Dunmer
  • Made it to Solitude, got some stuff sold that I’d looted from bandits and wolves on the way; also scoped out where the house was that I had to break into
  • Also got asked if I was feeling all right by Sayma in Bits and Pieces; one of those wolves apparently gave me a disease? So I had to quaff a potion
  • Got spooked though by how there are regular guards patrolling Solitude, and I am not confident enough yet in my Sneak and Lockpicking to break into a house that guards are going by
  • So I went out to run around Solitude for a little while and practice hunting and Sneak as well; got Rockjoint off another wolf, and had to go in to the Temple of the Divines to pray to clear the disease as I was out of the relevant potions
  • Came into Solitude a couple of times and on the second time in, got Durak the Orc trying to recruit me into the Dawnguard
  • Also sold some stuff to Khajiit parked outside, would have bought Lockpicking training but I didn’t have the gold
  • Tried to buy ingredients at Angeline’s Aromatics to make invisibility potions, but the ones I could make or buy still only last about 18-20 seconds, not long enough for the job!
  • Decided to retreat from Solitude to do more preliminary work; swung back to Morthal to pick up a bounty there and got one to go kill the bandit leader at Orotheim
  • Worked on heading there, and spiders on the way gave me some trouble
  • When I saved near Orotheim, was also seeing the dragon from Eldersblood Peak flying and roaring overhead

Joining the Thieves Guild

Right out of the gate, I failed Brynjolf’s little attempt to plant a stolen ring on Brand-Shai in the market, because I got immediately caught by the Riften guards when I tried to pick the lock on the cabinet at Madesi’s stall. Fortunately I’d planned for that and had plenty of gold on me, so I was able to pay the bounty and not have to spend any time in the Riften jail.

I’m actually pleased that I failed that quest, just because Brand-Shei is a Dunmer—and I think Merawen’s going to want to avoid making things difficult for her fellow Dunmer whenever she can. He’s got a side quest connected with him as well that I think she’ll want to help him with, out of lingering nagging guilt about nearly getting him arrested.

(I remembered the Ratway well enough from when I ran it as Alarrah, though it amuses me to think that Esbern is hiding out down there at this stage of the game, and Merawen of course has no idea. Once I get to the point of finding out about it, it’ll be amusing to think about her reaction to that.)

Brynjolf’s pitching me to the other people at the Flagon was actually kind of charming. From his spiel that he spins about his “Falmer blood elixir” in the market, he’s clearly a shyster capable of spinning some quality bullshit to his listeners, but in this case he seems to actually genuinely believe that I have potential as a thief. Aw. <3

I did however feel a little bad about the next thing he had me to, which is to say, go lean on people in Riften to get them to pay up owed debts to the Guild. This involved having to intimidate innocent NPCs and I didn’t care for that, so I’m glad that the Thieves Guild quest line will not require me to do anything else of that nature.

Once I got the “pay up” quest out of the way, I got to move on to the interesting stuff and actually get approved as a member of the Guild. I’ve gotten my armor from Tonilla, the next major job I’m supposed to do (go burn down some beehives on Goldenglow Estate), and a side job as well from Vex (steal a thing in Solitude).

I put in the basic flow of this session in the highlights above. To that, I’ll add that it’s really odd entering Solitude with intent to commit a burglary, after spending a fair amount of time there as Alarrah!

Not only because it requires me to think of how to steal from NPCs without harming them, and what Merawen thinks about that… but also because it requires changes in strategy to think about how to do it safely. I asked Vex for a side job with the specific intent of doing that first before I do the estate one—but since the job she gave me is in friggin’ Solitude, taking care of this is going to be pretty substantial all on its own.

Hence, having to think about doing preliminary work to build up my Lockpicking, my Pickpocketing, and my Sneak. Therefore, some low-level side quests are called for—not only to get me access to chests I can work on unlocking, but also to get loot to sell so that I can pay trainers.

I think I’ll need to return to the Thieves Guild headquarters at least once before I do the jobs, to work on the practice chests there, and ideally also to pay for training. But before I do that, I’ll need to get additional money.

Merawen’s ongoing frame of mind

She’s definitely torn between a bit of guilt about descending into a life of crime, ongoing freaking out about this Dragonborn thing, and bitterness that fleeing Morrowind appears to have landed her in a place where more than a few of the “upstanding” citizens are going to give her shit just for being a Dunmer.

Mind you, objectively speaking, the only place this has actually happened on camera is Windhelm. Nobody’s been outright racist at her anywhere else—Whiterun, or Riverwood, or Solitude, or even Riften. And if she’s being honest with herself she’ll remember Whiterun’s Jarl even has a Dunmer housecarl. But there’s a difference between what’s objectively true, and what Merawen’s current troubled state of mind amplifies.

Still though, what she witnessed in Windhelm definitely soured her on Ralof’s urging her to join the Stormcloaks. That’s enough for her to go “wait, and I want to join their fight why? Are they even going to want me in their fight?”

And furthermore, Windhelm has her thinking that the Nords giving her shit for being a Dunmer is probably a way more honest reaction out of them than them freaking out at her about being Dragonborn. Blatant prejudice she can understand.

Being Dragonborn… not so much.

And yet, it’s nagging at her. I practiced doing Whirlwind Sprint a couple of times to get her across a river, partly because I wanted to stay in practice with it, and partly because I feel like that’s what she’d do. She knows she can do this… thing. And I think she’d try it a few times in unpopulated places, in a furtive attempt to see if she can do it reliably.

She can. Which also continues to freak her out a little.

So now she’s got this inner conflict between “trauma driving her into being a thief” and “undeniable proof that she has some sort of strange gift, possibly directly from the gods”.

Which is why, when she had to stagger into the Temple of the Divines after that wolf gave her Rockjoint, she went to the Shrine of Kynareth. As she’s a Dunmer out of Morrowind, I think she’s probably used to worshipping Daedra—and I think Azura is probably her Daedric prince of choice. But she’s now willing to entertain, at least on some deep level, the possibility that the Nords’ Divines might be taking a direct interest in her.

And so it seems the right thing to do to her, to pay respects to Kynareth.

I think she’ll also specifically avoid ever using her Shouts during thieving jobs. Because it’ll feel wrong to her to use a gift the gods might have given her with the intent to commit crimes. (Not to mention, Unrelenting Force is not exactly stealthy. 😀 But I might have to change my mind about this once I unlock the word I have for Become Ethereal, or once I pick up the Throw Voice Shout.)

She may also feel driven to take on more above-board work, perhaps due to an unconscious nagging guilt about being a thief, and trying to balance that out. Hence, taking a bounty in Morthal.

Also, now that I’ve reached level 10, I got high enough in levels that I was able to get the NPC Durak to invite me to join the Dawnguard. And I may actually go ahead and do that. I’d already been pondering whether I could play through Dawnguard prior to taking out Alduin, and now I have the chance to see if that’s feasible at all.

Next time

For the immediate moment, though, I’m going to work on taking out that bandit leader at Orotheim.

And possibly also the dragon. Because while Merawen finds the whole idea of dragons returning to the world fucking terrifying, she is also a baby Dovahkiin. And her instincts are going to be pushing her to confront the beast. Not to mention that fight I imagined her having with Lydia, and Lydia flat out believing in her. I think Merawen’s going to want to live up to that. Muahahaha. 😀


Standard “please view this on the original WordPress post and not the Dreamwidth mirror if you want to see the pics rendering properly” disclaimer applies!

Editing to add

  • 11/15/2023: Fixed missing gallery, added a session number, and corrected headings from H3 to H2 to better match styles on later posts.

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.