Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Fights Bandits, Draugr, and Another Dragon

This was another intermediary type session in which my only real goal was “do some bounties and run some lairs to build up some working capital”. Which let me clear the bandit lair Nilheim, and also go up against the Eldersblood Peak dragon!

As always, full commentary behind the fold.


  • Session number in this run: 6
  • Went to the inn in Riften to get a bounty lead from the innkeeper—who, understandably, was not happy to see me. Didn’t stop her from giving me a bounty lead for Nilheim, but she did throw a surly “there’s the door, why don’t you use it” line at me.
  • Went to Nilheim after that; this is a bandit lair I did see as Alarrah but never actually confronted it
  • Triggered the initial access to the lair by meeting Telrav on the road nearby, and he pulled his “OHNOEZ bandits attacked me please escort me back to my camp” shenanigans; when I did, he turned on me and called in his bandit buddies
  • Bandits handed me my ass multiple times, until I settled on a strategy to take them out one by one, starting with that Telrav asshole, because seriously, fuck that guy
  • Blowing up bandits with fire runes is my new favorite game 😀
  • Cleared the lair, looted all the bandits, was overloaded, walked a short distance from the lair and actually found the Sarethi Farm, which I will want to revisit later
  • Switched back to Thieves Guild armor so I could get the carry bonus; bonus + potion of strength let me fast travel back to Riften
  • Picked up the bounty fee from the steward in Mistveil Keep; sold a bunch of things and got more training in Smithing from Balimund
  • Also triggered the quest to get Balimund his fire salts
  • Decided I still am not quite ready to do the Goldenglow Estate job, and also, I have Meridia’s Beacon; decided to head north for Meridia’s shrine and see if anything interesting happened on the way
  • Discovered what I was pretty sure was the lift to the Aetherium Forge, but I didn’t get close enough to confirm; somebody in a robe warned me off and I didn’t feel like fighting her
  • Had two different rounds of the “fugitive runs up to give me a thing and then runs off, and then a hunter looking for the thing confronts me” encounter happen; gave the hunter the thing both times
  • Also had the encounter with vampires who’d killed Vigilants of Stendarr, but did not engage on the grounds that I was outnumbered. So when the vampire yelled “You there, traveler!”, I think Merawen thought “I think the fuck not” and went on her way
  • Saw a Vigilant not long after that actually fighting a vampire, so I killed the vampire for her
  • Ran a barrow I hadn’t run with Alarrah, Hillgrund’s Tomb. This was one where Golldir, a member of the actual family whose tomb it is, meets you at the entrance and asks for your help confronting a necromancer who’s infiltrated the place and killed his aunt. Helped him confront the necromancer, but since he was a member of the family who owned the tomb and he was right friggin’ there, I didn’t actually loot a single thing out of the place. Golldir gave me 750 gold for my trouble, though!
  • Circled back around towards Whiterun
  • Found a dead witch who’d screwed up her summons of a flame atronach, and killed the atronach so I could get the fire salts
  • Re-entered Whiterun just to sell stuff at Adrianne’s forge
  • Then headed north up the plains; came up on Eldersblood Peak the back way and did indeed find the dragon
  • Took me three tries to kill it, the first time because of a bear that also attacked me while I was fighting the dragon
  • The other two times, it was because of a troll attacking me on the way down from the dragon lair on the north side
  • Finally had to use the same strategy on the troll that I had on the bandits, the fire rune; even that didn’t completely kill it, just did it enough damage that by the time it came at me, I was finally able to beat it; even that was a very hard fight and almost took me out
  • Got the word for the Disarm Shout off the wall, though!
  • Headed northwest from there and found Dustman’s Cairn, which I didn’t try to enter because it’s quest-locked for Companions-related quests
  • Also found Dead Men’s Respite, which I didn’t run because I knew it was the locale for Bards College stuff
  • A thunderstorm came up around this point, and I finally stopped for the night when I reached Meeko’s Shack (I’d actually found it in a previous session, forgot to mention)


I had to go into the Bee and Barb again to try to get a bounty lead from Keerava. Unsurprisingly, she was not thrilled to see me. This didn’t stop her from giving me a bounty lead, but she did it along with giving me a surly “there’s the door, why don’t you use it” line as I left.

I am still a little sad I had to intimidate her! But I’ll have to live with that this game, because as near as I can tell, there aren’t any quests available to restore her disposition after threatening her for the Thieves Guild. A consequence of doing crime!

Still though, I did get a bounty lead off of her, which pointed me at the Nilheim bandit lair.

This was a lair I’d encountered as Alarrah, but I never actually cleared it with her. It’s notable for being the one where the bandits employ subterfuge to lure in victims. One of their number, Telrav, pulls a thing where he’s hanging out by the side of the road, and when you come by he pulls a spiel of “OHNOEZ! Bandits have attacked me, won’t you escort me back to my camp?”

When you agree to this, he then turns on you as soon as you get to said camp, and the rest of his bandit buddies come out to fight you.

This gave me some problems given that I was severely outnumbered, to the tune of six on one. And this was not a scenario where the bandits fought me one at a time, either. They totally swarmed me.

So after a few rounds of this, I finally had to come up with some subterfuge of my own so I could fight them one at a time. This resulted in my new favorite game, Blowing Up Bandits With Fire Runes! 😀 It went like this:

  1. Let Telrav get ahead of me into the camp and wait for the “Kill Telrav” quest to trigger
  2. Turn on my Sneak
  3. Throw a Fire Rune down at the entrance to the camp
  4. Fire an arrow into the camp to alert the bandits and make them come looking
  5. Run like hell
  6. Wait for one of the bandits to blow the rune and then come after me
  7. Fight the bandit
  8. Repeat until no more bandits

This worked swimmingly. The one complication I got was that at one point, I got stuck on the side of the waterfall and couldn’t jump my way back up from there to level ground, so I had to roll back to a prior auto-save to rescue myself. (I would have fast traveled, except I had no real nearby landmarks to hit, and I didn’t want to have to traverse the whole road to get back to this point.)

Aside from that complication, though, I had much better odds fighting the bandits one at a time. And at least in one or two cases, the Fire Rune all by itself took out a bandit for me, without me even having to fight them directly.

And, I got to take out Telrav first. Because seriously, fuck that guy!

Once I cleared the lair, I was able to loot it with impunity. Grabbed enough stuff that I was of course overencumbered. So I tried to walk for a little while, and that actually let me re-discover another place I’d found as Alarrah: Sarethi Farm.

This is definitely a place I’ll want to revisit with Merawen, just because I liked the Crimson Nirnroot quest. But also, because the Sarethis are Dunmer.

Made it back to Riften to collect the bounty from Anuriel, the steward in Mistveil Keep. Also was able to sell a bunch of things and pay for some training from Balimund, to work on getting my Smithing up.

After that, my main goal was “work my way north towards Meridia’s shrine and see if anything interesting happens on the way”.

Answer: yes!

Of the encounters on the road, the notable ones involved the vampires. I don’t have a good sense yet of Merawen’s opinion on vampires, but so far she certainly feels vampire-hostile. I’m not sure if she’s vampire-hostile enough to join the Dawnguard, though I’m tempted. The only thing keeping me from committing to that right now is that I’m not sure that I want to try to run the Thieves Guild quests and the Dawnguard ones at the same time.

Running Hillgrund’s Tomb was an interesting change of pace just because of the whole idea of running a draugr hive without actually looting a single thing from it. It was nice to actually see a tomb with a live family member there to give a shit about it, as opposed to a bunch of the other tombs that don’t seem to have any active connection to living NPCs.

But it did mean that it felt weird to me to even consider looting anything. Because Golldir was right there! The wiki says I could have gotten away with it, just because his higher priority is taking out the necromancer. But he would have complained. And while I think Merawen might have looted stuff anyway, it didn’t feel right to me as a player.

All that said, the barrow was still challenging! And it gave me an opportunity to practice using the Steel Battleaxe of Fiery Soul Trap, which is a satisfying weapon to use against draugr. Bumped my Two-Handed attack skill up a bit, too.

There were a lot of draugr, particularly in the boss chamber, though. Enough that I got swarmed a couple of times and had to work on my strategy for how to deal with them. Eventually though I cleared the place, much to Golldir’s gratitude. He gave me 750 gold for my trouble and became a potential follower.

I popped back into Whiterun partly because I just missed it! From an in-character perspective, I think Merawen is also feeling guilty about bailing on the place, so this was her first furtive attempt to set foot back in there. I only went in long enough to sell stuff to Adrianne at the forge, though.

Once I was done in Whiterun, I had a hankering to head towards Eldersblood Peak and see if I could take out the dragon there. Stumbled across it from the back, actually—and found the dragon before I actually found the lair, since it was flying around near the northernmost part of the plains, not far away from what I’m pretty sure was Loreius Farm.

So I started fighting the dragon. Which was way more difficult than it should have been—not because of the dragon itself, but rather, because of other things killing me, and causing me to be thrown back in auto-save to the point just before I fought the dragon!

The first time through, this was because a bear attacked me during the dragon fight, and it was the bear that actually took me out. The other two times, after I killed the dragon and cleared the lair, I tried to work my way down on the north side and got killed by a frost troll on the path.

I’m level 17 now but frost trolls are still a problem. I definitely need better armor. But what allows me to finally take out the troll was a combination of the aforementioned Fire Rune game, and utilizing my Oakflesh spell to bump up my armor protection.

And even on that last attempt, the troll almost killed me. My health bar was almost empty before I finally took out the troll.

Got a word for Disarm off the Word Wall, as well as other loot out of the boss chest. And from there, I worked my way further northwestward.

That was my last major activity for this run. I did find a couple other locations that I didn’t engage with, as per the notes in the highlights.

And I’d forgotten to note that in a previous Merawen run, I finally found Meeko’s Shack. This is a location just south of Solitude, where there’s a friendly dog who’s lost his owner. The owner has died of Rockjoint, and you can take on the dog as a follower.

Merawen found this place earlier, and I didn’t take Meeko as a follower at the time. I feel like Merawen’s in a mental place where she wasn’t entirely comfortable with having a dog around, but on the other hand, it’s not like she hates dogs or anything. And when I got to the shack again, a thunderstorm had rolled up and I envision Merawen just wanting shelter.

So I saved at that point, with Merawen huddling up in the shack just to get out of the rain, with this dog nearby. The game doesn’t give me a mechanism to do anything about the owner’s body. According to the wiki, though, the body and the bed it’s lying on are supposed to be cleared out when the shack’s cell resets. So I’m not quite sure how to headcanon this.

Merawen’s caught diseases off of animals a few times now, certainly more often than happened to Alarrah—and this is entirely because Alarrah as a Bosmer had resistances against disease and poison. It’s happened enough to Merawen though that I think the idea of handling a corpse that has clearly died of Rockjoint might give her pause.

Still though I think she might actually take the time to bury the poor guy properly. Because of the whole “she’s more noble than she’d like to admit” thing.

And the other question here is, of course, do I take on Meeko as a follower! Some of the dungeons I’ve been running with this character, I think, I’d have appreciated having a follower for. And right now Merawen might actually be more open to having a dog following her than an actual person.

Plus, I see on the wiki that Meeko does level with the player, at least up to level 25. So yeah, I think I just talked myself into having a dog. 😀

Next time

One more visit to Solitude is called for, because I have a few more things to sell. And I’d like to see if I can actually better my current armor.

Then I’m going to see about answering Meridia’s summons. Because Dawnbreaker is just too damned tasty an opportunity to pass up!


No screenshots this time! Forgot to take any!

Editing to add

  • 11/15/2023: 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.