Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Takes Care of Thieves Guild Business

This session was pretty much all about Thieves Guild activity, but with a side helping of giant bounty work. Did the Dampened Spirits quest which involved pulling the Honningbrew Meadery into the control of Maven Black-Briar, and also did a couple of side jobs.

As always, details behind the fold!


  • Session number in this run: 10
  • Killed one (possibly two?) giants at Guldun Rock, to get the bounty for that in Whiterun
  • Began the meadery job for the Thieves Guild, and went in to make the offer to Sabjorn to poison the skeever nest for him
  • Surprisingly large cavern system underneath the meadery! And nobody knew about this until now?
  • Regular skeevers: ick. Venomfang skeevers: ickier.
  • Mad mage living down in the caves was a hard fight, took me several tries to actually kill him
  • Once I did that, I was able to get out through the boilery, and poison the targeted mead vat on my way out
  • Emerged with it being dark outside and OH HEY SURPRISE BLOOD DRAGON; took the time to take out the dragon before returning to the meadery plot in progress
  • The captain of the guard was not amused with Sabjorn and hauled him off to Dragonsreach, leaving Mallus in charge—and ready to act as a fence if I needed him
  • I scoped out Sabjorn’s office to find a promissory note with the same mysterious symbol on it; lifted a few things while I was in there as well
  • Tried to do the quest to go get Nettlebane after this, but got wiped out by a pair of gargoyles not far from the Guardian Stones, so backed out of trying that again and did the burglary job in Whiterun instead, which involved stealing another Golden Ship Model from the House of Clan Battle-Born
  • Got another giant bounty from the Bannered Mare in Whiterun
  • Boinged back to Riften to report to Maven in the Bee and Barb; Maven was disgruntled about the mysterious symbol on the promissory note and told me to report it to Brynjolf
  • Talen-Jei confronted me about coming into the inn after my prior intimidation of Keerava; I promised to get him amethysts for the ring he wanted to give her to propose to her
  • Took the Golden Ship Model to Vex, and got a shill job from her to plant a stolen item in the House of Clan Cruel-Sea in Windhelm
  • Reported to Brynjolf about the promissory note and he told me to report to Mercer Frey
  • Mercer ordered me to go to Solitude and get intel from an Argonian contact there; followed up with Brynjolf with additional questions about said Argonian, Gulum-Ei
  • Boinged to Windhelm to do the shill job; landed there after hours, and headed into the Gray Quarter to check out the New Gnisis Cornerclub; found Sofie the flower girl on the way
  • Chatted with a few NPCs in the cornerclub to get more in-character intel on the shitty treatment of the Dark Elves in Windhelm; also got the quest pointer to go investigate the mage college
  • Unfortunately was not able to actually get a bed at the cornerclub, and I wasn’t setting foot in Candlehearth Hall, so I went to go scope out Clan Cruel-Sea’s house instead
  • Saw the kid from Clan Cruel-Sea and his Dunmer nanny near the Aretino house, discussing Aventus
  • Waited behind the Cruel-Sea house until mid-afternoon the following day, then snuck into the place; it was occupied, but I didn’t alert anybody as I crept in and planted the stolen necklace in the target chest; made it back out again and boinged back to Riften to report to Vex
  • Tried to get another job from Vex, only to have her give me one for targeting the New Gnisis Cornerclub; noped out of that because I figure if there’s anywhere Merawen will not rob, it’s the cornerclub that shelters Windhelm’s Dunmer; rolled back to previous save and got her to give me another burglary job in Whiterun instead

The giant at Guldun Rock

First thing in this run was my deciding to go ahead and do the bounty work at Guldun Rock. This involved a lot of snipe-and-run, once I found that there was a particular spot behind rocks where I could do some shooting, with enough space behind me that I could then run like hell when the giant came stomping over.

And it absolutely required running like hell, because the first time I tried this, I discovered that the hiding place did not provide adequate cover to keep the giant from stomping me flat.

Once I figured that out, though, I was able to implement the plan. And I think I may have actually killed two giants, not one, because I saw the one go down but not clear my quest marker? And the second one I killed did. But on the other hand, I only found one giant body, so not sure. Let’s call it one.

Regardless, it took me multiple tries to do this, with the following steps:

  1. Park behind the rocks where I had a line of sight out towards the giant
  2. Shoot an elven arrow
  3. Turn around and run like hell before the giant comes over, and duck around further down the slope out of sight and under the cover of the trees
  4. Wait until the giant gives up trying to come after me
  5. Return to the shooting spot and repeat until giant is down

Got good loot out of the chest in the nearby cave, too! Got a glass sword. 😀

Back then to Whiterun to pick up the bounty, and between that and selling other loot items, I actually made it over 5,000 gold, enough that I could have bought Breezehome. I elected not to, though, because I wanted to buy more spellbooks from Farengar, as well as better soul gems.

Dampened Spirits quest

With that, went ahead with the meadery job. This required me to first speak with Sabjorn and get him to give me the pest poison.

Setting foot in the place, I saw there were even dead skeevers in the front room. Yuck. Also, I was amused that Sabjorn apparently had the same voice actor as some of the other vendors I’ve run into—the Bosmer Elrindir at the Drunken Huntsman in Whiterun, and the Redguard Fihada at Fletcher in Solitude.

I did not get Sabjorn to pay me half in advance, partly because I wasn’t sure I’d pass the necessary Speech check. I probably should have tried! But this wasn’t really the point of the quest for me, so I didn’t worry about that too much.

Regardless, I got down into the cellar with the pest poison. Lots more skeevers down there, and lots of traps as well. And a big gaping hole down into a cave system, which I would have thought Sabjorn might have noticed? And maybe paid to have bricked over or something? Because geez dude, no wonder your meadery is getting swarmed by skeevers, you pretty much left the door wide open for them.

Of course, I soon discovered that skeevers were the least of the problems down there. Even if the skeevers in question had a particularly nasty variety amongst them, Venomfang Skeevers. There were also Frostbite Spiders (again, yuck), as well as the actual problem: a mad bandit wizard.

Hamelyn had some pretty prime batshittery going on, too. According to the journal I got off of him when I finally killed him, he was on a rampage vendetta against both Whiterun and the mage college, because he’d been kicked out of the college by the Arch-Mage. And he was controlling the skeevers, calling them his ‘army’.

Before I got to that journal, though, it took me several tries to kill him. Because he packed a powerful punch—lightning spells. And I had no shock resistance, so he repeatedly killed me.

I tried several variations on the snipe-and-run tactics I’ve been developing with Merawen, but throwing down either fire runs or lightning runes only really worked on the skeevers in the final cavern. They didn’t work on Hamelyn.

What did finally work was just sneaking up on the bastard until I could get close enough to hit him with Dawnbreaker. I also had to throw around a lot of Oakflesh and Muffle spells, just to be able to get to him without dying.

Once he was finally down, though, I was able to poison the nearby skeever nest and loot the chest next to it. That actually got me an ebony sword!

And I was able to make it out of the caverns and up into the boilery, where I could poison the targeted vat. From there, I went back outside—and promptly saw SURPRISE BLOOD DRAGON RAR.

It was dark at this point so I couldn’t quite tell what exactly the dragon was fighting, or if it was just roaring around attacking all the buildings in general. I saw at least one guard trying to shoot at it.

I’m not sure whether I had the last killing blow on it or whether guards did, but either way, it finally crash-landed near the bridge just northeast of the meadery. So I scampered over there to loot it and get the dragon bits and the soul off of it.

And after that dragon break was over, I returned to the meadery for the conclusion of the plot. Suffice to say that the captain of the guard was not amused at discovering that the mead he was asked to taste was tainted. He proclaimed Mallus in charge of the meadery and hauled Sabjorn off to Dragonsreach.

That left Mallus ready to be my fence, and to give me access to Sabjorn’s office to take anything I needed and report back to Maven Black-Briar.

(The order in which I did things was a bit random, because I kept boinging back and forth between Riften and Whiterun. So for purposes of this writeup, I’m handing the different jobs in their own sections.)

Maven was disgruntled that she didn’t recognize the symbol on the promissory note I brought her, but given that it matched the one on the bill of sale from Goldenglow, she saw the obvious connection and told me to report this to the Guild.

She also gave me an enchanted orcish dagger. Which, thanks? But it wasn’t a good enough dagger to stack up against the improved elven one I was already wielding as my dagger of choice.

(Additional side note: after I spoke to Maven, I also was confronted by Talen-Jei, who gave me shit about setting foot in the Bee and Barb after my leaning on Keerava. So I took the opportunity to trigger his side quest to get him amethysts for the ring he wanted to give Keerava to propose to her. This will hopefully at least let me improve his disposition to me even if I have no direct way of making it up to Keerava herself.)

I reported back to Brynjolf, who concluded that somebody was clearly trying to drive a wedge between Maven Black-Briar and the Guild. He told me to report to Mercer Frey as the Guildmaster wanted to talk to me.

Mercer ordered me to head over to Solitude and track down another Argonian, Gulum-Ei, who’d been a prior Thieves Guild contact. He wanted me to see if Gulum-Ei could identify the buyer behind this mysterious symbol.

Additionally, Brynjolf gave me some advice about how to deal with said Argonian, and cautioned me to keep him alive if at all possible.

Burglary of House Battle-Born

Separately from the meadery quest, I also did the burglary job which required me to steal a thing from the House of Clan Battle-Born in Whiterun.

I opted to take this on after an attempt to go get Nettlebane failed, thanks to running into a couple of gargoyles just right out on the road at night. Which startled me as I had not ever run into gargoyles on the road with Alarrah. In vampire lairs, absolutely, but not on the road!

And once the gargoyles killed me, I decided to return to Whiterun and get a room at the Bannered Mare. While I was in there, I got another bounty from the innkeeper, this time to take out the giant at the Bleakwind Basin camp.

The burglary was simultaneously easy and nerve-wracking. Easy because the back door into the place wasn’t locked. Nerve-wracking because there were people in the house, and I nearly got found by the kid, Lars Battle-Born, the one who gets bullied by Braith. He bumped into me when I tried to get out of his way, which triggered the start of a dialogue line.

But I made it past him without him otherwise noticing me. Likewise, I also eluded his father Idolaf and his grandmother Bergritte.

Mischief: managed.

I did definitely boing back to Riften after this, to report back to Vex and get my fee for stealing the ship model. I picked up a second side job from her at this point, and this one required me to go to Windhelm and actually plant a thing in a house, rather than stealing a thing, for an interesting change of pace.

The shill job in Windhelm

Windhelm’s shill job involved me having to plant a stolen item in a chest in the House of Clan Cruel-Sea.

This being Windhelm, I figure Merawen was on fucking board with fucking up a powerful Nord family there, after discovering how badly the Nords of Windhelm treat the Dunmer. And when I arrived, given that it was after hours, I stayed the hell out of Candlehearth Hall and went looking for the Gray Quarter instead.

On the way there, I found Sofie the flower girl lamenting that she hadn’t sold any flowers. I chatted with her a bit but didn’t get a chance to offer her a gold coin or buy anything from her, possibly because she wasn’t actively trying to sell things at that hour. She did thank me for talking to her, though.

(And while I did get the option to tell her I could adopt her, I actually can’t at this point, since Merawen still doesn’t have a house. Also, a life of thievery isn’t exactly optimal for having a kid around!)

Made it to the New Gnisis Cornerclub and was greeted well by the bartender there, who told me to come in and enjoy myself. Unfortunately the place did not actually have beds to rent so I couldn’t sleep there for the night, but I did make a point of buying food and hanging out a bit to chat with NPCs. I got a couple of people to give me more info about how badly the Dunmer are treated in Windhelm, which I figure only steeled Merawen’s resolve to fuck up the Nords in this city.

Plus, I got the bartender to tell me about the college of Winterhold, so now I have the miscellaneous quest task to go check out the college.

I wandered around the city a bit more, and determined I still hadn’t been there often enough yet to trigger the murder plot. Not sure I want to run that one with Merawen—she’s kind of in the same place the bartender at the cornerclub is, which is to say, she may actually give a fuck if the murderer kills a Dunmer. Until then… probably not so much.

Found the enchanter table behind one of the stalls at Windhelm’s open-air market, and seized the opportunity to destroy Maven’s orcish dagger as the enchantment on it was more valuable to me than the actual blade. Also destroyed my extra elven shield. These got me enchantments for shock damage and resist magic.

And I finally got Fiery Soul Trap onto the ebony sword I’d picked up since I’d gotten a Grand Soul Gem.

Saw the kid from Clan Cruel-Sea wandering around with his Dunmer nanny, though, and overheard their conversation about what’s going on with Aventus Arentino. I’m going to run that plot, though, definitely. Not only because it’ll give me access to a set of Shrouded Armor, but also because one of the Stones of Barenziah is in the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary and I can’t get in there without either joining them or wiping them out.

And since as a player I’m not comfortable with the Dark Brotherhood’s membership quests, that leaves the “wipe them out” option.

(Hopefully this won’t piss off the Thieves Guild. Or Maven!)

In the meantime, though, I scoped out Clan Cruel-Sea’s house. It’s right near Murder House (Hjerim), and had a nice convenient little alley behind it where I could hide out of sight until an opportune time to sneak into the place.

I snuck in in the afternoon, on the hope that the adults who live there would be out attending to their work business. I was mistaken about the house being empty—but as it turned out, that was okay. The kid was taking a nap in his bed, and I had no trouble sneaking past him. Likewise his mother, who I spotted across the room. Made it in and out of the place with no issues, and got the item planted in the appropriate chest.

Then I boinged back to Riften once more, and got Vex’s pay for that job too. Tried to get her to give me a third job, but when I did that, the one she gave me was stealing an amethyst from the New Gnisis Cornerclub, and, well, no.

Because if there’s anywhere in Skyrim Merawen would balk at robbing, it’s the cornerclub for the Dunmer in Windhelm. Now that she knows how they’re abused by the Nords in that city, she is under no circumstances going to rob from them. Anybody else is fair game—but not the Dunmer.

So I rolled back to the previous auto-save and re-did getting the pay for the second job, and asking her for a third. This time I got a burglary job to hit Whiterun again, and this time it’ll be the Gray-Manes rather than the Battle-Borns!

Next time

Paul is recommending to me that I do at least one Thieves Guild side job per run for a while, just to get them done—because you need to do four in all the major cities to get to the point of being able to do the “reputation” quests for the Guild. And so far I have one job each in Windhelm and Whiterun. So I have a lot of work to do on this!

So doing the Gray-Mane job is likely. The fun question here will be, whether I can get into that house and get past Avulstein Gray-Mane, who apparently never actually leaves the house! According to the wiki, he’s in there hiding out from the Thalmor as his brother has been imprisoned. I may wind up having to go rescue his brother for him. We’ll see. 😉

In the meantime though I have plenty of other options to pursue so I’ll need to think about how to coordinate all of my Guild quests with the non-Guild stuff! This may require judicious scheduling of non-Guild quests in conjunction with the side jobs!


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.