Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Becomes Thane of Falkreath and Investigates for the Guild

This was a very eventful session, as I got some important side things done and moved the main Thieves Guild plot a little further along!


  • Session number in this run: 13
  • Went to Falkreath to finish off becoming a thane there; did the same three favor quests that Alarrah did, delivering ashes to Runil, then getting Runil’s journal, and stealing a letter out of Lod’s house for Dengeir; Rayya is now housecarl number two
  • Had to clear Embershard Mine a second time to get Runil’s journal, and got a lot of loot out of that, so I spent a little time selling off some of that in Falkreath and then the rest of it in Whiterun
  • Finally did Adrianne’s mini-quest to take a sword for the Jarl up to her father at Dragonsreach, just to boost her disposition
  • Also finally bought Breezehome! Though it’s not furnished yet
  • Took Jenassa with me to Solitude to run the Lights Out quest, which involved the sketchy Argonian who hangs out by the apothecary and who kept going “I’ve got a little work if you’re interested, traveler”
  • Wound up killing a dragon on the way to the wreck of the Icerunner, since Jenassa and I had to swim over to the eastern side of the water to get to where we needed to be
  • Went past Folgunthur on the way to the wreck, and I need that location for the Forbidden Legend quest, so it was good to get that onto my map
  • Also discovered Brinewater Grotto’s front entrance on the way to Broken Oar Grotto, which meant that the two lairs involving sketchy Argonians and bandits were pretty much right next door to each other, lol
  • Clearing Broken Oar Grotto and concluding Jaree-Ra’s plot line also let me clear the pending bounty on the bandit leader, so I went to the Blue Palace to collect that bounty from Falk Firebeard; had to Whirlwind Sprint my way back to Solitude, since I was overloaded and didn’t have any more Strength potions
  • Saw the intro scene that leads into the Wolf Queen plot, but am not ready to follow up on that yet
  • Since I built up enough money and ingredients to both buy good Resist Cold potions and make some, I returned to Mount Anthor and this time actually killed that dragon
  • Dismissed Jenassa at this point because I knew I was going to do Thieves Guild stuff next and I needed to work alone for that; she had an interesting line when I dismissed her, which makes me think she gets Merawen, and makes it more likely I’ll actually rehire her!
  • Boinged back to Solitude to run the Scoundrel’s Folly plot for the Thieves Guild, which required me to meet up with Gulum-Ei at the Winking Skeever and question him about Goldenglow Estate’s buyer
  • Bribing Gulum-Ei required me to duck into the Blue Palace and steal a case of Firebrand Wine; I was able to walk right out the front door with it, and nobody yelled at me, lol
  • Trailed Gulum-Ei to the East Empire Company Warehouse, and boy howdy was that a challenging sneak; took me a few times to make it through this part
  • Bandits in Brinewater Grotto also reasonably challenging, took me a few times to make it through there too
  • Finally made it to Gulum-Ei after killing all the bandits, and he hastily promised to tell me what I wanted to know, that the mysterious buyer of Goldenglow Estate was someone named Karliah; I told him he owed me, and he promised to fence any stolen goods for me in the future
  • Returned to the Guild to report in to Mercer Frey, and got my next orders from him: meet him at Snow Veil Sanctum to track down and kill Karliah

Becoming thane of Falkreath, and Whiterun activity

So yeah, this was a pretty eventful session, plot-wise! But before I got to the really juicy stuff, as I talked about in my last post, I wanted to spend some time doing lower-level things so that I could build up my money reserve and ideally also some Resist Cold potions.

The first stop for this was returning to Falkreath, so that I could do the favor quests to become thane there. This all worked pretty much the same way it did for Alarrah, since I did the same three favor quests:

  • Taking a dead warrior’s ashes to Runil for proper burial rites
  • Getting Runil’s lost journal for him
  • Swiping a letter out of Lod’s house and taking it to Dengeir to allay his suspicions about Lod being an Imperial spy

The first difference between Alarrah and Merawen being, Merawen is an actual thief. 😉 And the second difference being, I had to clear Embershard Mine again to get Runil’s journal. I’m pretty sure I did a different mine to get his journal for Alarrah.

Clearing Embershard, anyway, let me stock up on sellable loot.

Boinged back to Falkreath to get the thaneship, and also to activate Rayya as housecarl number two. At some point during this run I’m definitely going to want to have Rayya as a follower, since I didn’t do much with her in Alarrah’s run.

Sold some stuff in Falkreath and then boinged back to Whiterun to sell the rest of it there. And this put me into a position where I could finally buy Breezehome!

Mind you, it’s not furnished yet, so right now it’s just mostly a bunch of cobwebs and unopened crates. But it does have a basic bed and a chest in the upstairs bedroom, so now I have a place to sleep in Whiterun that isn’t the inn. And a place to store stuff.

Lights Out! quest

Next, I decided to proceed with the “Lights Out!” quest, which is the one initiated by the Argonian Jaree-Ra. He’s the sketchy as fuck character who hangs out in Solitude near Angeline’s Aromatics, and keeps saying things like “you should see me if you get bored, stranger” or “I’ve got a little work if you’re interested, traveler”.

I declined to do his quest as Alarrah. As Merawen, though, I wanted to go ahead and do it, because:

  1. This guy is sketchy as fuck
  2. His plot goes through Broken Oar Grotto, and I had a pending bounty to take out a bandit leader there anyway, so this would let me kill two objectives with one arrow, as it were
  3. It was a new thing to do in the game, and one of my goals with Merawen is to do stuff I haven’t done before, even if I like re-doing the better quests I ran with Alarrah as well

This whole plot was reasonably straightforward, though. I agreed to Jaree-Ra’s proposal to go douse the fire at the Solitude Lighthouse, after he swore up and down that the sailors on the Icerunner wouldn’t be harmed. (Swearing up and down, in fact, to a degree that was by itself suspicious. As would soon be borne out by events as the plot proceeded.)

As per his instructions, I swung north out of the city and up to the lighthouse on the coast. Getting there was trivial. I took the precaution of having Jenassa wait outside while I snuck up to the top of the lighthouse, though as it happened, I saw absolutely nobody and so was able to douse the fire without any trouble.

Next, I had to meet Jaree-Ra at the docks for further info. He said that the Icerunner had already run aground, and that I was to meet his sister Deeja there.

The wreck of the Icerunner was on the eastern shore of the water. This required Jenassa and me to actually swim over to the other side, so I went a little ways south down to where the water was narrower, since I’d swum that stretch before.

When we got to the mill, though, a dragon showed up! So we had to take the time to kill it before the plot could proceed.

Found two other notable things on the way up to the wreck:

  • The Apprentice Stone. I don’t remember if I found this as Alarrah, but if I did it wasn’t interesting enough to me at the time to bother with it. And now that I’ve looked it up again on the wiki, I’ve confirmed it’s not interesting enough to me to bother with Merawen, either.
  • The Folgunthur ruin. This on the other hand is interesting, as it’s one of the necessary locations for the Forbidden Legend plot, which I did enjoy running. So I’ll want to circle back to this to do it again. I did check the place out enough to find the journal lying in the camp outside, to officially activate the quest as opposed to just the miscellaneous preliminary pointer.

Once Jenassa and I reached the wreck, it soon became blatantly obvious that the whole deal was, like Jaree-Ra, sketchy as fuck. Dead sailors in plain sight on the wrecked boat being the biggest warning sign—though the bandits telling me “go two levels down to see Deeja” was also suspicious, given the whole “walk down into this confined space” aspect of that.

And, of course, once we reached Deeja, the whole deal being a setup was revealed. She made snarky commentary about giving me my reward, and then attacked me.

This did not go the way she planned.

Of course, her turning hostile also meant that all the bandits on the boat rolled over to being hostile, too, so Jenassa and I had to fight our way out.

Deeja had a note from her brother on her, and that note pointed us at Broken Oar Grotto. So once we took out the bandits, I fast traveled over to the lighthouse as the nearest known landmark, and snuck on foot from there.

On the way, I actually found Brinewater Grotto first. Which is amusing given that Brinewater is the bandit lair for the plot I ran later in this session! Which means that the two lairs involving bandits and sketchy Argonians were in fact right next door to each other. I really must wonder if the two groups of bandits knew about each other. 😀

It did take me a few tries to get through this bandit lair, in keeping with the overall theme of this run being slightly harder than Alarrah’s. The bandits were all mostly just wearing leather armor, but they were still a challenge, particularly the bandit captain Hargar.

Not as much of a challenge as the necromancers in Ilinalta’s deep, though! It only took me a couple of tries to get through this bandit lair, as opposed to the dozen tries I had to do for Ilinalta’s Deep.

And the main thing I am learning in this run is, be very, very wary of taking on large groups of opponents by myself, even if I do have a follower. Stealth is Merawen’s watchword. I need to do everything in my power to pick off opponents one at a time.

Anyway, Jenassa and I cleared the lair, and eventually took out Jaree-Ra himself. What I liked about this lair was that there was a wrecked ship in it, and the overall idea appeared to be that Hargar’s men had taken up banditry after their ship wrecked and they were trapped inside the cavern. Hargar also had a key on him, which was supposed to be for a chest submerged in the water. I elected to ignore this, on the grounds that I already had a lot of loot off the bandits and I did not have a means of prolonged waterbreathing, so I didn’t want to go treasure diving without the Volsung mask.

And because I was in fact overloaded and out of potions of Strength, I had to hoof it all the way back to Solitude. I mitigated this some by Whirlwind Sprint, since I picked up that trick with Alarrah. But right now I have only one word of that Shout, so it helped only to a degree.

It was interesting to note though that Jenassa kept up with me pretty well even though I was Shouting my way into Solitude. And, lol, once I actually made it into the city, I did have a guard intercept me on the way to the forge to ask me to stop doing it. Yes yes yes, I’ll stop it, just let me pass so I can actually sell all my stuff and be able to move at a proper speed again, and it won’t be a problem. 😉

Once I got everything sold, I went up to the Blue Palace to collect the bounty for killing the bandit captain. This was actually the first time I’d been up there with this alt, so when I arrived at Elisif’s court, I saw that scene involving the citizen coming in reporting unusual activity at a cavern—this being the intro to the whole Wolf Queen plot. (Which was fun, and I’m tempted to run it again, so I may do that as part of becoming thane in Solitude so I can get Proudspire Manor.)

Mount Anthor, revisited

At this point, I’d built up enough of a stock of decent Resist Cold potions that I felt like I had a shot at finally taking down the Mount Anthor dragon. So I boinged over there to give this another shot.

And this time, Jenassa and I finally did it. The dragon spent a few rounds actually breathing frost at something else off camera, but I never saw what it was attacking. And didn’t need to, since all I needed to do was kill that dragon so I could go to Winterhold and get the bounty for it.

Which we did. And I think it will certainly be interesting to Merawen to see that the Winterhold Jarl’s steward is a Dunmer.

Did one more boing back to Whiterun at this point, to sell off loot. And it was here where I finally dismissed Jenassa from my service, since I knew I’d be doing Thieves Guild stuff next, and I didn’t want the burden of a follower during that, risking my Sneak.

I did like Jenassa’s line to me as I walked off, though:

“It is a lonely thing, facing all the dangers of Skyrim by yourself. Come and find me if you decide that you miss my companionship.”

Aw. <3 Lady, you just insured that Merawen will in fact hire you again. I think with that one single line, this character demonstrated a surprising level of fitting in with the narrative I’m building here. Shit, Merawen may propose to her later. She clearly gets Merawen!

Scoundrel’s Folly quest

Now, though, it was time to move the Thieves Guild plot further along. So I boinged right back to Solitude, to meet with the third sketchy as fuck Argonian of the evening, Gulum-Ei.

This guy was hanging out in the Winking Skeever, and pegged me for Guild when he saw me. Amusingly, his line was “by your scent, I’d say you were from the Guild.” Which makes me wonder what exactly thieves smell like to an Argonian!

I wasn’t quite confident enough in my Speech skill to try a Persuade check on him, so I went straight to bribery. But bribing this guy required agreeing to go steal a case of Firebrand Wine for him—and, as it happened, there was one right in the Blue Palace.

So I sauntered up there for the second time in this run, and figured out that the wine case was sitting out of immediate view of the guards near the front doors. Which meant I had no risk of anybody seeing me as I dropped into sneak and nabbed the box.

Which I then proceeded to walk right back out the front doors with, lolololol. Not a single guard said anything. Apparently “Dunmer chick in elven armor walks in, then walks right back out again with a case of wine” is not the slightest bit suspicious? Elisif really, really ought to consider retraining her guards.

Even after bringing him the stolen wine, though, Gulum-Ei was not exactly a bubbling font of information. This was as expected, and Brynjolf had warned me I might have to keep on his tail. So the game wanted me to follow him, which I did, and he led me off to the East Empire Company warehouse.

This proceeded to be arguably one of the better sneak challenges I’ve had in the game to date! First of all, I had to actually get into the warehouse, and the docks were patrolled by guards. One of them even said to me “I know your kind, always sneaking about”, a few seconds before I made it to the shadows by the door and did in fact drop into Sneak to pick the lock.

Once I was in there, it took a few tries to actually figure out how to make it through. Part of this was just the challenge of figuring out where the hell Gulum-Ei went as I followed him—because unless you’re paying sharp attention, you will miss where he walks off to and you’ll have to rely on the quest marker instead.

Even given that, I also had to figure out how to get to where he went without alerting any of the guards in the cavern. A couple of times, they actually spotted me and raised an alarm—which required me to roll back, because boy howdy was I outnumbered.

The strategy that let me make it through, though, was judicious application of:

  1. Sticking to the perimeter of the cavern, as opposed to trying to cut my way across the water (again, had no means of waterbreathing, so I couldn’t duck under the water the whole way)
  2. Nabbing every torch I could out of the sconces, which conveniently extended the shadows I could hide in
  3. Using the Throw Voice Shout to get the guards to run off in certain directions, so I could scamper around to the next hiding place before they could spot me

That was fun. 😀

(Note also that this gave me a lot more torches to play with. And sure, I’m a mage, I have both Candlelight and Magelight at this point, but I don’t have Quiet Casting yet so throwing spells is still a little noisy. And as near as I can tell, torches don’t have a sound involved when I activate them. Therefore, having some available as a backup is handy sometimes!)

Once I actually made it into Brinewater Grotto, then I had the challenge of getting past all the bandits in there. At this point, the bandits were fair game for killing, but again, I had to enact the strategy of taking them out one at a time so as to try to avoid getting swarmed by too many opponents at once.

My ability to do this right now is… borderline. Even with my best arrows it’s often taken me two or three hits to take down an opponent. But now I’ve seen Glass arrows start showing up in merchant inventories, so I’m hopeful about improving my arrow stock soon. And I do know better bows will be in my future!

I saw more of the behavior though of opponents still not fucking finding me, even when I’m standing there shooting at them, if I’m in darkness and Sneaking. This continues to be absolutely hilarious.

The wiki advised me that there was at least one submerged treasure chest in this grotto too, like with Broken Oar. But for the same reasons as before, I passed on that opportunity.

I also made a point of avoiding doing anything to the dog I found in one of the side tunnels. Because bandits are fair game, but I’m not going to hurt their dog! Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about it, because I was able to sneak right past the doggo.

And eventually, I was able to make it to Gulum-Ei and confront him. This Argonian, being rather smarter than Jaree-Ra, quickly realized that pissing me off was not going to work for him. He hastily babbled out the rest of what he knew: that the woman who’d bought the Goldenglow Estate was someone named Karliah. Who had, as it happened, murdered the previous Guild Master.

How very interesting.

For good measure, Gulum-Ei even promised to be a fence for me, after I told him he owed me. And after looting a few of the nearby chests on shelves, I finally returned to Riften to report in to Mercer Frey.

He authorized Tonilia to upgrade a piece of my Thieves Guild armor, so I had her do the cuirass, for the improved carry bonus. And I got Mercer’s next mission: to meet him at Snow Veil Sanctum, so we could hunt down and take out Karliah.

Which was an excellent breaking point to save for the night.

Thieves Guild side commentary

I forgot to note in previous writeups, so I’ll do so here:

I’ve had a couple of incidents now where random thieves on the road have come at me, only to back off as soon as I challenge them and demand, “Don’t you recognize a fellow Guild member?” And I got the standard “oh yeah, I’ve seen you at the Flagon, good luck out there” response. Ha!

Also, I’ve seen guards in Riften going after thieves after hours a couple times now. Last time this happened, I even found a thief corpse near Balimund’s forge. So I helped myself to all the stuff that poor sod was carrying, and sold it later.

Next time, and possible upcoming goals

Not sure yet what I’m going to do in tonight’s session. I have a bunch of pending priorities I’m interested in, and I need to evaluate how to stack all of these in a reasonable order:

  1. I really need to go get that Volsung mask. Not only because it’s the mask I used a lot as Alarrah, but also because its location, Volskygge, has a word of Whirlwind Sprint and I need to improve that Shout! But first I need to be capable of taking out Dragon Priests and right now I’m not convinced I am.
  2. The other word for Whirlwind Sprint is at Dead Men’s Respite, so I think this just argued in favor of me actually doing the bard college quest again. Plus, while the bard college as an entity is useless, the quests for it aren’t. They do raise disposition a lot in Solitude and give some progress towards becoming thane there. And the boost to every single skill on the skill tree is not to be ignored.
  3. I do have a pending sweep job to do in Windhelm. Which would also be where I’d need to be to launch the quest to take out the Dark Brotherhood!
  4. I need to just do more side jobs for the Guild in general. And I’m thinking, since I can apparently satisfy the “bedlam” type jobs by going after Stones of Barenziah, I may need to just stack up some objectives that way.
  5. Now that I have the mage college quest active, I should probably move that along some too. In no small part because one of the Stones of Barenziah is available in that dungeon.
  6. I need to move forward on picking up other thaneships. Not because I want to be thane of all the places again per se, but because the benefit of having a house in various places is too useful to disregard. And the favor quests for becoming thane are usually useful lower-level experience quests. I’m already up to level 32, but this time through I’ve bypassed a lot of those lower-level quests, and I feel like I really ought to not have done that. I need the experience of gathering the loot, and getting it sold, and using it as a means to achieve other objectives like boosting my skills and getting houses.
  7. I finally found a copy of Aetherium Wars as well, so now I have Katria’s quest Lost to the Ages on the queue. I really liked that one and would enjoy running it again.
  8. I also have the Forbidden Legends quest active, and should probably run that one before I get too much more powerful and cause the undead trio of brothers to level up accordingly.

So really I need to think of all these things and see what reasonable order I can do them in. Bonus if I can arrange it so that I don’t have to re-run the same dungeon twice. So I will probably start at the mage college, as there’s a favor quest I can launch from Winterhold which will tie in with doing the run for the bard college.


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.