Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Discovers Way More Guild Backstory Than She Expected

This session was pretty much all about Thieves Guild activity, with a small side helping of College of Winterhold, and a couple other minor favor quests. Of the Guild activity, I did no fewer than six, count ‘em, six thievery jobs, but I also moved the main Guild plot along and reached a significant milestone in that.

Details as always behind the fold!


  • Session number in this run: 16
  • Did a Bedlam Job in Markarth by swiping the Stone of Barenziah from the Treasury House
  • And since this was my first visit to Markarth as this alt, also triggered the initial cutscene as well as the encounter with Eltrys that launches the Forsworn Conspiracy plot
  • Got that sword back from Stony Creek Cave on the way up to Windhelm
  • Did a Sweep Job in Windhelm to hit Viola Giordano’s house, but also gave the sword back to the smith while I was there and got him to bump my Smithing
  • While killing time for it to be after dark in Riften, did the job for getting the ore sample for Hafjorg from Shor’s Stone; also got the job from the Shor’s Stone smith to clear the Redbelly Mine of spiders
  • Cleared out those spiders, and hit three ebony ore veins while I was in there
  • Did a Sweep Job in Riften to hit Clan Snow-Shod’s manor, and another one to hit Bolli’s house, and stacked a Bedlam Job on top of that second Sweep Job
  • Got, but have not yet run, a Bedlam Job in Raven Rock; holding that for when I get a chance to actually go over there
  • Did a Heist Job to hit Sadri’s Used Wares in Windhelm
  • Got, but have not yet run, a Sweep job for Solitude
  • Went to Snow Veil Sanctum finally to meet up with Mercer Frey and hunt for Karliah, and BOY HOWDY did that not go as Merawen expected, as Mercer Frey turned out to be a murderous lying bastard
  • Got on board with Team Karliah, and Karliah asked me to take Gallus’ encoded journal to Enthir at the College of Winterhold to get it translated
  • Conveniently, I am already a member of the college, but finding Enthir this time actually involved going into the Frozen Hearth inn in Winterhold proper; told Enthir Karliah had sent me, and he clued me in on the backstory he had with Gallus and pointed me at Calcelmo in Markarth to see about getting the journal translated
  • While I was in Winterhold anyway I popped up to the mage college to move that plot along; found the Augur of Dunlain who told me to go find the Staff of Magnus
  • Touched bases with Arch-Mage Savos Aren who basically said “yep, you sure do need to go find that Staff, go have a word with Mirabelle about that”

Thieves Guild side jobs

Since I boinged all over the map with this one, I’m going to do this writeup by category of types of things done, rather than truly sequentially. It’ll help me organize my thoughts better.

So yeah, did six, count ‘em, six different jobs for the Guild, to try to move the counters along for the various major cities and get to the point of being able to do the special “re-establish the reputation of the Guild” jobs. My counters for the various cities now stand at:

  • Whiterun: three jobs
    • Clan Battle-Born’s house
    • Clan Gray-Mane’s house
    • The house of Heimskr the priest
  • Solitude: one job, one pending
    • Addvar’s house
  • Windhelm: four jobs
    • Clan Cruel-Sea’s house
    • Brunwulf Free-Winter’s house
    • Viola Giordano’s house
    • Sadri’s Used Wares
  • Markarth: one job
    • The Treasury House
  • Riften: three jobs
    • Clan Snow-Shod’s house
    • Bolli’s house
    • General Bedlam job (stacked on the Bolli’s house job)
  • Raven Rock: one job pending

You will note that Raven Rock is on this list, because you can apparently get Raven Rock as a location for a Bedlam Job even though Raven Rock doesn’t actually count towards the special “reputation” jobs later. I’m going to hold on the Raven Rock job until I can stack it with some other reason to head over there, though. Because I figure that Merawen is not going to want to set foot in Raven Rock until it’s absolutely necessary.

Because wow is she not going to be eager to set foot back in an ash-ridden hellscape. She had quite enough of that in Morrowind, thank you.

(Though if enough cultists keep attacking her, she may decide she has to do it anyway. This is a woman who, after all, just wiped out the Dark Brotherhood because they pissed her off. Also, when I get there finally, I will totally break into Severin Manor and walk off with a bunch of mammoth tusks, just because I know they have a bunch of them, so it’ll be easy to make 500 gold by doing that.)

Anyway, though, doing all the side jobs was pretty hilarious at this point. As of when I hit Markarth my Sneak was at 96, which meant I was able to waltz right into the Treasury House and go past four different NPCs, none of whom reacted in the slightest to my presence.

(And okay sure yeah at least a couple of those NPCs may have been oblivious specifically because they’re there because of the Forsworn Conspiracy plot? But I choose to amuse myself with the idea that I snuck right past them in a well-lit room and none of them realized I was there. 😆)

So that got me another Stone of Barenziah, which was enough to satisfy the requirement of the Bedlam Job even though the stone claims it’s only worth 200 gold and the Bedlam Job wants me to steal 500 gold with of stuff.

Likewise, I made it through Viola Giordano’s house in Windhelm and Bolli’s house in Riften without alerting the NPCs in those houses.

The fourth Windhelm job turned out to be stealing a ruby from Sadri’s Used Wares. I felt a little guilty about that because Revyn Sadri is a Dunmer, and his shop is in the Gray Quarter. But a thief’s gotta thief, so I made a point of buying several things from him during business hours, and also even selling him an entirely different ruby just to get it out of my inventory. (And hopefully, let him think later that “oh shit, did I leave the ruby in my strongbox or did I have it out to sell”.)

Then I waited near the shop door until after dark, when I knew he wouldn’t be in there, and then popped in and stole the ruby out of his strongbox.

Other side jobs

Went ahead and ran that side job for the smith in Windhelm, to get the sword he wanted out of Stony Creek Cave. The place had respawned since my original visit, so I had to kill another round of bandits there—and I continue to laugh and laugh about how, if you get in combat with NPCs and your Sneak is high enough and you’re in darkness, you can pick them off one by one and they still won’t find you.

Also re-triggered that bug where, if you kill the bandit trying to mine the moonstone ore veins at the back of the cave, the guy might fall right into the vein and render it useless. So general pointer for that being, try to get the guy to move away from the vein, and then kill him.

Meanwhile, once I got the jobs to run for the Guild in Riften, I had a little time to kill before it got dark enough for me to risk running a job. So I took the time to pop into Elgrim’s Elixirs, and trigger the side job from Elgrim’s wife Hafjorg to go get an ore sample from Shor’s Stone.

Went to the forge in Shor’s Stone to do that, and while I was there, also triggered a side job from their smith to clear out Redbelly Mine of spiders. Since that wasn’t familiar to me, I went ahead and did that. Got to mine three different ebony veins while I was in there, as well as getting 1,250 gold from the smith for my trouble. Awesome.

Speaking With Silence quest

Meanwhile, once I got bored doing the smaller Guild jobs, I decided to go ahead and run the Speaking With Silence quest, and meet up with Mercer Frey at Snow Veil Sanctum!

This required me to boing to Windhelm as the nearest fast travel location, and head north from there. In a pretty heavy snowstorm, for that matter, which made me rather feel the lack of having the Clear Skies Shout.

On the way, I noticed what was probably a party of Companions fighting a mammoth. I didn’t get close enough to confirm, but didn’t really want to, because I didn’t want to get close enough to a pissed off mammoth for it to stomp on me!

I also had my Sneak on, so got close enough to a bunny for another up-close screencap, ha!

Once I got to Snow Veil Sanctum, Mercer was waiting outside for me. And it didn’t take long to establish that in general, even aside from the revelations about him that happen as part of this quest, he’s an asshole. He made a point of being snarky at me about taking the lead into the dungeon, while I’m thinking “you’re doing this because you want me to be the one to set off all the traps, aren’t you?

(I knew what the end revelation of this plot would be as well, so as a player, I’m also thinking “you want me to lead so you can stab me in the back?” But Merawen didn’t know that, so I’ll just assume she was a little suspicious of why, if he’d been here before and presumably knew the way better than she did, Mercer wanted her to go in first.)

And it’s not like I haven’t been on other quests, either as Alarrah or as Merawen, where I was expected to follow someone rather than lead them. This was clearly a choice made by Mercer in character, not one enforced by game mechanics.

Also, Mercer had an asshole line about “you’re pretty noisy for someone who claims to be a thief.” According to the wiki he says this even if you’ve maxed out your Sneak. Given that I made it up to 98 before the end of this session, that was still enough for me to go “fuck you, asshole, you’re the one who keeps charging up to draugr before I can finish quietly shooting them, and you have the nerve to tell me I’m noisy?”

Anyway, Snow Veil Sanctum was a respectably large draugr hive, and there were draugr aplenty to fight. Multiple Draugr Deathlords, as well as a Draugr Death Overlord, before we made it to the end chambers.

Killing one of those Draugr Deathlords also, as it happened, let me find a third Flawless Amethyst to take back to Talen-Jei in Riften. So at least I’ll have one less Argonian cranky at me in the Bee and Barb.

Also, got a word for the Disarm Shout once I found the Word Wall in this dungeon. With no sign out of Mercer of realizing anything significant had happened when I walked up to that Wall and triggered the light show. Geez, you’d think some NPC would eventually realize that something significant happens when the Dragonborn learns a Shout word and triggers off the fireworks! (The game mechanics clearly don’t allow for that, but maybe you can handwave an IC explanation by assuming that the Dragonborn is in fact the only one who sees the light show when a new Shout word is learned.)

Once we finally got to the last room, we found Karliah. And the plot.

Karliah shot me—triggering a cutscene between her and Mercer, which I witnessed as I was lying there almost unconscious. I overheard Karliah’s revelation that the claim of her killing Gallus was not on the up and up. And, for good measure, I saw Mercer come up to me and frigging stab me as I lay there helpless.

I really liked the skewed perspective of the cutscene, too, and the overall shadowy, half-focused look of it. Did a great job signifying that I was barely conscious and lying in a weird position while the confrontation between Karliah and Mercer was happening.

I woke up after that, outside Snow Veil Sanctum, to find Karliah had tended to me. She confessed that yes, she’d shot me, but she did it to save my life and get a paralytic into me that kept me from bleeding out when Mercer stabbed me.

(Now, why she dragged me all the way outside the Sanctum into the cold snowy environs was weird, when she could have tended me inside and out of the elements? But hey, game mechanics! Maybe this was a shortcut to let me not have to get out of the Sanctum before fast traveling off to the next stage of the plot?)

Karliah also told me, anyway, that Mercer was the one who murdered Gallus, not her. And that she intended to bring Mercer to the Guild’s justice for what he’d done. She had Gallus’s journal—only it was written in the Falmer language, which she had no way of reading. And her only known contact for who might be able to help with that was Enthir at the College of Winterhold.

Conveniently, since I’m already a member of said college, I went ahead to Winterhold to follow up on that.

Enthir, surprisingly, was actually in the Frozen Hearth inn rather than up at the college. So apparently he’s willing to periodically pop down and mingle with the locals?

He also was a lot more amiable to me during this conversation than I’d seen him be whenever dealing with him as Alarrah. He gave me the backstory on how he and Gallus met, and also pointed me at Calcelmo in Markarth to see about getting the journal translated.

Good Intentions quest

And, since I was up at Winterhold now anyway, I also asked Enthir if he knew anything about the Augur of Dunlain. He told me to go talk to Tolfdir, so I went on up to the college to do that.

Tolfdir and Onmund were in the same room in the Hall of Attainment, and while I was talking to Tolfdir to get him to tell me about the Augur, Onmund tried to trigger his side quest with me. I skipped Onmund’s quest for the time being; the quests from the other apprentices weren’t that terribly interesting to me before, so I’m not sure I want to run them again.

And by this point in the session it was late enough that I just wanted to run finding the Augur of Dunlain down in the Midden and get that done and dealt with.

While I was down in the Midden, I did also come across the Atronach Forge and nabbed the manual for it while I was there.

Talked to the Augur, who informed me I’d need to find the Staff of Magnus and that I should take this information back to the Arch-Mage. Which I did. Found him as expected in the Hall of the Elements, and got him to go “yep you sure do need to go find that Staff, go talk to Mirabelle, she may have information about it.”

So that’s where I saved for the night.

Next time

Damn good question, actually! I have some conflicting thoughts in play, which are;

  1. Since part of the whole point of this second playthrough is to do the new stuff, this argues in favor of finishing up the Thieves Guild quest, or at least getting it far enough along that it doesn’t interfere with my ability to do the other stuff.
  2. On the other hand, I’m also far enough along in the game that not having done certain things (like getting the Clear Skies Shout) is a thing I’m really feeling.
  3. I also like spacing the new things out in between doing the things I did already as Alarrah. Because having a new thing to do look forward to motivates me to go through the older stuff again, particularly if it’s older stuff that lets me also accomplish goals for the newer stuff.
  4. This does now mean though that I have multiple major plots in play, the main quest line as well as the ones for the Thieves Guild, the College of Winterhold, and Dawnguard. And I’m starting to feel a little overbooked trying to bounce back and forth between them all.
  5. Dawnguard needs you to find the same Elder Scroll that you need to find for the main plot—so you need to be far enough along in the plot that you trigger the quest Discerning the Transmundane. So I’m not going to make significant progress in Dawnguard until I do that.
  6. And in order to make significant progress in the main plot, I need to go to the Thalmor Embassy—and the next thing after that is, finding Esbern in the Ratway.
  7. And getting back down into the Ratway I think would probably be blocked by needing to be able to return to the Ratway without my fellow guild members being a problem?

Where I am in the Thieves Guild plot strongly suggests that Mercer will probably return to the Guild and claim I’m dead, possibly also that Karliah killed me. From what I’m seeing peeking ahead on the wiki (but without trying to read up in detail), the game mechanics do expect that the next time I set foot in the Flagon, it’ll be with Karliah—which will cause an uproar.

What’s less clear is whether I can safely go back to the Flagon before then. However, from a purely IC perspective, I don’t think Merawen will want to. It’ll be a priority to have that journal translated before she returns to Guild headquarters, so she can definitely help Karliah make her case about Mercer being a murdering traitor.

All of which argues that yeah, my next major activity should be proceeding to Markarth and working on getting that scroll translated.

But at the same time, I’ve also got the mage college quest in play. I left off my last session at the college, so I think what I’ll do next is:

  1. Get the pointer from Mirabelle to find out how to find the Staff of Magnus, which should send me to Mzulft
  2. Go back to Whiterun and re-engage Jenassa as a follower
  3. Go to Markarth with Jenassa and get the means to translate the journal
  4. Hit Mzulft on the way back, and run that dungeon
  5. Return to the college and let the plot proceed, at least to the point of the Arch-Mage being killed and my needing to head to Labyrinthian to recover the staff
  6. Finish the mage college quest, time permitting?
  7. Then follow up on getting the journal properly translated, so Karliah and I can return to the Thieves Guild and move that plot along


Editing to add

  • 12/4/2021: Corrected name of the mage college NPC from Ormund to Onmund.
  • 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.