Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Restores the Thieves Guild in Windhelm

This session was mostly about Thieves Guild stuff, with several side activities as well. Notably, I have done enough of the side jobs in Windhelm to trigger getting the special “reputation” job there, and that allowed me to start improving the Ragged Flagon!

Also, killed two different dragons, multiple giants, and assorted Forsworn.


  • Session number in this run: 20
  • Started off with a loot selling and storing run in Whiterun
  • Went to the mage college to do a round of training with all five trainers; also determined that yes, all the trainers sell mage clothes as well as books, so I bought an Adept Hood to go with my Adept Robes of Destruction
  • Also worked on triggering side quests to see if I could get one in Raven Rock; answer, no
  • But I did get six different side quests, all ones I did before as Alarrah, but I triggered them again here just to work on college business
  • Meanwhile, I also killed an Elder Dragon again in the college courtyard, and this time I killed it with spells, using Lightning Bolt and Frostbite–this is I think the first time I’ve killed a dragon with magic!
  • Dropped several mage-related things off in the Arch-Mage’s quarters, including what unique staves I’ve acquired so far, but also the Arch-Mage’s robes and what other robes and hoods I’ve acquired so far
  • Went to Folgunthur with Lydia to run the next bit of the Forbidden Legend quest
  • Went to Fort Sungard, not far from Sunderstone Gorge, to look for the Smithing book that Ghorza in Markarth wanted; used Gjukar’s Monument as my fast travel locale
  • Fought several Forsworn but didn’t clear the whole fort, just was there long enough to get the book
  • On the way into Fort Sungard, spotted a distant dragon—and when I came back out of the fort, that dragon turned out to be Alduin! So Lydia and I witnessed him resurrecting Vuljotnaak. Who we then promptly killed, and we had to kill an extra giant when Vuljotnaak flew over to nearby Sleeping Tree Camp and engaged the giant there
  • Tromped on over into Sleeping Tree Camp and killed the other giant in the cave there, just so I could get the loot and Ysolda’s note, to get the side quest for her done later
  • Whirlwind-Sprinted my way into Whiterun because boy howdy was I overloaded now
  • Sold and/or dropped off a lot of things, and also had Lydia stand down, so that I could commence Thieves Guild activity
  • Headed to Windhelm so I could book the boat to Raven Rock
  • Bought flowers from Sofie on the way to the dock; on the dock, bribed the captain with double his rate to get me over to Solstheim
  • Stopped at the forge to chat with Glover Mallory because hey! Thieves Guild contact! Also got both of his side quests to deal with later once I visit Raven Rock for real
  • Then hid and waited until dark so I could break into Severin Manor
  • Made off with multiple mammoth tusks as well as alchemy ingredients while the Severins were asleep, and then fast traveled right back over to Windhelm
  • At which point I discovered, well crap, there’s a bug with the Bedlam Job wherein it is impossible to solve it if you have Raven Rock as your assigned location, argh
  • So I had to back out of the job with Delvin, and get him to give me a different one, this time in Windhelm; also got a Sweep Job from Vex, likewise in Windhelm, which meant I could do both of them at once
  • However, I sold all the stolen mammoth tusks to Tonilia
  • Also, found Etienne from the Thalmor Embassy had made it safely here and he thanked me for rescuing him from “those Thalmor maniacs”
  • Boinged right back to Windhelm so I could rob the house of Clan Cruel-Sea, which I had already robbed before, lol
  • This took a few tries though because I had to be careful to avoid the family spotting me, their house is large and well-lit, and Torsten Cruel-Sea actually did see me—but fortunately not until after I actually had the items, so I didn’t fail the quest
  • And I got out before he had time to yell for the guards, so I made it safely back to Riften
  • Discovered that reporting to Vex first caused Delvin’s behavior in resolving the Bedlam Job to be buggy, so I had to roll back and do it a second time, and resolve Delvin’s job first, get the special job, and then resolve Vex’s job
  • Boinged right back to Windhelm to take care of the special job, which involved talking to Torsten Cruel-Sea, lololol
  • Who as it happened was just outside the city when I got there, so I had to step out through the gates—at which point I got intercepted by hired thugs sent after me by Mirri Severin for robbing their house; took care of said thugs, Windhelm guards didn’t bother me about it because the thugs attacked me first
  • Then walked a little further out to find and talk to Torsten; tried to launch my conversation with him, only to be rudely interrupted by the arrival of a Blood Dragon
  • Killed the dragon, and noted as well that a couple of the horses from the Windhelm stable also got in on the fight, way to go, horses!
  • Resumed my conversation with Torsten, got the backstory on the murder of his daughter, and his pointer to go talk to Niranye
  • Found Niranye in the New Gnisis Cornerclub and couldn’t get a thing out of her, so I went and broke into her house to find her letters
  • Who I did not find in the cornerclub: Malborn, who was I hoping to see there so I could kill a Thalmor assassin for him?
  • Waited a few hours outside her house—and saw little Sofie sleeping nearby, poor kid
  • Went to confront Niranye at her stall in the market, and this time Niranye caved and told me where the rival guild was hiding out; made me promise not to kill her, since she could resume being a useful fence for the Thieves Guild; I agreed
  • Heh, had Nilsine Shatter-Shield show up right behind me as I finished the conversation with Niranye, nothing to see her Nilsine, move along!
  • Uttering Hills Cave was not actually that far from Windhelm, so I just walked over there
  • Wiped out all the Summerset Shadows, including Linwe, whose armor I swiped; I also burned their banner
  • Returned to the Flagon to discover that word had spread and now we had our first new merchant in the Flagon, yay!
  • Got a new job from Delvin to go hit Solitude, and another new job from Vex—lol, another one in Windhelm
  • Boinged back to Whiterun for loot rearranging and to save for the night, and also to check in with Ysolda and give her the mammoth tusk she’d asked me for, as well as the note from her orc friend at Sleeping Tree Camp and the sap samples he’d collected

Mage college action

Heading up to the college of Winterhold to get a few things done was my first major action for this session. My primary goal was to check in with all the trainers and get training from them, but I also hoped to trigger assorted side quests and see if I could get one that would send me to Raven Rock—and make it more useful for me to head over there.

I did not get any side quests to send me to Raven Rock. But I did get various side quests that I’d run before as Alarrah, and which I decided to go ahead and do anyway because they were fun. Quests queued up included:

  1. “Find me that book” quest from Urag
  2. Also the quest from Urag to find Shalidor’s writings
  3. “Purify the focal points” quest from Drevis, which I went ahead and did since that wouldn’t require me to leave college grounds
  4. “Go clear out leftover magic anomalies from the Eye of Magnus” quest from Tolfdir
  5. The beginning of the “Arniel’s Endeavor” quest, which involves bringing him Dwemer Cogs
  6. Quest to bring Sergius some Grand Soul Gems

I found all five of the trainers for each school of magic, and got a round of training from each of them. Also purchased an Adept Hood, just because I’d found an Adept Robe of Destruction and I wanted the hood to go with it.

Also, I was curious if the higher level robes also had matching hoods. Apparently not? Because from what I saw on sale with the trainers, as well from what I saw looking on the wiki, Expert and Master tier robes apparently don’t have equivalent hoods. Maybe the assumption here is that if you’re powerful enough to sport those robes, the boost off a hood isn’t necessary?

I like the Adept robe brown and gold color scheme, though, and the brown hood with it looks good on Merawen. So I may actually have her wear mage robes more often as she’s more of a mage than Alarrah was.

Which actually got some play, because while I was dealing with mage college business, I had yet another Elder Dragon show up and drop right down into the courtyard. I proceeded to kill it, with magic, which I think marks the first time I’ve actually killed a dragon with magic instead of a bow. Since this was a fire-breathing dragon, I had to throw Frostbite at it to really take it out properly, though the Lightning Bolt spell didn’t hurt either!

(Side note to self: I think I could stand to have a more powerful frost spell. See if Faralda can sell me one.)

Last but not least, I also dropped off several magic-related things in the Arch-Mage’s quarters, including various unique staves I’ve picked ups far, and the various types of mage robes I’ve acquired. This included not only the original novice robe and hood I got when joining the college, but also a couple other robes I’ve gotten, and the Arch-Mage robes.

I kinda feel like Merawen is not a hundred percent comfy wearing those Arch-Mage robes. She’s getting more comfy with magic, so she feels better about wearing the Adept-grade robes. But putting on the Arch-Mage robes feels a little dishonest to her. Maybe because she feels more of a thief at heart still than the Arch-Mage, and maybe because she’s wondering why the hell people keep trying to make her leader of things? Having the Adept robes on makes her feel on more of an equal footing with the other mages.

Going to Raven Rock

I went ahead and decided to do this, partly out of curiosity about how the conversation with Glover Mallory would go when I’m a member of the Guild, and partly on general grounds of “fuck the Severins, I will rob the hell out of their place”.

The conversation with Glover was entertaining, and he was quite pleased to speak to a Guild contact. I got both of his side quests off of him—not only the one to recover his Ancient Nord Pickaxe, but also the one to go recover his Improved Bonemold Formula. I’ll work on these when I come back to Raven Rock for real.

Wish I’d known though that a Bedlam Job specifically cannot be finished in Raven Rock. I only discovered this after I robbed Severin Manor and saw that the quest didn’t update and tell me to return to Delvin. When I checked the wiki, I saw that yep, this was a known bug. Argh.

Got the hell out of Raven Rock as soon as I robbed the place, though. Because Merawen wasn’t going to stay there a damn minute longer that necessary, given that it put her within visual range of Red Mountain and that was way closer to that fucking volcano than she was comfortable being.

And I did decide to go ahead and keep the loot from the job, even though I couldn’t get credit for it. Because again, fuck the Severins!

Back and forth between Riften and Windhelm

This did however mean that I had to specifically back out of the Bedlam Job and get Delvin to give me a different one. I had no negative result for this, other than Delvin giving me snarky commentary. And the new job was one in Windhelm—where I wanted to be anyway, because I had one more job to do there before reaching the number needed to get the reputation job!

For good measure I also checked with Vex and got another Sweep Job off of her, which also was in Windhelm, so I could do both of them at once.

Hilariously, the Sweep Job wanted me to rob the Cruel-Sea house again. But, well, known territory at this point. 😀

So I boinged over to Windhelm and got down to business. This actually took me a couple of tries, because first couple of times I popped in there, family members were actually awake. Since the house is large and well-lit, this put me at risk of discovery even with my maxed out Sneak active.

I wound up ducking out of the house a couple of times, to wait until a better time of day to guarantee the family was sleep. And even on the final attempt, I miscalculated a little—because Torsten Cruel-Sea actually spotted me and threw a warning about trespassing.

Fortunately though he didn’t spot me until after I already had the stolen items, so I didn’t fail the quest. And I was able to hasten out of the house before he yelled for any guards.

Back to Riften! I found a little buggy behavior from Delvin at this point, as I tried to resolve Vex’s job first and then his—but he threw the Special Job prompt at me first before I could resolve the Bedlam Job. So I had to roll back to a previous save, and get his resolution for the Bedlam Job first, so that I could proceed with him giving me the special job. And I also then got Vex’s Sweep Job concluded.

The special job sent me right back to Windhelm. To talk to, as it happened, Torsten Cruel-Sea. Whose house I’d just robbed. Lolololol.

Summerset Shadows quest

And as it happened, he was just outside the city when I got there, so I had to step out through the gates. At which point I got intercepted by three hired thugs, who growled that they were there to teach me a lesson.

They actually killed me once because I was wandering around in clothes rather than armor. So when I came back from that, I made a point of swapping off to my glass armor before engaging them. And then demonstrated to them that their so-called lesson was not going to go as well as they hoped.

And since they attacked me first, even though it was right there at the Windhelm gates, none of the guards in visual range gave me any shit about it. Self-defense! It’d hold up in any court in Skyrim!

Once the thugs received their lesson, I discovered that the contract they were carrying was from Mirri Severin. So apparently she figured out fast who actually robbed her, and tracked me to Skyrim. Knowing as I do what her actual history is, this actually seems rather in character for her!

Which will make killing her more entertaining once I come back to Raven Rock for real.

Proceeded out from the gates to find Torsten, though. And tried to get the conversation going with him about how Delvin Mallory had sent me, which led him into delivering the backstory on the murder of his daughter.

But while he was telling me about that, we were rudely interrupted by the arrival of a Blood Dragon. So I had to basically go “hold that thought please, I have to go deal with this”, and go take out the dragon.

This was very near to the Windhelm stable, so two different horses came charging over to get in on the fighting action. Neither of them were killed. Yay! Go horses! \0/

Once I got that interruption sorted, I returned to Torsten to get him to do the backstory again, and got the explanation for the task at hand: go wipe out the rival guild who murdered his daughter, and get back her locket. If I did this, then Torsten would make sure the Guild got a foothold back in Windhelm again.

He also pointed me at Niranye as a possible contact for further info. So I went looking for her, and found her first in the New Gnisis Cornerclub. I did not pass my Speech checks with her to get her to tell me her involvement in the whole affair. And since I didn’t want to fight her—maintaining her as a fence was too useful an end goal—I went the route instead of breaking into her house to look for evidence to confront her with.

(Side note: I did not however find the other person I was hoping to see in the cornerclub—Malborn. I wanted to run his side quest to kill the Thalmor assassin on his trail. But apparently he never made it to the cornerclub? Did he get eaten by frostbite spiders on the way? Awww.)

Found her safe in her basement, which was itself hidden behind a secret panel in her wall. And once I got a couple of incriminating letters out of her safe, I re-emerged to wait near her house for a few hours for the sun to come up and for her to report to her stall in the market.

At her stall, when I initiated conversation with her, her tune immediately changed—I didn’t have to actually mention the letters at all. Which seemed like an oversight in the conversation tree? But regardless, it worked!

I got Niranye to tell me where the Summerset Shadows were, and I agreed to her terms that I should promise not to kill her, because she could be useful to the Thieves Guild again as a fence. I agreed to this, and turned to go about my business.

(Only to see Nilsine Shatter-Shield come up right behind me, ahem. Lady, I don’t know how much of that conversation you heard, but nothing to see here, move along please kthxbye.)

Uttering Hills Cave was the lair of this rival guild, the Summerset Shadows. And since it was not actually that far from Windhelm, I just walked over there.

I probably could have gone through the place in Sneak mode, but I didn’t bother. Taking down each Shadow by arrow worked well enough, and I figure Merawen was feeling salty about these guys based on what she learned from Niranye—that they were stealing things right out of Halls of the Dead, off of corpses of the newly deceased.

And, well, that’s just rude! Sheesh, you guys, if you’re that anxious to rob the dead, that’s what draugr hives are for! And nobody’s going to care if you rob the draugr! Well okay, the draugr will, but you can solve this problem by setting them on fire.

So yeah, I wiped out all the Shadows. I actually had to fight three of them in the final room, the boss Linwe as well as two of his subordinates, but that fight went well enough with me wielding the Nightingale Blade. And for good measure, I swiped Linwe’s armor off of him once I killed him, and set their guild banner on fire.

Reported back to Torsten Cruel-Sea that I’d recovered his daughter’s locket, and got his promise to open doors for the Guild in Windhelm.

Then I returned to the Flagon, to discover that word had spread and a new merchant had set up shop!

So, one reputation job now concluded. \0/

Back to Whiterun

Closed out the session by heading back to Whiterun for the usual loot drop off. But this time I also found Ysolda in the marketplace, and gave her the mammoth tusk she wanted as well as the note from her orc contact, to let her know he never made it out of the giant camp.

I also sold her the sap samples. So now Ysolda’s on Team Merawen, yay!

Next time

I have a boatload of side quests on the list now, not only for the Guild, but all the mage college ones, the one to find a clue to Brand-Shei’s past, and a pending bounty on a bandit chief in Dawnstar territory. And I need to check in with the Dawnguard still, as well.

And I gotta get down to business finding Esbern in the Ratway, too!

So I think a review of all the various side quests is probably called for, to see what order I can do them in most efficiently!


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.