Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Commits Thievery But Also Buys the Land for Lakeview Manor

This session was all about the Thieves Guild action, as my light-fingered Dragonborn pulled off thievery action in Whiterun, Solitude, and Riften—and treaded very carefully when asked to steal a horse from the family lodge of none other than Maven Black-Briar.


  • Session number in this run: 23
  • I was in Whiterun coming back from the previous session, so I picked up from there; did an initial round of Smithing just to unlock Daedric Smithing once I was at 90
  • Then I went looking for Olfrid Battle-Born, and found him in the Drunken Hunstman; that also actually let me find the side entrance into that building, which I’d never come in through before
  • Olfrid wanted me to pull off a couple of related tasks to save a friend of his from being executed for murder—so I had to steal a letter right out of the Jarl’s quarters in Dragonsreach, which warned the Whiterun guard to be on the lookout for this guy, and then also to alter the prison registry in the steward’s quarters so as to change Arn’s name in it
  • Breaking into the Jarl’s quarters was surprisingly easy; I barely had to sneak, this is apparently the benefit of being thane, lol
  • Got the Jarl’s Stone of Barenziah while I was in there
  • Reported back to Olfrid and got him to pledge his support to the Guild
  • Returned to Riften to report success to Delvin, confirmed presence of new merchant in the Ragged Flagon (an apothecary)
  • Got a new Bedlam Job in Riften, and a new burglary job in Solitude, which will be enough to finish off both of those cities for the Guild as well
  • Boinged over to Solitude to do the burglary, which was Addvar’s house again; spent a little time selling a couple of things and also making a Daedric dagger at the forge, since I’d gotten hold of a Daedra heart
  • Dropped off Shrouded Armor on one of the mannequins in Proudspire’s basement, since the Shrouded Armor is not quite as awesome as the Nightingale Armor, and the Nightingale boots have Muffle, too, so I don’t need to care about the Shrouded ones
  • Got the Golden Urn out of Addvar’s house and then zoomed back to Riften; got the fee for that job from Vex
  • Also got Delvin to inform me that we had a request in from Solitude for another job, from Erikur, so now Solitude’s special job is on the queue
  • Decided to try to run the Bedlam Job—and since I knew there was a Stone of Barenziah in the Black-Briar place, decided to also stack the Promises to Keep plot on top of that and find Louis Letrush at the Bee and Barb
  • Got Louis to ask me to deliver a message to Sibbi Black-Briar, Maven’s son, who was in the Riften jail—and to steal Frost’s ownership papers and the horse itself from Black-Briar Lodge
  • Sibbi was, I note, smarmy and flirtatious, but already in jail, so it wasn’t like I could punch him
  • But I did also go find Maven Black-Briar to warn her what was going on, and got her sanction to proceed with the plan and leave it to her to follow up on Louis at her own time later
  • So then I actually had to go find Black-Briar Lodge, which was not in Riften proper, it was east of the city
  • When I stepped out through the Riften gates, HI SURPRISE BEARS AND ALSO ANCIENT DRAGON, all three of which I proceeded to kill
  • Also hi Khajiit! So I was able to finally give Kharjo his Moon Amulet back and get him to offer to fight at my side whenever I needed him
  • There’s a slight bug with the “telling Maven about the horse theft plot” version of this quest, which meant that I erroneously triggered the completion of the “Steal Frost’s ownership papers” task, and had no quest marker to find the lodge
  • But I knew it was somewhere east of Riften, so I just started walking east until I found a house symbol coming up on my compass bar, and I had to check the wiki to verify where the horse ownership paper was
  • Evaded multiple mercenaries getting into that lodge and didn’t have to kill a single one of them \0/
  • Got the ownership paper for Frost, and worked my way upstairs to also find the Stone of Barenziah up there; also got the horse and rode off with him to rendezvous with Louis and hand Frost off, and get Louis’ payment for my work
  • Finished off the night by boinging over to Falkreath and paying for the land to build Lakeview Manor
  • Got a Courier to give me another Letter From a Friend, this time pointing me at a source of power in Shriekwind Bastion
  • Bought the land from Falkreath’s steward and then headed over that way on foot
  • Started building Lakeview, just to get that underway, but did not have enough materials to proceed very far; left off there for the night

Imitation Amnesty quest

Doing the special job in Whiterun for Olfrid Battle-Born was surprisingly easy—because apparently, being a thane in Whiterun meant by definition I was on good terms with the Jarl, and not a single guard challenged me as I strolled right into Balgruuf’s family suite where his personal quarters were, and also the quarters of his steward.

And that’s kind of hilarious and also a little sad. Because if there’s anywhere in a city where the guards should be at the top of their game, it’s in the quarters of their Jarl in their Jarl’s actual keep.

I mean honestly, I don’t care if a thane is in theory on good terms with the Jarl, the guards should damn well ask her if she has business in the Jarl’s rooms. Sheesh. 😆

I barely even had to Sneak. I did take the precaution though of closing certain doors so that nobody would actually see me take the Stone of Barenziah, or the letter from Solitude—or see me altering the registry in the Steward’s quarters.

It was kind of amusing at least to come into the Drunken Huntsman for my initial conversation with Olfrid, just because I hadn’t found that entrance into the building before, so I hadn’t ever seen the main room of the Huntsman from that angle.

Likewise, it was amusing to get Olfrid’s commentary about hiring a professional rather than a “local thug”. I did not, however, have a dialogue option to point out to Olfrid that dude, you are aware I am thane and have a house right here in Whiterun, right? I am a local.

Well, okay, local professional. Not local thug. Lol.

And after I did what needed doing in Dragonsreach, I also found the balcony that overlooks the main hall, another view I hadn’t seen before.

Coming out of Dragonsreach, I found Olfrid right on the stairs back down to the square below and finished my business with him there. He gave me an enchanted leveled ring, which I sold later, since I didn’t really need it.

Burglary in Solitude

After that, it was back to Riften to report in on that job. That triggered the arrival of merchant number two in the Ragged Flagon, so now we have an apothecary down there! And Delvin gave me some surprisingly warm commentary about how I was “a natural” and he hadn’t ever seen anything like me. Aw, thank you, Delvin. ❤️

Then I got a new Bedlam Job for Riften from him—and a new Burglary Job from Vex. Which meant I’d now queued up the final two jobs in both of those cities, woo!

And I boinged off to Solitude to take care of the burglary. This was another repeat house, since I’d already robbed Addvar’s House, and I knew how to get in there.

Showed up a little early in the day to get in there safely, though. So I spent some time at the forge and actually made a Daedric dagger—which is possibly the first time I’ve actively crafted a Daedric weapon? And I sold a few other bits of armor I’d made in Whiterun earlier in the session.

Then I popped into Proudspire, and moved the Blade of Haafingar upstairs so it would be in the weapon rack in the bedroom. And I put the Shrouded Armor on one of the mannequins, since the Nightingale Armor actually accomplishes the main thing I like the Shrouded Armor for—the Muffle boost. So I can have the Shrouded Armor stand down and not have to worry about carrying it around.

Waited a couple of hours, and then went pretty much right across the street and broke into Addvar’s house after 3pm, when I knew it’d be empty. Yoinked the Golden Urn and then boinged right back to Riften.

Promises to Keep quest

Delvin informed me at that point that we now had a new request in from Erikur in Solitude for a special job there, woo!

But I elected to not pursue that yet, and instead work on the Bedlam Job for Riften. Since I’d been able to fulfill prior Bedlam Jobs by stealing Stones of Barenziah, I thought I’d try it again—and get the one in Black-Briar Lodge.

This turned out to not go quite as planned. I hadn’t realized that Black-Briar Lodge is not the house that the Black-Briars have within the city proper—it’s actually outside Riften. And that led me to decide, okay, well, I need a reason to get over there.

Fortunately, there’s a quest for exactly that: the Promises to Keep quest, which involves you being recruited into a plan to steal a horse from Black-Briar Lodge.

To do that, I had to pop into the Bee and Barb and have a conversation with Louis Letrush, who’d had a deal to buy a horse called Frost from Sibbi Black-Briar, Maven’s son. Problem was, Sibbi had been thrown in the Riften jail—with the strong implication that he’d pissed off his mother, if the guards had actually been allowed to arrest and detain him.

Sibbi was trying to blow off Louis and say that this let him out of their deal. Louis disagreed, and wanted me to help him get the horse and the ownership papers. So I agreed to this, and also to talking to Sibbi in the jail. Which did set me back 543 gold, as I had to bribe the guard for access.

Sibbi turned out to be a smarmy flirtatious douche, and I figure Merawen was also slightly annoyed that the guy was wearing the exact same clothes she was! (Except for the Fine Hat.) But as he was already in jail, it wasn’t like she could really punch him for his effrontery. And he backed off hard when I told him Louis had sent me.

I got his buyoff on the “steal the horse” plan, since he didn’t want to back out of his deal with Louis.

And then I went and promptly spilled the beans to Maven, because that’s an option for playing out this quest, and well, Merawen likes breathing!

Maven went O RLY when I informed her that there was a plot going on to steal this horse. She gave me her sanction to proceed with the plan, and said that she’d keep tabs on both me and Louis, and follow up on Louis later.

Then it was off to try to find the lodge. Which was a little more difficult than it should have been—because doing the “inform Maven” option for this quest actually prematurely finishes the quest task to steal Frost’s ownership papers. So I had no quest marker to lead me to the lodge.

But I did have the wiki’s info that the lodge was east of Riften. So I headed out through the north gate, and began to head east into the trees.

At which point HI BEARS (two of them!) and also HI SURPRISE ANCIENT DRAGON. I had to kill both of the bears (and pause for a potion of Cure Disease to fight off the bone-break fever one of them gave me), and then go shoot down the Ancient Dragon.

While doing that, I also saw that the Khajiit were back. So after I killed the dragon and got its soul, bones, scales, and loot, I also stopped to give Kharjo back his Moon Amulet and get his promise to fight by my side if I ever needed him. Aw, thank you Kharjo. ❤️

Then, finally, I was able to head for the lodge.

Not having the quest marker wasn’t too much of a hardship. I was able to just monitor the compass bar at the top of the screen, and once I had a house symbol show up, I knew I was probably in range. I did have to circle around a bit to actually find access to the place, since I saw its roof before I saw the actual building.

I also found Lost Prospect Mine on the way, and will need to follow up on that later, because oh hey gold mine!

The lodge itself was a little challenging to reconnoiter, just because it was heavily guarded, both outside and in. But, less challenging than it should have been, really! Because I was able to evade every single mercenary I saw, both outside and in. This was one of those times where having a maxed-out Sneak comes in really, really handy.

So Maven Black-Briar’s mercenaries aren’t quite as awesome as she thinks they are. Lol.

Mercenaries evaded were as follows:

  1. Outside merc on the side of the building that had the basement door; that one ran off for a reason I couldn’t see offscreen, possibly was reacting to a passing spider or other hostile creature?
  2. Merc asleep in the basement, closed the door on that room so I wouldn’t risk that one waking up and spotting me
  3. Two different mercs on the first floor, one at the top of the stairs and the other one in the main dining room
  4. Merc up on the second floor, who kept walking back and forth between the stairs and the bedroom

Mind you, I could have gotten into the basement and made off with just the horse ownership paper, but I knew there was also a Stone of Barenziah in the place and I wasn’t leaving without that. (A little point of interest I did not mention to Maven, and, well, if she never notices it’s gone…)

So I worked my way past all of these mercenaries, just basically trying to time when they’d be out of immediate visual range and then zooming past them to the next hiding spot. This strategy worked and I got through the objectives in the lodge without alerting a single one of them.

Back outside, I then had to actually steal the horse. The stable was on the opposite side of the lodge, and Frost actually saw me when I sneaked up, ha! The mercenary archer doing target practice nearby, though, not so much. That archer didn’t notice me until I was actively on the horse and starting to ride away!

And I was able to safely ride off, though the merc kept shooting arrows after me. Turned out though that I actually had to steal the horse twice. Because as my experience with Alarrah showed me, horses are fragile, and if you have a bad random encounter you will run the risk of killing one.

Including Frost, and losing Frost automatically fails the quest.

Which is exactly what happened the first time through. I got to the rendezvous point with Louis, only to have a hostile encounter commence, and I wound up having to fight a vampire and a couple of wolves. I’m not sure what actually killed Frost; last I saw, the horse ran off in a panic and the quest failed.

So I had to roll back to the point at which I’d emerged from the basement before, and steal the horse a second time. Interestingly, at that point when I tried to get on Frost, the prompt was just “Ride” and not “Steal”.

A weird but oddly beneficial bug! And I choose to interpret this as, well, I was in theory kind of authorized to take this horse anyway. 😆 Maven had told me to go ahead with the plan!

Didn’t stop the archer from trying to shoot me as I rode off, but she never actually hit me or the horse. And the second time through, I actually safely delivered Frost to Louis.

What this quest did not accomplish, though: satisfying the Bedlam Job. Dammit! So I’m still on the hook for stealing 500 gold worth of something in Riften.

I don’t know if the lodge not being in Riften proper therefore had it out of range of the Stone being able to satisfy the quest? All the other ones I’ve stolen for Bedlam Jobs were in the actual cities involved.

So clearly I’m just going to have to try to get the Stone in Mistveil Keep.

Meanwhile, though, I hope Louis enjoys his horse and that Maven’s thugs don’t kill him too fiercely, later? Sorry, Louis! But, well, you were asking me to steal from Maven Black-Briar, and a horse is a bit more obvious than an unusual gem.

I think later on, my headcanon will be that Maven did in fact notice the gem going missing, and she’d call Merawen out on that.

Maven: A certain gem has gone missing from my lodge. Fun fact—it vanished right about the time you took that horse for Louis. I don’t recall authorizing you to take anything besides Frost.

Merawen: You didn’t.

Maven: Is there a reason I shouldn’t have you killed for your effrontery?

Merawen: With what assassins? You must surely have noticed that the Dark Brotherhood are no longer a concern.

Maven: …

Merawen: You’re looking at the one who made that happen.

Maven: …

Merawen: Also, your mercenaries aren’t nearly as skilled as you think they are. Not a single one of them spotted me when I took that horse. Or the ownership papers. Or the gem. I could have killed them. I didn’t. So you don’t even have to hire new mercs, though I would seriously recommend you do so regardless. You can do better. Do you have the horse back yet?

Maven: I… yes. Frost has been recovered. I had Louis arrested.

Merawen: Then you’re only out a single gem. You can consider it my fee for bringing the horse theft plot to your attention. And look at it this way—the Thieves Guild is more prosperous than it’s been in years, now that I’m involved. You’ll get a lot more profit out of me alive than you would with me dead.

Maven: I think we can continue to do business together. But do not cross me again. My beneficence extends only so far.

Merawen: <grins a small crooked grin> I wouldn’t dream of it.

Building Lakeview Manor

Anyway, once I had Louis’ fee for the horse theft, I had enough to go buy the land to build Lakeview Manor. So I boinged over to Falkreath to take care of that.

On the way into the hold, I had a Courier come up with another Letter From a Friend—because I’d done the Throw Voice Shout a couple of times, trying to see if I could utilize it to distract the mercenaries at the lodge. It didn’t work for me in those attempts, but it was enough to trigger another Letter From a Friend, so! This one pointed me at Shriekwind Bastion.

So once I got the deed to the land bought from the steward, I headed over that way on foot. Went cross-country and didn’t have to go too far; as it happened, I also went past the South Shriekwind Bastion entrance.

Then I made it to the workbenches on the hand, and got the initial Small House structure set up and Main Hall queued up for building later. I didn’t have enough materials on hand to do more than that, though.

Next time

I’ll need to come back later to Lakeview with more iron, and I’ll also need to get an NPC on board as steward of the place.

I could do Rayya again, and she’ll be on site anyway now that I’ve built the place. But I want to try a different steward this time, just to have a second person on site to better defend it. I need to look at the list of people I can engage, according to the wiki; a few of them are NPCs I already know and who should have suitably high disposition. But a couple more of them are people involved with quests I didn’t do as Alarrah and which might be fun to do now.

But my next immediate goal will be, going to Shriekwind Bastion to get that Shout word off its Word Wall. Then I’ll take care of that special job for Erikur in Solitude so I can trigger the third merchant showing up at the Ragged Flagon.

Then I need to steal 500 gold worth of stuff in Riften for that Bedlam Job. Maybe I could break back into Mercer Frey’s place, I bet I could steal enough stuff from there! (And hmm, I don’t actually need to do a reputation job in Riften, apparently? But I will need to finish this job regardless, to clear the queue for the next one and hopefully get one in Markarth.)

Once I clear Solitude, though, and finish the Riften job, I think I’ll need to do some judicious “save, ask for job, roll back to previous save if it’s not a job in Markarth” action—just because the job locations are random, and now that I’m almost done with all the side jobs, I don’t want to have to keep bouncing back to the other cities if I don’t have to.


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.