Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Gains Solitude for the Guild and Saves Esbern from the Thalmor

This session’s primary highlights were opening up Solitude for the Thieves Guild, after running the Dainty Sload plot—and then saving Esbern from the Thalmor, as I finally returned to the main plot and moved that along some more. I’m about to hit level 46, so it’s a good time to go get Dragonbane at Alduin’s Wall!


  • Session number in this run: 24
  • Ran Shriekwind Bastion to get the word for Elemental Fury there, killed several skeletons and a couple of vampires; the boss vampire was Volkihar Master Vampire
  • Notably, Shriekwind Bastion had a nook with at least a dozen different types of boots and shoes, so apparently the vampires were keeping shoes as trophies, lol
  • Went to Solitude next to run the Dainty Sload plot; contact on board the Red Wave was bitchy at me and overcharged me for the Balmora Blue; plot was successful though and I had to kill only three of the pirates
  • Kind of hilarious that I was able to discuss illicit business with Erikur right there in the Blue Palace’s court, presumably within hearing range of everybody else in the court
  • Got third merchant active at the Flagon when I reported back in to Delvin; Delvin made more awed commentary at me about how good a thief I am, and cracked a joke about how if I kept it up I’d even get Vex to respect me
  • Tried to break into Riftweald again to steal things for the Bedlam Job, only to discover nothing in there was marked as owned, so it didn’t count, damn
  • Tried to wander around Riften and find Wujeeta to trigger the skooma bandit quest, but could not find her for the life of me
  • Boinged to college to get training and drop off empty soul gems for Sergius, storing empties in my chest in the Arch-Mage’s quarters until I have seven of them
  • Had to sell Faralda a couple of staves to pay for all the training
  • Also killed an Ancient Dragon that buzzed the college, when I came out to try to go down to Winterhold and sell some of the things I nabbed from Riftweald Manor
  • Bounced back and forth between Riften, Whiterun, and Lakeview to move materials around, sell things, and try to find Wujeeta
  • Finally decided to take Lydia and go clear the final hurdle for the Forbidden Legend quest
  • Fast traveled to Gjukar’s Monument, saw dragon fighting giant, did not engage; the dragon flew off after killing the giant, using frost breath; from coloration, might have been an Ancient Dragon?
  • Found the Forsworn camp at Serpent’s Bluff Redoubt, and wound up engaging just because Lydia, bless her heart, had to initiate combat with them; did not go into Serpent’s Bluff Ruins
  • Found vampire thralls at Moldering Ruins, also engaged, though I didn’t go in to clear the ruins completely
  • Found Soljund’s Sinkhole, was informed mine is infested with draugr, geez somebody’s going to have to do something about that, and by somebody the NPCs mean “me”; I will however follow up on this later
  • Found what I think was Karthspire’s Forsworn Camp? Viewed from above and wasn’t sure
  • Got enough loot off those intervening stops that I fast traveled to Markarth to sell stuff after a sleep at the inn
  • Cleared Reachwater Rock to re-forge the amulet and get that quest finished up; got a bunch of loot from that run’s boss chest, so went back to Whiterun to sell it and dismiss Lydia
  • Commenced boinging around between Lakeview, Mixwater Mill, and Anga’s Mill in search of somebody to buy logs from
  • Could not find the owner at Mixwater; did find the Reveler NPCs but they couldn’t sell me logs, so meh
  • Tried to go to Anga’s Mill but when I showed up, an Elder Dragon also showed up, and furthermore killed Aeri the mill owner, so I couldn’t buy logs from her either; rolled back because I didn’t want to be the death of poor Aeri
  • Tried Mixwater again after that, no dice
  • Went to Kynesgrove to try to find Roggi Knot-Beard and hire him as steward for Lakeview, and fought an Elder Dragon there too, because apparently the game was bound and determined to throw me a dragon encounter
  • Couldn’t find Roggi, though I did find other NPCs, including the Dunmer mage who snarked at me about not having any reason to be in Kynesgrove, so I should move along; geez, lady, be snotty to a fellow Dunmer why don’t you?
  • Wound up hunting down the location of Half-Moon Mill, which I hadn’t been to in this game yet, since it’s near Falkreath; finally bought logs there and was able to return to Lakeview for more building
  • Returned to Riften, ran the Cornered Rat plot to find Esbern in the Ratway and kill the Thalmor agents—and the creepy female Khajiit assassin who’d been following me through Riften
  • This time through, I also had an NPC Gissur be ID’d by Vekel as the person who’d also been asking about Esbern, and this guy yelled for the Thalmor to come attack me in the Ratway; had to kill him, too
  • Stripped all the armor off every Thalmor soldier I killed to sell later, because fuck the Thalmor
  • Got Esbern safely escorted to Riverwood
  • Saw the Riverwood guards kill a thief on our way to the inn, and heard one of the Riverwood kids saying “Why are they hurting each other?”
  • Got Esbern’s info that we needed to go to Sky Haven Temple to find Alduin’s Wall; told Delphine I’d meet them there
  • Once we left the inn and Delphine and Esbern took off, I found the dropped thief and took the stuff he’d taken 😉
  • Sauntered over to Honningbrew to sell the thief’s loot as well as the Thalmor gear and other items to Mallus, and got a delicious amount of gold from him
  • Saved in Whiterun for the night

Shriekwind Bastion

I’m pretty sure—but not a hundred percent sure?—that I never ran Shriekwind Bastion as Alarrah. I don’t have it documented in any of her posts, but the name sounded familiar when I heard it in this run, so I dunno, maybe I found the location before but never explored it? Or maybe I saw references to it on the wiki on prior searches?

Because at least one notable thing was in this dungeon that I didn’t remember from Alarrah’s run—and that was the nook filled with at least a dozen different types of boots and shoes. Apparently, the vampires in this dungeon really liked their boots and shoes! They must have been keeping them as trophies?

Also notable about this dungeon was that the boss vampire was tagged as a Volkihar Master Vampire. Which is of course an indicator that I do have Dawnguard installed in this build.

The Dainty Sload quest

Next up: running the Dainty Sload quest, which is the one to re-establish the Thieves Guild’s reputation in Solitude.

This quest required me to go find Erikur, one of two other thanes in Solitude. I’ve snarked on this guy before, since he’s an asshole. This time though I had to deal with him directly.

And it was kind of hysterical how I just walked right into the court at the Blue Palace and started discussing illicit business with this guy, presumably within earshot of everybody else in the court. And yet nobody raised an eyebrow at Erikur talking got me about planting contraband on the ship of a captain who’d pissed him off.

I was a little surprised to learn that in addition to the player being her thane, Elisif actually has two active thane NPCs in the game—Erikur as well as Bryling. She is in fact the only jarl with multiple thanes present in the game. But in this case, clearly two out of the three are problematic!

Because there’s only so much snark I can throw at Erikur about conducting illicit business in court when I’m the one standing there actually accepting his illicit job. 😀

Anyway, I ran this job. This involved having to go over to a ship called the Red Wave, at the Solitude docks, and meet up with a contact there to get a sample of the contraband that Erikur wanted me to plant on the Dainty Sload. This contact, Sabine Nytte, was possibly the bitchiest NPC I’ve encountered in the game to date—and I say that as someone who’s talked to Grelka in the market in Riften! Sabine snarked at me to my face about how I reeked and that I really needed to take a bath and get new clothes.

I’ll go take a bath as soon as the game actually gives me functionality to do that. In the meantime, lady, fuck you and your overinflated contraband prices.

Sheesh, I should have just dived under the water and broken into the damn chest without talking to her.

But I did talk to her, and I did pay her overinflated 1,500 gold price for the contraband, and got her key to the chest. And since I had Volsung, I put that on and dived under the dock to find the chest and unlock it.

Then it was off to find the Dainty Sload so that I could actually plant it on board.

The Sload was docked near the Solitude lighthouse, so it wasn’t tough to find. Nor was it tough to get on board, though I wound up having to kill the two corsairs on the deck, since they did see me coming once I got close enough to the hatch that led beneath the deck.

I successfully snuck past a couple of the other crew members, but had to kill one more guy to get to the chest where I had to plant the contraband. I did not, however, have to fight the first mate.

With the contraband planted, I then headed back to report to Erikur and got him to give me a spell tome for a spell I hadn’t learned yet: Fear.

And then I boinged back to Riften to report in to Delvin. Who gave me more commentary about how awesome a thief I am (aw!), including how if I kept it up, I might even get Vex to respect me. Ha! He also informed me we had a third merchant in the Flagon now, and this was Arnskar Ember-Master, a blacksmith.

Trying to run the Bedlam Job in Riften

Meanwhile I still had an open Bedlam Job that needed doing in Riften.

My first attempt to satisfy this involved breaking back into Mercer Frey’s house, on the theory that if I wiped the place clean again, maybe I could satisfy the job? No dice, because everything in there was apparently free to take, none of it was tagged red when I looked at it. All of the non-critical things had respawned, including the Statue of Dibella, the bowl of gems on the desk in his office, and the notes in a couple of places.

Chillrend and the Bust of the Gray Fox, however, had not!

There were different guard NPCs in the house this time, though neither of them actually saw me sneak by, so these guys weren’t any better than the last set.

And even though I couldn’t satisfy the Bedlam Job this way, still not sorry I broke into the place, just because all the loot I walked out with did get me gold later!

Decided to try a new plan—launching the plot to help Wujeeta with her skooma addiction so I could become thane, and have an in to get into Mistveil Keep and steal the Stone of Barenziah there.

This, however, was stymied by my not being able to find Wujeeta anywhere. Including inside the Riften Fishery, since every time I walked by the building, its doors were locked.

The wiki advises that Wujeeta is not an essential NPC, so if she gets killed, you’re screwed out of becoming thane until the Imperials take over Riften. If something killed her off I’m not sure what it might have been, unless she was out on the dock during one of the prior dragon attacks at Riften in this game?

I’ve checked Riften’s Hall of the Dead though and I didn’t see her in there. So hopefully she’s not actually dead. I’ll have to make another round of trying to find her.

Stopping at the college again

Meanwhile though I stopped at the mage college again, to drop off a few empty Grand Soul Gems in my chest in the Arch-Mage’s quarters, as I’m building up a stock of them there to give to Sergius.

I also sold a couple of staves to Faralda, so that I could build up enough gold to pay for level 45’s round of training.

While I was there, I also popped down to Winterhold to sell assorted things to Birna. Who did not find it the slightest bit suspicious that I sold her an unusually high number of baskets, buckets, and goblets!

And while I was at it, I also had to kill an Ancient Dragon that buzzed the college, and wound up landing on top of the Hall of Countenance, as always happens whenever I fight a dragon right outside the front gates.

Finishing the Forbidden Legend quest

Did a lot of bouncing around between Riften, Whiterun, and Lakeview, looking for Wujeeta, but also moving materials around.

And then I decided to go ahead and finish the Forbidden Legend quest. I got Lydia on duty, and headed off with her to find Reachwater Rock.

This required a bit of walking, since I didn’t have any really nearby fast travel landmarks. I chose Gjukar’s Monument as my fast travel marker.

Once I landed there, I triggered a “dragon fights giant” random encounter. Lydia and I did not engage with that, but this did provide a pretty impressive view of the fight from afar. I saw the dragon take out the giant with a frost blast, and from its coloration, I’m pretty sure it was an Ancient Dragon.

Started tromping westward from there, and found a few locales on the way to add to the map:

  • Serpent’s Bluff Redoubt, a Forsworn camp, where we wound up engaging the Forsworn just because they started shooting at us and Lydia started shooting back; I did not proceed to clear Serpent’s Bluff Ruins, though
  • Moldering Ruins, where I’d found vampires before in Alarrah’s game; we were attacked by the thralls outside the place this time, but I didn’t go in to engage the vampires inside
  • Soljund’s Sinkhole, where an NPC named Perth informed me they’d shut down the mine due to it being full of draugr; they want somebody to come clear it out, and by “somebody” the game means “me”, but I’ll have to come back to that later
  • Spotted what I think was probably the Forsworn camp at Karthspire, where I’ll need to go soon for Alduin’s Wall, but I only saw the place from surrounding ridges and only had an aerial view, so I’m not a hundred percent sure of that; Lyds and I did not go down to engage

Got enough loot off of these intermediate stops, though, that I didn’t want to try running Reachwater Rock with so much in my inventory. So I boinged over to Markarth to rent a room at the inn there, and then sell stuff at their trader shop the next morning.

Then Lyds and I walked back to find Reachwater Rock.

Got the place cleared, the murderous ghosts of the brothers dealt with, and the amulet re-forged. And another round of loot since the boss chest had significant loot both inside and around it.

So I headed back to Whiterun with Lydia, and let her stand down while I got that round of loot sold off.

Who do I have to kill to get some logs around here?

My next thought was to try to work on Lakeview some more. But I was out of sawn logs on site, and I don’t have a steward set up there yet, so I had to go to a mill personally so I could buy logs.

My first attempt to do this was Mixwater Mill, since that was one of the ones I’d found already in this game. No dice. Couldn’t find the owner, and the only NPCs I could find there were the Reveler NPCs I’ve encountered before.

Second attempt was Anga’s Mill near Windhelm. Which went very badly given how, as soon as I showed up, an Elder Dragon also showed up and proceeded to lay waste to the place, including killing Aeri, the mill owner.

I rolled back from that, just because I didn’t want poor Aeri to die, and hey, I may need to buy logs from her later.

So that put me back to Mixwater, where I tried again, but still no sign of the owner there.

Then I tried to go to Kynesgrove, with the thought that if I could find Roggi Knot-Beard, the Nord NPC I’d gotten the family shield back for before, I could hire him as Lakeview’s steward. No dice there, either. Couldn’t find him.

And got yet another Elder Dragon showing up, because apparently the game was bound and determined to throw me a dragon encounter. This time I killed it without any NPCs obviously dying, at least.

And while I didn’t find Roggi, I did find a couple other NPCs, including the Dunmer mage who apparently lives at the place and keeps the mine from collapsing. She was surprisingly bitchy at me, though, telling me I had no reason to be in Kynesgrove and that I should just move along. Geez, lady, bitchy to a fellow Dunmer, much?

So finally I punted to trying to hunt down Half-Moon Mill, which I’d visited before as Alarrah. And which is apparently run by vampires, though I have yet to actually discover that in a game—you don’t find this out unless you’re running the Dark Brotherhood plot, from what I saw on the wiki.

And since I don’t know they’re vampires, and they’re perfectly willing to sell me logs, well! Bought sixty logs from Hert, and then returned to Lakeview to do more building. Got the main structure of the house in place, though I’ll need more logs for the wings, and for all the wooden storage items inside.

Did finally also see Rayya show up there to patrol the place as well.

A Cornered Rat quest

Last but certainly not least, since this session up to this point had been less productive than I’d hoped for, I decided to return to the main plot and move that along some more.

In no small part because, during all this bouncing around in Riften I’d done up to this point, I’d already spotted the NPC Shavari, the Khajiit who turns out to be a Thalmor assassin sent to take me out and who creepily followed me around everywhere. And I got tired of her being creepy at me!

So I activated the Cornered Rat quest and headed down into the Flagon to ask Vekel the Man about Esbern. Vekel pointed me in the right direction—but also warned me I wasn’t the only one asking about someone of that name. He also called out another NPC who’d been asking about Esbern—who turned out to be Gissur, last seen during my infiltration of the Thalmor Embassy, and who pegged me to the Thalmor as soon as he spotted me in the Ratway Warrens.

I therefore had to kill him, in addition to the various Thalmor who tried to attack me, both before and after I found Esbern. Since I already had some contraband Thalmor robes I didn’t bother to loot the wizards who jumped me, but I totally swiped armor and weaponry off the soldiers to sell later. Because, sing it with me, children: fuck the Thalmor.

One other difference when I ran this plot as Merawen vs. as Alarrah—I’m pretty sure I didn’t fight the NPC in the Warrens who’s a mad chef type and possibly a cannibal? He burst out and started attacking me when he saw me go by, so I had to fight the guy. This provoked the mad soldier NPC to come out and see what was going on, and vow he’d find whoever “did this”. I didn’t bother to explain to the dude that who’d done that was, well, me.

Regardless, escorted Esbern safely out of the Ratway, and once we were clear I was able to fast travel to get him to Riverwood.

On the way into Riverwood, saw some of the guards there actually fighting with a thief, similar to how I’ve seen guards do in Riften. First time I’d seen this outside of Riften, though! An indicator I suppose of the Thieves Guild’s increased presence everywhere I’ve been working.

Heard one of the Riverwood children going “Why are they hurting each other?” in regards to the fight—but for generally obvious reasons, did not try to engage. It was more important to get Esbern into the inn.

That also played out the same way it had with Alarrah, with Esbern cluing Delphine and me in on needing to go to Alduin’s Wall. Delphine accepted my verdict that I’d meet them at Sky Haven Temple, and she and Esbern set out to head that way. And Delphine gave her assistant the inn on her way out.

Me, I took the opportunity to find the thief the guards had taken down, and steal his loot. Because apparently the guards never bother to confiscate the stolen items any time they take out a thief NPC, lol.

And with that loot as well as the stuff I’d snagged from the Thalmor, I sauntered over to Honningbrew Meadery and had a very productive (and by productive, I mean profitable) conversation with Mallus. I expect that Thalmor armor to be wandering off in various random directions, piece by piece!

Next time

As part of writing this post I actually popped into the game long enough to see if Wujeeta was in the Hall of the Dead in Riften. She didn’t seem to be, which means that hopefully I can still find her and run the quests to become thane in Riften.

My main goals with that being, a) I want Honeyside, and b) part of the skooma dealers quest means I can get into the warehouse and have access to steal-able items. Which would hopefully let me finish off the Bedlam Job.

While I was in the Hall of the Dead looking for Wujeeta, though, I also talked to the priestess Alessandra while I was in there—and got a minor quest from her to take a dagger to Anders in Whiterun’s Hall of the Dead. So I’ll follow up on that next time I return to Whiterun.

Once I roll over to level 46 it’ll be worth doing Alduin’s Wall, so I can get the best version of Dragonbane!

Before I do that, though, I still need to clear all the side thief jobs in Markarth so I can get the special reputation job there, the final one I need as a requirement to be made Guild Master of the Thieves Guild.

So likely plan here over the next several sessions is going to be:

  • Get Wujeeta sorted so I can do the skooma dealer plot and get Laila Law-Giver to thane me up
  • Steal 500 gold worth of something out of that warehouse where I take out Wujeeta’s contacts, including the actual skooma I should be able to find in there, and clear the Bedlam Job
  • Buy Honeyside, and ideally also furnish it
  • Start getting additional jobs from Vex and Delvin to see if I can finish up Markarth
  • Get Markarth’s special job to get that finished and the last merchant in the Flagon
  • Rendezvous with Brynjolf and Karliah at Irkngthand because we still have unfinished business with Mercer “Murderous Lying Bastard” Frey
  • Get the Nightingale blessing, and get to be Guild Master
  • Return to main plot and get that far enough along that I can get the Elder Scroll I need
  • Return to Dawnguard plot and run that, probably to completion
  • Start making progress on Dragonborn and see if running that first does anything interesting in terms of finishing out the main plot

As I continue to level up, there will also be side jaunts back to the mage college so I can keep throwing money at them for magical training.

Plus, I have more Stones of Barenziah to acquire—and shit, I think I missed one running the Dainty Sload plot! So I’m going to have to pop back into that ship!

So actually yeah I’m going to go do that immediately, because hopefully the ship won’t completely respawn before I get there!


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.