Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Becomes Thane of the Reach and Gains Markarth for the Guild

This session was pretty much all about Markarth—becoming thane for the current Jarl, and also gaining a foothold in the city for the Guild.

Also, got my Smithing up to 100 and was able to unlock Dragon Smithing, finally! \0/


  • Session number in this run: 27
  • Picked up where I left off in Markarth, being parked just outside Understone Keep
  • I was still carrying more in the inventory than I wanted, so I popped into the general shop to sell stuff; conversed with Lisbet at the counter, and got her side quest to go retrieve a statue of Dibella from the Forsworn—which was conveniently at the same place as Red Eagle’s Sword, so I was able to stack quests
  • Went back to Hag’s End to get the shield; came out of fast travel to a Blood Dragon, killed same; a Forsworn also tried to get in on the fight, but Jordis and I took him out too
  • Forsworn I’d killed before were still lying around the dungeon, though there was at least one I hadn’t killed before!
  • Hag’s End was surprisingly complex, with many twisty passages, and also a Word Wall for the Slow Time Shout
  • The main boss of Hag’s End was a hagraven who kept teleporting away in the earlier rooms until I finally caught her in the final outside area
  • Boss chest had a dragonplate helmet! Hung onto that for housecarl armor later \0/
  • Also got the shield for Jarl Igmund out of the same chest
  • Back at Understone Keep, found Thongvor, the guy who becomes Jarl if Markarth is taken by the Stormcloaks, standing near the throne bitching about the Imperials, and for that matter, elves; he was a racist prick at me, so I’m glad this asshole isn’t Jarl in this game
  • Returned the shield to Igmund and got his permission to buy property; also got him to tell me to help his people and if I do that, and buy property, he’ll make me thane; CAN DO!
  • Bought Vlindrel Hall and got it furnished up; dropped off some stuff to lighten the load
  • Went back out to run the Red Eagle quest, and get Lisbet’s statue at the same time
  • Unarmed Wood Elf attacked me and Jordis, with fists, and Jordis fully armed and sporting ebony armor; my dude, how did you think that was going to go?
  • Also triggered the “you there! traveler!” vampire masquerade encounter; I think fucking not, assholes
  • Passed Ri’saad’s Khajiit and he seemed to have gotten stuck in the river? I didn’t know Ri’saad could levitate!
  • Ran Red Eagle’s Redoubt, Red Eagle’s Ascent, and Sundered Towers to Get Red Eagle’s sword and also the statue
  • Got an ebony helmet and sword in chest loot, so gave those to Jordis to finish out her ebony armor
  • Went to Rebel’s Cairn to run the part of the quest where you figure out the secret of the sword
  • Sent Jordis home to Solitude, and slept at Vlindrel; took a bunch of stuff to Lisbet to sell the next morning, and also gave her back her statue
  • Was surprised to discover that I had already completed four quests, not three, for becoming thane—so Lisbet was actually number five, awesome
  • Went to the forge and sold stuff to Ghorza, the orc smith, who also confirmed she was sending word to the Orc strongholds that I was to be trusted and would be welcomed there
  • Got thaned! Got Argis the Bulwark as housecarl number four
  • Took a mage college break to report over there for level 47’s training round; took out an Ancient Dragon in the courtyard; dropped off Staff of Hag’s Wrath in the Arch-Mage quarters
  • Then did a round of bouncing between Lakeview, Whiterun, and Solitude, working on smithing so that I could build things at Lakeview, but also so that I could get my Smithing up to 100; reached 99 at Lakeview and 100 at Whiterun
  • Bought alchemy lab for Proudspire and then used that to make potions and level up to 48, which let me unblock Dragon Smithing \0/
  • Bounced back to Whiterun to get enough materials to make an entire set of dragonscale armor for me (I needed only the armor, shield, and gauntlets, since I already had a helmet and boots), and all the body armor pieces for a full dragonplate set of armor to give to Argis
  • Also finally got the Nightingale and Thieves Guild armor improved up to Legendary
  • Made dragonbone bow, sword, dagger, and arrows
  • Boinged back to Markarth to pick up Argis, give him his new armor, and get him as follower to run the Thieves Guild plot
  • Boinged back to Lakeview, then to Whiterun so I could get more dragonbone to make Argis a better weapon; made him a dragonbone war axe, since he favors One-Handed
  • Then boinged right back to Lakeview, because Pinewatch, the locale to run the Thieves Guild job, was literally next door to my house
  • Cleared out Pinewatch without bothering to sneak, because when you’re wearing dragonscale armor and wielding dragonbone weapons, and your housecarl is a walking wall of dragonplate, stealth is not really on the agenda; got the silver mold for Endon, as well as other tasty loot off the same table
  • (Was amused though by how the first guy in Pinewatch totally let me bribe him)
  • Dropped off assorted things at Lakeview to beat the inventory weight back down, including putting the glass armor on one of the new mannequins in my armory
  • Boinged back to Markarth to finish up the quest and get Endon his mold, and get him on board as a fence; sold him a lot of the bandit loot while I was at it
  • Dismissed Argis back at Vlindrel Hall, and also destroyed the armor Endon gave me while I was at it, because its enchantment was possibly more valuable to me than the actual armor
  • Boinged back to Riften to report in to Delvin; and he told me I was the best damn thief in the place, but not to tell anybody because if anybody asked him if he said that, he’d totally deny it ❤️
  • Fourth merchant now present in the Ragged Flagon; also, there was a new wooden screen at the foot of my bed in the Cistern, a privacy screen maybe?

Getting the shield for Jarl Igmund

Going right back to Deepwood Redoubt to run the place again needed a bit of prep work—and by prep work, I mean, selling a bunch of the stuff I was carrying to beat down the inventory again!

So I popped into the store in Markarth to sell stuff to Lisbet, and while I was in there, I triggered her side quest to go get her stolen statue of Dibella back. Conveniently, the locale for this was set to be the same place where I could get Red Eagle’s sword. So I was able to stack those two quests together and have this be a favor quest for the thaneship, too.

But first, I went back to Deepwood Redoubt to get the shield. This time, of course, I had to go all the way through there and into Hag’s End.

Coming out of fast travel by the entrance to Deepwood triggered a fast travel dragon, this time a Blood Dragon. Jordis and I dispatched it, and also the Forsworn who ran up and tried to fight us at the same time.

Most of the Forsworn in the place I’d already killed, and their bodies hadn’t been cleared out yet by the game cleanup scripts. But there was at least one we’d missed the first time through, so we took him out too.

The foes in Hag’s End were, unsurprisingly, witches—and one hagraven who showed up early in the dungeon but kept teleporting away. The dungeon in general was surprisingly large and complex, with a lot of twisty little passages and traps. But there was also a Word Wall, for the Slow Time Shout!

The boss chamber turned out to actually be outside on an overlook. We cornered the hagraven there, and once she was down, I was able to clear the boss chest and retrieve the shield. It also had a dragonplate helmet—the third dragon armor item I’ve found as chest loot so far this game! This one being Heavy Armor, I wasn’t going to wear it, but it came in handy later making housecarl armor.

Buying Vlindrel Hall

Back at Understone Keep, I stopped to talk to Thongvor, the guy who becomes Jarl of the Reach if Markarth is taken over by the Stormcloaks. I’d already spotted him hanging out near Igmund’s throne, throwing off a cranky “The Silver-Blood family will be heard” line.

So I wanted to see what his deal was. Unsurprisingly, he started off his conversational line with me by bitching about the Imperials, and demanding to know if I supported them. When I told him I was no friend of the Imperials (because, well, they tried to fucking execute me), this wasn’t enough to keep him from then bitching to my face about the Aldmeri Dominion. And making a lot of vicious racist commentary about how “my kind” was responsible for the war.

Hey, fuck you asshole, do I look like a Thalmor to you? Fuck right off. No, farther than that. Keep fucking off until you reach Oblivion.

Wow, do I not want this guy to be Jarl in Markarth now. I’ll have to see how Season Unending plays out in this run, and whether Ulfric Stormcloak demands Markarth this time. If he does, I’ll have to see what I can do to keep Igmund in power. Because fuck Thongvor.

Anyway, after that unpleasant little encounter, I proceeded over to the throne to check in with the actual Jarl, and to give him back his shield. That got me his permission to buy property in the city, and also got him to tell me that if I helped his people, he’d make me thane.

Can do, sport!

So I went ahead and bought Vlindrel Hall from his steward, and bought all the accoutrements as well since I had enough gold for everything. And I dropped off a bunch of stuff to lighten the load so that Jordis and I could go run the Red Eagle quest and get Lisbet her statue.

Off to Red Eagle’s Redoubt

I did the Red Eagle quest before with Alarrah’s run—this is the one where once you find the sword, you take it to a completely different cavern and do a thing where you stick it into a pedestal and it has one name. Then you actually take out Red Eagle, which changes the sword’s name from Red Eagle’s Fury to Red Eagle’s Bane.

So I don’t need to go into that again here. What I will note though is my amusement about how, on the way to doing this, Jordis and I got attacked by a random Wood Elf. I’ve seen this random Wood Elf show up before—it’s always a Wood Elf who comes at you unarmed and tries to hit you with fists.

I didn’t even bother to fight him this time. I let Jordis take him out, and could not help but think, dude, you’re coming at a woman in ebony armor, who’s also fully armed, and you’re trying to hit her with your bare hands? How did you think this was going to go?

Likewise, I triggered another of those “vampire masquerade” random encounters—where some vampires have killed some Vigilants of Stendarr, and the Vigilants’ dead bodies are lying right there, but the vamps are hoping to entice you over so they can kill you, too.

Presumably they’re also hoping you won’t notice the corpses.

And, as always, I think fucking not. Jordis and I took out the vamps, too.

Last amusing encounter was going past Ri’saad’s Khajiit, who appeared to be on their way to Markarth. But when I saw Ri’saad himself, he was actually down on the river beside the road. Literally on the river, not even in it like he was wading, he was floating over the water. His location pointer must have gotten borked somehow. 😆

At any rate, getting Red Eagle’s sword is slightly complicated in that you have to visit multiple locations to do it. I got both the sword and Lisbet’s statue in Red Eagle’s Ascent’s boss chest, though that also connected off to Sundered Towers and I cleared that place while I was there.

Then I went over to the nearby Rebel’s Cairn and did the final part of the quest, to kill Red Eagle himself. Once that was done, I was able to return to Markarth and work on getting the thaneship.

Becoming Thane of the Reach

At this point I sent Jordis home to Solitude, since I knew I’d be getting Argis the Bulwark as housecarl number four once the thaneship was established and I wanted to try him out as a follower.

So I slept at Vlindrel, and then got up the next in-game morning to sell stuff to Lisbet and give her back her statue. At this point, I discovered that she was actually favor quest number five, so I did already have enough to go get to be thane.

These were the known favor quests I’d done by this point:

  1. Soljund’s Sinkhole
  2. Killed the spider Nimhe for Calcelmo
  3. Got the book for Ghorza
  4. Got the statue for Lisbet

I have no real idea what favor number five might have been, unless it was giving a coin to the beggar in the market?

Regardless, I was now able to return to the Jarl and get him to name me thane. Which got me Argis as my latest housecarl.

(Side note here: when I stopped to talk to Ghorza at the forge, she also confirmed for me that she’d be sending word to the Orc strongholds that I was to be trusted, which would give me access to trade with them. Awesome! So that should let me follow up later on orc-related quests.)

Time for a training and smithing break

Before I put Argis to work, though, I took a break to boing over to the mage college and get in a round of training there, to do all my training for level 47. And I dropped off the Staff of Hag’s Wrath in my chest in the Arch-Mage’s quarters as well. I considered selling that staff to Faralda, because so far I haven’t wanted to use staves in Skyrim—but this one was a named staff, so I kind of wanted to keep it.

While I was there, I took out an Ancient Dragon in the courtyard. Like you do.

And then I went to work on my Smithing—because I was tantalizingly close to 100, and I really wanted to unlock Dragon Smithing if at all possible.

So I did a round of bouncing between Lakeview, Whiterun, and Solitude, just to get all the materials necessary to improve my Smithing, and to do additional building at Lakeview while I was at it. I got to 99 at Lakeview, and 100 at Whiterun!

But I had to level up again in order to get the opportunity to unlock the Dragon Smithing perk. So that necessitated going to Solitude, where I bought the pending alchemy lab for Proudspire. And there, I was able to do a few potions and make it to level 48!

Bounced back to Whiterun to pick up more materials—and made a boatload of dragon things. Since I had a dragonscale helmet and boots already, I just needed to make myself some armor, gauntlets, and a shield. I also made myself a dragonbone sword, bow, dagger, and arrows.

And while I was at it, I finally also got to improve my Thieves Guild armor and the Nightingale Armor up to Legendary status. I also made dragonplate armor items to go with the helmet I’d found earlier in the session, with the intention of giving them all to Argis.

Finally, I boinged back to Markarth to pick Argis up, and get going on the Silver Lining quest for the Thieves Guild.

Silver Lining quest

Here’s the fun thing about the dragonplate armor: it’s ugly as fuck.

But if you want to give such armor to your housecarl, and your housecarl is also ugly as fuck, then it’s kind of okay. And Argis is not named The Bulwark for nothing. He’s a big wall of muscle, is missing an eye, and has scarring on his face. So I felt like the dragonplate armor was really kind of in character for him!

Still though I also realized that I needed to give him a better weapon to go with it, because the default steel sword wasn’t going to cut it. So before we got the Silver Lining quest properly underway, I boinged briefly back to Lakeview and then to Whiterun, just to get enough dragon material to make him a weapon. I chose a Dragonbone War Axe for him, because according to his stats he favors One-Handed over Two-Handed in the skills, and that seemed like the highest-damage one-handed weapon available. Plus, it’d let him also use his shield.

Once I got that sorted, I boinged from Whiterun right back to Lakeview—because Pinewatch, the locale for the Silver Lining quest, is literally right next door to Lakeview Manor. It’s the bandit locale just south of the place.

“Hi, I came over to borrow a jug of milk and also to kill every one of you, do you have that mold you took from Endon? Thanks BYE!”

Okay so I didn’t have to kill everybody in the place. The initial guy in the place was Rhorlak, a bandit who surprisingly didn’t attack me once I picked the lock and came in. He did try to feed me a bullshit line about “no silver molds here”, but my dialogue prompts let me call him out on that—because I only told him initially that I was looking for “Endon’s mold”.

However, I was also able to bribe him. And he was all “well funny thing there is this mysterious button right across from this fireplace, always wondered what that was, I think I’m going to go take a long vacation from woodcutting now!” Lol.

With the help of that mysterious button, Argis and I made it down into the cavern underneath the cottage—a very large cavern for such a tiny cottage up on the ground level! I didn’t bother to sneak at all, and just fought and killed all the bandits we found. I figured that when I was tromping around in dragonscale, and my housecarl was a walking wall of dragonplate, stealth was really kind of not on the agenda.

Cleared out the place without too much trouble. There were a few traps that might have been more challenging if I’d come in here at a lower level, but which were still enough of a barrier to keep the dungeon from being a complete cakewalk. Got Endon’s mold as well as a bunch of other tasty loot off of a table, and out of the boss chest as well.

Then it was back to Lakeview to drop off a few more things, and then back to Markarth to finish up the quest.

Endon happily got on board with being my fence—so I took the time to sell him a bunch of the bandit loot I’d gotten. He gave me some enchanted gilded elven armor—nice thought, though I also took that back to Vlindrel and destroyed it on the enchanter table there, because the enchantment was more useful to me at this point than the armor itself.

And I dismissed Argis so he could stand down, and so I could return to Riften and report in to Delvin.

Thieves Guild at full strength

When I reported to Delvin, he told me Endon had been very happy with the job, and that now the Guild would be able to regain footing in the west. He also told me that he’d completely deny saying it if anybody ever asked him—but that I was the best damn thief in the place. Aw, thank you Delvin! ❤️

(Of course, it’s not difficult to be the best thief in the place when you’re the only named character who ever actually leaves Guild headquarters and steals stuff, but we’ll leave that aside, lololol.)

Finishing this job brought in the fourth merchant in the Flagon, another blacksmith. And it also made a wooden screen appear at the foot of my bed in the Cistern—a privacy screen, presumably? Nice thought, though I’m still not going to actually sleep there much. Now that Merawen has multiple places to sleep at her disposal, I think she will much prefer having her own bedroom. And she’s a Nightingale now—which means I can use Nightingale Hall as a home, too.

Which is definitely more private and secure than the Cistern—which is, after all, full of thieves. 😆

Next time

Now that I’ve fulfilled all the special side jobs for the Guild, this means I can move on with the remaining parts of the Guild quest line. And that means, meeting up with Karliah and Brynjolf at Irkngthand—and dealing with Mercer “Murderous Lying Bastard” Frey!

Time permitting, I’ll also see if I can make it through restoring Nocturnal’s statue in the Cistern and getting her blessing, and becoming Guild Master at last!

I am, by the way, now 26 sessions in on Merawen’s run. And I’m almost to the point of being able to get back to the main plot and do Alduin’s Wall, which’ll let me proceed to get Dragonbane, meet Paarthurnax, and go get the Elder Scroll.

Which will then let me go make some progress with Dawnguard, too.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Merawen’s run winds up being as long as Alarrah’s. I’ve gotten farther along much faster than I did with Alarrah, even given that I’m doing a whole extra quest line Alarrah didn’t do. Part of this I think is that what dungeons are familiar to me, I’m able to zip through faster.

But part of it also that I’ve been skipping other things I did do as Alarrah—such as becoming thane in Morthal and Dawnstar. So I’ve kind of swapped those plots out for the Thieves Guild. I may or may not swing back to do them, I don’t know yet!

Also worth noting: I’ve been keeping way less loot as Merawen on the whole than I did as Alarrah—partly because selling stuff to get the gold has proven more valuable than keeping a loot hoard. And partly because of having discovered what a pain in the neck it is to actually store stuff in display cases.

So since I’ve been less interested in gathering every scrap of loot, this has contributed to zipping through dungeons faster.


Editing to add:

  • 11/15/2023: Fixed missing gallery, and added a session number.

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.