Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Becomes an Agent of Nocturnal and Guild Master of the Thieves Guild

A very eventful session! As hoped, I was able to finish off the main Thieves Guild quest line–which resulted in my becoming not only an Agent of Nocturnal, but also the Guild Master of the Thieves Guild. \0/


  • Session number in this run: 28
  • Tried to go to the mage college for training, found the mages in the courtyard, but also an Ancient Dragon, which killed me
  • Second time through, made damn sure I was hitting it with the dragonbone arrows rather than the iron this time ;P
  • Got training, also dropped off a couple of novice-grade robes in the wardrobe in the Arch-Mage’s quarters
  • Then boinged over to the Western Watchtower so I could drop off stuff in Whiterun–and by ‘drop off’ I mean ‘‘sell to the fence at the meadery’
  • Whiterun guard: “I find your hand in my pocket, I’m going to cut it off!” Dude, that presupposes you will actually notice me pickpocketing you
  • Sold a bunch of stuff to Belethor; bought a bunch of ingredients from Arcadia
  • Bought grand soul gem from Farengar and dropped a frost enchantment on the dragonbone shield
  • Bought Adrianne out of all her materials
  • Off to Lakeview to drop off stuff and build; built a whole bunch of things, and dropped off a few other things until I was below 200 in inventory weight
  • Finally went to Irkngthand
  • Killed two bandits in melee at the entrance; pegged third bandit through the blocking gate after she yelled “STAND STILL” at me trying to hit me with her own bow; hon, I’d want to do that why?
  • Irkngthand exterior surprisingly complicated and I had to consult the wiki to find the way up the outside to the bridges
  • Finally made it inside, found remains of more bandits
  • Another chest with tasty loot and oh hey dragonscale boots enchanted with 30 percent boost to Sneak 😀
  • Made my way through fire pillars and a gate to get to a lift to take me down to Karliah and Brynjolf; Karliah informed me it was Mercer that killed all the bandits
  • Killed by Falmer partway through, when we found the centurion >_<
  • Accidentally hit Throw Voice in a tunnel and pissed off at least four or five Falmer, very tough fight in a tunnel with all of them  vs. Brynjolf, Karliah, and me
  • Finally made it to Bercer was, taking the Eyes off the statue, and he was a challenge! Made Brynjolf attack Karliah, and kept teleporting away from me as I fought him
  • Chamber started falling apart and filled up with water after I killed him; had to wait for rocks to fall off the top of the statue’s head so we could climb out that way through Bronze Water Cave
  • Karliah gave me the Nightingale Bow and told me I’d have to go to the Twilight Sepulcher to walk the Pilgrim’s Path to return the Skeleton Key–and that I’d have to do it alone because she was afraid to face Nocturnal, and Brynjolf was needed back at the Guild to keep order while i was gone
  • Stopped at Lakeview to drop off things and improve the Nightingale Bow, then Honningbrew to sell more stuff to Mallus; then, finally, off to the Sepulcher
  • Fast traveled to Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary as nearest landmark and isn’t that a joyful place to revisit even without going inside
  • Thunderstorm! and dragon, but dragon never landed to engage me; saw it spitting frost at what might have been the dead necromancer I found at an altar
  • Evaded the dragon as I snuck around looking for the way to the sepulcher, also a spriggan, and a bunny XD
  • As I made my way through the Sepulcher I spotted several Nightingale Sentinels but did not fight them, they were just doing their jobs after all
  • Also didn’t loot much, that seemed disrespectful, but it also seemed a little disrespectful to not take one or two things 😉
  • Karliah reunited with Gallus’ spirit <3
  • Chose Shadowcloak of Nocturnal / Agent of Stealth
  • Came out in broad daylight, which struck me as slightly odd after a very shadow-laden quest
  • Still heard dragon in the distance, but was able to fast travel back to Riften
  • Greeted warmly by Brynjolf and we went straight to making me Guild Master \0/
  • Very low key ceremony, and I even saw Maven Black-Briar there
  • Got Guild Master’s armor, as well as telling Tonilia that I’d contacted Ri’saad
  • Returned to Lakeview to improve the Guild Master’s armor
  • Illia warned me of basement skeevers, so I popped down there to fry them with Flames; wound up killing five skeevers
  • Made a bunch of shiny things to go sell in Whiterun

Mage college stop

Trying to hold up the habit of stopping by the mage college to train up my magic every level, just because it’s convenient that there are five schools of magic, and I’m allowed to train five times per level. And I need to get all the training I can get in magic if I want to try to do the master-level quests for the various schools.

I already have Kahvozein’s Fang, since I acquired it running Volskygge. I’ll need that when I get Alteration up to 90, but given that I just cleared 40 I have a while to go yet!

This visit I got yet another Ancient Dragon attacking me in the college courtyard. This time around, though, it was slightly more challenging than usual, and the damn thing fried me even while the other mages were attacking it with spells. I realized only belatedly that I had my iron arrows active!

Which is the problem with carrying a whole bunch of different types of arrows, I think. I don’t know if this was a matter of me changing back to the bow and not specifying which arrows I wanted, or what. But second time through visiting the college, I made damn sure to queue up the dragonbone arrows!

Because second time through, yeah, the dragon showed up again. But it at least waited until I’d dropped off a couple of Novice-grade robes and a hood in the Arch-Mage’s quarters, and gotten in at least a bit of the training I wanted!

And, second time through with the good arrows, I killed it.

Selling and building, round one

Boinged over to Honningbrew to sell some stuff to Mallus, and then headed into Whiterun for a round of shopping. Sold a bunch of stuff to Belethor, bought a bunch of ingredients from Arcadia, and bought Adrianne out of all her smithing materials.

Also popped up to Dragonsreach to see if Farengar had any Grand Soul Gems. Answer: yes! But only one. Bought that, so that I could drop a Resist Frost enchantment onto my dragonbone shield.

Then I headed off to Lakeview to build a bunch of things and make progress on getting the house finished up. Dropped off several other things to get the inventory weight down under 200, and get ready to go run Irkngthand!

Blindsighted quest

This was part one of the real meat of this session, i.e., the confrontation with Mercer Frey at the Dwemer ruin Irkngthand. And yeah, this did live up very well to my hopes, based on how the Thieves Guild plotline had run up till now!

I’d found Irkngthand before, both as Alarrah and in this run with Merawen, but you can’t actually get into the place until you’re running the Blindsighted quest. So by definition, you can’t clear the place unless you’re in the Thieves Guild.

As Dwemer ruins go in Skyrim this one was certainly decently large and complicated, on par with the other large and complex ruins I’ve run (e.g., Arkngthamz, which I intend to revisit with Merawen soon). Even just getting into the place was kind of complex, because the entrance was up several levels and not accessible until I climbed up several ramps and bridges built by the bandits camping out outside. Plus, I didn’t even see those ramps until I worked my way through a twisty path to get past an initial gate.

None of the bandits outside were a problem. None of the bandits inside were either–because somebody had already killed them before I got there. Mercer, it turned out, once I actually found Karliah and Brynjolf and got up to speed on what I’d missed.

Once I found my fellow Nightingales, it was game on.

Mostly, I tried to sneak my way through the place. This was not always successful. It did make for a fun nerve-wracking moment when a Falmer slunk right by me on the stairs and had no idea I was there! And also, I was reminded that I really, really needed to be careful about accidentally triggering Shouts, because I did that with Throw Voice while we were creeping through a tunnel.

Managed to piss off four or five different Falmer that way, all at once–and we had to fight them right there in the twisty tunnel, which resulted in Falmer stacking up all around me and making it quite challenging to actually a) get the hell out of the tunnel, and b) fight them without hitting Karliah or Brynjolf by mistake.

I followed the walkthrough on the wiki, but this time, for once, did not actually follow it in exquisite detail. I know for a fact I missed at least a couple of chests I could have looted, but this ties in with commentary I made in my last post about how getting every last scrap of loot is less of a priority for me in this game.

Also, I already knew a fair amount about the history of the Falmer from running the Dawnguard plotline with Alarrah–but there’s a bit of Falmer history lore to be gotten with this quest, too, which ties in with what you learn in Dawnguard. Namely: there is a torture chamber down in the depths of Irkngthand, where Karliah makes commentary about the devices being used on the Falmer and how the Dwemer were a cruel race.

This is not the only Dwemer ruin with torture devices in it; Alftand also has them. But this is the first time I’ve seen it explicitly called out that those devices were created by the Dwemer to torture the Falmer. Not really a surprise–again, see Dawnguard. But I can definitely see that before Dawnguard actually came out, this would have been the first reference source for the players about this particular unsavory part of Falmer history. So yeah, yikes.

Because of this, and because Merawen had already been introduced to the concept of the Falmer as victims of the Dwemer, I did want to try to make a point of killing as few Falmer as possible. Particularly after we got to the part of the dungeon where Karliah and Brynjolf spotted Mercer actively killing a couple of the Falmer. I didn’t spot this myself–it was action down on a lower level, which you had to be at grates to see, and I didn’t get to them in time.

But it certainly made in-character sense for him, the murderous lying bastard.

We finally found him at the top of a fancy Snow Elf statue, stealing–as expected–the jewels called The Eyes of the Falmer. And he was in true villain mode when we arrived, because oh my yes, he knew we were coming.

He even snarked at me for being no different from him, because after all, I wanted wealth and power as much as he did. Which let me throw a line back at him about how I still had honor.

(Cue every “HONOR!” meme in the book here. Cue also Brock from Venture Brothers going “I don’t need another We’re Not So Different speech”.)

And he also used one of the Nightingale powers, Agent of Subterfuge, to make Brynjolf attack Karliah. Yikes. This also, conveniently, kept all three of us from ganging up on him, so I had to take him out all by myself.

Which took a few tries. He kept seeming to teleport away from me as I fought him, though from what I’m seeing on the wiki when I review the quest details, it looks like he was just making himself invisible and running off? Either way, it made him hard to hit and I had to keep waiting for him to come back and try to attack me again. He kept trying to do so with his Dwarven sword of draining, too–which kept putting him in range of me and all of my enchanted weapons.

My dude, this is what you get for not being an archer.

I did, anyway, finally take him out and take a considerable amount of loot off of him, even aside from the Eyes of the Falmer and the Skeleton Key. Once I did that, though, we had an additional problem.

Because a pipe burst, and the chamber started rapidly filling up with water.


I had to check the wiki for what to do about this, too, because the way out was not obvious. And it turned out that I had to wait for a particular point where some rocks came loose, and revealed an accessible exit up above the head of the statue. Once the water got high enough, we were all able to climb up there and get out–through Bronze Water Cave, the cavern I’d noticed before on a prior session.

At this point, Karliah advised me I was going to have to take the Skeleton Key to the Twilight Sepulcher myself, because she was afraid to face Nocturnal. And Brynjolf was needed back at the Guild to keep order while I was away.

I agreed to this and promised her I’d return the Key properly.

While she was at it, Karliah gave me the Nightingale Bow, telling me I’d need it more than she would.

Darkness Returns quest

So with that bow, I boinged back to Lakeview so I could work on improving it, and drop off assorted things as well. Took other assorted things over to Honningbrew so I could do another round of selling to Mallus.

And then, finally, I headed off to the Sepulcher. Which turned out to be in Falkreath, a little further west from the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary. So I used the Sanctuary as my fast travel landmark, and wasn’t that just a cheery place to revisit, even if I didn’t actually go into the place.

Not the slightest bit surprisingly, when I came out of fast travel, I got a dragon flying by multiple times and roaring up a storm overhead. Not actually literally, but it might as well have been–because there was also a thunderstorm going on, for an extra level of drama!

The dragon never actually landed to engage me, though I did see it swoop down to spit frost once at an unseen target. I’m pretty sure that must have been the necromancer I found dead at an altar nearby, shortly thereafter.

Mostly, though, I evaded that dragon. Since it was dark out, and I was both wearing the Nightingale armor and in a forest, it was pretty easy to keep cover.

Likewise, I evaded a spriggan as I got close to the Sepulcher. And a bunny!

Inside the Sepulcher, I actually got to meet the ghost of Gallus, the former Guild Master who Mercer had murdered. Who was pretty communicative and aware for a guy who’d been dead for over 25 years! And very relieved as well to learn that not only had I come with the Skeleton Key, but that Karliah was still alive.

He was not, however, going to be able to help me. He gave me a pointer to a nearby dead body with a potentially helpful journal, though, and that set me to making my way along the Pilgrim’s Path.

Mostly, like plots do for the Guild, this involved a lot of sneaking. I saw multiple Nightingale Sentinels, but wanted to avoid fighting them–because hi, I’m a Nightingale, and killing the Sentinels seemed very ill-advised since the whole point of this entire plot was taking out a guy who’d murdered a fellow Nightingale.

Okay yeah fine the Sentinels are spirits, but the point remains! They were there doing the jobs they’d pledged to do when they struck their bargain with Nocturnal, so it didn’t seem appropriate to attack them for that.

Likewise, I didn’t actually try to loot much. As a newly on-boarded Nightingale, swiping stuff from my Daedric patron’s own temple seemed pretty frigging disrespectful.

But, on the other hand, given that I’d on-boarded with Nocturnal specifically to get her to restore luck to the Thieves Guild, it also seemed a little disrespectful to not take at least one or two things. 😉

I really liked the parts of this dungeon that required me to stay sneaking in darkness, though. Thematically, that worked really well, and posed additional layers of challenge given that there were also multiple tripwires I had to look for and those are very tough to see if it’s dark.

Fortunately, though, I also saw the wiki’s advice that Candlelight and Magelight spells wouldn’t count against you here, so I used those judiciously and tried to make sure the sound of my casting them wouldn’t alert the Sentinels.

Also thematically, I really liked the part where you had to specifically douse a couple of lit biers next to the statue of Nocturnal to give her what she wanted: i.e., darkness.

And while I ultimately didn’t loot much, I did at least poke around to see what I could get to without actually bothering the Sentinels. Which did let me play with unlocking something with the Skeleton Key at least once–and boy howdy will I miss not having that thing, because yeah, unbreakable lockpick? Useful!

Finally made it to the part where I had to jump down a well and put the Key back, which let me actually see Nocturnal directly when she showed up to acknowledge the Key’s return and congratulate me in her own extremely dry, snarky fashion.

At which point Karliah actually showed up again, despite her telling me before she couldn’t face Nocturnal herself. She advised me to choose one of the Nightingale blessings, and my selection was Agent of Stealth–because being able to turn myself invisible for 120 seconds while Sneaking? Also useful!

Also, Karliah got to have a reunion with Gallus’ spirit. Aw. <3

She told me as well a bit more background about the Ebonmere and the Evergloam, and that those who bargained with Nocturnal hoped for no better fate than to eventually become one with Nocturnal’s shadows–and contribute to the luck of Nightingales to come. All of which, I think, makes Merawen feel a lot better about signing on to Team Nocturnal.

Furthermore, she told me she’d be making her home at Nightingale Hall moving forward, and that she hoped to see me and Brynjolf there.

Once I finished that conversation, I took my leave and returned to the Guild.

Under New Management quest

Brynjolf greeted me warmly when I showed up at Guild headquarters, very pleased to see me returning in one piece, and at that point there was not much else to do but let them make me Guild Master. Yay!

Which was an amusingly low key ceremony that just involved everybody gathering in the Cistern, and Brynjolf going to Vex and Delvin, “So, she’s Guild Master?” And Delvin and Vex going “Sure!” And then everybody getting back to work. Lol.

I did note with amusement that Maven Black-Briar was witnessing the proceedings, though!

Tonilia gave me a whole new set of Guild Master’s Armor, and at the same time, was pleased to hear that I’d established contact with Ri’saad. She promised to get some things to the Khajiit soon, to take advantage of the caravans’ ability to move goods around for us.

Also, Brynjolf gave me the Amulet of Articulation as well as a key to the Tribute Chest. Because Guild members will apparently be periodically leaving me shiny things for my cut of their work. Ha!

After all of that excitement, I boinged back to Lakeview one more time–this time to improve the Guild Master’s armor. And I dropped off the regular Thieves Guild armor on one of my mannequins, since I could decommission that armor now.

When I showed up this time, I got Illia warning me of “a problem”–the indicator that I had basement skeevers! So I took care of that. And I built a bunch more things, particularly down in the cellar, after paying Illia for more logs and stones.

Made some assorted shiny things to go sell in Whiterun, but did not actually head to Whiterun yet; instead, I saved for the night at Lakeview.

Next time

Now that I’ve finished the Thieves Guild plotline any additional thievery I do with this character will be pretty much “because I want to”. But there is thievery I still want to do. Because I have eight more Stones of Barenziah to find!

And it might be amusing to get the rest of the pending items for the Litany of Larceny quest. I still need to give Delvin the Left Eye of the Falmer, but I also missed the item at Goldenglow Estate and the one in the East Empire warehouse when I ran those quests before. So if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I may need to pop back into both of those places to see about getting those two items.

For the immediate moment, though, I want to amuse myself with getting some or all of the remaining Stones of Barenziah. That’ll be a nice diversion before I jump back into doing main plot and Dawnguard stuff!


Bonus video

Took this by accident, and it’s actually trimmed down from the full 30 seconds because the first 18 seconds or so was me trying to suss out the well I fell into. And it was dark and not interesting to look at.

But then I figured out what to do with the Key. And Nocturnal made her grand entrance. Which looked pretty fucking awesome, so I kept the video. 😀

Editing to add

  • 11/15/2023: Restored missing video and 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.