Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Visits Paarthurnax, Repairs the White Phial, and Seeks an Elder Scroll

A fair amount of plot action in this as I moved the main plot along, but also finished up the quest about the White Phial. And a lot of this was familiar territory–but not all of it!

Details as always behind the fold.


  • Session number in this run: 35
  • Did circuit through Whiterun, Solitude, Riften, and finally Windhelm before I found a smith who had some goddamn quicksilver, so I could improve Dragonbane!
  • Also bought blisterwort from Arcadia in Whiterun, and improved the Blades armor up to Epic at Warmaiden’s
  • Blipped back to Lakeview to make smithing potions so I could do the improvements; improved Dragonbane, also improved the Blades armor up to Legendary
  • Blades armor looks cool but wow the armor rating on it is way lower than my Light armors, presumably because my Heavy Armor skill still sucks?
  • Decided to walk to the Throat of the World to see if I could get in a fight with something and exercise the Heavy Armor skill
  • Answer: yes! Hi blood dragon, and bye blood dragon–Heavy Armor now at 19
  • Sabre cat, I think that got me to 20?
  • Bandits had re-spawned at Valtheim Towers, though I just fought the one who tried to charge me a toll and took off running before the others could catch up with me; that got me to 21
  • Random Argonian ran up to fight me, got me to 22
  • Random Orc fighting frostbite spiders did not need my help; did not attack me, but did snark at me about what a milk-drinker like me was doing “out here”, go home to your mother; woman, my mother died in Morrowind, so yeah no
  • Overshot getting up to High Hrothgar, turned around to come back
  • Found Lost Knife Hideout GEE I wonder who lives there
  • Hi M’aiq the Liar!
  • Had trouble finding right path down to Ivarstead so fuck it, fast traveled
  • Bear on steps gave me bone break fever; tended to that with a Cure Disease potion
  • Three different frost trolls got my Heavy Armor up to 24
  • Made it to the Greybeards and got them to give me the Clear Skies Shout; I think I wasted a couple of souls trying to unlock the words? Oops
  • Headed up to see Paarthurnax; fourth frost troll bumped both heavy armor and block, Heavy Armor now 25
  • Made it to Paarthurnax, went through the same conversation as first playthrough, pretty much; got word for Fire Breath shout, and pointed at finding an Elder Scroll
  • Meditated on the word Fus
  • Got the Zelda goodies from the easter egg chest
  • Also got the Notched Pickaxe, and mined the malachite and ebony veins there
  • Decided to not talk to Arngeir just because I know from Alarrah’s playthrough that he’d just bitch about the Elder Scrolls being blasphemies and snark about the mages; fuck that noise, said the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold
  • Headed back down the mountain again on foot to give myself another chance to exercise the Heavy Armor skill (and also to see if I could get to level 53)
  • Interesting point of reference: according to my first playthrough posts Alarrah was at level 48 when she did the Paarthurnax chat, whereas Merawen was level 52, reached in about half the time
  • New frost troll got me to Heavy Armor 26
  • Got down to Ivarstead, and met by Courier; double letters again, same as Alarrah—one from Quintus in Windhelm, and a Letter from a Friend as well, pointing me at Valthume
  • Decided to go to Windhelm first to talk to Quintus (and sell stuff maybe)
  • Went cross-country, more or less north, to Windhelm
  • Got Quintus’ request to get him the three ingredients he needed to fix the White Phial
  • Also bought a couple of blacksmithing potions from him
  • Sold a few things to Niranye
  • Boinged back to Lakeview to improve some stuff
  • Boinged to Throat of the World again to get the Unmelting Snow
  • Chatted with Paarthurnax again for the sake of politeness, and meditated on the word Yol
  • Boinged to Dimhollow Crypt for nearest landmark to giant camp with powdered mammoth tusk
  • Killed another Blood Dragon
  • Found the remains of the burned down hall of the Vigilants of Stendarr, wow
  • Snuck into the giant camp without having to kill the giant, and got the tusk powder
  • Returned to Windhelm to return the ingredients to Quintus and witness Nurelion’s passing; got the White Phial and had Quintus set it to healing potion mode
  • Bug with having a Briar Heart already in my inventory, quest counted me as having it but didn’t let me give it to Quintus? I was able to use it in a potion though
  • Went to clear Silverdrift Lair and get the word off the Word Wall there
  • Killed once by draugr in the boss chamber, second time through made a point of switching off from the Blades armor to the dragonscale—but then my Heavy Armor skill was over 30
  • Went to Solitude to sell things and enchant things and pick up Jordis
  • Sold stuff to all the shops
  • Went to the mage college for training, and talk to Urag about Shalidor’s writings and also the Elder Scroll
  • Began Discerning the Transmundane quest
  • And killed another Ancient Dragon in the courtyard
  • Made it to Septimus’ outpost though Jordis got stuck on the ice partway across and I had to proceed without her
  • Fast traveled to Alftand to get her to catch up with me
  • Then boinged to Lakeview to unload extraneous items
  • Reluctantly left Guild Master armor on a mannequin, and Blades armor on another mannequin, because seriously I do not need to be carrying around four different sets of armor
  • Sold more stuff at Honningbrew Meadery to get rid of less interesting armor from house loot, also a couple of less interesting loot weapons
  • Boinged to Alftand; poked around a little but saved for the night before running this dungeon in earnest

So about that Blades armor then

I don’t think I ever properly tried on the Blades armor when I got it with Alarrah’s playthrough. This time I made a point of playing with it a bit to see if I liked it. And since I’ve got the Steed stone active, I can actually wear it without a weight penalty.

And honestly, this armor’s the first Heavy Armor set I actively want to wear. I really like the look of it on Merawen. Because:

  1. It actually looks like it’d be effective armor
  2. It doesn’t look hugely bulky or over-the-top, like, say, the dragonplate armor
  3. It doesn’t do that hugely annoying HEY I AM A FEMALE CHARACTER SO BEHOLD MY BOOBS thing with the chest area.
  4. The color scheme works well with her Dunmer coloring!

However, unsurprisingly, my Heavy Armor skill so far in this game was terrible since I hadn’t had an opportunity to exercise it. So after improving both the armor and Dragonbane, I set off for the Throat of the World on foot, just to see if I could get in a fight with anything and exercise that skill.

Answer: yes. On the way to the mountain and up it, I fought enough creatures and beings that I got six points of Heavy Armor before finally making it to the Greybeards.

Talking to the Greybeards and Paarthurnax

This wasn’t too terribly different from how Alarrah did it, so I’m not going to recap that here.

I will though note that yeah, I still like Paarthurnax. Like Alarrah, Merawen will refrain from killing him later! And I figure that Merawen, as a Dunmer, particularly liked breathing fire just like a dragon does.

Like Alarrah, I got the Zelda goodies out of the easter egg chest not far from where I spoke to Paarthurnax. Then I climbed up to the top of the mountain to get the Notched Pickaxe and mine the veins up there.

The one thing I did do differently from Alarrah’s run was not stop in High Hrothgar on the way out to talk to Arngeir. Just because I remembered from Alarrah’s run that Arngeir wasn’t going to tell me anything I hadn’t already discussed with Paarthurnax, and I already knew I needed to go back to the mage college to see if Urag knew anything about how to find an Elder Scroll.

Plus, I still have to smirk about Arngeir bitching about the Elder Scrolls as “blasphemies”. And that things like that are the province of mages. Which is a helluva thing to say to the friggin’ Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.

Speaking of Arngeir, I also noted a little more clearly this time through that Arngeir and Delphine seem a lot more alike than either of them would like to admit, I think. Because both of them hate each other’s factions, and warned me about avoiding becoming a tool of the other group. And the fact that I can get that level of characterization out of video game characters is, I think, a testament to how well they were performed by their actors. Especially Christopher Plummer as Arngeir. <3

As much as I kind of don’t like Arngeir as a character–the man does, after all, seem remarkably uninterested in the fact that the world is in danger from Alduin–I respect the hell out of how well Plummer played him. And it’s nice to be reminded of that on this second playthrough.

Repairing the Phial quest

After that, coming down off the mountain, I finally got the Courier bringing me the request from Quintus in Windhelm to come see him ASAP. And, as had happened with Alarrah, that same Courier also gave me a Letter from a Friend, since I’d been throwing around a lot of Shouts while up on the mountain. This time, the Letter from a Friend pointed me at Valthume.

And since Valthume is a Dragon Priest dungeon, I’ll get back to that!

Then I played through the rest of the White Phial quest. This was also very similar to how Alarrah had done it, with the main differences being:

  1. Different giant camp, and I didn’t even have to kill the giant to get the tusk powder, thank you Invisibility Potions and maxed-out Sneak
  2. Didn’t have to go kill a Forsworn because I was already carrying a Briar Heart
  3. This time through I had Quintus set the Phial to be a healing potion, since those are the types of potions I definitely need the most of

And since I already had a Briar Heart on me, I immediately satisfied that particular quest objective. But I also triggered a small bug with it. Later, when I came back to give all the things to Quintus, he never took the Briar Heart out of my inventory. But he did consider me to have brought him all three things, and he proceeded with his scripted actions to repair the Phial and take it to his master.

I was afraid the Briar Heart might be locked in my inventory as a quest item, but I was able to use it as a potion ingredient at the shop’s alchemy table. I’ll need to see if any further Briar Hearts I acquire show any weird behavior.

Clearing Silverdrift Lair

This was a basic draugr hive run, though with a dungeon on the large side, so it took me a while to do the whole place. Exercised my Heavy Armor skill some more while I was in there, though I determined that it still wasn’t good enough to have the Blades armor be my primary armor when I’m up against a Draugr Death Overlord.

I got killed in the boss chamber because of this. And second time through, I switched off to the dragonscale armor to solve that problem. Got the Word off the Word Wall, though! My final word of the Disarm Shout.

Beginning the hunt for the Elder Scroll

With that out of the way, I boinged over to Solitude to sell a bunch of things, and also to pick up Jordis–because I wanted a housecarl follower on hand to be able to run the quest for getting the Elder Scroll. I knew that’d be sending me into Alftand and Blackreach, and that’s a lot to run solo.

Once I had Jordis on active duty, I boinged over to the mage college to talk to Urag, not only about the Elder Scroll, but also to check with him about the last round of Shalidor’s writings. Got a few extra scrolls off of him from the Shalidor work. But also, more importantly, got the Elder Scroll info and got pointed at finding Septimus.

And oh yeah, I killed another Ancient Dragon in the courtyard. I am fighting a lot more Ancient Dragons in this run, that’s for damn sure.

Yet again, looking for Septimus played out pretty similarly to how Alarrah did it. With a bit less flailing around to find his outpost, maybe! And a bit more flailing around to find where Jordis had gotten marooned on the ice, because she apparently refused to follow me after a certain point. Not sure why–maybe the follower AI couldn’t find a legit route for her to follow, and she couldn’t jump the same way I did?

And yep, Septimus still sure is crazypants!

Prepping for Alftand

Once I had Septimus’s instructions to take the Attunement Sphere and the Blank Lexicon to Alftand, that was pretty much the next item on the agenda. But Alftand is a really big dungeon, and I didn’t want to try to tackle it in this session.

I did fast travel there, though, because I’d lost track of where the hell I’d left Jordis on the ice and I wanted to get her caught back up with me.

That was successful, but I also realized I was carrying way too much stuff to tackle Alftand properly. So I boinged back to Lakeview to do some improvement work, and also to drop off a bunch of stuff.

Very reluctantly, I dropped off the Nightingale weapons, and also the Guild Master and Blades armor. I really like the Blades armor look, but it’s still not a match for the dragonscale armor, so it’s not worth me hauling it around and adding that to my carry weight.

Likewise the Guild Master armor. The most useful thing I get out of that is the +50 to Carry Weight, but now I’ve got a ring and a necklace that give me over +50 to Carry Weight combined, and those are a lot lighter than the armor.

So that whittled me down to carrying the dragonscale armor and the Nightingale. I’m reluctant to ditch the Nightingale armor completely, just because having the Muffle off those boots is too damned useful. And I suspect I’m going to want this armor when I finally make it to Blackreach.

When I’d beaten the inventory list back down to reasonable levels, I fast traveled back to Alftand and saved there for the night.

Next time

Going to dive headlong into running Alftand, definitely. But I just re-read my Alarrah post about this dungeon, in which I see that I’d had to tell Lydia to go into wait mode near some piston traps. And if those hadn’t gotten her, the spinning blade trap I found later would have done. Also, I spent a lot of time in that run backtracking to actually get back to where I’d left Lyds.

Which makes me think I’d better reconsider the strategy of taking Jordis in there.

And if I’m going in there solo, I definitely need to do it maximizing the stealth. I got through Raldbthar without killing a single Falmer; can I do it in Alftand?

Let’s find out.


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.