Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Hunts Crimson Nirnroot, the Pale Lady, Bandits, and Bears

This session got a little more random than I planned going in! But this was kind of cool regardless, as I did some wandering around on foot to try to see if I could have anything interesting happen–and to get opportunities to exercise the Heavy Armor skill. I was pleased to find at least one totally brand new location I never saw during Alarrah’s run!

With the exception of finding the Lunar Forge, though, this was all familiar territory. So again, I’ll be focusing on the bits that were different this time vs. what happened when Alarrah did them.


  • Session number in this run: 37
  • Before doing anything else, I decided I’d run Blackreach for the crimson nirnroot
  • First though, back to Lakeview for inventory management; did a bit of crafting and enchanting
  • But I appear to have triggered an armor duplication glitch? I’d taken the Dwarven shield off the mannequin where I put my Guild Master armor, and a new Dwarven shield showed up there?
  • Fast traveled to Honningbrew to sell stuff–and got an Elder Dragon, helped Whiterun guards kill it before selling stuff to Mallus, and more stuff in Whiterun proper
  • Fast traveled to Tower of Mzark to get back into Blackreach; looted a few things from nearby chest first
  • Got Drokt’s journal while I was in there
  • Did a lot of hunting for nirnroot and mining of various ore and geode veins
  • Killed a couple of trolls, but also broke my streak of not killing Falmer; a couple of them overheard me mining, I think?
  • Also wound up having to kill a few Falmer servants because I wasn’t looking where I was going while sneaking and bumped into one, which turned him hostile and brought two others and a Falmer running to join in the fray
  • Got a total of 31 nirnroots, and escaped Blackreach via lift at Mzinchaleft
  • Started to fast travel off to give Avrusa Sarethi the nirnroot, was told I couldn’t fast travel with enemies nearby, and stumbled across the locale for the Pale Lady plot; I hadn’t realized I was that close to that dungeon
  • Did the intro to the Pale Lady plot, with the bandit woman telling me what was going on before she ran off; went to Sarethi farm anyway because I didn’t want to run the Pale Lady plot right then
  • Fast traveled down to the farm and yikes two dragons and a frost spider!
  • The dragons killed a couple of Imperials, apparently? But at least didn’t burn down the farm or kill the Sarethis, which was good
  • Gave Avrusa the crimson nirnroot, also sold her a regular nirnroot, and got her quest to get Jazbay grapes
  • Did another round of inventory management and selling stuff, in Lakeview, Honningbrew, and Whiterun
  • Then went back to run the Pale Lady quest, mostly to get the word off the Word Wall, since I didn’t particularly care about having the Pale Blade
  • After that, hoofed it southward to see what experience I could get en route to Gunmar
  • Answer: Labyrinthian! \0/
  • Came uncomfortably close to a giant leading a cow off to his camp, but stayed out of the giant’s line of sight as I headed into Labyrinthian and decided to run Shalidor’s Maze
  • Cleared the Maze, but didn’t get the Diadem of the Savant because I killed the dremora too fast, I think? It didn’t teleport with me out of the Trial of Conjuration. But I killed a couple storm atronachs though and got their void salts
  • Went further south from Labyrinthian on foot, and found Silent Moons Camp; wasn’t going to clear it, but welp, the bandits attacked me, sooooo…
  • Didn’t bother to clear the entire dungeon, because the initial access had the interesting thing: the Lunar Forge, where I found a lunar mace
  • Came up on Whiterun without realizing it, it looked way different in the dark
  • Picked up Lydia since I was there anyway, and did one more round of selling things to Arcadia and Mallus before heading out to find Gunmar
  • Discovered Graywinter Watch but did not engage; also discovered Ritual Stone, and engaged necromancer there who attacked us when we showed up
  • Made it to Gunmar and helped him out with his bear hunt, and talked him into going to seeing what Isran wants re: vampires
  • Got Bow of the Hunt from the bear cave
  • Took Lydia to Lakeview so we could drop off stuff and I could destroy the lunar mace for its enchantment
  • Saved for the night

A Return to Your Roots quest

Noting for the record that it is kind of tedious to run all over Blackreach to find thirty samples of crimson nirnroot, particularly given that the in-game map of Blackreach is not exactly helpful. So it’s very, very easy to get lost down there.

That said: I still had fun with it doing it a second time. Blackreach still looks amazing. And trying to avoid killing any Falmer added an extra layer of challenge to it!

I was sad though that I wasn’t able to actually hold to that challenge. A few Falmer found me when I was trying to mine one of the ore veins–presumably because of the sound of my pickaxe. This is the risk of trying to do any mining in Blackreach, but there are so many tasty ore veins down there!

And I wound up having to fight some Falmer servants, too. Most of the nirnroot I found were samples I could get without having to enter any of the buildings, but when I was looking for sample #30, in a pot at the top of the Hall of Rumination, I had trouble actually finding the way up there without actually alerting anyone to my presence.

And I screwed it up, because a Falmer Servant crossed my path when I was looking in the exact wrong direction–and he realized I was there and immediately turned hostile. Which brought two more running. And an actual Falmer. So I had to kill all four of them.

Self-defense, but still. Though I gotta also note, it says unpleasant things about the Falmer that they do, in fact, have slaves. Slaves who are apparently:

  1. Allowed by the Falmer to carry weapons
  2. Not actually Falmer themselves

According to the wiki they will attack you if there are Falmer nearby, but will leave you be if there aren’t, as long as you keep your distance. Which makes me wonder, how the hell do the Falmer enforce this? Are the slaves under some kind of mind control?

I know from other plots in the game that it is absolutely possible for a mage to mind-control others. Shit, that’s the entire driving mechanism of Miraak’s attempt to take over Solstheim! But Miraak’s only the most obvious example; there are other examples with smaller plots of mind control as well.

And that there’s a distinct possibility here that the Falmer might be doing it to their slaves is shudder-inducing.

I think the phrase I want here is “perpetuating the cycle of abuse”.

Anyway, as it happened, I didn’t even need that nirnroot sample out of the Hall of Rumination. Because I found sample #31 on the way out. DOH.

My exit turned out to be the lift up through Mzinchaleft, which I hadn’t yet accessed in this game–that’s the place where Mjoll the Lioness lost her sword. But now I have that on my map, so I can come back if required!

Tried to fast travel off to Avrusa Sarethi’s farm, since I’d discovered that location before. But couldn’t do so, as the game informed me I had enemies nearby. So I had to run off a little ways to try to fast travel again–and inadvertently discovered I was right by Frostmere Crypt, which led me to trigger the Pale Lady quest I’d done as Alarrah before.

I let that start up enough to get me the intro–the bandit Eisa confronting me, then leaving me to do what I wanted as she got the hell out of Dodge–but then elected to leave the plot for later so I could deal with the nirnroot.

As mentioned in the highlights, this was unexpectedly challenging! Because for the second time this game, I got two dragons, not one, when coming out of fast travel. :O

This resulted in the deaths of at least two Imperial NPCs (Imperial in the sense of ‘nationality of human’, as opposed to ‘Imperial soldiers’). But the dragons didn’t destroy Avrusa’s farm, or kill either her or her sister. Whew.

I got the samples of crimson nirnroot handed off to her, and got Sinderion’s tome about the plant as my reward. And also got Avrusa’s quest for getting Jazbay grapes, while I was at it.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t run that quest as Alarrah; I have no results for “Jazbay” if I search my previous posts. But this should be easy enough as I ought to be able to harvest the grapes by wandering around Eastmarch.

The Pale Lady quest

This played out more or less the same way it did as when I ran the quest with Alarrah. Not a terribly difficult dungeon as long as you’re able to take out a Wispmother.

The Pale Blade is not terribly interesting to me as a weapon, but I went ahead and ran the quest anyway just to get to the Word Wall in the dungeon. That wall had a word for the Ice Form Shout, so now I have that one finished up on my list.

Labyrinthian and Shalidor’s Maze

I knew I was going to want to come back to Labyrinthian at some point during this run, just to do Shalidor’s Maze.

This is another thing where the quest is kind of more fun than the reward–and I didn’t even get the Diadem of the Savant. Because the dremora that attacked me as part of the Trial of Conjuration died very quickly, and I didn’t get a chance to loot his remains before I got thrown back to the maze proper. So I didn’t get the Diadem, or for that matter his Daedra heart.

But I did get the Word off the Word Wall there, too, for the Dismay Shout.

One thing I’ll note that I did differently than how Alarrah did it: I threw Fear spells at skeevers in the maze a few times, just because that happened to be the spell I used to trigger the Illusion sigil, and I hadn’t used that spell much before. And yep, that sure does make skeevers run off!

It was interesting, too, just to see the swirl of red fire that you get around your fingers with a Fear spell queued up.

Silent Moons Camp

I stumbled across this location entirely by accident! Given how close it wound up being to Whiterun, I’m a little surprised I never found it before–but apparently I never walked in the exact right course to find it?

It seemed like a pretty standard bandit camp type locale, with the same sort of circular entrance I’ve seen for draugr hives before. I did not clear the whole camp, mostly because the interesting part of it, the Lunar Forge, was available right there in the initial circular entrance.

So after I killed the bandits who charged at me while I was passing by, I stopped long enough to at least investigate the Lunar Forge.

The Forge itself seemed like a pretty standard forge, and indeed, the wiki said that you couldn’t use it to make Lunar weapons yourself. But you could destroy existing ones to learn the enchantment, if you wanted.

So I did that. I grabbed a mace lying near the Forge and took it with me to destroy later. Mind you, a weapon that does fire damage only when the moons are out seems weirdly specific, particularly given that I already have a general Fire Damage enchantment?

But there are interesting questions here of whether you could stack them. I will need to experiment with this.

Also, I’m a little sad I neglected to get a screenshot of Whiterun, when I was coming south from Silent Moons Camp. Because by then it was quite dark in-game, and I had no idea that I was looking at Whiterun from afar–and in particular the lit windows of Dragonsreach–until I doublechecked where I was on the map. It looked pretty neat and unlike any view I’d had of Whiterun before. I’ll have to try to replicate that view later!

A New Order quest

As long as I was in Whiterun, anyway, I decided to do one more round of shopping and also to pick up Lydia. Once I took care of that, I finally set off in search of Gunmar to move the Dawnguard plot along some more.

Went to Gunmar’s locale on foot again, just because I was in the mood for it, and to see whether I could discover any more interesting locations. I triggered two I think I’d discovered before as Alarrah, just east of Whiterun: Graywinter Watch and the Ritual Stone.

Getting to Gunmar played out pretty much like it did with Alarrah’s run, so suffice to say, yep, helped him kill the bear and got him on board with talking to Isran about signing on for the Dawnguard.

Then I boinged back to Lakeview, with Lydia, for one more round of dropping off stuff before saving for the night.

Next time

Gonna head into the Reach to go look for Sorine, and probably also run Valthume while I’m over there.

And once Sorine is on Team Dawnguard, I should have access to her side quests, as well as having her available as an Archery trainer. (Gunmar is also a trainer, but he’s a Smithing trainer, not currently a useful thing to train on given that my Smithing is maxed and I probably won’t do the Legendary thing on it this time through.)

This will also get me to the point of having Serana back in play, since she shows up at the end of the New Order quest. And I’ll be able to get in level 56’s round of training with Isran.

(Note to self: do not skimp on the training this time through. Because it gets your skills bumped and is a reason to spend some of this increasingly ludicrous amount of gold you’re amassing!)


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.