Dawnguard,  Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Slays a Dragon Priest and Quests for the Dawnguard

Mostly familiar territory again in this session, only this time, there was more mileage of stuff done in different ways. Not the killing of the Dragon Priest Hevnoraak–that did go pretty much as it had done for Alarrah–but I got some fun variations of events once I returned to the Dawnguard plotline and got Serana at my back.


  • Session number in this run: 38
  • Made a bunch of potions at Lakeview and then sold them to Mallus at Honningbrew
  • Went to Gjukar’s monument as fast travel landmark, then headed towards Valthume
  • Found Gloomreach but did not enter
  • Heard distant dragon, but never engaged; did engage flame atronach
  • Reached Valthume and that played pretty much like it had with Alarrah
  • One amusing moment: draugr coming at me, only to get slammed by battering ram when Lydia ran across a pressure plate, lolololol
  • Got the word for Aura Whisper off the Word Wall
  • Woke up Hevnoraak as per ritual, and then Lydia and I shot him to death with arrows; got his mask and staff
  • Head north to find Sorine; discovered Reachcliff Cave, but did not engage
  • Another M’aiq the Liar sighting
  • Sighted a random courier bound elsewhere
  • Did engage cultists
  • Found Sorine and passed Persuade check to get her to Fort Dawnguard
  • Dropped Lydia off in Whiterun; sold stuff to Belethor and Arcadia
  • Went to Lakeview to drop off things, then went to Fort Dawnguard
  • Got Isran’s speech to me and Sorine and Gunmar; then Isran took me to question Serana, pretty much same as with Alarrah
  • However, I got him to train me more in heavy armor, and also a side quest to warn Laila Law-Giver about a vampire in her court
  • Went to talk to Sorine and got her side quest to get the enhanced crossbow schematic (this time in Swindler’s Den)
  • Headed out of the fort on foot, jumped by vampire scouts just past the gate
  • Also jumped by Volkihar vampires actually outside the canyon, and they killed me once, yow
  • Switched off to dragonscale armor to fight them the second time and that worked (though I had to burn a potion of Cure Disease)
  • Stopped to sleep at the Thieves Guild before speaking to the Jarl
  • Got jumped by a vampire called “Traveler” which flipped out the guards, yikes, and I had to roll back to previous autosave
  • That got Serana to say that the cistern made her uneasy? Honey, they’re just thieves
  • Take two of going to the keep: Laila Law-Giver said she was going to need proof
  • Waited till advisor was in a corner of the hall, then quaffed potion of invisibility and pickpocketed his letter off of him
  • Gave it to the Jarl after I came out of sneak
  • She went “I trust you will take care of this problem”
  • Narrator: “She took care of the problem”
  • Tried to talk to carriage driver about the Moth Priest, and bribed him to tell me he’d taken him to Dragon Bridge
  • While I was talking to him another vampire attack happened, yeesh; the Khajiit got in on it and the carriage driver; I killed the vampire the carriage driver was fighting
  • Serana took out another and then raised her, and I think that flipped out some of the guards? Serana killed at least one of them, I think…?
  • Only I got shit for it because a guard tried to arrest me as soon as we tried to walk away
  • So I rolled back to the point of coming out of Mistveil Keep and tried again, to see if we could get out of Riften without pissing off the guards; answer, yes
  • Fast traveled to Swindler’s Den; killed most of the bandits and got the schematic, then headed northwest to Dragon Bridge
  • Spotted another distant dragon which may or may not have been the Eldersblood Peak dragon re-spawned; didn’t get close enough to engage and find out
  • Did, however, engage bandits
  • And went past a farmer with a painted cow, the guy trying to appease giants
  • Found dead Redguard merchant and her cart and dead horse
  • This time since I came at Dragon Bridge from the south, I actually found the remains of the ambushed caravan before talking to anybody in Dragon Bridge, and that let those optional objectives on the quest go ahead and complete
  • Read the dead vampire’s note and got the pointer to go find the hideout where the Moth Priest had been taken
  • Saved for the night

Killing Hevnoraak and clearing Valthume

This did go pretty much the same way it had done with Alarrah, with the main differences this time through being:

  1. I didn’t find and kill all the spiders
  2. I don’t see in my Alarrah post that I’d mentioned the spellcaster traps spitting flame? Deactivated those this time by shooting them off their pedestals
  3. Lollertastic moment with a draugr charging at me only to get plammoed by the battering ram triggered when Lydia walked over a pressure plate 😀

This makes dragon claw number five (number three, of the ones I actually kept, since I sold the first two), and Dragon Priest number five, I think?

Finishing the New Order quest

This, likewise, pretty much played like it had done with Alarrah. And yeah, Isran’s still an asshole. Enough of an asshole that Gunmar and Sorine both comment on it, really, Sorine in particular! But this time through, I feel it it probably says something that Gunmar and Sorine did agree to come back and talk to him–so apparently they didn’t believe he was enough of an asshole to write him off completely.

Starting Prophet, A Jarl’s Justice, and Ancient Technology quests

This is the part where things diverged from how Alarrah had done them, and that added an extra layer of fun to the proceedings.

First of all, I didn’t run off immediately after finishing talking to Isran and Serana. I got Isran to give me more training in Heavy Armor—which is definitely proving helpful and making the Blades armor more useful to wear. (And I’ve started dropping perk points on the Heavy Armor tree, which is starting to bump up the rating on those armor pieces, too.)

Secondly, I threw him the “what can I do to help?” question. This triggered a side quest I never did with Alarrah: the quest called A Jarl’s Justice, which involves going to warn a Jarl that a vampire masquerading as a visiting advisor has infiltrated their court.

And before hurrying off to deal with that, I also went to talk to Sorine and got her to give me her quest to find the enhanced schematic for Dwemer crossbows. Bought the spellbook for Sun Fire while I was at it. I don’t remember using that spell before as Alarrah, so it’d be interesting to play with it this time through.

So that got me three parallel quests at once. I decided I’d do them in this order:

  1. Go to Riften to warn Laila Law-Giver of the vampire in her court
  2. Go to Swindler’s Den to get the schematic
  3. Go to Dragon Bridge to look for the Moth Priest

Just getting to Riften turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Fort Dawnguard wasn’t that far away, so I decided to walk it—but that got me two different random vampire attacks, one just past the fort’s gates, and the other when Serana and I left Dayspring Canyon.

The first set of vampires wasn’t a problem. The second set… not so much. They did kill me once, but the second time through I switched off to the dragonscale armor and took care of that problem. Still had to burn one of my stock of Cure Disease potions, though, because not going to be a vampire, nope.

Encountering the Traveler

Got into Riften after hours, so decided to crash for a bit at the Thieves Guild. Which I wound up having to do twice, due to what happened with the Traveler! Amusing though to get Serena’s comment about the Cistern making her “uneasy”. A little hilarious that a vampire would be nervous about being underground, and hey, Serana, did I mention I’m the Guild Master? Nobody here is going to give you shit if you’re with me. It’s okay.

After getting a bit of shut-eye at my bed in the Cistern, I popped back out again to go check in with the Jarl and go “by the way, there’s a vampire here”. Getting to her though proved to be a bit of a challenge—because I had an unexpected new Dawnguard-related development, an NPC called “Traveler” that I hadn’t ever encountered during Alarrah’s run.

This guy is apparently a disguised vampire, who you can encounter randomly wandering around cities or settlements. And if you get too close to him, he will go hostile and attack. Which is exactly what he did to me. I actually thought he might be the vampire pretending to be an advisor when I first saw him—because he was wearing unfamiliar black robes and was not a normal sight to see wandering around Riften.

When I came up to him though, he immediately got hostile and even summoned a gargoyle to fight me. Yikes.

Tried to engage him in combat, only something happened that pissed off the guards, and they started attacking me. I don’t know what the hell happened, if I accidentally hit a guard or if they took my entering combat with the Traveler as assault, or what?

From what I see on the wiki, I should in theory be able to take this guy out if he turns hostile first? Or if I throw a Detect Undead on him to determine that oh shit, yep, he’s a vampire?

And apparently also this guy can take out NPCs, too. So as long as I have the Dawnguard quest line active, I’m going to need to be real careful about setting foot in cities.

As it happened, I rolled back once the guards turned hostile to me and tried again. Spotted the Traveler from afar the second time through, and this time I didn’t get close enough for him to go hostile. But I sure hope he didn’t take out any NPCs that time!

A Jarl’s Justice quest

Once I tried to go see the Jarl the second time, I made it into the main hall of Mistveil Keep and got to Laila Law-Giver to talk to her.

She was initially reluctant, saying she’d need proof. Okay fine, so then I had to find the advisor and steal his orders off of him. Conveniently, the dude was right there in the main hall. So once he was sitting far enough out of the way, I went over near him, quaffed a potion of invisibility, and then dropped into Sneak so I could pickpocket him and get his orders.

Which means I used Pickpocket for non-thievery purposes, lol.

I was then able to go out of Sneak, go right back over to the Jarl, and hand her the letter. Which, oddly enough, visiting vampire dude seemed completely oblivious to!

Laila Law-Giver basically went “right then, I trust you’ll take care of this problem for me and dispense my justice?”

Narrator: “She took care of the problem and dispensed the Jarl’s justice.”

Dude had gotten into Wylandriah’s shop by the time I’d gotten Laila Law-Giver’s dispensation to take him out, so I took him out in there. And true to expectations, nobody gave me shit about it, and my next objective became reporting back to Isran.

However, as per the plan, I decided to head over to Swindler’s Den first, and also to try to get a lead on that Moth Priest.

Leaving Riften

Since I’d gone straight to the College of Winterhold to ask after the Moth Priest as Alarrah, I decided to take a different tack this time and go talk to Riften’s carriage driver for info.

Which required leaving Riften’s north gate, since that’s where the stables are as well as the carriage. So I did that, with Serana at my back, and discovered I had a new “Have you seen a Moth Priest?” dialogue option with the carriage driver.

I started in on that line of questioning with him, and got to the point of bribing him for further info—when another damn vampire attack broke out. Yikes.

I saw the nearby Khajiit (because the Khajiit were on hand again) get into the fight, as well as the guards and Serana. And even the carriage driver, Sigaar, got in on it when one of the vamps came over by his horse. 😮

So I tried to jump in on the fight, too, but something happened to one of the Riften guards or other nearby NPCs that I didn’t intend—because I think I spotted one of the guards fighting Serana. And when I tried to leave the scene, one of the remaining guards actually tried to arrest me.

I don’t know WTF happened there, if it was a matter of Serana hitting one of the guards and me getting the bounty for it, or what? Or the guards flipping out at seeing Serana throw necromancy around? Because she did raise one of the enemy vampires during the fight.

So I had to roll back from that little bit of excitement, too. Note to self: be very, very careful about taking Serana into cities, because:

  1. She’s aggressive and will throw down if combat comes her way
  2. She is a vampire, so if she does anything obviously vampiric, this seems like legit grounds for guards to freak out
  3. She’s also a powerful necromancer, so if somebody sees her raising a body, also possible legit grounds for guards to freak out

And apparently if your follower commits a crime, you will get the bounty. So if Serana caused both of the situations I had to roll back from in this session, yeah, gotta be real careful taking her into cities.

Fortunately, this was the last time I had to set foot in a city this session.

Ancient Technology quest

Going to Swindler’s Den for the schematic was easy enough. Particularly given that this was the third time I’d set foot in the place this playthrough!

I’m pretty sure I didn’t kill all of the various bandits in there this time, but Serana and I did take out several of them en route to getting the schematic out of the boss chest.

So that quest is now to the point of taking the schematic back to Sorine, but holding on that until we rescue the Moth Priest.

Prophet quest

And speaking of the Moth Priest, after getting that schematic, I headed more or less northward from Swindler’s Den to see about reaching Dragon Bridge.

Since this was cross-country, there was no risk of Serana inadvertently getting into fights with NPCs she shouldn’t. It still amuses me though that she will totally bitch about the weather and being outside. If it’s sunny, she’ll bitch about the sun “not being good for my skin”. Lol. If it’s raining or snowing, she’ll bitch about “that beautiful Skyrim weather I’ve always heard about”.

(Makes me wonder exactly when in her initial years Serana got made a vampire, and if that was when she was a child or what? Because I should think she’d have at least some recollection of how weather worked, from even before her mother stashed her away with the Elder Scroll. Or had she been kept out of weather conditions a lot when she was a child, even before her family all became vampires? And were they living in Skyrim at the time, or elsewhere? Her backstory isn’t exactly clear on when and where the transition happened.)

Note also that we were traveling during broad daylight this time, and approaching Dragon Bridge from the south rather than coming over west from Solitude. This had the immediate impact of not even having to set foot in Dragon Bridge to ask about the Moth Priest—because I found the remnants of the ambush on his carriage before even reaching the settlement.

Which also meant that I was able to find the vampire corpse with the orders that pointed me at the hideout where the priest had been taken. So once I found that, that automatically settled the objectives of finding a Moth Priest, and speaking to someone in Dragon Bridge about him.

With Serana, I headed over to the hideout locale nearby, and saved there for the night.

Next time

Main goal for the next session will definitely be rescuing the Moth Priest. Time permitting, I’ll get him back to Fort Dawnguard, and that should let me settle up with Isran for the Jarl’s Justice quest, and with Sorine for the Ancient Technology one, as well.

There are interesting narrative questions at this point about Merawen’s priorities. She knows Paarthurnax wanted her to bring the Elder Scroll back to the Throat of the World, because Alduin is a gigantic threat—but on the other hand, the vampires are also now in play. So there are two competing major threats to deal with here.

So I figure Merawen might be thinking, “I’ve got one Elder Scroll, Serana has another, and right now I’m not inclined to let either one out of my sight.” And she’s dealing with the vampires right now because they seem to be the more obvious, immediate threat.

Also, still trying to hold to the goal here of seeing if I can do Dawnguard and Dragonborn before taking out Alduin. I’m trying to see if it makes narrative sense to do that. I’m not a hundred percent convinced it does, just because I have a hard time seeing how Merawen would bugger off to Solstheim before finishing dealing with Alduin?

Particularly before she’s had a chance to return to Paarthurnax with the Elder Scroll.

I could see it making a bit more sense if the cultists who keep attacking me tried to do something like, oh, say, kidnap me to Solstheim to sacrifice me to Miraak. But as it stands, right now these are my reasons to go to Solstheim:

  1. If I get sent over there on a random Thieves Guild job
  2. If I get sent over there on a quest for the mage college to get something enchanted
  3. If I want to follow up on who the hell Miraak is and why he keeps sending people to kill me

All of those, for Merawen, have to go up against the fact that Solstheim is considered part of Morrowind now, and it’s within sight of the Red Mountain. So she’d kinda want to maybe gnaw her own arm off before setting foot in the place again. And she knows this for sure because she’s actually been over there at least once now.

Still though I suppose I could look at this as a matter of “who the fuck is this Miraak guy and why is he trying to kill me, and is he going to get in the way of me stopping Alduin? Am I going to have to go over there and deal with this asshole before I can deal with the World-Eater?”


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.