Dawnguard,  Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Marries Jenassa, Adopts Children, and Quests for the Dawnguard

Very eventful session! This saw my girl Merawen marrying Jenassa, the Dunmer mercenary who is perhaps the one person in all of Skyrim who really gets her. Except maybe also Karliah, and the game won’t let me marry Karliah! So Jenassa it is. 😀

Also adopted two children this time, Sofie from Windhelm, and Runa from the Riften orphanage.

And last but not least, ran two more side quests for the Dawnguard! And got in some practice using Dawnguard spells and weaponry to take out the undead.


  • Session number in this run: 41
  • Doublechecked that I can still rent a room at the Bee and Barb; answer: yes, but Keerava still makes surly noises at me and Talen-Jei is weirdly ambivalent
  • Boinged to Whiterun to give Lydia her Daedric armor and shield; took her ebony armor and shield so I could get that out of her inventory, and sell those
  • Sold things at Warmaiden’s, Arcadia’s Cauldron, and Belethor’s General Goods
  • Bought arrows at the Drunken Huntsman, then proposed to Jenassa 😀
  • Delighted by how it played out, she had different responses from how Lydia reacted in Alarrah’s game!
  • Only three guests at the wedding: Jordis, Kharjo, and the beggar from Markarth, Degaine (sidebar: Degaine from Markarth? Wut?)
  • Went next to the orphanage to adopt a child, Runa Fair-Shield
  • Went to Windhelm to find and adopt Sofie, the little girl who sells flowers by the gate that leads out to the docks
  • Had weird incident with what sounded like either a dragon or maybe Miraak, throwing a line of dragon language dialogue, but there was no obvious reason for this; I just happened to hear the voice while wandering through Windhelm looking for Sofie, WTF
  • Checked in in Solitude to make sure all my new family members were safely settled in Proudspire Manor
  • Went to Lakeview to drop off stuff and prep to go to Fort Dawnguard; killed a giant in my yard with Rayya
  • Checked in with Gunmar at Fort Dawnguard, got the Cleansing Light quest, pointing me at North Shriekwind Bastion
  • Florentius didn’t give me any quests
  • Sorine gave me her third quest for Ancient Technology, this time for exploding bolts of ice! Quest locale was Rift Watchtower
  • Went to Rift Watchtower for the schematic, encountered three orc hostiles, evaded two
  • Went to North Shriekwind Bastion to clear out the vampire nest there, and practiced using Stendarr’s Aura spell and the exploding crossbow bolts of fire 🤩
  • Checked back in at Fort Dawnguard to resolve those quests and get new ones, and also make exploding crossbow bolts of ice!

Marrying Jenassa

After all that thinking I did about the headcanon for how Merawen would propose to Jenassa, it turned out that they were both super straightforward about it, so I’m totally keeping this as the canon. Conversation went like this:

Jenassa: An Amulet of Mara? You seek marriage, then?

Me: Interested in me, are you?

Jenassa: Won’t lie. I am. And you?

Me: Won’t lie. I am!

So clearly these two Dunmer have gone native, romantically speaking. 😀

Also hilarious: having to still pay Jenassa 500 gold to get her to get up and follow me to Riften so we could, in fact, get married! Well, I guess she can consider that a wedding present!

So I boinged us over to Riften to take care of the wedding. We got there around 10pm, but I was still able to walk into the Temple of Mara and tell Maramal we wanted to get married. And then I went back to the Bee and Barb to rent a room for the night.

Keerava still doesn’t like me (justifiable, really), but she’s apparently willing to take my money still. And Talen-Jei, her suitor, is weirdly ambivalent at me now. He makes happy “friend” type lines at me because of my having brought him the amethysts, and can then turn around and also make cranky lines at me about how I have some nerve still showing up in the place after what I did to Keerava.

And really, I can’t blame the guy for being ambivalent about the person who threatened his beloved, but then turned around and brought him amethysts to make for a ring to give to his beloved. That is legit conflict material right there!

And I feel like Merawen probably feels quite guilty about doing what she did to Keerava, but she has no mechanism by which to atone for it in the game. Giving Talen-Jei the amethysts was the closest I could come to that. So I have been keeping her out of the Bee and Barb unless absolutely necessary, since I figure Merawen wouldn’t want to press her luck by setting foot in there and inflicting her presence on the Argonians.

Still though, this was my best bet for where to sleep before having the wedding with Jenassa. Because see previous commentary re: can’t really take her into the Thieves Guild HQ or Nightingale Hall.

So I crashed at the Bee and Barb, and then switched over into mage robes (best clothes I had with me) and the Aetherial Crown to report to the Temple.

The attendees at the ceremony were:

  • Housecarl Jordis, which was super convenient given that I wanted to settle Merawen’s new family in Solitude, so now she has in-character reason to know her thane has a new spouse.
  • Kharjo the Khajiit! Yay, Kharjo! And apparently given that Nords are generally pretty shitty to the Khajiit about not letting them inside the cities, clearly he must have talked a guard into letting him into the Temple? And the Khajiit do know I’m with the Thieves Guild, since I made that deal with Ri’saad. So he may have even been able to say “I know that woman with the Thieves Guild and she’s getting married, I want to be there, here’s 20 gold”.
  • Degaine the beggar, from Markarth. This was the one that made me go WTF!

Seriously, having Degaine be there was really fucking weird and also pretty funny. Degaine’s notable for being a rude beggar, actively insulting when he’s yelling for alms in the market in Markarth. I’ve actually given him a few coins, but that’s the extent of my interactions with him.

Also, he lives in frigging Markarth, which is clear over on the opposite side of Skyrim from where Riften is.

Which means that this guy came all the way over from Markarth to attend the wedding of a woman who gave him just a few coins, and I HAVE QUESTIONS.

  1. He’s a beggar; how the hell did he pay for the carriage driver at Markarth to take him all the way to Riften? Did he have a really profitable begging day?
  2. Why would he give a flying fuck about a woman who’d given him a few coins getting married?
  3. How the hell did he even hear about the wedding?

I feel like his bitchy exterior must clearly hide a gooey soft center, if he could be moved to come to the wedding of a woman who just gave him a few coins even after he insulted her.

Either that, or he just happened to be begging in Riften this week instead of Markarth, and he came into the Temple hoping maybe they’d give him some wedding food?

Maybe both of those. 😀

Meanwhile though I am simultaneously disappointed and also vaguely miffed that nobody, but nobody, in the Thieves Guild showed up. Not even Brynjolf or Karliah. Seriously, you guys? Your Guild Master is getting hitched and you guys couldn’t be arsed to come up out of the Ragged Flagon for this?

Same goes for you, mages of the College of Winterhold! Not the slightest bit interested in showing up for your Arch-Mage getting married? Sheesh.

Anyway! Once the ceremony was concluded, Jenassa asked where I wanted to live, and said I could move in with her. Hon, we can do better than the Drunken Huntsman. Come to my place in Solitude. You’ll be way more comfortable there!

And she and Jordis headed out more or less together, so I figure they returned to Solitude together and had the opportunity to get to know one another on the way!

Adopting Runa Fair-Shield

Once Jenassa was happily on her way to Solitude with Jordis (and heh, I do hope the two of them had delightful conversations on the carriage ride to Solitude, or alternately had fun hoofing it back and maybe fighting bears and bandits on the way, as you do), my next course of business was to make with the adopting.

So I strolled over to the orphanage and had a conversation with Constance Michel about that! She was delighted to hear that I wanted to take one of her charges into a home, and gave me a perfectly understandable little interview first to check my suitability.

My options for the answer to her “what do you for a living?” question were:

  • I’m the Dragonborn.
  • I’m the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.
  • I’m a Thief.
  • I’m an Adventurer.
  • I’m a Mercenary.

All of which are basically true, but for generally obvious reasons I opted not to tell her number three. Delightful though it is to imagine this:

Me: Would it help if I told you I’m the Guild Master of the Thieves Guild?

Constance: No, it would not help!

So I opted for “Arch-Mage”, and got Constance’s boggling “wait, you’re serious?” reaction, lol. She then asked me where I’d want to settle my choice for adoption, and I told her my house in Solitude. With that, she invited me to go talk to the children and decide which of them I wanted to take into my home.

And I had to chortle at Paul’s proposed conversational gambit with the children: “Okay, I’m going to turn my back, and the first one of you to pick my pocket without my noticing wins!” 🤣

Sadly, though probably for the best for the purposes of avoiding freaking out Constance, I could not take that particular tactic.

I already knew I’d be choosing Runa, the one girl in the place. Though I was kind of charmed by the one boy I talked to, Hroar, who told me his name was like ‘roar’ and how he wants to be big and strong like a lion when he grows up. Aw. ❤️ Well, kid, I may have to adopt you in a future playthrough!

I talked to Runa after talking to Hroar, though, and Runa was all “pick me! Pick me!” Then she proceeded to tell me how she was strong and smart and how all the boys picked on her and made her do all the chores. Say no more, sweetheart. You’re totally coming home with me to Solitude.

Adopting Sofie, and mysterious voice on the streets of Windhelm

After I adopted Runa, I decided to proceed with adopting Sofie as well. And just going to Windhelm for the express purpose of looking for her.

When I got there, I had a very strange thing happen though. While I was just wandering around Windhelm’s winding little streets, I kept hearing a line of what sounded like the dragon language, and in a deep booming voice that definitely sounded like a dragon.

There was no apparent cause for this. I didn’t see anybody unusual in the streets, and there was no obvious sign of a dragon overhead in the skies. But it kept happening as I poked around looking for any sign of what was up. It only stopped when I exited the main gate of the city and then came back inside.

Paul suggested it might be a Miraak thing. This is certainly possible, as it sounded like a thing Miraak might be saying. And I think I heard something similar booming through the area when Merawen was transported to the Beast Stone on the recent jaunt to Solstheim. However, this time I wasn’t on Solstheim, I was in Windhelm.

For the life of me, I cannot find any useful search results about this to figure out what the hell it was I heard. If it happens again I’ll have to see if I can turn on subtitles in the game and get a screenshot, to at least get an idea of what the words were, to see if I can at least search for those.

In the meantime, I hunted around a bit for little Sofie. Found her finally in the Dunmer Gray Quarter, and offered to adopt her. ❤️ She perked right up and thanked me!

(And apparently made it to Solitude all by herself. Lol. I suppose I have to headcanon that Merawen at least escorted the kid to the carriage driver and paid the guy to actually take the kid there so she’d not have to walk the whole way!)

Then I went to Solitude to sell some things, and also doublecheck that my new family made it safely to Proudspire. Which they had. Yay!

It’s a little weird to actually hear more footsteps and people noises in Proudspire now. But also cool. The house definitely has room for everybody, and now Jordis has company!

Jenassa also informed me she’d be starting up a store to keep herself occupied.

(And heh, I think I have to headcanon that Jordis may become the children’s unofficial third mother, just because she’s the one Nord adult in this household and she may have to periodically explain Nord things to Merawen and Jenassa, who will look at her like she has cheese coming out of her ears.

Jordis: “My thane, all due respect, but you and your lady are both Dunmer, and you may not be able to teach Runa and Sofie about the ways of the Nords. Let me help!”

Merawen: “You may not have noticed, but some of the ways of the Nords could stand to be improved. You haven’t been to Windhelm. I have.”

Jenassa: “What’s to explain? See a problem, hit it with your sword, isn’t that how Nords do it?”

Jordis: “Do you have a better suggestion?”

Jenassa: “Absolutely. Strike the problem with your dagger from the shadows, before it even sees you’re there.”

Ahem. But I digress!)

Dawnguard quest prep

Needed to gear up for doing Dawnguard action, so I boinged back to Lakeview to drop off smithing materials. I have no smelter in Solitude, and Lakeview has more storage space anyway.

And the giant was still hanging out outside my house! After I dropped off a bunch of things and suited up in my Dawnguard gear, I came back outside and was greeted by Rayya on her circuit of the property. I was about to head out to Fort Dawnguard—but then the giant in the yard got aggressive at her, and attacked.

Yeah, no. You’re standing in my yard and waving your club at my housecarl? I think not, you tall asshole.

So I took him down with a single crossbow bolt. \0/

Then I went to Fort Dawnguard, and talked to Gunmar, Florentius, and Sorine.

Triggered Gunmar’s Cleansing Light quest, but that pointed me at Shriekwind Bastion, which I’d already actually cleared out. But locations do respawn, so apparently Gunmar heard about this? Dude’s got a great spy network if so!

Tried to see if Florentius would give me any quests, but he basically pointed me at Gunmar for an assignment, so.

And Sorine pointed me at the Rift Watchtower to get her a schematic for exploding bolts of ice. CAN DO!

Ancient Technology quest, round three

From Fort Dawnguard, I fast traveled to Redwater Den to get near the watchtower. It was a short walk away, so got there very quickly.

The watchtower was pretty small and there were only a few orc bandits in it. Oddly, the one guarding the front entrance was not initially hostile. But I couldn’t initiate any conversation with him, either. So I snuck off to swap off to the Nightingale armor, and dropped into Sneak to try to get past him by opening the door behind him.

That turned him hostile and he did detect me, and start attacking. But I made it into the tower before he could damage me meaningfully at all.

I couldn’t evade the next orc inside, so I had to kill him. But I was able to evade the one on the top floor of the tower, as well as run like hell from the one outside once I cleared the boss chest and got out with the schematic and other loot.

Next stop: North Shriekwind Bastion!

Cleansing Light quest

I’d already cleared this locale, so it was on my map and easily reached. I did have to glance at the wiki to remind myself of the proper path through to get to the boss vampire, though.

Swapped off to the Dawnguard armor on principle for this, but kept sneaking anyway to get in. Which triggered a fun encounter with one of the two vampires I actually encountered in the place—she clearly knew I was there, because she kept throwing the “you need to leave” line. But she never actually attacked me! Presumably because I was in Sneak and she couldn’t find me.

So I sneak attacked her with the crossbow, and that made a very satisfying explosion taking her down. 😁

Also blew up a bunch of skeletons real good! That Stendarr’s Aura spell? That’s fun. Not at all conducive to sneaking, but boy howdy does it make skeletons disintegrate. Hell, I didn’t even have to hit most of the skeletons I ran into. I just had to get near them, and as soon as the Aura brushed them, they just fell apart. Awesome.

Likewise, the Master Volkihar Vampire boss blew up real nicely when I pelted him with the crossbow. Sadly, I didn’t think fast enough to take a screencap of the nifty cinematic I got when I finally took him out. I really need to get a screencap next time that happens, because wow that was spectacular.

At this point, the crossbow is also very competitive with my dragonbone bow in terms of the amount of damage it can do. The dragonbone arrows do more damage than the crossbow bolts do, but that may be countered by the special fancy crossbolts doing extra damage with fire or frost or shock? It’d be interesting to compare the numbers.

Also, now that my crossbow is the enhanced type, it’s also ignoring 50% of armor. So that may also pull it ahead of the dragonbone bow.

Counterpoint to that being: the crossbow has a slower reload time.

So it’s a real hard call to make! Still though I’m quite enjoying playing more with the crossbow in this game, and particularly, taking the time to get the Dawnguard’s extra fancy additional toys.

Once that quest was done, I tried to boing back to Fort Dawnguard, only to realize I’d forgotten to get my frost salts at Lakeview. So I boinged back to get them, and then returned to the fort.

Checked in with Gunmar to resolve the Cleansing Light quest, and bought a bunch more ingredients off of Florentius. And checked in with Gunmar again, and got the Preemptive Strike quest off of him.

Checked in with Sorine as well, to get round four of her Ancient Technology quests, and go get the schematic for the shock bolts!

Next time

Definitely more Dawnguard vampire hunting action! I need to see more vampires exploding with my fiery and/or frosty crossbow bolts of doom!

And we’ll see how many Dawnguard side quests I do tonight. Once I get the schematic for the shock bolts, I’ll have two more quests I can do with Sorine. Gunmar has four quests he can give you, and I’ve done three of his now.

But his are repeatable, so I may be to a point that I will have to do the save/reload/repeat trick in order to get his fourth quest!

Florentius has two quests he can give you, but apparently most of the time he’ll just point you at Gunmar? So I may need to do the save/reload/repeat trick with him too. I really want to do his Lost Relic quest, because he can send you to go fetch three ancient relics of the original Dawnguard, and they sound pretty badassed.

Also, I am halfway inclined to go proceed with the main Dawnguard quest just to change up the pace a bit. The next main quest action is to meet up with Serana to sneak into her family castle—and that’ll lead me to the Soul Cairn.

Which was great fun in Alarrah’s run, and I’m quite looking forward to having access again to Durnehviir and Arvak!

We’ll see what I’m in the mood for when I start the next session!


Editing to add

  • 11/16/2023: 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.