Dawnguard,  Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Dives Headlong into Forgotten Vale

Now we’re down to it, the Forgotten Vale, definitely my favorite part of the Dawnguard quest line! I did not finish it in this session, but I did get through Darkfall Cave and Darkfall Passage, and made good inroads on Forgotten Vale itself once I got there.

It’ll probably take me another couple of sessions to finish it up and finally get Auriel’s Bow!


  • Session number in this run: 50
  • Began en route to Darkfall Cave; decided to hoof it from Solitude
  • Another thief tried to rob me near the crossroads by the Shrine of Meridia; yet again, I was not recognized as Guild Master, or for that matter a Nightingale, even though I was carrying the Nightingale armor; let Serana kill the thief while I blocked her dagger attacks with my shield
  • Came down the river on the west side from Dragon Bridge, to avoid Robber’s Gorge; this was apparently an abandoned camp for adventurers trying to explore Chillwind Depths, which I discovered nearby
  • Headed south from abandoned camp and then swung west
  • Found abandoned cart and spilled books that I remember finding before as Alarrah
  • From there, climbed up a hill and discovered I was on the far side of Broken Tower Redoubt, where I’d rescued Fjotra
  • Killed by Forsworn on first attempt to get past the place; on take two, Serana actually dove in the front entrance and I had to go after her to retrieve her, though we had to kill a couple more Forsworn on the way out
  • From there, we proceeded into the Reach
  • LOL, Serana has opinions on caves, but ever so kindly noted that if I wanted to go in one, she was right behind me; no rush, hon, we’ll have enough cave action very soon
  • Also LOL, she has opinions on the Reach terrain as the place where hermits and fanatics reside, too
  • Came across vampires vs. at least one bandit, and a dead peddler
  • One of the vampires seemed to actually raise one of her comrades after I killed that one and wasn’t that just a touch alarming? I didn’t know enemy vampires could do that!
  • LOL, I found Sorine’s satchel and all the gyros in it; I hope she still wants them!
  • Found Darkfall Cave and it occurred to me that it’s kind of disturbingly close to Castle Volkihar; probably a damned good thing Harkon didn’t realize he was as close to the bow as he is? Forgotten Vale is practically next door, in terms of relative distances on the map
  • Started in through Darkfall Cave; started swiping torches as I found them, because boy howdy is this place super dark even by Skyrim on the Switch standards
  • Found several of the same things Alarrah did: the bridge that collapsed out from under me and threw me into the water; multiple frostbite spiders, camp of dead Breton woman who’d been researching trolls
  • Got several of her useful things as well as the note explaining why she was there (trying to study and befriend trolls, yeah good luck with that)
  • Took shortcut via hidden door from that camp down to where Gelebor had his camp
  • Got Gelebor’s general “i’ll help you but you have to kill my brother, and also here, take this ewer to all the Wayshrines while you’re at it” pitch, and also, his backstory on the Falmer
  • Agreed to do the thing, and went through the portal to Darkfall Passage
  • Started working my way through there; killed multiple chaurus and Falmer
  • Got to point with large glowing blue rocks and gleamblossoms; killed by Falmer Warmonger there with nasty cold blasts
  • Second time through that part, switched off to Nightingale Armor and dragonbone bow, and also, sneaking; goddammit, what’s the use of 100 sneak if I don’t sneak past the Falmer?
  • Made it to the Blackreach-y part of Darkfall Passage and the first Wayshrine
  • Then got into Forgotten Vale and found the next ones
  • Found the two chests guarded by icewraiths, which had given me trouble as Alarrah
  • Found the frost giant carrying the amethyst paragon; tried to avoid killing it, but could not pickpocket the paragon off of it; sorry I had to kill you, frost giant 🙁
  • Had to roll back from killing the giant, though, because I discovered telling Serana to wait breaks my ability to tell her to stop waiting; just had her help me kill the frost giant second time through
  • Fast travel to Solitude for loot drop break!
  • Runa tried to get me to play a game; sorry honey, can’t talk, dropping off loot, gotta go back and finish clearing out the Vale
  • HI JENASSA, hey I brought you a bunch more gems, also some crafting stuff, the green spotted pelts are pretty neat, maybe you can sell them, I LOVE YOU BAAAAAAAAAAAAI
  • Sold a few things to Sayma, then boinged back to Forgotten Vale
  • Found my way back to where I’d killed the giant with the amethyst paragon
  • Went up the stairs and found the paragon portal
  • Killed frost giant number two and got the sapphire paragon
  • Saved for the night


As near as I can remember, doublechecking Alarrah’s playthrough post for this point of the game, I played through Darkfall Cave pretty much the same way I did the first time. Up to and including:

  • Having the rickety bridge collapse under me and fling me down into the fast-moving river
  • Using the hidden door at the Breton researcher’s camp to go directly to Gelebor’s camp, without having to go through the part of the cavern inhabited by trolls

Likewise, getting through the Darkfall Passage part of the run felt pretty much the same. I might have tried to sneak through without killing any Falmer, like I’ve tried in other dungeons–but with Serana along, and since she’s a very aggressive NPC, sneaking kind of isn’t an option with her. So for the remainder of the Forgotten Vale part of Dawnguard, I’ll need to just be careful to not start any shit with Falmer, but to defend myself if they come at me first.

I managed to flail my way through Darkfall Passage without having to worry too much about following the wiki. Once I got into Forgotten Vale, though, I very specifically started following the wiki again. Just because there is so much to do in Forgotten Vale, and I didn’t want to miss any of it. Not only the higher profile enemies to fight like the frost giants and the twin dragons, but also the various loot chests, and the smorgasbord of ore veins for mining!

As of this post I’ve made it part way into the Vale, and I’ve taken out two of the frost giants and gotten their paragons. I specifically remembered from Alarrah’s playthrough that I felt a little guilty about taking out the frost giants just because there aren’t any others of them anywhere else in the game. And I’d thought as of that post, hey, maybe on future playthroughs I could try to pickpocket the paragons off the giants?

Given that Merawen is a master thief, I did in fact try that this time. Without success. I was able to sneak right up on the giant with the amethyst paragon, thanks to a potion of invisibility as well as my high Sneak skill in general. But I never got any Pickpocket prompt.

From what I see on the wiki, this is apparently because pickpocketing is a thing you can only do to NPCs? And I guess the frost giants don’t count as NPCs, they count as monsters.

(Doing a little further searching, I see that somebody wrote a mod that does in fact let you pickpocket giants. But as I’ve lamented before, you can’t install mods on the Switch. Also, I don’t see on that mod’s description whether it also works on the frost giants anyway!

Paul points out quite correctly that creatures that don’t have pockets, by definition, cannot be pickpocketed. And the vanilla game giants do have crude clothes. But the frost giants don’t, they basically are yetis. So very tough to pickpocket a creature that has no pockets!)

So, sorry I have to kill you, frost giants! I have no other way of getting your shiny paragons!

One other thing I discovered while exploring whether I could pickpocket a frost giant: apparently telling Serana to wait somewhere is problematic. I tried to get her to wait a little ways away from the frost giant’s lair, on the theory that if I kept her out of the way, she wouldn’t interfere with me sneaking up on the giant.

But when I tried to go back to get her, she didn’t have a dialogue option to get her back into active follow mode. Oops.

So I had to roll back to before I killed the amethyst paragon giant, and kill it again. Second time through, I just let Serana help me do it.

At this point, I did what will probably be the first of a couple of loot drop breaks–fast traveling back to Solitude to haul out some of the copious amounts of loot to be had in the Vale. As with Alarrah’s run, I have no real in-character way to justify doing this! Because it makes no sense to tromp all the way back to Solitude just to drop off stuff, and tromp all the way back again.

It’d make a lot more in-character sense to just build up a loot stash somewhere safe in the Vale. The problem with this is, the place is ginormous. And while there are occasional chests to be found, I don’t trust using random chests to stash stuff in. As I have seen on many a wiki page, random Skyrim storage containers should not be expected to still have your stuff in them if you get back to them too slowly!

So, loot drops back to Solitude it is. And I’ll just have to hope I don’t spawn any more occurrences of the Traveler for however many more times I need to pop home and drop off stuff!

After that one loot drop in Solitude (as fast as possible, just long enough to dump stuff in my bedroom chest and then go sell a few things), I boinged right back to the Vale and scampered through the parts I’d already covered, to get back to where I’d left off.

Made it as far as the paragon portal, and a little ways past that, the lair of the second giant, the one with the sapphire paragon. That one, I shot at with my crossbow. Once it was down, I got the paragon and its other loot, and saved for the night.

Next time

More Forgotten Vale action! Still to come:

  • Finding the other three frost giants
  • Finding the twin dragons in the icy lake
  • Getting loot out of the sunken chests in that lake
  • Entirely ridiculous amounts of mining
  • More Falmer than I can shake a crossbow at
  • Probably at least one more loot drop back to Solitude, if not more

I probably won’t make it as far as the Inner Sanctum in the next session, though. We’ll see how far I get!


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.