Dragonborn,  Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Clears White Ridge Barrow and Discovers the Fate of Torkild

This session was a little shorter than I wanted, actually—because of discovering I had a bug with Kagrumez that prevented me from properly clearing that locale. But I did do White Ridge Barrow, and also finally found Torkild of the Skaal!


  • Session number in this run: 66
  • Set out from Raven Rock to finish up the rieklings quest
  • Netch hunters again; declined to join their hunt
  • Fought a burnt spriggan
  • Overheard but did not engage with reavers in respawned camp down the hill
  • Made it back to Thirsk Mead Hall to give the chief his scathecraw, and got him to make the request to help them fight the Nords
  • Let the rieklings and Jenassa mostly take out the Nords
  • Riekling chief turned against me, and got walloped by the other rieklings before I took him out
  • Frost troll showed up to kill a couple of the other rieklings on the way back to the hall, before they killed it
  • Headed north and west to see about hitting one of the remaining big dungeons to clear: White Ridge Barrow
  • My rieklings helped me kill a couple of frost trolls near Hrothmund Barrow, way to go rieklings!
  • Started running White Ridge Barrow
  • Killed the crazy sister of the pair of siblings
  • Also multiple mind controlled bandits, and a lot of spiders
  • Also made a lot of spiders, including types I didn’t do as Alarrah before
  • Rieklings helped out a lot with the spiders
  • Made it to the Word Wall and the boss chest
  • Killed the Dragon Priest Dukaan
  • Read the Black Book Sallow Regent
  • Took Seeker of Sorcery power
  • Got out through the trap door back to the surface, and oh hey look more spiders!
  • Also, respawned Blood Dragon a little ways south, near the Water Stone
  • Returned to Raven Rock
  • Decided to set both Speech and Light Armor to Legendary
  • Speech because I am not hurting for gold, so I don’t really care if my vendor prices go back up
  • Light Armor because my Heavy Armor is now pretty high, and I am not going to go unprotected if I have to work my Light Armor back up
  • This let me get Alteration boosted enough to turn on Mage Armor
  • Also let me get to the point of getting the double enchantment perk, which let me enchant the fuck out of all my stalhrim armor, both Heavy and Light, so I can use those as primary protection for a while
  • Also double-enchanted my stalhrim sword and bow, so I can use those as primary weaponry for a while
  • Slept the night, and got up to sell a boatload of stuff to Glover, Milore, and Fethis
  • Actually having Speech down meant I was able to offload more stuff—and I got back 11 points of Speech pretty much immediately
  • Headed out to go to Kagrumez
  • Ran into cultists, and goddammit, you cultists got blood all over my new stalhrim sword!
  • Cryomancer vs. pyromancer; this time the cryomancer won, except he also discovered that trying to use frost spells to attack a woman armored in frost resistant stalhrim is not the most brilliant of plans
  • Rieklings helped! Hi rieklings! Thank you for reporting for duty!
  • Random aggressive Nord in mixed armor
  • Reached Kagrumez and tried to run it, but ran into a bug with the Reaver Lord in the main chamber not spawning, which blocked me from getting the two additional Resonance Gems he’s supposed to be carrying 🙁
  • And since you need four gems to run Kagrumez and I only had two, I couldn’t get all the necessary gems to do the patterns to trigger the various fights; had to bail on trying that dungeon, oh well
  • Decided to go hunt for Torkild again instead
  • Fast traveled to Glacial Cave, then went west to waterfall, as per suggestion of the wiki; found him!
  • And had to kill him, because he flipped out and went all werebear at Jenassa and me; took a note he was carrying, to bring back to Wulf
  • Reached the Skaal village, where Wulf thanked me for giving him closure and bumped up a few of my skills, which got me almost to leveling up to 65
  • Talked to Edla to buy a few things; triggered quest to talk to her son and make him not leave the village
  • Had to bail out of talking to him the first time, because I realized I’d fail the Persuade check now that I’ve reset my Speech
  • So I did it again, this time with the Amulet of Articulation on; objective achieved, he won’t leave till his mother is ready
  • That leveled me up to 65
  • Decided I’m not ready to deal with sacrificing Storn yet
  • Headed on back to Raven Rock, but first explored the rest of the island with Gyldenhul Barrow on it, which turns out to be Horker Island
  • Jenassa took out like five or six horkers, including “Lord Tusk”
  • Headed south from there; fought random Orc as we passed Tel Mithryn
  • Came back into Raven Rock from a different direction, and wound up jumping down off the Bulwark; I jumped a little too hard and cost myself a few health points, oops
  • Made it safely back to Severin Manor and saved for the night

Finishing The Chief of Thirsk Hall quest

Played this out pretty much the same way Alarrah did it. Up to and including letting the rieklings and Jenassa run ahead of me and do the majority of fighting with the Nords.

Because while I do think the rieklings are kind of adorable, I do on some level find this particular quest line morally murky.

On the one hand, we have a tribe of Nords who, objectively speaking, arguably haven’t done anything worse than becoming lax enough warriors that a tribe of rieklings was able to kick them out of their own mead hall.

From that perspective, leading a pack of vicious little blue bastards down to Bujold’s Retreat seems awfully brutal. I saw that camp in both my playthroughs. Hell, Merawen walked right through it. She even also saw some of these people in thrall to Miraak’s shrine, right next to the rieklings for that matter. So she absolutely has reason to know that yeah, these people weren’t exactly living in luxury.

On the other hand, we have a tribe of rieklings whose chief insists their opponents are “bad Nords”:

“Bad Nords. Say Thirsk theirs. Live by water, bother tribe-kin. We fight. You strong. You help. No more bad Nords.”

“Bad people. They come, fight us. We fight back now.”

You could very easily read into this that the rieklings might be reacting out of revenge or self-defense, if the Nords had been aggressors to them first. But the game does not make that clear, and any action you take here pretty much has to be by your own judgement call.

Meanwhile, I also kind of feel like that while Merawen has gotten control over her snarlier emotions as she’s grown in her power as Dragonborn, not to mention as Arch-Mage and as the Guild Master of the Thieves Guild, she’s still got a pretty strong “Nords? Fuck ’em” mindset lurking in her innermost thoughts.

Specific Nords, she’s fine with–not the least of whom are the two little girls she’s adopted. And there are her various Nord housecarls, and her steward Golldir. Nord members of the Thieves Guild. And certain Nord vendors, mostly the blacksmiths, since she’s favorably inclined to just about all the various blacksmiths she’s dealt with.

But outside of those very specific Nords, she kind of has to work hard to get past “Nords? Fuck ’em.” Windhelm still rankles. And I think she’d find it very easy to believe that “bad Nords” were being aggressive to a tribe of creatures half their size.

For the sake of her adopted daughters, her housecarls, her steward, and members of the Guild, though… she’d at least make the effort to communicate with these rieklings and try to confirm why they think this particular set of Nords are “bad”. I have to headcanon this happening, though, since the game doesn’t give me a means to do it.

White Ridge Barrow

I said this in Alarrah’s post where I did this dungeon before, and I’ll say so again here: boy howdy is this not a dungeon for arachnophobes.

Because yeah, White Ridge Barrow is chock fulla spiders. And one of the big points of the dungeon is in fact giving you access to a device that lets you make more spiders! So if the entire concept gives you the heebies, yeah, you might want to sit this dungeon out.

Me, I still found White Ridge Barrow interesting enough, because the place is the source of a Dragon Priest, another Word Wall, and another Black Book. And spiders aside, I wanted to deal with all of these things.

That said, I did also play more with the spider device. Including discovering that you can make more types of spiders than the ones I’d made with Alarrah—up to and including Mind Control Spiders.

And isn’t that just a morally dubious concept!

The idea here is, if you throw one of these spiders at an enemy, they have to fight for you for 30 seconds. I have a hard time seeing a combat scenario where I’d find this useful, though. In no small part because if I’m in a full on melee situation at my current level, it’s a rare opponent indeed that I can’t take out by myself. Or with Jenassa’s help.

And if I’m not doing melee, I’m doing ranged attacks. Often while sneaking. Again, very few opponents that I can’t take down with a few well-shot arrows.

Where I can see the spiders coming in handy is in situations where I’d also be throwing runes around. Or in a situation where I’m specifically badly outnumbered in melee, even with Jenassa’s help.

Aside from all the spiders, though, I did the other objectives in the barrow as well: the Dragon Priest, the Word Wall, and the Black Book.

Skills reset

As noted above, I did go ahead and decide to reset two of my skills to Legendary, Speech and Light Armor, for the reasons described above.

I’m now three levels past where Alarrah got to, and I have enough skills at or close to 100 now that it’s harder to level up just by exercising the skills I usually use. So I need to start resetting more of them if I want to keep leveling.

And I also need to start working on more active use of other skills. Specifically, the magic.

Kagrumez says “nope”

Also as noted above, I tried to run Kagrumez and couldn’t. This bug with the Reaver Lord in the main chamber not spawning doesn’t seem to be common enough to get called out on the two wikis I use for game info.

But I did find at least one forum post elsewhere where a player lamented about it. They ran into pretty much the same behavior I did, i.e., entering the main chamber of Kagrumez and finding only two reavers, not three.

And I knew something was weird when I approached the main chamber and heard the Reaver Thug character deliver a line… and then another line that was clearly supposed to be a response to a line that didn’t get said. Only when I actually entered the chamber, though, did I figure out that this was because the line was supposed to be said by a character who didn’t frigging spawn.

Pfprpbpt. I wanted to try to get the Steadfast Dwarven Sphere, too!

I’ll have to come back later and see if Kagrumez resets itself. I hope it does.

Finishing the Filial Bonds quest

So since Kagrumez wasn’t an option, I decided to give finding Torkild one more serious try. Since I hadn’t encountered him during wandering towards other objectives, I finally followed the advice of the wiki and started through a circuit of known areas he was likely to show up.

And I actually found him on the first try!

He was kind of pitiable, really. Obviously pretty far gone, because what lines he’s able to deliver to you before he flips out and transforms into his werebear form are not coherent. But he’d also retained at least enough of a connection to his former life that he was still carrying around a letter to his brother.

Jenassa and I had to kill him once he attacked us. But then we did take the letter back to Wulf, who sadly thanked me for the effort and who bumped up a few of my combat skills for the trouble.

Convincing Edla’s son to stay put quest

Since I was in the Skaal village anyway at this point, I took the time to talk to Edla and sell her a few things… and also trigger her quest to convince her son to not leave the village.

As noted above, this did require the Amulet of Articulation! But it also got me up to level 65.

I could have gone to talk to Storn at that point, too. But I didn’t feel quite ready to move the main Dragonborn quest along yet, so I elected to skip that for now. More Skaal mileage later!

Horker Island revisited

I am not sure I ever knew that the island where Gyldenhul Barrow is located actually has a name: Horker Island. I didn’t have such a thing mentioned in Alarrah’s posts!

And I feel like I’d have definitely remembered the carnage that the horkers made out of the pirates who’d tried to land on their beach. Because yow. That was a grim and bloody sight.

Which meant that it was all the more impressive that my darling Jenassa walloped the hell out of every single horker on that beach, including the biggest one, who even had a name: Lord Tusk.

Turns out though that I missed an artifact weapon lying around the place! I’d go back for it, except that a) I have to giggle about the whole idea of this weapon being called “Horksbane”, b) it’s a steel mace and maces are not my thing, and c) the enchantment on it that’s supposed to deal extra damage to horkers is buggy, so it doesn’t even work as the game intends.

And from there, I returned to Raven Rock to settle down and save for the night.

Next time

Another circuit of the mainland, to sell stuff, take Glover Mallory’s letter to his daughter Sapphire, and get in the round of training for level 65!


Editing to add

  • 11/17/2023: 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.