Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Battles the Chicken Necromancer

This was another “wander the land” session, doing what Paul tells me he calls “general adventuring”. The idea here being, wander around and see if something interesting happens!

And in this session’s wandering, I encountered what’s possibly the most delightful NPC encounter in all of Skyrim I’ve had to date!


  • Session number in this run: 74
  • Dropped a few things off in the safe at Proudspire
  • Went to Windstad, crafted a few things, and dropped off a bunch of building materials
  • Leveled up to 70 after making some arrows
  • Boinged to mage college for training
  • Bought training from all five trainers
  • Geared up in mage gear
  • Headed south towards Mistwatch, since I haven’t done that locale before
  • Started summoning frost atronachs to help me in combat on the way, and to practice my Conjuration (h/t to Paul for the tip)
  • Found Journeyman’s Nook (where the missing apprentice borvir died)
  • Found bandit vs. hunter, bandit won, and tried to attack me as I went into the nook
  • Took some of the stuff there, but the bandit caught up with me
  • I took the bandit out with a lightning bolt, but while I was doing that, wisps and then a wispmother showed up
  • Had to switch off to stalhrim as I kept running out of magicka
  • Finally took out the wispmother and her shades
  • Got Treasure Map II
  • Discovered another dead bandit and another dead hunter, so apparently it was two bandits vs. two hunters?
  • Too much loot so kept on the stalhrim as I moved southward towards Windhelm
  • Fast traveled to Windhelm to sell stuff to Niranye, Oengul, Quintus
  • Switched back to magic gear for next leg of journey
  • Found Witchmist Grove, which I should have visited during Sanguine Rose quest, and where I confirmed that the hagraven I allegedly ‘married’, Moira, was in a hung state and couldn’t be interacted with
  • Saw respawned Bonestrewn Crest dragon, and it kept flying into and out of range, and turning on and turning off fight music
  • Found Atronach Stone
  • Got near enough Mistwatch to alert a couple of bandits
  • Started throwing frost atronachs and firebolts at them
  • Found dead horse and peddler nearby
  • Took down the three bandits in the courtyard with atronachs and firebolts
  • Found a lever that lowered a bridge to the north tower
  • Got in and found farmer named Christer trying to track down his wife, and who asked me to see if she’s being held captive in the place
  • Decided to Nightingale my way through the place
  • Took down two more bandits with sneak arrows
  • Came up from north tower onto lower balcony
  • Dragon was still visible flying around in the distance
  • Killed two more bandits heading up the stairs
  • Switched off to dragonscale armor because overburdened
  • Found the bandit leader who turned out to be the missing wife, who totally did not want to go back to her husband
  • So I changed tactics and agreed to get rid of him; she gave me her wedding band as “proof”
  • Christer accepted this and went off to live his life
  • Bandit leader Fjola followed me a ways down the stairs and asked me if I’d gotten rid of Christer when I came back to her
  • I said yes and she promised to return the favor
  • (Let’s avoid mentioning how I killed every single other bandit in the place mmkay? Because awkward)
  • Snuck past giant without engaging
  • Sabre cat killed with arrows, and another one killed with fireball
  • Two dead wolves, two living Vigilants of Stendarr
  • Unfamiliar cave marker on the HUD; climbed up to look for it, fought bouncer bandit, oh right this is Cragslane Cavern, the place you go to for the skooma dealers quest for Riften; did not bother engaging after fighting the bouncer
  • Fireballed frostbite spider and cave bear
  • Found Shor’s Watchtower
  • Stopped in Shor’s Stone to sell a few things; bought a bit of ore to transmute to gold to practice Alteration
  • Saw but did not engage bear as it did not see me
  • Found Treva’s Watch, but did not engage with the place, as I’d already cleared one bandit fort this session
  • Found an iron vein, so mined that for more ore to do Transmute practice
  • Lolololol found the chicken necromancer! 🤣
  • Zapped two more cave bears
  • Re-found Alchemist’s Shack, looted same; no sign of what happened to the alchemist?
  • Slept the night there and moved on in the morning
  • Killed two wolves with a bound battleaxe to practice both Two-handed and Conjuration skills
  • Found another horse, this one had a red “Steal” tag on it, so clearly owned; did not apparently belong to the farmer I passed who was on his way to Solitude to join the Imperials
  • I also passed a hunter heading back towards the horse, so the horse might have been his?
  • Killed a spellsword as I was trying to find an unidentified cave
  • Turned out to be Southfringe Sanctum, and I think I ran this place as Alarrah?
  • Decided I’ll go ahead and run this place; saved for the night

Journeyman’s Nook

This was the first notable place I found wandering around the map—I basically got into a groove of looking for black symbols on the HUD, indicating places I hadn’t discovered yet. So I followed one of these symbols to Journeyman’s Nook, which turns out to be one of the places where missing apprentices from the college of Winterhold died.

This one was Borvir, Rundi’s twin brother. And the locale is also notable for being the place where you can get Treasure Map II, so I nabbed that.

While I was there, though, the battle with the bandit and the wispmother turned out to be challenging! I tried to do it with magic, which made it more of a challenge than just armoring up and swinging a sword around. I’m finding that my current magic gear is letting me maintain a magic fight for only four or five attacks at most, before I run out of magicka.

So I either need a lot more magicka potions, or I need better enchantments for replenishing my magicka and bringing down the cost of my spells. I’ll need to poke at this some more maybe!

Witchmist Grove followup

Since I’d managed to bypass the hagraven portion of the Night to Remember quest, I was very curious as to whether I could still find that hagraven, Moira. She lives in a hut in Witchmist Grove, so I found the place and checked it out.

And I did indeed see Moira there. But she was in a hung state, just outside the hut! I was able to walk up to her, and I got a prompt to talk to her, but when I hit the A button nothing happened.

I don’t know if I could have searched her hut? I didn’t think to try, since my main point of interest here was finding out whether Witchmist Grove gets fucked up in any way if you bypass that part of the quest. Answer: yes, apparently!

Mistwatch quest

After Witchmist Grove, I finally took the opportunity to find the Mistwatch bandit fort, and see about running the place. The quest involved here is that you meet a farmer named Christer, who thinks his wife Fjola is being held captive. He’s no warrior, he freely admits, so he begs you for your help in finding out whether his wife is indeed there, and if she’s alive.

The awkward part of this is, dude’s wife is on the premises, but she’s not a prisoner—she’s actually the leader of the bandits.

And you don’t find this out until you clear the place and finally reach her. At which point you have the option of changing tactics and going to get rid of the husband, or proceeding with attacking the wife—which will piss off the husband anyway, and require you to kill him.

I went with the option to support the wife. In no small part because while Merawen has some measure of professional disdain for bandits, I feel like that as Guild Master of the Thieves Guild, she can’t exactly argue with a woman’s desire to forge her own destiny. Morally dubious though that destiny may be!

The other awkward part of this: Fjola followed me partway down the stairs as I went back to her husband, and noticed the various corpses of the bandits I’d killed on the way up, under the impression that “I need to rescue a poor captive and kill all these bandit bastards who captured her”.

So, um, yeah. Sorry about the mess, Fjola! They were shitty bandits anyway and you could do better. Maybe consider joining the Guild?

One more note about Fjola: when I first found her, she called me a “snowback”. An insult I hadn’t heard before in the game, so I had to go searching to see if I could find out what it meant! The overall impression appears to be “a weakling who gets their ass kicked so their back winds up in the snow”. Still though it’s kind of a particularly silly insult to throw at a Dunmer.

Aside from the plot part of this, the layout of the place reminded me of Broken Tower Redoubt in the Reach where I had to go rescue Fjotra, the young Sybil of Dibella. Not sure if it was entirely identical, but the paths at the top between towers were very similar. This is not a bad thing! It made for an interesting layout to explore.

Also, I was able to get in some magic practice taking out the bandits outside the place. And I was a little surprised that the dragon flying around in the distance never came over to get in on the action!

Southward into the Rift

After Mistwatch, I did a long arc south into the Rift and then west, hitting a few locations along the way as described above. I didn’t engage with any of the locales I found (Cragslane Cavern, Shor’s Watchtower, or Treva’s Watch) in any depth. Nor did I head into Riften proper; I swung west before making it to Fort Greenwall north of the city.

But I did take the time to check out the Alchemist’s Shack, just because ingredients are useful! And it was nice to have a semi-sheltered place to rest for the night. Point of interest for my next playthrough here being, take advantage of places to rest like this when I find them. You do get skill increase bonuses for being rested!

And, at least for me, it’s usually easier to travel by day. There are plenty of interesting things that can happen when you travel at night, but just because the Switch build runs so dark, I sometimes have trouble parsing things on screen during nighttime hours or in dark environments.

Two words: “Chicken necromancer”

Not far west of the Alchemist’s Shack was where I found arguably the most delightful NPC encounter I’ve ever had in this game: the chicken necromancer.

I had no idea this character existed. I was just derping along, heading west-ish from the Alchemist’s Shack, when suddenly a mage starts hitting me with frost spells. I go “who the fuck is this guy?” and engage him in battle, and kill him very quickly.

Because he’s not a very powerful mage. He’s also not a very good necromancer. And I didn’t figure that part out either until I searched around his campsite and saw a couple of chickens wandering around.

Chickens who had a suspicious black smoky aura around their heads, which made me go “OMG did this guy resurrect chickens?”

So I went searching for info about him, and found the article I linked to above. Lololololol. 🤣

Heading into Falkreath Hold

After that delightful little encounter, I headed further west into the overall Falkreath Hold area. (Note: I hadn’t realized before that the Guardian Stones and Helgen are both considered part of Falkreath Hold? I was kind of fuzzy on the boundary between Falkreath Hold and Whiterun Hold!)

Didn’t make it much further west, though, as it was getting late. So I stopped at Southfringe Sanctum and saved for the night.

Next time

I’ll be running Southfringe Sanctum. Where the main point of the locale is apparently to free a trapped Dunmer mage who’d been kicked out of her coven, and this is sounding vaguely familiar. I don’t think I actually hit the place during Alarrah’s run? It’s not coming up in search results on my site, and checking the Twitter threads from before I started posting the writeups here shows me nothing either.

But I had clearly looked at the page for Southfringe Sanctum before, according to my browser. I suspect I may have just stumbled across the place, read up on it, and decided not to engage?

This time though I’ll go ahead and run it. Specifically because ‘helping a fellow Dunmer’ is a thing Merawen will want to do.

After that, the plan will be to head further west through Falkreath and then swing north and west up through the Reach towards Markarth. We’ll see if I make it there next session! If I do, I’ll probably go ahead and run the Forsworn Conspiracy plot.

I’m not quite to the point of leveling up to 71 yet, so it’ll be an interesting question of when I’ll need to get more training. I did figure out I was confused as to what kind of trainer Amren is—he’s One-handed, not Light Armor. And my One-handed is way past where Amren can train me, so that explains why I didn’t have a training prompt from him.

Soon, Colette and Phinis in the mage college won’t be able to train me either, because they only go up to 75. I’ll need to shift to Danica Pure-Spring for additional Restoration training. And Falion in Morthal or Talvas at Tel Mithryn are my options for Conjuration.

In Talvas’s case that’s kind of hilarious, because he is the dude who was having so much trouble with the Conjure Ash Spawn spell! So I’m all “this guy? This guy is the master trainer for Conjuration?” Apparently my helping him with that ash spawn spell really helped him up his game? ;D

Still though I kind of like Talvas as a character! And it’d be an excuse to go back to Solstheim at least once more before I finish Merawen’s run.


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.