Merawen Playthrough

In Which Merawen Masters the Illusion School, and Attends a Peace Council

As of this session I am officially done with the Ritual quests for the mage college, and I have all the high-tier, baddest-assed spells in my arsenal.

Also, proceeded to the point of having the peace council between the Imperials and Stormcloaks! The main plot is back!


  • Session number in this run: 89
  • Headed back east from Four Skull Lookout
  • Got killed on first attempt near Broken Tower Redoubt, while passing a noble on horse + Imperial guard; Forsworn Ravager took me out after killing the Imperial and the horse (ow)
  • Thrown back to Four Skull Lookout, so tried going east again; this time took a different route, more directly east
  • Threw Rout at a couple of mudcrabs to get them to fuck off
  • Cut through Rorikstead and was then on the road to Whiterun
  • Stopped in Whiterun to sell stuff
  • Got training from Arcadia in Alchemy; close enough to endgame at this point that I kinda don’t care about training, but hey, I care about supporting Whiterun, and Arcadia is nice
  • Set out north-east-ish cross country from Whiterun
  • Found Shrouded Grove not far from Korvanjund
  • Just animals and spriggans there; killed a snow bear
  • Veered east past Nightgate Inn, then north towards Wayward Pass
  • Killed in rapid succession: two Afflicted Remnants, two bandits, a dragon
  • Spotted three companions fighting a snow bear
  • Routed frost troll
  • Pacified snowy sabre cat
  • Cleared Skytemple Ruins
  • Then came back to mainland and beachcombed for a bit
  • Unmarked location with a couple of skeletons and an apothecary’s satchel
  • Swung back around to the road south of Winterhold
  • Practiced various Illusion spells some more as I went past the mine
  • Why yes, Winterhold guard, I do sneak about, how clever of you to notice me when I’m not actually sneaking
  • Got Illusion to 99
  • Vampire masquerade
  • Bandits near Fort Kastav; last bandit ran like hell, screaming, so I didn’t bother to follow him
  • Headed back towards Winterhold
  • Went by a Khajiit skooma dealer
  • Pacified a snow bear to get it to leave me alone; right after that, the Khajiit killed the bear and a frost troll that got in on the action
  • Proceeded on into Winterhold; stopped at Birna’s Oddments to shop and invest
  • Birna: “I’ll earn your investment, I don’t need handouts!”
  • Me: No offense, but you live in Winterhold, and this entire town needs handouts, you sell something at this store what, once every six weeks?
  • Practiced magic at college for a bit
  • Bought Blizzard and Lightning Storm spells from Faralda
  • OKAY GOOD I can pull down the cost of those spells to zero if I’m fully mage geared up with the right jewelry
  • Went back out again to practice Illusion spells in combat
  • Overheard a fight between bandits and a giant and a mammoth; when I got there, saw one dead giant and one dead mammoth, and also one dead bandit
  • Surviving Bandit Marauder was a problem; I wound up siccing the dremora lord on her while she also attacked a sabre cat i’d previously pacified, then went back and explored the battle site
  • It was two giants, the mammoth, and apparently three bandits
  • But that fight with the marauder got my Illusion further along, as I kept throwing Invisibility and Muffle to elude her
  • Illusion hit 100 after throwing Invisibility a few more times 😀
  • Returned to the college to speak to Drevis; got Vision of the Tenth Eye spell from him
  • Found the four hidden books; got the four new spells
  • Headed to High Hrothgar for the peace council
  • Played out pretty much the same as with Alarrah; had to give markarth to Ulfric, and gave Riften to the Empire
  • Had to do the peace council a second time to try to get out of the room before Delphine hit me with the demand to kill Paarthurnax
  • (Because no goddammit I don’t wanna kill him, and I also don’t want to have to choose between pissing off the Blades and pissing off the Greybeards)
  • She tried to hit me with it when I left through the front door but I managed to hit B key to get out of the conversation before she finished (while, for that matter, Esbern came up behind me and started trying to talk to Delphine about the Paarthurnax problem)
  • So demand to kill Paarthurnax eluded
  • Saved for the night

Illusion Ritual quest

Illusion is difficult to get to 100, apparently, if you’re me. I’m still trying to get the hang of when the best circumstances to exercise a skill are—they seem to be, “in combat”. But by and large the Illusion spells aren’t usable in active combat at my current level. My opponents have leveled up with me, at least the humanoid ones, and therefore most of them are immune to things like Pacify or Rout, or the Frenzy Rune.

Now that I have the upper tier Illusion spells, I think even those might be unable to be used on people? The spell descriptions talk about people up to level 25. I think I might have to stack perks to get to use these at my level?

(Which ain’t happening given that I’m almost done with this game. But it’d interest me as to how higher level mage players do this.)

Meanwhile I have to be amused at the circumstances of the Illusion Ritual quest. You get this Vision of the Tenth Eye spell from Drevis, so you can wander around the college and look for hidden invisible books. Which you are then supposed to bring back to Drevis so that he can give you the actual spells.

I find this kind of hilarious in terms of the conceptions of security that the mage college has. “These spells are super powerful and we can’t let them get into the hands of people not knowledgeable enough to use them! So let’s just make the books invisible and stash them in random places around the college!”

I mean… seriously? If the spells are that important why the hell aren’t they kept under lock and key in the Arcaneum? Isn’t that what having a library in the mage college is for? Does Drevis not trust Urag to properly protect the information in question?

Shit, one of these books was even in the Arcaneum, but just lying on a table, invisible but otherwise easily accessed.

Do the teachers at the mage college think that a little thing like a book being invisible is going to stop somebody from actually finding it?

What if somebody tried to put a plate of food or a glass of wine down on the very spot on that table where the book had been lying? Or what if they’d just been trying to clean the table? Wouldn’t they still notice something is physically there even if they couldn’t see it?

Same deal for the book on the barrel in the Hall of Countenance, and the book underneath the bench in the Hall of Attainment. And as for the book down in the Midden by the Atronach Forge—shit, it’s cold and probably damp down there, how about the general threat of that to the condition of the book?

Sheesh. No wonder Urag is always salty about how people handle books in his library. Clearly he’s the only person in the entire college who actually cares about maintaining the books properly!

Peace council at High Hrothgar

As noted above, this pretty much played out the same way it did for me when I ran it as Alarrah.

One thing I will note here though that I didn’t do in Alarrah’s post is this: that when the player offers Riften in exchange for Ulfric demanding Markarth, General Tullius makes approving noises about that. He acknowledges that the Imperials controlling Riften would give them an easier access to Cyrodiil and a strengthening of their supply chains.

And then he immediately gives the player shit about “favoring Ulfric” in this exchange. Which… no? I’m not? Because the player is specifically asked what a fair trade for Markarth would be, and at least in my playthroughs so far, my only options have been “Riften” or “Winterhold”.

This time through, I tried “Riften” on the first play of the council and “Winterhold” on the second, just to see if that would change Tullius’ behavior. He pushed back on the idea of Winterhold, and specifically said that Riften would be more appropriate in his opinion.

So on the second time through, I even agreed with him and told him he was right, Riften would be better.

And then he still gave me shit about favoring Ulfric. What the fuck, Tullius, I specifically told you you were right, Riften would be a fair trade, so why the hell are you giving me shit about favoring Ulfric here?

It seems like the script for the council clearly expects Tullius to deliver that pushback even if the circumstances of the exchange don’t quite warrant it.

Also, I’m still cranky that the game gives you no choice but to choose between pissing off the Greybeards by killing Paarthurnax, and pissing off the Blades if you don’t. Given that the game goes to all this trouble to make you get the Imperials and Stormcloaks into a room together to make a truce, why can’t you get an opportunity to get the Greybeards and the Blades back onto peaceful footing?

Why aren’t you given an opportunity to convince Delphine that Paarthurnax has given you just as much help as the Blades have?

Why can’t you give her pushback about how you are the frigging Dragonborn, and she herself told you that the Blades’ entire purpose was to serve and follow the Dragonborn… so why the actual fuck is she now making demands of the Dragonborn? “Kill this dragon or we won’t help you anymore.”

Excuse me? What the hell happened to “we follow the Dragonborn”?

So what if the Dragonborn says “no, I’m not going to kill him, because he’s helping us, but believe me I will kill him in a heartbeat if he shows the first sign of betrayal”. Is that not good enough?

It disappoints me overall because this is the kind of nuanced exchange that I should think Delphine and Esbern as characters would respect. They are interesting and complex characters up to this point in the game, when they suddenly turn obstinate and draw this huge line in the sand.

So yeah. I noped right the hell out of High Hrothgar so as to specifically avoid this problem.

I talked with Dara some about this and she had interesting commentary about it from a purely narrative perspective—that from Delphine’s point of view, that I arranged this council with the Greybeards and specifically did not invite the Blades might be a serious affront to her. Particularly given that Arngeir was actively hostile when she and Esbern arrived. So they might be interpreting my support of the Greybeards as a betrayal of the Blades.

She also agrees with me that narratively speaking, I should at least have a chance to argue with Delphine more than the game allows, re: killing Paarthurnax. It would make sense to have the attempt to talk her out of it still fail. It’s a strong point of conflict that would be awesome in a novel. In the game… the exchange just feels forced and weird to me.

Still though, my current solution of “duck the question entirely” seems acceptable. 😉 I just can’t talk to Delphine or Esbern any more!

And given that I have maybe one more session left for Merawen anyway, that’s fine!

Next time

Time to go to Dragonsreach and trap a dragon. And hopefully proceed from there on over to Skuldafn, and Sovngarde!

Next session probably is Merawen’s official last one, then. Though I may also do a final loot roundup for her, and another end of run post like I did with Alarrah. Stand by for that!


No screenshots this time either.

Editing to add

  • 11/17/2023: 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.