It’s a little odd being on a low level character again so soon after defeating Miraak and finishing up with a character at level 62. I have to remind myself that I can no longer do certain things I’d gotten used to while playing Alarrah!
I have now triggered the main Dragon Rising quest, in which the player discovers they’re Dragonborn, kills their first dragon, and triggers the summons to High Hrothgar from the Greybeards. Details and commentary behind the fold.
And bonus rumination about how this narrative is going to do! Because since I’ll be playing Merawen differently than Alarrah, planning this out a bit in advance is called for.
- As hoped, yesterday’s session allowed me to finish Bleak Falls Barrow and get the Dragonstone and the Golden Claw
- Dragged a lot of loot out of the barrow (overburdened yet again), but fortunately the walk back to Riverwood wasn’t too stupid
- Returned the Claw to Lucan the shopkeeper in Riverwood
- Sold him a bunch of the loot and also sold stuff at the forge, where I made a full set of leather armor and promptly sold the Stormcloak and Imperial armor I had
- Tried to stay at the inn only to discover that the inn was closed because Delphine wasn’t there, so okay fine guess I’m going to Whiterun
- Swung back around to Whiterun and stayed at the Bannered Mare, then went up to Dragonsreach to hand in the Dragonstone and oh hi Delphine!
- Also, cue the dragon attack at the Western Watchtower
- Cue me getting pulled in to help Irileth and the guard forces find and confront said dragon
- Holy shit! She’s Dragonborn!
- Went back to report to the Jarl, heard the Greybeards booming DOVAHKIIN on the way in; the Jarl told me I should go to High Hrothgar and see what the Greybeards had to say
- Got dubbed thane, got Lydia as housecarl
- Decided to go ahead to High Hrothgar and get Lyds to come with me
- Tried to go around High Hrothgar’s northern face which meant heading east from Whiterun, but Valtheim Towers proved a little much for my current level; got killed by the bandits there
- So I swung through Riverwood on take two, and came in around the southern face of the mountain instead; sold more things to Lucan who gave me a potion by way of a thank you for helping him out
- Confronted by two different random thieves on the way; killed the first one, tried to intimidate them both, this didn’t work on the first one but actually seemed to on the second
- Passed a Hunter NPC on the way to Ivarstead but damned if I could figure out what the hunter was trying to shoot at; only thing near us was bunnies, so apparently she was having a real hard time hitting bunnies with her bow if her angry battle commentary lines were any sign
- Passed a guard on the way into Ivarstead who clearly had already gotten the rumors about a Dragonborn and was all “who could possibly have such power?” Merawen, at least in Inside Voice: “Me, apparently, but I don’t buy your crazy Nord mysticism… I think.”
- Stayed at the inn in Ivarstead and got the innkeeper there to give me the quest hook for clearing Shroud Hearth Barrow
- Went up High Hrothgar and this time I actually did read all the emblems and trigger the Voice of the Sky blessing
- Getting through the Greybeards’ trials went a lot faster now that I actually know how to do Whirlwind Sprint properly ;)
- Got Arngeir to give me the quest to go get Jurgen Windcaller’s Horn
Everything I did with Merawen in this session played out pretty much like I’d done it with Alarrah. Only this time through, since I knew how to do everything, it did go a lot faster. Which is why I was able to make it up to High Hrothgar only at level 5.
One of the things I mentioned that I’d taken for granted with Alarrah at level 62 is the ability to fast travel. I can of course do that with Merawen too, but the ability to fast travel depends upon your having discovered the location you want to go to already. And of course Merawen, being a new character, hasn’t discovered most of the map yet.
Which means I do still need to hoof it to get to various places, at least for the time being. And some of the places I’ll need to get to will not be ones that I can get to by carriage either, because the carriage at Whiterun only goes to the actual holds.
And that meant in general that I did have to hoof it to High Hrothgar. It was very pleasant, though, to be reminded that I do enjoy tromping around the Skyrim environment! And after spending a lot of time on Solstheim, it was a relief to the eye to be in a non-ashy environment. I feel this ties in well with Merawen as a character, too. She’s also relieved to be in a non-ashy environment.
Some new things I learned
In no particular order, here are a couple of new things I’ve learned so far on this run that I didn’t pick up the first time through.
- Archery is apparently controlled by the Thief Stone, not the Warrior Stone? (I say “apparently” because according to the wiki, unofficial patches fixed this and made it controlled by the Warrior Stone instead, but I have no way of knowing what the Switch build did with this. The Switch build does appear to fix some things that the earlier builds of the game did, but not all of them.)
- I don’t remember if I triggered this dialogue option from Arngeir with Alarrah, but with Merawen, I got him to tell me that the ability to Shout came to mortals from Kynareth—but that the gift of being Dragonborn came directly from Akatosh. Given what I know about Morrowind now, and in particular that the Dunmer worship Daedra, I figure this contributes to Merawen being spooked by this whole crazy-Nord-bullshit Dragonborn thing.
- I cannot yet do enough meaningful damage with the spells I have available to make them my primary weapons. Flames is a good backup for the sword, though! This tells me I’ll need to drop some perks on my Destruction magic.
Merawen’s thoughts on Lydia
Now that I’ve gotten Balgruuf in Whiterun to declare me his thane, give me the Axe of Whiterun, and give me Lydia as a housecarl, this means Merawen’s suddenly found herself getting a lot more attention in Whiterun than she bargained for.
And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t like it. Here’s this big Nord warrior woman who’s now saying she’s sworn to protect her and all she owns. And Merawen’s thinking, what the fuck is going on and why is the Jarl foisting this spy off on me to follow me around?
Alarrah fell in love with her Lydia, but I won’t be going that route with Merawen. What I will think about though is whether Merawen will eventually consider her a loyal comrade and friend. I think there’s a distinct possibility that Lyds may eventually win her over just on the general grounds of being willing to bitch about being sworn to carry her burdens. ;) Just because Merawen’s instincts will be telling her that an actual spy would probably be more obsequious to her!
But there’s definitely going to be some strife between Merawen and Lydia, I think. See below.
Probable forthcoming narrative
Given that I know I want to join the Thieves Guild, this requires me to think about how to get Merawen to Riften. Paul recommended that I do High Hrothgar and maybe get the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller out of the way, then join the Guild.
Which strongly implies to me that Merawen has to consciously choose to reject this crazy Nord bullshit, at least initially. But I think there’s some element of fear going on here, too. She cannot just outright call bullshit on the whole thing—because she knows she absorbed something out of the dragon she killed, and she knows she can do this weird Shout thing that the Greybeards talked about.
But all she wanted was to get the fuck out of Morrowind’s ash-ridden hellscape, and now here are all these Nords going holy shit she’s Dragonborn. I feel like Merawen probably has a not inconsiderable amount of “who the fuck am I that the gods would want to drop special powers on me” going on, subconsciously. Not to mention, not trusting why she, a Dunmer, would be having all these Nords freak out at her.
So I think she’ll be very grudgingly willing to entertain this up until the point where she gets to the end of the Ustengrav dungeon and discovers the Horn isn’t actually there. That will be her trigger point to say “fuck this crazy Nord bullshit” and bugger off to hide out in Riften for a while.
I think Merawen will probably blow up at Lydia. Lyds will probably urge her to complete the search for the Horn, and to believe what the Greybeards told her, but Merawen will explode at her, tell her point blank that she doesn’t accept this crazy Nord bullshit, and order her to return to Whiterun.
She’ll probably also accuse Lydia to her face of being a spy for the Jarl. Which I expect will piss Lydia off, justifiably. If you’re housecarl material, you’re probably an upstanding, honorable kind of person and this is a direct insult to Lydia’s honor. Particularly after Lydia will have guarded Merawen’s back through Shroud Hearth Barrow and Ustengrav both.
So later on down the line, Merawen’s going to have to apologize to her housecarl. My headcanon for that’s going to be, this’ll be after I take over the Thieves Guild and am ready to return to the main plotline. Because Merawen won’t exactly be forthcoming to Lyds about her Guild association, judging correctly that Lyds won’t really approve of that. But Lydia will be on board with helping her reconnect with her Dragonborn destiny.
I saved right after finishing training with the Greybeards, so I’m still on High Hrothgar. My next item of business is probably going to be Shroud Hearth Barrow, and then Ustengrav to look for the Horn.
And now that I know where Ustengrav is in relation to Morthal, I don’t have to hoof it the whole way to Morthal this time. I can take the carriage in Whiterun to Morthal, and then hoof it from there.