In Which Merawen Learns Who Took the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller

This was another very eventful session, with a lot of bouncing around between various locations, and some moving along of the main plot as well. Main-plot-wise, I’m to the point of having the Thalmor Embassy as the next major thing to do. Side-plot-wise, I got Dawnbreaker! And spent enough time in Whiterun that it felt a lot like an Alarrah session, really.

Which just goes to show that I need to get back to the Thieves Guild. Muahaha.

Highlights

  • Asked Meeko to follow me from the shack
  • Went to Solitude to do a shopping run to drop off loot
  • Went to the Statue to Meridia to commence the Break of Dawn plot; got the word for Elementary Fury from the nearby Word Wall
  • Headed into Kilkreath to run the barrow and send Meridia’s light down into the place; killed all the Corrupted Shades; also realized that having a barking dog following me was not really conducive to getting my Sneak on
  • This dungeon had an arcane enchanter in it so I finally had a chance to disenchant the Steel Battleaxe of Fiery Soul Trap so I could actually apply that enchantment to something else; put it on my current Steel sword, since I like one-handed weapons better than two-handed for this character
  • Tried to keep Meeko from engaging in the battle with Malkoran by telling him to wait at the top of the stairs, but this didn’t work; lost the doggo when he saw me fighting Malkoran and he charged into the battle
  • Took me only two tries this time to take Malkoran down, though!
  • Also actually triggered the bug where you can get a duplicate Dawnbreaker!
  • Got a courier with a Letter from a Friend which pointed me at one of the dragon lairs I really wanted to hit anyway: Shearpoint, which has the Throw Voice Shout!
  • Headed back to Whiterun after that, swinging past Rorikstead first and then east across the plains; found a monument I don’t think I’d ever paid attention to as Alarrah
  • Met a Frightened Woman NPC on the way who said she’d escaped from bandits and needed help reaching a town; she marked Mistwatch on my map
  • Did a loot selling run, and also went to Dragonsreach to disenchant a couple more things and buy a bunch of spellbooks off of Farengar; got NPC Amren’s quest to get his family sword back
  • Also popped into the Bannered Mare to trigger the In My Time of Need quest with Saadia, and had the private confrontation with her about the Alik’r mercenaries tracking her
  • Got Lydia following me again so I could head down to Riverwood for the main plot; spotted Danica Pure-Spring out and about, so talked to her and triggered the quest to heal the Gildergreen
  • Lydia and I were attacked by a Redguard NPC on the way to Riverwood
  • Returned to the Sleeping Giant Inn to have the WTF conversation with Delphine; got the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller back from her; followed her to Kynesgrove and witnessed Alduin resurrecting Sahloknir; killed Sahloknir with Delphine and Lydia; got Delphine to tell me she’s one of the Blades and her theory that the Thalmor might be behind the return of the dragons
  • Went back to High Hrothgar with Lydia to drop off the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller and get the last word of Unrelenting Force; also got Arngeir to give me a pointer to a Word Wall at Sunderstone Gorge
  • This time I killed that damn troll on the way down High Hrothgar!
  • Also killed a bear on the way down and discovered the bear had killed Barknar, an NPC you encounter on the mountain who’s there to make the pilgrimage up the 7,000 steps; stupid bear
  • Got overburdened at that point though; switched to my Thieves Guild armor to pick up the carry bonus, then quaffed a potion of strength to be able to boing back to Whiterun for another loot selling run; also told Lydia to go home
  • Ran the quest to get Amren’s sword, which sent me to Halted Stream Camp this time near Whiterun and I love running that bandit lair since it’s very profitable! Also got the Transmute Mineral Ore spellbook
  • Got very overburdened too since killing half a dozen bandits who were also poachers meant a lot of loot; tromped back over to Whiterun to do a lot of Smithing practice, and to hang out and wait till morning so I could sell all the stuff
  • Also gave Amren his sword back, and got him to bump both my One-Handed and Block; spent most of the profit off the bandit run on getting him to train me in One-Handed as well
  • Tried to go to Shearpoint at this point to take out the dragon there, but it handed me my ass; this was my first sighted Blood Dragon as well, and I couldn’t kill it even in three tries; realized I was being stupid and should go back and get Lydia
  • Also realized I had easier plots to run before trying to take on Shearpoint again, given that I also know Shearpoint has the Dragon Priest Krosis and I did not want to risk waking him up by myself
  • So I shifted over to running the In My Time of Need plot, for helping out the Redguard woman Saadia; questioned the Alik’r prisoner in the Dragonsreach dungeon; got Lydia to follow me over to Swindler’s Den where the Alik’r were hiding out
  • Took me three tries though because I kept getting jumped by a dragon near the Western Watchtower, and a giant that kept coming into the battle
  • Third time through the dragon actually never landed to engage, and while the giant was hanging out on the road, I had Lyds follow me around it so we didn’t have to fight it
  • Made it to Swindler’s Den and started our sweep through; killed all the preliminary bandits, and left off just before the confrontation with Kematu
  • I forget where exactly he found me, but I also had a courier bring me the invitation to the opening of the museum in Dawnstar

Meeko and the Break of Dawn plot

Since this session started me off taking shelter in Meeko’s Shack, I decided to try having Meeko for a follower for a while to see if I liked having a dog as a follower. Sadly, this worked out the same way having a horse did for Alarrah: nice in concept, troubling in execution.

For one thing, Meeko kept barking, and this is not conducive to getting my Sneak on! For another, he did have an advantage over a horse in that he does in fact level with the player. And he did help me kill the Corrupted Shades in Kilkreath. He was not, however, up to the task of helping me fight Malkoran.

I tried to prevent him joining in the fight at all, rather expecting that Malkoran would be too much for him. So I told him to wait at the top of the stairs that lead down to the boss chamber.

However, he still ran in to engage Malkoran when the necromancer came out to confront me. And, reading up on followers in Skyrim in general, I see that a follower can enter combat mode if they see an NPC being aggressive at you. So what I think must have happened is that Meeko just saw Malkoran attacking me, and went into doggy overdrive trying to protect me.

RIP Meeko. You were a loyal and valiant doggo even in the short time Merawen knew you. 😢

As for the rest of the Dawnbreaker plot in general, this time through it only took me two tries to take Malkoran out. I applied several of the same strategies that I’d done the first time, with the extra added bonus of dropping a Fire Rune in the doorway for the shades to trigger as they streamed out to try to attack me first.

And, I actually triggered the duplicate Dawnbreaker bug, lol. This apparently happens if you knock Dawnbreaker off its pedestal before you take Malkoran out, and I think I might have done that trying to shoot an arrow in there to hit him from afar? Because I found Dawnbreaker lying on the floor near the pedestal after I beat him.

If you have this happen and pick Dawnbreaker up off the floor, then obey Meridia’s command to take Dawnbreaker off its pedestal, a second Dawnbreaker is generated! So you wind up with two!

This has apparently been fixed in unofficial patches, but as with all patches for this game, I still can’t get at them since they’re mods and I can’t install mods on the Switch build. But this is arguably the one instance of this kind of thing where a bug actually works in my favor. Because now I get to think about what to do with that extra Dawnbreaker!

Reunion with Lydia, and advancing the main plot

Headcanon-wise, I feel like her interactions with the dog kind of motivated Merawen to return to Whiterun and talk to Lydia. Because having someone actually be willing to fight for her to the point of death–even if it was just a dog–probably touched her a lot more than she’s willing to acknowledge. And it reminded her that she had this woman who had in fact sworn to fight for her.

So I think Merawen went back to Whiterun, found Lydia in Dragonsreach, and apologized to her. And asked her if she’d be willing to come with her to investigate that mysterious note and follow up about the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller.

Lydia: “Lead the way!”

Which of course let me go return to the main plot for a little bit. All of which played out like the main plot does: getting Delphine to give me back the Horn, going with her to Kynesgrove, discovering Alduin resurrecting Sahloknir, and fighting and killing that dragon. And getting Delphine to fess up about being a member of the Blades, and to offer her theory that the Thalmor might be behind the return of the dragons.

I’m not sure Merawen entirely buys that, possibly specifically because she did recognize Alduin from Helgen. More to the point. Alduin recognized her as Dragonborn. And I think that plays to Merawen like Alduin (even if she doesn’t know his name yet) being his own force and power and not needing anything external to motivate him.

I’m also not entirely sure she even knows who the Thalmor are. Alarrah, I felt, had a backstory involving her specifically fleeing the Thalmor. But in Merawen’s case, given what I envision about her hardscrabble existence in the Ashlands on Vvardenfell, I’m not sure she even has any particular context for who the Thalmor are and why they should be feared. But I’ll circle back around to that question when I’m ready to run the Thalmor Embassy with her.

And this time, since I knew already that Arngeir could guide me to getting additional locations for Shouts, I made a point of asking him about that after I gave the Greybeards back the Horn, got the last word of Unrelenting Force, and got them to officially acknowledge me as Dragonborn.

All that said, I think Merawen’s still not entirely comfortable with having Lydia around. I am not seeing her willing to admit to Lyds that she’s joined the Thieves Guild.

But that said: I note with amusement that according to the wiki, all housecarls have a Morality attribute of 0. Which means they are willing to commit any crime their thane asks of them. And that suggests that Lydia might actually be more fine with Merawen being in the Thieves Guild than she realizes. ;)

“So what have you been doing while you were away, my thane?”

“I, ah… joined a little organization in Riften.”

“Oh my gods, you joined the Thieves Guild, didn’t you? I thought I recognized that armor in your pack!”

“Ah… yes?”

Cool. Can I help? When do we go knock over Belethor’s place? That guy is an asshole.”

Seriously though, I feel like this might be a thing Merawen will eventually fess up to Lydia about… but not yet. So for now, she’ll stick with engaging Lydia for main plot things, but will possibly say something to her like “I have things to do I can’t tell you about yet, but I will return.”

Other commentary

I have no way of knowing this for sure, but it seems like to me that I’m seeing the difference now with having my game difficulty set to Apprentice vs. Novice. I hadn’t noticed much of a difference with lower level hostile animals (such as wolves) or NPCs. But higher level animals (such as bears) definitely seem tougher. Likewise the better-armored bandits, like the crowd at Nilheim.

And while the lowest-level dragons so far haven’t been too different, boy howdy was that Blood Dragon a problem.

I haven’t tried to fight a giant yet with Merawen, but I’m suspecting that will likewise be a greater challenge.

So far, I’m enjoying the greater challenge, and how it’s had to impact my gameplay strategy. Such as with increased deployment of Fire Runes!

This also, I think, raises the priority on bumping up my Smithing so I can unlock Arcane Blacksmithing, and be able to improve enchanted armor. I also need to move the Thieves Guild plot along some more so I can get the improved version of the Guild armor. And ideally, get the Nightingale armor. :D

And I don’t think I want to tackle the Thalmor Embassy until my Sneak is at least 75, and until I have the Throw Voice Shout. I am really intrigued by the challenge of trying to see if I can make it through the embassy in pure Sneak mode. But I need to be damn sure I also have good armor and weaponry to back me up in case Sneak mode fails me, or I run out of Invisibility potions.

I’m also enjoying making bigger use of spells with Merawen. Having a spell on the left hand and a melee weapon on the right lets me do ranged attacks and melee, if a creature or an NPC actually manages to charge me even as I’m throwing fire at it. I need more practice though with the strategy of “run the fuck away and cast some healing spells before re-engaging”.

I have the Stoneflesh spell now, but I do not have enough max magicka to really use it much. So this tells me I need to drop some more perks on Alteration, as well as keeping magicka potions around.

And I think I may start in on mage college and Dawnguard stuff. I really liked running both of those quest lines. Plus, as I’ve said before, I’m intrigued by the notion of doing Dawnguard before going after Alduin to see if that makes more narrative sense to me. Also, I want to take more time with Dawnguard this time and maybe take more advantage of its side quests. I barely did any of those.

Also, from a purely mercenary perspective, I want access to the trainers at the mage college and with the Dawnguard. :D

I likewise have questions before me of a) how many places do I actually care about being thane of in this run, and b) how many of the Daedric artifacts do I actually want.

Dawnbreaker was a no-brainer, definitely wanted that one. Also will probably do Azura’s Star. With Merawen I may actually do the museum plot this time–because from the wiki, I know that the Dunmer consider Mehrunes Dagon one of the “House of Troubles”, Daedra that they qualify as “bad”, meant to be appeased rather than worshipped. In particular, this bit of the wiki page on him is relevant:

Nevertheless, the Dunmer consider these four to be holy in that they serve as Testing Gods who must be appeased. Dagon represents Morrowind’s near-inhospitable terrain, and also tests the Dunmeri will to live and prosper.

And given what I envision about Merawen’s background, it seems to me that Dagon would be a Daedra she’d be particularly inclined to appease. Getting his Razor might even be a symbol of her victory re: surviving getting out of Morrowind.

Next time

Before I do any of those other things, though, I need to finish the In My Time of Need quest and take out Kematu. Because I want to play that quest out the opposite way this time!

Then I’ll take stock of my current status and see if it’s time to go do the Goldenglow Estate job!

Screenshots

A lot of screencaps this time! Partly because in this session, I did several things I hadn’t gotten screencaps for while running Alarrah.