In Which Merawen Hits the Goldenglow Estate for the Thieves Guild

In this session, I had the great fun of running another main Thieves Guild quest, which had the challenge of seeing if I could make it through the job without killing a single NPC. Answer: yes!

Also took on two dragons, a bunch of Alik’r warriors, and a bunch of bandits, as well as recovering an amulet for the priest at Whiterun’s Hall of the Dead.

Commentary and screenshots all behind the fold!

Highlights

  • Finished running the In My Time of Need quest, and with Lydia’s help, killed Kematu and his men; returned to Whiterun to tell Saadia she was safe, and got her payment; sent Lydia back to Dragonsreach
  • Ducked into the Hall of the Dead in Whiterun to help the priest out with recovering his amulet from the catacombs, where the dead were a little less quiet than they should have been; also nabbed a Stone of Barenziah while I was down there
  • Stopped by Falkreath to check in with the Jarl and ask him about his letter; cleared Embershard Mine for him, but did not proceed to the point of getting him to make me thane, just to the point of having permission to buy property in Falkreath; not sure I want to be thane in Falkreath yet
  • Got the quest pointer to start the run for the Masque of Clavicus Vile
  • Got a bounty from Falkreath’s inn to take out the dragon at Ancient’s Ascent, so I took care of that too; got the word for Animal Allegiance off its Word Wall
  • Got the side quest to find ingredients for Ingun Black-Briar, when I popped into that alchemy shop to see if they had fire salts; had to lol that she’d blown all of her master’s Deathbell supply, but they had three Deathbells in inventory right there in the shop
  • Got the side quest to help Brand-Shei find a clue about his past, when selling him stuff
  • Successfully ran the Goldenglow Estate Thieves Guild job, with a lot of preliminary reconnaissance of the area (and also seizing an opportunity to swim around the lake and nab a bunch of nirnroot); more on this below in commentary, this was great fun
  • Got my pay from Brynjolf and was informed Maven Black-Briar wanted to see me for another job; had a conversation with her on the second floor of the Bee and Barb, and got her to send me off to Whiterun
  • Met Mallus Maccius at the Bannered Mare to get my instructions, and to commence the Dampened Spirits
  • Discovered that if you finish In My Time of Need by killing Kematu and his Alik’r warriors, you can trigger a bug where the two original ones stay parked at the Whiterun gates?
  • Tried to run Sunderstone Gorge but had trouble getting there, because of multiple encounters with large groups of bandits (and once, a group of Forsworn) who kept killing me; also had issues with the necromancer at the front entrance of that lair;  I will need to run Sunderstone with a follower, clearly, but I want to go back and hit it because it has an Unusual Gem
  • Punted to returning to Shearpoint instead to see if I could hit that Word Wall; the Blood Dragon was a problem until I found a ledge to hide under to blunt the fire damage, and could take potshots at the dragon reasonably safely
  • Did not try to challenge the Dragon Priest Krosis there on my own, though; I had to trigger his sarcophagus opening and then run like hell till he lost track of me, then swing back around in Sneak mode so I could hit the Word Wall, clear the chest, and run like hell again without engaging him; happily, this worked!

Commentary

Since I left off the previous session needing to finish up the In My Time of Need quest, Lydia and I were still in Swindler’s Den. So I had to finish up that plot.

This time through, as planned, I told Kematu I’d been hired to kill him and that was what I intended to do.

Kematu basically went “so be it”, and the fight was on. This was a challenging fight given that Lyds and I were outnumbered, and the first time through, I did get killed. Second time through, I had Lyds wait a little further back along the tunnel so I could run in there and throw a rune down. Though I do not remember if I had time to throw one before the warriors caught up with us.

In the close confines of that tunnel, Lydia and I barely had room to maneuver. And I wound up in this state where Lyds kept wailing on the warrior at the front of the line, leaving me just enough room to shoot lightning bolts past her.

That let me get through the battle okay, and finally take out Kematu.

Got overburdened yet again thanks to looting stuff off the fallen enemies, but nothing that swapping briefly to the Thieves Guild armor and having a potion of strength couldn’t handle.

Sidebar: commentary re: assassinations

Side note here: from what I’m seeing on the wiki, assassination is apparently considered legal in Morrowind. Which says interesting things to me about Merawen’s probable comfort level with killing, even aside from her personal traumatic past. If she was brought up in a society where assassination is commonplace, she’s probably a lot more blasé about accepting pay to kill someone than Alarrah was.

This is not to say I’m going to join the Dark Brotherhood with her–because I’m still annoyed that the Brotherhood has you do quests for taking out victims who very, very clearly are innocent. A plotline where an assassin only targets people who deserve killing is interesting to me, and certainly that kind of narrative is common in fantasy novels; hell, I have an assassin hero in my Rebels books.

A plotline where the assassins are taking out helpless victims? Not so much. (Y’all may recall I was barely willing to take out the woman who runs the Riften orphanage, and that was only because she was an abuser of children.) But this is a matter of the player being less comfortable with what the game offers you for an assassin narrative than I think my actual character would be.

So I will probably run the quest to destroy the Dark Brotherhood with Merawen, too. Partly because I really like the Shrouded Armor I can nab from the Brotherhood sanctuary, and partly because that Sanctuary is one of the places to get a Stone of Barenziah. Therefore, I do need to at least do that if I want to get all of the Stones.

Still though this will mean Merawen will need to make another trip into Windhelm. Fucking Windhelm. ;) Which also means I’ll probably have to do the serial killer plot there, too.

Hall of the Dead in Whiterun

Since Paul advised me one of the Stones of Barenziah was in the Hall of the Dead in Whiterun, I sent Lydia back to Dragonsreach and then popped in there to see if I could find it. Had a chat with the priest of Arkay who was there, and who recruited me to go down into the catacombs and find his lost amulet. He’d have done it himself, except he was hearing unsettling noises from below.

And I mean honestly, when even the Hall of the Dead in a major city has skeletons and/or draugr wandering around, you’d think a priest of Arkay would keep better tabs on his amulet if that thing is what he needs to keep the restless dead less restless!

Got the amulet back for him, though. And nabbed that Stone of Barenziah while I was down there.

Falkreath

Ducked down to Falkreath next to see about following up on the Jarl’s letter. He’s still an asshole, but he was at least an asshole willing to pay me to go wipe out bandits. So I cleared Embershard Mine for him.

While I was there, I also got the pointer for starting the quest for the Masque of Clavicus Vile. I am not running that quest yet; still pondering if I want to do it, just because I’m not sure if I liked that one enough to do it again. And the locations it takes you to don’t have Word Walls to argue that I need to re-visit them, nor are any of the Stones of Barenziah involved.

For the time being though I did at least get a bounty from the innkeeper in Falkreath, which pointed me at the dragon’s lair at Ancient’s Ascent. And I cleared said lair, so I could get another dragon soul to help unlock Shouts, as well as the word for Animal Allegiance off that Word Wall.

Note also: while getting to Ancient’s Ascent, I also found the entrance to Ancestor Glade. Which I did not enter, because I remembered what happened when Alarrah tried to go in there prior to starting Dawnguard. Namely: Sprigganpalooza!

Back to Riften

Blipped back to Riften after that. Picked up two more side quests: the one to get ingredients for Ingun Black-Briar, and also the one to help Brand-Shei by finding a clue for him about his past. Because a) he’s a Dunmer, and b) Merawen is balancing the scales a little by nearly getting him arrested.

Once I took care of those, though, I started the next big challenge for the Thieves Guild: the Goldenglow Estate job.

Hitting Goldenglow Estate

This was, in short, great fun. I enjoy the more straightforward combat scenarios in Skyrim, but doing a quest where it was in my best interests not to fight anybody was a fun challenge!

When I got back to Riften after going to Falkreath, it was still broad daylight. So I spent some time just swimming the lake, partly to kill time, but also partly to look for nirnroot for Ingun. And I knew there’d be several all around that lake. I also wanted to scope out the access points to getting up to the beehives I had to burn.

Once dusk fell, I got up to those beehives well enough by climbing up out of the water. Hit three of the beehives with my Flames spell, and then dived right back into the water before anybody came running. Which let me quietly swim around to the access point for the next part of the quest: the sewer entrance Vex had told me about.

Pro tip: when you’re sneaking around in a sewer full of skeevers, skeevers go flying in a very satisfying fashion when you hit them with Firebolt spells. :D

I had an optional action item on this quest to swipe the key to the safe. But I had two thoughts about that:

  1. Fppbptbt. ‘Key’. What self-respecting, lockpick-wielding thief needs a key to get into a safe?
  2. Swiping that key also would require actually confronting Aringoth, the main NPC at Goldenglow, which struck me as risky. Particularly given that he was up on the second floor of the house, and I’d have to go up there, get the key, and then go down into the basement. All of which would mean greater risk of discovery if at any point my ‘sneak past everybody’ plan failed.

So instead, I opted to head straight for the basement once I made it into the house. Which meant I just had to make my way past a small number of mercenaries; six total, I think?

I’d come in armed with eight different invisibility potions, which helped a lot. So did having my Sneak up to 62, which meant I was at that point where people can actually miss you and run right past you even if you’re not actively sneaking.

Distracting all the mercenaries was fun as well, just by pulling the “shoot an arrow across the room to make them go investigate the sound” trick. This was a good opportunity to use some of the Ancient Nord Arrows I’d walked out of a few barrows with, since I hadn’t intended to pick them up and they’re not good enough to use in actual combat! So I appreciated not having to waste any of my better arrows.

I did successfully pickpocket a key off the last mercenary–but turns out I didn’t actually need it, because it was the key to get through the gate into the basement, and I’d already done that. Still though this was my first successful pickpocket attempt, so it was good to put that to practice!

Got into the safe, got the bill of sale, and nabbed other things lying around before hightailing it back out into the sewers and back to Riften.

Met up with Brynjolf who paid me for the job (and expressed approval of how I’d done it), and who then also told me Maven Black-Briar wanted to see me. Yikes?

Beginning the meadery job

As a player, I knew all about Maven Black-Briar by reputation, of course. Alarrah didn’t deal with her directly at all. Playing Merawen, though, meant that dealing with Maven was inevitable.

She was waiting for me on the second floor of the Bee and Barb. I got in there without having to speak to any of the NPCs (notably, the Argonian owners). Talen-Jei did follow me up the stairs, but he didn’t actually try to interfere with the plot. Maybe because he knew Maven was there. ;D

It amused me that Maven was wearing the exact same “fine clothes” outfit I had on. But this is what happens when there are only so many different variations on outfits in the game!

It also amused me that Maven was vocally not impressed with me appearance-wise. Or with pulling off the Goldenglow job, even though I’d done it to spec. It’ll be interesting to see if she gets any less bitchy to me as this plotline progresses.

She gave me orders to head off to Whiterun and talk to Mallus Maccius for instructions, which launched the quest Dampened Spirits. So since I knew a dismissal when I heard one, I buggered off to Whiterun! There, I met with Mallus at the Bannered Mare and got his instructions: go to the Honningbrew Meadery and arrange to poison their mead.

I also discovered that due to concluding In My Time of Need by killing Kematu and his men, I’d triggered a bug that dropped the original two Alik’r warrior NPCs at Whiterun’s gates, stuck in a mode of just throwing off generic NPC dialogue. I am shocked, SHOCKED I SAY, that I found more buggy behavior.

More side quest hunting

I was not, however, quite in the mood to go any further with the meadery job yet. So instead, I tried to run Sunderstone Gorge, where Master Arngeir had pointed me for a Word Wall.

This did not go well. First few times I tried to get there, I got jumped by a group of bandits that outnumbered me (and in one case, they were Forsworn instead of bandits). On the times I didn’t have to worry about the bandits, I got taken out instead by the first of the necromancers in the place.

Which told me I was clearly not going to be able to run that location on my own and I’d have to come back with a follower. I still want in there, though, not only because of the Word Wall, but also because of yet another of the Stones being in there!

Since Sunderstone was not an immediate option, and I also wasn’t quite in the mood to go back and get Lydia, I decided to take another crack at doing Shearpoint. This was also a challenge, but this time I actually pulled it off.

Step one was taking out the dragon. I managed to do this specifically by finding a ledge I could hide under, which gave me cover from the worst of the dragon’s fire, and which let me take potshots at it from relative safety. I hit it with Unrelenting Force a few times, as well as with arrows, and finally managed to take it down.

I did not, however, try to confront Krosis because I knew he’d wipe me out, particularly if I was by myself. So I went close enough to the Word Wall to trigger his sarcophagus flying open–and then promptly ran like hell. I circled around to come back once he lost track of me. Then I scampered back up to the Wall to get all three words of Throw Voice off of it. I cleared the boss chest.

And then I ran like hell again, fast traveling as soon as I was out of range of Krosis being a problem. Thank you, high Sneak. :D

Next time

Legit not sure yet? I’m torn between wanting to re-do some of the Greatest Hits of Alarrah’s run, just because I enjoyed them so much–and wanting to do entirely new things.

On the other hand, I’m also thinking I need to replenish my stock of Invisibility potions, and I need to take on some more dragons. Right now I have more Shouts on my list than I have souls to unlock them.

And, I’m level 24 now and still have no house. I need a better base of operations than just one bed and chest in the Thieves Guild HQ! But I also don’t have enough money to even buy Breezehome, so I need to build up more operating capital.

Which means more side quests, too. So I will need to consider potential Thieves Guild side jobs, as well as when I want to take on Dawnguard or the mage college.

Really, I just need to evaluate my current active quests and see which of them sound like what I want to do the most. :D

Screenshots