In Which Merawen Joins the Mage College

In this session, the primary action was re-doing plots I’d already done with Alarrah—but which I liked well enough that I wanted to go ahead and do them again. And, I did another burglary job in Whiterun.

As always, deets behind the fold!

Highlights

  • Scoped out Bleakwind Basin to see if I could run that giant bounty, but was not happy about my lack of cover prospects in the immediate vicinity—particularly after I saw my target giant whomp an NPC Farmer with his club; will have to come back and get that giant later
  • Re-ran the plot for the Masque of Clavicus Vile
  • Started the quest for Azura’s Star, and got to the point of speaking with Nelacar at the Frozen Hearth inn and finding out I needed to go to Ilinalta’s Deep
  • Started the plotline to join the mage college; used Healing Hands on Faralda to make it past her entry check on the bridge
  • Had to also kill a Frost Dragon during my apprentice intro chat with Mirabelle Ervine, since the dragon attacked right over the college courtyard
  • Proceeded through the Under Saarthal quest for the mage college
  • By extension, also triggered the Forbidden Legend quest since Jyrik Gauldurson is a boss monster in Saarthal
  • Boinged back to Whiterun to sell loot and run another burglary job

Giant at Bleakwind Basin

I started the session scoping out the giant camp at Bleakwind Basin, to see if I could run the open bounty from Whiterun for that. The theory was, maybe I could do the same strategy I’d done at Guldun Rock, and do a snipe-and-run pass until I took the giant down.

The problem with this plan: no really adequate cover anywhere near Bleakwind Basin. So there was not really anywhere I’d be able to hide out of a giant’s reach. Which would require me to fall back on these options:

  1. Snipe from as much distance as I can manage, then run like hell, and by run like hell I mean “make liberal use of Whirlwind Sprint to improve my ability to run like hell”
  2. Drop some runes around the camp and see if I can blow up the giant that way
  3. Take the giant on face to face

All of these options seem problematic. I do not know yet if I can get enough distance ahead of a giant with Whirlwind Sprint to eliminate the risk of it catching up with me.

And since giants are level 34, and I’m level 29 as of this writing, I am still not entirely comfortable with the prospect of taking on a giant in melee combat.

Dropping runes seems tasty at first glance, but there’s also the risk that the giants would just be alerted by the sound of me firing off the runes. And I am not advanced enough yet on my spellcasting perks to have the Silent Casting perk.

Also of note with this: there are two giants at that camp. And three mammoths. So if I piss off the giants, that’s potentially five pissed-off and very large creatures I’d have to do something about.

Long story short, I’ll have to come back and run this bounty later.

Robbing the Gray-Manes

(Side note here: I am not actually a hundred percent sure of the order of things here, and whether this was the point in the session where I did the burglary job. Just because I bounced around through a lot of things last night and I forgot to make a proper note of where in the order of things the burglary job happened! But for purposes of this writeup I’ll put it here.)

This job was to hit the Gray-Manes’ house in Whiterun. As with the Battle-Borns, so too with the Gray-Manes: I pretty much had to sneak into the place, nab a thing, and sneak out again.

This time though I had the additional challenge of Avulstein Gray-Mane being in the house. He’s hiding out from the Thalmor, so he never actually leaves the house. Which meant I had to sneak past him.

Fortunately, my Sneak was up to the task. As it damn well should be, given that it’s closing in on 80! So I got in, got the Golden Urn I was after, and got out again without Azulstein looking up once from whatever he was munching on across the room.

Once this was done, I was able to report back to Vex, turn in the item for my fee, and get another job from her.

This time I chose a Sweep Job, which is just like a Burglary Job except it involves nabbing three items instead of one. And this job was once again in Whiterun—but this time it’ll be for raiding the house of Heimskr, the priest of Talos who’s always preaching at the top of his lungs in the Whiterun square! Ha! At least his location is pretty much known at all times of the day. :D

A Daedra’s Best Friend quest

Instead of the giant bounty, I decided to re-run the plot for the Masque of Clavicus Vile, since that was reasonably easy and I just wanted the additional combat and sneak experience. So after bailing on Bleakwind, I boinged over to Falkreath to track down that “dog” that Lod the Blacksmith asked me to look for.

Found Balbus and got the quest launched, and followed him all the way to Haemar’s Cavern where the shrine to Vile was. We did have to go through the bandit fortification near Falkreath, but I also actually successfully sniped two bandit archers from afar, so we could duck through the arch of that fortification and go on our way.

We also had to cut through Helgen, and this was one of the places where having Balbus along was helpful. Otherwise I would have been swarmed by the crowd of bandits in there.

Running the vampire nest at Haemar’s Shame to get to the shrine was suitably challenging—not too hard, not too easy. I did die at least once. But it wasn’t so hard that it was impossible to make it through. The vampires also gave me Sanguinare Vampiris a couple of times, but that’s what being prepared with potions of Cure Disease is for!

Having Balbus was also helpful to run Rimerock Burrow, where I had to get the Rueful Axe. I was able to let Balbus kill the mage living there, since said mage (Sebastian Lort) is packing lightning spells. And, I still need to get some shock resistance capability built up!

(Really, my greater challenge for Rimerock Burrow was just finding the damn place. The easy access to it is a very easy to miss fork off the road west of Solitude, and I totally missed that fork. I wound up taking a hard way to get into the burrow, which involved jumping down to the bridge into it from further up the mountainside. After, I might add, I did Become Ethereal to make sure I could actually survive the jump.)

And as with Alarrah, so with Merawen: I had no particular interest in having the Rueful Axe, and I was not interested in killing Balbus. I mean, he was a Daedra dog, but he was still a friendly doggo nonetheless, and killing him would have been a shitty thing to do! So I told Clavicus Vile no deal.

And finally got him to give me the Masque.

This run got me a fairly sizable amount of loot, so I boinged back to Riften to sell it all.

The Black Star quest

Next up, I started the quest for Azura’s Star. Out of all the various Daedric artifact quests, Meridia’s and Azura’s were the ones I liked the best. And for Merawen in particular, Azura is even more relevant.

From what I know now about the Dunmer society in Morrowind, by and large they’re Daedra worshippers anyway. And most of them focus on the so-called Reclamations, the “Good Daedra”, who Dunmer worship as their ancestors. These three Daedra are Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala.

Which means Merawen probably actively worships Azura. And since I found out in-game that Azura has a shrine in Skyrim, I figured Merawen would make a point of trying to visit it.

(Mind you, Merawen probably also actively worships Mephala and Boethiah. But since I already also know I will not want to do those Daedric quests, I’m going to take the liberty of assuming that Merawen’s primary Daedra of interest is in fact Azura.)

So I decided to go ahead and get that quest underway. I had Wayward Pass as a nearby landmark, so I boinged over to there and tried to make my way over to the Shrine of Azura. This took me two tries, as I got killed by a vampire the first time.

Second time through, I made it up there. And was vaguely disappointed that Aranea Ienith, the Dunmer who’s Azura’s priestess at this shrine, didn’t seem to clue in that I am in fact a Dunmer in this game. Ha!

Got Aranea to tell me oh hey guess what, Azura has totally chosen you for her champion and you need to go get her Star back. And go down to Winterhold to see if they know this elven mage you need to talk to.

Swung around to Winterhold to do that, and find Nelacar in the Frozen Hearth Inn. I had to actually intimidate him to tell me what I wanted to know—because I kept failing the Persuade check, and he wouldn’t take a bribe. But Merawen does seem to be rather bitchier than Alarrah, so that was rather okay.

And that let me get to the point of knowing I needed to go to Ilinalta’s Deep to get the broken Star back.

Joining the Mage College

While I was in Winterhold anyway, I also went up to the mage college to start that plot too. Because:

  1. This was definitely one of my favorite plots during Alarrah’s run.
  2. I need access to the Arch-Mage’s quarters anyway because there’s a Stone of Barenziah in there, and if I want all 24 of them, I need to get it! And if I’m Arch-Mage, bonus.
  3. I’ve been using magic more heavily with Merawen, and that includes both offensive and defensive spells. So having access to the mage college trainers is relevant to my interests.

I took this plot far enough along to do Saarthal, and to let the Arch-Mage Savos Aren know what was going on.

One difference with running the mage college plot this time is that there are three different Dunmer at the college, including the Arch-Mage himself. Between this and her improving facility with magic, I feel like Merawen would probably like this place in some ways better than the Thieves Guild.

I doublechecked the Thieves Guild faction list and there are Dunmer involved, but some of them don’t show up until I get farther along in the main Guild plot, and further along with side jobs as well. So for now, Merawen’s still feeling kind of odd woman out down in the Ratway.

Down in the Ratway, too, by definition she is in hiding. At the mage college, not quite so much. This will feel weird to her.

Also, it’s worth noting that getting up into the college to begin with had the amusing extra wrinkle of a Frost Dragon attack!

The dragon hit first when I was coming out of the inn following my conversation with Nelacar. Unfortunately, it killed me; I’m lacking proper frost resistance on my current armor, an oversight I need to correct at my earliest opportunity.

Second time through, the dragon only caught up with me once I was up at the college talking with Mirabelle Ervine to get the apprentice intro. The dragon landed in the college courtyard—and I saw Faralda run up from the bridge to throw lightning at it.

Yet not a single NPC commented about how the new apprentice shot the beast with her arrows, or how she slurped up its soul. Darn. ;)

Speaking of Faralda, this time through her initial test on the bridge, I was asked to cast Healing Hands on her. A spell which I did in fact already have, so I was able to successfully cast it on her and pass the test to get in.

Running the Saarthal plot

Doing the plot with Saarthal went pretty much the same as it did with Alarrah, though I noticed periodic buggy and/or weird behavior:

  1. I only had one of the other three apprentices show up to meet Tolfdir at Saarthal’s entrance, though Ormund and J’zargo were present once we actually went in
  2. Apprentice Brelyna, like Aranea, didn’t seem to register she was in fact talking to a Dunmer—she had a line at me about never spending any time in Morrowind, and uh, honey, I am a Dunmer!
  3. I fought a Draugr Deathlord, but I was sneaking and in shadow at the time, and the Deathlord never actually came at me. It just stood there while I pelted it with arrows.
  4. I got weird behavior out of Tolfdir that I only realized after the fact was caused by me not triggering the correct dialogue prompts with him yet. Fortunately this was fixable.

Saarthal also being one of the places you have to go to run the Lost Legends quest, this meant I also had to kill Jyrik Gauldurson. This triggered the Forbidden Legend quest! So I’ll need to run that, too.

Left off with the mage college with Tolfdir telling me to go back and report to the Arch-Mage, and Savos Aren telling me to go hit the books in the Arcaneum to find out about the mysterious orb in Saarthal.

Back to thievery

Aside from all of the various larger plots, I wanted to run the next pending burglary job in Whiterun! So since I was carrying a lot of loot again, I put on my Thieves Guild armor to get the carry bonus, quaffed a potion of Strength, and boinged over to Whiterun directly to get in and start selling off loot.

This included a stop in Dragonsreach to use the enchanter—because I found ebony gauntlets in Saarthal. I was severely tempted to keep them, just because I think black armor would look bitchin’ on Merawen. But ebony armor is also heavy armor, and I’m playing with a light armor emphasis again this time.

Plus:

  1. The ebony armor has distinct boobs on the chest piece and I always feel like that looks stupid, because it’s only there to remind you your character is female, as opposed to actually providing proper protection
  2. I’m going to get great black armor later on anyway once I join the Nightingales with the Thieves Guild :D

I did however take the time to drop an enchantment on the gauntlets, just because I needed the enchanting practice, and also because that’d make them more valuable to sell.

And after taking care of that, it was time to actually run the next burglary job I had queued up. So I left off in Whiterun after selling off the various interesting bits of enchanted loot.

Next time

Since I’m in Whiterun anyway I’ll be hitting Heimskr’s house.

Other than that I’m vaguely tempted to go start Dawnguard, too. Just because of previous commentary re: wanting to see if I can run Dawnguard before taking on Alduin, but also because the prospect of having Serana as a regular follower is tempting! Since I’ve been de-emphasizing Lydia on this run, having another follower instead is kind of called for.

And if I move the pointer along on a few more quests to get in the combat, magic, and sneak practice, this will help get me to a point where I’ll feel ready to return to Solitude for the next major Thieves Guild event. I’m almost to 80 on my Sneak and I want to be at 80 or above before I take on Solitude.

Once I do return to Solitude, I’ll probably do both the Thieves Guild quest and the side quest with the Argonian Jaree-Ra—just because that will also give me access to the bandit lair I need to clear for the pending bounty in Solitude.

Screenshots

As I wrote up this post I realized I should have damn well taken screenshots of the inside of the Gray-Manes’ house since I hadn’t been in there before. Oops! I will have to remember to take more screenshots of places Alarrah never got to.

Here are some screenshots, though! For running both the Clavicus Vile plot, as well as the mage college. These more or less overlap with what I screencapped as Alarrah, I think, but I took them anyway.