In Which Merawen and Jenassa Go to Solstheim

With this session, I begin Dragonborn-related activity with Merawen in earnest! Merawen and Jenassa are now settling in for a long run through dealing with Miraak.

Highlights

  • Decided not to derp around college after all, and just headed south towards Windhelm
  • Creatures encountered: snow bear, ice wolf, two giant frostbite spiders
  • NPCs passed without direct interaction: trio of Imperials with Stormcloak prisoner; trio of Stormcloaks
  • Locations passed without direct interaction: Whistling Mine, Stillborn Cave
  • Got to Windhelm and discovered that I could just go straight to the ship without having to actually enter Windhelm, so that was cool
  • Captain was surly about going back to Solstheim but grumpily acknowledged nothing bad happened the last time, so he took my money
  • Off to Raven Rock!
  • Talked to Glover Mallory; sold him some of the weapons I enchanted; also asked him about Miraak and got his vague answer that he doesn’t really know who Miraak is; not the slightest bit suspicious that he also says he doesn’t want to talk about it
  • Also talked a lot to Milore the alchemist; bought a bunch of her things and sold her several of my potions
  • Leveled up to 61 while talking to her, due to a Speech boost; got training in Alchemy from her to bump Alchemy up to 75
  • Got her backstory and her side quest to bring her netch jelly
  • Asked her about Miraak as well, and while she was as vague as Glover, she also gave me the tip about finding his temple
  • Talked to Fethis next and got his side quest to bring him East Empire pendants
  • Fethis’ vague Miraak answer gave quest pointer to investigate the shrine at the Earth Stone
  • I also bought a few stalhrim arrows off of him
  • Decided to followup on the pickaxe for Glover and run the Final Descent quest
  • Had opening conversation with Crescius and got his request to find his great-grandfather’s remains in the mine
  • Shocker: he doesn’t know who Miraak is either
  • Went down into the mine to check it out; shocked, shocked I say, that there were draugr down there!
  • Played through the mine tunnels till I got to the part where I found Gratian’s remains, and the Bloodskal Blade; had to remind myself how horizontal power slashes with the thing worked, so I could solve the door puzzle
  • Bloodskal Blade’s energy hit Jenassa? Sorry honey!
  • Fight with the dragon priest Zahkriisos went surprisingly quickly, Jenassa took him out in a couple of shots, ha!
  • And this is why you give your spouse a dragonbone bow
  • Got the word for the Dragon Aspect Shout
  • Ran the Apocrypha quest for the Winds of Change Black Book; got initial “I KNOW YOU” greeting from Hermaeus Mora; killed a Lurker Vindicator and a couple of Seekers; got Companion’s Insight off the Black Book
  • Came out through Bloodskal Barrow and killed a few reavers
  • And I think it was while I was looting the shelves in the reavers’ lairs that I found one of the Deathbrand books, which triggered the quest to find the Deathbrand armor
  • Reached Raven Rock in late hours, and saw the townsfolk being super creepy at the shrine—including Glover Mallory
  • (And now Jenassa’s seen it too so she and Merawen can both be creeped out)
  • Met Neloth who was all HEY YOU AREN’T AFFECTED, WTF
  • Returned to Retching Netch to rent a room; did actually safely sleep there for the night
  • Got up next morning to check in with Crescius and let him know he was right
  • Still had a quest pointer to investigate the shrine, so I went back to look at it again; a few of the townsfolk and guards were still there during the day, as was Neloth
  • Note to self: hitting A on the Stone only entrances you and does not count as investigating the shrine!
  • Heard the voice of Miraak, but a subtitle of his got stuck on the screen, so I rolled back to previous auto save
  • That just reset me back to coming out of Crescius’ office so I didn’t lose much
  • Sold stuff to Glover who showed absolutely no sign of awareness of what he’d been doing the night before
  • Also sold stuff to Milore
  • Started heading out for the temple
  • Triggered March of the Dead quest by helping Captain Veleth fight the ash spawn at Old Attius Farm
  • Got note with the “Declaration of War”
  • Veleth asked me to go check out Fort Frostmoth and find out WTF
  • Saved for the night

Commentary

Nothing I played through in this session was unfamiliar, since it was all stuff I’d done with Alarrah’s run. But there are a few notable differences I want to call out here. These don’t change the specific details of how Dragonborn quests will play out for me this time. But they do impact my frame of mind in planning how I’ll do things!

First and foremost, I feel like Merawen is coming at Solstheim with a very different mindset than what Alarrah had. Critically, she is a Dunmer. So she’s going to have a much different mindset about Raven Rock than a non-Dunmer would, and visiting a town where a lot of the inhabitants are in fact Dunmer.

Plus, the backstory I envision for her that has her coming out of Morrowind fairly recently, as opposed to growing up in Skyrim. And her growing up in the Morrowind Ashlands was traumatic enough—and close enough to the Red Mountain—that she really doesn’t like being within visual range of it on Solstheim.

So she’s got some very powerful but conflicting reactions going on here:

  • “This place is an ash-ridden hellscape and I hate it!”
  • “My people are here, and at least it’s our ash-ridden hellscape.”
  • “Raven Rock seems like it ought to be a nice place, except for the mine being shut down, and this creepy shit going on with the shrine… wait, is this asshole Miraak who’s trying to kill me also fucking with my people?”

Given that Merawen’s wife is also a Dunmer, I feel like Jenassa is going to be very, very much on board with taking Miraak out.

Also, it is important to note that Glover Mallory is Guild. Which, even though he’s one of the few non-Dunmer in Raven Rock, still makes him qualify to Merawen as “my people”. Plus, I think she just likes the guy. He’s friendly, he’s laid-back, and he appears to be an excellent smith.

So Merawen’s taking it rather more personally than Alarrah did that Miraak appears to be fucking with the people of Raven Rock, is what I’m saying here. Even aside from taking it personally that Miraak is apparently trying to kill her.

Final Descent quest

With all of the above in mind, this is why I went ahead and did the Final Descent plot, just because Glover had asked Merawen about that pickaxe last time she was there. So she felt it was appropriate to go ahead and deal with that.

Really, though, at this point Merawen should probably just plan for things like this to be way, way more complicated than they appear on first glance. :D

Playing through the mine wasn’t too hugely different from how Alarrah did it, though. With one main exception: Jenassa being in dragonscale armor meant that the swinging blade traps that I could not turn off didn’t kick her ass quite as hard as they did Lydia in Alarrah’s playthrough.

And this is why you outfit your spouse with the best possible armor for her skill set!

I note with amusement though that Jenassa’s still snarky if I throw a healing spell on her, even though she’s my spouse now rather than my hired follower.

Also, Jenassa pretty much did my job for me taking out the dragon priest. He was down real quick, only after a couple of shots from Jenassa’s dragonbone bow as well as mine.

The last notable difference here is that this turned out to be the first Black Book run for this playthrough—and the Winds of Change Black Book is not the one where you see Miraak for the first time. So this means I’ll not get Hermaeus Mora’s initial “HELLO CHAMPION” greeting in the Black Book run in Miraak’s temple.

It also means Merawen is now aware that Hermaeus Mora is still aware of her. Which is a lot to be aware of, even aside from the context of dealing with Miraak, so I kind of like having it play out this way.

Yep, some creepy shit is sure going down in this town

Coming back from Bloodskal Barrow, I got into Raven Rock in the middle of the night again—which meant I had another round of seeing more of the townsfolk at the shrine, including Glover.

And this time, Merawen had Jenassa along, so her spouse could be just as creeped out it by this as she was the first time she saw it.

Now, though, I also got the initial encounter with Neloth, who got to be surprised that hey, here are a couple of Dunmer the Earth Stone isn’t entrancing. And I got the initial “god no I’m not trying to stop this, I want to see how it plays out” response out of him, which helps lay down that really, Neloth is a dick. An amusingly played dick, but a dick nonetheless!

But, well, I don’t have the Bend Will Shout yet so I can’t cleanse the Earth Stone. So for the time being, I returned to the Retching Netch to crash for the night, and did manage to successfully sleep there without mysteriously being transported anywhere else.

Next morning, I got up to go report in to Crescius and tell him he was right. So that got that plot sorted.

(Side note: I do like that Crescius is an Imperial with a Dunmer wife, Aphia. Who as a Dunmer is not going to have the same kind of lifespan a human does—though it’s not clear how old Aphia is. From what I see looking up the characters on the wiki, Aphia didn’t marry Crescius all that long ago relatively speaking, so he was already old when she married him. Which I think is kind of sweet, signifying that even an elderly Imperial miner can find love in this game. ❤️)

At this point I still had a quest marker for investigating the shrine near the town, so I took a stab at looking at it again—but there was no way to clear the marker that I could see. I even tried hitting A on the Stone, but really, all that did was throw me under the Stone’s influence (and trigger a remark from nearby Neloth about “I really don’t think that’s advisable—oh well!”).

However, it also triggered a bug. I heard Miraak’s voice intoning some of the lines from the creepy chant, and one of those lines got stuck on the screen as a subtitle. So in order to get rid of that, I had to roll back the game a little. It only threw me back to coming out of Crescius’ office, though, so I didn’t lose much.

(Speaking of subtitles–y’all may have noticed that I have subtitles on in a lot of recent screenshots. I decided I kind of liked it, particularly when the subtitles contribute to whatever’s in the screenshot to help capture the moment. So for now I’m keeping them on. But part of that point is also to eventually see whether I see a repro of that weird line I heard in Windhelm before. I think it was a line of Miraak’s firing off for no apparent reason. Having subtitles on might help me confirm that if it happens again.)

Wound up selling more things to both Glover and Milore—neither of whom, of course, seemed anything other than normal at this point. Which just goes to underscore that the nighttime shrine shenanigans are, indeed, super fucking creepy.

March of the Dead quest

At this point, I decided my Dunmer pair were pretty much ready to go find that temple. So we headed out of town, going east.

This, of course, put me into a position to see Captain Veleth of the Redoran Guard fighting with some ash spawn. And stopping to help him with that triggered the March of the Dead quest.

I got the “Declaration of War” note off the remains of one of the ash spawn, and Veleth’s request to help him out by going to check out Fort Frostmoth so he doesn’t have to leave Raven Rock unattended. At this point, I saved for the night.

Next time

I’ll be running the rest of the March of the Dead plot, since getting that resolved is necessary to proceed to the assassination conspiracy plot. And, sorting that will let me take over Severin Manor. Doing that sooner rather than later will make my life easier tromping around Solstheim.

Also, I kind of feel like I’d prefer to be a bit less flail-y in my playthrough of Solstheim this time, and maybe take care of the major Raven Rock plots before branching out to do the broader Dragonborn ones. This may however be dictated by how things play out!

Screenshots

It was during Alarrah’s run on Solstheim that I really got into the habit of taking game screenshots—so what Solstheim looks like is already pretty well documented in her run. I will therefore probably be doing fewer Solstheim screenshots with Merawen.

But that doesn’t mean no screenshots! So here are a few from this session.

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