or Hell is Other People.
Just a word of warning, there are spoilers here. If you don’t want to read them, skip over the section marked *Spoiler* until you reach *Spoiler Over*.
After completing a few menial tasks, I’m allowed to join the Companions as a “whelp,” the Skyrim version of a newb. Although technically no one has any rank if what the others are saying is true. For the most part everyone nice. That Aela the Huntress is there, & I can’t help wondering if her armor is generic or special, because it’s really cool-looking & I’d like it myself. But there is one woman who’s a pain. I asked “What does it mean to be a Companion?” & she responds with something along the lines of, “It means I don’t have to answer stupid questions.” And when I leave she tells me she doesn’t like me. “Well fine,” I thought. “You will soon enough. I know how these things work. Soon I’ll be the leader of all of you & then we’ll see what happens.”
To become a full-fledged member I have to bring back a fragment of the blade of the founder of the Companions. It’s in a cave nearby. Simple enough. Oh, but I have to have a Shield Brother go with me to prove I’m trustworthy. Yay, glorified escort mission. So Farkas (trying not to snicker even when typing it) goes ahead of me.
So off I go after Farkas. But not before checking out a few new locations. One was a guard tower, & the other was some type of fort. I wanted to check the fort out, but some woman yelled at me to go away. Not feeling like fighting them — right now — I obey.
As I was hunting some elk along the path, I notice what looks like a mammoth head on my compass. “Ooh, what’s that symbol mean?” I wonder, & set off to investigate. As it turns out, it meant death.
Let me elaborate. Technically that symbol indicates a Mammoth Camp. I spot a huge bonfire, a couple of mammoths & two giants. Now, I thought I remembered reading in an article that giants are neutral creatures that will only attack you if you attack them or they’re mammoths. LIES! Because as I’m sneaking closer, one of the giants starts chasing after me, swinging his giant hammer. And let me tell you, size does matter, because a single hit took away nearly half of my health. Understandably freaked out, I ran away, firing a few useless shots at him. Useless, because they barely do any damage. Realizing I’m outmatched, I try to run back to the guard tower, hoping they’ll help. Unfortunately, I never make it that far before the giant kills me, sending my body ragdolling into the sky.
Number of Deaths: 1
This lead me to an important discovery that showed up several times later:
(1) Enemies do not always scale to your level. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself facing an enemy that is far above your level. And unfortunately, short of consulting a guide, there’s no way to know this until after you’re dead.
Consulting such a guide, I learned that players under level 10 should avoid giants, & that they will attack if you get too close.
One load later, I’m back en route to Farkas. But on the way, I remembered that I had over 2000 gold. “Ooh, enough to buy that horse,” I thought. One quick purchase later, & I’m galloping along on my new horse. I don’t get to change the horse’s name in game, however. It just says “Phedre’s Horse.” I honestly haven’t thought of a name.
(2) Horse controls are better, if slower, than in Oblivion. You have to hold down the spring button to really move, but even the horse’s slowest run is faster than a human. And you can’t go into first-person view.
Before reaching Farkas, I did try to stealth kill the giants, but that didn’t work either. Luckily I was too far away for them to find me. Well, forget them. I’ll just wait until I’m stronger. Along the way to Farkas, I also ran across some Daedric hunters, who demanded to know if I worship daedra. They weren’t very nice, despite saying they were doing to God of Mercy’s work. Maybe you should follow his example?
Leaving the rude people to their mission, I met with Farkas at Dustman’s Cairn’s, literally a hole in the ground barrow. Preparing myself, I pulled out my bow & went into sneak mode. Then I laughed as Farkas did the same. It looks more than a little silly sneaking with a huge two-handed greatsword out.
This was the first quest to make me have someone follow me, & I had a few observations about it:
(3) Followers copy your action & won’t attack unless an enemy becomes actively hostile. Thankfully, they don’t seem to take initiative & attack people while I’m sneaking. But once I’m detected, they’ll attack.
(4) Enemies go after Followers first. There were several times I sat there, in front of Farkas, but the enemy ignored me & went for him. This seems to happen by default, although I did come across a few instances where the enemy ignored my Follower.
(5) It might not apply to every Follower, but most Followers appear to be immortal. When their health falls too low, they collapse on the ground & enemies focus on you, while they heal. You, however, can kill them, so be careful.
Typically I don’t like companions, because they get in the way, but I’ve been finding them useful. Of course, that didn’t stop me from yelling at Farkas to get out of the way or to stop pushing me forward when he walked into me. It’s also disconcerting to turn around & see him literally right in my face. Step back, son.
The quest was pretty normal except for two parts. *Spoiler* At one point I locked myself in a cage because the lever to open the next room was inside the cage, but it also closed the door to the cage. Tutting at me, Farkas went to find the other lever, when a group of enemies surrounded him. Then Farkas turned into a freaking werewolf & slaughtered them! After he released me & I got to examine the enemies, I saw they were called the “Silver Hand.” “Ah-ha, I get it,” I thought. They’re werewolf hunters. Then Farkas told me that all of the Companions within “The Circle” were. “But I don’t want to be a werewolf,” I thought, naturally assuming that I’d have to become one to join The Circle. “Ah well, I can always just cure myself.” *Spoiler Over*
Making it to the bottom of the barrow (who would dig such winding tunnels anyway?) I passed a bunch of coffins & thought, “Once we get this thing, they’re all gonna open.” Not only is there the fragment, but another Word Wall. This time the word is “Yol,” the first word for Fire Breath. I take the word first, knowing taking the fragment will trigger an ambush. And of course it does. But is it an ambush if you know it’s coming? But they don’t all pop out at once, & it wasn’t that hard a fight.
With both prizes in hand, we head back to Whiterun, where I’m officially made a member of the Companions. And they insult my weapons. And the cleaning lady scares me. (She was just sitting in the dark & I didn’t see her until I walked passed & she talked to me. Holy crap, lady! You should teach me Sneak with moves like that.)
Leaving the Companions for a bit, I set out to finish “The Blessings of Nature” quest I got from the priestess. She needed me to reclaim a dagger called the Nettlebane from a hagraven. So I make the journey & nearly die several times trying to get this dumb dagger. The witches were easy enough. But then something started lobbing fireballs at me. It was the hagraven, but I didn’t know it at the time. I just saw something ugly covered in feathers. It kept shooting fireballs at me, so I took cover behind a log. Since the only path was a fallen log up to her area, I opted to duck out of cover long enough to shoot an arrow at her. It would’ve been a lot faster if she didn’t keep healing herself. But I finally killed her & took all her stuff to spite her. Ugly thing looked like some kind of harpy.
I took the dagger back, & of course the priestess wants me to go find this Eldergleam tree to get its sap. But joy of joys, a Dunmer named Maurice (snicker) wanted to tag along. And as much as I didn’t mind Farkas, I hated Maurice. First of all, he got stuck in sneak mode after I killed the Dark Brotherhood assassin I mentioned last time. So now he’s even slower. Then he nearly died fighting a mudcrab (a mudcrab, for God’s sake!). I didn’t even realize it was him at first. I just saw some guy punching a mudcrab I was shooting at across the stream. Then I realized it was him. “Ah crap,” I thought. “What are you doing? How did you even get over there? And why isn’t your health regenerating?” He kept getting stuck going up hills so that I had to find the easiest way for him. Even then I had to sit there watching him do barrel rolls trying to get out of bushes. At one point a group of giants were coming, & I was like, “If you don’t hurry up & get up here I’m going to leave you to die. I’m not dying for you.”
But we eventually made it. I was surprised there were no enemies to fight. It was actually really pretty inside. Not like a cave at all. There were trees & a waterfall. The rest of the quest went off without a hitch — almost. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to get past the vines blocking the path. I thought there was something wrong with the game. I kept trying to jump over them. But Maurice ended up being a little useful, so I guess I’m glad I didn’t kill him.
I took my item back to the priestess & finally decided I was tired of these people & needed to make some progress on the main story. Mainly because I wanted to start fighting dragons.
Off to see the Jarl!