or Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here
Eager to slay my first dragon, I headed up to Dragonsreach to speak with the Jarl (pronounced “yarl”) Balgruuf the Greater. Just an interesting side note, you can catch salmon in the water under the entry bridge. I went inside & I could see the Jarl lounged out on his throne talking with someone I assumed was his advisor. As I approached, I saw someone unsheathe their blade & stalk towards me. “Great,” I thought. “I don’t have a bounty, do I?” No, it turns out the Housecarl is just paranoid. The Dunmer woman didn’t want to let me through until I told her I had news about the dragon, then she let me past.
I found it odd that no one seemed to question how I knew about the dragon attack on Helgen, but I guess since I wasn’t on the prisoner list in the first place, it was okay. Come to think of it, most of the time these games have people being awfully trusting of an escaped prisoner. Oh well…
After passing along the news, the Jarl sent men to Riverwood & sent me to see the court mage. The mage seemed to have been studying dragons. For a reason yet unknown to me, he needed me to get a Dragonstone from Bleak Falls Barrow. “Wait a minute,” I thought. “I’ve been there. And if RPG’s have taught me anything, it’s to take everything that looks interesting.” So after he told me to go get it, I told him I’ve already got it. Then I got an achievement. Win for distractions.
As I’m talking to the Jarl about my reward (for doing nothing), a guard ran in & said that a dragon had been spotted by the western watch tower. Awesome, a dragon fight! But first let me search your house. I was actually surprised while searching Dragonsreach, the game seems to be a lot less picky about what counts as stealing. I should probably explain, lest people go out & get arrested & blame it on me. In Oblivion, most of the castles were locked up so it was a crime to enter, & touching anything was a crime. But at least in Dragonsreach, I can freely enter the Jarl’s quarters, take all their food, take gold of the Jarl’s desk, help myself to some silver ingots & find a very cool-looking spinning gem that gives me a quest — none of which were stealing. Only a few things were marked with “Steal” while everything else was “Take.”
Getting back to the task at hand, I rode out to meet with the guards. I left my horse a ways back because I don’t know if horses are immortal & I didn’t want the dragon to kill it. I’d been to the tower before, so I immediately recognized that the ground was on fire & it looked like everyone was dead. Bow at the ready, I entered the tower. A lone guard ran out, yelling about the dragon killing everyone. Then everyone but me spotted the dragon coming back. But I took their word for it & ran inside the tower to shoot it in safety.
I should probably stop to say that I died for the second time here. But not from the dragon. Oh no. I died from falling out a window.
I wish I was making that up. Well, I didn’t so much fall out as I did jump. Let me explain. The dragon fight was pretty easy, for a few reason I think. One, being the first fight it’s probably weaker than the dragons I’ll meet later. Two, I have a crap-loud (which is a real measurement, in case you didn’t know) of guards to distract it. And three, I had a nice hole in the tower to snipe him from. Strangely, no one else seemed to know this. It’s like, “Seriously guys, why do you have a watchtower if you’re not going to use it?”
So the dragon went down pretty easily. Then the Housecarl, Irileth, told me to examine the dragon. I decided the fastest way was to jump from the window. Unfortunately, it instantly killed me. No injury, just straight-up killed me. Well, crap. I honestly didn’t know this at that point, but you can die from falling too far. I’d been jumping from heights before this, so I figured with no Acrobatics skill, I was okay. Oh how wrong I was.
So I reloaded & killed the dragon again. Same strategy. This time, though, I didn’t jump out of the window. I walked down the stairs like a normal, boring person. Looting the dragon’s corpse proved very profitable. Not only did I get gold (Where do dragons keep it? Did they eat it, like a shark?) but I collected several dragon bones & scales, which are pretty pricey. Then the body sort of burned away, leaving just the bones, & I absorbed the soul. My first dragon soul.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say at that point some people started talking about me being “Dragonborn,” since I think that was always known about the game. The game prompted me to use my dragon soul to unlock Unrelenting Force, the word I learned in Bleak Falls. Although I had another word I could’ve unlocked, I think it’s a requirement to unlock Force because it comes up later. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know what the shout looks like. It’s a forcewave that knocks people back.
On the way back to Whiterun, I heard a loud thundering sound. At first I thought it was another dragon. But it was just a lead to my next quest. So it’s off to a mountain called the Throat of the World. But first the Jarl names me Thane of Whiterun & gives me a housecarl of my own, a female Nord named Lydia. She’s actually very useful. She carries both a melee weapon & bow, so she can attack up close or at a distance, which is useful when fighting dragons.
Before heading for High Hrothgar, I backtracked a bit. While traveling to the Eldergleam tree, I’d come across a dragon icon on my compass. At the time I avoided it, because I wasn’t even sure if dragons appeared before the first official dragon fight. But now I was ready.
Or so I thought.
It’s called Shearpoint, & there is a dragon there. This fight was much tougher, mainly because there’s no cover. Thankfully Lydia was able to distract the dragon most of the time. But the worst part is, after the fight, I was attacked by another… thing. At the time I didn’t know what it was. It was humanoid, but had black wings & kept flying around shooting fireballs at me. Because it kept moving, it was hard to hit with either melee or ranged attacks. I used up most of my health potions on the git, but finally I brought it down. Upon later looking it up, I found out that the creature was a Dragon Priest named Krosis (which I guessed from the item he dropped) & that Shearpoint is supposed to be one of the toughest word walls in the game. So take my advice: wait until you’re at a reasonably high level before going here. On the plus side, the Mask of Krosis he dropped increases Sneak, Archery & Alchemy, so I equipped it immediately.
So here are a few tips for fighting dragons that I’ve discovered:
(1) Use cover. I think it’s self-explanatory.
(2) Companions are very useful. Typically they go for other targets first, be it Followers or creatures.
(3) Stay away from the mouth. Dragons seem to follow the pattern of flying overhead in circles before landing. It’s hard to shoot them in the air, & they don’t always land near you. Try to stay on either side of it to avoid any blasts it shoots at you.
The word wall here also gives all three words for a shout. “Zul Mey Gut” or “Voice Fool Far.” It’s the Throw Voice shout. Actually a whisper, it lets you fool enemies into thinking you’re somewhere else. I used the soul I just absorbed to unlock the first word.
Leaving Shearpoint for good (I hope) I got back on track for High Hrothgar. It was a long but relatively uneventful journey. I ran into both Imperial & Stormcloak soldiers, unlocking the quests to join either side. I’ll probably join the Imperials, if for no other reason than they’re actually nice to me, whereas the Stormcloaks growl & make threats to me. Jerks.
I did run across a small alchemist shack on the way. It’s nothing important, but it does have a butterfly in a jar, which I took because it just looked really cool.
To get to High Hrothgar you have to travel up the 7000 Steps, which start at a town called Ivarstead (be sure to pick up the supply delivery quest while you’re there). I didn’t count to see if there really were 7000 steps, but it’s a long, narrow way up. I only had two fights on the way up: one with an ice troll, which me & Lydia took down before he knew we were there, & a sabre cat. Am I the only one creeped out by the fact that you can harvest the cat’s eye for an ingredient? If you actually stop to think about it, most of the ingredients aren’t things that sound safe to eat. Why would I eat bees, or antlers, or any of this stuff?
I won’t go into details about “The Way of the Voice” quest. I will say that I unlocked the second word of Unrelenting Force, “Ro” or “Balance,” making it more powerful by holding the shout button down. I also learned the first word of the Whirlwind Sprint, “Wuld” or “Whirlwind,” which is a quick dash. The people there told me more about the Thu’um & being Dragonborn, as well as sending me to my next objective.
Instead, I decided to check back on the Companions.