Double session post for Kendis this time, featuring adventuring for the Companions, being inducted into their Inner Circle–and becoming a werewolf. And a side helping of fighting bandits and the Silver Hand!
Play by play
- Play dates: 12/21, 12/23/2022
- Session numbers in this run: 10-11
- Picked up where I left off at Breezehome
- Did a little bit of inventory management and selling of stuff
- Headed over to Jorrvaskr to report in, and get officially inducted into the Companions! Farkas spoke up for me, what a nice Farkas <3
- Had conversation with Kodlak re: the Inner Circle being werewolves
- Went over to get a weapon from Eorlund Gray-Mane; told him to give me a Skyforge steel war axe, just to vary it up a bit; he told me to crack some skulls for him, LOL
- Talked to Vilkas and got a radiant quest from him: ohnoez! Hulda got kidnapped and dragged off to Shimmermist Cave!
- Fortunately didn’t have to go too far into the place as it is in fact full of Falmer, and the wiki says there’s also chaurus and a centurion; found Hulda in one of the initial areas, and escorted her out and back towards Whiterun
- Right by Tundra Homestead, a dragon showed up; stopped and fought it with Lydia and flame atronach; looting it got me overloaded, and Lightning ran off so I couldn’t easily find him, so had to do the drawn bow + sneak trick to get back around to the town gate
- Once in, got back to Breezehome and stashed the dragon bones in a chest for later to get under carry weight; slept to rest up
- Reported back to Jorrvaskr to check in with Vilkas and got his payment
- Next agenda item: heading over to Falkreath
- Stopped in the guard barracks to read the dossier and get the objective to find the orc at Embershard
- (Think it was here that I saw the Khajiit on site so bought a bunch of ingredients from Ri’saad)
- Took the cart because I still had no idea where my horse was, and taking the cart actually let Lightning rejoin me
- Talked with the guard at the gate about the dog, but did not talk to Lod yet
- Instead went over to the Jarl’s longhouse and talked to Siddgeir, got his objective to take out the bandits–but was surprised that he asked me to go to Knifepoint Ridge, LOL
- Took a room at the inn so I could rest up
- Orc tried to do the “what’s a milk drinker like you doing here” thing at me; did not bother to engage, either before or after taking the rest, since the orc was still there when I got up
- Headed back out, this time riding Lightning
- Decided to go to Embershard anyway
- Took out the bandits at the fortification near Pinewatch
- Cut through the area of future Lakeview; killed a couple mudcrabs there and also a wolf
- Rode close enough to the necromancer to alert her and piss her off, so had to kill her down on the road
- Decided not to bother the bandits at their camp for now
- Rode on around to Embershard; parked Lightning in the nearby trees
- Took out all bandits first, including the orc smith, then looted everything and also hit the ore veins I could find
- Majorly overloaded, but got several pieces of the orcish plate armor, including but not just the enchanted ones; also nabbed as many torches as I could, for use in cold areas later
- Tromped back out again and returned to the horse so I could ride back to Whiterun
- Decided it wasn’t so late that I needed to stop in Riverwood; kept going
- Made it back to Whiterun and rode up all the way to the gate to minimize overloaded walking
- Zonked out at Breezehome, then got up the next morning for major selling of stuff
- Couldn’t give Lyds a full set of the unechanted orcish plate, there were no gauntlets, but I improved the other three types of pieces and gave her those
- Sold as many of the other pieces as I could, got some enchanted weapons to blow up for their enchantments; sold dragon bits to Belethor
- Destroyed interesting weapons up on Farengar’s enchanter table; bought more spells from him to start bolstering my Destruction arsenal
- Stocked up on ingredients, including buying some leeks from Carlotta
- Decided to head over to Goldenhills next in no small part so that I could plant the leeks as a leek source later
- Got another dragon just past the Western Watchtower; dispatched
- Spotted a mercenary going the other way, did not stop to engage
- Killed a wolf not far from the farm
- Reached the farm, and Lydia caught up with me
- Rearranged what I’d planted in the spots there
- Discovered ingredients in the alchemy room had respawned, so grabbed those
- Also found 17 total salt piles in various barrels and sacks, fuck yeah
- Saved there until next time
- Picked up where I left off at Goldenhills
- Fetched stuff out of the chests
- Returned to horse and started riding back to Whiterun
- Spotted a couple of mercenaries, I think? And Talsgar the Wanderer
- Lyds killed a couple of wolves
- Khajiit were on site so sold a boatload of things to Ri’saad, including the dragon bits from previous session’s dragon
- Went into the city to rest up at Breezehome and do appropriate inventory prep
- Started to head out to Knifepoint Ridge but then realized I should queue up a Companions quest, so went back inside to check in at Jorrvaskr
- Talked to Aela but she pointed me at Skjor who had something “special” for me to do! Time for me to get wolfy 😉
- Talked to Skjor and queued up that quest
- Then went out to head to Knifepoint Ridge
- Retrieved the horse and took the path through Riverwood
- Nearby hunter yelled for help, which alerted me to a Dark Brotherhood assassin charging at me; dispatched same
- Reached Knifepoint Ridge after it took me a while to figure out how to cut overland to get there
- Woke up the flame atronach to run the place
- Killed once by the chief bandit; second time through, got her
- She was wearing orcish scaled armor! :O
- Mined various iron ore veins and looted various bandits
- Leveled up during all this action, but only after I’d killed all the bandits did I try sleeping in one of their hay pile tents; that got me the level up; took Magicka bump and Elven Smithing perk
- Went back out to retrieve the horse who’d run off a little ways; rode to Falkreath
- Swung close enough to the necromancer hangout spot that I a) spotted the Wild Black Horse, and b) saw that the necromancer was actually dead? Not sure what killed her
- Did not try to catch the wild horse since already riding one
- Reached Falkreath and checked in with Lod about the dog; also sold him a boatload of stuff
- Swapped to the orcish scaled since it was better protection than the scaled armor I was wearing, and also matched the fur armor for warmth stats
- Sold as much as I could and also bought orichalcum ingots to improve the orcish scaled stuff
- Went in to report to Siddgeir and got his payment, as well as permission to buy property in his hold and the pointer to become thane
- Headed out to return to Whiterun
- Found Barbas on the road nearby; sent him off to Haemar’s Shame so I could meet him later
- Meanwhile, took the route back through Riverwood to Whiterun
- Spotted a couple of Vigilants fighting a bone wolf but no other interesting encounters
- Reached Whiterun; did another round of inventory management and resting up, prior to meeting Skjor at the Underforge
- Did the same thing as when I played Delga, retreated into the Underforge and went out the back way, rather than risk running through Whiterun; wasn’t out there long before the next phase of the plot kicked in and I woke up later with Aela
- Immediately noticed message that the air was frigid and I rapidly became chilly, but also rapidly hoofed it over to Gallows Rock with Aela
- Broke out a torch and ate a hot soup
- Took out Silver Hands exterior to the lair
- Paused at a fire on the upper tier to warm up, then went in to run the place with Aela
- Main difference this time: once we got to the first stairs that led up to additional Silver Hands, turned wolfy at that point to see how I could pick up the mechanics of fighting as a werewolf
- Got killed a few times after that because having to fight in third person is weird
- Nommed enough of the Silver Hands that i picked up a werewolf perk point to do more damage as a werewolf
- Once we took out Krev the Skinner and others in the boss chamber, had final convo with Aela who told me to get out of there while she checked the bodies, for anything else she could learn about the ones who killed Skjor
- However, I actually went back to loot the place since I’d been unable to pick up anything as a werewolf, which let me hit multiple chests as well as get two skill books
- Quite overloaded by the time I got out–and furthermore, didn’t have my horse, so had to be careful heading back
- Snuck with drawn Bow of Shadows a good portion of the way
- Avoided being spotted by a dragon that may or may not have been a flyby; it didn’t see me so I didn’t have to care
- Killed a few wolves though
- Once I reached the road back to Whiterun, found Balbus near White River Watch and got his spiel about the Gourmet
- Sold assorted things to Elrindir once I finally made it back into the city, then crafted some things at the forge, and sold those things to Elrindir as well
- Did a bunch of alchemy to burn through collected ingredients, then took a long rest because I’d reached “tired” fatigue level
- Got up the next morning and did more crafting and selling, and a bit of cheap enchanting on Farengar’s table
- Sold him the staff of Soul Trapping I’d found at Gallows Rock, as well as a couple of jewelry pieces I’d just enchanted
- Got level up alert, and returned to Breezehome for a nap and a level up to 20; took Stamina bump and first perk in Speech
- Saved there until next time
Inducted in the Companions, and Rescue Mission quest
This second time through playing the Companions, I find that I do still like the induction ceremony that happens when you return from Dustman’s Cairn. The formal lines from Kodlak and Farkas remain stirring, and I do still quite like the earnest faith that Farkas shows in the player when he speaks on your behalf.
Story-wise, I think this has made Kendis rethink her purpose in fleeing her homeland. She wanted to come to Skyrim to find the College of Winterhold and learn magic–and yet fate led her to the Companions. She is accepting this for now, and taking it as a sign perhaps that she needs to prove her valor before she can find the path to her deepest dreams.
And she rises to the occasion when Vilkas tells her that Hulda has been kidnapped. Hulda, the keeper of the inn, which gave her shelter till she could buy a home of her own in Whiterun’s walls.
This was an easy enough plot! Though I was slightly disappointed at how easy it actually was. In all the playthroughs I’ve done I don’t think I ever actually went into Shimmermist, and I was kind of looking forward to an opportunity to visit the place. But as it happened, I didn’t have to go very far in, and I didn’t have to fight a single Falmer.
Which does make me wonder exactly who might have kidnapped Hulda, and what they did with her, and where her kidnappers went. It wouldn’t make much sense, I think, that the Falmer took her. Because they would have dragged her further down into the caverns, and probably have killed her, given how they treat their prisoners elsewhere in the game.
There’s also a question here of exactly how Hulda was kidnapped, given that she’s always inside Whiterun running the inn. So I see a scenario here where maybe she rode over to Battle-Born Farm, to purchase eggs or milk for the inn. She spent a few hours having dinner with Alfhild Battle-Born and Gwendolyn, then decided to have a pleasant walk back into the city afterwards to return to her bed for sleep.
Only she was kidnapped by exceptionally bold and foolish bandits, a thing witnessed by Gwendolyn, who went running to the nearest city guard to beg them to take word to the Companions for help.
Meanwhile, the bandits, desperate to get out of the reach of the guards, retreated into the first cave they found. They tied up Hulda and stuffed her in a bag. And while she was unconscious, the bandits were jumped–by frostbite spiders.
The bandits fled, thinking twice about their impulsive kidnapping, and not carrying about leaving their hapless victim in the cave. Which was where I came in!
And all I had to do was get Hulda out of there. And not even all the way back to Whiterun. I just had to escort her to the crossroads near the meadery, and she ran back into the city from there.
Interlude with bandits, and also farming
To my amusement, I now know that if you’re playing on the Switch, it is possible to get Siddgeir to send you off to kill bandits somewhere besides Embershard Mine! Because he sent Kendis off to Knifepoint Ridge.
So now I know that it was Embershard for all my non-AE playthroughs, and a selection of the other three available locations for this on all three AE playthroughs I’ve done or started to date. Which makes me wonder if this was a thing that got fixed in the AE? Kendis isn’t a modded playthrough, I don’t have the USSEP for her. And having all five of my pre-AE playthroughs land in Embershard seems statistically unlikely, even with a 1 in 4 shot of Embershard being the chosen spot.
I decided to hit Embershard anyway, though, for a few reasons:
- I wanted to get the orcish plate armor for Lyds, it’s competitive with the silver in terms of stats, but I think it looks better on Lydia and the helmet lets me actually see her face
- Good source of iron veins
- Lots and lots of torches and I will need those later for cold areas
Hit Goldenhills after that just to work on the crop placement there. In particular, I wanted to plant some leeks so I’d have those available for soup makings. The best soup recipes do appear to want you to use leeks! They also want you to use garlic, though, which I cannot plant. So I need to find a bunch more garlic.
I discovered an important thing about the plantable spots at the farm (and presumably everywhere else that has plantable spots): if a harvestable plant has sprouted there, you lose whatever you already had planted there if you try to plant something else without harvesting. I lost some wheat that way. Oops.
I spent a little time rearranging what I had planted, nonetheless. Because I wanted to organize the order of crops, and not just have a bunch of random selected plants! So I made the big field carrots on one side, cabbage on the other. The small field became leeks on one side, potatoes on the other. I’ll need to figure out where to re-establish the wheat.
Also, there was a boatload of salt in the various storage containers in the place. Hopefully I’ll get more once I actually hire a steward and can start building it out.
Main thing I want to note about that being, salt is critical for just about every recipe you can make at a cooking location. And in survival mode, that means salt is critical, since you have to eat. So I need to stock up on all the salt I can get.
Before taking on the second round of bandits, I got the next item in the Companions plot: Skjor and Aela deciding to induct me into the Circle. And make me a werewolf. But more on this below.
After queuing up that quest, I went ahead and did Knifepoint Ridge. And only belatedly realized I’d need to do it again later, just because it’s one of the many locales for the alternate armors quests! But I’ll get to that when the time comes.
For now, I just ran the place. Main results of this were more iron I could use on things, and a near-complete set of orcish scaled armor! I’d never run the quest to get that with Shenner, so it was interesting to see what it looked like. And I wound up wearing it, just because it had better stats than the scaled armor I’d gotten off Eydvina. But there was no helmet so I kept her helmet for now.
And after checking in at Falkreath, I did find Barbas out on the road. Which gave me a chance to confirm he does not initiate his conversation if you’re on horseback. So I turned around and got off the horse to talk to him.
I did not, however, want to run Haemar’s Shame while overloaded. But I took the wrong conversational choice, and had to roll back to coming out of Falkreath so i could do it over. That did let me send Barbas off to Haemar’s Shame for later. Hold that thought, doggo. I’ll get to you.
Joining the Circle
Back in Whiterun, I finally followed up with Skjor and met him at the Underforge.
This is the part where Kendis was doubtless thinking, “So when Farkas said they weren’t going to turn me into a werewolf, what he meant was he wasn’t going to turn me into a werewolf?”
It also ties into my earlier thoughts about what the Companions do if you don’t want to join the Inner Circle and become a werewolf. You do in fact get the chance to ask Skjor that very question. He says they won’t force you. But I feel like the game missed an opportunity here to fill in this particular plot hole, and have Skjor tell you that if you refuse to take the beast blood, he must ask that as a member of the Companions, you swear to uphold the Inner Circle’s secrecy.
This playthrough also reminded me of something that I did notice during Delga’s playthrough: i.e., that Skjor and Aela are admitting people to the Inner Circle behind Kodlak’s back, because they know he wants to get rid of his beast blood. Or at least, they think they’re going behind his back. Given how even the guards can tell you smell different (“You smell like wet dog! Have you been tending your hounds?”), Kodlak has to know each and every werewolf in the Companion’s ranks.
And as I said before, that the others haven’t realized just goes to show that the Companions, even aside from Farkas, are not exactly big on smarts. 😉
Dara in fact proposes a headcanon that I like, which is: everybody in Whiterun actually knows the Companions are werewolves, but they’re all pretending they don’t. Because the Companions are Whiterun’s werewolves, you see. Jarl Balgruuf probably got briefed about it even before he took the throne.
Balgruuf’s dad: “My son, in order to best prepare you for taking the throne after me, there is something you must know about the city. The Companions are werewolves.”
Young Balgruuf: “I… what? All of them?”
Balgruuf’s dad: “Not all of them, just the Inner Circle.”
Young Balgruuf: “And we’re all right with this?”
Balgruuf’s dad: “We are when they protect the city from every other werewolf in Skyrim. But they don’t seem to know we all know. Play along. And send them a fresh-caught stag every so often. It keeps them happy.”
Young Balgruuf, dubiously: “I don’t know about this, Father. What next? Are you going to tell me the greatest hero Skyrim has ever seen will be a vampire?”
Balgruuf’s dad’s court wizard, who is familiar with certain prophecies: “Yes, well, about that…”
But at any rate, as far as Kendis is concerned, I see her committing to it because of feeling like the Companions have accepted her in a way her own family never did. So she agrees to go through with the ritual.
This time through, I noticed a message that my follower couldn’t come with me into the Underforge. And given how the plot plays out here, with Lydia being actively kicked off of following me, the intention certainly seems to be that Lyds does not know I become a werewolf at this point. Even though my emergence from the Underforge in wolf form was scripted, and Lydia was right there.
For narrative purposes, though, I assume Skjor asked Lydia to go home, because we were about to do private Companion things. I further assume that I did not emerge right there by Lydia–because I figure Lyds would have freaked the fuck out at the sight of a werewolf, and raised an alarm before attacking me.
And I did what I’d done in Delga’s playthrough, i.e., rather than rampaging through Whiterun and risking freaking out or killing NPCs I absolutely did not want to kill, I turned right around and went back into the Underforge, and then out the back way. Which led me to the blackout and later waking up with Aela.
At which point I learned that yep, I had to deal with cold on the way to Gallows Rock. Not as severe as up on High Hrothgar; the air was merely “frigid” rather than “treacherously cold”. But it was definitely enough to have to break out a torch, eat a hot soup, and pause to warm up at the fire on the upper level of the structure.
Once we were inside, however, I ran it differently this time: i.e., mostly as a werewolf. This time through i wanted to give being a werewolf a better shake, and I figured “while in combat with werewolf hunters” was as good a chance as any.
It took me some getting used to. I did get killed multiple times, and a big part of this was that I found fighting in third person awkward. Particularly in the low light conditions of Gallows Rock. And since I was in werewolf form, I didn’t have access to spells, so I couldn’t actually throw a Candlelight spell to better see what was going on. Nor could I get access to my inventory at all.
And since I was fighting in werewolf form, I tried out what feeding was like. Which, admittedly, was fairly badassed and brutal, when I got the cutscene of my werewolf self ripping into a fallen enemy. (Arguably with a lot less blood than would have realistically happened, a game design decision for which I’m grateful!) There were enough Silver Hands to fight that I did in fact get a perk point to spend on the Werewolf skill tree, which let me bump up the amount of damage I do as a werewolf.
The drawback to running the place as a werewolf, though: not being able to pick up loot as I went. When I had the final conversation with Aela I turned back, so I took the time to backtrack through the place and get all the interesting loot.
Of course, the drawback to that was, I got overloaded. And because I’d come here on foot with Aela, I didn’t have access to my horse.
Which meant I had to hoof it all the way back to Whiterun in “carrying too much to run” mode. I mitigated this some by doing the drawn bow + Sneaking trick, and when the bow in question is the Bow of Shadows, that’s actually handy. Because it kept me from having to fight a dragon in this state, though I did have to fight a couple of wolves.
It’s worth noting as well that even if I hadn’t been overloaded, I would still have had to hoof it back on foot to Whiterun. Because this is Survival Mode, and I can’t fast travel! So having to be super careful on the way back was actually an interesting RP experience, and it’s a change of pace to be thinking “Oh shit, dragon, not in a state to fight, what can I do about this.”
Kendis’s next session is already played, so look for that post to feature taking out the Saints bandit camp, taking out the spellswords and the necromancer in Southfringe Sanctum, taking out zombies at a ritual site, and taking out a hagraven that had Nettlebane! And also, learning that High Hrothgar is not the only place in Skyrim in Survival Mode that can clock in at “treacherously cold”.