After having been killed by two mammoth that he optimistically attacked in the previous writeup, Murderface revived at a slightly earlier point in time and set off to the spot he’d arranged to meet Farkas, the Companion temporarily leashed to him as his provisional brother-in-arms, at Dustman’s Cairn.
On the way, he spotted another mammoth, and as he was near a rocky outcropping halfway up a mountain had a thought: could he stand on the outcrop and plink arrows at the beast until it died? He put the thought into action, waiting until the mammoth drew near, then sending shot after shot its way. It worked! The mammoth’s health meter steadily crept down as it trumpeted angrily at Murderface and milled about further downslope. And then, much to Murderface’s dismay, the game realized the mammoth couldn’t get at him, so it turned around and cunningly escaped by walking away very slowly.
Toby later showed me how to cheese it, using Esme, his level 30ish fireball-throwing magic-user. You have to pick the right outcropping, one you can get off and back on quickly, so that once the mammoth or giant you’re attacking gives up and retreats you jump off, then it detects you’re in range and attacks again. Murderface had the right idea, but the particular outcropping he was on was, I think, too high up for him to be able to do that very well.
At any rate, after he put his bow away and turned to leave he was unexpectedly attacked by a large brown furry thing, to which he responded the Murderface way by screaming and setting it on fire, then bashing everything in its general direction with his mace until it died. It turned out to be a saber cat, so he harvested its pelt and teeth and went to meet Farkas.
Here you can see Farkas’ creepy thousand-yard stare, and the pit known as Dustman’s Cairn behind him. In American English, what the Brits know as a dustman is a garbage man, so I guess it’s a tomb for dead sanitation engineers or something. Like all ancient Nordic tombs Murderface has encountered, it’s full of draugr, those protective walking undead. But much to Murderface’s delight, draugr are dry and bony and are vulnerable to fire, of which he has a seemingly inexhaustible supply.
They head down the stairs into the pit, where I captured Farkas floating above the ground.
(I don't know how he gets through doors with that thing.)
For any non-gamers reading this, that doesn’t mean anything except that the game miscalculated where his feet were in relation to the surface. Skyrim was well known for this happening in early days, before they released patches to fix it, and you’d occasionally see floating mammoth (YouTube).
Anyway! Murderface and Farkas headed through the door in the pit wall into the tomb. Farkas explained that his mission was to observe Murderface to see if he was suitable Companion material, and he’d doggedly stick with him and report back to the Companions’ not-a-leader, alpha if you will, about Murderface’s courage and his honorable behavior.
Murderface had to have a bit of a think about that.
They went into stealth mode and crept slowly through the chambered tomb, Farkas dogging Murderface closely, running into draugr. Murderface grew skilled at noticing which of the bodies lying in state in the tomb wall niches were likely to stir, and took to sneaking up and setting them on fire before they could fully twitch to life, then looting the body. He had no idea if Farkas would consider him honorable or one sick puppy, but either way he was going to make sure he profited out of this job.
You saw in the screenshots above what Farkas looked like when standing. When sneaking he looked the same, only in more of a squat, and I entertained myself for a while by popping in and out of stealth to watch him do a squat workout. You’re not skipping leg day on my watch, cur!
Although Murderface attempted to remain quiet while sneaking through the tomb, Farkas would periodically startle him (me) by barking out “We should keep moving!” or, if he moved a little too close to Murderface, “Hey!” and “What?” He didn’t seem to have a bone of contention with Murderface when he got accidentally set on fire...several times...and I’m not sure the game would let him die during this quest, seeing that when his health got low enough he’d drop to one knee and pant, leaving Murderface to harry their opponents until his health regenerated enough.
Also, once after Murderface investigated a wall niche, he turned around to see this:
THAT’S NOT CREEPY AT ALL, FARKAS
QUIT DOING THAT FARKAS
They got to the first large chamber, whose exit had a metal portcullis in it. Murderface found the lever to open it in a tiny side chamber, but not until Farkas climbed up a small set of stairs and went out of stealth, which lifted his body enough for Murderface to accidentally bump into his crotch. It produced a “Pickpocket Farkas” option on the screen and earned a “Keep your hands to yourself!” from Farkas.
Anyway, once the loot possibilities of that chamber had been exhausted, Murderface went back to the small side chamber and pulled the lever. The exit portcullis opened, another portcullis dropped, locking Murderface into the side chamber. Farkas chided him with “Now look what you’ve gotten yourself into,” and told him to sit tight until he found the release.
A flood of people the game identified as the Silver Hand poured into the room, holding Farkas at bay, saying things like “A Companion!” “Which one?” and “Doesn’t matter--he wears that armor, he dies.”
They attack and...fursplosion! Suddenly a large bipedal wolf is in Farkas’ place, tearing into the Silver Hand! It’s a work of a moment to defeat them and the werewolf runs out the exit.
The portcullis rises, and Farkas returns in human form with a hangdog expression, saying “I hope I didn’t scare you.”
Murderface is made of sterner stuff than that! Or, at least, he’s seen quite a bit of things while under the influence of various edibles, and is probably more relieved to know that what he witnessed was real and not an conveniently timed hallucination. He quizzes Farkas a bit on whether the Companions are all werewolves, and learned that only the Circle are. Not knowing anything about the political structure of the group, he remains unsure as to whether he’s going to be required to be a werewolf to join them, but tables that thought because there is more immediate profit to be had.
The rest of the dungeon crawl is pretty much the same, alternately being attacked by draugr and Silver Hand--who, Toby informs me, have a hate-on for werewolves--until the they achieve the final chamber.
The McGuffin is, IIRC, a piece of an axe supposedly wielded by one of the Companions’ forbearers. Behind the table it’s on is another Word Wall where Murderface gets his senses assaulted and learns another piece of a Dragon Shout. The Shout won’t be useful until he kills his first dragon and absorbs its soul, I am told, but he doesn’t know that and probably thinks it’s an acid flashback or something.
Once the McGuffin is picked up, the crypts lining the chamber open and draugr pour out. Farkas and Murderface make quick work of them. Farkas turns to repeating “We should get back to Jorrvaskr!” instead of “We should get moving!” and they make their way outside and teleport back to Whiterun.
Upon entering Jorrvaskr, the Companions’ Hall, Murderface and Farkas find it deserted. Murderface wandered around it for a while, while Farkas kept bitching about returning to Jorrvaskr every time Murderface looked at him, which confused him and me no end. Finally, Toby took pity on me and said I should follow the quest marker in the onscreen compass, which led Murderface outside, into the practice yard behind the hall.
The Companions were ranged in a circle there, and the game slid smoothly into a ceremony. The alpha dude (not a leader! as he keeps saying) quizzed Farkas on how Murderface comported himself. Farkas inexplicably replied in the affirmative to all the questions of courage and honor, and proved that he’d indeed been watching Murderface closely. Alpha-Bob asked Farkas, “Would you raise your shield in his defense?” to which Farkas confidently replied, “I would stand at his back!”
After the ceremony, Murderface queried Alpha-Bob, who confirmed that no, he didn’t have to become a werewolf, as that was reserved only for the inner Circle. He added some dialogue about thinking he might want to put that burden down and become a normal human again, which probably presages something-or-other in the future. Not that Murderface cared, because as long as he didn’t have to make a decision about being a werewolf right then, he was fine with it. He finally belongs to something once more! Until he sets too many people on fire and is escorted out again!
The rest of the game session was Murderface running around and sampling edible ingredients, making potions, selling potions, selling as much other stuff as he could, and then, because I found a building I hadn’t gone into, wandering through the local temple and into the Whiterun crypts, where he made short work of a few walking skeletons and looted some of Whiterun’s hallowed dead.
I might have kept at it longer, except that I was falling asleep. I’d taken one of my prescription anti-nausea meds (for migraine) to see how it would do, and the answer to that is: wonderfully! Right up until it puts me to sleep! So not a long-term solution, but fine occasionally.
Stuff Murderface ate this time: a bee. Large antlers. Mudcrab chitin. Saber cat teeth.
Next time: I don’t yet know! I’m all caught up! Those of you who have played Skyrim, what sort of quests do you think Murderface would dig?
(and thanks to http://www.metaphordogs.org/!)
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