In Which Delga Becomes Harbinger of the Companions

Short but narratively important session that saw the conclusion of the main Companions plotline, wherein I got to cure the spirit of Kodlak of his lycanthropy, and get proclaimed the new Harbinger of the Companions. Go me!

Highlights

  • Started session still at Jorrvaskr
  • Stopped at Breezehome to drop off a few things
  • Did some alchemy which let me level up to 34; took another Enchanting perk
  • Dropped off orcish armor in my bedroom chest
  • Stopped at Warmaiden’s to buy ebony and make ebony boots to fill out my armor set, also an ebony warhammer and an ebony bow
  • Took carriage to get to Winterhold
  • Went on foot past the mage college (hi mages I’ll get to you soon enough)
  • Went down to the beach and crossed the water to the island with Ysgramor’s tomb
  • At rim of tomb saw red dots but no animals came close enough to attack me?
  • Found Aela, Vilkas, and Farkas inside the tomb
  • Vilkas clued me in as to what was going on, and also admitted he couldn’t follow me further into the tomb as he was carrying too much grief
  • I put the axe on Ysgramor’s statue and the gate opened up
  • Aela, Farkas and I proceeded, fighting ghosts of former Companions
  • Farkas bailed because he’s now phobic about giant spiders (and can’t say I blame the dude, because eeeeeew)
  • Aela and I kept going, but hrmf I was killed by ghosts, and thrown all the way back to the beginning of the tomb ARGH
  • Tomb run take two, this time paid better attention to my health bar, and made it successfully to Kodlak’s spirit
  • Threw a witch head into the fire for him and killed his wolf spirit
  • He thanked me and hoped that he and other heroes in Sovngarde would be able to raid Hircine’s Hunting Grounds to free the other Harbingers, and I expect Hircine will be ever so delighted about that
  • Decided not to cure myself quite yet, I think Delga is thinking hard on the matter
  • Talked to all three other Companions who decided they’d hang out in the tomb for a while and commune with it
  • Went outside and up the mountain to the Word Wall and got the word for Animal Allegiance
  • Building break! Boinged between Lakeview and Whiterun for two rounds of building and buying of materials, then more building; got a lot more built out in the armory and bedrooms, and some in the cellar
  • Second time boinging to the watchtower, it was nighttime and the auroras were glorious, so I decided to run around on the plains for a while
  • Triggered a transformation on purpose to run around as a werewolf; chased but did not catch some deer
  • Sighted a dragon while in wolf form
  • Waited till the wolf shape wore off then headed back towards Whiterun
  • Hunted a little more just to burn through iron arrows and also to charge some of my soul gems
  • Got close enough to Halted Stream Camp that I witnessed from afar what turned out to be bandits vs. peddler and horse
  • I wasn’t even all that close to the camp and all six bandits came charging at me
  • Right then, assholes, I wasn’t planning on clearing your hideout again but FINE let’s do this
  • Got out my shiny new ebony warhammer and started swinging; took all six down and took their stuff as rightful spoils of battle!
  • Found slain peddler and horse by the wall of the camp
  • Also, M’aiq the Liar
  • Returned to Whiterun, sold Adrianne all the bandit loot
  • Returned to Breezehome and saved for the night

Glory of the Dead quest

So yeah this was the final part of the main Companions quest line, in which you go to Ysgramor’s tomb and cure Kodlak’s spirit of lycanthropy. But first, you have to fight your way through the ghosts of all the Companions who were also interred with Ysgramor!

The most interesting part of this was that Vilkas and Farkas bail on going through the tomb with you—Vilkas at the beginning, where he confesses that he was carrying too much grief and vengeance in his heart to be able to stand going in, and Farkas later when he admits to being phobic about giant spiders.

And that right there kind of makes me like Vilkas and Farkas better. Here we have two badassed male warriors both being forthright and up front about their feelings and weaknesses. They’re saying “I can’t do this, I’m sorry” rather than trying to macho their way through only to collapse at the worst possible moment. And they’re trusting Aela to have my back for the rest of the way.

Which, I gotta say, is kind of awesome. It establishes their characters as badassed male warriors who can also acknowledge their weaknesses, and it sets the other female of the group as the one who’ll continue to guard my back. That this strikes me as refreshing ten years after Skyrim originally came out is, I think, an indicator of how much this is still not the norm in our society!

Also, it’s interesting character development for Vilkas in particular, given that he’s the one who gives the player shit about not being present when Jorrvaskr was attacked. It means he was able to take a look at his own motivations and realize that Kodlak was right.

Farkas, bless his heart, is not that complex. For him it’s just “spiders are super scary and I can’t go near them, sorry!” But he also doesn’t see a damn thing wrong with admitting that, and I find that innocent simplicity kind of charming. <3

Aside from the character fodder here, I’ll also say that I found it pretty impressive that the Companion ghosts were able to take me out even when I was kitted out in ebony armor. This means they were hitting pretty damned hard, which was impressive given that they were ghosts and not using physical weapons! Well done there, ghosts.

Moral of this being: always monitor your health bar. ;)

Once I fought my way past the ghosts the second time through, I did like the final encounter with Kodlak’s spirit, and the fight with the wolf spirit once I pitched a witch head into the fire. I noted with interest that the wolf spirit basically seemed like a larger version of the wolf that manifests when you cast Conjure Familiar—and also that it was red. Presumably because the game code registered it as an enemy rather than an ally?

(Which makes me wonder if I see an enemy mage casting Conjure Familiar, would their wolf be red? I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen this happen, most of the time when I’m fighting enemy mages, they’re throwing atronachs at me. I’ll need to keep an eye out for this in the future.)

And, I liked that Aela, Vilkas, and Farkas all thought it was appropriate to hang out in the tomb for a while and pay their respects to the place.

Headcanon-wise I kind of feel like Delga would do the same, particularly with the final chamber where Kodlak’s spirit had been. But game-play-wise, hanging out in the tomb would be boring! So I went ahead and left. Got the Word Wall, and then headed over to Lakeview and Whiterun for building purposes.

Glory of the Dead: Delga’s personal epilogue

Aside from doing the building work at Lakeview, the one other interesting thing about this session was more just me experimenting with the werewolf form and making some decisions about what this meant for Delga’s narrative.

Second time I boinged back to the Western Watchtower, it was nighttime and the auroras were absolutely glorious in that “holy shit Skyrim is pretty” kind of way I’ve enthused about before. I felt like this would stir Delga’s heart. So I decided she was going to hang out on the plains for a while, out of view of anybody who might freak out… and deliberately change to her beast form.

As a player, I just wanted to experiment with it and see if I could get the hang of it, and see if there was anything I actually liked about it.

For my character, though, I felt like Delga was probably having a bit of an existential crisis! Is she a daughter of Malacath? Of Hircine? Or of Akatosh? Is she orc, werewolf, or Dragonborn? Or all three?

And does she actually want the beast form, or does she now regret taking it on? I figured that she’d want to try actually being a beast on purpose for a little while to see if she found any joy or purpose in it.

And only a few moments after transforming, the game handed me a sign. While I was chasing (and not catching) a couple of deer, I saw a dragon flying overhead.

It never actually landed so I didn’t have to try to fight it. Which was good, because I was pretty damn sure I wouldn’t be able to take it on in wolf form—I had no access to my Shouts or my weaponry. But as far as Delga was concerned, I feel like that struck a powerful reaction in her.

Because she knows she’s Dragonborn at this point. The Greybeards have told her Akatosh gave her this gift. Delphine’s told her the Dragonborn is the ultimate dragonslayer.

And when Delga saw that dragon in the sky, I think her every instinct yelled “I can’t fight dragons like this.”

That’s going to be what makes her give it up.

I’ll hang onto the wolf blood long enough to let Vilkas and Farkas come to me and ask me to de-wolf them, so I can spend a couple more witch heads on that before I finally cure myself as well. Which should leave me with a single witch head remaining. What I’ll do with that one will depend on whether it’ll stay stuck in my inventory as a quest item!

I’ll have to see if I can cure the boys without Aela asking me to go get the Totems of Hircine. I’m still not sure if I want to get the Totems for Aela. Narratively speaking, I kind of feel like Delga would respect that Aela herself wants to be a werewolf and the Totems would be meaningful to her. And Delga might want to get them just for her sake.

On the other hand, if Delga’s now on the path of giving up her wolf, I think she’d find it dishonest to go get totems that are no longer meaningful to her.

Next time

Not sure yet! Thinking about what I want to do next, now that I’ve concluded the main Companions storyline. There are questions here not only of the main plot and the DLCs, but also the remaining faction-oriented quest lines, side adventures, and becoming thane of various places.

Right now though I’m kind of leaning towards doing a few side things before I jump into the next big plotline. We’ll see what strikes my fancy!

Editing to add 11/28/2021: Screenshots!

Finally fixed all my broken screenshot galleries, so now I can come back and add screenshots to this post!

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