A few days ago, when I was in the middle of doing a bit of B&E to steal the finer possessions of the law-abiding citizens of Solitude, I paused to tell Lydia, my partner in crime to wait in the basement kitchen. She sucks at sneaking around. What’s odd is that before I could even ask her, she said, “Hey, you’re wearing an Amulet of Mara. I’m surprised someone as hot as you isn’t already taken.” Or something like that.
Lydia and I had been taking on the countryside, from Riften to Solitude for the better part of six weeks, all the way from the middle of Last Seed, all the way through the beginning of Frostfall. Now she wants to get married? What did I say? I said yes.
Down to Riften we went. On our wedding day, Lydia said, “I feel as though all of Skyrim is watching us.” Well maybe not. Hardly anyone showed up for the ceremony. It didn’t matter. We went back home, to our drafty little Breezehome, and started our life together. Only what’s this? Lydia doesn’t want to go out adventuring any more? She wants to open a shop? For a hundred gold every day, I’ll make do, and find another follower. Meanwhile, you keep farmin’ that gold, babe.
As for followers, I only had one choice. A long while back, we’d encountered a woman named Eola, whom I’d ultimately helped fulfill her weird cannibalistic ritual, by clearing out a dungeon and then bringing her some gullible dude. I’d even munched on the flesh of said dude. Which is all pretty messed up, but you know, freedom of religion and all that. I went and found her. She was still hiding out where I’d left her, and I told her to grab her gear because we were heading out on an adventure.
Lots of adventures, it turned out. In Skyrim everyone’s got problems, and so talking to people involves doing stuff like delivering messages from one town to the next, killing bandits who are shaking down travelers, and listening to every bartender’s demo tape. Just to test things out we went out into the countryside for a while, and roughed up a few wolves, tried to take down a giant (and failed), and had to run for our lives. Later we set out on a few more difficult errands, like locating the Nettlebane, and getting a few drops of healing sap from the Eldergleam tree.
Which is where we first started encountering problems. Eola liked to fight by summoning otherworldly creatures. I accidentally hit one during a fight, and she started attacking me. After a minute I figured out how to calm her down, but that was startling. A few days later, we were doing a hard climb up the side of a mountain in a snowstorm. We’d been looking for a way up to the Eldersblood Peak for two days, and had (I thought) finally found it. In another minute we were on an open slope, and the next thing I knew, the dragon we’d been looking for found us first. It was a tough fight, but we’d whittled it down to the point where it had only a little health left. I took a step back and fired off a double ice spike.
I thought we’d won, because as I let the ice fly, I got one of those cool animations, which—in particular at night—are often hard to decipher. Which is to say, I was a bit surprised after the animation ran, that the dragon kept coming. I hadn’t killed it. I’d killed Eola.
So I finished off the dragon myself, there being not much left to do. I searched for a while for Eola’s body, but she was entirely gone. I climbed the rest of the mountain myself. Dawn was breaking as I climbed up through the worst of the storm, and emerged into a gray dawn fog, through which I could, when looking off to the east, I could almost make out my hometown of Whiterun.
After a bit of solitary adventuring I picked up another follower, Mjoll the Lioness, another sword flailing badass, though altogether too talkative. It made me miss Eola, and her one freaky white eye, and her quiet demeanor.
So a few days ago, all of a sudden, I was exploring Windhelm for the first time, when a little kid comes up to me, offering to sell a few items. People don’t usually come up to the Dragonborn in Skyrim, because, well, the Dragonborn does only two things: chew gum, and cut people’s heads off. And gum doesn’t exist in Skyrim. But this kid needs to sell her trinkets so she can buy food. After letting out her little orphan cough, she tells me that her parents are dead, and all of a sudden, I get the option to adopt her. Only I can’t do it, because my house doesn’t have a second bedroom for a kid to live in.
Next thing I know, I’m running back home to set up a room. I don’t even bother to listen to Lydia, who’s trying to hand me my share of the gold she’s earned. Next morning I’m back in Windhelm, looking for the kid. It’s early in the morning, and there aren’t many people out. After a little searching, I find the kid, curled up against the city wall, sleeping out in the open. When I come near, she sits up and says, “I’m so cold.”
Next thing you know, I’m in Whiterun, hanging out at home, and playing tag with my adoptive kid, and frantically wondering where I might find a doll, or a wooden sword to give them to play with. All of a sudden that’s become more important than finding Alduin’s wall.
Skyrim. In some ways it’s just like real life.