So…that awkward moment when you haven’t written a blog post in a few months and you decide to jump right back in. I’ve been really busy, have had kind of writers block, and generally have just been feeling even more unmotivated than usual. In reality, I moved, have been working a lot, and have been playing a lot of Skyrim. Which I guess leads me to this post. Its a tale of lost love, friendship, adventure, and despair. It is a story of how I lost one of my dearest friends. I call it, “The Ballad of Kharjo.”:
A little explanation before I begin.
If some of you out there live in caves and are completely unaware of any pop culture events, I’m here to fill you in. Skyrim is somewhat of a phenomena out there. Spawning internet memes, broken relationships, and complete social decline, Skyrim is an open world game of epic proportions. It is incredibly free form and open ended, allowing you to follow a sprawling journey involving ancient dragons or to just walk around the countryside putting buckets on people’s heads and catching butterflies.
One of the key features of Skyrim is the addition of companion characters. By interacting with and helping certain people, you can obtain them as partners for your quest. They will follow you around, fight with you, and generally involve themselves in complete skullfuckery. The AI in this game is worse than in Mass Effect, and when your faithful companion runs right in front of you while you’re slinging around fireballs, it can make it pretty difficult to care about them, let alone even want to have them around.
Up until my newest playthrough of the game, the only follower I had tried out was Lydia, the one you get automatically through the main quest of the game. And she’s terrible. She’s so blindly in love with you, spouting off bland lines like “Yes, my thane,” or “whatever you wish Thane,” I couldn’t stomach her for another second. So on my second playthrough, playing as a stealthy wood elf, I took her back to my house, hid in a corner, and pelted her with arrows until she lay dead before me.
Much later in my adventures, I came across a caravan of Khajit plodding around outside of the town of Dawnstar. The Khajit are a race of humanoid felines and they’re the fucking shit. They have cool exotic accents, are great thieves and just look really damn awesome. I stopped to talk to them and discovered that one of them, Kharjo, had lost his family heirloom in a cave somewhere nearby, but didn’t have time to go back and retrieve it. Hell, I had some time off between trying to assassinate the emperor and destroying a revived undead dragon bent on eating the world, so I figured I would help the poor fellow out and go get it back for him. Upon returning with his beloved amulet, Kharjo was so ecstatic about the situation that he decided to give up protecting his caravan to travel with me across the land. At first I thought, “poor catman idiot, if you only knew the ways I am going to murder you.” However, after accepting his fellowship, the first line he spoke to me won my heart immediately.
“If someone sneaks up behind us, I will smell them coming…Or I might not, we’ll see.”
What? A sense of humor coming from one of these dimwitted sacs of programming? I decided to let Kharjo live. I outfitted him with a sweet bow, a huge warhammer, and some new threads, and he became my most trusted companion. When I would sneak around an ancient Nord burial tomb, he would stay behind me, watching my back and never walking out in front of me. When I would draw my weapon and get ready to charge, he would unsheathe his massive warhammer and plant it in some skulls. Sure, sometimes he had a hard time navigating a particularly stairy set of stairs, but I mean, who doesn’t?
We were an inseperable team. Every pithy comment from Kharjo brought a smile to my face and I actually finally understood the importance of followers in Skyrim. When you find one you like, they can greatly enhance the experience. One humdrum afternoon, after clearing a dungeon (and being asked by Kharjo if I was going to take him somewhere warm) I noticed a dragon perched on a Word Wall, sleeping soundly. I had never snuck up on a dragon before, so I decided to give it a shot. After getting within range, I shot him with an arrow, triggering him to come and fuck on Kharjo and I pretty hard. He put a damn good fight, but we dropped the beast, with barely any health left to spare. Instead of taking the time to heal Kharjo and myself before carrying on, I walked over to the Word Wall to check out the shout contained there and to loot the inevitable treasure chest. Much to my horror, my brain completely forgot what else was waiting for me at this particular dragon roost. A coffin, which I had not noticed leaning up against the wall, popped open and a Dragon Priest (one of the toughest enemies in Skyrim) popped out. This particular one was one of the nine boss Dragon Priests, which means he was extra ready to fuck me up. I ran away quickly, slowing down time with a dragon shout and then pelting him with arrows. Kharjo, seemingly knowing that if I took one magic skeleton fireball I was toasted, decided to charge straight in and distract the bastard. I kept slinging arrows in an attempt to whittle down the fucker’s health. Kharjo was readying his hammer for a massive blow when the Dragon Priest hit him square in the chest with a fireball flinging him backwards…directly into the path of an arrow I just fired. I watched, in absolute horror, as my arrow stuck between his shoulder blades, and a second fireball struck Kharjo’s already dead body, sending him flying off the mountainside. I flew into a blind rage, consuming every health potion and strength buff I had in my inventory, and ran at Kharjo’s murderer in a cloud of tears, obscenities, and sorrow.
After Krosis lay dead before me, I pick up his body and threw it off the mountain (after looting it, I’m not totally crazy). I then realized I couldn’t let Kharjo’s body just lay out in the wilderness. He had been my friend, my trusted companion, and I needed to do something in his memory. So I traipsed down the side of the mountain, found his corpse…and dragged it all the way to Solitude. I wanted to take him inside and put his corpse inside of my home, but you can’t walk into cities while holding a body. And I knew that if I used my apprentice level animate dead spell his body would turn to ash afterwards…So now, Kharjo rests on the upper floor of the Solitude stables, surrounded by deathbell flowers. As I walked away from my memorial, the thought occured to me to just reload a save to before he died, but to me that would somehow cheapen the experience. His death would have meant nothing. However…another thought occured to me, with a quote from Kharjo ringing softly in my ears. I was on track to becoming a necromancer…and one of the highest level skills for that path allows you to permanently raise a dead body to fight for you…If I could reach that level and keep Kharjo’s body safe until then…he could once again become my friend. Sure, he would be uttering grunts and moans instead of his usual sarcastic banter, but still, I would have my partner back.
“Khajiit will follow.”