By dankempster 3 Comments
Day Seven - Wuuthrad and Werewolves
I woke this morning a little later than usual, but feeling renewed and refreshed. I decided on impulse to return to Jorrvaskr, and discover if the Companions had any more work befitting a 'whelp' like myself. On entering the mead hall, Skjor intercepted me and told me that I'd been selected to perform a trial of initiation. A piece of Wuuthrad, the legendary axe of Ysgramor, had been sourced in Dustman's Cairn to the west. I was to go to the Cairn and retrieve it as a means of proving my honour and loyalty to the Companions. Farkas would accompany me and serve as my Shield-Brother, supporting me against whatever horrors might lurk within.
Farkas and I left for Dustman's Cairn immediately, arriving there just after midday. The place is a large crypt, not unlike the one beneath Bleak Falls Barrow that I visited some days ago. As a consequence, almost every room in the place was crawling with Draugrs. Farkas's combat support proved invaluable as we hacked our way through the legions of undead warriors and deeper into the crypt. The presence of pickaxes and recently-disturbed walls suggested to Farkas that, Draugrs aside, we were not alone in there. It was not long before his suspicions were proven right.
Deep in the crypt, we came to an impassable gate, its movement bound to a nearby lever. As I pulled the lever and raised the portcullis, another gate came crashing down before me, trapping me in a small recess. Farkas, still on the other side of the gate, found himself surrounded by five attackers who introduced themselves as members of a cult called the Silver Hand. As they moved in to finish Farkas, the Companion's body began to stretch and contort in indescribable ways. Hair sprouted all over his body; his face elongated into a slavering snout; claws erupted from the tips of his fingers and toes. Trapped behind the portcullis, I could do nothing but watch as the abomination that seconds earlier had been Farkas literally tore the members of the Silver Hand to pieces. When all of the cultists were dealt with, Farkas reverted to human form and freed me from my prison by way of another lever nearby.
Clearly sensing the shock, confusion and terror I was feeling, Farkas did his best to calm me. He explained that everyone within the Circle, the highest tier of the Companions, was a lycanthrope - able to transform from a man into a fearsome werewolf. He also informed me that the Silver Hand are a cult organisation intent on exterminating all werewolves, and therefore a significant threat to both the Circle and the Companions. Despite Farkas's best efforts to reassure me as we pressed on, I still couldn't help but feel shaken and somewhat nauseous in his presence.
We moved deeper and deeper into the crypt, encountering more Draugrs and more members of the Silver Hand as we went, usually locked in combat with each other which made our descent slightly easier. At the end of the passage way, we came to a shrine eerily similar to the one I encountered back at Bleak Falls Barrow - a huge wall, inscribed with ancient runes. Once again, I felt that strange sensation wash over me, felt myself making sense of these long-unspoken words. "Yol". Fire. As the word passed my lips, it seemed to glow like embers and turn into a streak of fire that washed over the wall of the shrine. Another word, another gift of the Voice. I could now breathe fire - a somewhat fitting power for a 'Dragonborn'.
The fragment of Wuuthrad that we came for was resting on a plinth before the shrine. As I lifted it from its cradle, the entire room seemed to groan under the weight of the earth above. A flood of Draugrs rushed into the room, weapons brandished and ready to welcome us into their ranks. My new Voice power reduced many of them to ashes, and those that remained stood little chance against my Orcish blade and Farkas's greatsword. We carved a path through the advancing undead to the crypt's exit, and made our way safely out of Dustman's Cairn.
It was already past midnight when the emerged from the Cairn, but with Whiterun so close we decided to forego pitching a tent in favour of a brisk walk. Farkas and I arrived back within the city walls to find the rest of the Circle waiting for us outside Jorrvaskr. After handing over the shard of Wuuthrad, the Companions submitted me to a true initiation ceremony. As my Shield-Brother, Farkas attested to the strength and valour I showed at Dustman's Cairn, and Kodlak subsequently welcomed me into the true ranks of the Companions.
Despite being able to rest at Jorrvaskr at no cost, I felt compelled to make my excuses and leave for a rented room the Bannered Mare. While I am honoured and humbled by the hospitality of the Companions, I simply would not feel comfortable sleeping in the same room as several werewolves. Truth be told, the revelation I experienced today has shaken me to such an extent that I'm not sure if I can bring myself to continue working with the Companions at this point. Tomorrow morning, I intend to leave this city behind for a while. I have plotted a route on my map to the place where I will supposedly find the Shrine of Azura. After I have made this pilgrimage, my only intention is to see where the wind carries me. Until then,