Oh, Lydia. Even if you’ve never played Skyrim before, chances are you’ve stumbled across some mention of that damned Lydia. Because all of us have our Lydia stories. Our woeful, amusing stories of our love for/irritation with/bizarre attachment to Lydia.
In Skyrim, you can have one follower travel with you across the province. For most players, the first follower you come across is Lydia. If you do the first few steps of the main questline, Jarl Balgruuf names you Thane of his hold and grants you a personal housecarl. Lydia.
When I got Lydia, I had her follow me everywhere. Lydia was like the bitchy, sarcastic, passive-aggressive best friend my character never knew she wanted. I had a habit of imagining her chasing my character around, trying to teach her to act more like the Dragonborn of legend. You know, a lot of “Stop stuffing dragonflies in your mouth, my Thane, and slaughter that dragon attacking the townsfolk” kind of nagging.
Bitch had no respect for my alchemy.
Then, Lydia outlived her usefulness. See, once I’d joined the Companions, I ran off and married the tall, dark, growly-voiced Farkas and started hauling him around with me on my adventures. That left Lydia to mope around my house in Whiterun, slumped sadly at the table, wishing she was out there teaching me how a real Nord woman was supposed to act.
Poor Lydia. All alone in that house for weeks at a time, waiting for me to come back from my adventures to drop a few things off and probably have loud sex with the husband while Lydia stuffed a pillow over her head and tried to pretend like she wasn’t there. And then I’d be off again, and I could just see that puppy-dog sparkle in her eye. Take me with you, that sparkle said.
And every time, I’d saunter out of the house, hulking husband in tow, leaving Lydia alone. Again.
I really did feel bad for the woman. She’d slayed dragons and draugr and bandits with me. She’d been by my side at High Hrothgar, where those old bastards taught me that Nordic yelling magic. And I’d just cast her off. But it seemed wrong to leave my badass warrior husband behind while I traipsed across Skyrim, having adventures and slaying hagravens and slaughtering bunnies (oh, such bunny slaughter there is). So, it was Lydia who had to stay home.
I suggested she take up a hobby. Learn to cook or pop next door to hang out with the blacksmith. Fucking knit.
I found myself a little surprised the first time I returned to my home and went inside to find a strange man exiting while Lydia just looked on. But hey, it’s not like I’d sent a courier ahead to tell her I was coming home. And really, this was more Lydia’s home than mine. She spent more time there, after all. I just owned the place and used it as a place to crash once in a while and as storage for a bunch of cool shit I found on my travels. If she wanted to have a man over, that was her business. I did tell her to pick up a hobby, right?
But after the fifth time I came home to find a different strange man exiting my house, I started to imagine this self-satisfied smirk on Lydia’s face. She was whoring herself out, making a mockery of the Dovahkiin by turning my hard-earned house into a goddamn brothel. Probably tarted herself up in my old armor and pretended to Shout for them, too.
What. A. Tramp.
So, I did the only thing I could do. I left Farkas at home, and invited Lydia out for a trip. Her excitement held a touch of wariness, because she knew I was unhappy with her antics, but I suited her up in some truly magnificent gear and headed out of Whiterun. She followed along behind me, happily swinging her sword, glad to be back out in the world.
We headed to an old ruin, inside of which lay a grand temple. I led the awed Lydia inside, and walked over to Delphine, smiling all the while. Told Delphine I’d found her a new recruit for her little dragon hunting gang of Blades. I could feel Lydia’s stunned stare, the hurt and betrayal in her eyes. Still smiling that same cruel smile, I turned to her and made her swear an oath to the Blades. A pledge to serve the order until she died. A pledge she had to make because I had told her to, and she was sworn to my service. I looked her in the eye, and on my face she could read the truth. The Blades might claim to be dragon fighters, but they never left their sacred little temple. And then I turned and walked out of the temple, leaving Lydia alone with Delphine in the nunnery I’d banished her to.
Nobody fucks with the Dragonborn’s rep. Not even Lydia.
Anyway, my story is nowhere near as funny as this one.
…And nowhere near as disturbing as my friend Ronnie’s. He kept referring to Lydia as his wife and taking her everywhere… until he found out he could actually get married in the game. A few days later, he came in claiming he’d accidentally killed Lydia in the middle of a civil war quest. It was almost believable (those are some big battles and Lydia has a habit of running in front of your sword like it’s her job), but the timing was too good. I called him out on it, but he fervently denied my accusations that he’d murdered Lydia so that he could run off and marry that bloke in Windhelm. For two weeks, he said it was an accident. And for two weeks, I called him a liar.
Finally, in the middle of work one day, he came up to me and said he couldn’t lie any longer. The truth had to come out. He had viciously murdered Lydia so he could be with Caldur. But he still respected Lydia and didn’t want her to be alone in death. So, he dragged her body to a nearby burnt-out shack and made her spoon with the burnt corpse in the house.
What can I say? We’ve all got our Lydia stories.