Part 10: The Grumpy OnePART 10: THE GRUMPY ONE
At the ruins of Ostagar, the army of King Cailan awaits the darkspawn horde, while new Grey Warden recruit Bianca Aeducan is getting exposition dumped all over her...
Not the most promising start to a speech.
[Near the depressing preacher is an Important Character with some Important Exposition.]
Greetings, young lady. You are Duncan's newest recruit, are you not? He's not a man easily impressed. You should be proud.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Wynne, one of the mages summoned by the king.
I am Bianca.
Well met, and good luck to you on the battlefield. To us all, in fact.
King Cailan thinks the battle will go well. I use the word think in its broadest sense.
The king must always seem confident. His behavior affects the troops morale.
He does seem to find his enthusiasm easily, though. Reminds me of a puppy, and I say that with both respect and affection. He is a fine man.
But how do you respect a puppy?
To defeat the darkspawn, we have to work together. It's not an idea everyone seems able to grasp.
You've faced darkspawn before?
Stragglers, yes--not the vast horde the scouts speak of.
I wonder... how much do you know of the connection between darkspawn and the Fade?
Not much. I'm a dwarf, after all.
It's home to many spirits, some benevolent, others far less so. At the heart of the Fade lies the Black City.
What's the Black City?
Some say the Black City was once the seat of the Maker. But when mages from the Tevinter Imperium found a way into the City, it was tainted with their sin.
That taint transformed those men, turning them into twisted reflections of their own hearts. And the Maker cast them back to the earth, where they became the first darkspawn.
At least, that's what the Chant of Light says.
You humans and your Chantry. Hmph.
[The Chantry is the major religion of Thedas. It worships the Maker in the hopes that He will return to his creation, smite the wicked, raise up the virtuous and usher in an age of peace and love and yadda yadda. It's basically Christianity but matriarchal. The Chant of Light is its Bible, set to music.
The Chantry's founder and Messiah figure is the prophet Andraste. More on her later.]
It may be allegory, meant to teach us that our own evil causes human suffering. Or it may be true.
If it is true, then millions have died because your god flipped out over a few trespassers.
It is as good an explanation as any, for now.
At least it's something to ponder.
Yes, occasionally it's wise to contemplate ones actions.
But I'm certain Duncan has more for you to do than talk to me.
Probably, but I've forgotten what I was meant to be doing.
Welcome, young woman.
Who are you?
I am one of the Tranquil, my friend. I'm of the Circle of Magi, but instead of casting spells and reading tomes, I spend my time enchanting.
It is a time-consuming process, but invaluable. Enchantment provides the Circle its wealth. Certainly, we would not get by on charity.
[The Circle is where mages are kept. It's a combination of prison and university, controlled by the Chantry. There's one in most countries where the Chantry holds sway. If we had gone with the mage origin, we would have started in Ferelden's Circle.]
You speak very strangely. Why is that?
[The Tranquil speaks... tranquilly. Calmly and slowly. It's pretty creepy.]
Allow me to put it this way. Do you know why those with magical talent are feared?
They're not feared by dwarves. Magic just gives us a headache.
Those with magical talent attract demons and spirits. We can be possessed easily, and thus become horrors known as abominations.
Even those with minor talents attract hungry spirits.
Anyone with the power may learn blood magic from these demons. Hence we are considered dangerous. This is our curse.
Thus, I was made tranquil. Stripped of emotions and talent, I am no longer dangerous.
You poor man. It sounds like a horrid practice.
It might seem such to you, but I feel no horror. I am content to serve in my role.
How is someone made tranquil?
Our forehead is branded with magic, which stills our talent and mind. The process is irreversible, as far as I am aware.
I feel badly for you.
You do? I feel nothing. As the name suggests, my existence is quite peaceful. I am alive, productive, and no danger to anyone. Surely that is not a terrible thing?
Perhaps we may speak of something else. Do you need assistance?
[And that's what happens to bad mages in Ferelden. The ones that aren't killed on the spot anyway. It's a rough life, having reality bending powers.]
What is enchantment, exactly?
It is the practice of folding magical lyrium into items, first practiced by the dwarves.
Guess I should have known the answer to that one then.
The Tranquil have learned their runes, and we use them to apply a variety of magical effects. We create the glow-lights, as well as the magic staff or the ﬂaming blade.
The irony, perhaps, is that it is our very disconnection to our former talents that allows the Tranquil to work with lyrium so. A true mage could not.
[Lyrium is the local Unobtainium. Has all sorts of weird magical properties. Can only be handled safely by dwarves and the Tranquil, both of whom are innately anti-magical, for Reasons.]
What sorts of enchantments are there?
Runes exist that hold the power of the elements, that increase strength or swiftness... almost any spell can be given permanency, given enough skill and lyrium.
Naturally, the greater the power required the more expensive the rune will become to create. True power comes with a price, as we know only too well.
[Runes are a gameplay mechanic. They can be combined with certain weapons or armor to imbue them with a permanent buff. We won't be seeing any for a while.]
I should go.
[Right next to the Tranquil is a locked chest. If we try to open it the Tranquil warns us off. Temptation! ]
[Opposite the Tranquil is this guy. He's chatting up a pretty blonde knight, the scoundrel.]
Life is fleeting, you know. That pretty face could be decorating some darkspawn spear this time tomorrow.
Shall I take that quiet glare as a no? Ahhh, well. Too bad.
Well, you're not what I thought you'd be.
What did you think I'd be?
Not a dwarf. Yet here you are.
The name's Daveth. It's about bloody time you came along.
You're one of the other Warden recruits? Wow, Duncan really was desperate.
I won't take that personally. I was beginning to think they cooked this ritual up just for our benefit.
Maybe they did.
Just to give us a good scare? No, they don't really seem the type.
I happened to be sneaking around camp last night, see, and I heard a couple of Grey Wardens talking. So I listen in for a bit.
I'm thinking they plan to send us into the Wilds.
We're right on the northern edge of the Korcari Wilds here. Miles and miles of savage country.
My home village isn't far, and I grew up on tales about the Wilds. Even been in there a few times... scary place.
This seems like an odd place to camp then.
I'm told the Blight started in the forest, so the army's here waiting for them to come out. Dangling meat in front of the bear, if you catch my meaning.
That's a reassuring mental image.
It's all too secretive for me. Makes my nose twitch.
I guess we'll have to wait and see. Like we have a choice.
I'll watch your back if you watch mine.
Oh, I'll watch your back. *Flirtatious Chuckle*
Or, I could just kill you. It would save time later.
Aw, that's a little extreme. It's not like I can miss the scenery, is it?
Anyway, I expect it's time to get back to Duncan. That's where I'll be, if you need me for anything.
[Next to Daveth is the Quartermaster, who lets us buy basic equipment and potions for coin. It's not like we're the legendary Grey Wardens fighting to save the kingdom or anything, nooo. We've still got to pay.]
[Besides picking up a new bow and helmet for Bianca, I also bought one of these; a backpack. You have limited inventory space, you start only able to carry 70 items, and the limit increases by 10 for every backpack you find or buy.
70 items may sound like a lot, but it rapidly fills with all the crap you accumulate. Especially if you're like me and horde all the magic swords.]
[Anyway, enough shopping. Let's check out the fun stuff happening up here!]
[It's... another sermon! Yayyy!!!]
Greetings. You must be the third recruit we've heard about?
Yes. I am Bianca.
Scr Jory is my name. I hail from Redcliffe, where I served as knight under the command of Arl Eamon.
I wasn't aware dwarves could be Grey Wardens. I've only seen a few of your folk in the castle, dealing with the smithy.
Not all dwarves are smiths, you know.
Of course. My father was the castle smith, so I encountered dwarves through him. I'm not racist, honest.
I hope we're both lucky enough to eventually join the Wardens. Is it not thrilling to be given that chance?
I'm curious about the Joining ritual.
As am I. Has anyone told you about it?
Daveth said we might be going into the Wilds.
I never heard of such a ritual. I had no idea there were more tests after getting recruited.
I suppose since you're finally here I'd best get back to Duncan. I shall see you there.
[So they're the other two Warden recruits: Sneaky Badtouch and Big Face McGee. Ferelden is doomed.]
[Near Ser Jory is the infirmary. Well, it's more like a patch of ground where people are left to die.
As has been mentioned, darkspawn blood does bad bad things to people it infects.]
You... you need to convince them! We've got to run! The darkspawn are coming!
Why do you say that?
I saw them! We're gonna die!
I apologize, Warden. He's been like this ever since they found him in the Wilds.
What's wrong with him?
Aside from his wounds, we're not sure. His blood is untainted. He's just... terrified.
You... you can feel it, can't you? They taint the land, turn it black and sick. You can feel it inside!
They'll come out of that forest and spread! Like caterpillars covering a tree, they'll swallow us whole!
That's quite enough out of you. You need to calm yourself, my good man.
They were everywhere! I saw them!
A few darkspawn and everyone goes nuts. They should all try living in Orzammar for a while.
Heh... someone finally comes and talks to the lone prisoner? I don't suppose you've come to sentence me.
No, I haven't
I don't suppose you have a bit of kindness in you? All I want is food and water. They haven't fed me since I was locked up, and I'm starving.
Why would I want to help you? I mean, you're covered in blood. I'm guessing you're not in for tax evasion.
Because you might want something I don't need. Them Circle wizards got a chest they keep things in, magical things... and I stole the key.
That's why I'm here. I got one of them drunk, took his key, and tried to sneak to the chest. They assumed I was deserting.
I can't use it from here, but I'd trade you for some food and water.
They didn't find the key when you were arrested?
I swallowed it. But it's... uhhhh... come back into my possession since then, so to speak.
That's disgusting. And probably really painful.
Yeah, well, do you want the key or not?
I can't resist free loot, no matter how gross. I'll see what I can do.
Just ask my guard for his. He's still got some dinner; I saw him put it in his coat.
Eyyyy! Lucky dog. You Grey Wardens get to ride with the king while I'm left with the drudgery of guarding this deserter.
They should have just hanged him. Put his head on a pike as an example.
Who is this prisoner, exactly?
They say he was recruited before the war, up in Denerim. Probably figured he'd never have to fight if he served the king, right?
Why did he want to desert?
Why does anyone want to desert? 'Cause he thinks he's going to die and he's a bloody coward, that's why.
Either that or he's been listening to a bunch of hogwash about how the darkspawn will drag you off and eat you.
It seems a waste for you to guard him all day.
I can't just let him go, can I? The army will figure out what to do with him.
Probably just waiting for someone important to make a decision. Then they'll hang him, I expect, and I can do something else.
I had a chat with him, actually.
Don't expect it was an enlightening conversation.
He asked for some food and water.
Did he, now? Since nobody sends me nothing to feed him with, the only way he'll get that is if I give him mine.
(Persuade) So you miss one meal--this man could be hanged soon!
All right, all right. I guess the poor fella could stand to have one meal in his belly before he hangs. Don't know why you care.
[We could have bought the food off him instead. Or killed the prisoner and picked up the key from his corpse. Surprising, no one really cares about summary executions around here.]
I had nothin' to do with it, though. If anyone asks why he's burpin', I'm gonna say it was you, just so you know.
So...? Brought me some food, have you? I'm so hungry I could faint dead away.
Here's some food. ...I think it still counts as edible.
Much obliged. May Andraste herself rain blessings upon you! And... as I mentioned, here's the key. Use it in good health, heh.
Eeesh. Glad I've got gloves on.
[We can't open the chest that key unlocks now, because it's the one the Tranquil is guarding. We'll have to come back later.]
[Up here we finally find the guy we were sent after two updates ago.]
What is it now? Haven't Grey Wardens asked more than enough of the Circle?
I simply came to deliver a message from the revered mother, ser mage. She desires your presence.
What her Reverence "desires" is of no concern to me! I am busy helping the Grey Wardens--by the king's orders, I might add!
Should I have asked her to write a note?
Tell her I will not be harassed in this manner!
Yes, I was harassing you by delivering a message.
Your glibness does you no credit.
Here I thought we were getting along so well. I was even going to name one of my children after you... the grumpy one.
Enough! I will speak to the woman if I must! Get out of my way, fool!
You know, one good thing about the Blight is how it brings people together.
I know exactly what you mean.
It's like a party: we could all stand in a circle and hold hands. That would give the darkspawn something to think about.
Wait, we haven't met, have we? I don't suppose you happen to be another mage?
How can a dwarf be a mage?
You never know. These mages sneak up on you.
Wait, I do know who you are. You're Duncan's new recruit, from Orzammar.
I should have recognized you right away. I apologize.
And you must be Alistair.
Did Duncan mention me? Nothing bad, I hope.
As the junior member of the order, I'll be accompanying you when you prepare for the Joining.
Pleased to meet you. My name is Bianca.
Right. That was the name.
Hmm. There haven't been any dwarven Grey Wardens in some time. You must know a lot about darkspawn.
Nobody knows much about them. You kill them.
That's a sound policy, to be sure. But the Grey Wardens have always believed it's important to know your enemy. To know them is to know how to destroy them.
Anyhow, whenever you're ready let's head back to Duncan. I imagine he's eager to get things started.
That argument I saw... what was it about?
With the mage? The Circle is here at the king's request and the Chantry doesn't like that one bit. They just love letting mages know how unwelcome they are.
Which puts me in a bit of an awkward position. I was once a templar.
What's a templar?
You don't know? Quick version, then. The Chantry tries to control mages because they're dangerous, so they keep templars that train to hunt down and kill apostates.
That's what I was being trained as when Duncan recruited me six months ago.
I'm sure the revered mother meant it as an insult--sending me as her messenger--and the mage picked right up on that.
I never would have agreed to deliver it, but Duncan says we're all to cooperate and get along. Apparently, they didn't get the same speech.
[If you haven't gathered yet, the mess of tensions between mages and everyone else is a recurring theme in the Dragon Age games. Even the opening sequence blamed mages for the darkspawn problem. Darned mages, they
One big happy family... Let's get back to Duncan.
If you have any questions, let me know. Otherwise, lead on!
NEXT TIME: Your mission, should you choose to accept it...
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