Part 101: Tactical Espionage ActionPART 101: TACTICAL ESPIONAGE ACTION
Arl Eamon is organising a Landsmeet to depose the tyrant Loghain. Meanwhile, following a tip-off from Slim Couldry, Bianca has travelled to the estate of Bann Franderel for a little light larceny...
[Now, where were we? Oh yes, falling into another trap.]
[Dragon Age Spot-The-Head Competition.
I have digitally edited that unfortunate soldier's head out of this image. Draw a circle around where you think it landed. Fabulous prizes to whomever gets closest!]
I think that was the last of the guards.
I'm adding 'that was the last of the guards' to the list. Right after 'things can't get worse' and 'it's okay, we can trust them'.
[The final obstacle is two mages and some more guards. You can sneak past them and escape the estate using stealth- it's actually encouraged because none of these guys drop loot- but I am bad at sneaking, so violence is the answer once more.]
OK, that really, really was the last of them. Let's get out of here.
LATER, AT DENERIM MARKET...
I can't believe Bann Franderel tricked me. His guards almost nabbed you.
I feel like a bloody fool, I do. Listen, I have to go.
That's the line you're going with?
It's the truth. Why would I want to kill someone who's made me so much money?
Maybe you're envious of my cool nickname. Maybe you want to be the Dark Wolf.
I'm perfectly happy with 'Slim', thanks.
Here's your coin back--I wont take a silver because of the way that went down.
Give me some time and come back. We'll get our revenge, we will!
[It'll be a while before we can get our revenge. In the meantime, let's pay a visit to our other criminal cohort, at the Gnawed Noble Tavern.]
You've been busy, traveling all over... and such tragic news you keep bringing.
[It's our old murderpal, Ignacio. Killing Loghain's ambassador in Orzammar has unlocked the final assassination quest.]
I was wondering if you'd check up on one more person. I'm sure you'll find this scroll quite interesting.
[The contract doesn't explain what the story behind this mission is. For that you have to check your quest log.]
It's not really assassination though, is it?
So sad when a murder gang forgets its roots.
I was into the Crows before they sold out.
[The dropsite is a generic back alley in Denerim.]
Show me one of the bags.
Not a chance.
Now that's not a particularly smart attitude when your dear boy's life is in the balance, is it?
Bah... enough of this.
Kill them all.
That's our cue.
[This battle's easy, as you start with three Crow allies, all of whom are pretty tough.]
[The main irritant is the large number of enemy archers, all of whom will use Scattershot for an instant full-party stun. Basically every battle against human soldiers past this point features Scattershot being used as the enemy's opener, and it gets tiresome after a while.]
We're done here.
Go back to your contact. Quickly.
Where's the boy?
Elsewhere. Run along now.
Have we been played again today?
BACK AT THE TAVERN...
I heard there was quite a scuffle in the alleyways. Well done, Warden.
Well done? Arl Howe betrayed us. The boy wasn't there.
Don't worry, Warden. Some "friends" have rescued the boy.
He's already safely home and back with his father... his very important father.
[Remember this exchange. It will pay off later.]
You took care of the father's other requirement. The man who kidnapped his son, Captain Chase, is quite dead thanks to you.
And why didn't you tell me that?
We are told only what we need to know. That's an assassins life.
All you needed to know was your target. Any more information you got was really a bonus.
So are we done here?
I've nothing more for you.
Your payment is in the chest. I hope you find it most satisfying.
My superiors want me to convey their thanks. The Crows aren't accepting any new contracts on you.
[Doing this quest has no impact on Zevran's story. You can't make Taliesien abandon his mission, or get Zevran back in the Crow's good graces. He doesn't even get any special dialogue for it.]
And when this Blight ends, we'd love you to visit Antiva to discuss other... opportunities.
You willing to talk straight with me now?
I did what I had to do. But there's no more need for word games.
I was expecting to be double-crossed. It's been one of those days.
And I was expecting the same. But our order has survived the centuries because we always uphold our deals.
Except the one to kill me.
We always uphold our deals, except when they're really bad ideas.
Like I said, sending Zevran after you was nothing personal. We've determined you are a far better ally than an enemy.
Who contracted all the assassinations? I'm totally not angling for blackmail material here.
The civil war brought many old grudges to a boil.
You'll be pleased to know that those contracts helped your own cause--some more directly than others.
After all, it is not in the Crows' best interest that the archdemon wins.
Then why were you trying to kill me before?
For a time we thought that Loghain was the only man for the job. But that's before we got to know you.
To know me is to love me.
It was too late then, of course, Taliesin had already accepted a contract. Even now, until you kill all of Taliesin's men you will have to fight my brothers.
We never cancel a contract once accepted.
Yeah, about that...
Ah. The office Feastday party's going to be quiet this year.
Our business is done here.
Just remember our offer. We could really use someone with your talents.
It's time for me to take a vacation. Cesar has a special stock of wares that might interest you.
[One of the shops in the market will now sell us top-level poisons and traps. Useful!]
It was a pleasure working with you, Warden. Luck be to you.
Good luck with all the murdering, Ignacio.
[People who've played Dragon Age: Inquisition will read this and laugh.]
[Why don't we get back on the plot train?]
[We just need to return to Arl Eamon's estate and...]
[And then Bianca chased a dozen cats around the market for twenty minutes.]
Ah, Warden. I trust you've made yourself comfortable.
Actually, I was hoping for silk sheets and candied grapes.
Why don't we ensure Loghain won't have us all executed first, and worry about how to celebrate later?
This is Erlina. She's--
I am Queen Anora's handmaiden. She sent me here to ask for your help.
Or perhaps the young lady prefers to speak for herself.
Why would Anora ask us for help?
The queen, she is in a difficult position. She loved her husband, no? And trusted her father to protect him. When he returns with no king and only dark rumors, what is she to think?
[Erlina is very French. Which is interesting, given that French = Orlesian in Dragon Age, and Orlais is Ferelden's No. 1 enemy. Well, No. 2 after the darkspawn.]
She worries, no? But when she tries to speak with him, he does not answer. He tells her "not to trouble herself."
Are you saying the queen believes Loghain killed Cailan?
My queen suspects she cannot trust her father. And Loghain, he is very subtle, no?
No, not really.
But Rendon Howe, he is privy to all the secrets and... not so subtle.
So she goes to Howe. A visit from the queen to the new arl of Denerim is only a matter of courtesy. And she demands answers.
I guess that didn't go well.
He calls her every sort of name, "traitor" being the kindest, and locks her in a guest room.
Loghain would allow that?
King Cailan was like a son to him, and Loghain left him to die. Does he love Anora more? Who can say?
I think... her life is in danger. I heard Howe say she would be a greater ally dead than alive. Especially if her death could be blamed on Arl Eamon.
Would Loghain kill his own daughter just to frame Eamon?
We may have no choice but to trust Anora. The queen is well-loved. If Loghain succeeded in pinning her death on me...
I'm not sure that's a risk we can afford to take.
Why should we trust her? This could all be a set-up.
I fear if this is a trap, we are already caught in it.
They can kill Anora whether or not we act and blame her death on us.
Few would believe our word over Loghain's. We can only defend ourselves with the queen in hand.
I have some uniforms. Arl Howe hires so many new guards every day, a few more will not cause much stir.
Ah, the old new guard gambit. A classic.
I will show you to the servants entrance. We must slip in and out with my queen before anyone is the wiser.
I will go ahead to Howe's estate. Meet me there as soon as you can.
[We can head out to save Anora immediately, but Eamon will provide some background intel if we talk to him again.]
I'm glad you decided to help. with Anora's knowledge, we have a far better chance against Loghain.
What do you know about Queen Anora?
She and Cailan were promised as children and practically raised together.
She was a smart child, knew how to listen, and how to blink those big blue eyes and get anything she wanted.
Her mothers looks, her father's brains, and the best tutoring Maric's money could buy. It's a potent combination.
Do you truly think Loghain's daughter would turn on him?
From Erlina's story, he turned against her first. If he truly intends to sacrifice her, I think it would be strong motivation to break the parental bonds.
In any event, I would far rather have the opportunity to ask such things of her than simply hear about her murder.
If Anora speaks out against Loghain, hers would indeed be one of the most powerful voices at the Landsmeet.
But if I break in, can't they frame me for her murder? Am I the only one who sees where this plot is going?
No more easily than without you there--there will be none to see it save those who are already loyal to Loghain.
And given your reputation, Warden, I think Loghain knows it's safer to carry out his plots far from where you can disrupt them.
I should get going.
As you like. My palace is your palace. Mi palacio es su palacio.
AT THE HOUSE OF HOWE...
Seems like the peasants are revolting.
Psst! Over here!
The servants' entrance is on the other side of the house. We must slip past this crowd to reach it. We will have to be very careful: Arl Howe is inside.
What's the crowd gathered for?
The estate is in poor repair. The new arl, he has not been very prompt in paying his workmen.
You should leave your... walking statue... thing... behind. It will never escape notice.
Yes. Certainly no way for me to blend in with all the other statues.
[Sadly, this stealth mission is a no-golem zone. She wouldn't fit into the sneaking suits.]
I will be right behind you.
[I've shuffled Alistair into the party as Shale's replacement. He gets some plot stuff in the upcoming dungeon, and we need a tank.]
[We need to head around the side of the estate. They won't let us in the front door.]
[See the guard on the balcony? If he sees us he'll summon a squad to attack us. Time for sneaking.]
[We'll have to leave the rest of the party behind, but they'll respawn at our position once we complete the area. ]
Hm. Pumpkin season's early this year.
[There are no patrolling guards here, I'm just stealthing for the heck of it.]
I can distract the guards, but you must move quickly.
Ah! Where did you come from?
There's no time to explain!
Wait, we need to put on our disguises.
Hurry! My lady does not have much time.
Are you all prepared? I will go distract the guards.
What good are the uniforms if they won't get us inside?
These two know who is allowed to come and go. They will not be fooled. But the uniform should work on most of those inside.
I will lure them into the courtyard. Wait in the bushes.
We look like idiots.
We smell like flatulent alcoholics.
We are Ferelden's finest, here to supply all the casual brutality you need.
Enough already. Let's hide behind a rock and see how this plays out.
Oh! You must come! I saw something! By the fountain! I think it was a darkspawn!
Darkspawn? In this weather?
They will drag us all underground to be eaten!
Should we call for help?
Did you fall off a cart full of stupid? Call for help? So they can see us act like scared little girls because of some knife-eared wench.
They will eat us all alive! Please! Get help!
If there is something out there and we don't sound the alarm, we'll look worse than scared.
Andraste's holy knickers! Fine, we'll check the courtyard if it'll keep you from wetting yourself. But there's nothing there.
Thank you! Oh! It was over here! Quickly!
We're clear. Let's go.
NEXT TIME: The Sons of Liberty
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
King Maric Theirin
Meditations and Odes to Bees (BEEEEEEEEEEES)