Part 106: Love Is In The AirPART 106: LOVE IS IN THE AIR
Two claimants for Ferelden's throne? Under the same roof?! Comedy hijinks will almost certainly ensue! Meanwhile, amazingly, things are getting worse in the Denerim Slums...
[We've got a lot to do this time round- allies to gather, a slum to investigate and a wedding to plan.
Before we get underway, let's chat with our new friend, Riordan. Remember Riordan? The Grey Warden we rescued from Howe's dungeon two updates ago? He's got some stories to share.
Dealing with people we rescued from Howe's spooky torture dungeon is going to be the theme of this update.]
Hello again, friend. It looks as though youre no worse for the wear after your stay in Fort Drakon.
[As has been pointed out in the thread, the entire jailbreak sequence is optional. If you're tough enough to beat Cauthrien, you can walk straight out of the Estate without getting imprisoned.
It's an impressively large amount of skippable content for a Bioware game, and changes everyone's dialogue for the aftermath.]
What are your plans now?
When I'm well enough, I'm going to continue my journey toward Ostagar. Hopefully, I will be able to trace the heart of the Blight and find where the archdemon itself abides.
If we want to defeat this archdemon, we need to know where it is and how soon it might strike.
You're going alone? Shouldn't I go with you?
If there were more of us, I would agree. But as it is, I don't think we can deprive all the armies you've gathered of a commander.
Alistair could stay.
Please don't leave me alone with these people.
Fine. I was hoping I could learn a bit more about the Grey Wardens.
Well, I'd be happy to tell you what I know, but it seems to me that you've picked the important parts up yourself.
Be firm in your beliefs, protect people from their own ignorance, never play cards with a man named Doc, and be as loyal as you can to your brothers, even knowing you'll share their deaths.
How were the Wardens founded?
It was near twelve hundred years ago, and no one knows for sure except that it began with a group of Ander soldiers.
Apparently, they defected from their king's army, vowing that fighting the Blight was more important, and traveled all the way to Tevinter themselves.
They were the first ones to track down the archdemon Dumat, and the ones to slay him, though none survived the battle.
But they had picked up followers by then, and it was they who formally founded the order and were recognized by Thedas.
How many Wardens are there?
It's tough to say. Only the fortress in Weisshaupt has every record. But there are certainly a few dozen or hundreds in every nation in Thedas. The Anderfels are home to over a thousand.
It's almost like the archdemon chose Ferelden deliberately, knowing how unguarded it is. But at least there's backup if we all die horribly.
Hurray. Have you ever been to the fortress in Weisshaupt?
Once only, and I'd rather not go again.
It's far, lass, and very foreign. They can't pronounce the letter 'u', the government controls poultice distribution, and they eat curds and gravy for every meal.
The Wardens there, they fight darkspawn like you and me, but they're shaped by the winters and the forest.
They're a cold group, and don't care like they should about the rest of the world. Their king is weak and many Anders look to the Wardens to rule.
I hate to say this, but some of them seem to want it that way.
Well, I'm glad they're off having fun instead of being here fulfilling literally their entire purpose for existing. Why has it been so long since the last Blight?
Archdemons don't awaken on their own, you know. It takes the darkspawn, tunneling and tunneling, searching for centuries, to find one.
And with no one to lead them, it must be sheer chance, or maybe instinct which leads them.
What's surprising isn't that it take so long between Blights; what's surprising is that they succeed at all.
But I imagine the old gods call to them, and it's that voice in the darkness which drives them through so many generations.
Hm. I guess that's all for now.
The important thing to remember is, none of that matters. When you're facing darkspawn, all you need to know is to stop them at all costs.
Speaking of which... Could you tell me about that vault again?
[The Grey Warden vault got very briefly mentioned after we rescued Riordan. Howe had stolen papers relating to it.]
It's located just off the Market District. In the northern alley past the Gnawed Noble Tavern.
I'll sketch out the code which will let you past the lock-wheel.
Inside, you can take your pick of whatever equipment remains. It is the stockpile the Wardens have kept for centuries for the defense of Denerim.
I really should be going.
Good luck to you, then. We will have to talk again when the Landsmeet is more settled.
[Let's quickly go check out that vault.]
[The Vault is hidden in this warehouse, where we fought some of Howe's goons during a silver heist 40 updates ago.]
I am starting to think every house in Denerim has a hidden room behind some innocuous shelves. This is the third time we've run into this exact same trick.
Things become cliché for a reason. Nothing says conspicuous consumption like walling off a room of your house just to hide things in.
[The vault mostly contains generic high-end gear fit only for selling at this point, but there's a few unique treasures too.]
Duncan's shield, eh? I know someone with unresolved daddy issues who'd be very interested in this.
This... this shield. It's Duncan's, isn't it? That's his crest...
You said you wanted something to remember him by.
I did. I really did. I just never expected...
Thank you. Truly, I had no idea his shield wasn't with him. This is perfect.
I don't know how to express my gratitude. This means a great deal to me.
I thought it might.
I'll treasure this. Thank you.
[Now that we've made Alistair very happy, it's time to make him very sad. The universe demands balance.]
Hello again, Warden. It is good that you came to speak with me.
I realize that my... actions at Howe's estate may not have painted me in the best light. For that I apologize, and hope that we can start again.
Don't worry about it. Most of my friends and family have tried to have me killed at some point.
I will be blunt. I can see that your voice will be a strong one in days to come. It is to you that Eamon listens, and with good reason.
My father must be stopped, but once that is done Ferelden will need a ruler. I would welcome your support for my throne.
Are you proposing an alliance?
That is exactly what I am proposing. When the time comes, you support my bid in the Landsmeet to remain on the throne.
You will be seen as my father's enemy, yet you will be in support of his daughter. You will be seen as supporting the interests of Ferelden as opposed to solely those of the Grey Wardens.
In return, I add my voice to yours. Do you see? Together we can do what alone we cannot.
What happens to Loghain if you are queen?
He is my father, as well as a great general who has served his nation well until now. If there is a way for him to live, I would prefer it.
Justice must be done, don't you think?
I will always be my father's daughter, but even I know he must pay for his crimes. It will not make me glad, even so.
Does that affect your decision? Can we yet come to an arrangement?
I admit, I'm less vengeance-orientated than I used to be. Do you think you'd be a better candidate than Alistair?
Do you disagree? You are a fellow Grey Warden. What do you think of Alistairs potential to rule, never mind his willingness?
He has a lovely personality.
Still has all his own teeth.
Good for him.
Look, being a good ruler requires more than ambition.
Alistair seems like a kind, well-meaning man, and biddable enough. These are admirable qualities, if not kingly ones.
He also seems to be a fine Grey Warden-which is exactly why he should remain one, and serve the kingdom by defeating the darkspawn.
How do you know so much about him?
Cailan knew of Alistair. It was Arl Eamon that kept Alistair out of the courts, as Maric had desired.
[There's something sad about the fact that Alistair thought his heritage was a secret, while it really, really wasn't. I wonder if Cailan would have had him killed eventually.]
Oh, there are some who would follow Alistair out of respect for his Theirin blood. The others would see this as Eamon grabbing for power.
Who else do you think Alistair would turn to for help? Eventually the nobility would return to the old days of constant warring with each other.
Alistairs weakness would destroy everything Maric built.
What's your alternative?
I have ruled this nation on Cailans behalf for many years. I am a great queen, and as beloved by my people as I love them.
No false modesty then.
Ferelden needs an effective ruler with experience to see it through the Blight and after. That is not Alistair.
What say you, then? Your support for mine in the Landsmeet?
[The final decision about who will rule Ferelden occurs at the Landsmeet. The conversations beforehand don't tie us to any one option, but help us set up some alternatives. Also, deliberately antagonising Anora will make our lives harder, so we'll be nice to her for now.
We're free to make any promises we want, and then
Why not simply marry Alistair? The best of both worlds.
Ignoring that the man looks so much like Cailan--my recently-dead husband, if you'll recall--my main fear is that he might govern like Cailan as well.
So, do nothing while you run the country?
But it is true that Alistair has Theirin blood. To some, this is more important even than practical considerations.
A union might be considered a compromise, but... is this something Alistair even desires?
I think I could convince him. I just bought him a shield. Tanks love shields.
Let me say this: if Alistair is willing to stand back and allow me to continue governing the nation, then I would be willing to have him as my king.
It is my understanding that governing does not appeal to him anyhow. If that is so, this is a compromise I can live with.
I will speak to him then.
Do so. I will be interested to hear what he has to say.
So, I'm guessing someone told Anora I was planning to steal her throne. She has a nasty glare.
She wants to be queen. I get it. I don't trust her any more than her father but I get it.
She wants my support in the Landsmeet.
Oh? Smart. I wouldn't be surprised if that's why she arranged to be here to begin with.
They say that Anora is smart, determined... she's supposedly the one who's really ruled here, not Cailan. She's her father's daughter.
Me, I say that's where the problem lies. People like her and her father always think they're the only ones who can fix things. So everyone should just stay out of their way.
Alistair, that has basically been our operating policy for the last six months.
Yes, but we're the good guys. What do you think? When the Landsmeet comes, you might even have a say.
You think they'll listen to a dwarf?
I think they'll listen to a Grey Warden, one who just might save this country yet.
[We need to talk to Alistair again to get the Wedding Conversation.]
So I just saw Anora not long ago. Strange story.
She gave me the strangest look, like she was sizing up whether the cow was ready for slaughter. I asked her why.
You know what she said? "It would be like marrying his twin." I misheard that, right? Tell me I misheard.
You don't look that much like Cailan.
I can't say I like the idea at all. Why should I even consider something like this?
(Cunning) It's the smart move. And I think you know that, too.
[You can Persuade Alistair into seeing things your way, or you can use your Cunning stat if it's high enough. Sadly, you can't Intimidate him into getting married.]
I... maybe you're right. I hate it when you're right.
Go ahead, then. Tell her I'll do it, if it comes to that.
Now excuse me while I go have a small heart attack somewhere. No big deal, right?
Come on, Alistair. She's cute, she's rich...
She tried to have us killed yesterday.
Check out Mr. Picky here. You'd die single if not for me.
Dying single sounds pretty sweet right about now.
Well? Have you spoken to my lucky betrothed yet? Or will we be reduced to passing notes?
He's agreed to your terms. ...Wait, that makes it sound like a hostage exchange.
He has? I... wasn't expecting that, to tell you the truth.
To marry Cailans brother... I suppose stranger things have happened. If it will truly help matters... (sigh)
Is this it, then? I agree to marry Alistair to retain my throne, and in exchange I give you my support? If not, than tell me now.
Marry Alistair and you have my support. I love a royal wedding.
So we have a deal, Warden. I trust you'll keep your end of the bargain... now, I suppose, comes the task of dealing with my father.
That will be no small feat, of course, but I am certain you already know this.
I imagine you have much to do. Is there anything else you needed from me?
Do you need anything? I'm feeling... emotions... about this situation and... well, I already found Alistair a shield...
I... no. And while I know your concern is hardly disinterested, still... thank you.
Fine. Later, Anora.
[That's enough romance for one update.
It's time to take our rough boys out on the road. First stop: the bar.]
[I've equipped Shale with some new nature crystals. On the upside, they increase Shale's HP and armor. On the downside, they constantly emit a cloud of green swamp gas. I guess flatulence is a part of nature.]
[Remember these chatty nobles from Update 98?]
Whoever you are I--wait. I know you.
My son described you in great detail. He tells me that I owe you his life.
[His son is Oswyn, whom we rescued from Howe's dungeon earlier.]
I would leave no man to suffer at Arl Howe's hands.
When I saw my poor boy's legs... I only wish Howe still lived, that I might tear him apart myself.
I would bring troops against his son, but Oswyn tells me Thomas had no part in his father's depravity.
[I think this is the only mention in the main game of Howe's children, who show up in Dragon Age: Awakening.]
Is there anything you would ask as a reward for saving Oswyn?
All I want is for you to speak out against Loghain.
Fair enough. Thank you again. Know that I will stand behind you at the Landsmeet, with all the support I can muster.
In fact, I'm taking my supper today with Bann Reginalda of the white River Bannorn. I'll speak with her about this at once.
[There's another friend to be made in the pub.]
May I help you?
I was asked to give you this. (Give her the ring.)
[The ring is from Irminric, another prisoner of Howe's. He was the crazy templar who refused to be rescued.]
This... is Irminric's. Explain yourself. My brother would no more part with this ring than with his head.
He needs your help.
He's alive, then? Please, if you have news of my brother, I would hear it.
He's in the dungeon of the Arl of Denerim's estate.
A dungeon? What--no. I will go to him at once. Someone will answer for this.
Take this with my thanks: It has been in my family since the War of Crowns, crafted for us by the Circle of Magi. An heirloom is a small thing compared to my brother's life.
[Enough politicking! To the slums!]
[This gate on the far side of the market has now opened, giving us access to the Elven Alienage.]
At least they have access to running water.
I don't think that qualifies as water.
[Hey, it's the last part of a sidequest we've been doing since Lothering, holy shit.]
What do you need?
I have a letter for you from the Blackstone Irregulars.
I suppose a noble death fighting the Blighted wretches is better than basking in this squalor.
That's the spirit.
They had better be paying well.
[We can now go hand this in at the nearest Blackstone rep for a pittance in money and XP. It's sat in our quest log for 80% of the duration of the entire game, and now it's finally done. Hurray.]
What do you want? Money?
Money? You think you can buy us? You think we're so far beneath you, we'll just take whatever you give us?
I think we better explain things to him.
Are you alright?
I'm fine. Please, don't talk to me. You'll only attract their notice.
Good job we have our own elf.
Ah, is that all I am? A sweet passport?
I told you I only wanted you for your body.
Such cruelty. You toy with my poor heart.
But if arming elves is criminal, soon only criminal elves will be armed.
That's a heck of a tree.
That is the 'tree of the people', I believe. The vhenadahl.
I've got children at home! I can't wait out here for another day!
So go home! The best thing you can do for your children is not trust these charlatans!
Everyone remain calm. We wil help as many as we can today, so long as we can do this in an orderly fashion.
Oh, you' re "helping" us, are you, Shem? Like Valendrian and my uncle Cyrion, you helped them, didnt you? Helped them never to be seen again!
(Sigh) We've explained this to you before, girl. More whining will not persuade us to let you into the quarantine to carry plague back out to the Alienage.
Quit trying to get us all killed, Shianni! Some of us have still got things to live for.
If this spell of theirs works, why are half the people they quarantine perfectly healthy?
What's going on?
You shouldn't be here, dwarf. Your kind don't leave the Market District.
Wait... Soris told me about you. You're the one who freed him from the dungeons.
[Chekov's guns popping off all over this update.]
These foreigners say they're here to help with our outbreak of plague. Funny thing, though, all the people they "help" disappear.
That's not true, and you know it, Shianni! Both my sisters got the Tevinter spell cast on them, and they' re fine.
Where's your niece, then? And my Uncle Cyrion? And Valendrian?
If there's a plague, why are people out in the street?
These men from Tevinter say their magic will prevent people from catching it. But it doesnt work if youre already ill. So they set up a quarantine.
Wait, if their magic means it's not contagious then why have a quarantine at all?
Many of the ones they quarantine arent sick.
One of them was our hahren, Valendrian. And I don't know what we're going to do if we don't get him back.
What's a hahren?
He's... he's the elder. The person who guides us. Maybe that doesn't mean anything to you, but it's important to us.
Does the guard know about this?
No, but seriously. They have to know about it. The hahren complained, and so did I. They just don't care, or... something worse.
I'll try talking to the healers.
You can try. Those guards mean business.
So do I.
NEXT TIME: It's just business!
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