Part 111: Indecent ProposalPART 111: INDECENT PROPOSAL
Alistair is King, Anora is Queen and Loghain is a Warden. Following the SHOCKING DEVELOPMENTS of the last update, our heroes head to Redcliffe to prepare for war with the Darkspawn...
[It's Loghain! He's in our party now. Who saw that coming?
I love that Dragon Age lets you recruit the main bad guy into the party, and makes it believable too. It's a rare event in an RPG. Although, there are plenty of JRPGs where villains get inexplicably forgiven and allowed to join the gang, usually because they are both cool and pretty.]
[Skills wise, Loghain is another tank like Alistair, although he has a wider stats spread- more dex and will, less str and con.
He also comes with a bag of maps that makes him think harder. Good for him.]
[His armor and shield are also unique. I swapped it for Arl Howe's old shield which has better stats, and equipped him with the Keening Blade we won off Kangaxx two updates ago.
No, I couldn't just equip Loghain with Alistair's old gear, because Alistair took it all with him when he left, the thieving kingly swine.]
[Anyway, adventure awaits.]
Warden! Warden, wait!
I'm here to atone. I did you bad with that last tip.
It can't end like that!
Those noble ponces won't have the last laugh, eh?
You game for one last heist?
Better make it fast, the world's ending soon.
It'll be quick, I swear on one of my mother's graves.
This better go down better than last time.
No bloody trap this time, I'd stake my life on it, and... well, yours, too.
We're stealing the Tears of Andraste.
The Tears of Andraste.
The Tears... of... Andraste!
Tell me about the tears.
You care about the history? Don't know how much of a Chantry-going folk you are.
There aren't many things as holy as the Tears of Andraste.
Legend has it before the Maker spoke to Andraste, She despaired at the fate of Her fellows.
Her husband, Maferath--before he became a right bastard--would come to console her.
She would tell him of Her despair, and She'd always shed a single tear. Every night, he captured each tear in a vial.
Why should I know? It was a time of myths and legends, people did stuff like that.
It's a time of myths and legends now. People don't do stuff like that.
A full thirty nights that went on. Maferath was worried sick.
On the thirtieth night the vial was full and when dawn came... That's when Andraste saw Her first vision of the Maker.
Some of that story isn't in the Chant of Light, but it's been passed on for ages. Everyone agrees that the Tears are a holy relic.
You really believe that story, don't you?
Growing up in the Alienage you want to believe in something. Something that explains the suffering.
I have faith, not everyone does.
Do the tears do anything? We already have a few bits of Andraste that heals the sick.
They're holy, precious... and wet. But it's what they symbolize that's important.
So who has it now?
Bann Franderel's father secretly acquired the genuine Tears of Andraste decades ago.
And his son still has them locked up tight. The same Franderel that baited that trap.
So I propose you go to his real vault. And rob him blind.
Afterwards, I'll see that the Tears of Andraste are given to the Chantry.
Charity work, Slim?
They belong in a museum!
I'm in. How do I get in?
We've tried under, now we can give over a go. The rooftops are dense enough that you can jump to the top of the estate. Then you can go in through the chimney.
Head towards the "vault" area from the last job. Right before it, there's a wine cellar that's got a secret door. Go through it and find the real vault.
That's all I know. I'll be waiting for you here!
[This is the final thievery quest for Slim, and only unlocks after the Landsmeet if we've done all the precursor quests. As travelling to Redcliffe will start the endgame, we only have a narrow window to complete it in.
The rewards aren't remotely worth it, but completionism compels me onward.]
Wow, that sure was an exciting rooftop chase!
Ehen that dragon appeared, I thought we were lost.
Ay, and then when the fireworks started, I thought my head would explode.
They were spectacular. I sure hope that, in any hypothetical future retelling of our story, that entire sequence is included in as much fidelity as the narrator can muster, and it doesn't just cut anticlimatically from the map to us standing in front of a generic fireplace.
...Why did we climb down the chimney with the lit fire?
[We can stealth through this entire area, but fuck that and fuck these guys.]
[It's just generic troops in here, and you can steamroll through them without much effort. There's a lot of traps though. Ol' Franderel's a little paranoid it seems.]
Hey pal. Look up.
The vault door was here all along? How come we didn't notice it the last time we were here?
Is this your life? Thievery and murder? I wasn't expecting the Wardens to live up to their legend, but this is just sad.
What is sad is to be judged by a man who consorts with slavers and apostates.
We committed crimes to survive when you were Regent. This one though, this one is for honor. And fun.
Like the time we stole your crown.
Nobody step on that.
His Majesty the Lord Regent High Potentate Muck-a-Muck gets to carry the vases.
His former Majesty the Lord Regent isn't a dwarf's mule.
We don't need the vases, Oghren.
But what happens if I need to piss and there's no bushes nearby and I don't want to go in my pants again? What happens then?
Here we go.
I wonder what would happen if I poured these on Andraste's ashes.
BACK AT THE MARKET...
You did it! You really did it!
Tomorrow everyone will be talking about this. Bann Franderel will be humiliated.
Can I have the Tears? I've arranged an anonymous delivery to the Chantry.
Here you go. It better make it there safely.
[You can keep the Tears for yourself, but there's no reason to. You can't sell them or anything.]
It will, Warden.
It's been an honor. I wonder if history will ever know the full story of what weve done.
Look after yourself, Slim.
[We should get to know our new friend.]
I passed your test. Fate has a twisted sense of humor, it seems.
I suppose you think I'm some sort of monster. More so since I survived your ritual: you keep striking at me, and I just refuse to die decently.
I may have to resort to magic next.
Oh? What was all that nonsense with darkspawn blood and mages, then? A puppet show? It seems to me that magic has already failed.
I'd recommend a sharp knife in the kidneys next time. Less impressive, but it gets the job done.
The plan loses something when you're the one suggesting it.
I suppose it does lack the element of surprise. Well, what shall we do to settle things between us, then?
You cost me Alistair.
Yes, well, you can thank me for that later.
I don't know what concession you want from me, Warden. I expect my word will not satisfy you.
You're a Grey Warden now too, you know.
Indeed, I'd almost forgotten that. Thank you for the reminder.
Great. As if one Morrigan wasn't bad enough.
I think it's time we got to the point here: What do you want from me?
I can't imagine that you spared my life in the Landsmeet by accident. You have some plan in mind.
Death's too easy. Your sentence is life as a Grey Warden.
That's the harsher punishment, certainly, and I can hardly argue that it's more than I deserve.
I suppose I ought to be grateful. I have at least some chance now of putting right some of the things I have done.
Despite what we each wanted, we're both here now, facing the same enemy, and we can be of use to each other. However little we may enjoy that fact.
You're going to have to prove your worth here.
I never doubted that.
We should speak no more of this at present. Time's wasting.
Hm. What would you have done, if you'd won?
I suppose that depends on how much of the kingdom was left by then.
Once the border was secure, the army would have regrouped to push back the darkspawn in the south.
But the border was in no danger.
That's easy to say now. When Chevaliers were massing on our doorstep, things were a little less clear.
[I'm resisting the temptation to make a joke about walls. Big beautiful walls.]
In any case, there's no use discussing this. We have much work left to do.
I wanted to ask you something first.
Very well, then.
Were you really going to kill Anora?
Anora always did have a flair for the dramatic. She could have been a bard.
You didn't answer my question.
It's a foolish question. I'm sure you think me capable of every sort of evil, but Anora is my only child.
So I broke into the Arl's mansion for nothing?
Well... I'm sure having you come to her rescue gave Anora some pleasure.
What was Anora like as a child?
So far as anyone could tell, she was the undisputed monarch of the whole world.
She'd fall, skin her knees, and command them to stop stinging. It may have worked, too.
Did she have many friends?
Gwaren sits in between the Brecilian Forest and the sea. It's far from the old Tevinter roads. The village by our keep was never even as big as Redcliffe.
There were always a few children around. Charcoal burners' sons and daughters, mostly, or the children of servants. They formed into noisy gangs in the courtyard for their games.
But Anora never joined them.
I don't know. Children are, in some ways, vicious animals, forming packs and defending them from outsiders. Anora was always an outsider.
Oh great. She's probably going to be one of those 'reign of blood' monarchs.
If you're expecting some particular insight into my daughter's character, I'm afraid I'm probably not the best source. Im hardly impartial.
Well, she did double-cross you. I just wondered why.
You already know the answer to that: politics.
But this is not really the time or place to discuss my daughter. We have work to do.
Why do you hate Orlais so much?
Hate doesn't describe it.
I've seen painted, masked lords beat an old farmer to death with riding crops. To this day, I don't know why. Is that hate?
I saw good, sensible men fight armored Chevaliers with nothing-no weapons, no armies, not even hope of success--to see the occupation end. Is that hate?
It sounds like hate to me.
You won't believe me when I tell you this, but it doesn't matter. I never fought because I hated Orlais. This was for Maric and Ferelden.
You started a civil war for Ferelden?
I didn't want to start a war. I wanted to stop one.
I failed. So I suppose my intentions don't amount to much.
How well did you know King Maric?
He was my friend. If he'd wanted to conquer the Fade, I would have led the charge.
Been there, done that. How did you meet?
I was hunting--well, poaching, to be entirely honest--when a boy my own age came stumbling out of the woods.
He was so dirty, you'd have thought he'd been dug up out of the ground.
What was he running from?
The traitorous boot-lickers whod just murdered the queen. Though I didnt know it at the time.
He was bloody, exhausted, and obviously being hunted. I offered to take him to my father's camp.
That's it? That's the whole story?
I know a bard would make it out to be better, but it isn't a story to me. I lived it. There were no heroes or villains, no great deeds, no endings. happy or otherwise.
What made Maric such a great king?
There are men who inspire such devotion that everyone around would lay down their lives for him. And there are men who come and go from this world, and no one notes it.
What makes them so? Your guess is as good as mine. Maric was remarkable; that's all I can say of him.
Why didn't he acknowledge Alistair?
He nearly did.
Maric was never one to avoid his duty, and given his preference he would have acknowledged his son no matter the circumstance. But he had more than his honor to think of.
It would have ruined Rowan, after all. She'd be reduced to a concubine in the eyes of our neighbors, and put Cailans status as heir in question.
So Maric made the hard choice. Eamon offered to raise the boy, and that was that.
That's it? Honor and politics, and no concern for Alistair?
What do you think would have become of Alistair, if Maric had claimed him?
He would have been the bastard prince, and a continual reminder to Rowan of Maric's infidelity. At least with Eamon, Alistair had a childhood.
He was sent to a seminary before he was ten.
At least he survived. That's enough.
But we've been idle long enough. We should get moving.
It's... it's you! The Grey Warden!
It's me! The Grey Warden!
Andraste's mercy that you got here when you did! I thought for sure these monsters were going to get me!
What's happened? Where is everyone?
They all fled to the castle this morning, before the darkspawn arrived.
I thought I could make it to my home and back before they got here, but it took me too long to get down here. What a relief you arrived!
Are there more darkspawn at the castle?
By now, yes, they'd have reached the castle walls.
I'm going to get out of here before any more of those things arrive! Thank you again!
Just another day in Redcliffe, Ferelden's most perilous village.
[Dragon Age does something clever in the endgame areas- it introduces weaker 'grunt' variants of the standard darkspawn, and then throws them at you in huge numbers. These exist as cannon fodder for you to mow down, emphasising how strong the party is now.]
[Bianca can one shot the grunt enemies with her bow, meaning that with Rapid Fire mode on, she can wipe out an entire group before they reach the party. At last, archers become useful.]
[Once you wipe out the darkspawns in the town square, you can head up to the castle.]
That isn't a good sign.
[AoE spells also speed up these fights tremendously.]
[Another dozen or so guys spawn in behind you once you enter the castle courtyard. Things get hectic.]
I'm falling. I'm falling!
[This big boy with infinite boulders shows up when everything else is dead.]
Check out this shot.
My lady! You're here! Thank goodness!
Where is the Queen and Arl Eamon?
They are both inside with Riordan of the Grey Wardens, who arrived this morning just ahead of the darkspawn.
I was told that he has urgent news, and to send out patrols to watch for your arrival. Then we were attacked...
Riordan? What's he doing here?
I don't rightly know. Things happened so fast, I only know he was scouting in the south before he arrived.
Take me inside. There must be no more delays!
I should take you to the hall right away, my lady. They'll be waiting for you there.
It is a relief to see you unharmed. And you as well, Loghain.
Yes. What a pleasure to see you again.
[Loghain is a petty, sarcastic bitch in 90% of his interactions with anyone, and it's great.]
The darkspawn that attacked Redcliffe were relatively few in number, I'm afraid. It was assumed the horde was marching in this direction... but that is not true.
Riordan tells us that the bulk of the horde is, in fact, heading towards Denerim. They are perhaps two days away from the capital.
How certain are we that this is good information?
I ventured close enough to "listen in," as it were. I am quite certain.
Has word been sent to Denerim?
Word has been sent, but they need more than warning. They need our armies.
There is, I m afraid one other piece of news that is of even greater concern.
The archdemon has shown itself. The dragon is at the head of the horde.
Maker preserve us.
And we won't be able to reach Denerim within two days.
We must begin a forced march to the capital immediately, with what we have. Denerim must be defended at all costs.
[Cunning] The archdemon is what's important.
[Did that really need a cunning stat check?]
And only the Grey Wardens can defeat the archdemon. That is why we must go.
Then we march, and hope the army collected here gives you the chance you need.
Arl Eamon, how long before the army can set out?
By daybreak, your Majesty.
Then give the order. The longer we delay, the longer Denerim will be at the mercy of the horde.
We could leave now, without the army. They'd only slow us down.
To reach the archdemon, we need to break through the horde... to do that, we need the army. I see no other way.
I will give the orders at once, and will notify you the moment we are ready to march.
Then if you and Loghain could meet me before you retire, we have Grey Warden business to discuss.
I will have someone show you to your rooms. I suggest you all get some rest, while you can. We will need it.
The eve of battle...
The eve of three days marching more like.
Marrying Alistair to Anora... would not have been my first choice. Still, it does keep the Theirin bloodline alive, and Anora is a fine ruler.
So I suppose I owe you thanks, Warden. All of Ferelden does.
Shouldn't Alistair be staying here?
He insists on going. How can I say no?
I am... uneasy with the danger he puts himself in by accompanying you. I ask myself if he does not conspire to leave the throne to Anora after all.
But Alistair knows his duty, He will do what is best... right now he believes that is assisting you in contacting your allies.
Are there any other allies we can use?
We have sent messengers to Orlais. With any luck, the empress will send us help within a week.
I think it entirely possible, however, that she has written Ferelden off as a lost cause already and will seek to defend her Empire first.
Perhaps the Grey Wardens of Orlais will be able to march and reach us in time. We should not rely on their arrival, even so.
[It's the boys!]
And? What word have we from Orzammar? Has House Klaret sent their men or haven't they?
They're stalling. Which is as good as a no.
House Klaret's feud with House Rumold has ﬂared up again since their son died in that Deep Roads business. So naturally they're pleading the need for self-defense.
Hmph! Fine time to start with that nonsense again. I've half a mind to--oh, evening to you, Grey Warden. I didn't realize you were still up and about.
Is there a depressingly predictable problem with the dwarven forces?
Nothing that can be dealt with now, I'm afraid. Just one of the houses being thicker than the stone that made them.
Once all of this Blight business is done, there will be a reckoning in the Assembly.
They're probably half-hoping we'll all wind up dead. That way, they'll have one of the strongest forces left in Orzammar.
Enough to face the darkspawn all on their own, I suppose? That's exactly the kind of half-arsed thinking that got us into the mess after Endrin passed.
Dwarves gotta dwarf.
It was our good fortune that you decided to return home when you did, Grey Warden. For all that you needed our help, I expect we needed yours more.
Carry on, men.
Right, off to camp with both of you. And keep the drunkenness to a minimum. We've a long way to go yet.
Pleasant evening to you, Grey Warden, and good fortune on the field of battle.
[We can find Riordan upstairs.]
You are both here. Good.
You are new to the Grey Wardens, and you may not have been told how an archdemon is slain. I need to know if that is so.
It is, indeed. I, for one, am most intrigued to hear this.
So it is true. Duncan had not yet told you. I had simply assumed...
Tell me, have you ever wondered why the Grey Wardens are needed to defeat the darkspawn?
I assume it has something to do with the taint in us. It seems useless for anything else.
That is exactly what it involves.
The archdemon may be slain as any other darkspawn, but should any other than a Grey Warden do the slaying, it will not be enough.
The essence of the beast will pass through the taint to the nearest darkspawn and will be reborn anew in that body. The dragon is thus all but immortal.
But if the archdemon is slain by a Grey Warden... its essence travels into the Grey Warden, instead.
And... what happens to that Grey Warden?
A darkspawn is an empty, soulless vessel, but a Grey Warden is not. The essence of the archdemon is destroyed... and so is the Grey Warden.
...The Grey Warden that kills the archdemon perishes.
Yes. Without the archdemon, the Blight ends. It is the only way.
Is there no other way? Must a Grey Warden die?
As far as we know, the transfer of the archdemon's essence is automatic. If one of us is not present when the killing blow is made, it is all for nothing.
There is no other way. For what it's worth, I'm sorry.
Why is this such a secret? Why doesn't everyone know this?
We keep it secret for the same reason the Joining is kept secret. Who would become a Grey Warden if they knew the end that might await them?
There have been five Blights in 1000 years. The odds are pretty good that your average Warden isn't going to be on Archdemon duty.
Yes, but 'Kill a God and Live to Boast About It' is on all our recruitment literature. There must be Grey Wardens. Without us, there is no hope.
So it's up to three of us to kill this thing.
In Blights past, when the time came, the eldest of the Grey Wardens would decide which amongst them would take that final blow.
If possible, the final blow should be mine to make. I am the eldest, and the taint will not spare me much longer.
But if I fail, the deed falls on you. The Blight must be stopped now or it will destroy all of Ferelden before the rest of the Grey Wardens can assemble. Remember that.
But enough. There will be much to do tomorrow and little enough time to rest before it. I will let you return to your rooms.
Then this will be dealt with soon, one way or the other.
So it will. Let us hope it ends for the better.
[Two last chats before the evening ends.]
[The game doesn't prompt you, but if you seek out Loghain (or Alistair in an alternative timeline) immediately after talking with Riordan you get a unique conversation with him.]
One life. After all this trouble, it seems like such a small thing to give up to see this land safe, doesn't it?
It's hardly a small price.
You think so? I suppose you've never been a soldier. The currency of war is life. You pay it and pray that the outcome is worthwhile.
Easy to say when the life's not yours.
You think so, do you? Curiously, it's harder to send another man to die.
It's easy to die for your cause. Sometimes men do it without even knowing. It's so much harder to live for it, bearing the weight of the dead.
There has to be a better way to end this.
And if there isn't? Do we refuse to accept this solution because it doesn't suit us?
There's much more at stake than our own lives. And should it come to that...
If anyone should make this sacrifice, it ought to be me. Maker knows, I have enough to atone for.
But what about Anora?
She's always been a very practical child. I'm sure she'll find a way to turn it to her political advantage.
There is, however, no use worrying about what may be. We'll have to wait and see what comes.
[Time to turn in for the night.]
Do not be alarmed. It is only I.
Don't you have your own bedroom?
I decided that it was time we spoke.
I have a plan, you see. A way out. The loop in your hole.
A what in my hole?
I know what happens when the archdemon dies. I know a Grey Warden must be sacrificed, and that sacrifice could be you. I have come to tell you this does not need to be.
And how do you know about this? Listening at keyholes again?
I know a great many things. How I know is not quite as important as what I am offering you, however.
I offer a way out. A way out for all the Grey Wardens, that there need be no sacrifice.
A ritual...performed on the eve of battle, in the dark of night.
Just what sort of ritual is this?
It is old magic, from a time before the Circle of Magi was created.
Some might call it blood magic, but that is but a name. There is far more to fear in this world than names.
Like a angry demon turning your skin into a jacket. From where did you get this ritual, Morrigan?
From Flemeth, of course. I have known about it for some time.
So you knew about the sacrifice before Riordan told me?
I did. Would you have believed me if I had been the one to tell you? I have my doubts.
Nothing comes without a price.
Perhaps. But that price need not be so unbearable, especially if there is much to be gained.
All I ask is that you listen to what I have offer, nothing more.
Very well. What is your plan?
What I propose is this: convince Loghain to lay with me. Here, tonight. And from this ritual a child shall be conceived within me.
The child will bear the taint, and when the archdemon is slain, its essence will seek the child like a beacon.
At this early stage, the child can absorb that essence and not perish. The archdemon is still destroyed, with no Grey Warden dying in the process.
So the child becomes a darkspawn? That sounds... uncomfortable.
Not at all. It will become something different: a child born with the soul of an Old God.
After this is done, you allow me to walk away... and you do not follow. Ever. The child will be mine to raise as I wish.
Wait... I want to know more about this child.
As you wish.
Will the child be evil? What will it become?
Allow me to say that what I seek is the essence of the Old God that once was and not the dark forces that corrupted it.
Some things are worth preserving in thisworld. Make of that what you will.
What do you intend to do with this child?
I do not wish to tell you.
I insist. I need to know what you plan.
The child will represent freedom for an ancient power, a chance to be reborn apart from the taint. Is that not reason enough to do it?
I will raise the child apart from the rest of society, and teach it to respect that from which it came. Beyond that you need know nothing else.
Another non-answer. How do you even know this will work?
This is what my mother intended when she sent me with you. She was the one who first gave me this ritual and told me of what I was meant to do.
This does not surprise you, does it? Did you not wonder why Flemeth saved your life, why she aided you? This is why.
What is important is that I am offering this to you now. It will work and it will save your life.
Why Loghain? Why not Riordan?
Even if I thought Riordan could be convinced, he is unsuitable. I need one who has not been tainted for long-- it must be him, and it must be tonight.
You actually think Loghain will agree to this?
Because he is bound to obey you, he will comply.
I can't just order him to do this, Morrigan. It's disturbing that you think I can.
Consider the alternative. If Riordan fails, do you think Loghain will hesitate? He will die, redeemed as the hero he wished to be rather than the villain he deserves to be.
And you? Will they remember you, do you think? Or will you be just another Grey Warden who accompanied the Great Loghain?
If you would rather, consider Zevran. What do you think he would advise, if he knew the life of his beloved was at risk? I think you know.
I think you have many good reasons to tell him to save his own life. I think you should consider them carefully.
IT'S THE FINAL VOTE!
A shocking revelation and a surprising offer. If Riordan can't kill the archdemon, who gets the honor? Is Morrigan's ritual worth it? How would we even know?
The decision is yours, LP pals.
A. Sacrifice Bianca.
B. Sacrifice Loghain.
C. Do the Ritual.
Voting closes in 72 hours.
NEXT TIME: Archdemon: Final Wars