Part 117: Is This The Way To Amaranthine?PART 117: IS THIS THE WAY TO AMARANTHINE?
Bianca has liberated Vigil's Keep and taken her place as Commander of the Grey. Now she has decisions to make about soldiers and logistics and stuff. Also, the local aristocracy is trying to have her killed...
Let me know if you want the nobles cleared out. Er, if you want the ceremony to end, I mean.
Eddelbrek said we're not defending the farmlands.
Eddelbrek speaks truly, ser. But things are dire.
He and Bann Esmerelle both contest the deployment of soldiers.
[In this scenario, Bann Esmerelle is City Hall, we're the Statehouse, and Eddelbrek is Big Farm. And you all voted to help Big Farm, you corporate shills.]
But we don't have enough men. It's a matter of what you want to protect. The city? The land? Trade?
Amaranthine has its walls. Let the farms have our soldiers.
As you wish.
Also, I have heard of a conspiracy against me.
Do you know the conspirators? The right of high justice is yours. and treachery is a capital offense.
Ser Tamra doesn't know. She's bringing some evidence.
Shes a sly one. Ser Tamra. But knowledgeable about such things.
Better to be a touch paranoid than turning up face down in a ditch.
I see you're familiar with the Aeducan family motto.
To proceed, we'd need strong proof. And that'll be hard to gather.
There are options. Some I would not recommend; they could turn the nobles fierce.
Tell me about them.
We could have some soldiers try to spy on the nobility. I suppose that might bear fruit.
[You can't actually do this, I assume this option was ditched for time.]
There are also rumors of someone called the Dark Wolf who ﬁnds information for a fee.
Dangerous fellow, by all accounts.
(Lie) Dark Wolf? I've never been involved with that.
Sort of an infamous figure. Caused a load of trouble to nobles in Denerim.
They certainly sound like an heroic, charismatic individual. I can't imagine how many daring escapades they were involved in.
They say he fled to the foreign quarter in Amaranthine to escape royal justice.
What else we got? What wouldn't you recommend?
You could invite a member of each of the noble families to stay as prolonged "guests."
And if anything untowards happens... well, you get the picture.
It's a terribly Orlesian thing to do.
[Amusingly, this is actually the best option. It requires no effort, costs no money, stops the conspiracy in its tracks, and has no negative consequences at all. Bioware sez: hostage-taking is both cool and useful.
We're going to go hunt the Wolf though, as Bianca's never been about taking the easy path.]
Sounds awesome, but I'm curious about this imposter Wolf.
Impressive. I meant to say 'impressive'. Did I say imposter? Ha, ha, ha, how silly of me. Ahem. I'll see if I can find this Dark Wolf.
You need to head to the city, then. And chase down a ghost.
Piece of cake. Time to get started. This ceremony has gone on long enough, Seneschal.
As you wish, Commander.
Clear the hall; the commander has business to attend to!
[The nobles have all slunk back to their lairs and we're free to adventure once more.
Let's chat with our new friend Nathaniel first. This following conversation unlocked after we found his grandfather's bow in the basement last update.]
You know, I'm actually not the first Howe to be a Grey Warden.
Carrying on the family tradition, then?
Following in my grandfather's footsteps, more like.
His name was Padric Howe. He joined the order before it returned to Ferelden, just after the war.
Never contacted his family again, just vanished. Now that I know about the Joining, I think he died.
Many good men and women die in the Joining. Like Mhairi and... that thief guy... and... Joey?
I know that now.
Father always said he was a horrible man for abandoning the family to join a pointless cause.
I grew up ashamed of my grandfather, but now I see his bravery. That will take some getting used to.
The only shame was your father's.
My father often forgot that "nobility" has another meaning.
[Nathaniel has a schizophrenic attitude to old Arl Howe, sometimes he's weirdly defensive of him, othertimes he seems to know exactly who he was. Bad writing or inner conflict?]
I told you that the bow you gave me was my grandfather's, didn't I? Thank you for that.
At any rate, we should probably get back to it. There are darkspawn to kill, I'll bet. Somewhere.
Yeah. You get Anders, I'll go unearth Oghren.
(Belches) Hey... I gotta... I gotta thank you for saving my hide today.
There was that guy... and he was all "Grrr!" and I was "Harrr!" but then I got hit by an arrow.
And then I fell over... It was "Meep!' but you were there and you were all "Rawrrr!"
I don't remember any of that but... Happy to help.
I'm gonna drink to you, Commander! Here's to the... here's to the...
(He passes out.)
I'm not picking you up.
[Last time we found an ore deposit in the castle basements, so let's cash that in with the armor guys.]
You're back. You need anything?
I found an ore deposit.
This will help a great deal.
Armor and weapons could be made with this.
Commander, if you like, we could outfit your men.
It wouldn't cost you anything, but some soldiers would have to guard the miners.
[This is, I think, a false choice. You don't seemingly suffer any penalties for sending guards. Awakening is a mess of bugs though and no-one quite understands how everything links together, so I could be wrong.]
You'll have your guards. My men need better gear.
So I'm to make armor for all Amaranthine's rabble? Herren, you abuse me so. It's unconscionable.
Fine, fine. I'll work. But I want a challenge one day. Something to sink my teeth into.
You know, Nathaniel, you're just like me.
Am I now?
I hope you have a point, Anders.
It's like you're a mage! If there were more Howes, they'd lock all of you up in a tower to protect everyone else!
A thrilling analogy.
New rules. We don't talk about politics, religion, or Oghren.
I set fire to a priest once.
[Pass through the gate to the eastern courtyard with Nathaniel in your party, and this conversation starts.]
Samuel? Groundskeeper Samuel? Is that you?
Who.. .? Maker's breath, if it isn't little Nate! I'd know that face anywhere!
Groundskeeper, I'm overjoyed that you stayed on. Please, do you know how my brother died?
And my sister? I... was in the Free Marches.
Your brother died in the war, but Lady Delilah... don't you know? She isn't dead, son, not that I know of.
Last I heard, she married a storekeep in Amaranthine. Dont know which one. Poor girl. I mean, joining the petit bourgeoise. Horrifying.
Did you hear that? My sister's alive! And middle class!
Why did you think she was dead?
I knew about my mother, and heard my brother might be dead. I suppose... I just assumed that Delilah was dead, too.
Could we ask around the shops, next time we're in Amaranthine?
We could take a look, yes.
Thank you. I would be interested to know just what happened to her.
[Also in the eastern courtyard is Awakening's Secret Best Character. Can you spot them in the above image?]
Hungry, little fella?
Come on, kitty. Although if you start talking, I'm dropping you in a river.
(Take the cat with you.)
[You might notice that the kitten is a gift. Which party member do you think could take care of a cat?]
[No, think harder.]
Oh! Look at the cute little kitty!
There was a mouser in the tower named Mr. Wiggums. Only company I had when the templars locked me up.
Miss that beast a lot, sometimes. But I can't keep a cat. We fight darkspawn for a living.
He can stay at the keep, then.
Well, I'll keep him just for a while. Until I find somewhere safer. Is that okay with you, kitty?
I'll call you Ser Pounce-a-lot! You can stay in my pack. Just for a little while, yes.
[Beneath Anders' wannabe revolutionary exterior beats the heart of a crazy cat lady. He gets +15 approval points from being given Ser Pounce-a-lot. The kitten stays in your inventory and Anders will play with his kitty if you activate the good Ser.
A secret bonus ability that the game does not tell you about is that this will also resurrect any dead party members. No, I don't know how this works. probably.]
[Time to hit the high road.]
[This is the little corner of Ferelden that Awakening takes place in. The Arling of Amaranthine, containing the city of Amaranthine, next to the Amaranthine Ocean. Amaranthine. Amaranthineeeee!!!]
[Compared to the map from Origins, you can see that Denerim has mysteriously moved about a hundred miles south. Also, you'd think we'd have more support given that we're sandwiched between the capital city and the richest province (Highever, which is just to the west).]
[We have a job to do on the Turnoble Estate, from which we recieved a desperate letter in the last update.]
[This is one of the Letters for the Commander sidequests that the soldier outside our keep will have for us occasionally. Seems simple enough.]
[Or maybe not.]
[This mission is in a wide open area, so it's easy to pull enemies away from their packs by sniping them at long range.]
[At least until they use Rain of Arrows, one of the new Archery talents in Awakenings. Anders is about to have a real bad time. But at least it gives me an excuse to talk about the new Rogue abilities!]
[Rogues get one additional 'generic' talent tree, one new dual weapon tree and one new archery tree.
The generic talents are Heartseeker (instantly kills anything with less than 250HP and crits anything over that), Ghost (evades all physical attacks for a short time), Weak Points (target takes more damage from all attacks for a time) and Flicker (attacks all targets in a zone).
These are all useful and good, apart from Flicker (there are way better AoEs). Ghost in particular is a great panic button ability.]
[The new Dual Weapon talents are Twin Strikes (2x critical hits), Find Vitals (passive boost to crits), Low Blow (slows an enemy) and Unending Flurry (rogue starts repeatedly attacking an enemy very quickly and doesn't stop until the enemy dies or flees or they miss).
The most interesting thing about these abilities is that they were designed to synergise- using Low Blow after Twin Strikes immobilises an enemy instead of just slowing it. Using Unending Flurry after Twin Strikes and Low Blow turns every attack in the Flurry into a Critical Hit. This is broken AF.]
[Lastly, the new Archery tree. Accuracy (sustained buff to everything, scales with DEX), Arrow Time (bullet time, baby), Bust Shot (triple critical hit to single target, plus scatter damage) and Rain of Arrows (powerful AoE.)
Archers were always the red-headed stepchildren of Dragon Age, so all these new abilities are good and welcome. Accuracy means Bianca is critting a lot more than in the main campaign, Burst Shot is a great burst damage attack and Rain of Arrows gives Bianca an actual AoE attack.]
Why were we here again? ...Oh, right.
[We pick up our mission rewards from the rotting corpse of the woman we were trying to save. ]
[Nearby is the corpse of a templar, who gives us the...]
We've done all we can.
Which was very little.
Nice boots though.
[One other side mission to complete before heading to Amaranthine.]
It's certainly forlorn. Maybe even miserable. Miserable Cove.
[We've been to Forlorn Cove once before. Bonus marks to the person who can remember when.]
Another step and poor lady Eileen dies.
Where's Lord Beasley? The deal was he'd give us the money himself.
You won't see a sovereign until I see the girl.
Hawk, show her.
Hand over the gold. Now.
(Persuade) Send the girl first. Then I give you the money.
Hawk, send her over.
Thank you, Hawk.
The money. Now.
The girl standing next to you!
The girl standing behind me and my heavily armed colleagues?
The girl standing behind you and...
[And then they all died for being stupid.]
We're not going after her?
I'm sure the rich, defenceless young woman will be just fine in these darkspawn soaked wastelands. We need to be elsewhere.
[Our reward is this shiny new knife! Also, Lord Beasly promised us a sack of cash for saving his daughter, so we've got that to look forward to.]
[Only other thing of note is this weirdly anachronistic buoy. I'm pretty sure quasi-medieval fantasy times didn't have the maritime engineering nous to produce something like this. Damn Bioware hacks showing once more their woeful knowledge about naval architecture.]
[Onward to Amaranthine! Time to enjoy the...um... refugees and despair.]
[Amaranthine is a walled city, which gives it a more claustrophobic feel than Denerim. Everything's piled up on top of itself.]
I have a business proposal. Look for me by the house near the gates. I promise it will be worthwhile.
Oh man, we totally forget to take his head when we killed him. We could've showed it at the Landsmeet! That would've been awesome!
[The shady fellow who spoke to us lurks nearby.]
Ah, Warden-Commander. I knew you'd come. You know an opportunity when it presents itself, no?
I offer a partnership that would benefit us both.
I fail to see how working with you could benefit me. You smell of hay and your moustache screams betrayal.
There have been problems with trade, as I'm sure you're aware.
Problems like the darkspawn eating all the traders.
However, my associates, though certain channels, are able to bring supplies into Amaranthine.
There is some profit in this, and as the ruler of these lands, we believe you are entitled to a cut.
All right. Where's my cut?
Before we speak of that, we require a small favor.
The bartender at a local inn has overstepped his bounds.
He was hired to watch one of the entrances to our den, but now seeks to extort more coin. Terrible, isn't it?
You just can't get the staff.
A person of your inﬂuence would have no trouble convincing him to open the passage.
The bartender and I will have a talk.
Return to me when this is done.
[Welp, we've been here five minutes and we're already knees deep in a criminal conspiracy. Thaaaaat's Dragon Age!]
It's idiotic. I am not about to transform into an abomination simply for being a Howe.
I didn't say it was a perfect analogy...
Being a Howe also does not allow me to control your mind.
Kind of missing my point, aren't you?
I am not a fan of over-simplifications.
Fine, fine. Your loss.
You could be infected!
But they don't look infected. And he has children...
Look, we let some in, we'll have all the rest scratching at our eyes. No exceptions!
Maker spit on you, you heartless bastard!
My pardon, ser. I was paid a whole sovereign to give this letter to you.
I told him, I did, there are easier ways of getting a message to the Commander of the Grey.
Who gave this to you?
Some visiting knight. Didn't catch his face. Full helm, you know.
He said he was Ser Wolf of Rivain.
The White Wolf of Rivia?!
Wait, wolf? As in the Dark Wolf?
Ah, the Dark Wolf's nothing but a rumor! Mind you... he was acting suspicious...
Do you remember anything about Ser Wolf?
No ser. Again, my pardon.
How did this fake Wolf know I was hunting for him before I did?
Stop right there!
Excuse me, but I need to search your packs for smuggled goods.
I am the Warden-Commander of Vigil's Keep.
But I have to! Constable's orders. We've been having trouble with smugglers and
What are you doing, man? Are you accusing the Commander of the Grey of smuggling?
But I... I... you said everyone--
Yes, how dare you suggest that I, Bianca, would ever be involved with criminal activity.
You are dismissed.
I apologize. Smugglers and thieves have all but taken over the city.
Glad to see you're taking precautions.
Yes, Warden-Commander. The smugglers have us scrambling, to be honest.
We could certainly use your help in this. Come speak to me later if you're interested.
I always enjoy an opportunity to help the law, officer.
NEXT TIME: Lovable orphans, worrying rashes, and a whole lot of blood.
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
The Port City of Amaranthine