Part 12: Join The Grey Wardens, They SaidPART 12: JOIN THE GREY WARDENS, THEY SAID. SEE THE WORLD, THEY SAID.
On a mission to recover ancient treaties from a ruined tower, our heroes have encountered a mysterious witch...
What say you, hmm? Scavenger or intruder?
I am neither. The Grey Wardens once owned this tower.
Tis a tower no longer. The Wilds have obviously claimed this desiccated corpse.
We're in the middle of a swamp. Desiccated would be an improvement.
I have watched your progress for some time. Where do they go," I wondered, "why are they here?
And now you disturb ashes none have touched for so long. Why is that?
Don't answer her. She looks Chasind; and that means others may be nearby.
You fear barbarians will swoop down upon you?
Yes, swooping is bad.
She's a Witch of the Wilds, she is! She'll turn us into toads!
Witch of the Wilds? Such idle fancies, those legends. Have you no minds of your own?
You there, dwarf. You have nothing to fear from any witch. Tell me your name and I shall tell you mine. Let us be civilized.
You can call me Bianca. If you'll be my bodyguard, and I can be your long lost pal.
And you may call me Morrigan, if you wish.
[Morrigan is the name of an ancient Celtic deity, often described as a goddess of war and death; using crafty magic to turn the tides of battle and forsee men's deaths. She's commonly associated with crows, hence the feathers on this Morrigan's pauldron.
While reading up on the legend, I found that there are a pair of hills in County Meath, Ireland called Dá Chich na Morrigna - Two Breasts of the Mórrígan. Further research led me to one of Wikipedia's sauciest pages. Then I needed to go have a cold shower.
Anyway, where were we?]
Shall I guess your purpose? You sought something in that chest, something that is here no longer?
"Here no longer?" You stole them, didn't you? You're... some kind of... sneaky... witch-thief!
How very eloquent. How does one steal from dead men?
Quite easily, it seems. Those documents are Grey Warden property, and I suggest you return them.
I will not, for 'twas not I who removed them. Invoke a name that means nothing here any longer if you wish; I am not threatened.
Then who removed them?
Twas my mother, in fact.
Your mother? Metal Gear?
Yes, my mother. Did you assume I spawned from a log?
A thieving, weird-talking log, perhaps.
Not all in the wilds are monsters. Flowers grow, as well as toads.
If you wish, I will take you to my mother. 'Tis not far from here, and you may ask her for your papers, if you like.
We should get those treaties, but I dislike this... Morrigan's sudden appearance. It's too convenient.
Hmm...Tell us more about your mother, first.
She prefers her privacy, but I imagine she will be curious enough why you are here. Come. See for yourself.
Why are you interested in helping us?
Why not? I do not meet many people here. Are you all so mistrustful?
...I say we go with her.
[As this is a gritty extreme RPG, fighting covers your characters with enemy blood. As this isn't Bloodborne, blood spatter is shown by applying an identical texture to every character, regardless of their size or fighting style.]
She'll put us all in the pot, she will. Just you watch.
If the pot's warmer than this forest, it'd be a nice change.
Follow me, then, if it pleases you.
Greetings, Mother. I bring before you four Grey Wardens who--
I see them, girl. Mmm. Much as I expected.
Are we supposed to believe you were expecting us?
[Morrigan's mother is voiced by Kate Janeway Mulgrew. She does pretty great work as a crazy old woman.]
You are required to do nothing, least of all believe. Shut one's eyes tight or open one's arms wide... either way, one's a fool!
She's a witch, I tell you! We shouldn't be talking to her!
Quiet, Daveth! If she's really a witch, do you want to make her mad?
There is a smart lad. Sadly irrelevant to the larger scheme of things, but it is not I who decides. Believe what you will.
And what of you? Does your dwarven mind give you a different viewpoint? What do you believe?
I'm no fool, if that's what you're asking.
*Laughs* If you must protest so quickly, perhaps I need not ask?
So much about you is uncertain... and yet I believe. Do I? Why, it seems I do!
So this is a dreaded Witch of the Wilds?
Witch of the Wilds, eh? Morrigan must have told you that. She fancies such tales, though she would never admit it! Oh, how she dances under the moon! *Laughs*
They did not come to listen to your wild tales, Mother.
True, they came for their treaties, yes? And before you begin barking, your precious seal wore off long ago. I have protected these.
You... oh. You protected them?
And why not? Take them to your Grey Wardens and tell them this Blight's threat is greater than they realize!
Wait, wait, wait. No one makes hazily ominous foreshadowing in my presence.
What do you mean the threat is greater than they realize?
Either the threat is more or they realize less. Or perhaps the threat is nothing! Or perhaps they realize nothing! *Laughs*
Great. That's cleared everything up, thanks.
Oh, do not mind me. You have what you came for!
Time for you to go, then.
Do not be ridiculous, girl. These are your guests.
Oh, very well. I will show you out of the woods. Follow me.
BACK AT OSTAGAR...
[You're sent back to Ostagar once the conversation ends. We can't return to the Wilds now, so good job we completed all those boring quests before talking with Morrigan.
Also, Ostagar after dark is technically a different map from Ostagar in the day. This means the Quartermaster's stock has been replenished and we can steal from all the NPCs again.]
Told you we'd get back safe.
So the dreaded Witch of the Wilds turned out to be... really helpful.
She's probably playing a long game. Scheming up some curses or something.
The mabari is stable for now, but not improving. Unless I get that herb I told you about, there's not much hope.
Look what we found. Is this the ﬂower you're looking for?
Let me see... yes, that's exactly it, wonderful! Give me a moment and I'll make this into an ointment.
*a moment passes*
He looks better already. I'm sure he'd thank you himself, if he could.
What will happen to him now?
Let's give him a day or two to recover.
Why not come back after the battle? Perhaps we can see about imprinting him on you.
You think that's possible?
Maybe. It's likely he understands you're responsible for curing him. Mabari are at least as smart as your average tax collector.
Come back after the battle and just... take another look.
[Besides wrapping up the dog sidequest we can also finally unlock this chest. You know, the one where we got the key from the ass of a condemned man.]
[We get some potions and some mage hats. We also get an Injury Kit, which exists due to the game's combat death mechanic.
If a character is reduced to 0 HP in a fight, they get resurrected when the fight is over with an Injury. This is a permanent debuff that reduces one of their stats by a small amount; for example, a concussion reduces cunning while a fractured leg reduces dexterity. Exactly which injury you get is random, so you can get lucky and take injuries that don't affect your characters' primary statistics, like a warrior picking up a magic debuff. Injuries only affect combat, so you don't get the delight of a heavily concussed protagonist trying to navigate a dialogue tree.
Injuries can be removed by using one-shot injury kits, or by resting at a camp, although there are a few long stretches (such as this prologue) where camps are unavailable. Or you could play in Easy difficulty, where injuries don't exist.
I like the injury mechanic, it punishes you for getting people killed, but not so severely as to break the game if you have a few bad fights.]
So you return from the Wilds. Have you been successful?
Not that it was easy, but yes.
Good. I've had the Circle mages preparing. With the blood you've retrieved, we can begin the Joining immediately.
Maybe we should tell you about Morrigan and her mother.
There was a woman at the tower and her mother had the scrolls. They were both very... odd. And badly dressed.
Were they Wilder folk?
I don't think so. They might be apostates: mages hiding from the Chantry.
I know you were once a templar, Alistair, but Chantry business is not ours. We have the scrolls; let us focus on the Joining.
Now will you tell us what this ritual is about?
I will not lie; we Grey Wardens pay a heavy price to become what we are. Fate may decree that you pay your price now rather than later.
You're saying this ritual can kill us?
As could any darkspawn you might face in battle. You would not have been chosen, however, if I did not think you had a chance to survive.
Let's go, then. I'm anxious to see this Joining now.
I agree. Let's have it done.
Then let us begin. Alistair, take them to the old temple.
The more I hear about this Joining, the less I like it.
Are you blubbering again?
Why all these damned tests? Have I not earned my place?
Maybe it's tradition. Maybe they're just trying to annoy you. That's what I'd do, if I was Duncan.
Calm down. There's nothing we can do about it now.
I only know that my wife is in Highever with a child on the way. If they had warned me... it just doesn't seem fair.
Would you have come if they'd warned you? Maybe that's why they don't. The Wardens do what they must, right?
Including sacrificing us?
I'd sacrifice a lot more if I knew it would end the Blight.
But we don't know that, Daveth. I didn't come all this way to be anyone's sacrifice.
Don't we? The Grey Wardens have saved the world from darkspawn before. I'd say they know better than anyone what it takes.
You saw those darkspawn, ser knight. Wouldn't you die to protect your pretty wife from them?
Maybe you'll die. Maybe we'll all die. If nobody stops the darkspawn, we'll die for sure.
I've just never faced a foe I could not engage with my blade.
[VIDEO: The Joining]
At last we come to the Joining.
The Grey Wardens were founded during the first Blight, when humanity stood on the verge of annihilation.
So it was that the first Grey Wardens drank of darkspawn blood and mastered their taint.
We're... going to drink the blood of those... those creatures?
As the first Grey Wardens did before us, as we did before you. This is the source of our power and our victory.
Those who survive the Joining become immune to the taint. We can sense it in the darkspawn and use it to slay the archdemon.
Those who survive?
Not all who drink the blood will survive and those who do are forever changed. This is why the Joining is a secret. It is the price we pay.
We speak only a few words prior to the Joining, but these words have been said since the first. Alistair, if you would?
Join us, brothers and sisters. Join us in the shadows where we stand, vigilant. Join us as we carry the duty that cannot be forsworn.
And should you perish, know that your sacrifice will not be forgotten and that one day we shall join you.
That's all folks.
Daveth, step forward.
I am sorry, Daveth.
Step forward, Jory.
But... I have a wife. A child! Had I known...
No! You ask too much! There is no glory in this!
I am sorry.
But the Joining is not yet complete.
You are called upon to submit yourself to the taint for the greater good.
From this moment forth, you are a Grey Warden.
NEXT TIME: Everyone's dead and we're all doomed