Part 16: Getting On With ItPART 16: GETTING ON WITH IT
A few days have passed since the Battle of Ostagar...
Arrows! ...Wait. Where am I?
Ah, your eyes finally open. Mother shall be pleased.
...Morrigan? What happened to the darkspawn?
You were injured, and then Mother rescued you. Do you not remember?
I remember being overwhelmed by darkspawn...
Mother managed to save you and your friend, though 'twas a close call. What is important is that you both live.
Which do you think? The one with a name.
The man who was to respond to your signal quit the field. The darkspawn won your battle.
Those he abandoned were massacred. Your friend... he is not taking it well.
Neither am I! This is horrible!
Of that I have no doubt. Your friend has been inconsolable since Mother told him the news.
He is outside, by the fire. Mother asked to see you when you awoke.
...At least we're alive. Still. Thank you for helping me, Morrigan.
I... you are welcome, though Mother did most of the work. I am no healer.
Were my injuries severe?
Yes, but I expect you shall be fine. The darkspawn did nothing Mother could not heal.
Why does your mother want to see me?
I do not know. She rarely tells me her plans.
Oh good. I have some questions, if you don't mind.
I do not mind. Take your time. I enjoy expositioning.
Why did your mother save us?
I wonder at that myself, but she tells me nothing. Perhaps you were the only ones she could reach.
I would have rescued your king. A king would be worth a much higher ransom than you.
I happen to be of royal blood, you know.
Yet now you are a surface dwarf. My king's ransom might be a long time coming.
You are depressingly well-informed for a creepy lady who lives in a swamp.
So... How did your mother rescue us, exactly? I don't picture her carving a swathe through the horde.
She turned into a giant bird and plucked the two of you from atop the tower, one in each talon.
If you do not believe that tale, then I suggest you ask Mother yourself. She may even tell you.
I'm going to choose to believe it, mostly because it sounds pretty rad.
Are we safe here? Where are the darkspawn?
We are safe, for the moment. Mother's magic keeps the darkspawn away.
Once you leave, 'tis uncertain what will happen. The horde has moved on, so you might avoid it.
Are there any survivors besides us?
Only stragglers that are long gone. You would not want to see what is happening in that valley now.
Sure wouldn't. I've heard stories about darkspawn victory celebrations.
...Why did Teyrn Loghain abandon the king?
I do not know who this Loghain even is. Perhaps ask Mother of it.
I think I've asked enough questions. For this conversation at least.
I agree. 'Tis time you speak with Mother, then be on your way.
You dress yourself remarkably quickly.
Old dwarven trick. Useful for avoiding awkward morning conversations.
[The shack contains nothing of interest, apart from a set of well-organised bookshelves.
Let's go outside and check on Alistair.]
See? Here is your fellow Grey Warden. You worry too much, young man.
You... you're alive! I thought you were dead for sure.
It takes more than a few darkspawn to kill me.
Duncan's dead. The Grey Wardens, Tower Guard, Circle Mage, even the king... They're all dead.
This doesn't seem real. If it weren't for Morrigan's mother, we'd be dead on top of that tower.
Do not talk about me as if I am not present, lad.
I didn't mean... but what do we call you? You never told us your name.
Names are pretty, but useless. The Chasind folk call me Flemeth. I suppose it will do.
The Flemeth from the legends? Daveth was right-you're the Witch of the wilds, aren't you?
And what does that mean? I know a bit of magic, and it has served you both well, has it not?
I suppose we should thank you.
If you know what is good for you, I suppose you should!
If you're Flemeth, you must be very old and powerful.
I dunno. I've never heard of you before. But from how Alistair's acting, I'm guessing you're meant to be a big deal.
Age and power are relative--it depends on who is asking. Compared to you, yes, on both counts.
Then why didn't you save Duncan? He is... he was our leader.
I am sorry for your Duncan but your grief must come later... in the dark shadows, before you take vengeance, as my mother once said. Duty must come now.
It has always been the Grey Warden's duty to unite the lands against the Blight. Or did that change when I wasn't looking?
It changed when most of them were slaughtered.
If you think small numbers make you helpless, you are already defeated.
But we were fighting the darkspawn! The king had nearly defeated them! Why would Loghain do this?
Now that is a good question. Men's hearts hold shadows darker than any tainted creature.
Perhaps he believes the Blight is an army he can outmaneuver. Perhaps he does not see that the evil behind it is the true threat.
[There is an interesting bit of semantics here. The leader of the darkspawn is referred to as an archdemon. But the darkspawn aren't demons- demons are something completely different in the world of Dragon Age. I don't think the reasoning for the name has ever been explained.
It would have been a lot less silly had they just called the darkspawn demons. Darkspawn ranks pretty high on the big list of Stupid Fantasy Monster Names, right up there with owlbear and dire badger.]
What could the teyrn hope to gain by betraying the king?
The throne? He's the queen's father.
Really? Really?! This is the second time recently I've almost been killed as part of a convoluted plot to seize power.
Still, I can't see how he'll get away with murder.
You speak as if he would be the first king to gain his throne that way. Grow up, boy!
If Arl Eamon knew what he did, he would never stand for it! The Landsmeet would never stand for it! There would be civil war!
Arl Eamon? Is this someone important?
I suppose... Arl Eamon wasn't at Ostagar; he still has all his men. And he was Cailan's uncle...
I know him. He's a good man, respected in the Landsmeet. Of course! We could go to Redcliffe and appeal to him for help!
Keep in mind that Loghain was also an honorable man.
The arl would never do what Teyrn Loghain did. I know him too well.
Famous last words.
I still don't know if Arl Eamon's help would be enough. He can't defeat the darkspawn horde by himself!
We need the rest of the Grey Wardens.
I don't know how to contact them, or if they're even on their way. We need to do something now.
You have more at your disposal than you think.
Of course! The treaties! Grey Wardens can demand aid from dwarves, elves, mages, and other places! They're obligated to help us during a Blight!
I may be old, but dwarves, elves, mages, this Arl Eamon, and who knows what else... this sounds like an army to me.
So can we do this? Go to Redcliffe and these other places and... build an army?
I doubt it will be as easy as that.
*Laughs* And when is it ever?
It's always been the Grey Wardens duty to stand against a Blight. And right now, we're the Grey Wardens.
This is a terrible plan. Unfortunately, it is also our only plan.
So you are set, then? Ready to be Grey Wardens?
I don't suppose you could offer any more help? Maybe turn into a bird, fly us around the kingdom?
...But now that you mention it, I do have one more thing to offer.
The stew is bubbling, Mother dear. Shall we have two guests for the eve or none?
The Grey Wardens are leaving shortly, girl. And you will be joining them.
Such a shame-- What?
You heard me, girl. The last time I looked, you had ears! *Laughs*
Thank you, but if Morrigan doesn't wish to join us...
...we'd really rather not have to listen to her complain for the next 500 miles.
Her magic will be useful. Even better, she knows the Wilds and how to get past the horde.
Have I no say in this?
You have been itching to get out of the Wilds for years. Here is your chance. As for you, Wardens, consider this repayment for your lives.
Was this your idea all along?
Pardon me, but I had the impression that you two needed assistance, whatever the form.
Not to... look a gift horse in the mouth...
...but won't this add to our problems? Out of the Wilds, she's an apostate.
If you do not wish help from us illegal mages, young man, perhaps I should have left you on that tower.
Mother... this is not how I wanted this. I am not even ready--
You must be ready. Alone, these two must unite Ferelden against the darkspawn.
They need you, Morrigan. Without you, they will surely fail, and all will perish under the Blight. Even I.
And you, Wardens? Do you understand? I give you that which I value above all in this world. I do this because you must succeed.
Allow me to get my things, if you please.
Dressing sensibly for travel, I see.
Unlike you of course, wearing plate mail in a swamp. Were you to fall you would likely drown in seconds.
This is going to be a long journey, I just know it.
I am at your disposal, Grey Wardens. I suggest a village north of the Wilds as our first destination. 'Tis not far and you will find much you need there.
Or, if you prefer, I shall simply be your silent guide. The choice is yours.
Actually, I have some questions.
Of course you do. I may have answers. Ask.
Are you really Flemeth's daughter?
Twas she who raised me and thus I consider her my mother, born from her womb or not. 'Tis what you meant, yes?
I'm just wondering her age.
She would no more tell me than you, I assure you.
Have you never been outside the Wilds?
From time to time. I have been to the village I mentioned, watched its people and pondered what curious beings they are.
On occasion, I purchased goods from the village merchants. There I spoke with men, a little. There they stared and knew me as an outsider.
I bet they did.
Mother wishes for me to expand the horizon of my experience beyond the Wilds. Even she was not born here.
Is that what you want?
What I want is to see mountains. I wish to witness the ocean and step into its waters. I want to experience a city rather than see it in my mind.
So, yes, this is what I want. Actually leaving is...harder than I thought, however. Perhaps Mother is right--it must simply be done quickly.
Tear off that bandage and embrace life, that's my motto. Tell me about this village to the north.
Tis a small place of little consequence called Lothering. No more than a stop along your Imperial Highway where travellers purchase goods from local farms and smiths.
I would go more often were it not for the town's chantry. It makes the village particularly intolerant and unpleasant for a stranger such as me.
A chantry? And they never, in all this time, thought that maybe you were a witch?
Of course they have. They even called out their templars once. They found nothing.
Is there any reason to go to Lothering, then?
I mention it for its tavern, where travellers gather with news from other places. 'Tis small enough that our appearance might go unnoticed.
Step 1 on any dwarven quest; get drunk and annoy the bar staff.
Beyond that, 'tis close and I know the way.
How are we going to get past the darkspawn?
The real question is how we are going to get your friend past the darkspawn, is it not?
That's true. We can sense the darkspawn. Conversely, they can sense us.
I don't sense any darkspawn.
You won't right away, no. It takes time.
We should be able to sneak past smaller groups, but larger ones or particularly intelligent darkspawn will always detect us.
That is possibly the worst superpower ever.
Mother has given me something else for them to "smell" instead as we pass by. 'Tis important we head out of the Wilds, however, not farther in.
The darkspawn are camped farther in the forest?
They come from underground, like an eruption; They broke through deep within the forest and that is where they will be most concentrated.
Don't go into the woods. Check.
So, what skills do you have, exactly?
I know a few spells, though I am nowhere near as powerful as Mother. I have also studied history. And your Grey Warden treaties.
Can you cook?
I... can cook, yes.
[Claudia Black's delivery of that line is delightful. So much acid!]
Never mind him. You don't have to cook.
You missed your chance. Now it's charred rabbit from here on out.
Farewell, Mother. Do not forget the stew on the fire. I would hate to return to a burned-down hut.
Bah. 'Tis far more likely you will return to see this entire area, along with my hut, swallowed up by the Blight.
I... all I meant was...
Yes, I know. Do try to have fun, dear.
[It begins. Our goal is clear, sort of. Use the treaties to gain the backing of all Ferelden's major factions: the nobility, the mages, the elves and the dwarves. Weld them into a great big army and stomp the darkspawn flat. Simple enough.
And Morrigan has joined the party. She's a mage, and she starts with a few ice magic attack spells which will come in very useful indeed. She also starts with a class specialisation, essentially an unlockable bonus skill tree, which we'll look at next time.]
[Both our companions come with unique accessories that shed a bit of light on their personalities and preferences.
Besides the Wildstone Clasp, Morrigan comes with some basic mage armour and a staff. Magic staffs are ranged weapons that only mages can use, with damage dependent on their magic stat rather than strength or dexterity. They're still pretty weak; mages really shouldn't be depending on basic attacks unless they're running low on MP.
Also, check out the goofy mage hat. All mage hats in this game look ridiculous, like Bioware wanted to avoid the pointy hat cliché, but couldn't think of anything to replace it.]
[Alistair's unique accessory. The flavor text isn't just fluff- it tells you what sort of gifts Alistair likes.
Dragon Age: Origins has a companion approval system that tracks how your companions feels about you, from utter hatred to pure love. It's represented by the circled gauge. As we can see, Alistair feels pretty neutral about us right now. Giving him presents he likes and picking witty/righteous dialogue options when he's in the party will make him like us more.
High approval ratings will unlock new dialogue and sidequests, and provide stat boosts. In contrast, if a companion's approval falls too low they'll try to leave the party forever, which can make your life awfully difficult. I've never seen it happen though, you have to be really committed to being an asshole to make companions leave.
Anyway, let's have another chat with Flemeth.]
Have you not left yet? I hope you are not hanging around for some stew.
You could come with us, you know.
I prefer to remain here. Considering what the world has done to me, I have already done more than it deserves.
But you're more powerful than we are!
It is not a matter of power. No one person in all of Thedas has enough power to stand against a Blight. Were that the case, sending you two would be quite the jest.
What is important is that you are both Grey Wardens. Your task is to unite the land, inspire its men, and turn them from their petty politics to face the archdemon.
In that, you are more powerful than I, by far. I am but an old woman whom the world has largely forgotten.
And what has the world done to you?
That is between the world and me; your business is elsewhere.
Could you answer some questions? ...Some more questions?
Questions, questions! One would think a Grey Warden would be more interested in action. *Sigh*
Can I ask about your magic? Is the giant bird thing true?
What good would it do you? You are no mage. It is sufficient that I have passed on my knowledge to Morrigan, and I pass her on to you.
Like a worn dress or an old pair of shoes.
Are you still here? Hmph. You cannot give them away, apparently...
How long have you lived in the Wilds?
Since before I was wrinkled and old. Ha! You may think it strange, but I was once young and beautiful just as Morrigan is now.
Yes, men desired Flemeth then, and some even killed for her...
Are you sure they didn't just die from horror?
You will need that smart mouth for more than asking me silly questions.
What will you do once we're gone?
*Snort* Have a moment's peace, for once.
I hear the peace of the grave is eternal.
This is the thanks I get for feeding you and putting up with you for this long? Bah! May your child one day treat you the same.
Feed me, she says. Without me, I swear she shall be caked in dirt and eating tree bark inside of a month.
Hm. Do you have any advice?
About the darkspawn?
About tree bark?
About anything, really.
Then hear this: I laugh at a world full of stupid humans who ignore the Blight's evil and abandon their vigilance to chase mortal goals.
Remember, it is up to you to destroy the Blight. Pray not for someone else to destroy it. It will always nip at your heels.
No pressure then. I have no more questions.
Then we are done. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some dinner to eat.
Well then, the road awaits.
I don't think this can be described as a road.
[Ah, the classic fantasy map. Disappointed no-one at Bioware put Here be Dragons anywhere on it.
We have no option other than to head to the village of Lothering.]
[Our progress is marked by a little trail of blood. There are blood stains everywhere in DA: Origins, the interface is dripping with the stuff.
The crossed swords symbol indicates a random encounter, which happen occasionally when you're travelling, and are usually a right pain in the ass. But this one is different...]
Do you hear something?
I remember you!
I remember them too.
[This fight isn't a challenge, although your dog friend can pull too much aggro and get himself killed. Don't worry, he'll be fine once we get rid of the darkspawn.]
(He wags his tail happily and pants.)
I think this is the mabari I helped cure back at Ostagar.
I think he was out there looking for you. He's... chosen you. Mabari are like that. They call it imprinting.
Does this mean we're going to have this mangy beast following us about now? Wonderful.
He's not mangy!
But I don't want a dog. Too much responsibility!
He's a warhound. He can look after himself, I imagine.
At any rate, he must remember you helping him back at Ostagar. You're imprinted. Lucky you.
[Meet the fourth member of our world-saving team. A dog. ]
What are we going to name the dog? Post your suggestions now! Bestest/most popular suggestion wins.
(We're not calling him Barkspawn)
NEXT TIME: Daylight robbery
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