Part 17: Fear And LotheringPART 17: FEAR AND LOTHERING
Grey Warden novices Bianca and Alistair, along with rogue mage Morrigan and lovable hound Barkley, head to the village of Lothering; the first step on their quest to rally the kingdom against the Blight. But in Denerim, traitorous Teyrn Loghain attempts to cement his control of Ferelden following the king's death...
BACK AT STATELY LOGHAIN MANOR...
...and I expect each of you to supply these men. We must rebuild what was lost at Ostagar, and quickly.
There are those who would take advantage of our weakened state if we let them. We must defeat this darkspawn incursion, but we must do so sensibly and without hesitation.
Your lordship, if I might speak?
You have declared yourself Queen Anora's regent, and claim we must unite under your banner for our own good.
But what of the army lost at Ostagar? Your withdrawal was most... fortuitous.
Everything I have done has been to secure Ferelden's independence. I have not shirked my duty to the throne, and neither will any of you!
The Bannorn will not bow to you simply because you demand it!
Understand this: I will brook no threat to this nation... from you or anyone!
Bann Teagan, please!
Your Majesty. Your father risks civil war. If Eamon were here...
Bann Teagan, my father is doing what is best.
Did he also do what was best for your husband, your Majesty?
Feels like we've been walking for weeks. What happened to all the horses, anyway?
Wake up, gentlemen! More travelers to attend to. Led by a dwarf, oddly enough.
Err... they don't look much like them others, you know. Uh... maybe we should just let these ones pass...
Nonsense! Greetings, travelers!
Highwaymen. Preying on those ﬂeeing the darkspawn, I suppose.
They are fools to get in our way. I say teach them a lesson.
Now is that any way to greet someone? Tsk, tsk, tsk. A simple ten silvers and you're free to move on.
You should listen to your friend. We're not refugees.
What did I tell you? No wagons, and this one looks armed.
The toll applies to everyone, Hanric. That's why it's a toll and not, say, a refugee tax.
Oh, right. Even if you're not refugees, you still gotta pay.
You're toll collectors, then?
Indeed! For the upkeep of the Imperial Highway! It's a bit of a mess, isn't it?
It has been a bit of a mess for almost 3000 years.
Perhaps you should charge more, then.
You want to pay more? Well, we'll happily accept donations.
I'm just saying it's tough business for such a pittance.
I could be mistaken, but that sounded threatening.
Sounded like a threat to me.
Would it help if Alistair looked a bit more menacing? Do some flexes, Alistair.
Interesting, because you seem a bit outnumbered.
(Intimidate) Do you really want to fight a Grey Warden?
[How talking to people works, part 94: While persuade options check against your coercion skill + cunning stat, intimidate checks against coercion + strength.
Fortunately our coercion is high enough that Bianca's puny strength doesn't make any difference to passing this.]
Did she say she's a Grey Warden? Them ones killed the king!
Traitors to Ferelden, I hear. Teyrn Loghain put quite a bounty on any who are found.
Uh oh oh.
But... aren't them Grey Wardens good? I mean, really good? Good enough to kill a king?
You have a point. Well, let's forget about the toll. We'll just leave you to your darkspawn-fighting, king-killing ways.
(Persuade) You know, the Grey Wardens could use a donation.
You don't say.
They is really good, boss. Remember.
Well... yes. Twenty silvers? That's all we've... collected today.
An excellent donation, thank you.
Then take it. Err... do enjoy your stay in Lothering and all that.
The Grey Wardens appreciate your contribution to the Save-The-World fund.
[We could have just killed them all, of course. But that's no way to treat charity workers/freelance road engineers.
Nearby is a dead templar, carrying a locket and a letter.]
That's a pretty morbid way to finish a memo.
[Trying to loot any of the crates around here will cause the
Well there it is. Lothering. Pretty as a painting.
Ah. So you have finally decided to rejoin us, have you? Falling on your blade in grief seemed like too much trouble, I take it?
Is my being upset so hard to understand? Have you never lost someone important to you? Just what would you do if your mother died?
Before or after I stopped laughing?
Right. Very creepy. Forget I asked.
You have been very quiet, Alistair.
Yes, I know. I was just... thinking.
No wonder it took so long, then.
Oh, I get it. This is the part where we're shocked to discover you've never had a friend your entire life.
I can be friendly when I desire to. Alas, desiring to be more intelligent does not make it so.
So... are you two going to have sex now, or wait 'til we find an inn?
What a revolting notion.
And here was me thinking we'd find no common ground.
Anyway... I thought we should talk about where we intend to go first.
You have some thoughts on that point, Alistair?
This should be good.
I think what Flemeth suggested is the best idea. These treaties... have you looked at them?
Yes, I have. Lots of times. Front to back. ...Why?
There are three main groups that we have treaties for: the Dalish elves, the dwarves of Orzammar, and the Circle of Magi.
I also still think that Arl Eamon is our best bet for help. We might even want to go to him first.
Hmm. What do you think we should do, Morrigan?
Go after your enemy directly. Find this man, Loghain, and kill him. The rest of this of this business with the treaties can then be done in safety.
Yes, he certainly wouldn't see that coming! And it's not like he has the advantage of an army and experience and--
I was asked for my opinion and I gave it. If your wish is to come up with reasons why something cannot be done, we will stand here until the darkspawn are upon us.
Enough, you two.
Is there a. way to contact the Grey Wardens? The living ones, I mean.
Short of leaving Ferelden to seek them out, the only place to send word to would be Weisshaupt Fortress, and that's thousands of miles away.
Then we need to find these people.
I can give you directions, if you like.
Where do we find Arl Eamon?
He'll be at Castle Redcliffe, in the far western part of Ferelden next to the mountain passes. If he isn't there, someone will be able to tell us where he is.
Where will we find the Dalish elves?
If we head eastward towards the Brecilian Forest, we should hear word of one of the clans that wanders that area. Hopefully they will still be there.
Where do we find the Circle of Magi?
That would be at their tower on Lake Calenhad to the north. We'll be looking for their First Enchanter, whoever that is.
Where would Loghain be, exactly?
If he isn't out in the field with his army, he's probably going to be at the royal palace in Denerim.
We can go to Denerim, but somehow I suspect that they're not going to let us walk around. Only a suspicion, of course.
And then there's Orzammar... I've been exiled from Orzammar. I can't go back there.
You're going to have to. I certainly wouldn't want to go there alone.
Why? Would it frighten you? Are you afraid of dark and sunken places, hmm?
I mean we won't have any choice. You'll be there under Grey Warden business, and the dwarves will just have to see reason.
They certainly are renowned for an abundance of reason, 'tis true.
I don't need any more directions.
Then you have a plan?
Why are you leaving it up to me? You're the senior Warden now.
Well, I don't know where we should go. I'll do whatever you decide.
Now that is unsurprising.
Arl Eamon is a good man, but I don't know for sure he's where we should go. I'm not going to fight about it.
Whatever. I'm ready to get going.
Fair enough. Let's head into the village whenever you're ready.
[Before we go anywhere, let's check out our newest member, Barkley. You might notice he's a bit stripier than usual. This is because I've equipped him with warpaint, a unique dog-only type of equipment. Barkley can also equip collars, and that's it as far as his loadout goes.]
[Here are Barkley's combat talents. Yeah. He doesn't have many, and he starts with half of them already learned. Barkley's current talents are Charge (attack + chance of knockdown), Growl (debuff enemy defence), Dread Howl (AoE stun) and Fortitude (passive elemental damage resistance).
They are all good and useful, but Barkley never gets enough skills to be as powerful as the human characters. He's useful enough early on, but once everyone's running around with a dozen combat talents and +5 Broadswords of Asskicking, Barkley becomes a waste of space. He can't tank, he can't do that much damage, and he certainly can't heal people. What can he do?]
(He wags his tail happily.)
Do you see anything interesting?
(He barks excitedly and runs off.)
(Barkley seems to have found a slightly dirty pair of silk pantaIoons.)
You don't expect me to wear these?
They have to be laundered first.
(He bounces around, barking happily.)
In the absense of shelter, we'll settle for a pub.
As a servant of the Maker, I never partake in alcohol.
Of course. Where do you never drink it?
I never go to Dane's Refuge, over the bridge. Don't tell them Ser Brent sent you.
Oh look. An opportunity to ignore a child.
Have you seen my mother?
That depends. Who is your mother?
She's really tall... and she has red hair. We live on a big farmhold, all of us.
Some mean men with swords came, and Mother told me to run to the village as fast as I could, so I did!
She said she would be right behind me, but I've been waiting and waiting and I can't see her!
Wh- Do you know where your father is?
He went with William to the neighbor's yesterday, but he didn't come back.
I don't think your mother's coming, child.
Why not? Why would she leave me here?
I don't think she meant to leave you.
But she must be coming!
Is this what it's like for Grey Wardens? You just want to go to the pub and suddenly you have to explain to a small child what death is?
It's not normally like this!
You can't stand here forever. What if she doesn't show?
I don't know. Maybe I should go home and look for her?
No. Don't do that.
Then what should I do? I have nowhere to go and I'm hungry!
Go to the Chantry, child. Someone will look after you.
I will. But only if I don't find Mother first.
So, um... you're a dwarf, aren't you?
Did my height give me away?
Father says dwarves are really greedy. But you're not greedy at all.
Thank you for helping me.
Well, now that we've thwarted the spectre of racism, perhaps we should move on.
[Sending the kid to the Chantry is literally the only way to ensure he doesn't get eaten by darkspawn or bandits or bears or whatever else has an aversion to horrible child voice actors.]
I'd rather talk about your mother.
There's nothing to talk about. And besides, isn't your mother a scary witch who lives in the middle of a forest? Much more interesting.
To you, perhaps. You would find the moss growing upon a stone interesting.
You know what's more interesting than that? Apostates. Mages outside of the tower. That's illegal, you know.
You did not read that in a book somewhere, did you? I hope the small letters did not strain you overmuch.
...Or we could not talk about your mother. That works for me.
[Party conversations! I don't know if you've worked it out yet, but Alistair and Morrigan don't like each other very much.]
This is the village inn, if the smell hadn't already made that clear.
Let's ignore all the portentous conversations out here and head inside.
Oh look, entertainers.
Well. Look what we have here, men. I think we've just been blessed.
Uh-oh. Loghain's men. This can't be good.
Didn't we spend all morning asking about a dwarf by this very description? And everyone said they hadn't seen one?
It seems we were lied to.
Gentlemen, surely there is no need for trouble. These are no doubt simply more poor souls seeking refuge.
They're more than that. Now stay out of our way, Sister. You protect these traitors, you'll get the same as them.
Let's talk about this before things get out of hand.
I doubt he would listen. He blindly follows his master's commands.
I am not the blind one! I served at Ostagar, where the teyrn saved us from the Grey Wardens treachery! I serve him gladly!
Brave Ser Robin ran away. Bravely ran away away.
Shut up! Enough talk. Take the Warden into custody. Kill the sister and anyone else that gets in your way.
Right! Let's make this quick!
NEXT TIME: Let's get ready to ruuuuuumble!
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