Part 22: Tomb RaiderPART 22: TOMB RAIDER
As the darkspawn spread throughout Ferelden, and the traitorous Teyrn Loghain tightens his grip on the throne, our heroes stop by the side of the road and think about what to do next...
Bad dreams, huh?
Is that what a dream is? It seemed so real...
Well, it is real. Sort of.
[Dwarves don't dream, so this is kind of a big deal. The conversation, however, is identical for all races, which leads me to believe that maybe the dwarven dreaming thing was a retcon from later games.]
You see, part of being a Grey Warden is being able to hear the darkspawn. That's what your dream was. Hearing them.
The archdemon, it... "talks" to the horde, and we feel it just as they do. That's why we know this is really a Blight.
Why didn't Duncan tell everyone that?
He did. He said he felt the archdemon's presence. Everyone just assumed he was guessing.
Grey Wardens have been fighting darkspawn for millenia. You'd think everyone would just take our word for it.
Maybe. We try not to publicize the blood-drinking though. Don't want to go getting burned at the stake now, do we?
Is there anyway to stop the dreams? Or am I going to be waking up with the archdemon every morning?
It takes a bit, but eventually you can block the dreams out. Some of the older Grey Wardens say they can understand the archdemon a bit, but I sure can't.
Anyhow, when I heard you thrashing around, I thought I should tell you. It was scary at first for me, too.
Thank you, Alistair. I appreciate it.
That's what I'm here for. To deliver unpleasant news and witty one-liners.
Anyhow, you're up now, right? Let's pull up camp and get a move on.
[The Camp! It's like the Normandy from Mass Effect or the Ebon Hawk from KOTOR or the... what was the companion chat area in Jade Empire? Whatever, it's like that.]
[Last time, we hit level 7, and you guys voted for Bianca to become a Ranger. This gives us +1 to Constitution and a little additonal nature damage resistance, but most importantly unlocks a new talent row.
Ranger talents are all summons, which give us a bonus animal party member, at the cost of reducing our max stamina while it's out. The three critters we can summon are Wolf (quick attacker), Bear (slow tank) and Giant Spider ().
Once we've learned to summon all those, we can get the passive talent Master Ranger, which provides some useful bonuses. It increases the level of the summoned animals, gives them an extra attack talent and a small amount of health regen. Not that any of this is explained in game. That would be cheating.]
[Right now we can wander around and talk with all our companions. Including Barkley, who gets the best interactions, as always.
But first, let's chat with these familiar faces.]
Ah! It's good to see you, my timely rescuer! Bodahn Feddic at your service once again.
I saw your camp and thought to myself, "What safer place to rest for the evening than in the camp of a Grey Warden?"
You ran away when I told you we were Grey Wardens last time we spoke.
Turns out there are worse things on the road than Wardens.
I'm perfectly willing to offer you a fine discount for the inconvenience of our presence. How does that sound? Good? Yes?
Have you been following us?
I can see why you might be suspicious, being a Grey Warden and all. Were I in your shoes, I would feel the same way.
Trust me when I say that my encountering you here was serendipity and nothing more. I travel a lot, so I'm bound to meet everyone on the road eventually.
If you prefer, I'll take my boy and be on my way... but regretfully. You're the safest spot on this road, without a doubt.
You're free to stay. Just mind yourselves.
[You have no actual option to get rid of Bodahn. He's the official camp shop now.]
Wonderful! Thank the kind lady won't you, boy?
Thank you, kind lady.
We won't be a bother to you and your companions, I assure you. If you should need enchantments, simply talk to my boy. Otherwise, come speak with me.
[Persuade] So what's your story, exactly?
Hmm. I suppose since you told me about you being a Grey Warden, it's only fitting for me to be as open.
I am originally from Orzammar, just as you are, I suspect? You don't have the look of a surface dwarf about you.
Give it another few years, if we live that long.
I was a merchant there too... Merchant Caste. These things are in the blood, you know. You can't just leave them behind.
I ran a fairly successful business. Rare artifacts, you know; old things, grand things... the nobles loved them. Reminded them of the lost glory days, I suppose.
Our glory isn't lost. It's just... smaller.
You can think that if you wish, if that gives you comfort. But some of us prefer to look at things as they are, and see the truth.
But, we were talking about how I ended up here, weren't we?
One day a noblewoman came to my store. She looked around for a bit and then started shrieking in dismay.
Apparently, she believed that a pair of bracers I had for sale once belonged to her brother.
He'd been lost in a cave-in, you see, while on an expedition to clear out the darkspawn from one of the tunnels running close to the city.
I've heard that story before.
Me too. But, judging by her reactions, he really had died in an accident. "They were made specially for him! They're unique!" she shrieked. "He stole them from my poor brother's corpse!"
She had me arrested on the spot, of course. Nobles, they're touchy like that.
I used to be a noble.
And now you're up here, on the surface.
You're right. We are a terrible lot, aren't we?
Just a little bit. But what was I saying before? Oh, the bracers.
[Love that exchange. Bodahn's no fool. Although it's weird he doesn't recognise Bianca, considering she was second in line for the throne.]
Well, I didn't steal them. *Sigh* You see, I had been paying these casteless thugs to venture out into the Deep Roads for me.
The lost thaigs... they're full of things that people left behind. Sometimes you can find a treasure--something worth a little gold.
Better to do something with them than leave them to rot.
That's exactly how I see it.
The noblewoman, she wasn't too happy with the... "theft" of her brother's bracers. I don't know what they planned for me and I didn't want to find out.
Bribed the guard that was watching me and took off for the surface first opportunity I got. Never looked back.
The traditional dwarven parole. You're quite lucky to have done so well.
I thank the Stone every single day.
Now, is there anything the boy or I can get you?
You didn't mention your son in your tale.
I'm married to a fine woman back in Denerim, it's true. She'd give me a son if she could, but... that's not likely to ever be.
Sandal, here... I found him in the Deep Roads years ago. Abandoned, I think, and he was never quite right in the head.
I took him in, and brought him with me when I came to the surface. He may not be my blood, true, but I think of him as one.
We left Orzammar!
That's right, boy. Maybe one day we'll see it again.
That was very generous of you.
It's not as if I don't benefit, mind you. Turns out the boy's a natural working with enchantments.
He might even have been lyrium-addled. I never thought of that before, to be honest. Happens sometimes.
He can work an enchantrnent into just about anything, however, given some time. Could probably open his own shop, if he knew how.
*ChuckIes* Well, he does seem to enjoy it, at least.
But where do these goods come from? Not the Deep Roads.
Look, we... we don't rob people, all right? We don't take things from people that need them.
The things in the lost thaigs... what good did they do lying there? I brought them back to Orzammar where people could look at them and remember.
It's not all that different up here. There are places long-abandoned by the humans everywhere... even more now, with the darkspawn coming.
What do you mean?
People flee from the Blight, with good reason. But they forget things. Things with value and meaning. They leave them behind because they're frightened and desperate.
And sometimes my boy and I... we find our way to these places before the horde descends and we save these things. I take them away so the darkspawn don't get them.
That's a nice way of saying we rob refugee's houses before the darkspawn.
Is that so bad? They destroy everything they touch.
Everyone has to make a living somehow. And I need somewhere to buy poultices from.
That's what I tell myself too. Ah, these are dark times indeed. Dark times, my friend.
Let me see your wares, Bodahn.
I'm sure you'll be pleased with the goods my boy and I have collected. And with your discount!
[Bodahn sells a lot of useful things, some of which we will never be able to afford. Like this axe, for instance.
I picked up some new bits of armor for the team, and brought an extra backpack to increase our inventory space.]
[Bodahn also sells some more unusual stock, since I have the Feastday Gifts and Pranks DLC. This gives you a shedload of items to raise and drop your companion's affection at will. It means that no matter what happens, we'll be able to make everyone love and/or hate us whenever we want.
Now let's have a chat with Sandal, and find out about Enchantments!]
The boy's a bit simple, but he's rather good with enchantments. One of those Tranquil fellows actually called him a... what was it, now? A savant? I had no idea such a thing existed.
What enchantments does he do?
He can fold lyrium into almost any weapon or piece of armor, though naturally some of the more extravagant materials will take more lyrium than others.
It's a process that some of the master smiths back in Orzammar will perform, but my boy here is just as adept at it. Isn't that right, boy?
And there you have it.
[So that's Sandal's deal. It's rare to see a character with an intellectual disability featured in a video game, and I like that Bioware did it. I also like the ambiguity in Bodahn looking after him- although he clearly loves his son, he is arguably exploiting him too. As are we.]
I want some enchanting done.
[Long story short- you can find or buy runes that provide a permanent buff to any weapon they're bolted to. Fancier weapons can take more runes, up to three for the very best (like that axe in Bodahn's shop).]
[Enchanting done, let's go chat to another new face.]
You're a hard woman to find!
You'd think, but so far a dog, two dwarves and several angry mobs haven't had trouble.
Did Duncan ever mention me? Levi of the Coins? Levi the Trader? Ol' Blue Jeans?
Duncan never mentioned you.
Really? He never told you of old Levi? We've known each other for years.
But here I am carrying on while you have a Blight to stop. Don't want to waste your time.
But, you see, Duncan promised that together we'd look into something important for the Wardens. And for me.
But poor Duncan's... well, no more. A tragedy it is, at that. But I know he would want his work carried on. His pledge fulfilled.
Would he really? How did you know Duncan?
It's a bit of tale, that is...
This is the introduction to a song, isn't it?
...But I'm the one who brought the Grey Wardens back to Ferelden.
Well, I was one of the ones. There were a lot of us.
Maker's breath, I'm a bit nervous. Honored to be here, really.
Go ahead and tell your tale. But if you start singing at any point, I can't be held responsible for my actions.
After King Maric freed us from the Orlesians, the Grey Wardens begged the king's permission to come into Ferelden--some sort of internal business.
Me and a mess of other Warden sympathizers spoke on behalf of your order. Teyrn Loghain was very much against letting Orlesian Wardens in the kingdom. Said they'd take our jobs.
But Maric, Andraste bless him, was a fair-minded monarch and he let them in.
Go on, I'm listening.
So that's why I was there when the Wardens and their leader, Genevieve, presented herself to the king. The first Wardens in Ferelden in over a century.
Proudest day of my life, that was. Duncan was a bit of a scamp back then--we were of an age, and struck up a friendship.
The king himself went with the Wardens on their mysterious business. When he returned, he rescinded King Arland's decree and the Wardens came back to Ferelden for good.
[Levi is summarising a few of the events from one of the tie-in novels: Dragon Age: The Calling. In it, King Maric, Young Duncan and a bunch of other NPCs go on a big adventure to stop a sinister, intelligent darkspawn called The Architect. It is exactly as good as every other video game tie-in novel.]
Why were the Grey Wardens cast out by Arland?
People say it's because the Wardens had become terribly unpopular.
Just soaking up tithes and not doing a bleeding thing for the kingdom.
I say that's bollocks, as recent events have shown.
Maric rescinded the decree, just like that?
Maric was a bit of a visionary. A powerful mind, that one.
In his travels with the Wardens, he must have seen how important their cause was. And been moved by it.
I doubt that's the full story.
[Maric sexing up a Grey Warden called Fiona probably had more to do with how moved he was. Fiona was also an elf and a mage, so Maric was 3 for 3 on Ferelden hate figures there. Fiona would go on to take a starring role in Act 1 of Dragon Age: Inquisition, where she displayed a plot-driving propensity for outrageously stupid decisions.]
Ferelden was ravaged by war, and your dwarven cousins... well, they had a proper appreciation of Wardens.
But make no mistake, King Maric was a giant among men.
I thank you for your part in bringing the Wardens here. If not for that, I'd probably be being eaten by spiders in the Deep Roads right about now.
Oh, my stomach's all aflutter. You're welcome.
What promise did Duncan make to you?
My family... well, our past is a bit checkered, you see? Nobles look at us with disdain.
My great-great-grandmother, Sophia Dryden, was the last Warden-Commander of Ferelden, back when the Wardens were known as freeloaders.
So King Arland banished the Wardens and he took House Drydens land and titles.
That's a bit drastic, isn't it? Nobles are usually all in favour of lazy spongers.
And then some. Not much is known about that time.
After King Arland died, there was a civil war, loads worse than this one.
And our family was on the run, hunted by enemies--with nary a friend in the world.
But Drydens are tough. We rebuilt, became merchants. And we never lost our pride.
I'm surprised you kept your name.
Our family's only crime was guarding the kingdom against the Blight. We're not ashamed of that.
So what favour did you ask of Duncan?
I asked for the truth. My family reveres Sophia Dryden.
We know she died at the old Grey Warden base, Soldier's Peak. We want evidence to clear her name.
It won't restore our land or our titles, but it'll restore our honor.
That's it? I was expecting more monsters. Couldn't you just go there by yourself?
Well, no one's been to Soldier's Peak since Arland's days. At least none that's come back.
I spent years mapping the maze of tunnels to the peak. And I found the way a few years back.
So I went to Duncan, I did, and I said that he could reclaim the old base and my family could have its honor.
Why didn't Duncan help you?
Darkspawn surfaced in southern Ferelden. And Duncan got plenty busy recruiting new Wardens and meeting with good King Cailan.
Duncan said he would help after the battle of Ostagar. Said there might be useful things at the Peak.
But he never had the chance.
What do you need from me then?
I can pick my way through the tunnels at the base of Soldier's Peak.
But the place... well, they say it's haunted. And it'll be dangerous for certain.
Ah, there's the monsters.
Will you think about it at least?
I'll think about it.
[And there's another thing for our to-do list. Levi's little adventure is DLC content, although it's included as standard with most versions of the game you can buy these days.
In the original version Levi would show up and give you his spiel, but some of your dialogue options would open up a browser to buy the extra content. Perhaps aware this was not the best way to integrate DLC into the game, Bioware haven't done anything similar since.
Also, some guys made a comic about it.]
[Anyway, here's Barkley.]
Argh! Why you little...
Your furry friend here took offense at me getting near his food. Snapped at me. Look...
There's hardly any blood drawn. Still, he shouldn't have.
(He whines and hangs his head.)
Oh, poor baby. Don't worry, you can eat Alistair if you really want to.
Good to know I have a role in this outfit.
Sometimes I forget that he's a wardog. That'll teach me.
Why were you trying to steal his food anyway?
Have you tried mabari crunch biscuits? They're delicious.
I'm starting to think Morrigan has the right idea about you.
NEXT TIME: Sten complains, Morrigan sasses, Leliana preaches, Alistair cries, and Bianca tries to read a map.
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
Thorn of the Dead Gods
(Certain special pieces of equipment unlock new codex entries with lengthy backstories. Here are the two I've found so far.)