Part 55: Got Wood?PART 55: GOT WOOD?
Bianca and co. have helped bring a couple together, healed a sick deer, and learned a whole bunch about elves. Is there anyone else in this camp we can annoy/help?
Andaran atish'an, Grey Warden.
[Back near Zathrian is this lady, Lanaya, who I've avoided talking to so far because oh boy, infodumps ahoy!]
My name is Lanaya, and I am Zathrian's first... what you might call an apprentice, perhaps. I have been studying under the keeper all my life.
Why is it talking to us?
Our leader seems to attract these people. 'Tis our destiny to be a beacon for the verbose.
I am... a bit curious of the outside world. Do you mind if I ask you a question or two?
You just asked me a question right there.
(Laughs) What an odd thing to say! I mean about the outside world, of course.
If you like, go ahead.
I hear the human cities are very large: thousands upon thousands of souls all packed together in their houses. Is that true?
Are you saying you can't imagine such a thing?
The few towns we have visited in my time have been small. I find it hard to visualize something so large and... permanent.
I try to imagine those of our people living in such a place, surrounded by walls of stone and indifference. It... is a difficult thought.
They are used to it, just as the humans are. And dwarfs. I really miss the indifferent stone walls of Orzammar.
Being accustomed to pain and suffering does not make it any less tragic.
It is said that one day we will have a land of our own. We Dalish gather the ancient wisdom in preparation for this.
When that day comes, all elves--even those who have forgotten--will reclaim their former glory.
I have one more question, though I'm not sure you can answer it. Do the humans... ever regret... what they did to us?
Ah ha ha ha. Ha.
I doubt they pay attention to it. It's just history to them.
Ah. How quickly they forget.
It was 700 years ago.
That is not so long.
A poet once wrote of them, before the fall of the Dales: "Like dragons they fly, glory upon wings. Like dragons they savage, fearsome pretty things."
But you don't need me to quote poetry to you. Forgive me.
No, it's all right. We're all non-humans here.
What? Oh... yeah.
Perhaps you have some questions of your own?
What can you tell me about Zathrian?
Nothing that you could not ask Zathrian himself. He is the keeper of this clan and has been for a very long time.
He is also a very good man who has lost much. The Dalish are everything to him, and he would do anything to protect them.
(Persuade) Lost much? What has he lost?
He... lost his family. A very long time ago. I don't know the story, but I understand the circumstances were horrific.
Hmm. So, what does a keeper do, exactly?
A keeper is, first and foremost, the leader of the clan. He decides where we go and when we shall move.
He is also responsible for knowing the clan's ancient lore, and passing it on to the others in the clan.
[When writing this update, the text scanner I use mistranscribed all uses of the word 'clan' as 'clam'. I tell you this to ensure you remember the ancient lore of the clam.]
Without a keeper, the clan's knowledge is lost forever, so the clan protects him like no other.
[The clam protects!]
OK. So, who are you, Lanaya? Tell me more about yourself.
I am hardly anyone special, I assure you. If I seem different from the rest of my clan, it's only because I was born amongst humans.
I came to the Dalish at a very young age, but I've always retained my curiosity about the world I came from.
How did you come to the Dalish if you were so young?
My parents were servants to a human merchant whose caravans plied the southern routes. One day, bandits killed him and my parents both.
I was the only survivor, just a young girl, and the bandits took me. I was their... servant... for several years.
I'm sorry, It must have been horrible.
It was, though long years of reflection have allowed me to come to terms with it, to put them in perspective.
I can only imagine what would have happened had the clan not saved me from them. I owe them my life for that. And more.
The Dalish rescued you from bandits?
The bandits killed a scout when the clan passed near their camp. When the clan discovered him, Zathrian came looking for his killers.
He followed their tracks for almost a month. And when he finally caught up to us, he fell on the bandits like a terror.
No one could stop him. I sat there and watched him attack them in a blur, and I reveled in every blow.
Baldie is hardcore, apparently.
When he saw me, the fury in his eyes turned to pity. He took me back to the clan and I have been here ever since.
Didn't you have family you could have returned to?
It's possible I might have had some. Maybe many.
Zathrian offered to take me back, but I had no idea where I was from, and I wanted to stay with the man who rescued me.
The clan is my family. Any others out there... it's best they believe that little girl died with her parents.
For now, the clan is all I need. My old world could not have offered me all this and the knowledge of a keeper, as well.
Perhaps... one day, when I am keeper, I might inquire out of curiosity. I am not sure what lies down that road except pain, however.
How did you become a keeper?
I am not a keeper. I am Zathrian's first. Though because I was not born into the clan, becoming his first was very difficult.
We Dalish have old traditions. The clans come from the ranks of the nobility that once ruled the Dales, you see.
The civilisation dies, but the aristocracy endures. How fortunate.
It's a familiar story.
The keepers of those clans have the strongest and purest blood that reaches back to the days of Arlathan.
I had to compete against the other candidates for first, to be better than them in everything simply because I was not of the old blood.
You must be proud of your accomplishments.
I am. The ceremony where Zathrian anointed me as his first was the proudest day of my life.
The clan has placed great trust in me. One day, I will lead them and be the one who secures our future.
[The clam has placed great trust in me.]
Well, now we're friends, let me ask the big question: Why are the Dalish so hostile?
Because they are too weak to be confident and too proud to be assimilated.
They have reason. Since the days of Arlathan, my people have been either subjugated or homeless.
What is this 'Arlathan' you mentioned?
It was our ancestral home, long ago when the humans first came to these lands. We were free then, and immortal.
We did not know how to deal with the humans and in the end, they turned their power against us and destroyed Arlathan. Our ancestors were enslaved and our culture lost forever.
Does Arlathan still exist? Is there loot?
Not to my knowledge. According to the old tales, the human mages sank Arlathan into the ground, crushing it beneath the rock.
You'd have thought Orzammar would have noticed that... Elves were immortal then?
They died, but not of an aged body as other races do. Not until the humans came.
According to the legends, association with the humans caused us to quicken... our blood sped and we began to age. So we avoided them, naturally.
And then we were enslaved by them for a thousand years, and in so doing we all were quickened permanently and our immortality destroyed. Or so the old tales say.
[It's an interesting twist on elven cliches that Dragon Age elves literally get their immortality from isolation.]
But you could get your lifespan back, no?
In time, and with seclusion. We Dalish have lengthy life spans, and they will get longer. Zathrian himself has lived many centuries, though that is unusual even for us.
I can see why you resent humans then.
"Shemlen" we call them--quick children". I suppose it takes a certain arrogance to look upon another people as children, no?
Perhaps we should be more heedful of our own role in Arlathan's loss. Even so, it was a bitter lesson to learn. One we are not grateful for.
I should go.
As you wish. Dareth shiral.
That was a pretty sad story.
The dog represents my feelings on the matter.
Barkley! ...I really hope no one saw you do that.
[Yes, you do get the Mabari Dominance buff for the forest by having Barkley piss on Zathrian's tent. I don't think Bioware likes elves much either.]
[The camp has a single shop. This is it.]
What are you doing? You've warped the wood completely? Did you leave it out in the rain? Along with the cakes?!
No, Master Varathorn. I... I think I just used too much heat...
You're not smelting ore like a durgen'len! This is living wood! It requires patience and delicate hands, not more heat!
My actions bring me sorrow, Master Varathorn.
And so they should. Really, is that your best excuse? Truly the art will be lost to us forever at this rate! Throw away your dead wood and start anew, and I shall speak to our guest.
Now, then. Please forgive my distraction, stranger. Is there something that you need?
What exactly do you make here?
I'm the clan's craftsmaster. It's my responsibility to learn what I can of the ancient elven arts of shaping wood and ore.
In truth, we Dalish know little of the art compared to what we once did, and even what we know has taken us many lifetimes to achieve.
There is wood that, if treated properly, is as hard as steel but far lighter. It grows only in this forestironbark.
Must have taken you a long time to think of that name.
It was the name handed down to us by our illustrious ancestors. They can't all be winners.
The keeper has forbidden us from entering the forest to collect the wood. This means I cannot make our finest crafts for years to come.
What if I found some ironbark for you?
I would be hesitant to ask it of you... but if you should come across ironbark, I suppose there would be no harm in gathering some. It is blue and very distinctive.
Get the axe, Sten.
You can only harvest the bark which has fallen off the tree from age.
If you find some, bring it to me and I will craft it for you.
Very well, I'll take a look when I'm in the forest.
That would please me, so long as our hunters come first.
[Running this little fetch quest will get us access to some sweet gear, so it's well worth doing.
Varathorn is also a merchant who sells some useful bits and pieces. Interestingly, he is the only merchant in the game that sells infinite amounts of the basic crafting ingredients. And, given the ways the storyline in this area can go, it is possible to lose access to him permanently. Hell, if we'd chosen to break up Cammen and Gheyna in the last update we'd have lost access to him forever. It doesn't take much to piss off the Dalish.]
Andaran atish'an, stranger. I am Athras. I hope the others have not been too harsh in their treatment of you.
They've been a bit suspicious. Our sassy attitudes soon won 'em over though.
It is not our intention to insult a Grey Warden. We are simply wrapped up in the plight of our hunters. It is easy to forget simple niceties at such a time.
I understand you will search for the wolves in the Brecilian Forest. I would join you, but Zathrian has... forbidden me.
You do not seem very happy about that...
None of us is happy about this situation, and I least of all...
But I... shouldn't speak too much about this, especially with an outsider. I am sure you have little interest in my problems.
No, Sten. (Persuade) Please, I'd like to hear about it.
It's odd to talk so freely with a stranger, but... perhaps you can help me.
My wife, Danyla. and I both fought the werewolves in the ambush. She was injured so gravely the curse spread rapidly in her.
Zathrian fought hard to ease her pain, but there was little he could do. And though he says that Danyla is dead, he will not let me see her... her body.
I am beginning to believe she became a werewolf, and that it is being kept from me so I do not go chasing after her...
And if she was a werewolf? And the elf chased her and then found her? What then? Sweet, blissful, reunion?
I... don't know. Maybe she would know me as her love, even still?
More likely she would love to eat you.
If I could just... know if Danyla is alive, or what happened to her... then I could be at peace.
Perhaps I could convince Zathrian to tell the truth.
No! It would be very rude to accuse the keeper of lying. I know he means well. I just need to know... one way or another.
If you are in the forest. perhaps you might... come across her alive or dead. Any news would be better than none.
And in return I would be happy to gift you an amulet made by our craftsmen. It may fetch you some coin in the human lands.
I'll see what I can do.
You are most kind.
Don't say that until we come back.
I should go.
Please, should you come across my wife, return and tell me.
Time to get on with it, then.
NEXT TIME: Into the woods
(I'm on holiday for two weeks, so see you in July!)
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
The Long Walk