The Let's Play Archive

Dragon Age: Origins

by Inferior

Part 60: Crystal Gem

(This week’s update is rated NSFW. Don’t let your mom catch you reading it.)


Previously posted:

Bianca and her sidekicks search an ancient ruin for the source of the werewolf curse, the great wolf Witherfang...

Well, that’s the angry skeletons dealt with. For now, at least.

How many dead elves are there in this accursed tomb? I grow bored of smashing their bony remnants.

They seem angered by something.

Eh, the undead are always angry about something. Now, help me loot these tombs.

[It’s the start of a new sidequest everybody! Looting this sarcophagus gets us a mysterious scroll and tablet.

The stone carving type of tablet, not an elven Vicodin.]

Great. Homework.

It had better write it down. There may be a quiz later.

[There are even more skeletons in the corridor outside. This dungeon certainly doesn’t shy away from throwing dozens of bony menaces at you every ten steps.]

This place must have been really something back in the day.

A big metal door and…

A charming water feature.

(The water in the pool appears cool and clean. It is refreshed from some internal source, perhaps magically. Submerged in the water is what appears to be a small, earthen jug.)

A magical fountain…

So magical, it appears to be levitating slightly.

(Take the jug.)

(You take the jug out of the pool. It is made of clay and appears to be none the worse for its long submersion.)

(Fill the earthen jug with water.)

(You dip the jug into the water until it fills up completely.)

[OK, normally in this LP I show off every step of the important sidequests I do, because I want you all to suffer along with me. With this one I’m going to skip to the end of the scene now.

What you need to do is methodically work through all the steps listed on that stone tablet we found. You fill the jug with water, place it on a nearby altar, pray, sip the water and then pour it back into the pool, all in exhaustively written detail. The ‘challenge’ of this quest comes from picking the right options from the list of choices it gives you at every step.

Given that the game flat out tells you what to do, that isn’t much of a challenge.]

Oh, hey, door’s open.

Is that another ghost?

Standby for skeletons.

Viran se lan'aan? Ir annala for ros...

Nae! Ga rahn s'dael! Ga rahn!

You need… help? Are you lost here, spirit?

Ir emah'la shal! Ir emah'la shal!

[This spirit is clearly the mother of the ghost boy we met at the end of the last update. There’s no way to reunite them though.]

Why do we never meet any nice dead people?

Why do we never meet any dead dead people?

[The spirit is the greatest threat in that battle as she has various powerful AoE spells. But she has low HP and starts in close range to the party, so it’s not too hard to charge up and stunlock her for the duration of the fight.

Defeating the spirit and her shade cohorts gets you…]

[…the final piece of the Juggernaut armor set. At least we didn’t have to fight another Revenant for this one.

Sten will get the Juggernaut armor. Any images in the rest of this post where he appears to be equipped with something different are purely a trick of the light.]

[Group butt shot]

Nature is reclaiming all of this.

There’s something on the floor here…

(This elaborate artifact has a gem-like structure that contains what appears to be blood, fresh and liquid even after all this time. The gem is vibrating slightly.)

(Show the artifact to other party members.)

A device meant to hold a spirit, perhaps. Such would be my guess. Though what might be left of any spirit within after such a long time trapped?

It is warm. There is a soul within this stone, that much I can see.

Hmph. Elf magic.

(Touch the gem.)

(The gem is warm to the touch, and your mind immediately begins swimming with visions, images and memories from a life not your own.)

[This entire conversation is framed with images of Bianca’s face. Bioware didn’t make a model for the phylactery.]

(The Presence in the gem is at first alarmed when it senses your touch. It recoils in fear, and the images that rush your mind are ones of imprisonment and loneliness.)

I am sorry, I did not mean to frighten you.

(The Presence calms and then is wracked with indecision. Rather than have you leave, it begs you to stay.)

(More images flash through your mind. Time that the Presence has spent trapped within the Life Gem. Time where the Presence has slept, gone mad, and then slept again.)

Who were you?

(The Presence has no name it can remember. You get the sense of an elf, a mage in glittering silver armor. But this was long ago, remembered as if through a fog.)

What is this place? What happened here?

(The images that come are slow, as the Presence must think back to a time it barely recalls at all.)

(You see a place of serenity, where the Eldest come to slumber and are visited by those who offer tribute to the gods on their behalf.)

(The Presence’s memories of what happened there are uncertain. There are flashes of violence, of war... but it is all too long ago. None of it is clear.)

Was this a war with the humans?

(The Presence remembers the humans. This was a time even after the humans had come. It was they who had built this place, long before.)

(Perhaps the war was with other humans. Perhaps it was with something else, something that killed both the humans and elves that were here. It is not clear.)

How did you end up in this gem?

(You see images of a great battle, elves and humans both screaming and attempting to flee from some terrible presence. What that presence was is blurry and lost to time.)

(The Presence fled the destruction by using the Life Gem, escaping its body. It was sure that someone would come, to rescue it. But no one did. Not until now.)

[Mystery check: how many contradictions with the elf lore the Dalish told us can you see in this story?]

You were once a mage?

(You see images again of the elf in silver armor, one who is mage and warrior both. The name for the order he belongs to translates in your mind to "Arcane Warrior.”)

[And everyone stood up and cheered.]

What is an Arcane Warrior, exactly?

(The Presence can remember little. You see images of an order of elven mages who channel their spells into their strength, fighting as Arcane Warriors to defend their charges.)

(The Presence could glue you what knowledge remains with in it of how to become an Arcane Warrior. You are no mage, yourself, but you could teach such knowledge to those who are.)

(This is all the Presence has left to offer any longer: the last of its memories. In return, the Presence asks only one thing from you: oblivion.)

How would I give you the release you seek?

(The images that come are faint and uncertain. You see a stone altar, and the Life Gem placed upon that altar.)

(The Life Gem then vibrates and explodes, destroying the Presence within forever. The yearning that follows this image is keen and almost hopeless.)

Yes, I will try to help you. I wouldn’t wish your fate on my worst enemy.

(The images become tinged with desperation. The Presence cannot remember where the altar is, but it knows the Life Gem must be placed on it.)

(Approach the stone altar with the gem.)

(As the Life Gem nears the altar, the Presence becomes overcome with emotion. Could its endless nightmare finally be over?)

(The images that are sent to your mind depict a clear question: Do you still wish to learn the skills of the Arcane Warrior? The Presence is ready to teach you now.)

Yes, give me your memories.

[The Arcane Warrior is a specialisation for mage characters that lets them handle heavy armor and weapons using their magic stat instead of strength. It is exactly as broken as it sounds.]

(The memories flood into your mind. They are hazy and incomplete, but enough for any mage to gather a few of the talents that the Arcane Warriors once possessed.)

(Now the Presence asks that you keep your promise. Release it from its eternal prison.)

[Hilariously, at this point you can just go ‘Nah’ and chuck the gem in a corner. It may be one of the most casually evil things you can do in this game.]

(Place the artifact on the altar.)

(The last images from the Presence are ones of joy. Oblivion will be a welcome relief.)

And they’re gone.

That story actually made me appreciate Honnleath. I may have been surrounded by simpletons, but at least I had a view.

Another one?

(There is no obvious order to this jumble of miscellanea, but one item stands out: a small glass phylactery.)

(The area is unnaturally cold. Dark shapes swirl around a slip of paper within the vial.)

(Take the vial) Why do I have the weirdest sense of déjà vu?

(The glass fractures at your touch.)

Oh, riiiiight.

Now you remember.

[At this point a Revenant on its own isn’t much of a threat. I actually took this screenshot for the great animation glitch on Morrigan and Shale.]

Another scrap of paper…

We’ve fought the first and the fourth now. There is at least two more out there.

I wonder what’s in here?

[There are fire traps goddamn everywhere in this room. The actual enemies (a few skeleton archers) are trivial and are only present to draw your fighters into setting off the traps.]

I am going to smell like burned toast for weeks… Hmm? This body’s holding a journal.

Why did it not burn along with everything else in this room?

Um… asbestos paper?

Sounds… plausible.


[This room quickly goes from bad to worse. It starts with a few skeletons…]

[Then you find a lone Arcane Horror (demon mage) hanging around on the lower level. Seems simple enough, you might think.]

[You think wrong. The Arcane Horror teleports around the room when attacked by melee weapons, firing off Lightning Storms, while another dozen bloody skeletons charge in and start swinging.]

[This fight ended with Bianca getting KO’d, but everyone else surviving to take out the remaining skeletons.]

Let’s move, before more corpses show up.

If I never see another Stone-damned skeleton again it will be—

Oh, great. I forgot about these guys.

[Just to make things more of a laugh riot, Shadow Wolves show up in this brief section. They are werewolves that can use Stealth, and you generally find out about them when they show up to backstab your weakest character in the middle of a fight.]

[Fortunately, you only have to fight a few before…]

Stop! Brothers and sisters, be at ease!

We do not wish any more of our people hurt. I ask you this now, outsider: are you willing to parley?

We are talking right now, aren't we? So, talk.

Not with me. I have been sent to you on behalf of the Lady. She believes that you may not be aware of everything you should be.

She means you no harm, provided your willingness to parley in peace is an honest one.

If you were willing to talk, why didn’t you earlier? Many innocent skeletons would still be alive if you had.

Swiftrunner did not think it would matter. The Lady disagrees, and since you have forced your way this far, we must acquiesce to her wishes.

So why doesn't this Lady come and speak to me herself?

We would not let her. We will protect our Lady to our last breath. It may yet come to pass that you will kill the rest of us, but until then we will not chance her coming to harm.

Is your lady Witherfang?

She is not Witherfang. But she can tell you of Witherfang, if you ask. But first you must agree to parley.

Fine. Then take me to this Lady.

It wishes to speak to these creatures? What is the point? We’ve slaughtered our way this far, what's a bit further?

It’s late in the day, my bow arm is tired, and I didn’t put all those skill points into persuasion for nothing.

Oh, and it is never a weakness to seek out alternatives, Shale.

Fine, fine. Arguing with that logic will just give me a headache, I swear.

Follow me. But I warn you, if you break your promise and harm her, I will come back from the Fade itself to see you pay.


I bid you welcome, mortal. I am the Lady of the Forest.

NEXT TIME: The truth, mostly