Part 82: You Can't Go Home AgainPART 82: YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN
Bianca and co. head for the dwarven kingdom of Orzammar to enlist their support against the Blight. The last time Bianca was there she was charged with murdering her brother and exiled forever on pain of death. So this is probably going to be a bit awkward.
...I've never seen it from the outside before.
Impressive statuary. I didn't realise dwarves enjoyed weightlifting so much.
They're not weights. It's a double-ended hammer.
Why would you need a hammer with two heads?
To... hammer two things at once, of course.
'Twould appear they've sent a welcoming party.
Tall for dwarves.
[The bounty hunters have one elite, two fighters, two archers and one mage. They're a well-balanced bunch of psychopaths.]
[They're basically a roadblock to deter anyone from heading to Orzammar too early. If you're low leveled they'll chew through your characters, the fighters are strong enough to blockade the party while the ranged fighters whittle away your health.
The mage will open up with fireballs too, so half your guys are usually dead before you can even get close.]
[But we have Starfang and Dragon Armor, so kthxbye lol.]
The door home.
And what if it remains closed to you?
Dunno. Undignified begging, probably.
[There's a little camp outside the gates of Orzammar. That red haired man reminds me of an old sidequest...]
Step right-- Maker's breath! Ah, I beg your pardon, friend, you... ah... startled me a bit.
We're looking for a qunari sword.
Kyun-what? I'm sorry, I... ah... I don't know what that--
[This is the guy who bought Sten's sword from the other guy who found it down by Lake Calenhad.]
Where is my sword?
I... ah... don't know what you mean, ser.
I'd give it to him if I were you.
I... I don't have it! I swear by Andraste's knickers! I sold it on the way here!
Sten, tear his arms off.
Now reattach them.
No, I swear, I don't have it!
I sold it to a dwarf in Redcliffe. Name of Dwyn.
Wait, Dwyn? I know him.
He's the one who has the sword, I promise you. Said he was a collector.
Well... I'm sure we'll be back in Redcliffe eventually.
Where we will find Dwyn has no doubt sold it to Haran who has gifted it to Wilbur who traded it to Velson and so we will travel around the kingdom forever.
Bah! Mother Vorlyn said that's just some hoax.
Mother Vorlyn is a half-blind old cow. Everyone knows Andraste came from Ferelden. It makes sense they'd bring Her Ashes back here.
Hmph. Those Ashes are so old, theyd be dust by now. I don't believe any of it.
[These gossips have all sort of chatter on the current events in Ferelden. They're amazingly well-informed for two dudes stuck halfway up a mountain.]
For the Grey Warden? Little to none.
I'm right here.
So why does it follow? I do not risk death, but it does.
My mission is no different from the Grey Warden's. I must see this through to the end.
It would rather perish than give up its quest?
Indeed. There is honor to be salvaged in such a quest, no matter its chances.
Honor is a curious thing. It is far better to be practical.
What use is practicality when it leads to cowardice and emptiness? It is better to live well than to live.
An... interesting theory.
[If the Blight thing doesn't work out, at least Sten has a career in motivational speaking to fall back on.]
Oh... you wish to talk to me? Truly, it's a courtesy for one so... well-armed to notice a lowly merchant.
Did you lose your caste when you left Orzammar?
It's not your business, but I'm going to answer anyway, because you're the first person to talk to me in 3 days. Like my father, I was born on the surface. We never had a caste to leave.
The Assembly says we've turned our back on the Stone, but they still use the goods we bring. Hypocrites.
Maybe it'll change by the time my children are grown.
Grandchildren, maybe. How often do you restock in Orzammar?
Twice a year. I am confined to a trade stall in the commons, but I see enough. It is very... closed in.
My grandfather says I've lost my stone sense. I was born topside. I don't remember having it.
I should go.
Best of luck to you.
[A little reminder that dwarven society is based on the twin pillars of rigid castes and colossal hypocrisy.]
Oh good, an opportunity for violence.
Veata! This land is held in trust for the sovereign dwarven kings, I cannot allow entry at this time.
King Loghain demands the allegiance of the deshyr or lords or whatever you call them in your Assembly! I am his appointed messenger.
I don't care if you're the king's wiper, Orzammar will have none but its own until our throne is settled.
Settled? Is this about my father?
You're the exile. Aye, despite your brother Bhelen's best efforts, sorrow finished what your kinslaying started. Your father is dead.
So I've been told.
Kinslayer? Oh, you're not getting in.
I didn't kill Trian!
Your conviction and guilt were entered into Assembly records. I suggest you leave and not compound this tragedy.
I am a Grey Warden. This treaty obliges Orzammar to aid me.
The Wardens killed King Cailan and nearly doomed Ferelden! They're sworn enemies of King Loghain!
Well, that is the royal seal. That means only the Assembly is authorised to address it. Grey Warden, you may pass.
What! She's a traitor! And a kinslayer! You said it yourself.
Don't feel too bad. Keep whining and I'm sure they'll let you in eventually.
In the name of King Loghain I demand that you execute this... stain on the honor of Ferelden!
(Intimidate) Run to your false king. The dwarves will not hear him today.
You.... you'll hear of this. King Loghain will see you quartered!
King Loghain's head is going to be on a spike one day soon, and you'll probably be right there next to him.
You are free to enter Orzammar, Grey Warden, though I don't know what help you will find.
You left chaos to fester in your house, but we must respect your new role.
Is it just me, or do all these statues look alike?
Don't break the fourth wall Sten.
My... Your Highness! You live! We heard what happened.
It was an injustice! My master is writing another book about the Aeducans; he believes that Prince Bhelen set you up.
He did set me up.
My master has not forgotten how you defended him from Bruntin Vollney.
May Orzammar be kinder to you than the last time you walked the roads.
[A callback to the very first update of Bianca's adventure! Continuity a-go-go here in Orzammar.]
Mother, I don't want to be like her! She--
Don't say that! Not to me, not to anyone! Now get back to the forge; I want to see more details!
I understand the swamp witch is out to slay its own mother?
Entirely in self-defense.
I knew nothing about my mother's... intentions prior to finding the book. 'Twas your notion I arranged that?
Unnecessary, considering it is the only one who can read the book. It could just as well be a journal, or a book of recipes.
Would you like me to teach you how to read the book? Then you can see for yourself.
(Snorts) Now it is testing me.
(Chuckles) Well do you care enough to learn, or no?
No. I do not care.
Then leave me be.
[It's a sad state of affairs when a pile of rocks is the smartest person in the party.]
It is the Assembly who makes a king, and a king who nominates his successor. None of it is carried in the blood.
Or, as now, when someone tries using the Assembly to pull a coup.
Who's to say what my father said in his final hours when the usurper Harrowmont was the only one by his side?
I'll have you thrown in prison!
You've bitten off more than you can chew!
Handlers! Separate these deshyrs in the Diamond Quarter! I will not have Bhelen incite a riot!
You'll not speak that way about the man who should be king!
It's good to be home.
I find that sodding fool, I'll have him in the Legion.
Exile, you were not to show your face here again. I have enough crime to deal with, I shouldn't have to dump you back in the Deep Roads.
I have a new house. The Grey Wardens.
More like a hut than a house, I should think.
That's right, you found pity topside. The Wardens should have better sense when choosing allies.
Surfacers and their cloud-addled heads. Fine, oh illustrious Grey Warden, what do you want?
The Blight is coming and I need Orzammar's assistance.
Surface problems. Well, we have no king to hear you. You can join the shouting at the Assembly in the Diamond Quarter, if you want.
Bunch of deshyr lords bickering over sand. Bhelen, Harrowmont... is one so different? No Paragons here.
Can a city function like this?
Blame yourself for that. The deaths in your house brought us here. And still the tavern is open and the market is busy.
Orzammar has suffered worse. The ancestors will see us through.
I should get going.
Yes, you should.
[Hmm. I think Orzammar has problems, but I need some more exposition to be absolutely certain.]
Who are... by the ancestors! You were exiled into the Deep Roads. How can you be standing here?
Nerav Helmi? Is that you?
I should hope so! Id be quite hurt if you didn't recognize me.
After all, under different circumstances, we might have been sisters-in-law.
[Nerav's sister was betrothed to Trian. If Bianca were a man, Nerav herself would have been a potential fiancée for us.]
But you were supposed to be dead. How is it you live?
The Grey Wardens rescued and recruited me.
Then I hope your return is a good omen.
Ah ha ha ha, mmm. Amusing.
Since your father died, many have begun to wonder if it was Bhelen's hand behind Trian's death, not yours.
The collective IQ of the deshyrs has leapt upwards by a few points then.
Even your father believed that. It's why he appointed Lord Harrowmont as his heir.
But enough deshyrs support Bhelen to keep the Assembly in a deadlock. You can see how bad things have gotten.
How did my father die?
In his sleep, though many whisper those are only sweet words to hide the smell of poison.
May the ancestors accept the king among their blessed number.
Does Harrowmont believe Bhelen killed my brother?
He wouldn't dare say so, but the common folk do. Not enough of them, I say.
Exactly half the Assembly still supports Bhelen, and their loyalty runs deep.
Once, the assembly wished me to rule...
And I'm sure some curse their decision to exile you. But House Aeducan stands behind Bhelen still, and they have stricken your name.
Serves me right for forgetting all my cousins' birthdays. Where is Bhelen now?
He still lives in the king's quarters, pretending your father never repudiated him.
He seems to think if he's close to the throne long enough, we'll forget he has no right to claim it.
That's enough. I must go deal with this now.
If you seek Lord Harrowmont's support, talk to Dulin Forender.
You'll find him in Harrowmont's estate. Tell him who you are and I'm sure he can get you an audience.
I should return home, until the streets become safe again.
Take care, Nerav.
It has more friends than it thought.
Civil wars have a way of making people forget their old grudges.
And inventing new grudges to replace them with.
[We'll explore the trade district later. Let's head to the Diamond Quarter for now, to hobnob with the upper crust of Orzammar.]
I'd expected more... shine.
Orzammar's media landscape is getting ever more polarised.
THE ASSEMBLY OF DESHYRS...
Your mind has gone to dust if you think we would pass such a writ. Half our houses would go broke without the surface trade.
The proposal is only effective until we have a king to ensure we are respected by the surfacers!
Leaving you conveniently positioned to take over all contracts. I'll see your head on a pike, first!
Deshyrs, lords, and ladies of the Assembly: Ive already doubled the guard to prevent violence. Must I summon more?
Steward Bandelor, Bhelen's sympathizers are tying our hands with trivialities! They may as well open us to the sky!
I suggest we put the matter to a vote.
And I suggest you have a taste of my family's mace--
Enough! The Assembly is in recess until the members can regain control of their emotions!
Stone-forsaken fools and dusters...
So it's true. The exile has returned and we are to treat you as a respected guest.
Do as you wish, Steward Bandelor. You always have.
It's the one perk to this position, child. Or should I call you "Warden?" I'm glad to hear the surfacers are making use of your talents.
Respect for your role is great, but you won't receive a proper hearing until we have a king on the throne.
A Blight is coming. It's been coming for about 6 months now. I'm amazed you haven't heard.
Troubling, but it will still seem distant compared to the empty throne. The Assembly is blind to all else.
Does the city not care the world is about to end?
This is their world, and it ended when Endrin died.
So who has the authority to aid me?
Literally no-one can help you right now.
Unless I was to push someone on to the throne.
Aren't the Grey Wardens forbidden to interfere in politics?
You're thinking of Witchers. Wardens can derail entire continents if they want.
Well then.Dulin Forender, Harrowmont's man, can be found at the Harrowmont estate. Vartag Gavorn, Prince Bhelen's second is often here at the Assembly.
I only wish there was more I could do for you.
Vartag Gavorn... I know him.
I heard you had returned to us, exile. What insult do you mean by coming here?
I'm here as a Grey Warden, not an Aeducan.
House Aeducan struck your name from its records the day you killed Trian. With Endrin gone, Bhelen must take his throne.
I have a treaty compelling Orzammar to aid against a Blight.
I have seen this treaty in the shapers' libraries. But it is only the king it compels, and your father has unfortunately passed on.
If you seek Bhelen's help, he can only give it from the throne. And only if no one stands in the way of his getting there.
If Bhelen promises me troops, I'll help him take the throne.
NEXT TIME: Why can't we all just get along?
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
The Key to the City