The Conscience of the King – Anna replays Dragon Age Pt.6
Aren has made a new friend in Shale and has fallen in love with Leliana, so naturally now is the time to get into some action. There is a guy in our camp named Levi Dryden who has maps and a story about Soldier’s Peak – an old warden fortress long abandoned. The place where the wardens made their last stand before their order was banned from Ferelden. He is the great-great-something-son of the former warden commander Sophia Dryden and wants to finally restore their family’s name by finding out what really happened there.
We undertake the long journey completely across the map, because of course this is literally on the complete other side. While travelling Aren (and I!) muse about the fact that it would have made way more sense to go to Ostagar first since that was basically around the corner from where we picked up out golem friend. But geography is not our strong point so we stumble across the entirety of Ferelden. Also the map seems to deem it important that we take the most indirect and complicated way there. For shits and giggles.
Arriving at Soldier’s Peak we are surrounded by snow. It is the middle of summer but somehow the news haven’t reached this place yet. Probably bc everyone here is rather dead. Or undead. As soon as we step foot into the fortress we get attacked my skeletons. In grey warden armour. While fighting through the courtyard and later the interior we see visions of what happened here. The wardens supported an uprising against a tyrant king who therefore declared war on them and layed siege to the fortress, starving them out and finally slaughtering them all. The wardens meanwhile went completely off they rails and thought it would be a great idea to summon an army of demons to help them fight. This went as well as one would have imagined, ending in everyone except the head weirdo (Avernus) dying and commander Sohpia being possessed. Oh, and it also tore the veil, leaving an open portal for demons. So overall not the best of plans.
The possessed Sophia wants to make a deal with us but Aren is a nice blood mage and says no. We kill her instead and get shiny new warden commander armour for Alistair. Then we find the head weirdo who has kept himself alive through blood magic over the centuries and who gives us two shiny (and super gory) new abilities and helps us seal the tear in the veil. We don’t execute him but let him continue his research into the taint. Ethically!
At this point Aren goes all: Wait, what? Because everyone died shortly after her joining and Alistair has not yet chosen to share the information about the taint and what it does to her yet. So she knows nothing about it and suddenly reads about how the darkspawn blood drives every warden insane at some point and the brilliant solution that the wardens game up with ages ago is… ritual suicide. In the Deep Roads. And that she has about 30 years until it kicks in. She is slightly horrified and sick to her stomach. Another reason why she is definitely all for Avernus continuing his research. She will be damned if she just accepts that.
So now she has a fortress as a base on top of her camp. Only downside: it is in the middle of nowhere. So it is not of that much use actually.
What follows is another trek through what feels all of Ferelden to finally return to Ostagar. Aren has Wynne, Alistair and Leliana with her and to no one’s surprise Ostagar is full of darkspawn and corruption. And also signs. Signs that weren’t there before. There is a huge board standing next to where the war council was that now tells you that the war council was indeed here. Who put that there? Did the darkspawn put it up for some reason? Is Ostagar a darkspawn tourist attraction? Who knows. We kill every darkspawn we can find and collect the pieces of King Cailan’s armour that looks a bit too posh for my tastes. Golden armour is not something you wear to everyday fights.
We also find the royal chest that is full of letters. That tell us a very different part of the story that is easily overlooked. Cailan was trying to re-ally Ferelden with Orlais. First through a treaty. And it is implied that he either had an affair with Empress Celene or was trying to marry her. The problem? He was already married. And there is another letter from Arl Eamon (you remember,i the guy we need to fin the Urn for bc he is apparently a paragon of goodness and super nice guy) who urges Cailan to drop his wife Anora for a better match since they don’t have an heir yet. Statistically it is much more likely that the fault for that lies with the guy and not the woman but anyway. Now, this brings us back to Loghains’s background story because Loghain, many years ago, was the person who freed Ferelden with Kind Marric (Cailan’s father and Loghain’s best friend) from a century of Orlesian rule (that was described as quite brutal and oppressive.) For that, common born Loghain was raised into nobility and Cailan later went on and married his daughter Anora. We also learn through codex entries that Anora is actually the ruling power in Ferelden because Cailen is pretty much not interested in all that boring stuff and people say he is lucky for having such a competent wife because without her Ferelden would have been run to the ground by Marric’s not so competent son.
The situation is quite a bit more complex than the main character gets told. The problem is that all this is hidden in letters, codex entries and secondary literature like the tie-in novels. One of the moments where Bioware actually dropped the ball in game narrative wise.
With Return to Ostagar finished we are done with the three bigger in campaign DLCs. So the next stop is actually going to be main story again when we go up into the Frostback Mountains and make our way to the Dwarven Kingdom Orzamar.