The Changing Face Of Evil – Anna replays Dragon Age Pt.10
We finally got all out treaties validated and our armies are promised to us. So with the Arl of Redcliffe we relocate to Denerim. We’ve been here before, several times so we can finish a bunch of side quests upon returning. The moment we step inside the palace in Denerim we meet Loghain and his military Commander, Ser Cauthrien. Whom I am absolutely in love with, seriously I have so many headcanons about that women it is almost embarrassing. (One of them involves her and Anora totally being a couple in semi-secret but I digress…) Aren is incredibly torn with reconciling the things she lived through in Ostagar with the things she learned afterwards, but she manages so be very diplomatic and keeping the whole encounter very civil. Not thanks to Alistar.
After a quick talk to Eamon she meets an elven woman who is the handmaiden of the Queen apparently and who suspects that Arl Howe is holding Anora captive. Having the Queen on our side would be a super great benefit so of course we go and rescue her. On our way towards Arl Howe’s castle we stop by Wade the armour smith who turns out newly acquired dragon and drake scales into fancy armour that has awesome stats but looks like crap. We get a lot of money for it by selling it back to him though, so it’s not all bad. We complete some more sidequest I have never in my life done before because I usually don’t have the patience for it. But they involve weird people in dirty hovels and a lot of blood. Until we finally, and remember we are STILL on our way to Arl Howe’s humble abode, get ambushed again, this time by an old work buddy from Zevran. Who of course offers Zev riches and reinstatement for betraying us. But Zevran and Aren are actually bffs by this point and Zevran only laughs about this while happy helping Aren dispose of the inconvenience. (This can turn out very differently btw if you neglect to get to know him at all. Just saying.)
Finally arriving at Howe’s estate everyone gets to wear ugly boob plate armour so noone will recognise the merry band of misfits. Anora is of course safely looked in somewhere (and super snarky, I love her!) and so we have to explore the dungeons. And boooy, does the arl have a dungeon. Complete with some torture chambers and a lot of blood on the floors.
I just played Leliana’s Song a few hours before this because my recent new installation of the game somehow made it so that all the achievements were gone. Meaning all the extra stuff you get from playing the DLCs as well. A good part of the DLC plays in this exact dungeon so I was actually kinda enjoying the fact that I knew where everything was. Also I generally really recommend that DLC. It’s from Leliana’s perspective and describes the events that let her to the chantry and to Ferelden. Including Marjolene’s betrayal. You play as Leliana for about two hours and it is fully voiced and quite fun.
In the dungeon we find several prisoners. Some we just let go but we also find Soris, an elf from the alienage that basically tells us the story from the city elf origin. Including what the son of the Arl did to them. Coincidentally said son is also imprisoned here because Arl Howe murdered and bribed his way into being the new Arl of Denerim. So that guy Aren actually stabs as soon as he tells her who he is. Very satisfactory! Also very in character because the elven woman involved in all this is no other than her childhood friend Fian. So she has even more reason to off the guy.
We also find an imprisoned grey warden named Riordan. Who actually answers some questions we have. AND offers help, but first he has to do some other stuff so he’ll see us later. And Aren is completely not interested in men at all, but if she would ever consider it then, well, that guy! (Totally irrelevant information but just fyi…)
We finally find Arl Howe and his dungeon master (no, not the harmless D&D player, an actual one) and Howe is an utter asshole plus he quickly attacks us and we get to kill him and all his men. And steal the keys to freeing Anora from him. This is way more satisfying as a human noble given what Howe did to the Cousland family but it is still kinda nice as anybody else because he really is a dick. The attack on the cousland castle still happens when you don’t play a human noble, you can overhear some of his guards talking about it.
So we free Anora and are just on our way out when we get caught by Ser Cauthrien. She is reasonable and after a quick negotiation Aren lets herself be arrested in exchange for everyone else, including Anora, going free. Aren gets brought to Fort Drakon and doesn’t have to wait long until she gets rescued by the unlikely duo of Leliana and Sten who are absolutely hilarious together. The way out of the Fort is still a bit tricky but nothing the three of them plus Leliana’s lovely bear pet that she can apparently summon in dungeons too (wtf?) can not handle.
After that we finally go into the Alienage. Because now of all times they are finally kinda done with the counter measures to the supposed uprising. Very convenient. We step foot into the Alienage and there is a plague outbreak there that is decimating the population. Also very convenient. And to help there are Mages from Tevinter of all places here that offer their healing aid and are quarantining people. The amount of convinience knows no bounds! So either the Alienage in Denerim has the superpower of being the most convenient place in Thedas or there might be something rotten in the state of
And of course there is. We do our obligatory sidequests that involve ghosts, a creepy orphanage and finding stuff that belongs to other people before we start poking the Tevinter Mages. Because according to a very angry elven woman named Shianni they keep quarantining people but no one ever comes out of quarantine again. Including the leader of the Alienage. So Aren has the great idea to pretend tat she is sick to sneak inside – where she is promptly recognised and has to kill everyone in the room. Oops!
She snoops around and finds out that the Tevinters are not really here to help anyone except themselves. Apparently they made a deal with either Loghain or Howe that allows them to steal elves to sell as slaves back home. Given that Howe is dead by now their contract is definitely with Loghain now. That is… a bit not good one might say! Outraged Aren frees everyone and kills the slavers on the spot. When returning to Arl Eamon she is slightly disgusted with his reaction. He basically says “Well, of course it is all very awful but this is the greatest thing ever because now we have leverage against Loghain!” And while he is not completely wrong the way this was phrased made Aren deeply uncomfortable.
Pushing those feelings aside we go to the Landsmeet. Finally. All the Nobles are there. Including quite a few for whom we have done some favours. *yay* Ser Cauthrien wants to stop us from going in but Aren talks her down, Silvertongue that she is. (I am fighting the urge to make a very lewd joke here…)
The Landsmeet is over surprisingly quick as I try to navigate the conversation options in a way that doesn’t sound like either a petulant child throwing a tantrum or a revenge screaming lunatic. Aren is diplomatic at foremost. And while she is a skilled fighter by now she will always try to talk her way through tricky situations instead of fighting. She is also no one who would deliberately antagonise someone if she thinks there is a chance for diplomacy still. So she tries to make everyone see reason, including Loghain. And Alistair for what it is worth.
She and Loghain agree to duel according to the Landsmeet’s rules and Aren wins. (Seriously, Glyph of Paralysis and 4 Auto-hits with her Sword and he was done for… Have I mentioned lately how massively overpowered the Arcane Warrior/Blood Mage is?) After the duel he yields and surrenders. And this is where the game keeps pissing me off. Because the give you someone surrendering and the person that most likely has gained your sympathy and friendship the most (Alistair) insists on decapitating him on the spot. Against all reason. He actually starts yelling at you for not immediately killing someone who surrendered… That is so out of character it is not even funny.
Riordan shows up and says it would be a better idea to have Loghain join the Grey Wardens and Aren is a bit conflicted, but for the exact opposite reason than Alistair is actually. Alistair doesn’t want this to happen because he thinks being a Grey Warden is an honour and a privilege. Aren thinks more of it as being a curse. Especially since she feels kind of tricked into it given that no one told her about the “30 years and then you go mad” part nor the “don’t let the Darkspawn catch you or they turn you into something horrible by the most despicable means possible” points in advance. So in my headcanon she definitely tells Loghain about the downsides and then offers him a choice. Because no matter what someone did, she would never ever want to do this to another person against their will. He accepts and undergoes the joining and Alistair flips his shit. A careful reminder that he agreed to marry Anora makes him do exactly that and afterwards he yells some more at Aren and then stops talking to her alltogether.
I don’t really know what the writers were thinking but they gave him a 180 personality change when you go this route and it bugs me! So with this depressing thought everyone starts travelling towards Redcliffe because we apparently think now that the big showdown will happen there – for whatever reason? I have no clue, but Eamon says it so everyone marches.