When last we left off, we had cut a bloody swath through the Arl of Denerim’s estate, leaving his son (and son’s two best
handmaidens cronies ‘friends’) in puddles of their own blood with empty pockets.
All in all, it was an outing to feel… well, not exactly good about. There was still a bunch of murder that happened back there. Men (and almost, if not entirely exclusively men, now that I think about it) that my childhood friend and I slaughtered in droves. Those men had names, and families. Some probably had women and children, they had hopes and fears and loves, and some of them were probably planning on going out to the pub for drinks afterwards, and many of them probably had nothing to do with the systematic oppression of Elves.
Andraste’s breath, we’re monsters.
We’re greeted with open arms by the village elder, who immediately asks where one of the women went. Now, we never see most of them on-screen again, and I’m pretty sure the male version of this origin doesn’t mention Nola at all, and nobody here even thinks to ask after Nelaros-the-Foolhardy. Maybe they think they’re saving me the trouble of explaining how he ‘miraculously’ grew an arrow between his C6 and C7 vertebrae, but really, no. I didn’t have anything to do with his tragic death. It’s all the plot’s fault this time!
Soris’ wife (whose name I actually don’t remember) gives the elder and Duncan a run-down. We’re here, Shiani is ‘fine’, and Nola was killed when she resisted. She seems genuinely shaken up by all of this, and I decide to spare her the details of feeling an arrow plant itself in your chest, or what a dagger to the kidneys feels like. Valendran and Duncan seem rather blasé about this, and instruct the women to take Shiani home so she can recover.
“Then the Garrison could already be on their way” Duncan reasons. “You have little time” he continues, as if believing I didn’t already know literally all of that. I tell him that I was just thinking of leaving the city for a while. Lay low, put arrows in some Shem throats, y’know, live the good life. And then, as if on cue, a detachment from the city garrison shows up.
Valendrian helpfully points himself out. “I take it you’ve come in response to today’s disruption earlier?” he asks, pointedly. Let it not be said that this guy isn’t a stone-cold badass. We all know why the city guard is here, mere moments after the perpetrators of the crime they’re seeking have returned, right before they’re able to go to ground. These guys have a killer response time, and Valendrian asks where the hell they were when we called for their help after a human burst in and kidnapped a bunch of women with the attempt to rape.
Valendrian: Fucking Hero.
“Don’t play ignorant with me, Elder.” The guardsman scolds, “You will not prevent Justice from being done!”
He is, of course, dumbfounded. Claims we cannot expect him to believe one woman caused all the devastation. Valendrian smiles, all coy. “We are not all so helpless,” he posits, sticking in the best stealth threat ever. In the game of politics, I’m totally picking Valendrian first. He still knows I’m lying: after all, the still-bloody Soris is standing right there, next to me. And he apparently realizes what I’m doing, so he stays quiet.
He needs that armor to butcher deer. Yeah. He’s totally just the local butcher.
“You save many by coming forward” the Captain says, apparently impressed. “I don’t envy your fate, but I applaud your courage.” He orders his subordinates to take me into custody, before, finally, Duncan speaks up, begging for a word.
So much for Grey Warden Neutrality, eh? C’mon you orange-named badass, let’s cut a bloody swath!
The older guardsman becomes visibly upset by this, sputtering a little before pointing out that he can’t technically overrule the Rite of Conscription, even though it’s implied that he really, really wants to. He does offer a ‘condition’ as a half-assed attempt to maintain some illusion of control of the situation. “Get this Elf out of the city”, he demands. “Today.”
Duncan quickly agrees, and I elect not to jump in to point out that was the actual plan, even before the Selectively Competent Guard showed up.
The guardsmen make their way out of the alienage, and Duncan turns to me. “You belong to me now,” he says, in a tone which, I’ll admit, was actually a little bit creepy. “Say your goodbyes and meet me when you’re ready. We leave today.”
“What’s going to happen here?” I ask. He wasn’t just going to save me and leave me here. Besides, I wanted to get out of the city. Not too much a fan of doing that as an official Grey Warden Arrow Catcher, but hey, that’s better than this shithole. And maybe they’ll promote me to Arrow Shooter pretty quickly. I just want to know what would happen to the ‘only world I’ve ever known’. He dodges the question in favour of explaining why he conscripted me.
So, I say my goodbyes. Soris is right there, and the very first thing he does is thank me for not implicating him in the slaughter. The game doesn’t let me crack a joke about thanking Fen’Harel (The Elvish Trickster God, folks!) for guards too stupid to notice the man wearing full plate armor and carrying an illegal sword and shield, so we’ll just have to imagine that.
I ask what he’s going to be up to, now that all the excitement has happened.
Then he informs me where Shiani and the other women went – apparently, Daddy Dearest went to take care of them. He asks if I’m going to say my goodbyes to them, which, of course I will.
But before I do that! I remember that I’m officially a Grey Warden Conscript now, and change into a full suit of leather armor so fast I forget to screenshot it. The Blood-Stained Wedding Dress trope would, from here on out, be inappropriate anyway.
I’ll end up hocking the dress, too. May as well lose all ties to my former life, now that it doesn’t matter anymore.
I make the rounds, talking to all the available minor NPCs, who all have pity one-line responses in various flavours of ‘we’re proud of you, be safe’ before running into my father.
He chokes up a little bit, gets religious and says my mother would have been pleased. I ask why he isn’t.
We duck inside my hovel, where the story began, to find the now-Mrs. Soris trying to console Drunk Cousin. She thanks me for taking the blame. “Just… be good to Soris.” I reply. Really, everybody is making my irrational murder spree out to be some sort of heroic stand against a tyrant instead of bloody-minded vengeance. I’m just too flustered to break their illusion.
She leaves me alone for Shiani to thank me.
“You always do,” she replies to me trying to be humble and/or not tell people the bloody truth, depending on your interpretation of things. “They’ll write legends about you some day. When the world was at its worst, there you were, with fire in your eyes. Like something out of a storybook.”
With that, I level up, grab Rapid Fire, heft my bow and arrows and return to Duncan.
Next week: We meet the King. He’s kind of a tool, and I try to be respectful of the high-ranking armed human surrounded by bodyguards.