This is part of a continuing series on my Elf Mage, Neria, during my first playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins. We’ve traveled from the Circle tower to Ostagar, through Lothering and up to Redcliffe. Now is the time to return home – if a prison like the tower can truly be called a home.
After an amusing conversation with a Templar at the lake of Calenhad, who finally agrees to take me to the tower, it is apparent something is off. The Templars are religious knights charged by the Chantry to confine the mages, and kill any who are at danger of consorting with demons.
Knight-Commander Greagoir has sent to Denerim asking for the reinforcements and the Right of Annulment – the authority to neutralise the mage Circle completely. He had sealed the tower, and although he understood the dangers of the Blight, he believed he needed to be at the tower to prevent any more demons coming from there. Greagoir let me enter, but warned he would only consider the Circle as saved if the First Enchanter Irving returns.
I didn’t trust him when I was first here, but I was proven to be so very wrong in that. He had warned the First Enchanter of Jowan, and they had agreed that Jowan was to be made Tranquil, but of course, I stuffed that up. I had no reason not to trust him now, but I didn’t want to see the Circle destroyed. Mages were also healers in this world, and could do good.Which was further reinforced by my entering the tower and immediately meeting Wynne, a spirit healer who had saved numerous children (a deed that I had already failed at, at Redcliffe!).So thus was my party: the Templar trained (now Grey Warden, and my potential lover) Alistair who would be our tank, Wynne of the Circle of Mages, who would be our healer, Morrigan, a shape-shifting apostate (not of the Circle) mage, and myself as damage. Given this was the usual party structure in other RPGs, I felt it was the best combination – plus the only other companion I had at the time was the dog Piffleflop, I left him at camp with some NPC’s, happily digging away.
Indeed, as we’d been warned, the tower was infested with demons. There were few survivors (such as one who refused to come out of his closet). Even the templars that had been sent in to contain the chaos were under the spell of demons (below is a desire demon, who had bespelled the Templar to believe she was his humble wife, and that we were bandits come to attack their children).
One major demon sent us all into the Fade, the realm of magic and inhabited by spirits, demons and dreamers. This is where I had been sent before, during my harrowing at the very beginning of the game. I was confronted by a vision of Duncan, the Grey Warden who had recruited me. I had to rescue each one of my companions, who were being deceived by demons that they were with their loved ones – only Morrigan was aware that it was a trick and rebuffed the demon-Flemeth. My party rescued, I continued up the tower to where a Templar was trapped. He thought I was another vision conjured by the demons, but I was a bit surprised by his dialogue. He had been in love – with me! How can I resist a forbidden love story … but there was Alistair. Turns out this never actually went anywhere, Cullen couldn’t become a companion, and I had my sights set on Alistair by now. But it was nice to hear it, nonetheless.After freeing him, he urged me to murder everyone in the room beyond, that they were all probably maleficarum (users of forbidden magic, such as blood magic). I couldn’t promise it to him, I needed to see for myself if the First Enchanter Irving was still alive, so we could conscript the mages into fighting the Blight and the archdemon. Armed with powerful magic we’d found in the tower, we were able to defeat the bad guy and save the First Enchanter. Irving accepted the treaties and would begin preparations for war, as well as restoring the Circle. The Knight-Commander was not as bad as I thought. Later, I found out that I could have instead destroyed the Circle, and the Templars would join me at the final battle.
Upon entering the Brecilian Forest, we were waylaid by assassins. We captured the last one for questioning, and this was the witty and charming Zevran, an Antivan assassin. He asked to join us, as his assassination had failed, the Crows (the assassin brotherhood) would kill him anyway. It didn’t take much convincing, I needed someone who could pick locks (but alas, I didn’t put enough points into the ability and so rarely used him).
We were headed to the elves for assistance, but yet again they already had troubles of their own. They were long at war with werewolves in the area, and wanted to be rid of them. I had to find the leader of the werewolves, Witherfang, and destroy it to remove the curse from the elvish people and thus gain them as my allies. During this, I also helped a nice rhyming oak tree.
But the elven Keeper Zathrian had not told me the full story. It was actually he who had cursed a human town to become the werewolves (and who were then able to infect the elves). Some humans had attacked Zathrian’s family first, killing his son and abusing his daughter who later killed herself. Zathrian summoned a great and terrible spirit, binding it to a wolf to become Witherfang, the first werewolf. The Lady of the Forest, that very spirit, managed to calm her cursed children from their bestial nature to reclaim their humanity, but this would not be complete without Zathrian removing the curse.
He, of course, would not – his vengeance too strong, his grief too powerful. I could have attacked the werewolves before, but wanted to parley between them and Zathrian after hearing (not so surprisingly) that he caused the curse. There were three choices: side with the elves, and attack the werewolves – where the elves will honour the treaty; side with the werewolves and murder Zathrian – where the werewolves will instead help fight against the Blight; or siding with both, where the curse is lifted, and the elves will honour the treaties. I didn’t want to be party to a bloodbath, so I chose this. Zathrian was a rather difficult fight, but at the end, he and Witherfang/Lady of the Forest died together, releasing the curse and healing both their people.
After this, I spoke to Morrigan in camp. During the Circle tower quest, I had found a book of Flemeth, her mother’s, and given it to her. She was appreciative, but very disturbed, for her mother had lived so long due to dark magic. When Flemeth’s body grew too old, she would raise a daughter so she could possess the new body. Morrigan feared for her life, and asked me to kill her mother and take her mother’s true grimoire. I could have chosen to deal with Flemeth, take her spellbook and pretend to Morrigan that she was dead, but I sided with Morrigan, and took Wynne, Zevran and Alistair to go murder Flemeth. Of course, Flemeth wasn’t going to be taken easily.
I found this the hardest fight in the game, but after a few deaths, I managed to kill her when I was the last one standing (the screenshot above, of course, taken before Wynne died). Morrigan was very grateful that she was safe, and now she had Flemeth’s spellbook – but warned that very likely, Flemeth would be back one day. At least with the grimoire, Morrigan could find a way to defend herself in the future. After this, I decided to be forward with Alistair and ask him to join me in my tent. I had flirted with him a lot, and made jokes before about his innocence (to which he made even worse jokes – see above), but during the werewolf saga, he had given me a rose. He admitted to having picked it in Lothering, wanting to save something beautiful from the darkspawn, and that it was the same as how he felt about me.
Turns out that while the rose was a sign of his growing affection (tehehehe #adult), it wasn’t quite there yet. I was determined to keep trying, because although Zevran was amusing and well-educated in the affairs of love, I felt that my mage would be more drawn to Alistair’s innocence (despite her response to his question of lampposts being “I’ve licked my share of lampposts and then some”). She too would have been innocent because of her mage upbringing, and they had been through a lot together. Maybe I could romance Zevran another time. Neria was for Alistair alone.
Stay tuned for part three, where we follow Neria through her adventures in gathering an army to defeat the blight and the Archdemon, and her continuing courtship with Alistair.