Inquisition Diaries #10: Elf Upliftification
SPOILER WARNING: These diaries will contain spoilers for Dragon Age Inquisition (DAI), as well as its predecessors, Dragon Age: Origins (DAO) and Dragon Age II (DA2), and may also contain spoilers from the tie-in materials. If you’re new to this whole Dragon Age business and want to know what the hell I’m going on about, please visit my little Dragon Age Primer to learn a bit more about BioWare’s fantasy roleplaying video game series. Not able to devote the ridiculous amount of time into leading the Inquisition yourself? Then join me on my noble journey!
Of the many things gained from the mission to Orlais, a new adviser is one of them. Morrigan joins the team, with her vast collection of knowledge on all things occult. And particularly, all things elven. She introduces Inquisitor Lerenne to the Eluvian, a magical mirror that serves as a portal to a place that is similar to the Fade. She suspects that Corypheus, who reportedly is heading toward the Arbor Wilds where many elven ruins lie, is after an Eluvian of his own.
Summoning all the gathered allies, Lerenne takes the Inquisition to Corypheus for what appears to be a final battle, based on all the cutscenes. Final battle? So soon? (To be clear, “soon” has still been well over 100 hours of game play because, while it appears that there isn’t much more to the main story, the world map exploration is still a pretty big job to cover, with many interesting things to learn and discover.) Anyway, the entire army is there in the lush, green forest that happens to be full of crafting material for me to gather! I swear I will stop the bad guy shortly. I just need to get stuff to make shiny new armour!
Lerenne takes Sera and Solas with her on this mission because she’s all about the elf now and what better place for a gathering than an elven temple? Sera’s none too pleased, since she hates elfy business, and Solas is awfully antsy… Cassandra rounds out the party as my tank, and Morrigan tags along because she knows everything, which she goes on and on about when we finally reach the temple. She’s like a wiki of ancient elven history and after a while, I really wanted a “STFU Morrigan” dialogue option. Or rather I really wanted — as a member of a group of elves who has worked hard to preserve elven culture based on what little of history hasn’t been utterly destroyed or altered by the Tevinter Imperium that enslaved them — to be able to act like Lerenne wasn’t completely ignorant of her own culture.
You see, this is where my disappointment in the main story line really started to reach critical mass. The game seems to want to be about ancient elves and their magical artifacts and how that is what is fueling Corypheus’ attempts to become a god. But as an elf, there is little opportunity to define your Inquisitor as such, save for a few throwaway dialogue options and some time spent with Solas — with the latter only being available to an elf. As a non-elf, it seems there’s not much to discuss at all. While I appreciated the return to various race options, with the story so focused on elves, I think it would have made the main character and subsequently the story much stronger if it had been elves only. Then you could really toy with roleplaying options. Are you a dalish, seeking a return to glory? Or a City Elf, trying to get away from servitude? Or, like Sera, an elf who despises her heritage altogether? Toss in the option to be a mage, and you have a character with depth to start with, that the player can build on with more detailed dialogue options focused on their culture, etc.
Instead, we get a rather bland character who Mary Sues her way into messiah status, with very little opposition except from the bad guy who is, you know, crazy and evil.
The crew arrive at the temple just after Corypheus and his red templars and they witness his confrontation with strange elves that appear to be temple guardians. He wants something called the Well of Sorrows, not an Eluvian, as Morrigan thought. See Morrigan? You don’t know everything! The magical wards at the gate end up destroying Corypheus. Yay! Game over! But then a dead Grey Warden starts to do the undead dance, and out pops a new Corypheus. Body swapping, Cory? Now that’s not fair! What other special snowflake powers do you have that defy just about everything we’ve learned about darkspawn and magic in the past?
Morrigan determines that he must some how have the power to leap into blighted bodies. I’m assuming she means dead bodies. From here on in, I realize, I’m going to have to make a lot of assumptions and headcanon to fill in the blanks and inconsistencies in Dragon Age‘s vast lore.
Lerenne and company make it into the temple just before the archdemon attacks. After slamming the door shut, Morrigan points out that that’s not actually an archdemon, but a dragon that must be under Cory’s control. (NOTE: Dorian makes this hypothesis in a separate instance of random party banter, suggesting that killing the dragon will weaken Corypheus.)
Inside, the group chases the red templars, but stop when the templars jump down a hole. Morrigan recommends that they actually use the door instead which means following rituals to open it (read: solving game puzzles). It will take longer, but might be worth it. Lerenne, revering her elven heritage, opts to be respectful, and hops around shiny tiles to open the doors properly.
The result is that they get to meet the temple sentinels, including their leader, Abelas, who reveals that the sentinels lie in stasis until needed to protect the temple. He’s none too happy with Lerenne, and certainly doesn’t consider her kin. Moreover, he suspects that we’re just here to take the knowledge from the Well of Sorrows too, but he does appreciate that she respected ritual. Still, he runs off, vowing to destroy the well. Morrigan transforms into a raven and chases after him, while the rest are left to follow a sentinel to their destination.
But first, a confrontation with Samson, the leader of the red templars, who now serves Corypheus, after spending DA2 as a strung out lyrium addict. His logic for helping the bad guy is that the Chantry was just another bad guy who used the templars, then cast them away when the lyrium they had to take finally stole their minds. Corypheus at least promises … I don’t know … gold and virgins or something.
Defeat Samson and then face off against Abelas. Lerenne must prove to him that her intentions aren’t so bad. He explains that the Well of Sorrows is a big pool full of knowledge. All the memories of those who came before. And also, Mythal — the elven goddess believed to have been murdered by the god Fen’Harel, the Dread Wolf — might have peed in the well or something.
Now it’s time to decide who gets to drink from the well. Morrigan has made her intentions abundantly clear, claiming that she seeks to preserve knowledge and since she knows everything about elves, she is the best choice. DAO players know that there’s probably a lot more to her reasoning, since she still hasn’t explained the results of the ritual she performed to save the Grey Wardens and give her a baby possessed of an Old God‘s soul. In fact, Morrigan seems none too worried that she might be harmed by drinking from the well, leaving her son, Kieran, motherless. I guess the Inquisition has babysitters, so it’s okay.
But Lerenne determines that, if she’s to bring the elves back to glory, she’s the one who should have the power. Besides, Lerenne already has the power of the mark on her hand, why not add more elven artifact goodness? Morrigan is pissed, but shortly after Lerenne takes a sip of deus ex machina well water, Corypheus comes after them. They escape just in the nick of time through the Eluvian connected to the well, as a feminine form rises out of the well to stop Corypheus and shatter the Eluvian.
Back at Skyhold, Lerenne starts hearing voices that answer some of her questions, but she doesn’t understand enough ancient elven. Still, she learns that the archdemon is actually a high dragon that Corypheus has corrupted with red lyrium. It also
is a horcrux houses part of his soul. Defeating it will prevent Corypheus from body jumping. (Which doesn’t really explain how Corypheus rose again after Hawke defeated him in DA2, since he didn’t have a red lyrium dragon to hop to then, but okay, we’ll just accept this and move on…)
Solas chastises her for drinking from the well, telling her that she is now bound to Mythal. But he apologizes and then takes her on a romantic date in the Fade where his idea of foreplay involves informing her that the tattoos she wears as a rite of passage into adulthood, are not tributes to the gods, as the dalish believe. They are actually slave brands from when elves enslaved each other. Yet another thing my poor elf is ignorant of. Solas offers to remove them, but Lerenne opts to keep them because they do have meaning now, even if they were once slave tattoos.
But after a kiss, Solas dumps Lerenne because he doesn’t want to hurt her, but swears that, no matter what happens, everything between them was real.
Seriously? I resisted starting a romance with Cullen for this? But there’s no time to flail over my heartbreak because Morrigan has gone through the Eluvian after her son. For some reason, the Eluvian leads directly into the Fade this time, where we find Kieran talking to a nice old lady that turns out to be his grandmother, Flemeth. Flemeth wants that Old God soul withing Kieran, but Morrigan is frightened that Flemeth will try to possess him, as she feared her mother would do to her. Morrigan tries to attack, but Flemeth uses her powers to control Lerenne. Because, you see, Flemeth is Mythal. Or at least, when Flemeth was betrayed many years ago, the diminished spirit of Mythal came to her and Flemeth is now on a quest of holy vengeance in Mythal’s name. But mostly, Flemeth just keeps showing up throughout Dragon Age to drop cryptic messages and maybe help sometimes.
“I nudge history when it’s required. Other times a shove is needed.” – Flemeth
The voices from the Well of Sorrows confirm that she is indeed Mythal’s vessel. (Confirmation seems to be all the voices are good for, since everyone else figures these things out before Lerenne consults the voices.)
Flemeth takes the Old God soul from Kieran and gives him back to his mother. She informs Morrigan that she might not be a good mom, but Morrigan was never in any danger since possession can only happen if the person is willing. She is, she tells Lerenne to go to the Temple of Mythal to find and tame its guardian, a dragon, that will help them in the coming battle, though it can only be summoned once.
Off to the final battle! But before that, I run around doing a few more quests, crafting some nice new armour, and learning how to be a Rift Mage. THEN, I head off to find Corypheus. That is, if we know where to find Corypheus. No need to worry though, because Corypheus apparently does have Lerenne’s phone number and address, and uses it to open another breach near Skyhold!
Cullen warns that the army is not going to be able to help, because they are still over in the Arbor Wilds after the previous battle. This means it’s up to Lerenne and her companions to stop Corypheus once and for all.
Corypheus talks lots of smack and at one point, unleashes his red lyrium dragon, whom my new pet dragon fights. Sadly, my dragon doesn’t quite make it, leaving me to finish off the corrupted dragon. Once it is defeated, the team heads further up the mountain ruins to continue the battle with Corypheus, who continues his smack talking, calling on his precious elven orb to give him more power to defeat this pesky interloper.
Ah poor Cory. Not only does Lerenne defeat him in a surprisingly easy battle, but she uses the orb to send him to the Fade once and for all, though not as the god he hoped to become. He’ll probably just be a very disgruntled spirit instead.
Solas arrives and is devastated to find the orb broken. Without a word, he leaves, while everyone else returns to Skyhold for a party. We’ve saved the world, but there is still much for the Inquisition to do. Which hopefully means lots of really cool downloadable content to make up for the rather lackluster ending.
But before we go, Morrigan narrates the outcome of events, explaining that Leliana was anointed as Divine Victoria. Wait what? I wanted Cass on the throne! How did this happen? That crafty spymaster probably stabbed everyone in her way. Empress Celene remains a strong supporter of the inquisition. On the plus side, Fiona reforms the College of Magi to teach mages in a warm, friendly environment. Everything seems pretty good, save for the Grey Wardens, who seem to be having trouble and have cut ties with the mysterious Weisshaupt. Hawke, who was supposed to be heading there, has disappeared yet again. Does this mean I’ll get Warden civil war DLC so I can finally see my Grey Warden from DAO?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Marvel, it’s that you must stay for the credits, after which we find Flemeth playing around with an Eluvian. Solas approaches, whom she greets kindly as “Dread Wolf,” the trickster god who betrayed the other gods and locked them away. That ought to be enough to cover the guilt and shame he’s been displaying throughout the game, but wait, there’s more. Turns out he’s the one who gave Corypheus the Orb of Destruction because Solas was not powerful enough to unlock it when he awoke from his slumber. I will have to assume that, like me, Solas was groggy and grumpy after a long, long nap and wasn’t quite thinking straight when he gave his elven ball of super power to the guy who has been trying to become a god. But Solas wants to make amends now, and believes that his people — the elves — need him. For what, you ask. Well that, is another story…