Inquisition Diaries #14: Trespasser
SPOILER WARNING: These diaries will contain spoilers for Dragon Age Inquisition (DAI) and its downloadable content (DLC), 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!Hot on the heels of their disappointing The Descent DLC, BioWare graced us with the final entry for Dragon Age: Inquisition—Trespasser, which takes place two years after the defeat of Corypheus and mysterious departure of Solas, whom we, the player, now know is the elven god, Fen’Harel, a.k.a the Dread Wolf.
With this DLC comes not only a new adventure, but also all important style options that let you change your character’s casual wear and tint their armour. Along with the previously released Black Emporium DLC that allows you to alter your character’s appearance (she needed a new hair cut and a few battle scars—it’s been two years!) Inquisitor Lerene Lavellan looks fantastic and is ready to take on the Inquisition’s latest threat.
Divine Victoria, formerly the Inquisitor’s spymaster Leliana, has done her best over the years to keep the heat off of the Inquisition, but now the two major factions on the continent of Thedas have demanded an Exalted Council at the Winter Palace. But before we get down to business, there are companions to catch up with. Spending time with companions is one of my favourite pastimes in BioWare games—not just for the romantic options (though in this case, my romance option, Solas, ditched me, and the remaining companions keep asking about him … she’s over that bastard, okay? *sobs quietly*). Each character is unique, and the friendships that can be built up with them are so fun and rewarding. Turns out, during the past two years, Varric has become Viscount of Kirkwall, Cole has found love, Iron Bull and his Chargers are still causing shit and taking names, Sera is causing even more shit, Dorian is a magister, Cassandra remains a loyal and true friend, Cullen found a puppy and longs to visit home, Josephine has been holding the Inquisition together, Blackwall survived the Grey Warden ritual and is now official, Leliana misses just being Leliana, and Vivienne is still as fabulous as ever.
After a good half an hour spent with old friends, it’s finally time to get down to business and get this dreaded Exalted Council underway. Ferelden and Orlais want the Inquisition gone. This is a reasonable request since the point of an Inquisition is to do what it set out to do, then disband. Lerenne defeated Corypheus and has spent the last two years cleaning up all the remaining rifts in the veil, closing off the demon and spirit realm of the Fade from the real world. Dialogue options allow for an Inquisitor who isn’t afraid to remind everyone of the magical, military, and political power she wields, but that isn’t Lerenne’s way. In fact, she is not at all opposed to disbanding the Inquisition, but she sure doesn’t appreciate Arl Teagan of Ferelden (where the hell is King Alistair?) and Orlais’ ambassador being such ungrateful assholes about it. Lerenne keeps her game face on and is mostly polite, until a message from the Divine herself causes her to walk out of the meeting, much to the further annoyance of the ruling parties.
On the down low, Divine Victoria — who has not given up her spymaster ways and probably hides a few daggers under those robes — reveals that a dead Qunari soldier has shown up here at the Winter Palace and asks Lerenne to investigate. The trail of blood leads to an Eluvian, one of the ancient elven mirrors that work as travel conduits. Following the path leads to an ancient elven ruin guarded by spirits that seem content to let Lerenne pass when she speaks to them in the elven tongue. One even tags along to help in the ensuing skirmishes. This is the beginning of a two-part mystery: (A) What are the Qunari up to? and (B) What are the texts and wall murals trying to tell us about the missing elven gods and the Dread Wolf who betrayed them?
Passing through the topsy turviness of the Eluvians and reporting back to Divine Victoria reveals that a group of Qunari, led by the Viddasala, are planning an invasion, but their efforts have been harried by an “agent of Fen’Harel.” The Qunari are a powerful sect that, through Iron Bull, had already expressed their intention to intervene with the troubled southern continent if we couldn’t get our shit together. Apparently, two whole years later, they’ve decided to finally step in (even though all the rifts are closed and shit is pretty much together, despite the bickering between Orlais and Ferelden). [pullquote]“As does a drowning man know the sea, so does a mage know magic” ―Qunari saying[/pullquote]The Qunari abhor magic and those who use it without understanding. They themselves are not opposed to using it, but only under strict, well-researched and controlled circumstances. They boast the most powerful mages, the saarebas, and, we discover, have come to the elven ruins to learn more about ancient elven magic and then use it (instead of their usual practice of neutralizing it) to attack the south’s leadership as part of their “Dragon’s Breath” plan that will bring peace to the continent. They even have spies within the Inquisition, further justifying Ferelden’s and Orlais’ mistrust. But if there’s anyone who can deal with this threat, it’s the Inquisition, so back to work we go. Lerenne really doesn’t have a choice anyway, because the magical anchor in her hand has been acting up. Annoying and painful for Lerenne, but finally useful for me since the Inquisitor can now—finally—use this power to protect her companions, damage enemies, and provide illumination.
We’ve spent the last two Dragon Age games feeling sympathy for downtrodden, displaced, and enslaved elves who have lost their home, their history, and their immortality all thanks to humans—namely the Tevinter magisters, of which Corypheus was one, and then the Orlesians, as we learned in the Jaws of Hakkon DLC. In the Tevinter magisters’ efforts to breach the Fade and reach the Golden City beyond, they ended up unleashing the Blights that periodically wreak havoc across the world. While there are good Tevinter magisters, like our own Dorian Pavus, Tevinter is mostly a place of dangerous blood magic that the Qunari always want to destroy. But, the story that is unraveling as we journey through the ancient elven tomes is that maaaaybe the elves really weren’t so great after all, starting with the elven gods, a.k.a. the evanuris.
As the story goes, the evanuris were betrayed and imprisoned by the Dread Wolf, who is depicted as a dangerous trickster god. But as we’ve seen with other such gods, there’s a more serious story beneath the tricks, starting with the fact that Fen’Harel and all the other gods weren’t actually gods. They were just really powerful, uppity mages who treated the lesser elves like shit, branding them with slave markings. Fen’Harel, a mage himself, disagreed with such practices. He led a rebellion against the evanuris and weakened them all by bringing down the veil between the Fade and the real world—which used to be one—thereby limiting access to magic.
Here’s where I paused to speculate with my equally BioWare and lore obsessed friend who called Solas actually being the Dread Wolf early on in the original game. While Solas lent his aid to the Inquisition, the entire reason Lerenne got the mark in her hand was because he accidentally gave his elven magical ball of destruction to a corrupted Tevinter magister who’d already tried to take over the world once or twice. We’re guessing his whole freeing the slaves, weakening magic, and starting a rebellion left the elves open to the Tevinter Imperium taking over. Whatever the truth, I’m enjoying the opportunity to explore the mess of elven history a bit more thoroughly and hope that the next game grants my wish to really focus on the elves.
So what’s all this got to do with the Qunari? Nothing, really, but they are a convenient enemy. Correspondence between Josephine and the Qunari leadership, with confirmation from Iron Bull, indicates that the Viddasala is working as a rogue faction against the orders of the Qun. We’ve already fought a Tevinter cult, now we’ve got rogue Qunari. When all else fails—or when you’re too lazy to write something better—fanatical cults and rogue factions are a nice go-to for enemies. The next section of the game involves fighting the Qunari as we try to stop their “Dragon’s Breath” plan, which turns out to be an actual dragon from which they are using venom to fuel their weapons.
The battles are challenging, as is this showdown with a very angry dragon who is tired of being abused by the Qunari. There is a choice to put the dragon out of its misery or to free it. Both options are tricky since the dragon isn’t cooperating either way. Upon successfully freeing the dragon (much to Cole’s joy), Lerenne chases the Viddasala through yet another series of Eluvian. The Viddasala admonishes Lerenne for blindly following the agent of Fen’Harel who led them to Skyhold, saved Lerenne when the mark in her hand was killing her, and gave Corypheus the orb that started all this. Lerenne denies being either an agent or puppet of Solas. Pfft. Those were all just coincidences…
The Viddasala is determined to destroy Solas, but Lerenne calls dibs. Unfortunately, her chase is hampered by more Qunari, including a very powerful saarebas, and the mark in her hand which is now doing its best to kill her and her friends. But she needn’t have worried about the Viddasala getting to Solas first. He can handle himself.
When Lerenne sees her long lost lover, she immediately realizes that he is not an agent of Fen’Harel. He is the Dread Wolf himself and he confirms what the ancient texts and elven spirits have been saying. He struck down the elven “gods” by creating the veil and freed the slaves, but his good deed resulted in bad things. It was not their encounters with humans that took away the elves’ immortality; it was Solas. Now he wants to fix his mistake by once again trying to free his people. Only, to do so, he must destroy the world that is now and return the connection to the Fade. This is what he’d intended when he woke from his long sleep a year before the Inquisition began, but he lacked the power. He hoped Corypheus, in his attempt to open the rift in the Fade using Solas’ orb of destruction, would have perished, but that damn magister figured out immortality by way of horcruxes.
So basically, the ruin of the elves was Solas’ fault. The breach in the sky was Solas fault. And now he’s going to destroy the world to fix all these mistakes. This is problematic thinking and, though Lerenne still loves him, she’s ain’t gonna let that fly. At least he looks remorseful when he explains that he has to do this thing. Lerenne has a choice: does she want to fight to stop him, or hope that she can persuade him. She has changed the way he’s viewed mortals and the elves who live now… maybe she can stop him from apocalypsing all over Thedas…
Lerenne’s mark continues to discharge its power, but, with a kiss, Solas takes the pain away. By that, I mean he romantically chops her arm off, apparently, because when next she shows up to deal with the angry Exalted Council, she’s rocking the phantom pain and an empty sleeve. But she’s also very determined about the status of the Inquisition. I began with the intent to disband the Inquisition, but Lerenne reminds them all that this Inquisition was formed to stop the breach and those responsible for it. Solas remains a threat. Lerenne announces that the Inquisition would hence forth be at the command of Divine Victoria. Over the next while, the Inquisition is whittled down to a much more manageable number of trusted people, but Leliana reminds them that Solas knows everything about them. Lerenne says simply that they must find people whom he does not know. This means my Grey Warden, right?
The epilogue speaks of the future of the Inquisition and all of the goings on of Lerenne’s companions, and notes that elves have mysteriously vanished from both the Inquisition ranks, and many of the cities. Hmmm….
Upon completion with Lerenne, I decided to go back and check things out with Mieke, my rogue dwarf, with whom I’d made many different decisions. Most notably, Mieke and Solas were not a romantic item (Mieke dated Blackwall, who has now reverted to his real name, Thom Rainier and is not pretending to be a Grey Warden anymore), but there were other differences that I wanted to see the results of. Cassandra as the new Divine did not disappoint me. While I don’t doubt her success in the role, the former Seeker was definitely itching to ditch the robes and get back into her battle armour. But no matter what she is wearing, Princess Cassandra Pentaghast is utterly adorable and a tried and true friend. Since the Qunari were so involved with this DLC, I decided to take Iron Bull along to see if he could offer greater insight. He assured me that the Viddasala was indeed working against the Qun, as far as he knew, but in this playthrough, Iron Bull is still a Ben-Hassrath spy. He’d always been up front about his role within the Inquisition and as a member of the Qun. It shouldn’t have been a surprise when he turned on me — “No hard feelings, bas.” — shortly before the dragon battle, but it was no less painful to have to kill one of my favourite companions. Having to face true consequences for the decisions made along the way, while painful, is what makes me really appreciate games like this.
So comes to an end Dragon Age: Inquisition. It is not a long DLC, but it is a reasonably fullfilling one, having answered just enough of the questions raised, while enticing with more, and most importantly, making promises of what’s to come: