Saturday, February 5, 2011

DA:O - You Can Never Go Home Again

What happened, Duster? Did you miss getting spit on?

Orzammar is such a long quest (really a series of quests) that there is no way to encapsulate it all into one post. Considering Perra's troubled past inside Orzammar's gates, this portion of her tale is even more involved than it seems on the surface. Not only has she been charged with Grey Warden duties that entangled her in a dispute for the dwarven throne, but she also must deal with ghosts from her personal past. To make this visit all the more unpleasant, her stay outside of the city has transformed her into a surfacer. Being casteless, or a Brand, had been a trial. During that former life, however, she had at least been recognized as an Orzammar-ian ... even if all of society hated her guts. As a surfacer though, she is sky-kissed and is thus less than a dwarf. Who knew that there was a level below casteless? It is true that Perra's new status as a Grey Warden should compensate for this "sin," and superficially her new rank does garner respect from individuals of all castes. Superficially. Yet in her heart of hearts, she knows differently. With a reputation that precedes her, tattoos that "brand" her, a new life to balance, and her family to consider, one can only hope that Perra will not lose herself in midst of it all.  

This goes without saying, but the following post is chock-full of spoilerage.
Continue at your own risk.

In With the New - As you recall, the last time Perra was in Orzammar she agreed to assist Prince Bhelen Aeducan in his efforts to claim the now vacant throne. At the time she had some serious misgivings about her decision, but her sister Rica adored Bhelen and had given birth to his heir. By protecting Bhelen's claim to the throne Perra would be protecting Rica. At the time the prince's adviser had asked Perra to ensure support for Bhelen in the Assembly so that the nobles would swing their loyalties to him. She did not have time to finish the task then. Following her stint in the Brecilian Forest though, Perra finally returned to Orzammar and finished the task. Upon its completion she was able to meet Bhelen himself.

Unlike others who have looked at Perra with suspicion, the price warmly calls her as his sister and welcomes her to her new home (the Royal Palace.) Surely he is aware that Perra will never be able to stay in Orzammar, but his recognition of her familial connection to Rica is moving nonetheless. He applauds our hero for her fighting prowess (a reference to her illegal participation in the Proving during the origin story) and does not deride her for having broken dwarven law and tradition. Others have not been so understanding. Perra assures him that she will do all she can to place him on the throne, and he thinks that is fantastic. Why is it fantastic? Well ... there is a problem in the city. Until that problem is solved he cannot ascend the throne. As a result, he must ask Perra to make good on her claim and help him out.

After Perra and Leske killed the crime-lord Beraht during the origin story, and in the late-king's absence, Jarvia revived the Carta. Pandemonium ensued and the Carta has very quickly taken control of the city. It is Perra's job to shut them down ... again. Bhelen knows that the hideout's entrance is somewhere in Dust Town (duh) but that is it. He'd help Perra out, but having being a former Carta member herself, he believes Perra will find it easy to discover "where the spider makes her lair."

Dreading this return to her past, Perra goes in search of Rica and her mother first. Maybe some reassurance can be found there.

Out With the Old - Perra needn't go far, for both her family members reside in Bhelen's living quarters. After instigating conversation with her mother (who in Dust Town was a drunken, miserable excuse of a woman) Perra soon regrets not having left well enough alone. Their conversation goes a little like this, with most of the mother's text lifted straight from the game:

Mother: Well look at you all fancied up. Did you find some princeling to give you fancy clothes while he sticks it to you like your sister?

Perra: Mom ... I'm a Grey Warden.
Mother: Right. Running off to the surface like your father. I suppose you never though to share a little bit of your new wealth with your mother, eh?
Perra: You live in a friggin' palace!
Mother: Yeah, but they all look at me like I'm trash.
Perra [thinking]: Well you are.
Mother: They wouldn't give me the time of day if it weren't for their precious *Rica* and her stupid little *brat.* I just know that if he chokes on that gold rattle of his we'll be out on the street again in two seconds flat.
Perra: Don't you *dare* ruin this for Rica.
Mother: Psh. All your precious *Rica* ever did was get herself knocked up. I had two worthless little brats and no one gave *me* the time of day. I deserve what she has and more!
Perra: [ perturbed look]
Mother: Oh just get out!
Yup. Some things don't change. She and her mother didn't get along before Perra left, and they most certainly don't get along now. There is some concern that her mother will actually try and mess up Rica's life ... but she hopes that her mother's self-serving nature and overwhelming greed will stay her mother's hand.

As for Rica, she was much less talkative. She did say though that Bhelen had told here was Perra was going to do. Whatever you do, she warned, be careful. Clearly Bhelen and Rica have a strong connection. If the prince is keeping her sister updated, the Perra suspects that he is genuinely in love with her. Hopefully helping the prince out will secure her sister's position for good ... that is as long as their mother doesn't interfere.

The Other Side Isn't Happy - Word in Orzammar spreads fast and Perra's trek to Dust Town is interrupted by attacking Harrowmont Fanatics. Politics is beginning to get nasty.

Reconnecting - Perra is not long in Dust Town before she runs into Leske. Ecstatic to see her old friend again, she is somewhat perplexed by his standoffish attitude. Thieves and criminals make for unpredictable friends, but after all the years they had spent together as partners-in-crime she had hoped that he would not hold her recent success against her. Snide comments about her "sound[ing] all fancy like" and her "new steel" though indicate that perhaps more has changed then she'd anticipated. Rejection by her best friend compounded with continued rejection by her mother is almost too much to bear. Feeling slightly empty inside she decides to concentrate on the task at hand so that her team can get the hell out of dodge. Leske informs her that Jarvia has taken over the Carta. After much prodding he reluctantly tells her where the Carta's new hideout entrance is ... her old home. They installed a back door there not long after her family moved into the palace. Talk about adding insult to injury. Not even Perra's childhood home can escape the Carta's long, miserable reach. After claiming that Jarvia was still mad about them killing Beraht, Leske says that the Carta will have his hide if they ever find out that he told shared this information. Maybe her old friend isn't so far gone after all, Perra muses.

Resentment - That two-timing bastard! Perra's home had not been transformed into the hideout's new entrance after all. Instead, Leske had led our hero straight into a trap. Attacked on sight by common thugs and their leader, Perra let her anger fuel the fight and it was soon over. Just before she dealt the killing blow, the leader plead for his life. This attack was not his fault, he said. Leske had told them to take care of her when she arrived. Her former friend was now Jarvia's right hand man.Wanting to shed some blood, but realizing that the thugs were not at fault here (after all she had been in their situation before), Perra granted the thugs their lives. After warning them to stay away from the hideout, they gave her a blessing from the Ancestors and ran as fast as their short little dwarf legs could carry them.

Glancing around her childhood home one last time, Perra mentally revisited the events that had threatened Rica's well being and pushed her into Bhelen's arms. It was those very same events that almost led to Perra's and Leske's deaths. Ultimately they also resulted in her conscription into the Grey Wardens. So much had changed since that fateful day, that she almost didn't recognize the dwarf she used to be. At this point trying to "go home" was a foolish idea indeed.

Reminiscing - After finally finding the Carta Hideout's true entrance, Perra et al. fight for their very lives and ever so slowly advance towards Jarvia. Halfway through they come across the Carta's prisons where Perra and Leske were once held. At the time she had thought they were going to die. It was only some good old fashioned teamwork and a healthy dose of luck that had saved their hides. Knowing what she knows now, Perra wonders if she shouldn't have attempted to escape by herself and left Leske to take the fall. There if course is no guarantee that things wouldn't have turned out the same, but betrayal stings and clouds the mind. For the longest time he was one of the only people she had trusted. If she had known then what she knew now, then she would have taken his life so he couldn't have the chance to betray her. Who knows? Maybe he had been working in the shadows with Beraht and Jarvia all along.

Revulsion - This was personal now. Upon reaching "the spider's lair," Perra was determined to finally get answers. Brushing aside Jarvia's taunting remarks, our hero asked a couple questions of her own. Namely she was interested in who Jarvia had killed to force Leske's betrayal. As it turns out, Jarvia didn't have to kill anyone at all. Realizing that his mere existence was precarious, Leske had spent the months "licking [Jarvia's] boots" to regain her favor. Upon hearing that Perra was back in town, he decided that offing his "friend" would buy his way permanently back into Jarvia's favor. "I would have never betrayed you!" Perra lashed out. "Have you forgotten what it was like?" Leske responded, as if that made everything better, "When Beraht died [Jarvia] came out on top. She's got the swords, the coin, and the bed where I sleep." Perra, he claims, would have done the same had their positions been reversed. Positively heartsick, Perra finally lets her rage free. There is no good answer for why her former-friend played turncoat, but one thing was clear. He currently stood in the way of her Grey Warden duties. His betrayal would make getting her job done just that much easier.

Revenge - Instructing her companions to stay out of the way, Perra charges like a woman possessed into the midst of battle. Leaving Shale, Alistair and Leliana to deal with the dross, she takes on Leske and Jarvia singlehandedly. With each cut of her ax she makes Leske pay for his two-faced nature. Likewise she makes Jarvia pay for every threat, every injustice, and every bit of abuse that Beraht and his lover had heaped upon Perra's family. In the end they both die by her hand.

Revenge, unfortunately, is not very satisfying. In the space of mere hours our hero had found her friend, lost her friend, and killed her friend. No one should have to do that. Feeling a mere shadow of herself, Perra slowly trudges back to the royal palace. Bhelen had better appreciate the sacrifice he forced her to make.

Coming Next - Our not-so-merry men report to the prince only to discover that their task is not yet done.

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