Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DA:O - ... And Thus It Begins

If I die before I wake, I pray the Stone my soul to take ...

With a new ruler of Ferelden on the throne, the time has come for our final battles.  The rest of the game is divided into three recognizable parts.  Thus, for convenience sake, and in order to accommodate my graduate school schedule, Perra's story will also have three final entries.  Today's entry is particularly pivotal since it has a major impact on how the game ends.  The rest of this DA:O story is a mystery to me since I have no idea exactly how it will end.

There are spoilers after the jump.  Continue reading at your own risk. 

Defended - At Queen Anora's order, Perra & co. depart Denerim soon after the Landsmeet for the Village of Redcliffe.  Darkspawn have been sighted and the allies need to gather before making a move.  Perra and her companions barely arrive in Redcliffe, however, before fighting breaks out.  Villagers have either fled for their lives or holed up in the castle.  After clearing the now crumbling village of its darkspawn horde, they continue onto the castle itself.  At the castle they face wave after wave of darkspawn attacks on its gates.  Perra stands firm, however, and eventually prevails over the murderous masses.  Once the fighting subsides, it becomes clear that the grey wardens are needed inside where Riordan is in council with Eamon and the Queen.

Diverted - The darkspawn Perra and her companions just faced were, it seems, a diversion tactic.  Riordan's intelligence shows that the majority of the darkspawn forces are headed for Denerim itself.  Well that is inconvenient considering everyone just left Denerim a couple of days ago.  There is no way that the allied armies can possibly make the capital city in time.  If they leave on the morrow though, they will arrive soon enough to manage the situation.  Perra suggests that they leave now without waiting for the forces to assemble.  She and her team have faced insurmountable odds before.  They can at least act as some defense to Denerim while they wait for the armies to reach the city.  Riordan tells her this is not possible, however, because he has uncovered even more serious news.  The Arch Demon has been sighted.  Perra and Alistair must remain this night at Castle Redcliffe so that he can brief them on the situation.  With the gravity of the situation finally settling in, everyone departs for their chambers and Perra seeks out Riordan's rooms.  His ominous tone made her nervous and she's not sure she wants to hear what he has to say next.

Destined - What do you know about killing the Arch Demon?  Asks Riordan as his fellow grey wardens enter the room.  Alistair wonders what he means. Can't you just cut off his head and call it a day?  Riordan's face goes grim.  He had assumed that Perra and Alistair knew why grey wardens were the only ones who could kill the Arch Demon and is disheartened to learn that Duncan had not had the time to share this information.  The task, it seems, is his instead.  Perra suggests that maybe grey wardens must fight the Demon because of the taint in their blood.  She is right.

When an Arch Demon dies, Riordan says, its taint travels into the closest darkspawn and is reborn.  That darkspawn will eventually transform into the Arch Demon himself, and thus the Demon is reborn.  It's all but immortal.  If a grey warden is the one to lay the final blow, however, the Demon's taint will be attracted to the warden instead and travel into their body.  This action kills the grey warden and takes the Arch Demon with him to its death.  As the oldest, and thus the most tainted, Riordan says that it is his duty to kill the Demon.  Should he fail, however, the task will come down to either Perra or Alistair.  Out of everyone in the room this night, at least one of the three wardens will not be alive to witness the Blight's defeat.

This is very disheartening news.  Neither Perra nor Alistair had even an inkling that this might be the case, and on the eve of battle it was discouraging to think that they had spent all this time together only to not see both of them emerge safely at its end.  As Alistair gives Perra a forlorn look and walks back to his room, she watches him go with a heavy heart.  Alistair is so full of life that she can't possibly let him die.

Devistated - Perra doesn't have much time to brood though because when she seeks her chambers, Morrigan is already there waiting for her.  Morrigan claims to have a way to keep both Alistair and Perra from dying should they, and not Riordan, be the ones to kill the Arch Demon.  If Perra can convince Alistair to *ahem* lie with Morrigan this night as part of a magical ritual, then the witch can ensure that she gets pregnant.  If Morrigan were to then go into battle with the grey wardens, it would be her unborn child, and not the wardens, who absorbed the Demon's taint.  Because the child would be so young, he/she would not die from it and would not become a darkspawn.  Perra would then let Morrigan and her child disappear into the night and Perra would have to agree to not seek the witch out.

Perra does not know what to say.  On one hand she wants to scream "YES," physically drag Alistair into her room, make the ritual happen, and then march into battle knowing that neither she nor her beloved need die to save the world.  On the other hand though, there are far to many unknowns.
 1) Alistair would have to be intimate with another woman.. 
Sure it seems petty in the grand scheme of things ... pending apocalypse and all ... but Alistair is just not that kind of guy.  Zevran yes, but Zevran doesn't have the taint.  Alistair does.  Perra may lose Alistair in the final battle now, but if she makes him sleep with Morrigan then she will most certainly lose him anyways. Sure he would physically be alive, but she would have not only betrayed him emotionally.  Participating in Morrigan's ritual would result in him fathering a bastard child.  It has taken Alistair years to work through his issues that came with being a bastard.  Now Perra would be asking him to do give the same fate to some other poor child.  Is sparing both of their lives worth the heartbreak of losing him when the battle is done?   
Perra, of course, has no knowledge of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, but the quote "  I cannot bear to think that he is alive in the world...and thinking ill of me," seems most apropos for this situation.

2)  Morrigan is terribly dodgy about the details.
There are a couple of parts to this.  Firstly, the ritual that Morrigan would be performing came for Flemeth.  Flemeth (now temporarily dead) did save Perra and Alistair at Ostagar, but she has since proved to be a very crafty individual.  One also can't ignore the whole issue with her raising Morrigan just so that she (Flemeth) could steal her (Morrigan's) body one day.  Those aren't exactly the actions of an individual Perra is likely to trust.  Secondly, Morrigan swears that the unborn child won't die, but that he/she will grow to be a powerfully gifted individual.  She says that her child will not be a threat to Fereldan, and Perra wants to believe her.  That said, one can't deny the fact that Morrigan was raised by Flemeth.  No matter how much Perra has come to like Morrigan in the past months that they have fought side by side, she still does not trust the witch.  Morrigan's only allegiance is to herself, and Perra distrusts Morrigan's motivations for wanting to partake in this ritual ... especially when she so hates Alistair.  It is clear that Morrigan isn't doing it out of the goodness of her heart ... for the most part.  Perra adds "for the most part," because she would like to think that she has formed a bond with Morrigan during their time together. Morrigan herself admitted this, and that is something she would not do lightly.  Even so, the bonds of friendship are not stronger than Morrigan's desire for power.  Allowing Morrigan to go through with the ritual quite possibly places the world in danger once the ritual's progeny grows into maturity.

After mulling these things over, Perra tells Morrigan that she cannot follow through with the ritual.  It wouldn't be right.  Morrigan pleads with Perra to reconsider though, so our grey warden walks over to Alistair's room to discuss the situation with him.

Perra opens their conversation by making sure that he knows she loves him.  He says he does, but takes her opener as a bad sign and urges her to share what is on her mind.  Perra almost backs out then in there.  There is no way she can ask this of him.  Yet when he urges her again to share her thoughts, Perra finally brings up Morrigan's offer.  After he realizes that she is not joking, Alistair is just as skeptical of Morrigan's motives if not more.  Perra can also tell that he is hurt she is even considering it.  He angrily rants about all the things that are wrong about Morrigan's offer, before looking at Perra's face and seeing just how in turmoil she is over the whole situation.  "Look," he finally says in a softer voice, "even if I was willing to entertain this idea ... and I'm not saying I am ... is this really what you want me to do?  Are you sure?"  "No," Perra finally sighs, "You're right.  I can't ask you to do this."  The relief on Alistar's face is palpable.

Inside she wishes she could, but she knows that she would hate herself if he really followed through with the ritual.  She just selfishly hopes that in the end it is her that kills the Demon.  She had already lost Leske to betrayal.  She could not bear to lose Alistair too.

Divided - When Morrigan hears of Perra's and Alistair's decision, she is enraged.  She calls them fools and can't believe that they would not take the chance of saving themselves.  If they wish to end their lives, however, Morrigan says she can't stand around to watch them die.  Seeing that Morrigan honestly does care, and that her concern is in part what drove her actions, Perra pleads with Morrigan to not do this ... to not leave this way.  Morrigan's face softens, but she is resolute in her decision.  In a softer voice she expresses her regret, but claims that she has done everything for them that she can.  Leaving a broken hearted Perra by the fire place, she heads straight for the door but pauses as if she might change her mind.  The indecision lasts only for a moment though before Morrigan squares her shoulders and exits the room.  Transforming into a dog, she departs the castle and our grey wardens' company for good.

Departed - As a new day dawns, Perra prepares to depart with her companions (sans Morrigan), and the rest of Redcliffe's troops.  Watching families say farewell to their husbands and lovers and seeing them kiss each other goodbye for what may be the last time, Perra contemplates her own situation.  Was she an idiot to turn down what Morrigan offered?  She and Alistair are about to enter a situation where only one of them with probably come out alive.  No matter who dies, the other will have to deal with the guilt of living for the rest of their life.  At least, Perra thinks, she has no one dependent on her for the first time in her life. With Rica and her mother now in King Bhelen's care, Perra could sacrifice herself knowing that they would be cared for.  They, like Alistair, would be shattered at losing her, but they eventually would move on like everyone else.  Perra entered into her career as a grey warden knowing that she may not come out alive.  With all her past successes, however, that knowledge had buried itself over time and been easily ignored.  How disconcerting it was to now stare Death in the face.

Coming Next - The fight for Denerim begins.


  1. Thanks for the hint! This is some really, really good stuff :) Aww, I wish I had thought of doing something like this - I was always reflecting on the biggest moral decisions very much in the same way, I just never wrote down my thoughts. My first playthrough as human warrior J'Qor was the most personal one to me, and I think it took me about 30 minutes and two cups of coffee to decide whether I wanted to go on with Morrigan's masterplan or save Ferelden the old-fashioned way.

    I had been best friends (/lovers) with Morrigan through the course of the whole game, and I had been kind of neutral in all of my decisions. Mostly quite selfish. So, it wouldn't have been much of a surprise to anyone if I had followed up on Morrigan's idea, or sacrificed Alistair instead of myself. Actually, I think if the characters had spoken out their thoughts, they would've bet on some sort of an outrageous move.

    ...I sacrificed myself. For the glory of Ferelden. I felt awesome.

  2. All my attempts to play DA:O as a male character have fallen flat, but I wish I could get this far with one of them to see how involvement with Morrigan affected the decision making. I can see how it might have taken you a good half hour to decide (and lots of coffee!) because this really is one of the hardest decisions to make throughout the whole game. I made it through a cup of tea before I could decide. Your sense of self preservation tells you to take Morrigan's deal, but there is so much inherently wrong (depending on your character's definition of "wrong") with the deal that it leaves a slightly bad taste in your mouth. I had a human noble who was involved with Zevran a few games ago. Because she was so detached from Alastair, she used him as a tool, accepted Morrigan's deal, and they both lived. It's so much more difficult to decide when your avatar is emotionally tied to Morrigan (I'd imagine) or Alistair.

    At the moment Perra thinks she will be sacrificing herself for Ferelden but the heat of battle changes everything. There is also the chance that Alistair will land the killing blow first and thus ruin Perra's plans. It feels a little disconcerting not knowing what will actually end up happening.

  3. My next character was a female mage (based on my ex-fiancee) who had a very clear and distinct definition of "wrong": all that she did. I think I let all the slightest evil in me flow through her and abandoned all sense of morality. In terms of combat skill, she's definitely my best character, but I just can't bear to play as her anymore, I crossed all possible lines so bad with her. I simply have to use my original, presumably dead Grey Warden when I start Awakening.

  4. I've tried playing characters with no sense of right or wrong before and found it surprisingly difficult. I think the most success I ever had with an "evil" character was with a male jedi in Knights of the Old Republic II (this was before I started playing female characters). He was quite a well executed character. Every once in a while it was fun to do something to defy what others in the game saw as right, but over all he was a very difficult character to maintain. Eventually I had to drop him because I simply couldn't continue being that evil.