Sunday, March 6, 2011

DA:O - Emotions Run High

Why hello there glowy door.
With Orzammar completed and her allies gathered, Perra has begun the last leg of Dragon Age: Origins.  Granted, the last leg is probably another fifteen hours or so (I've never timed it) but it is the last leg nonetheless.  My apologies for taking so long to post this, but I had forgotten how many events occurred in succession at this point in the game, and thus had issues finding a good stopping point.  There were also a number of side stories (of which I'm not covering here) that needed tying up as well.  This was a particularly interesting portion in the game for me since I've only gotten this far with a human noble before.  Where Perra's past lies in Orzammar, the human noble's resides here in Denerim with Arl Howe.  As a result, a number of the conversations were very different, and Perra's reactions were different as well.  I'll throw a bit on that down below since it probably bears mentioning.  

It goes without saying, but the following text is full of spoilers.
Continue reading at your own risk.

Taunting the Enemy - After a stop at camp for supplies, Perra & Friends journey onto Redcliffe to see Arl Eamon.  Clearly eager to finally call his fellow nobles to the Landsmeet, Eamon congratulates Perra on gathering all the alliances she could.  After calling together the nobles, he packs our merry men up once again with the intent of settling them into his estate at Denerim.  Finally Perra will have a proper bed.  Anything will be better then her bedroll in camp.  Loghain is clearly not taking news of the Landsmeet lying down (its purpose is to challenge him after all) so before Perra can even settle into that bed of hers, her companions and Eamon are confronted by the Regent, Ser Cauthrien, and Arl Howe.  Well this is just great.  This is the first time our hero has met Loghain face to face, but she's seen his work. her life has been threatened, she was at Ostagar, she's been accused of atrocities done by the Regent's hand, and she's survived an assassination attempt by him.  All she wanted to do was save Ferelden from the Blight, but Loghain's dangerous meddling has made her and her beloved's job that much more difficult.  Her patience has worn thin and the following conversations makes that quite clear.  Granted, tings started off on the wrong with her blaming him for the catastrophic losses at Ostagar, and saying that maybe the Queen needed a better general.

Loghain - you have my sympathies on what happened to your order.  It is unfortunate that they chose to turn against Ferelden.

Perra - I don't accept the sympathies of deserters and regicides.
Loghain- [Introduces Arl Howe as the current arl of Denerim]
Howe - The regent has been ... generous to those who prove loyal.
Perra - Boot-licking appears to be profitable these days. 

The Regent does not take kindly to her taunts, accuses her of speaking treason, and then follows it up by saying that "I had hoped to talk you down from this course of action. We must be united to succeed against the Blight.  Instead you divide us and sacrifice our nations for your selfish ambitions for the throne."  (Okay, so maybe that was directed at Eamon, but Perra chooses to take it personally.) Eamon declares that he can never forgive Loghain for what he has done.  Loghain claims that there is nothing he would not do for his country, and then he and his entourage quit the estate in a huff.  Well the day could certainly not go more down hill after this.

A Note About Loghain - I should take a moment here to mention that I'm well aware that Loghain's fear of the Grey Wardens is genuine.  His character is utterly devoted to Ferelden, and he sees the Grey Wardens as a massive threat to the country.  That said, Loghain's campaign against the Grey Wardens has affected Perra personally.  His actions have constantly placed her life in danger, they cost her and Alistair a mentor, and they killed off almost the entire Ferelden order.  Even more to the point, well intentioned or not, Loghain's eradication of the Ferelden Grey Wardens drastically decreased the individuals available to fight the Blight.  It also narrowed the number of people capable of killing the Arch Demon down to two.  Perra of course is not aware of that last fact yet, but as the reader it is worth bearing in mind. I've found a number of people on the interwebs who have a certain respect for Loghain or take his reasoning into consideration when making their own in-game choices.  That will not happen in this game because it is Perra, and not I, who is making the decisions.  Perra would not sit back and say "Well he meant well when he left the king, Duncan, and all my brothers in arms to be mercilessly slaughtered at Ostagar.  Alistair and I barely escaped the battle field with our lives, but Loghain thought he was doing what he had to do to save Ferelden." 

The Human Noble -  Much of this conversation does not even take place when one is playing the human noble.  During their origin story Howe back stabs her father, and ends up being responsible for slaughtering her whole family, save one brother who is already at Ostagar.  at this point in the game that brother's fate is yet unknown.  King Cailan promised the human noble that as soon as he returned to Denerim that Howe would be held accountable for destroying her house.  Loghain's actions at Ostagar, however, rendered Cailan incapable of doing this though (since he was dead), and this this encounter is a much more personal confrontation.  It was interesting this time around to see how it felt to feel attacked as a Grey Warden, and not a wandering noble seeking to avenge her family.

Because Things Were Too Easy - With a hot meal in her stomach and a soft bed on which to nap, Perra wanders about Eamon's estate before deciding that she must get on with business as usual.  Clearly she had things too easy, because waiting in Eamon's study is an agitated elven handmaiden.  Howe, it appears, has kidnapped Queen Anora (Loghain's daughter) and holds her hostage in his Denerim estate.  Perra questions the validity of the elf's claim, after all the timing is just too perfect.  Erlina, the elf, however is clearly agitated and believes that Anora's life is seriously in danger.  Loghain might even kill her, his own daughter, if it meant discrediting Eamon and the Grey Wardens.  These are the actions of a madman.  After grudgingly consenting to assist Erlina, the elf instructs Perra to arrive with her companions as soon as possible.  She will sneak our heroes into the estate.  Perra is still not one hundred percent convinced that this is not a set-up, but like Eamon said, there is a lot at stake here and they need Anora's support.  She has to take that risk.

Saving the Princess Queen - Because Howe has had guards constantly moving in and out of his Denerim estate, Erlina insists that Perra & Friends can sneak in wearing Howe's livery.  They'll just have to keep their heads down.  Perra is at her wits end by this point and is just ready for things to be over.  She figures that she'll eventually be discovered anyways, so she'd rather just run in with swords swishing.  Erlina seems to hate the idea, but this is Perra's rescue and she's not going to hide herself away in the enemies' armor.  Between the Dalish Keeper's conniving, dwarven power games for the crown, Leske's backstabbing ways, and now Loghain's passive-aggressive attitude; she's had just about all the subterfuge she can take.  This is at least one situation she can confront head on.  

Without their disguises, fighting does ensue.  Lots of it.  Guards wait around every turn to attack, and even officers caught canoodling in their rooms join in the fray.  By the time Perra reaches Anora, she discovers that Howe has not only locked her in, but he's secured the door with a magical barrier.  In order to remove the barrier, our merry men have to hunt down the mage who cast the spell.  He's likely standing by Howe's side.  Well this is perfect, Perra wanted to have "words" with the arl anyways.  Now she doesn't even need to take a side trip.

One's Own Kind - Howe was not in his room as expected, but the dungeons were easily accessible via a door near the arl's bed.  Now that is just messed up.  Perra & Friends had not gone far before they entered a chamber with a lone jail cell.  Before the stationed guard can issue a warning though, the prisoner reaches through the bars, disposes of the guard, and steals his armor.  Introducing himself as Riordan, the prisoner proves to be a Grey Warden who was captured by Howe.  He did not participate in the fight at Ostagar, but he had journeyed there since to identify the dead and make note of all who fell.  He'd stay and assist Perra with Howe, but his incarceration has not been kind.  He's in desperate need of medical attention, but promises to rejoin our heroes at Eamon's estate as soon as he is able.  

As Perra continues to fight her way though the estate, she runs across two other prisons and countless prisoners.  Most of them did not belong there, and some were in bad enough condition that they didn't even escape when she let them free.  Soon enough though she finally reaches Howe and hopes that he'll give her an excuse to take him out. 

Clearly a Bad Guy - As a brief aside, I should note that all the prisons in Howe's keep feature a series of hanging cages, chains in the ceiling (sometimes occupied by unfortunate souls), numerous racks (one even has an occupant who was just left there .. don't worry he gets away), and pools of blood.  If there had been any doubt in her mind that Howe was a not a very nice man, all Perra had to do was enter his dungeon.  The arl even had a torture chamber where he employed at least seven "professionals."  Seeing his utter disregard for human life, Perra felt so much more justified in doing what came next.

 Rendon Howe's Fate - Like any self respecting villain, Rendon Howe cannot give up a chance to gloat.  Accusing Eamon of loosing faith in the Landsmeet, Howe taunts Perra and seeks raise her ire by drawing her into a pointless conversation.  Perra refuses to play his game, says as much, and attacks without warning.  Why worry about having honor on the battle field when your opponent clearly has none?  Howe eventually falls and curses the Grey Wardens with his last breath.  With him finally disposed of, Perra releases the last of the living prisoners and retrieves Anora.  It's time to bring this grisly business to a close.

The Human Noble -  Because the human noble is seeking some kind of satisfaction for the crimes done her family, she always engages Howe in conversation.  All she receives is taunts from the arl and slander against her family, but there is some kind of closure which happens when she looks Howe in the eyes, tells him how she really feels about the situation, and then ends his life. While Perra could have cared less who killed Howe, the human noble insists on doing the deed herself. 

Facing the Music - Word in Denerim must travel fast, because Perra finds the exit to Howe's estate blocked by none other than Ser Cauthrien and a bastion of guards.  They have come to place Perra under arrest for the murder of Arl Rendon Howe.  If she surrenders, she may be shown mercy.  Hoping to reason herself out of this situation, Perra states that she simply came to rescue Anora from Howe's clutches.  Ser Cauthrien understandably finds this rather absurd, and insists that Loghain would never stand for such treatment of his daughter.  Do you know that for certain?  Perra inquires.  Surely the knight must have some doubts about Loghain and his activities.  After all Ser Cauthrien was rather shocked when Loghain issued a retreat at Ostagar.  The knight does not fall for Perra's bait, however, and declares that she has no reason to question Loghain for she, unlike Perra, knows something of loyalty and honor.  Not even waiting for Perra's (much outraged) response, the knight attacks in full force.  Despite the best efforts of Perra and her companions, they are simply too out numbered.  Perra falls in battle, and wakes up some time later in a prison cell along with Alistair.

The Human Noble -  Well aware that she must at least appear to abide by the law if she wants to have a chance at positively influencing her fellow nobles to turn against Loghain at the Landsmeet, the human noble sends her companions back to Arl Eamon and willingly surrenders herself to Ser Cauthrien.

Coming Next - Perra escapes from prison and continues to set the stage for a successful Landsmeet.

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