Monday, March 21, 2011

DA:O - Things Fall Apart

Let's Do This

The Landsmeet this time around was very intense and yielded completely unexpected results.  From a game play standpoint I have no clue how things turned out the way they did.  I do not know if it was Perra's status as a dwarf or a couple of choices Perra made (like fighting instead of giving herself up for arrest a few posts back), but that doesn't really matter since I wasn't going for a specific outcome anyways.  It just happened that most of Perra's decisions aligned with my past playthroughs.  While unexpected, this episode was particularly interesting for me since it almost felt like I was playing a brand new game.

You will notice that this post, like some previous entries, now has a jump break.  I figured that it was probably the best thing to do despite my distaste for "jumps".  I always have spoiler warnings, but something might be given away anyways when people are scrolling down to the next entry.  With this in mind, from now on any post with spoilers will have a jump break and a spoiler warning just to be fair.  All other posts will remain in their current form.

I'm giving you a heads up that the next part of Perra's story will be up in a week's time.  With multiple significant deadlines coming due and a symposium presentation this week, I will have no chance to play DA:O until the weekend arrives.  I do, per usual, have other posts lined up for mid-week though so don't forget to check back in to see those.

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

The Roadblock - After returning to Eamon's Denerim Estate with news from the Alienage, Eamon informs Perra that all have gathered at the Landsmeet.  She needs to grab Alistair and join Eamon as soon as possible.  Perra does so, but she barely sets a foot in the royal palace before coming face to face with Ser Cauthrien.  Wait, haven't we done this before?  Cauthrien is her usual angry self.  Refusing our merry men entry into the Landsmeet, she lambastes Alistair for aspiring to claim the throne.  Clearly his familial bond with King Meric doesn't make him worthy of notice, she claims.  If it did then he already be in the Landsmeet instead of out here.  Well wait a second, that's not quite fair.  Where is she getting the idea that Alistair desires the throne?  Perra just finished telling that she would support Anora's claim.  Speaking of which ... where is Anora in all of this?

From then on Cauthrien and Perra have a heated back in forth.  The knight claims that with Perra out of the proceedings, the nobles will side with Loghain.  In return, Perra asks the knight if she really can't see what Loghain has become.  Cauthrien says he's changed, but isn't surprised that he's bitter.  After all, Perra has been making his life difficult.  Our grey warden in return tells the knight about the elves.  Loghain sold his own people into slavery so that he could fund his war.  Loghain had to, Cauthrien, shoots back, with Perra and Eamon dividing Ferelden and declaring war he had no other choice.  When King Cailan died everyone was supposed to unite behind the Regent.  He hadn't planned on "Meric's bastard [challenging] the throne and [forcing] this war." (You can chime in here any time you like Alistair.)

This is like talking to a brick wall ... a brainwashed, brick wall.  Finally, Perra tries to appeal to Ser Cauthrien's love of Ferelden.  How could she support a man who had killed the rightful king at Ostagar?  Cailan was a fool, the knight says.  Maybe the Grey Wardens killed the king and maybe Loghain killed the king.  That still doesn't change the fact that removing Cailan from the throne probably saved Ferelden from being absorbed into Orlais.  After talking the knight down a bit more, Perra gets Ser Cauthrien to admit that Loghain has done some terrible things.  The problem though is that the knight can't bring herself to betray the Regent.  She owes him too much.  Feeling sorry for her, Perra takes a step forward.  "Let me stop him then," she says gently after a moment.  "You know it's the only way."  After a long pause the knight finally nods.  I wish that I had died at Ostagar so I would not have to see this day, Ser Cauthrien sighs, Go and stop him.  Put an end to this madness.

The Challenge - Slipping past a despondent Ser Cauthrien, Perra & Friends enter the throne room only to see that the Landsmeet is already in session.  Eamon is asking his fellow nobles to reject Loghain for all the evil he has done.  Loghain in turn is attempting to discredit Eamon by saying that everyone knows the arl just wishes to put a puppet on the throne. "The question is," he asks, "who will be pulling the strings?"  (Why is everyone so convinced that Alistair will be taking the throne when he has never claimed it at all?  Is this Eamon's doing?  Where is Anora?)  Things just go downhill from there.  Loghain accuses Perra of having sold her loyalty to the empress of Orlais.  Perra insists that the Blight, and not Orlais, is the real issue here.  A handful of nobles agree.  Loghain admits that the Blight is an issue, but draws the warden's integrity further into question.  The wardens say that they are the only ones who can defeat the Blight, he shouts, but look how spectacularly they failed at Ostagar when they faced an army of darkspawn.

Loghain is trying to get Perra to lose her temper.  It is almost working, but she refuses to play his game. In order to win, she needs to stick to the facts that she can prove.  She can't prove that he left the battlefield at Ostagar.  That is only her word against his.  She does, however, have the slavers' documents.  With that backing her up she accuses him of selling Ferelden citizens into slavery in order to fund his war.  One of the nobles is outraged.  (There is no slavery in Ferelden!)  He demands Loghain tell them what the meaning of this is.  With  no way to deny Perra's claim, the Regent tries to skirt around the issue.  There was no saving the Alienage, he says, The riots had wrecked havoc and resulted in dead bodies rotting in their homes.  It was a place he would not wish on his worst enemy (har har har).  "No matter what you think Warden," he says, "I have done my duty [...] I have done what was needed for the good of Ferelden."

Perra has one last chance to convince the nobles.  The last card she has to play is Eamon's poisoning incident. While clearing out Howe's prison, she freed a Templar going through lyrium withdrawal.  Loghain had waylaid the Templar and stolen Jowan from the Chantry's custody.  With that templar's sister and the Denerim Chantry's Reverend Mother in at the Landsmeet, Perra hopes that pulling this rabbit out of the hat will be enough to sway the meeting in her favor.  When she accuses Loghain of sending an apostate to poison Eamon though, the Regent laughs in her face.  If he were to poison someone he wouldn't have sent an apostate of all people.  The sister cries fowl, and the Reverend Mother decrees Loghain's actions to be a crime against the Maker.  Loghain isn't all that impressed though.  Instead he heatedly demands Perra produce Anora.  Where is his daughter?  That is what Perra would like to know as well.

 Anora finally, having taken her pretty time, shows her face.  Instead of supporting Perra as the dwarf had anticipated though, the queen throws her support in with her father.  Perra is livid.  She had pledged her support to Anora instead of Alistair.  What more did the queen want?  The queen seems to have forgotten all about their conversation, claims that her "imprisonment" was a farce meant to test Perra's loyalty, and that Perra failed miserably by throwing her lot in with Alistair.  Perra is speechless, and Eamon mutters that "This ... bodes ill for us all."  Well that is the understatement of the year.  Loghain orders the arrest of Eamon, Perra, and Alistair on account of treason.  His guards are told to take them outside so that their fate can be decided.  Hardly knowing what to think, but knowing she can't back down (if she does she'll be dead), Perra prepares to fight for her life.

The Confrontation - Thankfully Eamon did not come unprepared.  The moment that Loghain issues his orders, a series of armed guards in the arl's employ appear out of nowhere.  Ancestors and the Stone bless that man.  With nobles on either side, they and their armed escorts join in the fray.  Sensing that the quickest way to end this mess would be to take out Loghain, Perra makes a bee line for the Regent and puts up a massive fight.  Before she can permanently remove him as a threat though, the Reverend Mother calls a halt to the battle and suggests that this dispute be ended in the traditional manner - a duel.  The integrity of Perra's candidate for the throne has been drawn into question as had Perra's (Perra is not advancing Alistair for the throne!), so a duel guided by traditional rules should claim a winner instead.  They will fight until one of them yields.  Finally throwing up her hands in frustration and claiming herself Alistair's champion (what the heck, that's what they all believe anyways right?), Perra says that she will fight Loghain.  He accepts.

The Duel - It is a long and arduous fight, but Perra eventually emerges the victor.  Despite her personal feelings about the man, Perra accepts the Regent's surrender.  He may have acted without honor (in her eyes) regarding the wardens, but that does not mean that she has to stoop to his level.  Alistair on the other hand clearly disagrees.  He openly objects to her decision and urges her to "Kill him already."  Riordan (where'd he come from?), however, has another solution.  Instead of killing Loghain, Perra can put the Regent through the Joining.  If Loghain survives, then that would be one more grey warden in Ferelden to help deal with the Blight.  Perra is appalled.  Is he kidding?  After all Loghain has done to deplete the wardens' numbers, Riordan seriously expects Perra to bring the Regent into her ranks just like that?  Anora, of course, is all for it.  "The Joining is often fatal is it not?" she asks.  If he lives Perra gets a great general, and if he dies then Perra gets her revenge.  Alistair, of course, is just as appalled as our hero.  "He left us to die!" he shouts angrily, "He hunted us down like animals!"  Turning to Riordan Alistair reminds him that Loghain had the older warden tortured.  Had he forgotten that so soon?  Perra's had enough.  If her only options are to make Loghain a warden or put him to the sword, then screw civility.  The Regent had done everything that Alistair said and more.  He jeopardized the entire nation through his actions; without grey warden support, Perra and Alistair's chances of now stopping the Arch Demon are almost slim to nothing.  Since she currently has the power of judge and jury, Perra is going to use it.

With a bow to Alistair, she extends the honor of killing Loghain to him. "I will do this," Alistair nods, "I at least owe Duncan that."

The Decision - Splattered in her father's blood, Anora crumples to the floor in tears.  Eamon gives her a moment to grieve ... but only a moment before breaking the silence.  "So it is decided," he grunts, "Alistair will take the throne." Wait ... what?  That snaps Perra out of her reverie.  It seems to do the same for Alistair.  "When did we decide this?" he frantically inquires.  Anora's public display of suddenly comes to a halt as she takes advantage of the moment herself.  See? Alistair abdicated!  The throne is clearly hers.  Throwing up his hands, Eamon passes the situation over to Perra.  It's her job to make another important decision.

Perra is at a bit of an impasse.  She had promised Alistair that she wouldn't make him king, and he clearly still abhors the role.  On the other hand, she had pledged her support to Anora, but the queen had abused our hero's trust by betraying the warden and placing Perra's life on the line.  Even so, Perra's word had been pledged. She needs to think.

Alistair jokes that our hero has a difficult decision because she can chose "the woman who double crossed us, or give [the throne] to me."  Despite the queens actions, he still feels like Anora should be the one crowned.  Alistair has a point. All the reasons Anora was originally to remain queen (already the power behind the throne, the people love her, she's versed in statecraft, etc) had not changed. Only Perra's opinion of her had shifted.  This was the fate of a country that Perra was talking about here.  Did she really have the right to throw the country's future into jeopardy just because her own feelings had been hurt?  After a few moments in thought she turns to Anora.  After calling the (unamused) queen a "ruthless bitch" because she could, Perra wonders allowed if Anora honestly still expects the grey wardens' support after what she did.  "I expect nothing," the queen immediately answers, "I have done what I deemed necessary for Ferelden.  I assume you will do the same."  That is Perra's answer right there.  Convinced that her personal feelings have no place here, she sticks by her guns and throws in her support for Queen Anora.

The Queen - Anora's first act [Perra holds her breath here] is to make Alistair officially denounce his claim, and the claim of all his future offspring, to the throne. [Perra lets her breath out here.]  That is a task Alistair willingly does.  After a rousing, queenly speech to the nobles about loyalty, country, duty, and such; Perra and her companions withdraw to an outer room.  They are simply glad that the Landsmeet is over.  They do not have much time alone, however, because Anora soon finds them and orders them to Redcliffe.  The allied troops are gathering, and on the morrow they march into battle.

Consequences of Perra's Actions - While the consequences of choosing Anora over Alistair have yet to reveal themselves, Perra's choice of Alistair over Loghain clearly had fatal implications.  Her decision to side with her fellow grey warden led to Loghain's death.  Sure there was no guarantee that Loghain would have survived the Joining, but what if he had?  More likely then not Perra would have alienated Alistair.  How in her right mind could she alienate the one man who had been there for her the whole way through for the sake of saving a man who had accused her of murder and "hunted [them] down like animals"?  As the player, I know that Alistair would have left Perra's team if she'd accepted Loghain into the Wardens.  Perra, however, had no way of knowing this.  All she knew was that she didn't want to hurt Alistair like that.  From a personal perspective, she also didn't want to call the man who had betrayed her and the wardens a brother-in-arms.  Soldiers need to be able to trust each other if they are going to fight side by side on the battlefield and have even the slightest chance of winning.  With the biggest fight of her life looming over the horizon, how could Perra choose to face it with a man she couldn't trust?  A great general Loghain may be, but he had betrayed the wardens once.  What was to keep him from doing that again "for the sake of Ferelden"?  There wasn't anything.  He was just as likely to stab her in the back as he was to stab the Arch Demon.  In her eyes, saving Loghain was no option at all.  Loghain had to die.  Queen Anora may take exception to Perra's actions, but she can't hold it against the warden.  Perra was asserted from the very beginning that Loghain had to pay for his crimes.  The queen will simply have to live with that.

Coming Next - Perra returns to Redcliffe and the Final Battle approaches.

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