Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DA:O - Denerim in Ruins, Part 2

Please look with pity on the souls of our dear ones ...

I had planned on posting this last night, but a massive storm swept through town (I'm glad I still have a roof!) just as I began to game.  Needless to say not a whole lot happened with my computer turned off.  Tonight, however, we conclude the fight for Denerim and Sunday we finish the game. Please bear in mind that as with Part 1, this post is very image heavy.

I've enjoyed this playthrough more then any of the previous ones.  I don't know if it's because I've been writing out the story as it goes along, or if it's because I am playing a dwarf for the first time ... ever.  Whatever the reason, I've really enjoyed playing Perra and will be a little sad to see her go.  Depending on how the final boss fight ends, we may or may not revisit her again in DA:O - Awakening.

As a side note, you have no doubt noticed that the link bar up top has changed yet again.  I have already created a new character for Mass Effect, Meriel Shepard, and hope to begin journaling her story in a few weeks.  Stay tuned for more details.

Mild spoilers exist after the break.  Continue onward at your own risk. 

The Gates - As Perra, Alistair, Leliana, and Shale head toward the palace district, another wave of darkspawn hit Denerim's main gate.  In charge of those gathered there, Oghren takes the brunt of the battle himself.  With the help of Denerim's Guards, Caillou, Zevran, Sten, and the Templars; he manages to beat back the enemy.  The Sacred City's gates are yet again secure.  None of his companions fell in battle, but a number of Templars and guardsmen sacrificed their lives in the process.  Hopefully they can be buried when this is all over.


The Loss - While Oghren's battle was winding down, Riordan was waiting atop a tower in search of the Arch Demon.  Eventually his patience paid off and he watched as the darkspawn's leader finally approached.  This was Riordan's chance to end the war once and for all.  If he could do this, then Perra and Alistair could save their lives for another day.  When the Arch Demon was in distance, the veteran grey warden gathered his courage and leaped onto the dragon's back.  There was no going back now.  With only one small moment of hesitation, he stabbed his sword into the Demon's back and blood spurt forth.

An instant kill, however, was not to be his.  Roaring in pain, the Arch Demon bucked wildly in an effort to dislodge his unwelcome passenger.  Riordan lost his seat but regained it quickly.  As the bleeding Demon swept quickly over the city, the grey warden sunk his sword into his enemy once more.  Blood fountained forth.  The Demon was clearly wounded, but it showed no major signs of slowing down.

In a last ditch effort, Riordan stabbed the Arch Demon once more.  His sword, however, did not sink deep enough.  As his tainted enemy bucked one more time, Riordan's sword slid down the Demon's back, leaving  a deep gash in it's wake.  Though he grasped desperately at his weapon and desperately tried to regain his seat, the Demon proved stronger.  As the dragon, clearly wounded, rose into the sky; our ill-fated hero plummeted towards the Earth.  Riordan's one regret was that he alone could not prevent the final battle.

As the veteran grey warden met his gruesome end, Perra looked on with a distraught face.  She was close enough to witness the tragic scene, but too far away to be of any use.  Despair settled in her heart.  If the Riordan could not defeat their enemy, what chance did she or Alistair have?  In the end would all their efforts be for naught?

The Palace - Upon arriving in the Palace District, it because quite clear that a fight had gone on ... and the darkspawn had emerged victorious.  Bodies of guardsmen litter the streets as Perra and her companions walk towards their next confrontation.  Calling the Dalish to assist, our heroes plunge into the fight and hope to emerge alive.


The Courtyard - The Palace District was intense, but Fort Drakon's courtyard is where things got serious.  Between dragon thralls, numerous magic wielders, ever multiplying shrieks, and more darkspawn then you can count; this was truly a fight for their lives.  With Alistair, Perra, and Shale in the middle of the fray, Leliana decides to hang back with the Dalish and pick the enemies off one by one with her bow.  Momentary relief sweeps the yard as the final Emissary falls, but the feeling doesn't last long.  After reviving Shale, Perra and her companions leave the elves guarding Drakon's entrance.   Only the four of them can continue into the interior.

The Fort - Considering their adventures in its courtyard, Perra and Co. expected to be ambushed immediately upon entering Fort Drakon.  It was not so.  Instead, the four were confronted with yet another sobering scene of grisly slaughter.  Unlike the Palace District, there were darkspawn amongst the guardsmen, but far more allies had died then foes.  Perra may have disliked the way she had been treated as a prisoner in Drakon mere days ago, but even the jerks she had dealt with then didn't deserve this fate.

During further exploration, Leliana called a halt.  Four pies were still sitting on the sideboard waiting to be eaten.  It was almost as if the fort's soldiers had been unprepared for the fight they faced.  How was this possible?  Whose carelessness left the city's fort, barracks, and prison so vulnerable to attack?  Could the slaughter have been reduced had the soldiers known what was coming?  After a few moment thier exploration continued.

Leliana's heart must have skipped a beat the moment Perra discovered Drakon's chapel.  The Reverend Mother, Chantry Sisters, and soldiers had been cut down where they stood in front of Andraste's statue.  Pews were alight with fire, sacred texts strewn about the floor, and blood spattered the altar.  Out of respect for their devout companion, everyone remained outside the chapel's doors while Leliana prayed for her Sisters' souls.  Such foul evil should not be allowed to violate this sacred ground.  Remembering her friend's vision of the blooming rose, the dead bush, and approaching darkness; Perra wonders if Leliana helping her confront the Arch Demon is no accident.  Perhaps the Maker (in whom Perra personally does not believe) has appointed Leliana as a tool with which to extract his vengeance.

Massacred remains continue to appear as Perra and her companions approach the fort's heart.  Bodies of darkspawn and guardsmen alike litter the floor, but the darkspawn begin to out number deceased allies.  The fort's inhabitants may all be dead, but at least they managed to take a number of their foes with them.

The group's unchallenged advancement through Drakon comes to an end quite abruptly.  Apparently there are still challengers left after the fight preceding their arrival.

Being surrounded by so much ugliness, however, makes one notice beauty where it can still be found.  Light shining down upon Perra and her companions from high above warms their souls ... if only for a moment.

As they go deeper into Drakon, the fighting becomes fiercer and shambling corpses join the foes they face.  Clearly some soldiers did not actually find peace in death.  By cutting down the walking dead, Perra hopes that maybe they will finally find their eternal rest.

Not long after, Perra gears up for yet another fight. She is shocked, however, to discover that the battle has already been fought for her.  Even more surprising is the merchant's son, Sandal, who inexplicably stands a the back of the room looking quite pleased with himself.  Splattered in blood, the boy has no weapons of any kind upon his person.  When Perra asks what this was all about, he exclaims excitedly "Enchantment!"  The savant's skills clearly extend beyond enchanting weapons.  Thank the Stone for small favors.

The fighting continues, but finally the companions confront their last foes.

The Goodbye - As Perra reaches for the one door which separates them from the Arch Demon, Alistair grabs her and pulls her into a kiss.  Both of them are about to walk to Fort Drakon's roof top, but when the Final Battle is over only one of them will be walking back.  The other will be carried in a casket.  How do you say goodbye to the one you love in a situation like this?

Perra wonders if it will be her closing Alistair's lifeless eyes or if that will be his task to close hers.  She knows that they did the right thing by refusing Morrigan, but in this very moment she wishes that things could have been different.  Why must the world's deliverance come at so high a cost?  Why must they be the ones to pay it?

Finally breaking away from each other, they look each other in the eyes, grasp onto their weapons, and determinedly prepare to face what lies ahead.  They have a job to do and if one of them must die, they can at least take the great big evil down with them.  The darkspawn will pay for messing with Ferelden.
Coming Next - The very final end. 

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