Deep Roads

You’re woken by an unsettling sound, as if someone were rubbing sandpaper across a leaf. You wait, and the noise returns, almost rhythmic now. A sharp bolt of pain races up your right arm, and you lift your eyelids for what feels like the first time in a century. The sandpaper and leaves return, and you see a small cloud of rust-colored dirt swirl out from near your lips. Your cheek is flush with the ground, and you suddenly realize that the sound you’ve been hearing is your own breathing.

Barely able to move, you look to the site of most of your pain, the underside of your right forearm. A large, jagged valley of blood and filth tears through its center from midway past your wrist up to your elbow. The constant pain speeds the recovery of your awareness, and your mind begins to clear. Hazy, confused concepts are becoming clear, defined ideas once more.

You were never someone most would consider “a good person.” There could be a dozen or more reasons why you’ve ended up here, discarded and near death in what appears to be a vast, lonely cavern, but you struggle to remember the specifics just the same. It takes a few moments, but soon the story begins to come back to you.

Alienage

When did informant become such a dirty word? The root is, of course, “to inform,” the very same function that society will praise a teacher for performing! But you didn’t pen the rules of society, and so until someone sane decides to re-author them, you’re stuck hiding your frequent trips to the Chantry behind petty lies. Never before has someone “forgotten eggs at the market” so often.

People have a bad perception of city elves, but their small and often impoverished communities share the same sense of loyalty to one another as their snooty Dalish contemporaries. That’s why you’re sure that there’s no one in the alienage who’d understand your deal with the templars. Unlike the Dalish, city elves must follow the rules and laws of men and, as such, must commit any mages among them to the templars. Honestly, you’re doing little more than upholding the law of the land every time you secretly turn in an elf showing magical prowess. And so you get paid per head. Everyone’s got to make a living somehow.

Things have been going fairly well for you as of late, or at least they were until Melwen accidentally froze Cildion’s poor dog where he stood this morning. You’ve never been faced with even a moment’s hesitation in considering whether or not to turn a budding eleven mage in to The Circle, and today wouldn’t be any different if Melwen wasn’t your niece by your favorite sister.

Giving her to The Circle would crush her mother. Then again, with that sort of garbage self-control, she’s bound to find a life in the tower by someone’s hand, so why not your own when yours could be filled with gold for the trouble?


Meet your contact in the chapel and collect your payment for exposing Melwen.


Neglect your arrangement with the templars just this once. Perhaps with proper training Melwen can hide her abilities after all.

Vendor

“We’re clos–” Wait a moment. Of course you’re closed. That door was locked half an hour earlier. You peer up from your ledger and see a small, bookish man quietly closing your office door behind him. “Who are you?” you demand.

“Please, calm yourself,” he says, walking toward your desk. “I’m not a crook. I’m one of the good guys.” He flashes you a wide, innocent smile, and you respond by slamming your book closed and sliding it into its leather satchel.

“I’ll ask you once more,” you say slowly, reaching an arm to where you store your short sword beneath your desk. “Who are you, and what is your business with me? If you’re looking for accountancy work, my consultation hours begin again tomorrow soon after sunrise.”

“I’m with the Guard,” the man says.

“You don’t look like you’re with the Guard … ” you mutter. Then you remember him; this man works the stock room of one of your more special clients.

“I’m undercover,” he says. “Listen to me, I know who you are. You handle the books for Tom Harvel, do you not?”

“I do,” you reply. “And a dozen others.”

“This may come as a shock to you, and I’m sorry to be the one to break the news,” he says, approaching the desk. “But Tom Harvel is dealing in slaves. He’s been marking it out of his inventory as satchels of Orleasian sugar. We know about the fake sugar, but now we need the evidence of it in those books you’re running for him. He’s likely made note of it. I’m going to need that book.”

What the man says makes sense. The only problem is, it’s not a shock to you. Of course Tom is dealing in slaves. And you’ve helped him do it. You never touched the slave trade yourself, of course, and to be fair, he never even told you that his illegal goods were slaves, specifically. But you’re no fool, and you’ve been doing this for a long time. You knew something was off. And those notes in your books proving the deception aren’t Tom’s … they’re yours.

“The books, please,” the man says.


Give him the evidence, though it likely incriminates you.


Refuse his request.

Orzammar

“Well done,” he says. “I think you’re ready. What do you think?” You courtesy, and he smiles at you.

“I’d give anything to have an image of you just a year ago to compare with this vision. Now here, take this gold for the guard outside of the Diamond Quarter. I’ve known others who’ve had luck bribing him in the past.” Duglin hands you a heavy poach of gold. “Be careful with that. With all the expenses this gambit has incurred, it’s the last of my stores. Now, away with you, and good luck.” He winks to you. “May you bring us both an unfair fortune.”

You leave Duglin’s stall and walk only a short while before a diminutive merchant leaps from his booth in front of your path, cradling the most beautiful necklace you’ve ever seen in his dirty palms. Its metal chain is more than shining, it’s radiating light.

“A necklace such as this could never truly hope to compete with your beauty, but won’t you please give it the opportunity to at least try?” he says, in what’s probably the most charming voice he can muster.

You look down at the gold pouch you with which you were just entrusted. Surely Duglin would find the money for bribes elsewhere. After all, his investment to date is far too high to waste completely over the loss of one tiny bag of gold.


Purchase the necklace. You were only ever in this for the baubles, and if it turns out to be magical, its value may even be far greater than what this merchant is selling it for.


Leave the necklace, and continue to the guard.

Orzammar

“It’s mornings like these when I wonder why I bothered picking you over the other girls. They’d have given their left foot to have the chance to finish that line,” he says angrily.

“I’m prettier than they are,” you say confidently.

“A pretty bother since we started this.” Duglin sighs. “I’m sure I’ll regret this, but take this gold for the guard outside of the Diamond Quarter. I’ve known others who’ve had luck bribing him in the past.” Duglin hands you a heavy poach of gold. “Be careful with that. With all the expenses this gambit has incurred, it’s the last of my stores. Now, away with you, and good luck. May you bring us both an unfair fortune.”

You leave Duglin’s stall, and move only a short while before a diminutive merchant leaps from his booth in front of your path, cradling the most beautiful necklace you’ve ever seen in his dirty palms. Its metal chain is more than shining, it’s radiating light.

“A necklace such as this could never truly hope to compete with your beauty, but won’t you please give it the opportunity to try?” he says, in what’s probably the most charming voice he can muster.

You look down at the gold pouch you with which you were just entrusted. Surely Duglin would find the money for bribes elsewhere. After all, his investment to date is far too high to waste over one tiny bag of gold.


Purchase the necklace. You were only ever in this for the baubles, and if it turns out to be magical, its value may even be far greater than for what this merchant is selling it.


Leave the necklace, and continue to the guard.

Orzammar

You continue beyond the merchant and make your way past the guard to the Diamond Quarter with ease. You were even able to pocket a sovereign from the payment without his notice. It’s the first of many things that soon go perfectly according to your plans. After only a few short days, you’ve got Thomnir Branka, a prominent young noble, squarely devoted to your every desire. A week later, he’s proposed to you, just as Duglin said he would.

Thomnir moves you into his estate immediately, shirking tradition by rushing arrangements prior to an actual wedding. It’s one of the reasons you chose to pursue him; the youthful ones are always the most capricious. Considering your casteless birth, your life could not be headed in a better direction than it is at this moment.

A week before the wedding, Duglin shows up as planned, under escort by guards to the manor door. As you’d both discussed, this is the moment where Duglin’s investments finally benefit him. Without any genealogical records, he can easily claim to be your relative, and thus enter the same societal rung you’ve just achieved.

Thomnir, of course, doesn’t know any of this. His face shows it as he looks at the dirty merchant standing in his doorway claiming to be his fiancée’s uncle. You never liked Duglin, and though it’s improbable, if there was ever any risk to your plans, he represents it.

“Dearest,” Thormir says sweetly, “do you know this man?”


Stick to the plan: “Of course I do. This man is my beloved uncle.”


Divert from the plan: “I have never seen him before in my life.”

Orzammar

You purchase the necklace and immediately string it over your neck. For a moment, you sense an approaching wave of guilt. Then you finger the small, ornately cut gem at its center and let the feeling slide past you. The necklace is wonderful and fully worth whatever delay it’s caused in Duglin’s plans.

You turn and walk back to Duglin’s stall, where you find him very confused to see your return. The look of confusion transforms into one of intense anger as his eyes drift from your once empty neck to the now empty hand where he’d originally placed his gold.

“What have you done?” he growls.

You explain yourself, though it does little to sway the man’s resentment. After some argument, you part ways with an understanding that Duglin will work to earn enough money to try again sometime in the next year. You go back to your home and fall asleep smiling, confident that you’ve just bought yourself another year of good wine, music, dancing, and free trips to the best stylist in the Commons.

It’s dark outside by the time you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere just behind your bed frame. You turn to look behind you and are immediately faced by what you instantly realize is an intruder. He smiles at you.


“What are you doing here?”


“How did you get in here?”

Orzammar house

“I’ve never seen this dwarf in my life,” you mutter casually through a yawn.

Duglin chokes on a gasp as if you’d just forced a sweet roll past his teeth to the back of his throat without permission. Thomnir nods his head slightly and the guards on either side of your trainer hook an arm under his before lifting him back to the street.

“Will we ever see an age in which lowers stop trying to take advantage of their superiors?” your fiancé asks as he walks back toward you.

“Let’s hope so,” you say. Finally secure in your plans, you allow yourself a moment of quiet relief. You hadn’t realized it before now, but this may be the first time in over a decade that you’ve relaxed your shoulders.

Later that night, you fall asleep smiling, confident that you’ve secured a life of good wine, music, dancing and, of course, mountains of gold.

It’s dark outside when you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere just behind your bed frame. You turn to look behind you, and are immediately faced by what you immediately realize is an intruder. He smiles at you.


“What are you doing here?”


“Who are you?”

Orzammar house

“Yes, of course, dear,” you say. “That’s my dear Uncle Duglin.” The merchant bows, and Thomnir graciously invites him inside.

“Then he must stay with us,” Thomnir exclaims. “And I won’t take no for an answer.”

You exchange little more than a nod with Duglin before retiring to the bedroom with your fiancé. You fall asleep smiling, confident that you’ve secured a life of good wine, music, dancing and, of course, mountains of gold.

The next morning, you wake to screams. “The safe! The safe!” you hear.

Leaping from bed, you find the whole of the estate ransacked, and Thomnir as the source of the shouting. He crosses the great hall and throws an accusatory finger at your face. “You, you … casteless whore. I should have known. No number of sons could have balanced this treachery. Guards! Guards!

Duglin, you absolute fool, you think. What have you done?

Despite a full day of protesting your innocence, you find yourself spending the evening in a dungeon cell. Somehow, despite the hard wooden bench of a bed, you fall asleep.

Two hours later you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere inside your cell. You turn to look behind you, and are immediately faced by someone who you soon realize is not a guard. The intruder smiles at you.


“How did you get in here?”


“Who are you?”

Alienage

Sneaking out from the alienage, you arrive at the chapel and pass Melwen’s information along to the templars. Like so many times before, three armed members of the order arrive the following morning on an “anonymous tip” to arrest the girl.

She’ll be safer in the Circle, you tell yourself. Actually, I’ve probably saved her from becoming an abomination and accidentally killing someone.

No sooner do you think it than you see your sister rushing one of the templar guards with flailing arms and piercing wails. He places a hand on the haft of his sword and begins to shout something to her-presumably a warning to come no further-but she reaches him before he can finish. She strikes him lightly against his armored chest only once before his blade is through her stomach. Your heart sinks, and your sister’s body slides from the metal into the dust. The templars leave with her daughter in tow without reaction.

Eredhis, one of the community’s elders, is quick to approach you. Other elves begin to approach as he accuses you loudly. “Do not think we are blind to your actions,” he chides passionately. “Disappearing every night before one more of us is taken by the humans. How much do they pay you? What is the cost of a dead sister and imprisoned niece? Is it more or less than a neighbor or friend?”


Humbly admit to your actions.


Smugly claim innocence.

Alienage

You decide against turning your niece into the templars’ custody, and go to bed that night feeling strangely good about yourself. You lose that peace in the morning when you awake to find a small squadron of templars appear to claim her anyway. How did they know?

As you watch Melwen being led from the alienage, you’re approached by Eredhis, one of the community’s elders. “I’ll admit,” he says quietly, “I had thought it was you. Every time one of us went missing, you’d always seemed to be gone for some reason or another the night before.”

You turn to him, and furrow your brow. “You had me watched?” you ask.

“Just last night,” he replies. “And you have my apologies. It couldn’t have been–“

Before he can finish, you’re grabbed gruffly by the shoulder and pulled roughly away from the others by one of the templar knights. Once you’re alone with him, he lifts the visor of his helmet and you recognize him as your primary contact.

“Funny we didn’t hear from you,” he said.

“I didn’t–“

“Save the lies,” he says, closing his visor. “You broke our deal, elf.”

“I–“, you try. It’s too late, he’s gone.

Unnerved, you head home to sleep. Two hours later, you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere inside the hut. You turn to look behind you, and are immediately faced by an unfamiliar elf. You’re sure he’s not from the alienage. He smiles at you.


“How did you get in here?”


“Who are you?”

Alienage

“What proof do you have of such a wild, and ultimately dangerous, accusation?” you fling back at him.

“Well, I … well, the visits!” he replies. “You’ve always had some reason or another to leave the alienage just before the templars arrive the next day!”

“What a sick allegation,” you reply calmly. “And far from corroborated with legitimate proof.”

The old elf nods sharply, recognizing that he cannot technically prove his claim. He hasn’t believed the lie, only the idea that, at least for now, there’s nothing anyone can do without more concrete facts. “Yes,” he says. “I don’t have proof. Not yet. But when I do, the punishment for such an atrocious betrayal is exile. And until I’m able to cast the sentence officially, I doubt you’ll find this community’s reception any different than if you were gone.”

The crowd grunts and nods their approval. You smile, and try to maintain your composure. “Come on, everyone. I just lost my sister. Surely you aren’t–” You speak, but they’ve all turned their backs to you. “Tomias!” you exclaim, touching the shoulder of your next-door neighbor. “You don’t believe–” He pulls his shoulder from your touch sharply without looking back to you.

Shaken, you head home to sleep. Perhaps answers will appear in the morning. Two hours later, you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere inside the hut. You turn to look behind you, and are immediately faced by an unfamiliar elf. You’re sure he’s not from the alienage. He smiles at you.


“How did you get in here?”


“Who are you?”

Alienage

“I didn’t realize that she would … ” you manage.

“So you admit it!” he cries incredulously.

“I suppose there’s no point in denying things,” you reply glumly.

The old elf nods his head, too angry to easily find his next words. Eventually, he simply says, “Then I hereby banish you from our community.” Without another word, he pivots on his heels and walks back toward his home.

Shaken, you head home. It’s your right to stay and stand trial before a selection of elders, but you know what the outcome will be. There’s no reason not to leave in the morning before things worsen. Once others know, the alienage is unlikely to be safe for you. Somehow, eventually, you manage to fall asleep.

Two hours later, you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere inside the hut. You turn to look behind you, and are immediately faced by an unfamiliar elf. You’re sure he’s not from the alienage. He smiles at you.


“How did you get in here?”


“Who are you?”

Vendor

“Take it,” you say, sliding to the book to him. You expect him to take it and leave, but the man is clearly too excited to see the outcome of his toils. He immediately opens the book and combs its contents.

“If you’ll excuse me,” you say, “I must be going.”

The man raises a silent hand to your chest as you begin to walk past him. “These aren’t his notes,” he says. “You knew.”

“I … I had nothing to do with the trade,” you say. “I’m a legitimate accountant.”

“I’m sure you are,” the man replies, his eyes still locked to the contents of your ledger. “But you’ve covered it up. It’s very obvious. You were an accomplice to this. The number of lives you’ve helped to ruin … I’m sorry, but you’ll need to come with me. I’m placing you under arrest.”


Tackle the man as you run past him for the door.


Submit to arrest.

Vendor

“I’m sorry, but these are private documents,” you say.

He looks confused. “But I just need to look at them. We’re trying to end a slavery ring, here. Think about those people’s lives!”

“No,” you say firmly. “I’ll not jeopardize the privacy of my clients.”

“Privacy?” the man says incredulously. “Listen. I’m leaving here with those documents, by force if necessary.”


Tackle the man as you run past him for the door.


Back toward your desk and recover your sword. If this man dies, the discovery dies with him.

Vendor

You tuck the satchel under your arm without delay, and run directly at the man, thrusting your shoulder just below his ribs as you run for the door. You can hear the man lose his breath as you slam into him, knocking him from his feet. It’s not long before you’re through the door and six turns down the various alleys surrounding your office. You can hear guard bells ringing in the distance, but it’s too late for them. Escaping the city is easy from here.

Soon, you find a small sheltered space beneath a tree in the woods just outside of the city. You’re exhausted, and fall asleep near instantly.

Some time later, you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere inside the hut. You turn to look behind you, and are immediately faced by an unfamiliar elf. He certainly doesn’t look like a guard. He smiles at you.


“How did you get in here?”


“Who are you?”

Vendor

There’s no reason to fight this man. A life on the run is no life at all, and at least if you cooperate you have a shot at a reduced sentence. After all, you were told it was sugar, even if it was obvious that it wasn’t.

You submit to the arrest, spend most of the day in questioning, and are led into a small, dank cell in the evening. Exhausted from events, you pass out on top of the short, uncomfortable wooden bed, ready to welcome even a nightmare as respite from the horror today has brought you.

Two hours later, you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere inside your cell. You turn to look behind you, and are immediately faced by an unfamiliar elf. He certainly doesn’t look like a guard. He smiles at you.


“How did you get in here?”


“Who are you?”

Vendor

You run back to your desk and grab your sword with your right hand while you throw your satchel at the undercover guard using your left. The maneuver is an utter success, as the man had barely even recovered from the shock of being assaulted by your ledger by the time your sword slid cleanly through him.

You quickly dissect and package the body in cotton rag packages, and leave to distribute them in various wells throughout the district. No one notices. Pleased with yourself, you head home. The day’s events have exhausted you, and you’re never been more ready for sleep. It takes you instantly.

Two hours later, you’re awoken by a quiet, shuffling noise coming from somewhere inside the hut. You turn to look behind you, and are immediately faced by an unfamiliar elf. He certainly doesn’t look like a guard. He smiles at you.


“How did you get in here?”


“Who are you?”

Deep Roads

Before you can say the words, he speaks instead. “Who are you?” he says in a thick, Antivan accent.

“I’m–“

“No, no, I meant, that is what you wish to say to me. And I shall answer it as if you had asked. My name is Ciro the crow, and I am an upstanding member of a certain organization that was hired to cause you much misery and pain. There will be death, too, of course, but that will come later.”

“Wh–” you stutter.

“Come,” he says gently. “We have a journey ahead of us, and I must get on with my work.” He pulls a glistening curved dagger from his sleeve and slices its edge gracefully across the inside of your arm with alarming speed. It’s a few seconds before the pain takes you. You collapse to the floor.

Ciro kneels beside you. “Have you heard tale of the Grey Wardens? They have a secret–well, mostly secret–ritual that must be performed prior to joining them. Recruits are forced to drink a special substance: a mixture of darkspawn blood and a variety of herbal agents added to prolong the more negative effects of the blood. The primary effect, of course, being the slow, inevitable transformation into a ghoul. Horrible, terrible creatures, those.

“Having heard of this a few years ago, I decided to invent a similar concoction of my own. Not for fighting darkspawn, no, but instead for infecting victims … specifically the victims of very rich, and very angry employers. I do not envy you the painful, protracted demise that lies ahead.”

The memory stops abruptly and your mind returns to the present. You look again to the wound on your arm. Jagged and spiraling black tentacles stain the skin lining the cut. Fear grips you. Your mind frantically races through the obvious questions: Where are you? How long have you been here? And most of all, who’s responsible? You’ve never been a … heroic person, even by the most generous definition, but this? This is a fate specifically designed to be worse than death.

There will be time for answers later. For now, you’ll need to make a decision. A foot to your left you see a small pile of rags and a sturdy-looking branch.


Create a tourniquet to cut off the blood flow. It will mean losing the arm eventually, but you have a chance of slowing the poison.


Create a bandage and put pressure on the wound. You risk the poison spreading faster, but you’ll keep the arm.

MapFertoKir

“Ah, Kirkwall,” Levina says as the ship pulls into the harbor. “City of Chains, so they say.”

“Chains?” you ask. “Why do they call it that?”

“They say that once you arrive in Kirkwall, it’s impossible to leave,” she answers.

“Ever?” you ask.

“So they say,” Levina says. “People visit the surrounding areas here and there, but for the most part never truly leave. The effect on those who arrive here is so potent, in fact, that visitors often begin hallucinating further claustrophobia, believing odd things, like that every building they enter is of an identical layout.”

“I think I liked it better in Ferelden,” you say nervously.

She laughs. “Don’t believe all the stories you hear,” she says. “It’s really not so bad. Like many things, it’s always best to see it for yourself.”

You step from the ship onto the docks and feel immediately dwarfed by the goings on of the city. “Where do we begin?” you ask.

“With an admission,” Levina replies. “I do not know if Ciro came this way.”

You turn to her angrily, your hand already moving toward the haft of your sword.

“But,” she says sharply. “This is where we should be to find him. One as skilled as Ciro cannot be so easily traced. For such a task, we require the aid of magic. There is a man in this city, a mage by the name of Ataxias. He is what is called ‘a dreamer.’ I believe he can discover Ciro in dreams, and point us to him. I am sorry I was not honest with you earlier. With your–” She looks to your wounded arm. “–hurry, I did not think you would come, though it is the only way. Please forgive me.”

You’re angry, but not sure that you have a better plan than the one you’ve been forced into by this assassin. At the very least, she was right about one thing: You don’t have much time. Your arm is getting worse. It won’t be long before you leave this world, and you must find your revenge before that happens. It’s all you have left. Nothing else matters.


Start canvassing the streets for information on Ataxias. Surely your average passerby would be familiar with the name of such a powerful mage.


Start canvassing the streets for information on Ataxias. Surely a robe merchant would have been visited by such a mage.

Deep Roads

You take a moment to make sure you’re acting logically and not just panicking before lifting the rags and looping them around your upper arm. You think back on the hunting trip during which your father taught you the basics of first aid. You hear his words as you work: Tie the rag between the wound and your heart. Slide a strong stick or branch under the topmost layer and twist it to make sure the blood flow stops. Tie it off in place. And most importantly: Never, ever use a tourniquet.

The apparatus hurts, and the arm below it is already turning dark red in color. You suppose that means you’ve done it right. You have no way of knowing how long you’ve been down here, and so have no way of knowing if this has any chance of preventing the awful, waking death Ciro had described to you. But at least, you consider, you have a chance of slowing it down. Maybe that will give you long enough to hunt him down and discover who paid for such a job. You have your strong suspicions, but your revenge will never be complete until you know for sure. First thing first, you tell yourself. You’ve got to figure out where you are.

You stand and raise your head to the sudden and jarring sight of a large, lumbering beast running toward you. Your heart races. Could that be a … darkspawn? You quickly look again at your surroundings. They make sense now. This must be part of the Deep Roads.

Suddenly, the beast looses his weapon and shield toward you. You see them arc into the air, spinning slowly. If this creature had meant to strike you with them, he’s done a poor job of it. You see the darkspawn lift another sword from the ground to replace the one he’s thrown, this one long and heavy, a two-hander.

You look again to the sword and shield sailing toward you. You have no chance of catching both items with your right arm dead.


Catch the sword.


Catch the shield.

Game OVer

You’ve lost so much already. There’s no way you’re willing to lose your arm as well. After all, how do you know if any of what that crazed Antivan elf said was true? You lift the rags from the ground and press them tightly against the wound, careful to maintain a healthy blood flow.

Suddenly you hear a noisy, clanking murmur from up ahead. You stand to your feet and gaze in the direction of the racket. Across a distance of dirt and stone you see a large squadron of … could those be … darkspawn? Your heart begins to race. You feel the organ slamming up against your bruised ribs as if trying to escape through sheer force. Your arm begins to hurt.

You look down and see the black tendrils growing, snaking up your arm toward your chest. You rub at them, not sure of what else to do. Soon they’ve reached the opposite shoulder, and soon after, they’ve crept down to your waist. As they cross the threshold, you’re overcome with a pain you can only describe as “complete.” It’s not long before you succumb to the infection. Fortunately, you retain none of your “living” memories as a ghoul. You shamble off in the direction of the passing darkspawn.

The end.


Load last autosave.

Deep Roads

You catch the sword with your left hand. You actually have some significant training with a blade, but that was with your right hand, not your left. There’s no time to acclimate now. The darkspawn creature has reached you, raising his massive, gnarled steel weapon above your head for what looks to be a heavy cleave.


Attempt to swing at its sword with enough force to parry the blow, leaving its defenses-and your options–open.


Attempt to dodge the blow by spinning to the side, then use that momentum for a quick counter attack that won’t give it a chance to react.

Deep Roads

You actually have some significant training with a blade, but that was with your right hand, not your left. Realizing you’ll have little time to discover how much of your skill will translate, you opt for the defensive option: The shield.

You catch the large handle welded to its back with ease, but before you can manage much else, the darkspawn creature has reached you, raising its massive, gnarled steel weapon above your head for what looks like a heavy cleave.


Attempt to shield bash him while his arms are up to gain an advantage.


Create a shield wall, turtling behind the large piece of metal for maximum protection from the incoming blow.

Deep Roads

You strike out at his blow with a blow of your own, exerting just enough force to glance its slice safely to your side. The tip of its sword is in the dirt now, but the creature is dangerously close to your body.


This is your chance to run. Go, now!


Stomp on the creature’s instep to create a better opening.

Deep Roads

You catch the sword with your left hand and allow your body to turn in the same direction as the weapon’s momentum pushes it. Swinging the blade back around, you strike at the creature, cutting the top of its arm. It falters, loses its footing, and falls to the ground.

You move in close, ready to deliver the finishing blow, when the darkspawn thrusts both feet at you, knocking you onto your back. A moment later, the creature is on top of you, bringing its large sword toward your throat. Just before slicing your neck open, it stops, grunts, and reaches a hand toward you instead.


Is it offering to help you up? Take the creature’s hand.


Is it trying to capture you? Take the creature’s hand off.

Deep Roads

You pull the shield back, then crash it into the darkspawn’s chest. It falters, loses its footing, and falls to the ground.

You move in close, ready to deliver the finishing blow, when the darkspawn thrusts both feet at you, knocking you onto your back. A moment later, the creature is on top of you, bringing its large sword toward your throat. Just before slicing your neck open, it stops, grunts, and reaches a hand toward you instead.


Is it offering to help you up? Take the creature’s hand.


Is it trying to capture you? Take the creature’s hand off.

Deep Roads

You duck behind the shield, praying that its heft is enough to absorb the blow. The darkspawn’s strike connects, and your shield rattles so hard in your left hand that you drop it. By the look of things, the collision rattled the creature, too. You probably only have a moment before it recovers for a second attack.


Stomp on the creature’s instep to create a better opening.


Use this opportunity to run.

Game OVer

This may be your last chance to run from the large creature. You take it without hesitation. After only a few steps you feel a numbing pain in your chest. You look down to find the creature’s blade piercing through your ribs from the opposite side.

The end.


Load last autosave.

Deep Roads

Your right arm may be dead, but your right leg certainly isn’t. Mustering all of your strength, you lift the leg and jam it down into the inside of the darkspawn’s foot. You reach down for your sword and raise it up at the same time as the creature bends over in pain from your attack. The end of the haft collides with its head. It falters, loses its footing, and falls to the ground.

You move in close, ready to deliver the finishing blow, when the darkspawn thrusts both feet at you, knocking you onto your back. A moment later, the creature is on top of you, bringing its large sword toward your throat. Just before slicing your neck open, it stops, grunts, and reaches a hand toward you instead.


Is it offering to help you up? Take the creature’s hand.


Is it trying to capture you? Take the creature’s hand off.

Deep Roads

Faced with little other choice, you tentatively reach out for the creature’s gnarled hand, hoping with what little hope remains within you that you’re making the right decision. As your palms connect, the darkspawn pulls you onto your feet, looks you over, and grunts its approval.

“Well fought,” it suddenly says. You’re stunned into silence. You didn’t know that darkspawn could speak, and if so, that they would do so when confronted by a human.

“Thank you?” you manage, more of a question than a statement.

“You are not like the others,” it says tentatively, looking you over. “And yet,”-he taps the side of his head-“we are connected.” His gaze moves to your arm, now painted in blacks and greens. “You are too intelligent for a ghoul. I’ll admit, this confuses me.”


“And you are too intelligent for a darkspawn, yet here we stand.”


“What are you exactly? Surely if most darkspawn were this reasonable, people wouldn’t be as fearful as they are.”

Game OVer

You swing at the creature’s hand, attempting to take it off at the wrist. The darkspawn recoils, easily avoiding your feeble attack. It looks at you, perhaps puzzled by what you tried-it’s difficult to tell-and then raises its sword. A moment later it drops the sword through your chest, terminating you.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Deep Roads

Your right arm may be dead, but your right leg certainly isn’t. Mustering all of your strength, you lift the leg and jam it down into the inside of the darkspawn’s foot. You reach down for your sword and raise it up at the same time as the creature bends over in pain from your attack. The end of the haft collides with its head. It falters, loses its footing, and falls to the ground.

You move in close, ready to deliver the finishing blow, when the darkspawn thrusts both feet at you, knocking you onto your back. A moment later, the creature is on top of you, bringing its large sword toward your throat. Just before slicing your neck open, it stops, grunts, and reaches a hand toward you instead.


Is it offering to help you up? Take the creature’s hand.


Is it trying to capture you? Take the creature’s hand off.

Game OVer

This may be your last chance to run from the large creature. You take it without hesitation. After only a few steps you feel a numbing pain in your chest. You look down to find the creature’s blade piercing through your ribs from the opposite side.

The end.


Load last autosave.

Deep Roads

The creature nods. “I am not what most would consider ordinary. I have … ” It considers its next words carefully before saying them aloud. “…. been given gifts that our brothers have not. I have seen things, learned things. I am beyond our kin, and until this moment, considered myself alone from others in my ability to consider both myself and others.”

“I am no darkspawn,” you say, beginning to trust the creature with your truths. After all, he could have killed you more than once by now. “But I have been given your blood.”

You turn your tainted arm toward the creature, and it looks closely at your tourniquet. It laughs. “I see. Clever. How did you come to be in the Deep Roads?”

“I was left here to die.”

“By whom?”

“An assassin named Ciro.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you intend to do?”

“Find him. Get answers. Kill him.”

The creature nods. “Then you’ll need a better sword arm. I can see you had some training, but you’ll not stand against a trained assassin in your current condition. Come, this is what we do in the darkness of the Roads. I will train you.”

You never expected to find so much kindness from such a foul creature. The world has changed much since yesterday.

“What is your name?” you ask. “Do you have a name?”

“F’rrngrn,” he replies gutturally.

“Then ‘Fern’, if you don’t mind,” you say.


Begin your training.

Deep Roads

Two weeks pass much faster than you may have imagined, given the solitary effort of your days. Each day, there had been six hours to sleep, followed by a small meal-generally a rat or some moss-and eighteen hours of training broken up by other small “meals” throughout the day. Most of your time has been spent with Fern, who you learned quite early on to be a capable mage. The discovery has made your constant losses to him in physical combat all the more embarrassing.

The other darkspawn tend to ignore you when not sparring, none clever enough to notice your obvious uniqueness. It makes you uncomfortable to be accepted by them, as if your humanity were somehow already lost. And while that may not yet be the case, these past two weeks of observing your wound darken and spread have shown you that someday, it will be. Even your tourniquet couldn’t stop the fate Ciro forced upon you … only slow it. A day will come, and soon, when you succumb. There is no cure. There is no hope. The only thing you can wish for now is the chance to see those responsible for doing this to you dead or worse before you meet your end. You must survive long enough to have your revenge. It is the only thought left in your mind.

Fern has been watching the progression of your injury as closely as you, and agrees that it’s time for you to depart the Deep Roads to begin your quest of vengeance. Before you leave, he asks you to follow him back to where he sleeps-it’s the first time he’s allowed you to enter. Inside, you’re surprised to find a human infant asleep on a small pile of hay.

“What is this?” you ask incredulously. “Who is this baby?”

“I’m sorry, but I cannot say,” he replies.

“Where did you get her?” you demand.

“It does not matter,” he replies. “For two weeks I have helped to train you, and today I will lead you in safety away from this place. All that I ask in return is that you bring me with you to the surface. Me and this child.”

You agree, though you’re annoyed by Fern’s refusal to answer any questions about the baby, or his intentions in regards to it. After all, you have no choice in the matter, truly. He and his baby can do as they like. A powerful mage’s presence will do nothing but speed your journey toward finding Ciro, anyway.

Fern wraps himself in rags and a large cloak, too covered to be recognized on the surface for what he is. On his back, he straps the baby comfortably in a long sling. Soon, the three of you leave for the surface. It isn’t far, and after two hours, you’ve breached the ground and walked into the shattered sunlight of the heavily forested outskirts of what looks to be a large Ferelden town. It’s time to start looking for the crow.


Pretend to be hiring an assassin. Perhaps that will lead you to Ciro.


Find a member of the Guard. If anyone knew about where the crows might be holed up, it would be the law.

Game OVer

“I’m sor–” you begin. A swift blade across your throat ends the sentence.

The end.


Reload last autosave..

Tavern

You have no time to be bullied. You draw your sword on him, prepared for a fight. The man quickly grabs his dagger and, to your great surprise, returns it at speed to its sheathe as he cries out loudly, “Oh please, good traveler, anything you want! My money? Take it, it’s yours! Just don’t hurt me!”

The bartender rushes over, and holds a thin sword tip to the small of your back. “Out,” she says sharply. “We don’t serve bandits. If I see you in my inn again, I’ll have you to the guards or at the end of my steel. Best for all if you and your friend just walk away, now.”

Without wanting to start a pointless brawl that will get you no closer to finding Ciro, you leave the bar as instructed. You’re out of ideas now, save one: the guards. Surely one of them can help point you toward the crows.


Leave and find a member of the local guard.

Tavern

“Listen here,” you say sternly.

The man swiftly pulls a knife from his belt and slams it down onto the table between you and him. “Were you saying something after I told you to leave me be, or were you leaving me be?” he asks menacingly. “Now, not another word from ye.”


Attempt to apologize.


Attempt to draw your sword.


Leave him, and speak with the bartender.


Leave him, and speak with the waiter.

Tavern

You approach the elf in the corner. He puffs another cloud of smoke from his pipe in your direction, and you brush it away before speaking.

“Excuse me, I’m-” you begin.

“Into the Fade with ye; leave me be,” he interrupts.


Try again with more confidence.


Leave him, and speak with the bartender.


Leave him, and speak with the waiter.

Tavern

You head to the nearest tavern, a bar called the “Flagon’s Breath Inn,” the perfect kind of establishment for getting information in an unfamiliar town. You walk through the door with Fern just behind you, and are disappointed to see it nearly empty. Undaunted, you step in anyway to look around.

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_5a916c229381231f819c51a942c8f107’); Element.remove(this);”>

Check out the bar.

Guards

You walk around the central square, looking for a member of the guard. You expect Fern, even under those mounds of rags, to be nervous, but his composure doesn’t falter, even when he’s eyeballed by the first officer you meet.

“Has there been any crow activity hereabouts?” you ask the well-armed man confidently. “I’m here at the behest of the Orlesean crown, on the trail of a certain elf called ‘Ciro’. Any information you have would be much appreciated.”

“Orlais?” he asks, as if insulted by the very suggestion that such a country even exists. “Do you think that if I knew where the crows hid out, that I’d be just standing out here, twiddling my thumbs and whistling tru-la-loo? Make trails.” The man spits and snorts. “Orlais, indeed.”


Try again. How could this man know nothing? He must be hiding something.


Walk away and look for a different solution.

Tavern

You approach the waiter and tap him on the shoulder. He jumps at your touch and grasps at his heart. “D-d-don’t s-s-s-s-care me like that!” he exclaims nervously. “You could have been anyone!”

Your brow furrows. You can’t imagine this person knowing anything, but you’re here now, and have already scared him half to death. “I’m looking for someone to do a job for me,” you say furtively.

“If you pay m-m-more than minimum wage, it will be more than I make bussing here,” he says excitedly.

“Not a job you can perform,” you continue. “I’m looking for more permanent solutions to my needs.” He’s not getting it. “The crows,” you say. “I’m looking for the crows.”

“Oh, I can help you there,” he says confidently. The easy answer takes you by surprise. “But, uh, I’m looking for someone to do a job for me, too.”

“I’m listening.”

“There’s a bar across the way,” he explains, sounding much more normal than he had at the start. “The Sunken Whale. It’s been putting us out of business. Taysha, the owner over there, is losing her customers. And we, the staff, are losing our tips. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the difference between two hot meals a day and one. The Whale has been around for over five years, and never before just three weeks ago has it ever stolen our business. They’re not offering discounts, they haven’t redecorated, nothing! But for some reason, most people who visit these days never drink anywhere else after. Including us, here. Find out why, get me my tips back, and I’ll help you find who you’re looking for.”

Easy enough, you think. You nod to the man and waste no time leaving the bar for The Sunken Whale. You see it across the way so filled with patrons that they’re bordering the front of the building near the street. There are, as with most places, two ways into The Whale.


The front door, an open investigation.


The back door, a more … quiet investigation.

Tavern

You approach the bar, and the bartender approaches you.

“Ale dark, ale light, or did you just want to know how to get to The Whale?” she asks angrily.

“The Whale?” you ask.

“Sorry,” she replies, calming her tone. “What can I get you and your friend, love?”

“Information, actually,” you reply.

The woman rolls her eyes and her voice sounds annoyed once more. “Six of you a day, I swear. Listen, I don’t deal in information. Unless you’re looking for something to cool your throat, go bother someone else.”

You turn to leave, when the woman stops you. “Hey,” she says. “Don’t bother that elf in the corner, though. That, I will tell you. Now get moving.”


Ignore her advice, and approach the man in the back.


Try the waiter.

Tavern

You choose the front door. After all, there’s nothing underhanded about casually seeking out a cold mug of ale. You walk into the tavern and look around. It’s full to the brim to be sure, but there’s nothing else out of the ordinary-no special decorations, nobody dancing, no sales written in chalk above the counter. It’s just a bar, like a hundred others.

You begin to ask the barkeep for a drink, but he merely points behind you without so much as meeting your eye. You follow his finger to a long line of patrons, the first of whom are glaring in your direction for attempting to bypass them. You raise your hand in apology and shuffle toward the center of the room. You don’t have an hour to wait for a taste. You decide, instead, to ask around. You look about and decide whom to question.

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_0cae7bf2ade62b14bee046cf660e63d6’); Element.remove(this);”>

The drunken dwarf stumbling around the middle of the room.

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_2058da083aad465b3dd3165dcbbde5e9’); Element.remove(this);”>

The large man stationed near the door-maybe the bouncer?

mabari

The backdoor seems unguarded, and the owner is unlikely to have his or her secrets–if there are any secrets–casually lying about the main room. Stepping quietly and carefully, you ease open the door to the back storage area of the inn. It’s suspiciously unlocked.

You take a few steps through the dark, and hit the front of your foot on a small crate. Looking down, you see packets of salted jerky–doubtfully the culprit of the bar’s odd success.

Suddenly, you hear a low growl from somewhere in front of you. You raise your head and an angry-looking mabari hound meets your eyes. This would be why the door was unlocked.


Fling a piece of meat to the hound’s side to distract it.


Mabaris are notoriously smart and deadly. Leave now, quickly, and head in through the front door instead.

Game OVer

You turn quickly on your heels and dash for the exit. The sudden movement aggravates the mabari further, and you don’t even reach the door before it’s pounced upon you, knocking you down to your chest. Fern soon incapacitates the beast, but not before you’ve lost most of your neck to its jaw.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Game OVer

You inch forward to the keg and gaze down into the brew held within. It doesn’t look any different from normal ale, and doesn’t smell much different either. It’s the last thought you have before you’re knocked to your chest. The mabari, it seems, was easily able to both eat a small piece of meat and keep the storeroom safe from intruders. Fern soon incapacitates the beast, but not before you’ve lost most of your neck to its jaw.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

mabari

Without moving your gaze from the hound’s, you carefully lean down and finger out a medium-sized piece of salted jerky from the crate. With a sharp snap of the wrist, you launch it toward the far wall. The mabari quickly chases after it.

With the immediate danger now a few meters to your left, you can see what the hound was guarding: the supply of kegs. Was it protecting a secret, or simply stopping the drunks from coming in after freebies? You step forward, and the mabari’s head turns sharply toward you. It looks at you for a moment, then returns to its jerky.


Use the opportunity to escape safely, and head in through the front door.


Use the opportunity to take a sample from the nearest keg.

Tavern

The waiter nods angrily. “It all makes sense now that you say it,” he says. “They’re making them all addicts. I, uh, better take this off to the owner. S-s-he will know what to do about it. Maybe I’ll even get a raise? Well, I, uh, just h-h-having my tips back will be enough. Thank you, stranger. Wondering how I knew about the crow? Well, just so happens one’s staying in this very inn. U-u-upstairs, third door on the right. Careful now. Scary folks, them.”

You thank the man and hurry across the room. No one gives you a second glance as you climb the stairs toward the dormitories. You find the door easily and unsurprisingly, it’s closed. You wonder which would be the better method, to knock diplomatically, or break the door down to catch the tenant by surprise. You turn to ask Fern for his advice, but find him missing. You wonder when he disappeared. No matter. Your first clue waits on the other side of this door.


Knock politely.


Kick it down.

Tavern

The waiter raises his left eyebrow so high that you think it’s about to escape his head at any moment. “A templar conspiracy,” he says dryly. “People aren’t coming here because the templars have gone to each and every one of them and told them to drink there … or … else?” He sighs. “J-j-just get out of here.”

You leave the inn, wondering what else it could have been. You’d been so sure, too. Regardless, it seems your last move is to check with a member of the guard.


Search the streets.

Tavern

The waiter raises his left eyebrow so high that you think it’s about to escape his head at any moment. “Enchanting … ” he begins dryly, “the beer? It’s a beer … enchantment?” He sighs. “J-j-just get out of here.”

You leave the inn, wondering what else it could have been. You’d been so sure, too. Regardless, it seems your last move is to check with a member of the guard.


Search the streets.

Game OVer

“Come on,” you say, trying not to sound whiny. “You’ve got to know something.

“I already told you-“

“Look, I’m just trying to do my job here, alright?” you try. “So how about some cooperation.”

“You’re really getting on my last nerve, here,” the guardsman says. “Boys!” he yells. “Looks like we’ve got us a couple of spies in from Orlais! I think a nice cell, just long enough to help them forget what secrets they’ve learned about Ferelden, is just what they need.”

Before you can run, the guards arrest both you and Fern, and lock you in the small dungeon beneath the guardhouse. You’re sure they weren’t going to keep you there forever, but sadly, the weeks you’re away are long enough for your wound to completely overtake you. You’re sure that finding a ravenous ghoul and a darkspawn in their cells was definitely a surprise.


Return to last autosave.

Guards

You take a hint and move to walk away. Before you can get far, a much younger guard tugs at your sleeve, and guides you into a nearby alleyway. Three men, one in red, one in blue, and one in green, stand in handcuffs near a brick wall. “You’re a detective?” the young guardsman asks. “From Orlais?”

You nod. It was a harmless lie, no reason to change it now.

“Alright, then maybe we can help each other. I can tell you something I heard about the crows. In exchange, maybe you could help me solve this crime. This is a big case for me; could mean a big promotion.”

“What seems to be the trouble?” you ask.

“These three men recently robbed a large estate up in Hearthridge, got away with a massive take, too. We caught them fair enough, but none had the stolen gold on him. I’ve questioned them, but each one tells me a different stash.”

“So what?” you ask. “Just try all three places.”

“And that’s the pickle,” the guard says. “See, the three of them? Mages, the lot. Open the wrong door, and boom, off goes a magic seal, and off goes your head. They don’t care; they’ll be executed anyway. I’ve offered mercy to whichever one will just tell me the truth-he’ll head back to the Circle-but I’ve no way of telling who’s taking me up on the offer, and who’s spitting nothing but lies. Assuming one of them is telling me right at all.”

“Alright,” you say. “I’ll see what I can find out.”

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_d8149d99d43259187fa3f8eff428c81f’); Element.remove(this);”>

Question the mage in red.

Game OVer

You offer your opinion to the guard, and he seems elated by your answer. Not so elated, however, that he’s willing to put his life in the hands of your deduction. And so, you agree to travel with him to Heron’s Hill, and to open the door to where you’re sure he’ll soon find a large cache of gold and an equally sizable promotion.

After a few hours’ walk, you arrive at the barn, and thrust open its doors with confidence. “See?” you say, turning back to the guard. “All clear.” Suddenly, you hear a sizzling noise. It’s coming from your good hand. Pressure begins to build in your head, and the world goes black.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Tavern

You offer your opinion to the guard, and he seems elated by your answer. Not so elated, however, that he’s willing to put his life in the hands of your deduction. You agree to travel with him to Beakman’s study, and to open the door to where you’re sure he’ll soon find a large cache of gold and an equally sizable promotion.

After a few hours’ walk, you arrive at the estate, and thrust open the doors to the study with confidence. “See?” you say, turning back to the guard. “All clear.” Suddenly, you hear a sizzling noise. It’s coming from your good hand. Pressure begins to build in your head, and the world goes black.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Game OVer

You offer your opinion to the guard, and he seems elated by your answer. Not so elated, however, that he’s willing to put his life in the hands of your deduction. You agree to travel with him to Hornway, and to open the door to where you’re sure he’ll soon find a large cache of gold and an equally sizable promotion.

After a few hours’ walk, you arrive at the village and thrust open the doors to the cellar the mage had mentioned. “See?” you say, turning back to the guard. “All clear.” The guard peers over your shoulder and smiles at the three small chests resting easily in the dirt below.

“As promised,” the guard says, leaning close to your ear, “an anonymous source informed us just two days ago of the presence of a crow staying at the Flagon’s Breath Inn. Upstairs, third door on the left. So far the guards have been doing little but observing from a distance. If you hurry, you may find whoever booked that room before our people make a move.”

You thank the man for his advice and hurry back into town. The inn is not hard to find. No one gives you a second glance as you climb the stairs toward the dormitories, and soon you stand before the door the guard had mentioned. It’s closed. You wonder which would be the better method, to knock diplomatically, or break the door down to catch the tenant by surprise. You turn to ask Fern for his advice, but find him missing. You wonder when he disappeared. No matter. Your first clue waits on the other side of this door.


Knock politely.


Kick it down.

Tavern

You knock on the door, three sharp raps. There’s no answer.


Knock again.


Kick it down.

Bedroom

You lift your leg and thrust it into the door just below the lock. The weak wood gives way easily, splintering into a small dusty cloud around your ankle. The room beyond the broken door is empty, though it holds many signs of having been lived in recently. You ease your way inside, carefully checking the corners behind the frame as you enter.

As you approach the center of the room, you hear a rustle. It sounds like a quiet breath, first to your side, then behind you. You begin to turn, but are stopped by a sharpened dagger suddenly held at your throat. “Don’t try anything stupid,” a woman’s voice whispers into your ear.


Attempt to free yourself from her grasp an gain an advantage.


Remain still and silent.

Tavern

You knock again. Still nothing.


Knock again.


Kick it down.

Game OVer

You quickly grab onto her wrist with your good hand, and attempt to spin the woman around. The fastest maneuver you can muster is sluggish in comparison to the speed of her blade. Your neck is sliced open, spilling blood to the floor before you so much as see your assailant’s face.

The end.


Reload the last autosave.

Game OVer

“Fern,” you yell out. The creature nods and catches the guard who’d spoken in his strange taint magic spell. You draw your sword. With Fern focusing his energy on the center guard, it leaves you in a two-versus-one situation. You last longer than you may have without Fern’s training, but with only one working arm, you can’t defend against both of them. You parry the first attack, but miss the second. It stabs beneath your ribs and up through your chest. You do not survive it.

The end.


Reload the last autosave.

Bedroom

For now, you decide to heed the woman’s instructions and stay perfectly still. There is a knife across your throat, after all.

“Now tell me what you’re doing in my room,” she says.

Suddenly, Fern appears in the doorway, his arms out and his palms up. He begins to chant, and as he says the words, you feel the knife drawn away from your throat. You swiftly jump forward, and turn behind you to see the woman who’d been threatening you held splayed in the air by magic. The baby slung to Fern’s back begins to cry.

You look to Fern, and he nods to you. It seems you’re now in control of the situation.

“I’m looking for one of your kind,” you say loudly. “A crow by the name of–“

“Fade take you both,” the elven girl says vindictively.


“One way or another, you’re going to tell me what I want to know.”


“Fern? Make her a bit less comfortable up there.”

Game OVer

You allow yourself to be arrested, assuming that the numbers of this fight are clearly not in your favor. As promised, the guards travel upstairs with you in their custody. It’s not long before they see the small stream of blood leading to the young woman’s corpse. There’s no explaining this. They take you back to the dungeons, where Fern’s species is instantly identified. He is executed on the spot.

Weeks pass as you await a full trial alone in your cell. With enough time, you may have been able to argue self-defense, maybe even arguing an enchanting spell from the strange darkspawn they’d found fleeing the scene with you. You may have been able to get out of it, but sadly, the delay easily outlasts the wound on your arm. Before being heard by a jury, you succumb to the taint and devolve into a ghoul right there in your cage. You have no way of knowing what happened afterward.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Bedroom

Fern grunts and slowly brings his arms together across his chest. You hear the nauseating sound of breaking bones as the woman’s body tumbles lifelessly to the floor.

“Alright,” you say. “Let’s get out of here.”

You make a run for the stairway where you find three armed guards blocking your path.

“We heard a struggle up the way,” one of them says. “If we head up there, just what are we going to find?”

“Nothing,” you say quickly. “We heard something, too, but don’t know anything about it.”

“Funny,” the man replies. “Since the bartender told us there was no one up there but you, your strange friend here, and a young elven woman. You can come with us until we get this sorted.”


Resist the arrest and fight the guards.


Be handcuffed quietly.

Bedroom

The woman yelps in pain from whatever it is Fern is doing to her body. “I’m not telling you anything,” she groans.

“Yes you are,” you say. “You’re going to tell me where I can find Ciro!”

“Ciro?” she asks. “What do you want with him?”

The mere mention of his name brings the pain in your arm to the front of your mind. “To kill him,” you say, perhaps too honestly.

“Odd,” she says. “I came here hunting him as well. What do you know of him? Let me go from this, and let us pool our knowledge.”

“You can tell me what you know now,” you say.

“I know he is no longer in Ferelden,” she replies. “Now tell your friend to release my body before he kills me and you may know the rest as well.”

You hear a clanking clatter coming from the stairwell. It seems your commotion has alerted the guards.

“Quickly!” the woman shouts.

“Fern,” you say.


“Ciro isn’t here, and I have a bad feeling about this woman. Kill her.”


“Release the assassin.”

Bedroom

Fern frees the young elf just as three guards arrive in the hall outside. Fern moves his back to them, and turns his attention to calming the child in his care.

“Is everything alright up here?” you hear one of them call cautiously.

You look to the crow, who in turn answers the guard. “Yes,” she says coolly. “Everything is fine. These are my friends. They decided to visit without informing me first, and it caused quite a startle. Nothing to worry yourselves about, though.”

The center guardsman nods, then leaves with the other two in close tow.

“Now that that’s sorted,” she says, holstering the dagger she’d been holding secretly behind her thigh during the small encounter with the guards, “we can begin fresh, yes? My name is Levina. And you are seeking … Ciro? Seems a suspicious coincidence, no offense. Why are you–“

You turn your wounded arm toward her.

“And your odd friend, there?” she asks. “Am I right in thinking that thing is a–“

“It’s not a thing, he is Fern.

“I see,” she says, calmly changing topics. “Well, as I said, our mutual acquaintance left Ferelden from Highever two nights ago for the city of Kirkwall. I have chartered a ship travelling the same route. You seem formidable folk. You’re welcome to join me. Ciro is a skilled assassin, and will not be easily defeated by tricks or raw, physical force or magic. We likely have the best chance by sticking together.”

“Why are you seeking him?” you ask suspiciously. “Isn’t he one of you?”

“It’s complicated,” she answers. “But we can discuss it on the way if you wish. For now, we should make for my ship before it departs.”

Faced with no other leads, you and Fern decide to follow Levina. A ship is waiting at the docks as she said it would be. Careful for any ambushes that might await you, you board and set sail for Kirkwall.

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_34d8f46de710e970511d26a41c5ebd41’); Element.remove(this);”>

Speak with Levina: Who's Ciro to you?


Arrive in Kirkwall.

Kirkwall

You walk to a nearby stall you see selling potions and robes to ask about the whereabouts of this Ataxias dreamer. The merchant seems to recall the name, but can’t offer much beyond that. He suggests that the templars might have a lead on him, and if not them, then perhaps the leader of the Circle. Either way, you head for the city tower.


Find a member of the templars.


Find the First Enchanter.

Kirkwall

You lightly tug on the sleeve of the first person to cross your path. She looks at you angrily until you ask her about a mage named Ataxias. Upon hearing the name, her look of anger changes to one of confusion.

“Why would I know about any of that?” she asks. “Go bother someone at the tower.” With that, she pulls her arm from your grip, and storms off about her business. Despite her moderate rudeness, she did have a point. Perhaps the templar or even the First Enchanter would know about this Ataxias character.


Find a member of the templars.


Find the First Enchanter.

Tower

You find a bevy of templars at the base of the tower, and the first one you ask knows the name Ataxias.

“Yeah, not a templar in Kirkwall don’t know that one,” he says gruffly. “Special case happened there; don’t know all the details. Can say this, though: You’ll find him easy enough in the city dungeon, not here in the Circle. And a warning, friend: don’t bother with him. And if you must, then be careful. And even when you see him rotting behind bars, be careful. And don’t tell Commander Meredith I told you, neither!”


Thank the man, and head for the dungeon.

Tower

When you first ask after First Enchanter Orsino, you’re met with a stone wall of bureaucracy. It seems you’re not the first to approach the highest ranking mage in Kirkwall with some matter of what the secretary perceives as triviality. When you use the name Ataxias, however, your matter is bumped high in the queue.

You soon have the chance to inquire after the dreamer in front of Orsino himself, and the elf seems relieved to know that your request is in regards to a simple search, not some report of recent troubles involving this obviously much-feared mage.

“You do not want to find this man you look for,” the First Enchanter says. “I do not know why you seek him, nor do I want to know. No one tends to listen to me, though, so I’ll just assume you’re going to ignore me and meddle anyway. I can’t exactly tell a traveler off the street privileged Circle information, but know this: That man was imprisoned in the dungeon instead of the Circle for a reason. A mage who cannot be executed, handled by the templars, or handled by me is no trivial matter. Walk away from this, friend. Now, please excuse me.”


Thank the man for his time, and head for the dungeon despite his advice.

Game OVer

“We offer this child,” you say, gesturing to the baby slung across Fern’s back.

“A fine choice,” the blood mage answers. “As such a young thing, it holds more potential than the rest of you.”

You reach for the baby; you feel yourself freeze in place. Fern’s hands are raised in front of him, his palms facing you.

“My, my,” the imprisoned elf says. “Now this is an impressive display!”

It’s the last sentence you hear. The last sound you hear is the noise of your bones breaking apart below your skin.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Pride Demon

“You can’t just string random letters together and expect to arrive at the answer,” the demon bellows. “Now listen again: In a marble hall white as milk; lined with skin as soft as silk; within a fountain crystal-clear; a golden apple doth appear. No doors there are to this stronghold; yet thieves break in to steal its gold.”


“E–“


“I–“


“A–“

Dungeon

You travel to the city dungeon, and are stopped by an extremely rude and uncooperative guard. Somehow, Levina eventually sweet-talks him into letting her visit her “imprisoned, long-lost uncle,” allowing you to travel deep beneath the guardhouse to the cells where you find just two prisoners. One is a man with wild black hair, thrashing about violently in his bed, either asleep or having a seizure. The other is a well-composed elf sitting smugly with his legs crossed.

“Ataxias?” you ask neutrally between the two prisoners, hoping one will answer to the name.

“That’s him,” the quiet man answers. “Though you’ll not have much luck speaking with him. He’s been asleep in that manner for as long as I have been here, and I have been here for many, many years.”

You turn to the sleeping man, and yell loudly toward him. It does nothing to rouse him from his current state.

“No luck?” the elf says sarcastically. “Imagine that!”

“Why does he sleep so?” you ask the prisoner. “What do you know of him?”

“I know that he sleeps because there he is a free man,” the man answers. “Free to roam, free to command the Fade. An enviable position, to be sure. If you wish to speak with him, you’ll need to speak with him where he lives, which, if you cannot guess, is not in this dungeon. Many have tried, all have failed.”

“This elf knows a way,” Levina says from behind you.

“That I do,” the elf says, standing to his feet. “You must enter the Fade. I can, of course, help you with such, if you so desire.”

“How–” you begin.

“This elf is a blood mage,” Levina interrupts.

“Correct again,” the prisoner states. “And as your clever friend likely also knows, I require sacrifice in order to open this path. Some mages simply take a life–which I could do, though I would need to be free to perform that–but I know a simpler way. This section of the dungeon is reserved for people like me and your friend over there because we know better. And one of the things that I know, is that there is a great energy to be found in simple potential. Half a life span should do. Offer my magic half of whatever remaining life you or one of your companions has left willingly, and the portal will open. But, uh, not this cloaked one,” he says, nodding to Fern. “There is a strange air about him.”

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_ad53406f86d823a60f68c0fb8736666c’); Element.remove(this);”>

Ask for Fern's advice.


Offer the life of the rude prison guard. As he is unwilling, this will kill him.


Offer half the lifespan of the mysterious baby that Fern has been protecting.


Offer half of Levina’s lifespan, despite her disapproval.


Offer half of your already short lifespan with the understanding that there is a good chance you will not be able to finish your quest by the end.

Dungeon

You travel back upstairs, and leave the guardhouse to find another victim for your ritual. It’s not long before you’re approached by a woman looking for her child.

“I believe I saw him enter the jail,” you say. It’s a heinous trick, but you see no difference between taking the life of a mother and taking the life of a guard. He likely had a family, too.

The woman follows you back into the dungeon, where she’s met by your party. “Where is my so–” she begins, as the blood mage begins his ritual. Her words are cut short by your sword.

As she bleeds to death on the floor, you see a small white portal begin to open nearby. As it grows it size, the outside edges begin to warble. Soon, it collapses entirely.

“What happened?” you exclaim.

“I think … ” the blood mage begins. “I think it has something to do with the entropic energy surrounding Ataxias. I know what disrupted the spell, and I can avoid it next time. I’m sorry, but we’ll need to start again. I promise, this time, we’ll break through.”

“Mama?” you hear a young voice call from upstairs. It’s probably the child for whom your last victim was searching. You’ve already killed so many. Returning to an original choice would make both the guard’s and the mother’s death utterly pointless.

“Mama?”


“She’s down here!”


Change course and offer half the lifespan of the mysterious baby that Fern has been protecting.


Change course and offer half of Levina’s lifespan, despite her disapproval.


Change course and offer half of your already short lifespan with the understanding that there is a good chance you will not be able to finish your quest by the end.

Dungeon

“We’ll kill the guard,” you say. “It is the only choice.” Fern looks to you with stern disapproval.

“Very well,” the blood mage says. “Bring me the cell keys.”

You move to the upstairs and dispatch the guard quickly by drawing your sword across his throat from behind. You feel an immense sense of guilt for the cold-blooded murder, but it couldn’t have been helped. You must be allowed your revenge. Nothing else matters.

You bring the keys into the dungeon and open the cell for the elven blood mage.

“Now open a door into the Fade,” you say.

“With pleasure,” the elf says. “After all, my word is my bond. Now, I’ll just be requiring a sacrifice.”

“But the guard,” you say. “The guard was your sacrifice. I’ve just slit his throat.”

“You misunderstand,” the elf says. “The guard cannot be the sacrifice. I mentioned killing him to get the cell keys, nothing more. No, I’ll need someone to drain right down here where we’ll open the passageway.”

You feel betrayed. This guard died for little more than a miscommunication, and you’re barely closer to entering the Fade. What now? You’ve already killed one innocent. If you chose another path now, his life will have been taken in vain.


Travel upstairs and find another person to offer in sacrifice.


Change course and offer half the lifespan of the mysterious baby that Fern has been protecting.


Change course and offer half of Levina’s lifespan, despite her disapproval.


Change course and offer half of your already short lifespan with the understanding that there is a good chance you will not be able to finish your quest by the end.

Dungeon

“I will do it,” you say.

“But–” Levina begins.

“I wish there was a different way that I could live with, but there isn’t,” you say. “Just do it.”

The blood mage nods, and begins to chant. Soon, you feel a wrenching pain in the pit of your stomach, as if someone was grappling your intestines and trying to pull you inside out. You close your eyes and suddenly the pain vanishes as quickly as it appeared. You feel no different for the process, but don’t forget the sacrifice you’ve made.

You open your eyes to a large, white portal. You steel yourself and focus on the revenge that lies at the end of this large endeavor. You step through.


Enter the Fade.

Game OVer

“I cannot offer any of the small time that I have left,” you say. “So it will be Levina.”

“No, it won’t be Levina,” Levina says, stepping back from you.

“Levina,” you say, “it must be you. I don’t have enough time left to take it on myself! You’re the only one who can do this. You want to find Ciro just as badly as I do!”

“Stay back!” she says, producing her dagger.

“Levina,” you say, moving closer. “This is the only way.”

“I said stay back!” she screams, wildly slashing her dagger in front of you. You’re not sure if she intended to knick the artery in your throat, but she did. You don’t have much time to consider it before you pass out, eventually dying from the wound.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Dungeon

The child comes down the stairs, and finds his mother on the ground dead, her body bleeding profusely from a large cut across her neck. He begins to cry as his gaze travels to your sword, covered in the same blood.

“Mama!” the young boy screams, running to her body. “Mama, wake up! Wake up, please, mama!”

You solemnly walk behind the child, and hold his head still with one hand as you draw your sword across his neck with the other, perhaps reuniting the small family in the afterlife. Fern and Levina look away. The blood mage nods. The doorway to the Fade is finally open, and you step through it without looking back on what you’ve done.


Enter the Fade.

Fade Maze

Suddenly, the world around you has turned grey. The distance looks hazy, as if some secret fire beneath the ground is heating the air. What you had expected to be a large, diverse expanse is in reality nothing but a small, unfurnished room. You look around you and find neither Fern nor Levina with you in the Fade.

A small voice speaks from behind you. “You are here for Ataxias,” it says. “You are not the first.” You turn to find a small white wisp floating near your shoulder, its form like a mass of swirling smoke. “This maze is both Ataxias and yourself. Find the points where both can meet, and so shall you, too, meet with Ataxias. It is a reward and punishment both.”

It dissipates into the air.

Fade Maze

You travel east, and the door disappears behind you. Inside, you’re immediately met by a vision. What you see is yourself in the Deep Roads, training with Fern. Your body looks terrible, painted in sweat, dirt, and hunger. Your eyes, however, tell a different tale. The look they wear is one of total perseverance, a violent perseverance. You were then as you are now: a being with no hope but vengeance, the destruction of those who wronged you.

You reach forward and touch the vision. Like an electrical shock, it throws your arm back as it dissipates. You feel an invisible energy enter your body. It’s difficult to understand the abstractions at work in your mind, but you think you can feel your determination actually transform as if it had physical shape. You see a drake inside of you, and what’s more, a drake now at your command.

With a single thought, your body transforms into the fearsome beast, and with another, you return to your regular body.

Fade Maze

You select a door at random, and the swirling black flames behind it engulf you the moment you open it, dragging you inside with burning tentacles. You feel your body burning for what seems like hours, days, even weeks. You never awaken from it.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Fade Maze

You select a door at random, and the swirling black flames behind it engulf you, dragging you inside with burning tentacles. Your drake form does nothing to aid you. You feel your body burning for what seems like hours, days, even weeks. You never awaken from it.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Darkspawn

You enter your drake form, and use its immunity to fire to pass safely through the burning doorway. Inside, you see Fern in the Deep Roads. It’s obvious that this is simply an apparition of your friend, not his actual body.

Within the vision, you see countless scenes of torture inflicted upon Fern by other darkspawn for his differences. They stream through your mind in the course of an instant. You feel his shame, confusion, and fury as if they were your own. You see him then as an outcast, forced to live separate from the rest of the horde.

The following scenes are muddled, passing too quickly to understand. You see him walking without a disguise in the woods, and then inside of a hut. He stares down at a baby, in shock–the same baby you see him with now. You reach out and touch the vision, but nothing happens.

Darkspawn

You travel west, and see a second vision of Fern. He’s just traveled back into the Deep Roads with the child. You see him caring for it in secret, and then you appear. You see him training you, and feel his willingness to travel with you to the surface world.

Reaching out your good hand, you touch the edge of his arm. His image melts around you, and you’re filled with a warm sensation. The energy feels protective, fierce, and loyal. You sense the presence of a proud mabari suddenly within you, and much like the drake, you gain the ability to take its form.

Fade Maze

You find yourself in the room in which you started this maze.

Fade Maze

You enter the room where you’d previously seen a vision of Fern. Nothing remains now but small, blue tiles across the floor. The way north has re-opened.

Fade Maze

You enter the room where you received your drake form. Nothing but a large painting of a drake remains here.

Fade Maze

You enter the room where you gained your mabari form. There is nothing left here but a large painting of the hound across the eastern wall.

Pride Demon

You enter the room, and find yourself face to face with a massive purple demon made entirely of spikes. You reach for your sword, but find nothing at your waist. The demon laughs.

“Even if you found your puny blade, mortal,” the creature says in a raspy, echoing voice, “I doubt it would have made your encounter with me any easier. I have killed many, many of your kind, and most of them had two arms, by my count. I’ll tell you what. Instead of a duel that you would so surely lose, let us have a small game of riddles. Solve mine and you continue past this door behind me. I won’t say I’ll kill you if you fail, because I could kill you as easily now. No, instead I think I’ll prefer to watch you suffer trying to get through. Do you find these terms agreeable?”

You nod. You have no choice in the matter.

“So be it,” the demon says. “In a marble hall white as milk; lined with skin as soft as silk; within a fountain crystal-clear; a golden apple doth appear. No doors there are to this stronghold; yet thieves break in to steal its gold. Of what do I speak? Spell the answer to open the passage.”


“E–“


“I–“


“A–“

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“C–“


“G–“


“Y–“

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“C–“


“G–“


“Y–“

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“C–“


“G–“


“Y–“

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“E–“


“O–“


“G–“

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“E–“


“O–“


“G–“

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“E–“


“O–“


“G–“

Pride Demon

You complete your answer.


Look to the demon.

Pride Demon

You complete your answer.


Look to the demon.

Pride Demon

You complete your answer.


Look to the demon.

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“E–“


“O–“


“G–“

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“E–“


“O–“


“G–“

Pride Demon

It laughs heartily as you continue.


“E–“


“O–“


“G–“

Pride Demon

You complete your answer.


Look to the demon.

Pride Demon

You complete your answer.


Look to the demon.

Pride Demon

The demon stops laughing and sighs loudly. “Very well,” he says. With that, the glowing blue enchantment across the northern door fades to nothing. The demon moves from its path and leans against the eastern wall.


Travel north through the open door.

Crows

You enter the northern room and see a vision of Levina in what you can only presume is Antiva. It begins with her training fiercely beside similarly-aged recruits. Soon, you see those same recruits sent out by the assassin master, while Levina remains alone in the training facility. Suddenly a strange figure enters the room. They speak but you cannot hear the words.

You proceed quickly into the adjoining room and are met with a second vision. Levina is now rifling through documents in a private office. She looks terrified. A moment later, she’s disappeared, just as a large, shadowy elf opens the door. Outside, you watch as Levina carves her way out from the crow’s base, slaughtering any assassin unlucky enough to discover her escape.

You touch the vision and your hand is held in place as if stuck. After a short struggle, you’ve removed it and begin to feel a sinister, deadly force grow within you. It’s the spirit of a spider. You’ve gained another form.

Looking around the room, you see a small hole near the ceiling. You quickly enter your new form and climb up the wall.


Traverse the hole.

Game OVer

“You bastard,” you say, drawing your blade and running it through his chest without hesitation. Sadly, killing the snide guard does nothing to make you feel better. You search his body, but fail to find keys to the cell.

As you walk upstairs, a small squadron of guards confronts you. They look past you and see the young man you’ve just killed bleeding out at the bottom of the steps. They waste no time in making you share his fate.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Evil Cat

The tunnel running through the wall is long and labyrinthine, but soon you see a light from a junction some distance ahead of you. You travel toward it and soon find the exit. Poking your small head outside of the hole, you see a small cat with glowing eyes surrounded by hundreds of different types of chairs. This seems to be the end of the maze. Could this be … Ataxias?

You climb stealthily down the wall. As you hit the ground, you see the image of a spider and a mabari hound leap out from your chest. They transform into Fern and Levina.

“Well, that was an odd sensation,” Levina says.

“You’re … real this time?” you ask.

“I’d say so,” Levina answers, patting herself down. Fern nods.

“Ataxias?” you call to the cat in front of you. It still hasn’t turned to look at you, though you’re sure it heard you and the others enter his room. “You there, Ataxias,” you try again.

The cat keeps his attention locked to the chairs in front of him. “See, the thing with stain is that while it covers up defects in the workmanship, it fundamentally alters the color of the chair,” you hear it mumble. “And if you’re going to alter the intended aesthetic of the chair, then you’re only adding a defect to the work you’re supposedly trying to repair … “

Could this be the dangerous mage of whom you were so warned?


Perhaps you need to show him that you’re serious. “Levina. Get his attention.”


Perhaps you need to show him that you’re serious. “Fern. Get his attention.”


Continue trying to speak with him.

Evil Cat

You take a few steps closer to the kitten. “Ataxias, I have beaten your maze!” you say loudly. “You must speak with me.”

“Three legs?” the feline mumbles, still refusing to acknowledge your presence. “Yes, I suppose it would work, triangle, pyramid, both strong structures for supporting weight. But a chair with three legs isn’t rightly a chair … not by birth. That’s a stool, isn’t it? Yes, yes, I believe that it is.”


Perhaps you need to show him that you’re serious. “Levina. Get his attention.”


Perhaps you need to show him that you’re serious. “Fern. Get his attention.”


Get closer, and continue trying to speak with him.

Evil Cat

You begin to walk across the room to where he stands.

“This one has wonderful lumbar, it’s true,” you hear him saying, “but I worry sometimes about the strength of the back two legs. One enjoys a good lean when working.”

Just before you reach him, you call out once more. “Ataxias!”

Without turning toward you, the small cat summons a massive fireball and lobs it at your chest as if it was nothing. You’re barely able to take your drake form in time to survive the devastating blast.

“Why has no one thought to add wheels to a chair leg?” the cat continues. “Yes, I think I may quite enjoy such a contraption.”

Diplomacy, it seems, will get you nowhere.


Signal Levina to attack.


Signal Fern to attack.

Evil Cat

Fern understands your signal and steps forward with his palms held out toward the cat. It turns at blinding speed to face Fern and mimics the darkspawn’s stance. Both of them stand frozen and straining, likely attempting to overpower the other with a similar spell.

Either you or Levina can strike next. A correct tactical decision could make all the difference.


Draw your sword and hold it to Ataxias.


Signal Levina to follow up instead.

Evil Cat

Levina understands your signal, and stealthily sneaks around to the cat’s tail, likely attempting to appear unnoticed and hold a dagger to its throat–a technique of hers with which you’re more than familiar.

Just before she approaches, The kitten spins around, and releases a massive sphere of energy from its body. Levina is thrown backward across the room.

With his attention elsewhere, you have gained just the moment for a follow-up attack. Either you or Fern can strike next. The correct tactical decision could make all the difference.


Signal Fern to attack.


Draw your sword and follow up personally.

Evil Cat

You signal to Levina, who uses the cat’s involvement with Fern to easily sneak behind him and put her dagger to its throat. “Whatever it is you’re doing with my friend over there,” she says seriously, “I suggest you end it. Now.”

The kitten laughs and lowers its paws with a jerk. Fern flies backward, but quickly regains his footing and nods to Levina that he’s fine.

“I’m sure you’re about to wow me with whatever very, very important reason you have for finding me here,” Ataxias says, suddenly transforming into the human man you’d seen in the holding cell, “but before you blather on about it, I have a single question for you: ladderback or Windsor?”

“We’re looking for an assassin by the name of Ciro,” you say, ignoring the man’s question. “And we have reason to believe you can find him for us. Is that so?”

“What was that?” the mage replies. “Did you say ladderback or Windsor?”

“This could be a trick,” Levina cautions you. “Say the word and it triggers some form of hex or trap.”


“You heard me, now answer my question.”


“I’m not here to answer your insane questions. You’re here to answer mine.”


“Uh, Windsor, I suppose.”


“Ladderback?”

Game OVer

You draw your sword, and move in to attack the cat. It sees you, and easily releases Fern from their stalemate.

From what you can tell, the effect is similar to one party suddenly letting go in a game of tug-of-war. Fern flies backward and the cat moves its attention to you with ample time to counter your impending attack. Without the need for preparation, the kitten instantly unleashes a series of cascading lightning bolts into your body. You survive the first two, but not the third.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Game OVer

You signal to Fern, who immediately lifts his hands, palms outward, to confront the feline. The cat turns at blinding speed to face Fern, and mimics the darkspawn’s stance. Both of them stand frozen and straining, each likely attempting to overpower the other.

With Levina disabled, only you’re left to attack. You draw your sword, and move in to attack the kitten. It sees you and easily releases Fern from their stalemate.

From what you can tell, the effect is similar to one party suddenly letting go in a game of tug-of-war. Fern flies backward, and the cat moves its attention to you with ample time to counter your impending attack. Without the need for preparation, the cat instantly unleashes a series of cascading lightning bolts into your body. You survive the first two, but not the third.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Evil Cat

You decide to attack next. With your hand on your sword haft, you run toward the kitten. Similar to before, the animal spins on his heels toward your attack. Before it can unleash any manner of magic, it becomes suspended in the air. You look back toward Fern, who’s caught the kitten in his spell. The darkspawn must have learned the moment to strike from when he’d seen the animal disable Levina. Clever.

“I’m sure you’re about to wow me with whatever very, very important reason you have for finding me here,” Ataxias says, suddenly transforming into the human man you’d seen in the holding cell, “but before you blather on about it, I have a single question for you: ladderback or Windsor?”

“We’re looking for an assassin by the name of Ciro,” you say, ignoring the man’s question. “And we have reason to believe you can find him for us. Is that so?”

“What was that?” the mage replies. “Did you say ladderback or Windsor?”

“This could be a trick,” Levina cautions you. “Say the word and it triggers some form of hex or trap.”


“You heard me, now answer my question.”


“I’m not here to answer your insane questions. You’re here to answer mine.”


“Uh, Windsor, I suppose.”


“Ladderback?”

Evil Cat

“Is that so,” he replies. “Would that be a lacquer Windsor, or are we discussing something more au naturel here?”

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that you’re going to have to play along to get an answer out of him.


“My mother always said ‘go lacquer or go home.'”


“Au naturel. If a style could be a monarch, it’s the claim I’d support in a landmeet.”

Evil Cat

“Is that so,” he replies. “Would that be a lacquer ladderback, or are we discussing something more au naturel here?”

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that you’re going to have to play along to get an answer out of him.


“My mother always said ‘go lacquer or go home.'”


“Au naturel. If a style could be a monarch, it’s the claim I’d support in a landmeet.”

Evil Cat

“I’m not here to answer your insane questions. You’re here to answer mine,” he parrots. “Windsor or ladderback?”


“I refuse to play anymore of your games. The maze was enough. Now speak, or we will put you down.”


“Uh, Windsor, I suppose.”


“Ladderback?”

Evil Cat

“Laquer … laquer … hmm … alright, then, I’ll help you,” the mage says casually. As he finishes the sentence, he releases a massive wave of telekinetic energy, blasting you, Fern, and Levina harmlessly across the room. Was he just toying with you when you thought you’d had the advantage?

“Well don’t just sit there,” Ataxias says. “We’ve got something worth doing, I presume.”

“We’re looking for an assassin by the name of Ciro,” you explain.

“Oh, an assassin! This is going to be interesting after all.”

“So you can find him for us?” you ask.

“If he’s ever dreamed, then he’s been to the Fade,” the man says, “and if he’s ever been to the Fade, then I have a chair for him somewhere … ” He begins sweeping chairs from his feet as he looks through his massive collection. “Ah, I see,” he says excitedly. “I believe that I may know the elf that you’re looking for. Let’s go find him, shall we?”


The reaction makes you suspicious. “Just like that?”


The reaction makes you curious. “Why do you want to help us?”

Evil Cat

“Au naturel … au … naturel … hmm … alright, then, I’ll help you,” the mage says casually. As he finishes the sentence, he releases a massive wave of telekinetic energy, blasting you, Fern, and Levina harmlessly across the room. Was he just toying with you when you thought you’d had the advantage?

“Well don’t just sit there,” Ataxias says. “We’ve got something worth doing, I presume.”

“We’re looking for an assassin by the name of Ciro,” you explain.

“Oh, an assassin! This is going to be interesting after all.”

“So you can find him for us?” you ask.

“If he’s ever dreamed, then he’s been to the Fade,” the man says, “and if he’s ever been to the Fade, then I have a chair for him somewhere … ” He begins sweeping chairs from his feet as he looks through his massive collection. “Ah, I see,” he says excitedly. “I believe that I may know the elf that you’re looking for. Let’s go find him, shall we?”


The reaction makes you suspicious. “Just like that?”


The reaction makes you curious. “Why do you want to help us?”

Evil Cat

“Go ahead,” he says. “Kill me. Or, of course, you could simply answer me: Windsor or ladderback?”


Kill the mage. It’s better than falling into a potential trap.


“Uh, Windsor, I suppose.”


“Ladderback?”

Game OVer

You give the signal, and a moment later, Ataxias is lying dead on the ground. It actually surprises you … you had expected him to have some sort of final trick up his sleeve.

Without the spider spirit form, you soon realize that you have no way of backtracking out of the room … not that it would have delivered you to anywhere other than, at best, the beginning of the maze. You clearly didn’t think this through very well.

Time passes, and you never hunger and never tire, but also never leave. It’s a quiet and horrible eternity in an empty room.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

MapKirtoAnt

Ataxias laughs. “That expression you’re wearing,” he says, “priceless as an 8:24 Blessed trestle-backed Orlesian dining seat. Look, it’s not very complex. You’ve obviously come a long way to find me, and perhaps it was just as obviously time I was found. Why will I help you? If I were to state it in words, I like to see moving things. They’re boring when they don’t move. A windmill that is not moving can be nice from time to time, but most of the time it’s not even worth looking at. Now I want to move the windmill with the wind of whatever it is you people are up to at present. Get me out of this dungeon, and I’ll lead you to this Ciro crow. I could just tell you where to go, I suppose, but then I’d miss the show.”

The mage laughs again, and suddenly you find yourself out of the Fade and back inside of the dungeon. Ataxias is no longer thrashing about on the bed, but instead standing patiently in front of the bars to his cell. The door remains locked and closed behind him. You decide against questioning it, and four of you escape to the city limits.

For the next few days, you follow Ataxias as he leads your group northwest into the Free Marches. There are moments–many of them, in fact–during which you believe you’ve allied yourself with this mage in error. It’s impossible to say if he knows where he’s leading your group, or if he knows where to find Ciro at all. If he doesn’t, you’ve put your life’s ambition at risk, with little time to find better path.

The pain in your arm has been increasing with each passing day. The black veins bulging beneath your shoddy tourniquet are getting darker, and the strange voices of the darkspawn hivemind speak louder and with more clarity with each passing night. You can feel your time running out as a palpable sensation.

Two weeks pass, and after a particularly long day of hiking, darkness falls across the woods.

“I miss the stars of Ferelden,” Levina says, looking to the sky beyond the trees. “The sky has been so cloudy since Kirkwall.”

“What are you talking about?” you reply, following her gaze. “There are five of them. I’m sure of it.”

“Five?” she repeats. “I can see maybe three. And that’s being generous.”

“Are both of you mad?” Ataxias chimes in. “Those aren’t stars up there. There are no stars. Zero.”

“Yes there are,” you say, pointing behind you. “You just have to look past the city.”

“No. There are none,” Ataxias says sternly. “And the city doesn’t matter.”

“Relax, you two,” Levina says. “They’re just stars. I’m sorry I even brought it up.”

You smile remember to look to the well-being of your companions for the first time since you began this journey. They seem exhausted. Ataxias promises only two days more of travel before arriving at whatever location Ciro’s hidden himself within.


Push forward.


Make camp.

Forest

“Hold on everyone,” you say. “Let’s make camp. We need to be well-rested for whatever awaits us beyond these woods.”

The group seems amenable to your suggestion, and soon Levina leaves to gather firewood while Fern begins to form a small bed of long grass for the child in his care. Ataxias swipes the first log Levina brings back and starts whittling away at it with a dagger.

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_ed980505585e03e14bed05414d2edd8f’); Element.remove(this);”>

Find Fern, and ask him to finally explain the infant girl he carries. Are we even traveling in the right direction for whatever it is you need to do with her?

Forest

You don’t mention the possibility of making camp, and neither does anyone else. Perhaps they understand your situation, that every time you rest, you risk never making it to Ciro and the culprit he’ll hopefully point you toward. And perhaps they don’t; maybe they have their own reasons for hurrying along.

Levina is far ahead scouting, while Ataxias pulls up the rear, whittling away at a stick with a dagger. Fern walks beside you, cradling the small child in his arms.

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_ed980505585e03e14bed05414d2edd8f’); Element.remove(this);”>

Find Fern, and ask him to finally explain the infant girl he carries. Are we even traveling in the right direction for whatever it is you need to do with her?

Antiva

You arrive in Antiva City sometime in the morning. It is an odd place, clearly lavish and well-maintained, yet somehow quietly fouled, as if the entirety of the capital is shouldering some shadowy confidence just behind its vibrant market stall awnings and finely-made gowns. Its outward affluence is disarming, a fact which puts you immediately on your guard.

You walk into the market place and begin to look across the many stalls when you hear a voice behind you. “That babe,” it says in a thick Antivan accent, “how much for it?”

You turn to find a short, cloaked elf harassing Fern. “You will leave now,” you hear your companion reply, obviously trying to contain a brewing temper.

“I know many buyers,” the elf continues. “I can fetch a price much higher than you would be able to without the proper connection. No mother, a foreign accent; this is why you travel to Antiva, yes? Perhaps we both make a profit on the child?”

As you step closer to Fern and the strange elf, you feel a slight tug at the waist of your trousers. Looking down, you see your coin purse missing. There wasn’t much left inside, but without it, there will be neither food nor lodgings for the group tonight.

A young elf, perhaps eight years old, speeds off into the bustling market crowd behind you past Fern. Your purse is in his hand. He’s about to get away.


“Fern! Stop that boy! He’s stolen our gold!”


There’s no time to call to Fern. Push past him and give chase yourself.

Antiva

Fern forgets the impudent elf slaver and turns to grab the young thief at your command. Without much trouble, he swiftly latches onto the boy’s arm, stopping his escape with a jerk. The boy looks down in horror at the dark, mangled claw now grasping him by the wrist and screams. Fern reaches for your coin purse in the thief’s other hand as others in the crowd are alerted by the commotion.

The boy begins to violently tug against Fern’s hold. His movements are not enough to loose your companion’s grip, but still manage to shake the hood from his head. At that moment, in the middle of a bustling market square, Fern’s true identity as a darkspawn is revealed. Panic sweeps the bazaar. Terrified screams fill the whole of the courtyard.

Guards are quick to arrive, and surround you and Fern in a tight circle. “Let that child go, foul beast!” one shouts. “I am no Warden, but one of your kind cannot hope to stand against eight Antivan blades pointed at its throat. Can you even understand me, creature? Let the boy go!”

Fern’s shoulders droop in defeat and he releases his grip on the boy. As the thief scurries away, he opens his hands to show he’s unarmed.

“Let me slay him,” one of the younger guards says, stepping forward.

You quickly look for Levina and Ataxias. Levina has disappeared–likely gone into hiding nearby. Ataxias stands plain right as you left him, laughing like a maniac at the unfolding scene as if at the theater. Considering Levina’s concern for her own safety in this city, and Ataxias’ cold insanity, neither is likely to be of help.


Draw your sword and attempt to fight off the guard long enough to allow a group escape.


Explain to the men that Fern is special, and clearly no threat.


“Fern, run!” It’s the worst goodbye you can imagine for so close a friend, but he’ll be surely be killed if he stays.

Antiva

Not risking a delay, you shove past Fern in pursuit of the thief. As you attempt to pass, the haft of your sword catches on the darkspawn’s belt, tugging at his cloak. Before you can free yourself, Fern’s hood has been pulled down. At that moment, in the middle of a bustling market square, Fern’s true identity is revealed.

“You’re a … a … darkspawn!” the elven slaver yells. It attracts the attention of those nearby, who also begin to scream. Before Fern is able to reassemble his disguise, panic has swept the bazaar. Terrified screams of “Darkspawn!” fill the whole of the courtyard.

Guards are quick to arrive and surround you and Fern in a tight circle, bowstrings drawn. “Let that child go, foul beast!” one shouts. “I am no Warden, but one of your kind cannot hope to stand against eight Antivan arrows pointed at its throat. Can you even understand me, creature? Let him go!”

Fern’s shoulders droop, and he releases his grip on the boy. As the thief scurries away, he opens his hands to show he’s unarmed.

“Let me slay him,” one of the younger guards says, stepping forward.

You quickly look for Levina and Ataxias. Levina has disappeared–likely gone into hiding nearby. Ataxias stands plain right as you left him, laughing like a maniac at the unfolding scene as if at the theater. Considering Levina’s concern for her own safety in this city, and Ataxias’ cold insanity, neither is likely to be of help.


Draw your sword, and attempt to fight off the guard long enough to make a group escape.


Explain to the men that Fern is special, and clearly no threat.


“Fern, run!” It’s the worst goodbye you can imagine for so close a friend, but he’ll be surely be killed if he stays.

Game OVer

You draw your weapon and stand fiercely in front of your friend, ready to defend him with your life.

“I don’t know who you are,” the ranking member of the guard says slowly, “or what spell this creature has cast over you, but I need you to step away.” He reaches a hand toward you and you swipe at it with your sword. His cautious face turns angry. “Then so be it.” He nods at his men, and the fight begins.

You’re able to kill one man and disable another before a young member of the guard sticks his blade through your belly. You watch the same happen to Fern as you collapse where you stand.

The end.


Return to last autosave.

Antiva

“Friendly?” the ranking member of the guard asks. “There are no friendly darkspawn. I do not know what spell this creature has placed you under, but–“

“Wait, I can prove it,” you interrupt. “Fern can speak. You claim that no darkspawn is friendly, but I’d bet you also think that none of them can talk, correct?”

The guard pauses.

“Go on then, Fern,” you say. “Tell them.”

Fern looks at you with heavy eyes. You then grasp something you should have realized from the beginning. Fern cannot speak, at least not to others. You understand Fern through the tainted blood trickling into your body. The voice you hear is not the common tongue. You’ve been the only one able to comprehend him from the start.

“As I thought,” the guard says.

“You can’t just kill him in cold blood,” you yell. “Even if he can’t speak to you, do you see him attacking you?”

“No,” the guard says, harshly spinning Fern around. “But I do see a small child that it’s kidnapped, and I do see an opportunity to show that Antiva is able to stand up to the horde as much as any other nation. If you wish to see the creature into death, return here tomorrow for the execution.”

“Execution?” you yell. “You can’t execute him!” It’s too late; Fern is already being led away through the crowd by the city guard. With the guards gone, Levina suddenly reappears beside you.


“We must head to the dungeon and sort this thing out. We cannot let Fern be executed.”


“Fern was a companion, and I will mourn him, but we have no time to spare. He will meet his fate in the morning, and so must we head toward our own.”

Antiva

v

“Fern, run!” you yell. He doesn’t move. “Fern, now, it’s your only chance! What are you doing?”

“There are eight men with bows drawn,” he says quietly. “I will not risk the safety of the child on my back by turning from them. Even the slightest risk is too much. No, I am sorry, friend, but I cannot run.”

You turn to the guards. “This creature, as you call him, is unwilling to run because he won’t risk the life of a human child. How can you call him dangerous? Fern can speak. Tell him Fern! Tell him why you have the child.”

The guard pauses.

“Go on then, Fern,” you say. “Tell them.”

Fern looks at you with heavy eyes. Suddenly, you grasp something you should have realized from the beginning. Fern cannot speak, at least not to others. You understand Fern through the tainted blood slowly trickling into your body past the tourniquet. The voice you hear coming from him is not the common tongue. You’ve been the only one able to comprehend him from the start.

“As I thought,” the guard says, drawing his sword.

“You can’t just kill him in cold blood,” you yell. “Even if he can’t speak to you, do you see him attacking you?”

“No,” the guard says, harshly spinning Fern around. “But I do see a small child that it’s kidnapped, and I do see an opportunity to show that Antiva is able to stand up to the horde as much as any other nation. If you wish to see the creature into, death return here tomorrow for the public execution.”

“Execution?” you yell. “You can’t execute him!” It’s too late. Fern is already being led away through the crowd by the city guard. With the guards gone, Levina suddenly reappears beside you.


“We must head to the dungeon and sort this thing out. We cannot let Fern be executed.”


“Fern was a companion, and I will mourn him, but we have no time to spare. He will meet his fate in the morning, and so must we head toward our own.”

Antiva

“We cannot risk going to the jail to bother with this,” Levina says. “Look to your wound. You do not have the time. I do not have the time. Don’t you understand that every moment spent in this country is a risk for me?”

“Every moment that I haven’t found my revenge is a risk for me, too,” you reply.

“May I interrupt?” Ataxias interjects. “You should know that we’ve beaten your quarry to the city by a day. Whether you help your darkspawn friend or otherwise, you won’t be able to go after the elf tonight. Anyway, I imagine his talents may be of help to both of you, no?”

You look smugly to Levina. She sighs.

“Off to the prison, then,” she says.


Head for the dungeon.

Antiva

“So you’re just going to leave him there?” Levina asks. “Would you leave me there as well?”

“It’s not that I want to–” you start.

“May I interrupt?” Ataxias interjects. “You should know that we’ve beaten your quarry to the city by a day. Whether you help your darkspawn friend or otherwise, you won’t be able to go after the elf tonight. Anyway, I imagine his talents may be of help to both of you, no?”

You’d have left Fern behind if needed, but with Ciro unreachable until tomorrow, you’re relieved that you won’t have to. And Ataxias is right; the darkspawn will likely be of great use to you.


Head for the dungeon.

Dungeon2

It takes a few hours to determine where Fern has been taken, but once you arrive at the dungeon, you have no trouble visiting him; the guards feel accomplished having taken the creature alive, and do not mind showing off such a bizarre trophy.

You find Fern alone in a small cell, naked and beaten. He has no fewer than eight open wounds across the course of his body. Many of the instruments of his torture lay bloodied on the ground of his cell, a reminder to him, perhaps, of what’s to come at sunrise.


“Fern … it’s all my fault.”


“Can you hear me? I’m here to break you out of here.”

Dungeon2

Fern lifts his head, and begins to cough. Blood spills from the side of his mouth to the ground. “None of that matters,” he finally manages to say. “They took the child. Where is she?”

“I don’t know,” you say quietly.

“Leave me then,” he says coldly. “Find the girl. She’s all that matters.”

“Fern, tell me how to help you.”

“The child–“

“I don’t care about the child!” you reply angrily. “What makes her so important? Is she a royal? A dreamer? The reincarnation of Andraste?” After a moment, you calm. “Just … what is so important about that baby that I should abandon you? Help me to understand.”

Fern nods. “You asked me who the child was, and I told you that I couldn’t say. It was no secret, friend. I couldn’t say because I do not know who this child is. Weeks before you met me in the Deep Roads, I left my kind for the surface, knowing it full well to be suicide.

“On my first day in the sun, I happened across a small hut near the opening where I’d entered the forest. There were bodies, a man and a woman, humankind. Both were slaughtered. How, I do not know. So close to the Roads, I can’t help but believe it was the work of a few adventurous genlocks, or similar. They … they just killed them without thought.” Fern coughs again, adding to the growing pool of dark blood beneath him.

“And then I heard a cry, quiet, from the back room. Inside, there she was: just a discarded human child. You asked me if she was royalty, someone important. She is. But not because of some birthright or title. She is important because she is alive. Please–“

He coughs again, and loses consciousness.

You hear a small laugh coming from somewhere behind you. You turn, expecting to find Ataxias. Instead you find a young guard. “All that grunting wore him out, did it?” he says through a smile.


Draw your sword and attack him.


Still your anger, and attempt to reason with him.

Campfire

“Listen to me,” you say to the guard, “this is not what it looks like.”

“Really?” the guard replies. “Cause it looks like a stupid, vicious animal strung up by his elbows to me. Why do you care anyway?”

“If it’s just a pointless animal to you,” you say calmly, “then surely you don’t care about what happens to him. Whether he’s killed, or whether he … just so happens to escape.”

The man eyeballs you for a moment before understanding what you’re asking. “Alright,” he says. “If you care so much. There’s a band of misfit adventuring types out causing trouble at the Deep Roads seal just outside the city proper. That door was sealed long ago by a mage who’s no longer alive. If they open it, it’s going to flood the city with these things, and your charity case over there will be the least of my worries. Fools think they’re strong enough to beat whatever lies down there and find some long lost treasure, but the only thing they’re strong enough to do is kill me and my men. We already tried to send a few guards earlier … didn’t end well. You care about this creature here, give us a hand with that. All off the record, if you take my meaning.”

“I do this, and you help?” you ask.

The man nods.

“Where’s the child? The one he had with him?”

The man rubs his chin for a moment. “I don’t know, but I suppose I could look into–“

“Then do it,” you say.

There’s no time to spare. Fern’s execution is at sunrise. As you leave the city center for the place the guard had mentioned, you see small bits of parchment advertizing the execution. “Be part of fight. Join us as we slay the leader of the darkspawn hordes!” Leader of the hordes, indeed, you think.

It’s not difficult to find the large group of adventurers outside of the city. A mage of their number looks to be working on a large, magically-sealed stone, while the others sit around a fire pit eating their supper. You approach them easily. As your first foot enters their camp, you hear the sound of a dozen or more bowstrings being pulled in the surrounding forest.

Your dead arm begins to hurt. You sense a great mass of darkspawn on the other side of the stone their mage is attempting to remove.

“Stop!” a man from the group says, standing from the fire. He’s a massive creature, more beard than man. “I am Harren, leader of this band. What business do you have here?”


“By order of the Guard, I command you to cease this immediately!”


“Opening that door would be a fatal error.”

Game OVer

Harren laughs so hard his chest begins to shake. Soon, his men are laughing with him, and the woods become dense with their laughter.

A moment later, the man moves his finger in a downward swipe, and your body is filled with arrows.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Campfire

“A Warden?” Harren says. “Here? Well, say there are a thousand-thousand darkspawn beyond this stone. Why do you think I’ve brought these men? Why do you think I’ve paid these men? What would you have me do, just pack up, lose my investment, and head back to my wife?”


“Yes, it’s a life for fools. And I’m sure your wife is very lonely woman.”


“There is another way into the Roads near Ferelden, much farther from the city, and far less infested. I can show you on your map.”

Game OVer

He doesn’t let you finish. With a flick of his finger, a volley of arrows appears from within the trees and stuffs you.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Game OVer

“Is that so?” he says. He turns back toward the enchanted stone, and for a moment you think you’ve convinced him.

Suddenly, he whips around. “Lonely, is she?” he asks as he looses two small throwing knives from his hand. One lands harmlessly in your deadened arm, the other, in your throat.

The end.


Reload last autosave.

Dungeon2

“Ferelden, you say?” he replies. “Show me.”

You carefully follow the man into his tent and mark the best path to reach the opening from which you and Fern left the Deep Roads. Harren seems upset by the loss of time and revenue, but agrees that it’s better than losing the whole company to a forced entry at the site of what feels like a darkspawn barracks.

No sooner does he thank you for your assistance than you head back toward the city dungeon with haste. You find the guard near where you left him, sitting in a small chair across from Fern’s cell, asleep and drooling on himself.

“It’s done,” you proclaim, waking him.

The man stands, and shakes himself awake. “Alright,” he says happily. “That’ll be a bonus for this one, here.” He points to his chest with his thumbs. “Now what do you want in return?”

“You know what I want,” you say suspiciously.

“You wanted to know about the kid, right? She was sent to the crows–they pay good money for the things. Who slipped it out and managed an early payday? No idea. Now, you did me a solid, and I’ll do you one. That’s one that I owe you. I can gather the men, and do a raid on where that child is being kept. It’s not going to win me any favor with whoever sold it, and if it’s one of my superiors, I’m boiled. I stick my neck out for you that way, or I can turn around and let this prize prisoner escape on my watch. I can do that instead, but I won’t do both. Now what do you want from me? Be quick about it.”

This wasn’t the plan. You try to think clearly, but the pain in your arm is suddenly growing worse, and this new decision is an impossible one.

‘); Element.remove(‘spoiler_8b2b3ae14a048a6723e5746bc23db3bc’); Element.remove(this);”>

Ataxias, thoughts?

You turn to the guard.


“Release my friend. Release Fern.”


“Prepare the raid. We save the child from the crows.”

Ciro

“Fair enough,” the guard says. “Though I can’t say I’d have chosen the same.”

“Spare me your wisdom,” you reply as the man unlocks the cell.

“Take him out through the back exit,” the guard says. “The others can’t see him upstairs. Now clock me one, so I can say you forced your way through me.”

“With pleasure,” you reply, smashing the guard across the face with the haft of your sword without delay.

The guard collapses to the ground, and you collect your friend. Fern is in a weakened state but alive. Only his cloak remains in the room. It won’t cover him completely, but will have to do. You dress him, place one of his arms over your shoulder, and guide him toward the back door.

“Why,” Fern groans. “How could you let them sell her? I trusted you. I thought you were differ–” he trails off and falls unconscious once more.

You’d expected the back door to lead to some form of abandoned alleyway or side-street, but are dismayed to find that the exit leads to a heavily trafficked thoroughfare instead. Perhaps unsurprisingly, two additional guards are stationed just nearby, and immediately see you leaving by way of the dungeon.

“Stop!” one of them calls, as he blows into a loud whistle. “You there, stop right now!”

You run, but the weight of Fern on your arm is too much for you to move with speed. As quickly as you can, you turn the corner and find yourself in the center of a large, noisy street party. The very first person to see you notices Fern and screams. It’s the marketplace all over again.

Suddenly, three bulky men–not guards, just regular citizens by the look of them–approach. “Another darkspawn in the city?” one says, as they wrestle Fern from you, knocking you to the ground. “The guard should have killed the first when they found it and scare the others off. We won’t make the same mistake, will we, boys?”

By the time you struggle back to your feet among the fluid crowd, Fern is already across the square at the center of a small circle of space in an otherwise over-crowded area. You shove through as many people as you can, though your single working arm makes the process nearly impossible. By the end, you only manage to get close enough for a clean look at what’s happened. Just beyond the sea of people, a rope is being thrown over the top of a tall street lamp. Soon, Fern’s body is hoisted up by the neck. The crowd cheers, and somehow, inside, you suddenly feel connected to one fewer member of the horde than you had before.

Wracked by the swelling pain in your arm, and seized the anger in your chest, you scream out in frustration at the sky. Before you run out of breath, a finger taps you lightly on the shoulder. You look down to see Ataxias with a thin smile across his face. He moves the finger slowly across your face, eventually leading your eyes to familiar elf standing just beside you, watching the lynching. It’s Ciro.


Confront your poisoner.


To hell with Ciro. To hell with Antiva. To hell with Thedas. Flee the city to the Deep Roads seal, remove the stone, and flood this country with the horde.

Ciro

“Fair enough,” the guard says. It takes a few hours for the raid party to be assembled, but when they’re ready, you join them for their attack on the small warehouse near the docks. Inside, there’s not much fighting–it was just a halfway house for the children, after all. By the end of it, the guard has rescued eight children. You’re not sure which was Fern’s, but you’re assured all of them will be placed in protective custody until finding a good family to adopt them. It’s as good as you’d ever been able to do for the girl in your condition, anyway.

You hurry back to the square, hoping there may still be time to save your friend. Maybe another favor, or fetch quest–something, anything, to spare him the humiliation and terminality of a disgusting public execution.

Upon arrival, you find the area crowded shoulder-to-shoulder. Fern stands across the way at the center of a circle empty of the mob. You shove through as many people as you can, but your single working arm makes the process nearly impossible. By the end, you only manage to get close enough for a clean look at what’s happened. Just beyond the sea of people, you see a rope thrown over the top of a tall street lamp. Soon, Fern’s body is hoisted up by the neck. The crowd cheers, and somehow, inside, you suddenly feel connected to one fewer member of the horde than you had before.

Wracked by the swelling pain in your arm, and seized an anger welling in your chest, you scream out in frustration at the sky. Before you run out of breath, a finger taps you lightly on the shoulder. You look down to see Ataxias with a thin smile across his face. He moves the finger slowly across your face, eventually leading your eyes to familiar elf standing just beside you, watching the lynching. It’s Ciro.


Confront your poisoner.


To hell with Ciro. To hell with Antiva. To hell with Thedas. Flee the city to the Deep Roads seal, remove the stone, and flood this country with the horde.

Ciro

“Ciro,” you say. “Long have I–” Before you can finish, the elf has disappeared from sight. You look frantically around you, but cannot find him in the surrounding crowd.

“Levina,” you say, getting her attention. “It’s Ciro. He’s here.”

“Why, yes I am,” Ciro says, reappearing just behind Levina with a knife to her throat. “And how good of you to be here as well. It was a long and difficult journey, I take it?”

You move your hand to your sword, but fail to see a safe opening for a strike. To Ciro’s side, you see Ataxias standing casually, smiling in observation.


Your revenge is all that matters. Stab through Levina into Ciro. He’ll never see it coming.


Petition Ataxias. “Ataxias! Freeze him!”

Game OVer

“Come with me,” you shout to your companions. Both follow in silence. You’re fairly certain that Levina hadn’t noticed Ciro, otherwise she likely wouldn’t be behind you now. You leave the city, and approach the entrance to the Deep Roads you’d just recently prevented from being opened. “Ataxias,” you say, “can you?”

“I can … ” he says, “though this is not how I imagined things unfolding. If I open this seal, and there are as many darkspawn as you claim on the other side, less, uh, tainted people such as myself and Levina here will not fare as well as, say, you.”

“Then take her and flee,” you say. “I will stay behind, and finish things.”

“But what about–” Levina begins.

Before she can finish, Ataxias has already broken the enchantment on the seal, bursting the stone door into shards. “You’ve been too much fun, you one-armed devil,” he cries out. “The perfect windmill. You have my thanks!” You’re not sure how he does it, but as he finishes the word, Ataxias promptly vanishes from sight.

Suddenly, darkspawn begin to pour out from the hole to the surface. Levina glances at you sadly and then disappears into the forest.

“To Antiva City!” you scream, sure now that your words are likely more the guttural growl of a darkspawn than the common tongue. “Let us raze their homes and markets to ash!”

You begin to run back to the city at speed. Looking over your shoulder, you see an endless ocean of darkspawn warriors behind and beside you. It’s not long before the force of your army hits the city like a typhoon.

It’s likely that many Antivans escaped during the three-hour raid on the city, but the bodies littering the streets prove that many did not. Looking down at your arm, you see the area above the tourniquet turning black. The tendrils across your skin have climbed nearly to your chest. You don’t have much time now.

You walk slowly through the swirling chaos of the city around you, past the burning stalls and the screams of the few remaining citizens to the lamppost where Fern was strung up. Carefully, you lift his lifeless body onto your back, and wrap one of his arms around your shoulder. It takes you nearly an hour, but eventually you’ve taken him out of the city.

You find a small curved stone and begin to dig a grave for your friend, though you know there won’t be enough time to place him in it. As you work, you wonder if Ciro was consumed in the attack you led upon the city. Even if he was, you consider, there’s nearly no chance that whoever ordered your assassination was in Antiva.

Surrounded by uncertainty, the only thing you’re completely sure of by the end is that the world is a dismal and pitiless place, and that it’s only appropriate that you should rejoin it as a dismal and pitiless creature. With your last remaining energy, you remove the tourniquet from your arm, and embrace your inevitable transformation into a ghoul.

The end.

Congratualtions! You’ve earned one of five complete endings to Dragon Age: Retribution! Try again from the start, or check out more of Mike Kayatta’s Pick Your Path with Pick Your Path: Skyrim> and Pick Your Path: Mass Effect.

You can also follow him on Twitter @mikekayatta for all of your non-interactive needs.

Ciro

“Sorry,” you mutter, as you thrust your sword toward Levina’s stomach. As your blade travels toward her, the elf grasps the sides of Ciro’s arms and lifts herself sideways, keeping her neck still, but moving the rest of her body free from your strike.

Ciro looks surprised, and is forced to release Levina in order to evade the attack.

“Nice move,” Levina says, as she moves beside you, evidently unaware of your actual intention.

“Thank y–” You’re cut off by a stabbing pain near your hip. Ciro has shot across you, slicing his blade through the side of your belly. You cry out in pain as you notice a second attack already incoming.


Attempt to leap back and dodge.


Attempt to deflect the strike with your sword.

Ciro

Ataxias doesn’t respond. You try again. “Ataxias! Do something! Disable him!” you shout.

The mage looks to you, and points to himself curiously. “Me?” he asks incredulously. “Please, don’t break the fourth wall on my account. I’m just here to watch the performance, not be a part of it.”

Ciro smirks at the mage’s response, and Levina takes the small opportunity to bring her heel up between her attacker’s legs toward his groin. Ciro jumps back and Levina spins her neck just free of his dagger. It catches only the very surface of her skin. Almost no blood spills from her neck.

“That was close,” she says, moving beside you, her dagger now held defensively toward Ciro.

“Ataxias, what is your iss–” you begin. Your words are cut short by a stabbing pain near your hip. Ciro has shot across you, slicing his blade through the side of your belly. You cry out in pain as you notice a second attack already incoming.


Attempt to leap back and dodge.


Attempt to deflect the strike with your sword.

Ciro

You jump back, but Ciro is too well trained to allow as simple a maneuver as that. He adjusts the extension of his arm and cuts across you anyway, hacking out a good piece of your chest. You grasp the wound, but it fails to do much to stop the bleeding.

Ataxias still stands idly, watching events unfold. Ciro moves in close once more, this time staying low to the ground.


Kick at him as he approaches..


Move your sword from your wound, and swing down at him.

Ciro

You move your sword to deflect the strike, but Ciro is too well trained to allow as simple a maneuver as that. He adjusts the bend of his arm, and cuts across you anyway, hacking out a good piece of your chest. You grasp the wound, but it fails to do much to stop the bleeding.

Ataxias still stands idly, watching events unfold. Ciro moves in close once more, this time staying low to the ground.


Kick at him as he approaches..


Move your sword from your wound, and swing down at him.

Ciro

You lift your leg and thrust it toward him sloppily. He smiles, catches it by the ankle, and runs his knife across the ankle’s tendon. You fall to the ground in immense pain.

“Now stay out of my way,” he says, as he snakes toward Levina. His hand moves sharply in from the left toward her throat and she deftly blocks it, clearly not seeing the second dagger in his right hand aimed toward the same target. The blade slides cleanly across her throat.

Before a single drop of blood can spill, Ataxias suddenly raises his left hand and holds it cupped in her direction. The wound closes, and Levina collapses to the ground coughing. By some miracle, she’s saved, but the process seems still to have taken a heavy toll on her.

Ciro looks angrily at the mage and moves toward him, but Ataxias simply raises his other hand to the assassin and locks him in place. White lines of magical energy surround Ciro’s body and he levitates in place, unable to move.

“Now, I’m as interested in a good performance as anyone, but there’s more entertainment to be found in her living than her dead,” Ataxias says. Then he looks at you. “The truth may be less entertaining for you, however,” he says, the concern he’s showing almost uncomfortable for him. “You gave me reason to return to the waking world. I know I’ve already done more than I promised in return, but I suppose I can offer you this one last choice. Ciro is yours now. What will you do with him?”

You look at your fresh wounds, and then to your arm. You don’t have much time left. If the fresh wounds don’t take you, the infection beginning to breach your weakening tourniquet finally will. Even if you hear the truth of who hired Ciro, there’s little chance you’d be able to do much about it now. If you wait too long looking for answers, you may miss your chance to kill even the assassin who infected you.


You must know. “Who hired you?”


End this. Kill him where he stands.

Ciro

You turn your blade at the approaching assassin and thrust it downward at him sloppily. He smiles, exits its path, and runs his knife across the back of your right ankle. You fall to the ground in immense pain.

“Now stay out of my way,” he says, as he snakes toward Levina. His hand moves sharply in from the left toward her throat, and she deftly blocks it, clearly not seeing the second dagger in his right hand aimed toward the same target. The blade slides cleanly across her throat.

Before a single drop of blood can spill, Ataxias suddenly raises his left hand and holds it cupped in her direction. The wound closes and Levina collapses to the ground, coughing. By some miracle, she’s saved, but the process seems still to have taken a heavy toll on her.

Ciro looks angrily at the mage and moves toward him, but Ataxias simply raises his other hand to the assassin and locks him in place. White lines of magical energy surround Ciro’s body, and he levitates in place, unable to move.

“Now, I’m as interested in a good performance as anyone, but there’s more entertainment to be found in her living than her dead,” Ataxias says. Then he looks at you. “The truth may be less entertaining for you, however,” he says, the concern he’s showing almost uncomfortable for him. “You gave me reason to return to the waking world. I know I’ve already done more than I promised in return, but I suppose I can offer you this one last choice. Ciro is yours now. What will you do with him?”

You look at your fresh wounds, and then to your arm. You don’t have much time left. If the fresh wounds don’t take you, the infection beginning to breach your weakening tourniquet finally will. Even if you hear the truth of who hired Ciro, there’s little chance you’d be able to do much about it now. If you wait too long looking for answers, you may miss your chance to kill even the assassin who infected you.


You must know. “Who hired you?”


End this. Kill him where he stands.

Game OVer

“Forget it,” you say, stabbing your sword through Ataxias’ magic field and into Ciro’s chest. The elf doesn’t manage a single word before collapsing to the ground, dead. Levina’s eyes widen above a growing smile.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” Ataxias says. “But then again … ” He looks between you and Levina. “It’s almost nearly as entertaining this way … even if you’ll never get the joke. Oh well. Enjoy ghoulhood, One Arm. And you, elf, enjoy the spoils. I’m off to find a carpenter.” With that, he disappears into the crowd.

“You did it,” Levina says, shaking from excitement. “You’ve saved me. You’ve saved me, and did what you came here to do, too.” She kisses you on the cheek. It hurts, like everything else on your body.

“Levina,” you say quietly. “I imagine you’re eager to leave Antiva now. Please, as you go, help me collect Fern’s body.”

“I would, but–” she begins.

“I don’t have much time left. Please.”

Levina nods and helps you to your feet. You’re not entirely sure how the elf managed to get both you and Fern from the city to its outside–you lost consciousness many times along the way–but you’re extraordinarily thankful that she did.

“What now?” she asks.

“Go,” you say kindly. “With my thanks.”

She hesitates for a moment, then nods and disappears into the woods without a further word.

It’s painful, but you reach your good hand toward a small rock, and begin to dig a grave. You’re not sure who it’s for, you or Fern. It doesn’t matter anyway; it’s not going to be large enough for anyone to fill it before the end.

You watch Fern’s cold, dead face as you dig, and think back on the past month since applying the tourniquet. You wonder if there was truly any point to any of it. You killed Ciro, but you still don’t know who sent him or why. And if that’s the case, did killing him even matter? Regardless, you’re out of time for regrets. You did what you could, and now must face the fate you knew was coming the moment you woke up in the Deep Roads.

You force your eyelids to remain open for a moment more, and say the goodbye to Fern you wished he’d been able to hear before his death. Speaking the word gives you a greater sense of contentment than even Ciro’s death.

The end.

Congratualtions! You’ve earned one of five complete endings to Dragon Age: Retribution! Try again from the start, or check out more of Mike Kayatta’s Pick Your Path with Pick Your Path: Skyrim> and Pick Your Path: Mass Effect.

You can also follow him on Twitter @mikekayatta for all of your non-interactive needs.

Ciro

“Who sent you?” you yell at the elf. You feel as though you already know the answer, but want to hear him say it.

Ciro chuckles weakly from within Ataxais’ spell. “No one hired me.”

“That makes no sense,” you say, completely shocked by the claim. “I’ve never even met you before. What have I ever done to wrong you?

“Nothing,” he says. “But perhaps I can explain it best in this way: Do you know why Antiva is so worried about the darkspawn?”

“What does that have–” you start.

“It has nothing to do with anything!” Levina yells from the ground, still recuperating from her wound. “Just kill him, now!”

“Of course she would say that,” Ciro continues. “She is the reason you were poisoned. Antiva worries about the darkspawn because Antiva has no army with which to fight them. Antiva has no army because Antiva needs no army. It fights its wars with fear and threats. The crows, we have members stationed throughout Thedas. Trusted generals, high-ranking political officials, leaders of corporations and churches in every country. We may have no military of which to speak, but any man or woman, no matter their rank, who orders an Antivan invasion will be personally murdered within the fortnight.

“What does this have to do with you? Nothing. And everything. Not long ago, an Orlesian agent contacted a certain disgruntled member of our house. His request? A list of every agent currently working in Orlais. With such information, Orlais would be completely free to crush, absorb, enslave, or ransom this entire country … and with barely one company of militia. For this betrayal the crow was promised title, gold, lands, and many spoils of Antiva.

“This crow agreed, then flew from Antiva with this information, but could not arrive in Orlais before I was alerted to what transpired. The result was a difficult game of cat and mouse. I’m the only crow who knows what she’s done, and if I informed those few above me of what happened, my life would be forfeit. Because of the network I command, she was smart enough to know that she had no hope of reaching Orlais with me still alive, while I knew that this country–and I–would not be safe until she was dead. The woman went into hiding, and I had to come up with a plan to … uproot her, if you will. I’m sure by now, you’ve figured out of whom I speak.”

You turn to Levina.


“Is this true?”


“You … you lied to me.”

Ciro

Levina looks away from your gaze without answering.

“So you see,” Ciro continues. “I simply used you, friend. I had tracked her movements to Ferelden, but I did not know where specifically she hid. So, I attacked you–and many others–giving you my name, telling you I was a crow, and poisoning you with a substance that would force you into immediate action. I thought that if there were enough people bumbling about Ferelden asking after crows and using the name Ciro, that Levina would eventually hear of it and offer her trust to a stranger with a mark that does not lie. No one looking to ensnare her would inflict such a horrifying death upon himself, surely.”

You look down at your arm and see the black, corrupted skin reaching slowly past your tourniquet. Some part of you had wanted to believe that this was some form of ruse, or that Ciro would have an antidote on his person. Some part of you had believed that there was hope left, but there isn’t. You’re going to die, and soon, caught in the middle of a game you should, by right, have nothing to do with.

You crawl to Levina and hold your sword to her throat in anger. She’s too weak to stop you.

“Listen,” Ciro says. “I realize the horrible, unfair position in which I have placed you. But I have done so to protect lives. Not just myself, but a nation of people. Let her deliver those names, and the men they belong to will be killed, with many more innocent Antivans sure to follow. She’s obviously hidden the names somewhere. Let me free, and I have the network and the knowledge to find them, and bring them safely back to Antiva. Kill me, and eventually someone will find them, and this will begin again.”

“I have helped you this whole way,” Levina pleas. “I had my reasons and you had yours. Just kill him, please. Let us both walk away from this city in victory. Antiva is an evil place. The crows purchase children and force them into a life of murder against their will! I cannot pretend the rest of Antiva will not suffer alongside the crows, but I can promise you it will be worth it.”

“And very worth it for you in particular,” Ciro adds. “Do not pretend this was done for some form of idealism.”

You have an important decision to make. It’s the last thing you’ll do with your life.


Kill Ciro, and let Levina go. This isn’t your battle. Ciro subjected you to this fate, and by some miracle you’ve been given the chance to kill him for it. It’s everything you’ve worked for. Any consequences that follow don’t matter.


Kill your companion, Levina, and let Ciro go. Murdering your friend, despite the lies, will be difficult, but not as difficult as letting Ciro go without punishment for his crimes. Still, potentially saving thousands of Antivans must be your priority.


This situation has nothing to do with you. You came for a reason. You’ve lived on the promise of killing all who have wronged you. Kill Levina for her betrayal, Ciro for his, and let the world do what it will.


Kill neither of them. Leave the fate of the world to fate by allow these two to finish the game they began before you became involved.

Game OVer

“I came here to kill you, and to kill whoever hired you,” you say weakly. “I’m lying here about to die, and find myself miraculously faced, even in my current state, with the opportunity to do both with a single thrust of my sword.” You remove the sword from Levina and hold the blade at the ground. Using the sword as a crutch, you somehow manage to stand.

“This is not about me,” Ciro says, finally sounding panicked by his situation. “Think of how many lives are at stake. How many lives she’s ruined! She lied to you, dragged you into a fight there’s no way she thought you could have won, and is positioned to become a queen for it! I’m sorry for what I have done, but–“

You close your eyes, and slide the blade through Ataxias’ field with ease. The steel melts through Ciro’s soft skin, up from the stomach beneath his ribs, and into his heart. You watch with glee as the light drains from his eyes. You’ve done it. Everything you’ve worked for; you’ve had your revenge.

Adrenaline courses through your body, elevating your heart rate. You see the black, tainted tendrils of corruption begin to crawl more easily past your tourniquet and across your chest. It’s time now.

Ataxias jumps and begins clapping his hands together. “And that, dear children, is why I came. My thanks to you both for not disappointing me. Enjoy your ghoulhood, One Arm, and you’re welcome. And you, elf, enjoy the spoils. I’m off to find a carpenter.” With that, he disappears into the crowd.

“You have my thanks as well,” Levina says. “You’ve done Thedas, and me, a great service. I wish I could stay with you to the end, but with Ciro dead, my passage is free, and there’s no longer a reason for me to risk delay here.” She kisses your cheek. “You changed the world, you know.” Without waiting for a reply, she disappears into the crowd.

You lay there for a moment, abandoned in your final moments of life. The crowd that once filled the square around you dissipated without you noticing long ago when the fighting began. You look across the way and see Fern, the only body other than your own in sight.

You begin to crawl toward your friend. As you grasp the road and pull yourself forward, the wounds across your body fire pain across your body. Your next advance hurts just as much. Soon, you’re halfway to him, and the pain seems to have all but disappeared. Fern is getting blurry now. Is this quiet, empty death the fulfillment you thought vengeance would bring you? No time for regrets. No time for–

You move a final hand toward your friend, and the world fades to black.

The end.

Congratualtions! You’ve earned one of five complete endings to Dragon Age: Retribution! Try again from the start, or check out more of Mike Kayatta’s Pick Your Path with Pick Your Path: Skyrim> and Pick Your Path: Mass Effect.

You can also follow him on Twitter @mikekayatta for all of your non-interactive needs.

Game OVer

Without hearing another protestation, you lean forward, placing all of your weight upon your sword. The blade slices cleanly through Levina’s neck, doing all but decapitating her completely.

“You’ve made the right choice,” Ciro says. “With Levina dead, Antiva–” Using your sword as a crutch, you slowly raise to your feet. “–is safe once more. It took much courage to–” You lift your sword. “Um, excuse me, but–“

“I came here to kill you, and to kill whoever hired you,” you say weakly. “I find myself betrayed not just by you, but by my own companion. And now, though the gods seemed to have granted me the worst luck any has ever faced, I find myself miraculously presented, even in my current near-death state, with the opportunity to dispatch every person who brought this unhappiness upon me.”

“This is not about me,” Ciro says, finally sounding panicked by his situation. “Think of how many lives are at stake. How many lives she’s ruined! She lied to you, dragged you into a fight there’s no way she thought you could have won, and sought to become a queen for it! I’m sorry for what I have done, but–“

You close your eyes and slide the blade through Ataxias’ field with ease. The steel melts through Ciro’s soft skin, up from the stomach beneath his ribs, and into his heart. You watch with glee as the light drains from his eyes. You’ve done it. Everything you’ve worked for; you’ve had your revenge.

Ataxias jumps and begins clapping his hands together. “And that, my friend, is why I came. You have my thanks for not being a disappointment. Enjoy your ghoulhood, One Arm, and you’re welcome. I’m off to find a carpenter.” With that, he disappears into the crowd.

You lay there for a moment, abandoned in your final moments of life. The crowd that once filled the square around you dissipated without you noticing long ago when the fighting began. You look across the way and see Fern, the only body other than your own in sight.

You begin to crawl toward your friend. As you grasp the road and pull yourself forward, the wounds across your body fire pain across your body. Your next advance hurts just as much. Soon, you’re halfway to him, and the pain seems to have all but disappeared. Fern is getting blurry now. Is this quiet, empty death the fulfillment you thought vengeance would bring you? No time for regrets. No time for–

You move a final hand toward your friend, and the world fades to black.

The end.

Congratualtions! You’ve earned one of five complete endings to Dragon Age: Retribution! Try again from the start, or check out more of Mike Kayatta’s Pick Your Path with Pick Your Path: Skyrim> and Pick Your Path: Mass Effect.

You can also follow him on Twitter @mikekayatta for all of your non-interactive needs.

Game OVer

“I’m done,” you say. “Ataxias, release Ciro.”

“Oh?” Ataxias replies. “Well, that is a surprising reaction. As you wish.”

Ataxias releases Ciro and the elf falls to his knees, weakened by the spell’s toll on him. You remove your sword from Levina’s throat and use it as a crutch to gain your footing.

You didn’t find your revenge, per se, but you did find answers, answers to questions you hadn’t even started with. You see Fern’s lifeless body ahead of you, and with no other direction to walk, you decide to walk toward that. Somewhere behind you, you hear the clash of steel, and the laughter of Ataxias. You don’t bother looking behind you to see which of the crows triumphed over the other. It doesn’t affect you; you’ll be dead either way.

You arrive at Fern’s body and look down over it. In the end, you couldn’t save him, and you couldn’t save yourself. You feel the taint begin to take your body. Soon you’ll be a ghoul. If this past month has taught you anything, it’s that the world is a dismal and pitiless place. It seems only appropriate that you shouldn’t make it worse by rejoining it as a dismal and pitiless creature. You place your sword on the ground, blade pointed upward, and use your last mote of energy to lean over it, and fall.

The end.

Congratualtions! You’ve earned one of five complete endings to Dragon Age: Retribution! Try again from the start, or check out more of Mike Kayatta’s Pick Your Path with Pick Your Path: Skyrim> and Pick Your Path: Mass Effect.

You can also follow him on Twitter @mikekayatta for all of your non-interactive needs.

Game OVer

This road has presented you with many hard choices, but the hardest you’ve made is forgoing your revenge for the security of a people to whom you have no oath of loyalty. This foreign country of merchants, poets, assassins, and sailors may not deserve the safety you’ve purchased it today, but that’s not your judgment to make. It burns worse than your infected wound to let Ciro come out of this ordeal without consequence, but no amount of darkspawn blood can cloud your personal brand of morality. You lean forward, placing all of your weight upon your sword. The blade slices cleanly through Levina’s neck, doing all but decapitating her completely.

“You’ve made the right choice,” Ciro says. “With Levina dead, Antiva lives.”

“And so, it seems, do you,” Ataxias says, dissipating his hold on the elf. “And that, dear children, is why I came. My thanks to you both for not disappointing me. Enjoy your ghoulhood, One Arm, and you’re welcome. And you, elf, enjoy the life you almost lost. I’m off to find a carpenter.” With that, he disappears into the crowd.

Ciro reaches down and offers you his hand. You accept it and he helps you to your feet. “I know there is no forgiveness for me in your heart, and I do not expect to earn it by offering, but–” He looks at your wound, and eyes the large black veins bulging from beneath the tourniquet toward your chest and neck. “–in these last minutes or hours, allow me to aid you in whatever small way that I can. What do you wish? Water? A bed? A woman? A man? Perhaps both?”

The crowd that once filled the square around you dissipated without you noticing long ago when the fighting began. You look across the way and see Fern, the only body other than your own in sight.

“Help me collect the body,” you say quietly, motioning to Fern. “Help me move it from the city.”

“Are you sure you–” he begins.

“I don’t have much time left. Please.”

Ciro nods and helps you to your feet. You’re not entirely sure how the elf managed to get both you and Fern from the city to its outside–you lost consciousness many times along the way–but you’re thankful that he did.

“What now?” he asks.

“Go,” you say coldly. You’ve spent enough of your final moments with your own murderer.

Ciro hesitates for a moment, then nods and disappears into the woods.

It’s painful, but you reach your good hand toward a small rock, and begin to dig a grave. You’re not sure who it’s for, you or Fern. It doesn’t matter anyway, you know it’s not going to be large enough for anyone to fill it before the end.

You watch Fern’s cold, dead face as you dig, and think back on the past month since applying the tourniquet. You spent so much time looking for Ciro and the person who hired him, then gained the opportunity you’d long for and just let it slip past you. And for what? The crows? Antiva? You suppose that’s something. You’ve changed the world, even if you won’t be around to see whether it was for the better.

But it’s probably for the better, though, you think.

Even if you wanted them, you’re out of time for regrets. You did what you could with the time that you had, and now it’s time to face the fate you knew was coming the moment you woke up in the Deep Roads.

Fern’s body is looking blurry. The world is darkening. Carefully, you place your sword into the small part of the grave you managed to dig, its tip up toward the sky. You check that it’s firmly in place, and then hold yourself above it as you continue to dig. When life leaves you and you begin to turn into a ghoul, your blade should keep there from being another source of evil in the world.

You dig three more scoops of dirt from the ground before you feel the taint wash over you. Forcing your eyelids to remain open for a moment more, you say the goodbye to Fern you wished he’d been able to hear before his death. Speaking the word gives you a greater sense of contentment than any revenge could have offered. You smile, and your body falls slowly around your blade into the dirt.

The end.

Congratualtions! You’ve earned one of five complete endings to Dragon Age: Retribution! Try again from the start, or check out more of Mike Kayatta’s Pick Your Path with Pick Your Path: Skyrim> and Pick Your Path: Mass Effect.

You can also follow him on Twitter @mikekayatta for all of your non-interactive needs.

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