Dragon Age II
Rise to Power
"I've had gentler invitations." "I am Cassandra Pentaghast, Seeker of the Chantry." "And just... what are you seeking?" "The Champion." "Which one?" "You know exactly why I am here! Time to start talking, dwarf. They tell me you're good at it." "What do you want to know?" "Everything. Start at the beginning."
To Part Two , To Part Three , To Part Four , To Part Five , To Part Six ,
To Part Seven , To Part Eight , To Part Nine , To Part Ten , To Part Eleven ,
To Part Tvelve , To Part Thirteen , To Part Fourteen , To Part Fifteen
"Bullshit. That's not what really happened!" Cassandra interrupts the dwarf. "Does that not match the story you've heard, Seeker?" he says. "I'm not interested in stories. I came to hear the truth." "What makes you think I know the truth?" "Don't lie to me! You knew him even before he became the Champion!" she says. "Even if I did, I don't know where he is now," Varric says. "Do you have any idea what's at stake here?" Cassandra says. "Let me guess: your precious Chantry's fallen to pieces and put the entire world on the brink of war? And you need the one person who could help you put it back together," he says. "The Champion was at the heart of it when it all began. If you can't point me to him, tell me everything you know," she says. "You aren't worried I'll just make it up as I go?" "Not at all." "You'll need to hear the whole story," the dwarf says.
The Blight had been unleashed on Ferelden. Darkspawn poured out of the Wilds, clashing with the army at the ruins of Ostagar. The battle was a disaster. King Cailan died on the field with his men, betrayed by his most trusted general. Unopposed, the horde marched on the village of Lothering. The village burned, and many innocents were slaughtered. The Champion's family barely escaped in time...
"I think that's all of them," Carver says. "For the moment," Bethany says. "Maker save us, we've lost it all. Everything your father and I built..." Leandra Hawke says. "I know how much Lothering meant to you, but we have to move," Garret says. "Yes. You're right," their mother says. "We should have run sooner! Why did we wait so long?" Bethany says. "Why are you looking at me? We've been running since Ostagar!" Carver says. "Not to interrupt, but the Blight's not going to wait while we stand here pointing fingers," Garret says, sarcastically. "Please! Listen to your brother," Leandra tells the twins. "Then let's go. Lead on," Carver says.
Escaping the destruction of Lothering
"Wait! Where are we going?" Bethany says. "Away from the darkspawn. Where else?" Carver says. "And then where? We can't just wander aimlessly!" his sister says. "Wherever we go, what's important is that we don't separate," Garret says. "We can go to Kirkwall," Leandra Hawke suggests. "Well, that wouldn't be my first choice," Garret says. "There's a lot of templars in Kirkwall, Mother..." Bethany says. "I know that, but we still have family there -- and an estate." The young mage sighs. "Then we need to get to Gwaren and take ship," she says. "If we survive that long. I'll just be happy to get out of here," Carver says.
The family happen upon a couple. They save them from the darkspawn. "Stop squirming, Wesley. You'll make it worse." "Apostate, keep your distance." "Well, the Maker has a sense of humor. Darkspawn and now a templar. I thought they all abandoned Lothering," Bethany says. "The 'spawn are clear in theur intent, but a mage is always unknown. The Order dictates..." "Wesley." "That woman is an apostate. The Order dictates..." "Dear, they saved us. The Maker understands." "Of course," the templar says. "I am Aveline Vallen. This is my husband, Ser Wesley. We can hate each other when we're safe from the horde." "A strange time to be hunting apostates. His fellows left with the Chantry priests," Garret says. "I was travelling to Denerim on business for the Order, but I had to turn south when I heard of Ostagar," Wesley says. "Bad luck -- and judgement -- brought us together here before the attack," Aveline says. "The nice templar has been convinced to postpone his hunt for illegal mages. So let's not dwell upon it, shall we," Bethany says. "Wise girl." "For a while it looked like we were the only ones to escape the darkspawn," Garret says. "We aren't free of them yet. Just like Ostagar, this is just the start," Carver says. "You were there? Yes, I see it now. Third company, under Captain Varel," Aveline says. "Then you saw how the whole army was defeated," Carver says. "We fell to betrayal, not the darkspawn. This arm of the horde will not have the same advantage," Aveline says. "You are quick to offer your allegiance," Garret says. "Another blade between us and the darkspawn? Yes please," Carver says. "So long as the horde is their first concern," Bethany says. "My duty is clear, but that... is for another day. If we are granted that opportunity," Wesley says. "The wrath of the templars is terrible, indeed," Garret says, sarcastically. "More so their wives. But as long as there is a greater danger, you and I will have a accord." "Than you, Wesley. For now, we move with you. North is cut off. We barely escaped the main body of the horde," Aveline says. "Then... we are trapped! The Wilds are to the south! That's no way out!" Carver says. "If the options are south or die, I'll take my chances with south," Garret says and takes the lead.
The chance meeting
The fleeing group defeats a small group of darkspawn lead by an apprentice emissary. "Quickly, before they regroup. We must press towards the Wilds!" Aveline says. The ground suddenly begins to shake. It is soon apparent why -- when a hulking ogre appears. "You soulless bastards!" "Carver!" The wave of darkspawn is defeated. But... "Carver, wake up! The battle is over. We're fine!" "I'm sorry, Mistress. Your son is gone," Wesley says. "No! These things will not take Carver!" "Carver gave himself to save us," Garret says. "I don't want a hero! I want my son! How could you let him charge off like that? Your litle brother! My little boy!" "Mother, we can't stay here. Carver wouldn't want his sacrifice to be meaningless," Bethany says. "Allow me to commend your son's soul to the Maker, Mistress. Ashes we were, and ashes we become. Maker, give this young man a place at your side. Let us take comfort in the peace he has found in eternity," the templar says. "I will never forget you, Carver." "Our lives are more valuable to him than our prayers. Let's go," Garret says. "Flames! We're too late," Aveline says. "There's no end to them..." Bethany says.
The death of Carver Hawke
"Well, well, what have we here? It used to be we never got visitors to the Wilds, but now it seems they arrive in hordes!" "Impressive. Where did you learn how to turn into a dragon?" Garret says. "Perhaps I am a dragon. Of so, count yourself lucky. The smell of burning darkspawn does nothing for the appetite. If you wish to flee the darkspawn, you should know you are headed in the wrong direction." "Wait! You can't just leave us here!" Bethany says. "Can I not? I spotted a most curious sight: a mighty ogre, vanquished! Who could perform such a feat? But now my curiosity is sated, and you are safe... for the moment. Is that not enough?" "We won't be able to get through the darkspawn on our own," Garret says. "They are everywhere or soon will be. Where is it you plan to run, hmm?" "We need to get to Kirkwall -- in the Free Marches," Bethany says. "Kirkwall? My, but that is quite a voyage you plan. Your king will not miss you, hmm?" "I'm sure he'll miss his life more," Garret says. "Oh, you I like! Hurled into the chaos, you fight... and the world will shake before you. Is it fate or chance? I can never decide. It appears fortune smiles on us both today. I might be able to help you yet." "Anything you could do for us would be appreciated," Garret says. "Maybe we shouldn't trust her. I don't even know what she is," Bethany says. "I know what she is. The Witch of the Wilds," Aveline says. "Some call me that. Also Flemeth. Asha'bellanar. An 'old hag who talks too much!' Does it matter? I offer you this: I will get your group past the horde in exchange for a simple delivery to a place not far out of your way. Would you do this for a 'Witch of the Wilds?'" "What is a Witch of the Wilds, exactly?" Garret wonders. "A Chasing legend. Witches that steal children," Aveline says. "Bah! As I had nothing better to do!" Flemeth says. "You're an apostate?" Bethany say. "Yes. Just like you." "You would go through all that trouble to have something delivered?" Garret says. "I have... an appointment to keep. It is far more convenient this way. Happily, you're not without your own needs," Flemeth says. "How much trouble will this delivery be, exactly?" Garret wonders. "About as much trouble as my saving your lives not five minutes ago." "That's a lot to ask without telling us what this involves." "It's nothing more dangerous than one so capable can handle," the old witch says. "Should we trust her?" Garret asks the others. "Wesley is injured. We'll never escape the darkspawn," Aveline says. "If you need to, leave me behind," the templar says. "No! I said I would drag you out if I had to, and I meant it!" Aveline says. "Roast a few more darkspawn, I'll do anything you want!" Garret says. "Sadly, my charity is at an end. There is a clan of Dalish elves near the city of Kirkwall. Deliver this amulet to their keeper, Marethari. Do as she asks with it and any debt between us is paid in full. Before I take you anywhere, however, there is another matter..." "No! Leave him alone!" Aveline says. "What has been done to your man is within his blood already," Flemeth says. "You lie!" "She's right, Aveline. I can feel the corruption inside me," Wesley says. "What are you talking about?" Garret wonders. "From the darkspawn. All that blood. I knew... when it happened," the templar says. "Then how much time before you...?" Aveline wonders. "Not long now, if I'm any judge," Flemeth says. "This corruption is the permanent sort, I take it?" Garret says. "The only cure I know of is to become a Grey Warden," Flemeth says. "And they all died at Ostagar," Garret says. "Not all, but the last are now beyond your reach," Flemeth says. "Aveline. Listen to me," Wesley says. "You can't ask me this! I won't!" "Please. The corruption is a slow death. I can't..." "He's your husband, Aveline. I can't decide his fate," Garret says. "Be strong, my love," the templar says. "Without an end, there can be no peace. It gets no easier. Your struggles have only just begun," Flemeth says.
The intervention of Flemeth
"Flemeth," Cassandra says. "I thought that might interest you," Varric says. "You expect me to believe a myth swooped out of the Wilds to save the Champion?" "Oh, come now, Seeker. Do I need to recite the tale of the Warden as well," the dwarf says. "No. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised to hear of her involvement." "I liked my version better, too." "What else aren't you telling me, then? Did she send someone with the Champion?" Cassandra says. "In a manner of speaking." "So it's true. Continue. But if you tell me they flew to Kirkwall on a dragon..." she says. "Nothing so fanciful,I assure you," he says. "The witch kept her word and got them to Gwaren, where they took ship. They sailed north across the Waking Sea, lashed by terrible storms. Two weeks they spent in that dark hold, packed in with the fearful and the desperate. And then they saw it: Kirkwall, the City of Chains. Long ago, it was part of the Imperiun, slaves coming in from far and wide to work the quarries. Now it's a free city. But I use the word loosely. Sail through those black cliffs and you'll see what the slaves of old saw: the Gallows, welcoming you. That's where the ship landed with all the rest," Varric continues.
"Statues of tortured slaves fill the Gallows courtyard, a ghastly memento of Kirkwall's history. Fifteen-hundred years ago, Kirkwall was the Tevinter Imperium's largest quarry, feeding the construction of the Imperial Highway. ... The Imperium's hunger for expansion led to legions of slaves forced into working the quarry. When the empire's construction phase ended, Kirkwall slid naturally into its new role as the capital of the slave trade - the Gallows at its heart. ... The statues are not monuments to the suffering of slaves. Every inch and angle of the courtyard was designed by magisters bent on breaking the spirit of newcomers. Executions here took place daily, sometimes hourly, and corpses were hung from gibbets throughout the yard. New slaves trudging in from the docks saw what awaited them. ... When Our Lady turned her armies against the Imperium, the slaves of Kirkwall revolted and claimed the city for themselves. The Gallows stood empty for two hundred years, not to be reopened until the crowning of Divine Justinia I. The Gallows transformed the city again when the abandoned prison tower became the home of Kirkwall's Circle. - From In Pursuit of Knowledge: The Travels of a Chantry Scholar, by Brother Genitivi"
Arriving in Kirkwall
"They're not letting anyone into the city," Aveline says. "What? That can't be!" "It's true. Look at them all," she says. "They're Fereldans, just like us. Fleeing for their lives," Bethany says. "And they would throw us all back to the wolves. Unbelievable," Aveline continues. "So long as we're safe, that's more important," Garret says. "We need to find Gamlen. Our family has always been highly regarded in Kirkwall. He can do something, I'm sure of it!" "Let's hope he received your letter," Bethany says. "The guards are reporting to that man. Perhaps we should speak to him," Aveline suggests. The family and Aveline elbow their way through the crowd. "Get back to the crowd, you lot. Trying to bully your way through won't get you into Kirkwall any faster!" "But you intend to let us in?" Garret says. "Ha! We have enough poor of our own in the Free Marches. We don't need refugees piling up here like a midden's heap!" "There must be someone in charge I can speak with." The guardsman sighs. "Yes, yes, always the same story. You want in, talk to Captain Ewald. I'm just here to keep you refuse from climbing the walls."
They make their way to the main gate. "Was Wesley based out of the Lothering chantry? I don't remember ever seeing him there," Bethany says. "He served elsewhere. He was coming to find me at Ostagar. Were you familiar with every templar in Lothering?" Aveline says. "How else was I supposed to know when to run and hide?" the young mage says. When they arrive, they find Captain Ewald arguing with a large group of deserters. "We've no intention of keeping you here, serah. You're all going back where you came from." "Let us through, you flaming blighter! We're not staying in this pit!" their leader says. "Then get back on your ship and leave. Kirkwall has no more room for refugees." "The ship's already gone! We paid good coin to get here!" a deserter says. "You and half of Ferelden. There's nothing I can do! The city is full!" Captain Ewald says. "You wouldn't be out here if nobody could enter," Garret says. "That's right! We've seen you let lots of people through!" the leader of the deserters says. "Citizens and merchants that make it worth our while. I'll assume that you don't have any more coin than these gentlemen? We've been letting you Fereldans in for months. You're too late. There's no more room!" the guard captain says. "But we have family here. Doesn't that mean anything?" Bethany says. "I've heard claims like that a thousand times already. Trust me. We'll find some ships to take you all back to Ferelden -- eventually. Until then, you stay here." "There must be someone in charge we can talk to," Garret says. "The city's been closed by order of the viscount and Knight-Commander Meredith, whose fortress you're standing in. But as far as you're concerned, I'm in charge," Captain Ewald says. "Our uncle is Gamlen Amell. He knows we're coming. Surely someone could find him," Garret says. "Gamlen. I know that name..." "He's a nobleman in the city. Our family has an estate," Bethany says. "A nobleman? The only Gamlen I know is a weasel who couldn't rub two coppers together. He comes back, I'll bring you to him. But I don't have time to --" Captain Ewald says. "What? You're going to let them through?" the leader of the deserters says. "I didn't say anything about --" "We've been here for days! They just got here!" a deserter interrupts the guard captain. "That's it! We're carving our way out of here. Men!" the leader says. The deserters attack, but the Hawke siblings and Aveline side with the guards. It is a short fight -- then all the deserters lie dead. "Unbelievable." "Captain! Are you all right?" "I am, no thanks to you," he tells the guard who sent them to see the captain. "Where is everyone? Go find them. I want this kept under control!" Captain Ewald then turns to Garret, Bethany and Aveline. "You have my thanks. Look, I can't get you into the city. It's not my decision, but I'll find your uncle and bring him here," he says.
Kirkwall is closed
"It's been three days. This waiting has to end," Aveline says. "I'm sure it won't be much longer. Gamlen must still be looking for us!" Leandra Hawke says. "And if he's not?" "Wait. I think someone's coming," Garret says. "Leandra! Damn, girl, the years haven't been kind to you." "Gamlen!" "Let me say up front, I wasn't expecting this. The Blight, your husband dead... I'd, ah, figured you'd pretty much be Fereldan for life." "Oh, Gamlen. We came too late. My poor Carver didn't make it, Andraste guide him." "Oh, Maker save me. Leandra, don't dropm this on me here. I don't even know if I can help you get in," Gamlen says. "I'm more concerned about Mother. Can you get her in, at least?" Garret says. "No. We stay together!" "I was hoping to grease some palms, but the knight-commander's been cracking down. We're gonna need more grease," Gamlen says. "But... what about the estate? Surely Father left something when he died." "Right, about the estate... It's, uh, gone. To settle a debt. I've been meaning to write you." "Then there's no hope," the mother says. "Not quite. I know some people who might help... if you're not too delicate about the company you keep," Gamlen says. "Mother said our family was wealthy. You really can't help us?" Garret says. "I am blighted helping! I've got two offers of work from people who've got the coin to open those gates." "I still can't believe you sold the estate. Gamlen, how could you?" "Well, I didn't expect your blasted family to show up on my doorstep. I've got a nice place in Lowtown. You'll see. It'll all work out!" "Do we need to stay in Kirkwall? Let's go to another city," Garret says. "This was my home! I can't believe they won't let me come back," Leandra Hawke says. "Every city on the coast's been hip-deep in Fereldans since the Blight. You could try your luck further inland, I suppose. But it won't be easy," Gamlen says. "No. We're not putting Mother through that. We'll find a way," Bethany says. "We don't have a choice, do we? I need to get my family into Kirkwall," Garret says. "I talked to my contacts and I found some people who might be willing to pay your way into the city. The catch is you and your sister have to work off the debt. For a year," Gamlen says. "A year!" "It's the best I could do! Trust me when I say a bunch of refugees won't get a better option anywhere else," he says. "So you're selling us into indentured servitude? That's your idea?" Garret says. "Think of it as having a job waiting for you in your new home!" "Wonderful" "I managed to convince my contacts to come to the Gallows to meet you personally. Meeran heads up the mercenary company, the Red Iron. They're looking for recruits. Athenril... I guess you might call her a smuggler. Either one of them can help you. All you need to do is find them in the courtyard and convince them you're worth the trouble," Gamlen says. "What do you think about this, Bethany?" Garret asks his little sister. "We've come this far. I don't care who we work for, as long as it means we don't have to go back," she says. "What kind of a man is this Meeran?" "He's a hired sword. What do you expect him to be like? I wouldn't bring him home for dinner or anything, but he's got a decent reputation. I wouldn't have asked him if I thought he'd cross you." "How dangerous is this smuggler's work?" Garret wonders. "Well, it won't be pretty working for her. She's a pretty small fish compared to some of the other thieves' guilds around here. But she's tough, she's fair and she never deals in slaves or flesh," Gamlen says. "Let's find them and see what they have to say," Garret says. "Oh Gamlen. I don't know about this." "It's a lot of coin, Leandra. Don't go expecting our name to carry the weight it used to," he says. "And what of me? I will not allow others to incur debts on my behalf," Aveline says. "Can't see that it makes a difference. You look like a lady who can pull her own weight," Gamlen says. "Then you'll come with us," Leandra says. "I... have no real option. Thank you," Aveline says.
Waiting for Gamlen
"Are you Athendril?" Garret asks the elven smuggler. "I don't know what he told you about us, but he certainly told us a great deal about you," she says. "He didn't say anything about me, did he?" Bethany wonders. "Enough to pique our interest, provided you can justify your uncle's confidence." "How did you get to be one of my uncle's contacts?" Garret wonders. "Is that what he calls me? He owes us after that last big idea. If you turn out, though, we'll consider things even," Athendril says. "I'd like to know more about what we'd be doing for you." "I can be honest. We don't compete with the thieves' guild, but we keep our fingers in a lot of pots. That said, we're not killers or slavers. Anything short of that, however, is fair game," the elf says. "Do what you want, but this sounds fishy to me," Aveline says. "We can't afford to be choosy," Bethany says. "I hear getting us into the city isn't cheap," Garret says. "If you're as good as your uncle claims, we're hoping you'll be worth it. After all, it's not every day we're offered an apostate's services," Athendril says. Garret looks at Bethany "It appears our uncle likes to talk," she says. "The templars in Kirkwall like to think they have all mages properly leashed, but when has that ever been true? We can keep them from taking notice while you're with us. Wouldn't be the first time," the elf says. "I'll find some other way into the city," Garret turns the smugglers down. "Suit yourself. I'll be around for a bit if you change your mind," she says.
"Meeran?" "Huh. So you're Hawke? The nephew? Your uncle talked up a storm about you. He better not be blowing more smoke out his ass." "My uncle doesn't seem like the sort to hang out with mercenaries," Garret says. "He doesn't. Gamlen cheated one of my men at a wallop match. You turn out, we'll call it even," Meeran says. "I'd like to know more about you first." "Right. You're not a Marcher like your uncle. The Red Iron is well known in these parts. We pick who we work for and keep our noses clean. But anyone screws with us, we mess them up. Make sense?" "Makes sense," Aveline says. "I've never pictured myself as the mercenary type," Bethany says. "Getting into the city will take a lot of coin," Garret says. Meeran laughs. "Did I mention the Red Iron gets paid pretty well? Not to mention your uncle said your sister's a mage. We're willing to pay for that," he says. "Does everyone know about us?" Garret wonders. "Your sister's not in the Circle yet? Then probably not. You stick with us, you'll be safe. For the year, at least." "I'm ready to prove myself," Garret says. "Noble bastard named Friedrich is here in the Gallows. Gave us bad info, almost killed my men. Now he's hiding here, waiting for a ship. He sees us coming, he'll run for sure. But he doesn't know you. Go kill him and his men. We'll make sure no one asks why," Meeran says.
"Have you checked the courtyard again?" "He's still out there, but he's alone. And he's not making a move." "I don't trust this! What will we do when the ship comes? Wait! Who are you? I demand to know what you're doing here!" Friedrich says. "I want to hear what you say before I decide anything," Garret says. "Meeran sent them." "I'm not an idiot! I could have figured that out for myself! Look, you... I don't know what that pissant thug is paying you, but I'll double it! Just let us go!" Friedrich says. "I might change my mind if I knew how you wronged the Red Iron," Garret says. "Bah! Those fools take everything so personally! So I told lord Asheral they were coming. It was business! I was pretty willing to give the Red Iron a share -- or all of it! I can give it to you, as well! Just let us go!" "All we want is a way into Kirkwall." "What? I don't have that kind of coin! I'm having trouble leaving this damed city! So the Red Iron sent refugees after us? Bah! Stinking dog lords! Kill them and send their bodies back to Meeran!" Friedrich says. The noble and his body guards attack. They outnumber the Hawke simblings and Aveline, but Bethany's magic and the ferocity of the family's loyal mabari hound tips the scale in their favor.
Once the corpses have been looted for some money, they return to Meeran. "We've done as you asked," Garret says. "Good. May the bloody vultures feast on his corpse and shit him out into the ocean. Welcome to the Red Iron. Tell your uncle I'm making the arrangement now," Meeran says. They return to their waiting mother and uncle. "Any luck?" he wonders. "Yes. They agreed to help us." "I'll speak to Meeran and see when the bribes can be made. Wait here," Gamlen says. "Then we made it. The voyage is over." "The Blight may still spread, but for now we have a new home," Garret says. "If only Carver were here with us," Leandra Hawke says. "And Wesley," Aveline says. "Let's see what happens. We have a long year ahead of us," Garret says.
Gaining entry to Kirkwall
Thus began the Champion's first year in kirkwall. Word arrived from across the sea that the Hero of Ferelden had defeated the Blight. But Lothering was destroyed. Kirkwall was the Champion's home now. So he made his name, settling his debts with the mercenaries. It was a busy year in the city. That's when the Qunari landed. A great storm caught their ship and left hundreds of warriors stranded in the city, waiting to return home. That's also when the trouble began with the mages. The templars had become very powerful under Knight-Commander Meredith. But most importantly, that's when I first met the Champion.
"No! Andraste's tits, human! You know how many people want to hire onto this expedition?" "But we heard you're going into the Deep Roads. Surely you'll need all the help you can --" Bethany says. "No! You're too late! Already done! This is the sort of venture that can make a man for life! I'm not about to take my chances hiring random humans," Bartrand says. "We've fought and killed darkspawn. How many of your hired men can say the same?" Garret says. "Get in line, human. Half of Kirkwall wants to be my best friend right now. You're looking for a quick way out of the slums, right? You and every other Fereldan in this dump. Find another meal ticket." The dwarf walks away and leaves the Hawke siblings. "What are we supposed to do now? We've got nothing to stop the next person who tries to sell us out. This expedition was our last chance..." Bethany says. "We've made a name for ourselves this last year. We'll find something." "We have to... We need coin, status, something to hide behind. As long as we're just refugees, we're no one. Maybe Gamlen knows someone who can talk to Bartrand for us..." "He always seems to know what's going on," Garret says. "We might as well ask. Otherwise, I don't know what we'll do..." A young man bumps into Garret. He realizes that his purse has been stolen. "Hey!" The thief runs off, but a crossbow bolt suddenly nails him to the wall. The dwarf who fired the missile walks up to the thief, confidently. "I once knew a guy who could take every coin out of your pockets just by smiling at you. But you? You don't have the style to work Hightown, let alone the Merchants Guild. Might want to find yourself a new line of work..." he says. The thief hands over the stolen pouch. The dwarf punches him on the jaw, then pulls the bolt out. The thief gasps in pain. "Off you go," the dwarf tells the thief. The dwarf then returns the money to its owner. "How do you do? Varric Tethras, at your service! I apologize for Bartrand. He wouldn't know an opportunity if it hit him square in the haw," the dwarf introduces himself. "But you would?" Garret says. "I would! What my brother doesn't realize is that we need someone like you. He would never admit it, either -- he's too proud. I, however, am quite practical." "What makes you so certain we can help? You know nothing about us." "On the contrary -- you've made quite the name for yourself over the last year. Serving with the Red Iron is no mean feat; yet you not only served, you impressed! The name 'Hawke' is on many lips these days. Not bad for a Fereldan fresh off the boat!" Varric says. "You must have heard of my sister as well, then." "Only a little. She is certainly welcome to come, but I'll leave that up to you." "Frankly, I'd rather you take the credit," Bethany says. "Madam! Your secrets are safe with me." "Find out what he's offering. We need a way into that expedition," the young mage says. "You're part of Bartrand's venture?" Garret wonders. "That's right! The Deep Roads wouldn't normally be my thing, but I can't allow the head of our family to go down there alone. So as you might imagine, I have more than a passing interest in the expedition's success," Varric says. "There must be some way to persuade your brother tohire us on," Garret says. "We don't need another hireling -- we need a partner! The truth is, Bartrand's been tearing his beard outv trying to fund this on his own, but he can't do it. Invest in the expedition. Fifty sovereigns, and he can't refuse. Not with me there to vouch for you," the dwarf says. "Why would you stick your neck out for a complete stranger?" Garret wonders. "I'd rather take a chance on someone with your reputation than head into the Deep Roads unprepared. And besides, we'd be your partners. I'm willing to give a little trust if you are," Varric says. "Your brother doesn't seem like the sort who's willing to split profits." "My brother is many things, but he's not stupid. Far better to share the profits than be trapped in a thaig with a thousand darkspawn betwen you and the exit. Trust me. He'll come around." "It sounds interesting -- but if I had any gold, I wouldn't need this job." "You need to think big! There's only a brief window after a Blight when the Deep Roads won't be crawling with darkspawn. The treasure you find down there could set you and your family up for life!" Varric says. "It won't be easy, but it's a chance. I think we have to take it," Garret says. "Better to work our way into this expedition than sit around waiting to be thrown in the Gallows," Bethany agrees. "We work together, you and I, and before you know it, you'll have all the capital you need. What do you say?" "It's not like I had anything better planned," Garret says. "Perfect! Kirkwall's crawling with work. You set aside some coin from every job, and you'll have the money in no time!" Varric says. "Maybe Aveline can find us some work. She's got a position with the city guard now," Bethany suggests. "We should probably talk privately when you get the chance. In the Hanged man, maybe -- I'll be there when I'm not with you. Now, let's go see what trouble we can stir up," Varric says. "Did you see a couple of children cause a racket here? No?" a passing guard wonders. "Ah, Hightown. Where the rich go to piss their money away. This is really the best place in Kirkwall," Varric says.
The Hawkes and Varric Tethras meet
"At the height of the Tevinter Imperium's slave trade, Kirkwall's elite prospered beyond dreams of avarice. Hightown was built for the wealthiest slavers, its glitzy mansions rising atop a great wall of rock that borders, on one side, the Waking Sea. Lowtown cowered on its other side until Kirkwall's slaves rose to plunder and destroy Hightown's riches. ... Today, Hightown's prominent buildings are the Keep, home to the ruling viscount, and the chantry, home to the grand cleric and the city's religious center. Both are converted estates that once housed wealthy magisters, rebuilt and converted after the uprising. - From In Pursuit of Knowledge: The Travels of a Chantry Scholar, by Brother Genitivi"
The group witnesses a remarkable scene at the chanter's board. "Sebastian! Stop this madness! The Chantry cannot condone revenge, Sebastian." "It is my right, my duty, to show these assassins there is nowhere in the Free Marches to hide!" "This is murder." "No. What happened to my family was murder."
"A grave crime was committed against the free-thinking men and women of the Free Marches. The ruling family in Starkhaven -- my family -- was brutally murdered, down to the youngest babe in arms. This massacre was carried out by members of the Flint mercenary company. I hereby offer a bounty on the head of each Flint Company soldier in the Kirkwall vicinity. -- Prince Sebastian Vael"
The group heads from Gamlen's house. "You don't seem to like your brother very much," Bethany says. "And here I thought it took blood magic to read minds," Varric says. "I had a twin brother, Carver. He used to nail my braid to the bed while I was sleeping. I never thought I'd miss him this much," she says. "Sorry about your brother. Hey, you want mine? I've got a spare..." "Do you ever wish you lived in Orzammar?" Bethany wonders. "Great Ancestors, no! You know what Orzammar is? It's cramped tunnels, filled with nug-shit and body-odor. And every person there thinks he's better than you because his great-great grandfather made a water clock or something," Varric says. "But they're your people. Don't you ever wonder what it would be like?" "I have a good imagination. Why would I waste it on that?" the dwarf says. The group arrives outside of Gamlen's house. "It's killing Mother to live in this filth-hole," Bethany says.
"Lowtown sits in a massive cauldron-shaped pit that was once Kirkwall's first quarry. The district was constructed by slaves who carved the city and its harbor out of the rock. ... Today, Lowtown is a labyrinth of shantytowns, corridors, and hexagonal courtyards - 'hexes' in the local parlance. Lowtown's poorest live in caves hewn out of the cliff face. The district is shoddily built and bears scars caused by collapsing walls. Foundry smoke smothers the area. Only a cold winter storm clears the air, but the icy wind howling over the mouths of old mineshafts hardly counts as relief. ... Occasionally, these Darktown shafts erupt with gouts of foul air known as chokedamp. It's not uncommon to find whole slums silently suffocated, frozen in the midst of everyday activity. ... The walls surrounding Lowtown are highest by the harbor. Its busiest street leads up to Hightown, where the wealthiest Kirkwallers perch. When one stands in Lowtown, all one sees other than the rocky walls is Hightown. It glitters overhead, always in sight, yet always beyond reach. - From In Pursuit of Knowledge: The Travels of a Chantry Scholar, by Brother Genitivi"
To Part Two