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Bad Gamer Part 15: What Happens If You Play Through Dragon Age: Inquisition Like a Total Jerk?

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When we do return to Skyhold, a Reverend Mother begs Josie to do as she wishes. Josie won’t budge, whatever it is the Reverend Mother wants, but when the Mother sees me she asks for my help. It’s always something. The Reverend Mother wants Cassandra and Leliana to come with her. They need them to help decide the next Divine. She’s already been told “no” from Josie. I’m not really sure what she expects from me. I tell her no.

The Reverend Mother looks at me strangely for a moment and then thankfully moves on. Josie tells me they’ll be ready for the next attack when I am and takes her leave. That’s good, I suppose. I go to bed. It’s the only thing to do when you’ve rescued an Empress from death, turned the court back in our favour and acquired a mysterious new mage member of the Inquisition.

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Apparently there’s someone waiting for me to sit in judgement when I wake. Nothing better to start the day with, I suppose. But instead of watching a person hauled into the court, my guards carry a box in. A box full of Florianne’s remains, her ashes I suppose. Uh, what happened to me? Did I wake up in the Fade? Did I hit my head too hard? Still, Josie is giving me the “play along with this” eyes and I suppose while we’re all here I can give this box a proper seeing to.

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Josie complains there is an odour. Sure there is. That’s called death. The box is allotted its time to defend itself. Surprisingly it doesn’t answer. I sentence the box of Florianne’s remains to community service. That’ll teach her: the skull shall be a symbol for the errors of evil-doing and the box itself will be an end table for orphans. Josie blushes and tells me that’s quite enough. I was just starting to have fun with it!

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I call the war council together. Apparently we’ve been doing pretty well. Celene will send us any and all support, and undoing Corypheus’ plans at Adamant has led to a significant blow in his ranks. We’re neck and neck for support now, and Corypheus’ followers have been shaken by our victories and resolve. So, a day off then? Not so fast: apparently Corypheus is off to the Arbor Wilds with his followers for some blasted reason. I can feel my next mission to follow him brewing. One day off, guys? Just one? Leliana believes Corypheus is searching for more Elven ruins but for what reason we still don’t know. Urgh, Leliana! Make your spies be more spy like and retrieve some actual information for me? There’s a dear. A new voice breaks through my building annoyance.

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It’s Morrigan, the mage from the Winter Palace. She claims she can help us. Er, who invited her? I tell her she’s intruding. She tells us there’s something Corypheus must not get to. I ask what it is, but Morrigan just smirks and tells me it’s far easier if I’m shown. She leads me to a disused storage room where a working Eluvian stands proudly. There are so few of these Elven artifacts left, but there is apparently a working one in the Arbor Wilds that Corypheus is seeking out. Morrigan activates the Eluvian and steps through it to show me where it leads. I have but little choice to follow her.

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We step out into a dusty abandoned courtyard that seems to stretch on forever. Morrigan does not know its correct name, but she calls this place the Crossroads. A place where all Eluvians empty out and meet. While this might have been handy had more Eluvians still been operational, there are still a few that can be opened on this side, or so Morrigan claims. I don’t really understand why all of this is important to Corypheus if so few Eluvians can be used. Morrigan explains: while the Crossroads are not located in the Fade specifically, they are very close to it. Someone with enough power, like Corypheus, could tear down the barriers and walk into the Fade in the flesh and turn himself into a God. Not the greatest of situations for us to find ourselves in.

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Morrigan leads us back through the Eluvian into Skyhold. She comments that Skyhold is quite a large fort. Though I don’t really give a shit what she thinks of it, I do need her help with the blasted Eluvians, so I grit my teeth and comment on its defenses. Morrigan tells me Skyhold is immensely magical: she can feel it in the stone. I may have rolled my eyes, for Morrigan immediately follows up by telling me she know I do not want her here but she’ll do her best to do right by us. I tell her she’ll be useful. At least I’m honest.

Leliana asks to speak to me. She wonders whether she or Cassandra will become the next Divine, Justinia’s successor. She’d never considered the possibility of her being a candidate before now. I don’t really know what the Divine actually did, and we’ve survived this long without one, so why do we need to elect another one right now? Everyone’s focus is skewed. Corypheus’ army, anyone? Leliana worries that without a leader to guide the Chantry, hate among people—especially for those of my ilk—will only get worse. Oh, why can’t the masses keep themselves in check for a moment without a guiding hand? Maybe the Chantry needs an overhaul.

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I come across Cassandra and Cullen arguing. He wants her to help him, but she tells him he’s thinking too little of himself, that he needs more faith. Cullen takes one look at me and leaves, telling Cassandra they’ll finish this later. Cassandra reveals that the argument involves Cullen and the question of his lyrium. Apparently he did stop taking it, even after I told him this was a terrible time to start playing around. This is a foolish decision of his.

Apparently, Cullen agrees, because he’s asked Cassandra to find him a replacement. She refuses to even consider it, though she probably needs to do so. Cassandra tells me Cullen can beat his lyrium dependency and ought to so he can prove to others it’s possible to break its control. I told him this was a bad idea to do now when so much is riding on us. Cassandra tells me I should go speak to him and help make his decision, but didn’t we just do this?

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When I step into Cullen’s office, he hurls his lyrium kit at me. Uh, thanks? Cullen begs forgiveness. Maybe he ought to be replaced. Someone this erratic shouldn’t be in charge of an army of soldiers. He tells me I was right, that this was a mistake. No shit. Will he listen to me now? Cullen tells me a sob story about not wanting to be part of the Templar life anymore—that too many have died by their hands for no reason. Sure, Cullen. I do get it.

But why now? Can’t you bloody wait until Corypheus is a ground paste and we can all take a nice long break? I tell him to start taking the lyrium again, a decision I feel immensely justified when Cullen punches a wall out of frustration. I need my Commander focused on his duties. He vows there will be no further distractions and takes his lyrium. Hopefully that’s the last we have to hear about this.

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I return to Cassandra to tell her the outcome of my meeting with Cullen, but find her in the middle of another meeting with Mother Giselle, who is obviously in the process of trying to persuade Cassandra to try for the Divine’s throne. Cassandra dismisses Mother Giselle, who asks me for help before stepping back out into the courtyard basked in sunlight. Although the only reason for Cassandra and Leliana being candidates for the throne is because they’re close to me and I’m favoured, I still couldn’t give two figs.

Cassandra, however, does. She cares a great deal. The Chantry, to her, provides hope and faith. Does it really? What about hate of the unknown and fear of Mages and my people? Cassandra wants to change that—to make the Chantry more accessible. It sounds like a bit of a long shot, a crusade, but eh—if she wants to campaign for it, she can do it on her own time. I’m too tired to argue.

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Later on that day, I find her completely drunk. She sarcastically toasts me and my “accomplishments”. What the hell is wrong with her now? She’s totally pissed with me. Apparently she was the one to raise me up. Perhaps in name, but I’ve been the one doing the actual heavy lifting, so fuck you Cassandra. I never asked for any of this. No one consulted me. I’m the one with a magical bloody anchor in my hand, my life completely uprooted, Corypheus on my arse. Cassandra, on the other hand, can leave whenever she’d like. This was her choice, and now it’s not going exactly as she’s planned, she’s apparently entitled to throw a tantrum. Cassandra scoffs, throws her bottle across the room and tells me to leave her alone. I’d be delighted to.

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Bull and Krem are working out in the courtyard. I’m still a bit stunned by Cassandra’s display so I don’t really hear Bull’s words until I process them: the Qun have been in touch. Why have they chosen now, of all times, to get involved? Are they offering their soldiers and firepower in support? If so, I’m definitely interested. The Qunari and Inquisition joining forces to take down Corypheus? We just might be able to pull this off.

The Qunari are after interrupting a delivery of red lyrium to the Venatori. They’ll bring in one of their dreadnaughts while we go to the coast on foot and in small numbers to take out their soldiers quickly and quietly. I tell Bull I’m in, and he’ll let me know when it’s time to go.

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Vivienne stops me on my way to my rooms and asks to speak privately. She acknowledges that there is a lot going on—oh, finally someone gets it—but that my opinion will also matter a great deal when electing a new Divine. I ask for her advice. She believes Cassandra would make for an excellent choice, but after the display I just saw? Hardly.

If it had to be anyone, I’d actually suggest Vivienne for the role. Vivienne reminds me a Mage will never be accepted as a Divine, but fuck that. It might make things better for Thedas’ Mages and the other two moping idiots won’t have a chance to ruin things with their bad moods and poor choices. Vivienne agrees to my suggestion and sends me off to bed.

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After I send word via Josephine to the council to support Vivienne as the next Divine, I pack my gear and head off to the Storm Coast to ensure the new treaty with the Qun and our mission with them go off without a hitch. Bull brings Krem and his Chargers along, but we’re not really expecting much of a fight from the Venatori so as far as our contacts have reported. Gatt, our contact, meets us. Bull is pretty happy to see him, but Gatt keeps calling him Hissrad, or liar in Qun, which is a bit strange.

I discover this name is related to his position in the Qunari as a spy, and I’m newly reminded that maybe I ought not to be relying on Bull quite so much or be telling him anything important. Gatt and Dorian take this less than ideal time to argue over the Qun’s lifestyle. Gatt was rescued by the Qun from Tevinter slavery, but Dorian thinks they’re still worse than the Tevinter. I don’t think either are admirable and tell them to shut up and get on with it. If the lyrium manages to escape us, we could end up with an army of Venatori mages on our hands.

Gatt outlines the plan: once we eliminate any Venatori soldiers waiting on the coast, we’ll signal the Qunari dreadnaught to take out the ship. Sounds good to me. Bull doesn’t like it. It’s too risky. If we’ve underestimated the number of soldiers waiting for us, the plan might completely fail. Still, we have to try. I don’t want another army breathing down our necks and I need the support of the Qun in the fight against Corypheus.

We have to split up into two groups to hit both possible Venatori camps at the same time. Bull joins my group and Krem leads the Chargers in another. Just before we split up, Bull takes some time to advise Krem of their approach, but Krem just makes fun of his concern. They’re a good bunch. Once Bull sends them on their way, we head out.

We fight through the Venatori and signal the dreadnaught. Krem and the Chargers have done the same on their side of the coastal inlet. The dreadnaught pulls in and destroys the smuggler’s ship. But there’s a problem: a horde of Venatori soldiers clambering toward Krem and the Chargers. There are too many of them. Bull’s face says it all, but he knew the risks and chose to split from his men for this mission.

Bull wants them to pull back, but Gatt rightly points out that if they do, the Venatori will likely destroy the dreadnaught and retake the lyrium. A future Venatori army and the loss of an Inquisition-Qun alliance. I’m sorry, Bull, but the Chargers are on their own and have to stand their ground. I give the order to save the dreadnaught.

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We can only watch on as Krem and the Chargers fight and die one by one at the hands of the Venatori. They’ve managed to hold off the Venatori long enough for the dreadnaught to break free though, and it escapes with the lyrium. A Qun alliance is in our hands. Gatt tells Bull he’s sorry, but Bull almost seems resigned to the outcome, telling us that the Qun demanded their sacrifice.

Gatt meets us back at Skyhold to confirm that we have full Qunari support. This had better be worth it. Gatt tells us we will not be disappointed, and goes on his way. Bull seems mildly impressed that we actually managed to pull off a Qunari alliance. It’s a first! I can tell Bull is putting a brave face on the loss of his Chargers and tell him to take some time for himself. He’s been more than supportive and sensible about this situation, much more so than two of my war council!

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He doesn’t take long to consider what has happened. A mere few hours later and he asks to see me. He’s struggling to process his Chargers dying for a cause he chose to back. That they died for the “Bull”, a man who doesn’t really exist. I do understand. Playing a part is something I struggle with daily. Bull says their sacrifice will make it easier for him to remember who he is—to remember that he is Qunari. I’m not sure what that means, but if it helps him, so be it.

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He regrets he doesn’t know prayers for all his Chargers’ faiths, but says a prayer for them in Qunari to honour their sacrifice. Despite it all I think Bull is a good man, or at least aspires to be. He might claim only to be playing a part, acting as the Iron Bull, but he wouldn’t be honouring his men if this were true. He thanks me for being there for him and leaves me alone on the ramparts.

When I return to my rooms that evening, he’s there, sitting on my bed. He says he’s been reading the hints I’ve been dropping. That he knows I want to “ride the Bull”. Maybe he’s acting from a place of grief, but we both deserve this. I think I’m entitled to a little fun, and if Bull’s game then so am I. He tells me he’s not sure I understand exactly what I’m getting into, but he’s very much mistaken. I know exactly what he’s about.

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He insists. I really don’t get it, he claims. I tell him to shut up and take me already. When I give him commands his eyebrows shoot up. Yep, I do understand. When he leaves me much, much later, I hear Leliana outside the door asking if I’m inside. Bull tells her to let me sleep and I do. Boy, do I ever truly sleep for the first time in months.

Emma Fissenden is a writer of all trades. When she’s not pushing through her next rewrite, she’s playing too many games and working as the Editor in Chief @noblegasqrtly. You can find her on Twitter @efissenden, or check out her other series for TMS, Game Changer.

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