Bad Gamer Part 27: What Happens If You Play Through Dragon Age: Inquisition Like a Total Jerk?
I’ve been summoned from my scheduled two weeks of rest by a missive from the Deep Roads. Apparently, the Orzammar Dwarves are in dire need of help after constant earthquakes have uncovered and opened passages for the Darkspawn to break through. I swear and throw things around my rooms while I get ready, but by the time I reach the elevator to take us down to the Deep Roads, I’m a little calmer. Far better to deal with the Darkspawn now than when they crawl onto the surface. Especially after I exiled the Grey Wardens. Oops. Yeah, that was probably a bad idea.
I’m meant to be meeting with Shaper Valta, but we have to descend into the Deep Roads before I can do that. Apparently there are rules about Orzammar Dwarves not being allowed near the surface. We step onto the elevator and it lowers us down. Dorian huffs and tells us this is possibly the slowest elevator in existence. It’s better than climbing, dumbass. Do you want me to stop it so you can get off and climb down? No? I didn’t think so, you fucking whiny baby Vint.
The Deep Roads:
The elevator comes to a stop. Have I ever been this deep into the earth before? I lead us toward a Dwarf whom I assume is Shaper Valta. She looks over the dead Dwarves at her feet and writes their names down. I’m not sure how writing their names down is going to help with the earthquakes or Darkspawn, but okay. I guess if you want to waste your time.
She greets us and explains the situation, I guess just in case I couldn’t read the letter the Orzammar Dwarves sent. The Legion of the Dead, the group of Dwarves who devote their lives to holding back the Darkspawn, have been struggling. They need help or Orzammar may be overrun. Valta is interrupted from her explanation when the ground suddenly quakes and rocks slide toward us. Shaper Valta pushes me out of the way to the ground. It’s a nice gesture, but I suppose I’d find it nicer if she wasn’t doing it just because she needed me. She tells me we should find the Legion right away and scurries off, expecting us to follow. Here we go again. I’d better be able to take more time off after this in lieu, Thedas be damned.
Before we can go more than fifty metres through the tunnels though, a snarling, drooling Ogre runs toward us. Well, this is turning out to be the exact opposite of fun. We obviously kill the Ogre, but Shaper Valta is freaking out. If the Ogre made it this far into the tunnel system then the Seal holding Darkspawn back must have been broken and the Legion are in deep trouble. She hurries on ahead.
When we arrive at the Seal, it is flung wide open. Greeaaaat. Darkspawn are sprawling, shuffling out and despite the Legion’s best attempts they look to be winning the battle. Step aside, Legion! Emone and the Inquisition are here to save the day. Again. We kick the Darkspawn’s arses and light the lyrium charges to collapse the open Seal and block off access to the Darkspawn. We immediately set up camp.
Shaper Valta introduces me to the Commander of the Legion of the Dead, Lieutenant Renn. I tell him the Darkspawn aren’t going to let up. We need to find the source of those earthquakes and fast, or just seal off Orzammar for good and relocate the Dwarves.
Valta is convinced the earthquakes are being caused by something intelligent, something sentient, because there is a rhythmic quality to them. Interesting hypothesis, but you’ve not a shred of evidence to back up your argument. Also you sound crazy. Here’s an idea: can we just get on with this without having to debate the particulars of the situation? Go find the source and stop it? Apparently not, for Valta explains she found a text on the Titans who are giant creatures. They “sing” into the stone which might refer to the rhythm we’re hearing. It seems like a very far-fetched theory, but okay. Whatever, Valta. Either way, we’ve got to go further deeper into the Deep Roads. There’s another elevator to take us down, and we’ll be accompanied by Renn and Valta as we try to stop the quakes. Stop the Darkspawn.
Valta leads the way, telling us that the rhythms are stronger if we take certain paths. Why do I feel like I’m following a mad person? Urgh. On top of this, Valta and Renn have this ridiculous flirtation going on and their banter is driving me close to homicide—so close that I’m thankful to see Darkspawn I can kick the shit out of. I don’t much mind if you’re attracted to one another, but can you stop trying to show it off in front of me? Does anyone here know the meaning of being a professional?
We find yet another elevator and descend deeper and deeper. The cavern below us opens out onto an ancient, crumbling set of ruins. Valta looks on in awe. She thinks this might be Heidrun Thaig, long lost to them. We’re not even that far down. Are you telling me the Orzammar Dwarves have never ventured out to explore? I find that really hard to believe. The Thaig is infested with a Darkspawn nest that takes hours and hours to clear out and ends with an exhausting fight against an Emissary, a Darkspawn with clear intelligence. We flop over when it’s clear we’ve won the battle and take a momentary rest. Fuck this, fuck the Darkspawn, fuck these tunnels, and fuck the Dwarves.
Valta doesn’t rest her tongue for a moment. While I’m trying to have a well-earned rest, she talks and talks and talks. I’m this close to stuffing one of my bloody, sodden gloves in her mouth just to shut her up. She explains that the Thaig is built on top of a lyrium mine that was abandoned after an unexplained disaster. She can tap into the memories of the Stone, which is apparently a thing Dwarves down here can do, but she tells us there’s not a lot of information to parse through. Look, if there’s no knowledge regarding what’s causing these problems maybe you could shut the hell up with your theories and keep them to yourself. Or, better yet, go bug Renn. For some reason she takes my scowl as encouragement to go on. Valta reveals that there was a book, mostly ruined, on the Emissary’s body. Oh, that book is nice and gooey. Bull gives me a look and I can’t help but snort. Fucking hell, how did we end up here again?
The book apparently references the song of the Titans, though I’m not about to dig past Darkspawn goo to verify that. Say, if Titans really are involved, I vote we detonate the hell out of Orzammar and go back to Skyhold. Problem solved. Renn doesn’t believe Valta at first, but then Valta reveals the book bears the seal of a Dwarven King, long lost King Ozreck Garal. His eyes light up. Renn decides she might be onto something after all, which Valta takes as a slight. He wouldn’t believe her until he heard about the seal. Well, no shit? Why would anyone believe you without some sort of evidence, Valta? Half the time you sound like a barmy idiot. Renn tells her it’s been difficult to believe her lately because of how she lost her job.
Wait. Lost her job? Valta lied to us about being a Shaper? Actually, you know what? I don’t give a shit. Can we focus on getting this done and getting out of here? Thanks. Valta still decides I ought to know she was reassigned over a difference of opinion. She refused to remove an official memory from the Stone and was reassigned as a result. How do I put this politely? Oh wait, I can’t. I don’t give a shit, Valta. I really don’t. Let’s just get moving.
Lo and behold, there’s another fucking elevator to take us even further down. I hope there’s an easier way back. I hope we don’t meet a Titan, and I hope no one sees me jump each time the stone shifts and clangs around us. I’d really like to enjoy my semi-retirement now that Corypheus is Fade-dust. But there’s no such luck, as ever. We descend deeper and deeper, this time below the Thaig itself.
It is beyond darkness beneath the Thaig. Valta tells us she can feel we’ve gone beyond the Deep Roads but I don’t really know what that means for us. Untrodden territory? The most important thing to focus on right now is what lurks in the shadows. Eyes blink out at us from the pitch black, the scuttling of feet patter across the floor. We’re not alone down here.
Eventually we reach some sort of stand-off with those in the dark. Renn tells them to show themselves. So, we’re assuming they’ll understand us? They answer by shooting him in the gut, so there’s no real answer to be had. We defeat the strange people, obviously. Renn drops to his knees, then collapses into a heap. Dead. Well, I couldn’t have predicted that happening.
While bent over his body, Valta tells us this sob story about Renn. He never really wanted to join the Legion and only did so to pay off his father’s debts and protect his family. He still volunteered, Valta. He also knew the risks involved with the position. He died doing his job. She seems to sort of accept this for her attention is suddenly drawn to the fallen soldiers around us. The armour has had lyrium woven into the metal and has been attached to the skin somehow but Valta knows they are Dwarves. How do you know this, Valta? How? She offers no explanation but is determined that they are her people. None of this explains why they attacked us. Valta promises Renn she’ll see the mission through and then we’re off again through the tunnels minus one Dwarf.
In one tunnel, Valta stops short and exclaims. She’s found a memory wall. She almost recognizes the dialect of Dwarven but it is in an ancient tongue. She identifies a repeated term: Sha-Brytol, or defenders. I suppose that’s the name for these wonderful strangers who keep attacking us. At least I’ll be able to tell those at Skyhold who I’ve annihilated when I get back. I tell Valta we need to keep moving if we want to stop the earthquakes, but will keep an eye out for more memory walls if they’ll give us an edge against them. Perhaps bringing you along was of some use after all, Valta.
Before we can get much further, some bright spark on the Sha-Brytol side blows up a bridge before we can cross it. We end up parkouring and rock climbing to cross the chasm without, you know, dying, and it just adds so much more time to our wonderful excursion in the Dark Roads. I just love being here, please lengthen my stay as much as you’d like. Fuckers.
On the other side of the chasm we find another memory wall. It reveals that the Titan is known for shaping and inhabiting the stone. So, if the theory holds true, the Titan is the one likely causing these quakes. Alright, Valta, it looks like you were probably right. I really, really don’t fancy facing one of them. Can we just go home? Valta can go on without us if she likes. I’m actually just about to suggest doing so when Dorian steps slightly ahead of us and gasps. We go to look at what he’s found. I have to admit it’s astonishing. It’s a large cavern full of untapped lyrium veins and they sparkle. Dorian whispers they’re like stars in the sky. Perhaps the smaller ones are, but I’m seeing lightning strikes, veins in the stone. We push on, all thoughts of going back suddenly forgotten.
Several barriers prevent us from progressing much further, but we find an “earthshaker” weapon on one of the Sha-Brytol warriors that allows us to blow these barriers to bits. It means the loss of the weapon each time we do so, but at least we can keep pushing through. Valta is energized, single mindedly focused, but I can’t remember the last time I saw daylight or slept. It feels like we’ve been down here for eons and I want this to be over with now.
The passageways open out into a well spring: it’s an underground cavern full of platforms and light, with a rhythmically beating lyrium heart in the very centre. Valta is sad she doesn’t see a Titan anywhere in the cavern. How does she even know what one would look like? I admit that the area beneath the Deep Roads—when we ventured beyond the Thaig—has felt strange. The magic down here has felt organic, different. Oh gods. A heart, lyrium veins, a beating song in the stone. We’re inside the bloody Titan. That’s why we can’t see it, and how the Titan can affect so much. The beating lyrium heart has to be the key to defeat it, the key to kill this Titan and stop the quakes. Now I have a clear mission, a clear task, there’s a way out of this mess. At last we’re coming to the end. At last.
Valta tells us if she doesn’t survive what is to come, Orzammar must be told the truth about the Titan and their Dwarven brethren, the Sha-Brytol. Speaking of which, the Sha-Brytol, the Guardians of this place, are not happy campers that we’re intruding on their turf and threatening the Titan. It’s time for another series of fights as we push our way down to the platform hosting the lyrium heart but let’s be honest, I’m the motherfucking Inquisitor and they don’t pose much of a threat.
Just before we reach the lyrium heart we find one last memory wall. It reveals that the Sha-Brytol come to the Titan to drink its blood. Right. Valta goes on: the Sha-Brytol have been drinking lyrium from the very heart of the Titan. God knows what it does for them—make them immortal, give them power, bind them to the Titan? We’re still destroying it regardless of what it actually provides the Sha-Brytol. Valta tells us she’s not so sure that’s the right decision. We’re dealing with a living creature. Exactly. That’s a good thing—it means I can kill it.
Valta gives me a look. I want to smack her. You lot brought me here for one reason: to stop the quakes and save your people from the onslaught of Darkspawn. Let’s just fucking do it. As we step onto the heart’s platform, Valta is knocked backwards across the bridge. She is clearly unconscious, but I’ve no idea if the blow killed her or not for a barrier closes around the platform, sealing us in with the heart. The heart that slowly transforms into this giant fuck-off lyrium guardian.
While the battle is fierce, we find a weak spot in its side and use it to our advantage until the lyrium guardian disintegrates. Huzzah, it’s over! We can go back!
The barrier comes down and Valta wakes, holding her head and yelling that the song is too loud. What song? I don’t hear anything. Suddenly, a cloud of dust and magic emanates from her hands and she becomes calmer. Uh, Dwarves are non-magical, so how the fuck did Valta just do that? Valta goes very still and very quiet and tells us everything will be fine now. Will it? Then why can I still hear the beat of the Titan’s heart when we’ve just destroyed it? Something is wrong here. Really wrong.
Valta tells me that the quakes will stop now. That the song will continue. It tells her things. That the breach disturbed the Titan and it will be okay now it has a connection with one of its “children”, with Valta. Uhhh, Valta? I don’t want to frighten you but the Titan has taken control, has possessed you, even in part. How can this be okay? Valta tells me it’s fitting that she is a Shaper, that she came here to learn about Orzammar’s history and can now speak to the Titan. She tells me she’s staying here in the caverns. This is a ridiculously bad idea. She sounds half crazed.
The others agree with me, but Dorian has the right idea about things. (Please don’t tell him I said that.) If Valta wants to stay, she can. I’d like to see the sun again, and debating about this one Dwarf’s life, especially when she’s made her decision already. I tell Valta to have a nice life here in the middle of nowhere with her strange new Titan friend and turn away—this whole situation feels so wrong and weird that I don’t really know what exactly I ought to do. Except for run away very fast. I can only hope that Orzammar doesn’t ask too many questions about the events that led to the quakes stopping or I might be in a bit of a bind.
It’s a long trudge back to the Inquisition camp, but it’s nice to be able to think about my bed back at Skyhold as a reward. Scout Harding smirks as we emerge into the camp and tells one of the other Dwarves to pay up. I always come back, she tells him. Lovely. So, while I’ve been in the tunnel systems below fighting Darkspawn, you’ve been sat by a nice fire and betting on my life. Fuckers. I hold out my hand to Scout Harding who blushes and hands over the money. Bet on my life? The money you earned from it is rightfully mine. That not one of them asks where Valta or Renn are is a bit of a headscratcher. Dwarves are weird. Do they not care about their friends, their comrades? Urgh, whatever.
Let’s get the fuck back to Skyhold so I can continue on with my semi-retirement.
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 of @noblegasqrtly. You can find her on Twitter @efissenden, or check out her other series for TMS, Game Changer.
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