ossobuco: Legion from Mass Effect 2 (lyna/alistair)
[personal profile] ossobuco

When we last left our heroes, Lyna and Alistair had made a quick trip back to Denerim in search of Alistair's long-lost sister, only to discover that she was kind of a jerk, because the world is a terrible, cold, cruel place. Also, they are falling for each other at last, after countless hours of dodging around the issue and/or fighting over killing people. Anyway, to step back for a moment and assess the overall state of things: we have secured the support of Arl Eamon of Redcliffe and of the magi of the Circle Tower; we still have to make contact with the Dalish elves to the east and the dwarves to the west and hope that they will honor our treaties. All the while, the Blight spreads, and Loghain pushes us ever closer to civil war.

Meanwhile, in camp... Alistair gives me a rose. Oh my god. He says he picked it in Lothering, amazed that something so beautiful could exist in the midst of such horror, and then says that he thinks the same thing about me.

I say, so... you think of me as a gentle flower, huh? He replies, well, maybe not gentle. :D In any case... aww. That is sweet. And because this character is hilarious, he follows this up by asking if we could move on past this embarrassing phase and get right to the steamy bits?

I (Tracy) was kind of surprised that this opportunity would be presented so soon, and I honestly wasn't sure if Lyna would bite quite yet, but what the heck! :D I also found the array of conversation options a little odd, but I picked the one option in favor of sleeping with him, and then... LOL, PUNK'D. I discover that Alistair was trollin' all along. He admits to bluffing and seems somewhere between amused and embarrassed that I'd actually called him on it, to which I ask, why does it have to be a bluff? He says, well, the tents are right over there, and is so adorably flustered about it, oh my goodness you can't do this to me aaaugh. I inform him that he is cute when he's embarrassed, because it is true, and that wraps up that conversation.

Anyway, going over our to-do list here... Landsmeet, well, that's gonna have to wait; um, what else, go hang out with dwarves, that can also wait; go hang out with elves, hmm, that sounds better; check out some old Grey Warden fortress on top of a mountain, that could be fun; oh, here's one, we have to kill Flemeth. Yeah, let's go and try that, might as well strike that off our list if we can. So, Alistair, Wynne, Sten, and I pack off down to the Korcari Wilds where Flemeth lives, and it does not surprise any of us that Flemeth knows what we're here for. It was, admittedly, tempting, after the utter beatdown I suffered the last time I attempted this, to just accept her offer to take the book and lie to Morrigan, but no. I'm an upstanding Dalish elf and Morrigan is my friend, and I will not lie about something so important.

Thus ensues what is probably the most arduous battle that I've fought so far in this game. Flemeth shapeshifts into a dragon, holy shit, and we charge—Alistair, Sten, and I do what we can in melee, but we together don't seem to make half as much progress as Wynne, even though she spends more time healing (and occasionally reviving) us than she does actually casting offensive spells. It probably takes... twenty minutes, maybe more, and all of our health poultices save one, and Sten and I drop at least once each, but finally we defeat her. We take her key, grab her grimoire, and high-tail it back to camp. Morrigan is very happy to receive it (like +15 approval happy), but she also seems... strangely twitchy after that. I don't know if that's just her being actually happy for once, or if she actually has something up her sleeve related to all this, but, well, I'm not going to worry about it for now.

Of course... I never really did get a straight answer from Flemeth as to whether she actually planned to kill Morrigan and take her body. I asked, but Flemeth just evaded the question, though she also never deny it. When I said to her, “all I want is the truth,” she laughed and derided the notion that the truth was such a certain thing. And this... is just a little unsettling. Assuming that Flemeth is really dead (and this may or may not be a dangerous assumption), I'll never know for sure what she had planned for Morrigan or for us.

Maybe it's for the best.

Well, with that taken care of, we set off to Soldier's Peak, a fort built into the mountains towards the north where history says the Grey Wardens once made a stand against a tyrannical king. The Wardens were defeated after a months-long siege, and some fellow who has been hanging out around our camp wants to go there and discover the truth about what happened in order to clear his family's name (he is a descendent of Sophia Dryden, the Warden who took command there). Well, we hike up there, and once we reach the grounds, we all begin having visions—we soon realize we are seeing into the past, seeing the Wardens preparing for the assault, fighting, eventually losing. Either that, or we're all going mad, which, you know, is not all that unlikely.

The dead walk at Soldier's Peak. We fight off skeletons wherever we go, and as we push further into the fortress, we start running into demons of various types. It seems that the Wardens summoned demons as a last-ditch effort to survive, and the Veil here is torn, allowing unsavory beings to pass from the Fade into our world. To our surprise, as we enter one of the farthest back rooms, there stands Sophia Dryden... her body animated by vile forces, half-rotten and white-eyed. The being within her speaks, says that it is bound to this fortress by something going on in the adjacent tower. It says that it will seal the tear in the Veil if we agree to cleanse the tower, thus freeing it and allowing it to enter the outside world.

Okay, well, I do not want any more demons running around in Ferelden, given that there already seem to be plenty of them. By this same logic, however, do I want the Veil repaired, and truth be told, we'll probably be taking out everything in that tower anyway unless there's a very good reason not to. Seems fine to tell this demon that we'll help it, on the condition that it fulfills its part of the bargain first. The demon agrees, though sealing the Veil causes some trouble in the form of a whole load of other demons that appear to stop it. Well, we mop those up, and then head on into the tower.

The tower ends up being, like, three rooms. Kind of less than I was expecting. In the tower, however, we find the remains of experiments done on Grey Wardens by the mage, Avernus—the same mage who had summoned demons during the siege. It seems he was trying to find a way to prevent the darkspawn taint from taking such a toll on the Grey Wardens, or to unlock more of its powers. In any case, there's a large vial of some liquid substance on the work table. Who knows what it might do? No way in heck am I touching that, especially knowing that it is the product of this guy's experiments on other Wardens. Blech.

(I actually did quicksave, drink it just to see what would happen (got an achievement for it, hey), and then immediately quickload out of guilt when nothing bad happened. Also, regarding this segment, I wrote down in my notes, “did not drink the kool-aid”, and just now spent a few minutes trying to remember what the hell that line actually referred to, since I didn't remember any brainwashing cults. Haha, my notes are so stupid that I can't even decipher them.)

Anyway, in the next room over, we find... Avernus himself. Creators know how he's still alive—and he is old, terribly old—but he does not seem to be possessed. More likely he's kept himself alive through his own diabolical sciences. You know, I should kill him. I (Lyna) really want to, for all of the nasty things he's done. However... killing him would free one more literal demon into the world, so it becomes an awkward case of choosing the lesser of two evils.

Really, there are very few cases where a demon is the lesser evil, so unfortunately all I can do is give him a stern reprimand (hell, he looks like he's going to keel over on his own soon anyway) and go back to mop up the real demon. It doesn't last long against us. Once we're done, we make a quick sweep around for any sort of Grey Warden legacies. We do find a sword belonging to Asturian, a former Warden Commander. (We're starting to max out on our history-relevant weapons, here! I have Maric's sword and Alistair has Duncan's, so I give this one to Zevran [who is also using Duncan's dagger]. Our weapons are pretty boss right now.)

With that, it's back to camp for us. I chat more with Morrigan (since killing her mom finally got her approval of me to “warm”) and she tells me more stories about her childhood. I (Lyna) find her more and more interesting as things go on, and it's thought-provoking because I, being a Dalish elf with very strong prejudices towards humans, have always liked to attribute Morrigan's basically antisocial behavior to her being human rather than to her exceptionally bizarre upbringing. The more we talk, the more I learn how far she is from being a typical human.

Anyway, after all this—not like you can't predict what is coming if you have even halfway been paying attention—I go and talk to Alistair again. This time, one of the conversation options is kiss him. Fuck yes! I am going to do it! I am not sure what actually brings me (Lyna) to this point—maybe it's just thinking that does it, it's not like there was much to push them together like there was in the Return to Ostagar DLC—but yes. Hahaha. Total success. It's pretty adorable.

AND IT GETS EVEN BETTER. One of the things that I (Tracy) really genuinely like about Alistair's character is how freely he owns up to his emotional needs. I see this is a very mature and healthy trait, and one that modern masculinity looks down upon—I mean, manly men are supposed to suck it up, right? There's a particular set of traits associated with a certain image of “man” in popular culture, including such things as big and muscly, always in charge, emotionally insensitive and non-empathetic, sexually confident and always looking for (or at least ready for) an encounter, never showing fear/grief/other such “weak” emotions. Give or take, that's an image of “man” that is still unfortunately common, and most men are pressured (externally or internally) to adhere to this. Now, the opinion that these emotional stereotypes/standards in particular are unhealthy is a growing one, and I'm a pretty steadfast believer that if society was more receptive to the fact that men can and do have actual emotions (and especially if a man who showed emotions was not immediately subject to others questioning his sexuality or gender identity), we'd begin to see improvements in the status of women and the LGBTQ community as well as just in the personal lives of men. This is a serious business post for another time, but I wanted to get this in the open to preface the following.

I (Lyna) finally ask Alistair straight-up if he wants to join me in my tent. He declines, and not only this, but he explains his reasons—he says I'd probably think that he was an idiot for turning me down, and that he doesn't want to put me off by it, but he isn't ready for it and he was taught to take sex seriously.

I (Tracy) think that the writers' choice to not only have him decline the encounter (this time—and, I assume, before you reach a certain level of approval), but to be open and honest about his reasons for it, is a great one. EMOTIONAL MATURITY, PEOPLE. OPENNESS. COMMUNICATION. This is bravery, this is what I wish was expected of mature men—to own one's emotions, to be honest about one's fears and beliefs, to not feel forced to “deal with it” and do something just because of some bullshit expectation.

I do also think that the writers 100% intentionally wrote him to be a babe magnet, so I acknowledge that these traits of his that I'm raving about are probably just coldly calculated to win the hearts of as many ladies* as possible, rather than representing a shift in anybody's gender paradigms. However, this does not stop me from approving of their choices, and from thinking that Alistair is pretty much the best man.

Well, to return to the story—once Alistair had explained his reasons and said that bit about being afraid he'd turn me off with all of that.... NO. NO, ALISTAIR, YOU ARE GREAT AND I ADORE YOU, and for all the reasons stated above, you have absolutely no reason to feel bad about this, and goddamnit. Hugging you. I am spiritually hugging you a million times.

Well, with that... next on the to-do list is the Brecilian Forest!

*I say women in this context rather than generic attracted-to-men gamers mostly because Alistair is straight as far as anybody can tell and does not have a romance path with a male PC. This is, of course, not to say that queer male (or male-identified) gamers do not also love Alistair, or that a male gamer would not play a female character. I mean, hi, there. (This is is also a serious business post for another time. *steeples fingers*)
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August 2017

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