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

I have to apologize a bit in advance because I think, in retrospect, that this entry is awfully jumpy and hard to follow. I wrote it hurriedly over two days without any notes (that'll learn me! Taking more diligent notes from now on) and, in the case of much of the latter half, in a very distracted frame of mind (as I was doing it between cleaning and cooking for my dad's birthday). I'm low on time now and gonna be extra-low coming up in a few weeks, so I did want to get it out. Please forgive it if it does not flow especially well.

When we last left our heroes, we had supported Harrowmont's bid for the throne of Orzammar and secured the dwarves' support against the Blight, and Lyna and Alistair had finally Done It. Kids these days.

Well, with Orzammar out of the way, all that's left is to return to Redcliffe and tell Arl Eamon that we're ready for him to call a Landsmeet, but because I don't really want to deal with the possibility of Alistair becoming king just quite yet (and neither does he, apparently), it's time to finish off some party side quests! Goddamn, you people are needy. First I take Shale back into the Deep Roads and explore a little bit—she finds a monument that lists her name as one of many dwarves who had volunteered to be made into golems (though the “surprise” of finding out that she is/was female was kind of ruined by the fact that the quest UI referred to her as “she”). Next, Sten tells me that the reason he went berserk and killed an entire family with no provocation is that his ancestral sword was stolen, without which he cannot return to his homeland. Well, I... guess that explains that. Can I find it for him? Hate to break it to you, Sten, but I think the odds of finding a single sword in a country being slowly shredded by not only the Blight but also by civil war is probably not going to be easy.

Surprisingly enough, on the way to Oghren's quest (find a former girlfriend of his who lives around Lake Calenhad and, from the sound of things, hates his guts), we run into some guy scavenging along the road. On impulse, I ask about Sten's sword, but, like, what are the odds, right? Hah, that's the beauty of being the protagonist. After rattling him up a little, he tells us that some other guy has it and took it to Orzammar. Creators damn it! We just came from there! Again! Man, I am going to have to compile some really careful notes so that on my next play-through, I can minimize the amount of useless running back and forth across the goddamn continent. Well, after Oghren attempts to talk to his lady friend and is swiftly rejected, we hop back over to Orzammar again, find the guy, who tells us that he sold the sword to a dwarf in Redcliffe. Argh! Well, fine! We have to go to Redcliffe at some point anyway, obviously, so... we'll get it then.

Next, back to camp to make the usual rounds, chat with Wynne (who, in addition to quest-giving, is perfectly happy to completely reverse her judgment that Alistair and I will only bring each other to a tragic demise and and actually kind of gives our relationship her blessing—which felt more to me like pandering to the player than a legitimate story development, but eh, all right, then, at least she isn't lecturing me about responsibility), Zevran, and Shale a little more.

Funny thing happens when talking to Zevran. That is... Lyna starts to mellow out a bit and take an interest in his past. I've had her be a real jerk to Zevran for reasons that I think I have discussed (mostly amounting to the fact that she's hugely prejudiced when it comes to city elves, though especially if they are also amoral leches who kill people for money). Anyway, having finally gotten my relationship with him to “warm”, I start being able to ask about his time with the Crows. He tells me a few stories about missions he's been on and things he's done, and... I think I (Lyna) am actually interested. I know I (Tracy) am interested, but it's an impressive step that Lyna's willing to talk to him seriously. You know, I really want them to be on at least OK terms with each other. I think Lyna could learn a lot from him and possibly even begin to overcome some of her massive bigotry.

Wynne had asked me to find a former student of hers at the Circle, a city elf, who had not adjusted well and whom Wynne believed she had driven to run away by failing to understand his needs. She figures he was killed by Templars, but on another hunch, we go to the Brecilian Forest again and I ask around at the Dalish camp there. We elves are pretty awesome, you know! Turns out a hahren knows where to find the guy, now an apostate healer out in the woods. They chat briefly; Wynne apologizes; all is well.

We also make a quick stop in Denerim because I have this dragon scale that I picked up when we fought that high dragon near Haven, and I have a feeling that Wade the armorsmith would jump at the chance to make some dragon scale armor (though his assistant would probably hate it. I love that guy. He's such a jerk and he's so deliberately miserable, and Wade is just like I SHALL DO WHAT I WANT, FOR I AM AN ARTIST, and it's fucking great). My suspicions are correct, and the armor is wonderfully badass. However... one thing. Why does this armor have like no fire resistance? The drakeskin armor was super-heat-resistant, and this is just... basically, really good-looking and light for its strength but without a whole lot of other special qualities. I am somewhat underwhelmed, Wade. I expected better. Ah, well.

Anything else? No other inane side quests, no party members with ages-old grievances that I can take care of? Nothing at all, really?

Well, then... I guess it's off to Redcliffe.

First things first—we grab Sten's sword from the dwarf in Redcliffe who had purchased it from the scavenger. Then... oh boy. I guess we go and see Arl Eamon to tell him that he can call his Landsmeet.

D: D: D: Man, I don't really want this game to be getting near the end, and also, Alistair is clearly miserable at the mere possibility of being king. Not to mention any entirely selfish reasons for wanting him to remain my Grey Warden. Ahem.

Eamon has his reasons, though, and they are admittedly very good ones. Alistair is the only contender for the throne who has any sort of blood claim to it, and people would be more likely to support him than they would if, say, Eamon himself made a bid for it, since Eamon's claim is no stronger than Loghain's (though I, personally, would argue that Eamon is way less of a douche, which you'd think would give him a few extra points). Maybe he is our only hope of not losing Ferelden to civil war.

I still would just like to bump Loghain off and be done with it. Maybe we could get Zevran to do it. That would be at least a little poetic. Leliana could help; actually, given dear Zevran's track record, she might be a better choice to lead such a mission. Buuut I guess it's not to be. Fine, fine, we'll play nice.

With that... we're off to Denerim. Specifically, the Guerrin estate, which is fucking swanky. Eamon monologues briefly about the city, and just as he says that he doesn't know when Loghain will show up to talk to us, the douchebag arrives! And he's brought a couple minor douchebags with him, how nice. One of them has the nerve to call me a “churl” and to tell me to keep quiet while my “betters” are talking. Oh, no, you did not! If this were not a scripted cutscene, I would punch you in the throat. Instead I must be content to stand here, glare at you, and fantasize about your painful death. I (Tracy) actually felt pretty indignant and incensed by that as well, so, props to the writers. Overall this scene was delightfully effective. Also let me take this moment to add that for pretty much this entire leadup to the Landsmeet (from leaving Redcliffe to the very end of this writeup), my pulse was hammering with anxiety and excitement. I mean, I tend to get emotionally invested in games, perhaps more than I should, and this game is hitting basically every way possible to get me really engaged and immersed.

Anyway, the gist of the meeting is that while Loghain acknowledges Alistair's existence, he won't so much as loosen his grip on the country, and he taunts Eamon a little for taking the nobles away from their duties at this time of great difficulty for the nation. Well, guess whose fault it is that we had to do it, Loghain. >:( Take your time. I can wait.

The douchebag trio departs, leaving Eamon and me to talk strategy.

Augh. D:

After brief planning (which basically amounts to needing to find a way to delegitimize Loghain in the eyes of the other nobles, i.e. prove that he does not have Ferelden's best interests at heart), I take a look around the estate. Eamon, this building is enormous. My elvish sensibilities can't comprehend this, much like they can't really comprehend the totally ridiculous number of people and amount of stuff that is in Denerim at all. I (Tracy) like that all of the characters have something (albeit brief) to say about being in the estate when I go and talk to them at their strangely far-apart and fixed locations, but I don't especially like that they say it every time I go to talk to them and then segue awkwardly into their old “oh, PC is talking to me, play default response” bit. I also don't like that Alistair doesn't call me “my dear” now, because I am shallow.

Nobody has anything new to say, so I go back and talk to Eamon, who has an elvish servant with him—I ask right away who she is, since she's an elf and I'm automatically curious. Eamon explains that she's Queen Anora's handmaiden, Erlina. Apprently Anora—Loghain's daughter and the widow of the late king Cailan—is being held captive at Arl Howe's estate (Howe being a particularly nasty guy who has been backing Loghain through this entire ordeal) because of disagreements with her father, and we must go and rescue her, since she is powerful and well-loved, and having her on our side could help to turn things in our favor. I have a pretty bad gut feeling that it's a trap, but it seems that the benefits outweigh the risks, and Eamon seems very much to want to have Anora around, so... off we go to Howe's estate.

I don't entirely remember who I chose to bring with me. I didn't bring Zevran. I remember that because on our way to Howe's estate, we're interrupted in a back alley by some... fairly seedy-looking fellow who claims to be from the Antivan Crows and asks me why I don't have Zevran with me. What? And moments later, Zevran steps out of the shadows behind me—what the fuck? Have you seriously been following us this whole time? That is slightly creepy, but I guess I'll forgive it because it is also the most hilarious mental image. I mean, I do wonder what the rest of the party does if they are not actively helping me out. Wynne obviously reads, Leliana's probably busy writing her epic tale about our adventures, Thracys naps or chases squirrels or harasses Morrigan... and apparently Zevran has nothing better to do with his free time than stalk us.

To be fair, apparently we're pretty entertaining. They did make a video game about it, after all.

Anyway, this guy offers Zevran a chance to return to the Crows, which, if I am reading him right (admittedly, I rarely am), Zevran is actually considering. Hey! You swore an oath, remember? Also, I am only just now becoming legitimately interested in you as a person and fellow elf, so you can't go running back to your former life now. Ultimately we kill the guy and his umpteen bandit buddies. It should be noted that because of Zevran's appearance, I had to choose somebody else to boot out of my party in order to keep him, which I will return to because I think it actually screwed my entire game plan for the upcoming rescue. But! After the battle, Zevran was still like, oh, well, maybe I should go, because freedom's pretty cool.

Oh, no. No, you do not get off the hook that easily, you amoral stalking bastard. At this stage I had a handful of conversation options, one of which was to use my massive rank in coercion to remind him of his oath and basically force him to stay, and the other being to simply ask him, as a friend, to continue to help us. Man, if this had happened literally two hours earlier, I would've gone with the oath, no question, but you know what? No. Screw that. Zevran is... well, “friend” is an awfully strong term, but he's not just some lackey to order around, and sure, I don't especially like the guy, but I... am beginning to understand him. As a person whom I don't entirely hate and am grudgingly developing a weird sort of respect for, I ask him to stick around until we're done. He agrees.

The thing about Zevran... it really is tricky for me to get into his head sometimes, but I'm trying to work him out because I do find him completely fascinating. He seems like he's supposed to be a token “evil” character, but I'm not sure if I buy it. I mean, yeah, his morality is certainly twisted. Yes, he kills people for money. Yeah, morally speaking, he's not good in plenty of ways. But... he's not nasty. He doesn't seem to take pleasure in cruelty (at least, no more than Lyna does, ha) but merely sees killing as a necessity in his world. His “evil” stems mostly from circumstance. I don't think, for example, that turning him loose would be doing a disservice to the world. And he certainly has been upfront about his ways of life, and also has not turned traitor on us, both of which seem marks in his favor.

I like all of this about him. He is a deliciously complex character, and I am so romancing him on my next planned playthrough (which, believe me, you will hear plenty about when I get to it). Basically I just love this game and all of the characters and why can't they all be real so I can keep them in my house and have epic adventures forever.

Well, I don't want Oghren in my house. The rest of them, though, are totally welcome to come by any time.

With that out of the way, we meet up with Erlina at Howe's estate. She leads us around to a servant's entrance (in the process, we attract a little attention and have to bump off a couple of guards, but...) and distracts the two guards at the door while we slip inside. We meet up with her again at Anora's room, which has been magically sealed off, so we go in search of the mage responsible, whom Erlina tells us is probably at Howe's side. Well, great, I'll finally get to meet yet another enormous douchebag (albeit one voiced by Tim Curry). We venture down into the dungeons below the estate (well, that's a nice touch), free some prisoners (including an Orlesian Grey Warden named Riordan, who knew Alistair and Duncan and whose introduction—that is, taking advantage of his guard's surprise at our entry and snapping the poor sap's neck—duly impresses Lyna, and an elf from the nearby Alienage, and some soldier who'd gone missing at Ostagar and there was a Chanter's Board quest about him and I don't really know), stumble on Howe and a couple mages, and make brief conversation before Thracys leaps on Howe and tears out his arrogant, oily throat, leaving the rest of us to pound his magi into the ground. … you know, maybe murdering a man of significant rank was not the best idea. Maybe I should have tried to find another way, though if there was a more obvious peaceful option, it slipped by me completely. Maybe... well, it's a little late to think about that, I guess. On we go.

We let Queen Anora out of her cell-slash-guestroom. Props for the Star Wars reference, by the way (I didn't say it, because, well, I'm an elf—it's a little stupid for me to call out somebody on being short, and Anora actually seems really tall). I can't help but notice that Anora also has the Princess Leia hair buns. Hmm. Well, in the event that this does end up having been some sort of ruse, I will console myself by shouting, “IT'S A TRAP!”.

We attempt the straight shot to the exit, buuuut oh shit. Our way is blocked by the knight who was with Loghain when he paid us a visit before—the one who called me a churl and told me to shut my elvish mouth. Now she tells us we're under arrest for murdering the Arl and his guards. Okay, yeah, I probably should have tried harder to find a peaceful solution before. Maybe. But that is not the point, because you are dead, you smug jerk, or at least you would be if you weren't surrounded by like twenty guards, oh shit. I tried to fight them the first time, but we were utterly slaughtered, and this is where Zevran's untimely interruption from before comes in. Fffffuuuuuuck. I would've had a spellcaster in my party if Zevran had not been stalking us in that alley with the guy from the Crows and forced a party change that I did not have any chance to undo after the fact. Seriously! And if I'd had either Wynne or Morrigan with me instead of Zevran, that battle would have been the biggest and most delicious piece of cake!

So, I reload, and this time, I bite back my pride and surrender. Alistair is not pleased, but you know what, neither am I, but the alternative is clearly death (unless I want to reload a WAY earlier save and I don't really want to do that, though maybe after I finish the game I will and see if differences can be made, just for curiosity's sake), and........ I don't know, but we'll figure a way out of this.

There's a brief cutscene with Anora and Zevran making it back to Eamon's estate and telling the Arl that we've been taken to Fort Drakon and we must be rescued. Then, I wake up in a cell with Alistair, with no weapons or armor (or clothes, for that matter, GEE HOW AWKWARD), presumably in this previously mentioned Fort Drakon, and most likely about to be tortured to death, judging by the cinematics leading up to this point. Oh, joy. We talk briefly. Seems like we can either wait for those losers back at Eamon's to pull together some slapdash rescue operation, or we can bust our way out on our own. Well, fuck those guys! No way am I waiting around for somebody else to mastermind my rescue. Alistair, I am getting us out of this fort if I have to deconstruct it brick by brick.

First things first. I take a lesson from our new (or old, as the case may be) buddy Riordan, call over a guard, and break his neck through the bars. Oh, yeah. We unlock the cell with his key, and conveniently enough, just outside, there's a chest that contains... all of our belongings, right down to the last Deep Mushroom. Okay, then! Um, now that we are no longer dressed only in our unusually modern-looking lingerie (seriously, what is even with that, Bioware? Even NWN had more period underwear, so you have no excuse), let's look for a way out.

We steal some guard uniforms, manage to slip in with some other new recruits, get ourselves through inspection with only minor riddling, lead the patrol out of the fortress, and... that's it? Was our jailbreak seriously that easy? I bet that when we get back to Denerim proper, there are going to be, like, platoons of awful things waiting for us, right? Right?

No?

Well, okay! I guess we are about a hundred times smarter than Loghain's cronies, or something like that. Can't help but wonder how murdering the Arl is going to affect our chances at the Landsmeet. Anyway, we arrive at Eamon's estate and endure a little praise for managing to escape on our own (seriously, dudes, it was so easy), and then begins our dealings with Queen Anora.

Anora is about as fierce as they come, let me just say that. She's clearly brilliant, she knows how to get what she wants, and it is these things that make me a little reluctant to trust her, but... it's also clear that she can't stand what her father, Loghain, is doing to the country. She points out to Eamon that Alistair would make a horrible king (yes!), and that even in spite of his having a bit of royal blood, trying to put a Grey Warden on the throne makes it look like the Wardens are trying to gain further political influence over Ferelden (go, Anora, go!), and that she has basically been the one ruling Ferelden from Cailan's shadow (because, come on, he was a bit of a dip), and the people like her, so why not support her instead of Alistair (goal! goal!)?

Eamon, however, refuses. Oh, come on, seriously? You like her so much, but you won't support her just because she doesn't have a legitimate blood claim? Or do you have a reason not to trust her that you haven't been upfront about with me? Argh! I am not good at politics! Human society is terrible! I really have my doubts that a few months of training and a panel of advisers would make Alistair half as good a ruler as Anora seems to already be, and she does bring up an exceedingly good point: given that apparently quite a few people already believe that the Wardens killed Cailan, I'm not sure that one—even Maric's son—would be fully accepted as king. Alistair is obviously in full support of Anora, but Eamon won't hear it and argues the rest of us into the ground. Well, fine. We'll deal with this later. In the meantime, Anora says that she's got a potential lead on something we could use to discredit Loghain, so I go to her quarters to discuss that in full.

Anora suspects that Loghain's got a hand in some unrest in the elven Alienage, so it looks like that's where we'll be headed next. I (Lyna) am curious, but... wary. I've heard horrible things about the Alienages. People impoverished, hungry, downtrodden, living in squalor and surrounded by crime—and yet, they are... my people. They're very different from me, but... if I think about it, they've gone through a lot of the same things that we Dalish have. I wonder how they'll react to me, if they'll welcome me or if they'll be hostile to me—if they'll see me as someone trying to help, or as a self-righteous interloper into things about which she knows nothing.

There's little time to wonder, though, because Anora has something more pressing on her mind. She asks if I will support her rather than Alistair at the Landsmeet. I am immediately tempted to say yes, because hey, all of my problems would then be solved! Besides, she makes an even more tempting promise to improve the situation of (and relations with) my people. I am... not gonna lie, I'm a little concerned about being double-crossed somehow. Eamon has told me about how good she is at manipulating people. She seems to genuinely believe that Loghain has gone mad, that he is not thinking in Ferelden's best interests, and that he should not stay in power... but does she really? Am I strolling blindly into some sort of a trap? Well... if she is... so be it. I promise to back her, and with that, it's off to the Alienage.

I must leave off here because the hour is late, this post is already long, and I want to get it out of my hands, so to speak. Come September, my hours at work are supposed to seriously ramp up, so a part of me wants to finish the game before then (since if all goes as currently planned, I will literally not have time for anything other than working and sleeping), but another part kind of wants it to go on indefinitely and for the suspense to never, ever end. Anyway, we'll see how it all goes.

I do have one last thing to share, and that is that my single very first waking thought on the morning after I played all of the above was, “oh, god, what if Anora is just using us and will betray us after the Landsmeet and put her father back in power?” I hadn't thought of that the night before. Now I'm doubting my decision constantly.

My mind clearly cannot handle this. This is so goddamned good.

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ossobuco: Legion from Mass Effect 2 (Default)
Ossobuco

August 2017

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