Leaving Kirkwall with Fenris in your party and headed to the outside areas in Act 2 will trigger an ambush by slavers and begin the quest. You do not have to do the companion quest, Speak to Fenris, in order to trigger the event. However, doing the companion quest before A Bitter Pill may interfere with romancing Fenris. Sometimes, the quest will only trigger if you head to Sundermount with Fenris instead of another outside area.
When the slavers hold your way, a short dialogue will start.
"He's not a slave!"
- Aveline: friendship (+5)
- Fenris: friendship (+5)
- Isabela: friendship (+5) (does not happen if she is above 60% rivalry in 1.03 or 1.04, may not trigger if Sebastian or Aveline are in the group. There is no approval change in the 1.00 version.)
- Sebastian: friendship (+5)
"Let's work out a deal."
- No change in friendship/rivalry
The dialogue will end either way with Fenris yelling enraged that he's not a slave, and the combat begins. After you kill them another dialogue with Fenris starts.
"We go after them."
"And now they're dead."
"Calm down, Fenris."
Fenris will then say the he needs to go after Hadriana, Danarius's apprentice and the person who sent the slavers to ambush Fenris. If the top option ("We go after them.") was not chosen for the first dialogue choice, then you get two options:
"Not right now."
Second Ambush (optional)
If you don't go to the Holding Caves right away, you can force an encounter with Tevinter forces, including Slavers, corpses, a couple of mages and an Arcane Horror for a sizable experience gain (830 XP from the fight and 250 XP from disarming the traps). To activate this encounter simply travel to Hightown at night with Fenris in the party. An ambush will occur and a mage will demand Fenris give himself up. After he threatens her, combat begins. The area uses the same layout as the district covered in saar-qamek during Blackpowder Courtesy, with the party entering from the same direction. There are 4 traps: the first trap at the bottom of the stairs is Standard-ranked (20 Cunning to detect and disarm, 100 XP), the other three are Simple-ranked (10 Cunning, 50 XP) and arranged at each corner of the pit surrounded by bird statues. The fight can be easily completed by holding position in this upper lane and poking one character's head out of cover to draw the corpses and slavers in manageable doses. Stun the Arcane Horror and defeat it quickly, as the Slaver Mage spends most of the fight in a barrier and won't be as immediate a threat.
After the battle, Fenris will blame the ambush on Hawke for not heeding his warnings about Hadriana, that she is now openly attacking them in the city.
- The diplomatic option ("You're right") yields Fenris: rivalry (+5).
- The sarcastic option ("She's not very good at it") yields Fenris: rivalry (+10).
- The aggressive option ("Watch your tone") yields Fenris: rivalry (+20).
He will then give Hawke an ultimatum; go after Hadriana immediately, or he goes by himself.
If Hawke chooses to go with Fenris, the current party will automatically travel to the Holding Caves when you leave the area. You are required to use the same party that you had with you during this ambush, but you can change upon entering the Abandoned Slaver Den.
If Hawke decides to let Fenris go alone, he permanently leaves the party and the quest ends. (The Holding Caves can still be visited at this point, but the resulting scenes and quest are bugged. The quest is still updated in the journal, but it's always listed as complete. At most parts the quest continues as normal; even Fenris can be heard, despite being absent, in some scenes. However, you do not gain or lose approval with Fenris, and he does not come back.)
This encounter can be avoided, and thus the quest postponed until you are ready, as long as you do not travel Kirkwall with Fenris at night. You may travel to companion home bases, as well as Darktown and the Docks, but not Hightown or Lowtown.
Visit the new area on the map outside of Kirkwall. There will be a couple of groups of slavers; they should be easy to take out (2 groups - 250 XP and 460 XP). There's Embrium to collect near the entrance of the area and a Glitterdust deposit as well near the entrance of the cave, along with two chests - a standard one (20 cunning to open - 100 XP), and a complex one (30 cunning to open - 150 XP). Before you enter the Abandoned Slaver Den, Fenris will start a dialogue.
You'll have to fight your way through slavers, corpses, and shades, thus electricity is your best weapon. The map layout follows the "dwarven ruins" of Magistrate's Orders but with the trail running east rather than north. In the first room, Fenris has a comment about "the legacy of the magisters" when you click on the Blood Sacrifice. Merrill and Anders will comment on the sacrifice, but Fenris particularly berates Merrill for being "one step away from it" herself.
Head east and fight the slavers, then the corpses that come swarming down the bridge. Be careful not to aggro the two Skeleton Archers behind the fire jets until you've eliminated them, so stay to the west and let the enemies come to you. In the rooms, you can depress switches to activate fire traps and burn the enemies for additional damage, but be careful they don't get positioned to do the same.
In the central room you'll find an elven slave, Orana, surrounded by slavers. Once you kill the slavers, a dialogue with Orana begins. There are several chances for approval changes:
If you answer, "I'm sorry":
She asks what she should do:
- If you give her 10 Isabela: friendship (+5)
- "Come work for me" Isabela: rivalry (+5) no matter what else you say
- "I will pay her"
- "Slaves are useful" Merrill: rivalry (+10)
- "Not our problem" Isabela: friendship (+5) xbox360ps3 confirmed
Proceed through the remaining rooms until you reach Hadriana. On your way is a single Standard-ranked locked treasure chest and no traps.
Hadriana is Boss-ranked and regularly summons additional slavers, corpses, and shades to aid her. The battle is not very hard as electricity and nature damage will tear through them, and Fenris with the strongest passives in Vanguard and Tevinter Fugitive can do the same. When the adds fall, concentrate all of your damage on Hadriana. Once she's knocked out, a dialogue will start. She says that Fenris has a sister and offers information in return for her life. Regardless of your choice, Fenris will kill Hadriana.
Deferring to Fenris:
Saying she can't be trusted:
The second set of dialogue options has no effect.
All other options (including an opportunity to flirt with Fenris):
Fenris will leave your party temporarily. Next time you go back to the Hawke Estate, it will trigger a key relationship conversation with him.
- "I understand": Choice 2
- "That's what I'm here for": Choice 2
- "You were out of line": Choice 1.1
- (Flirt) "I was worried about you.": (+5), Choice 2
- "No": (+10), Choice 2
- "I want an explanation": (+10), Choice 2
- "Yes": (+5), ends conversation and causes Fenris to leave the party permanently.
- "You gave your word": no effect, Choice 3
- "You wanted to?": no effect, Choice 3
- "She deserved to die": no effect, Choice 3
The Tevinter Chantry Amulet gift for Anders is found in a chest in the abandoned slaver den after you talk to Orana.
- If Orana was sent to your house, Leandra will, after her initial dialogues, only repeat the same ambient line, "(Sighs) An elven slave? Maker’s breath, I hope you know what you’re doing.” She will say nothing else, even if Orana is paid as a servant or later sent away. This prompt skips overrides any other comments Leandra might have.
- pc(1.0) ps3xbox360 It is possible to begin the quest without Fenris in your party. After entering the holding caves it is impossible to leave the area to reform your party. During cutscenes, you will hear Fenris's voice and the camera will pan to where he should be standing, but there will be nothing there. You can still receive friendship and rivalry points with him, despite his not being there. However, killing Hadriana will not trigger a cutscene and it is then impossible to finish the quest, even if Fenris is later brought to the caves. This can be avoided by adding Fenris to the party through the use of "runscript zz_dae_debug" in the developer console prior to defeating Hadriana.
- ps3xbox360 If you go to your mansion right after Fenris storms off, and then talk to him, it is still possible to go back to the Holding Caves, and then the Abandoned Slaver Den. If you do so, Fenris will be locked into your party from then on and you cannot leave the holding caves/slaver den unless by exiting the way you came, you have to go through the whole area again as if you were doing the quest. The only way to unlock him is to go back to your mansion to reset your party.
- pcps3 The above bug can be triggered by selecting the Holding Caves again from the world map at the end of the quest.
- If you have sufficient Friendship/Rivalry, completing this quest will trigger Questioning Beliefs (Fenris Act 2). If you told Fenris to leave after meeting him at your estate, the quest is impossible to complete due to Fenris being gone, but the quest remains in your journal for the remainder of the game.
- During the first ambush outside Kirkwall, sometimes, if loots are available from the dead bodies (just some coins and junk items), they might vanish after the cutscene at the end of the fight. If you want to get them, better to do it before the fight ends.
- If you do this quest after All That Remains and allow Orana to come home with you, one of her dialogue lines is about missing your mother, whom she has never met.