“She did. All the better to avenge my parents.”―Lady Mantillon and Briala
Briala grew up the child of elven servants to the Valmont family. Her parents were proud to work for Prince Reynaud, and worked hard to protect their position in the household as well as ensure Briala's own future within it. Her parents were able players of the Game: Briala's father taught her to avoid eye contact to observe others without being noticed while her mother taught her the rudiments of the Orlesian politics as well as pride in her worth as a city elf. Because of their efforts, Briala never knew the poverty and strife of living in the alienage.
When Briala was a child, her mother had another elven servant accused of theft to ensure that Briala, rather than the servant's daughter, would be Princess Celene's personal handmaid. Celene was ten at the time. Briala's mother instructed her daughter to be very careful, obey the other girl in everything, and become her friend. Although the princess, who did not yet know the value of a trusted friend, sometimes spoke to her unkindly, the pair grew close and Briala came to love her. Celene taught Briala to watch carefully, learning to understand the nobility's code of metaphors and euphemisms and relaying the information she gathered to Celene. She also passed to her handmaiden the lessons she learned in the bardic arts from her mentor, Lady Mantillon. Briala became skilled in both knife-work and archery, with a preference for the bow. She also learned to put facts together from the most minute observations even more adeptly than Celene.
Six years after becoming the princess's handmaiden, Briala consoled Celene when her parents were killed and her uncle Duke Prosper de Montfort was called away by the emperor, helping her to advance in the Game and becoming her confidante. She would prepare Celene for balls, badgering other servants into revealing what other ladies were wearing to help give her an edge. She would also serve refreshments when Celene hosted the sons of important nobles, carefully observing the proceedings and conveying suggestions to the princess through the non-verbal gestures of Orlesian bards. With Briala's quiet suggestion to act more daring, she caught the attention of the son of Comtess Jennevere. While hosting the son of Lady Mantillon, Briala directed Celene to his interest in Prince Reynaud's sword, displayed on the wall. Thanks to this, she charmed him with conversation of military history, winning the young man's support in her bid for the throne. Eventually, Lady Mantillon extended an invitation to Celene for the first time since her parents' deaths, an occasion Briala celebrated with her.
Not long after, Celene met with Lady Mantillon to arrange the assassination of the ineffective Emperor Florian. At Mantillon's assertion that their plans must not be discovered, Celene suggested assassins be sent to her estate to eliminate her servants, the only others who knew of the clandestine meeting. Assassins arrived the same evening, killing everyone, including Briala's parents. Briala was the only survivor. When Celene returned from the meeting and found her, she withheld her involvement in the carnage. Although Briala quickly deduced the motives and Mantillon's hand in it, she did not suspect her friend. Celene bade Briala flee to the Dalish to save her own life and gave Briala her cloak and mask as a disguise and Lady Mantillon's jeweled hairclip to sell. Before Briala left, Celene kissed her.
Briala fled Val Royeaux and admitted she would have fallen to the human bandits on the road if not for the intervention of the elven mage Felassan, who killed them. Felassan's rescue was the first time she had seen an elf strike a human, and the experience opened her eyes to the possibility of a better world where she did not need to submit when treated to human abuse and where nobles did not order the murder of her parents. Felassan listened to Briala's story and convinced her that if she wanted to make that world a reality, she needed to go back to Celene. Never finding the Dalish except for Felassan, who professed to be one yet provided little insight into their ways, she spent the next years plotting Lady Mantillon's death to avenge her parents. When she was twenty Briala achieved her goal and eliminated Mantillon, despite coming close to losing her own life to the Dowager's poisoned knife.Believing her vengeance was complete, Briala returned to Val Royeaux with aspirations of making Celene the greatest empress Orlais ever had and using her position to improve the lives of elves. The night of their reunion, the empress gifted Briala with a pair of silverite daggers. It was also the first night Briala and Celene made love, acting upon feelings they had shared since childhood and beginning their long relationship as lovers. Reinstated to her previous position as the empress’ personal handmaiden, Briala also became her spymaster, unbeknownst to the court at large. As spymaster, she built a vast network of elven spies who gathered information on behalf of her and the empress, relying on the human tendency of ignoring their people to remain unnoticed. As handmaiden, she held a position of power at court separate from other staff and worked to ensure the safety of servants and identify threats. And as lover, she held a position of trust with Celene and leveraged her influence to enact policies in favor of the elves, ensuring her people lived better than they had under any Orlesian ruler since the fall of Halamshiral.
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire
When Celene's champion, Ser Michel de Chevin, vanishes just before the royal hunting trip, Celene dispatches Briala to find him. After enlisting her mentor Felassan, they find Ser Michel in the Val Royeaux alienage, having been held captive by Gaspard de Chalons's bard, Melcendre. Briala deduces from the chevalier's conspicuous use of the invective "knife ear" that he himself is secretly elf-blooded. Briala tells Michel that she will never tell anyone about his secret but that he now owes her one favour, which she can call in at anytime.
Later, as the elves in Halamshiral began to riot as a result of the actions of Lord Mainserai murdering an elf with impunity, Briala is dispatched to assassinate him and quell the riots so Celene could avoid a more forceful retaliation. Briala successfully kills Mainserai with the assistance of Felassan and Thren, a local city elf and friend of the murdered man, only to be immediately arrested by Ser Michel. While Briala had been preparing to carry out the assassination, Celene had been facing greater backlash over her overly lenient treatment of the elves back in Val Royeaux, and finally decided to crush the rebellion to dispel the rumors by marching on the city with her chevaliers. In crushing the rebellion, Celene burned down much of Halamshiral's slums, killing a large number of elves.[note] Ser Michel was sent to Mainserai's estate to arrest Briala to keep her safe. Once Celene's troops have crushed the elven resistance, Grand Duke Gaspard de Chalons sends his own forces to kill or capture Celene while she is undefended so he may crown himself the new Emperor of Orlais. Celene and Ser Michel escape the ambush but Celene's troops are slaughtered and dispersed while Briala is captured by Gaspard.
Gaspard later visits Briala and attempts to coerce her to join his side; Briala, however, refuses and flees. She regroups with Felassan and the duo encounter Celene and her champion. Though Briala feels betrayed by Celene for murdering the elves at Halamshiral and arresting her, the two groups agree to join forces and reach a decision to get to a nearby Dalish clan and attempt to bring them to their side and find a path back to Val Royeaux. In exchange, Celene would grant greater freedoms to the city elves.
They are rescued from a sylvan attack by Clan Virnehn, led by Keeper Thelhen. Briala had assumed the Dalish would embrace her as a lost sister, but was instead treated like her human companions and bound. While listening to Felassan arguing with Thelhen over her trustworthiness, Briala quickly observed that Thelhen cares nothing for the city elves. Michel later discovers that the Keeper had bound a demon named Imshael in an attempt to unlock the Eluvians, which the ancient elves used for transportation over long distances. Believing it would be the best way to return to Val Royeaux, Michel bargains with the demon and is given a keystone to unlock them, though he unwittingly frees Imshael in his attempt to destroy him, who then murders almost everyone in Clan Virnehn.
Traveling via the network of Eluvians, the group encounters undead corpses in a sealed Elven tomb, which attack them. After being cornered by Gaspard's entourage who were pursuing them, and have been joined by Mihris, the Dalish First and only survivor of her clan aside from its children, both sides form a truce until they reach the exit. After surviving a Varterral attack, Gaspard and Michel agree to duel for control of the keystone and Orlais. The duel goes poorly for Ser Michel initially, because Lienne de Montsimmard and Mihris, who allowed herself to be possessed by Imshael, are secretly hexing him. Once Briala kills Lienne and reveals Imshael's presence, Michel is able to gain the upper hand in the duel. However, just as he is about to kill Gaspard, Briala calls in her favor and tells him to yield, which he does, effectively losing Celene her Empire. Briala deduced that Celene was the one who caused her parents' death, to prove her worth to Lady Mantillon, and decides that Celene cannot be trusted with the fate of the elves. She activates the eluvians without telling anyone else the control phrase ("Fen'Harel enansal" - the Dread Wolf's Blessing) and keeps the keystone for herself. She offers the humans safe passage and sends them on their way, sending Gaspard and Ser Michel to just outside Val Chevin and Celene to the Winter Palace at Halamshiral. She deliberately chose to send them to those locations in order to drag out the civil war while she would use the Eluvians to organize, assist, and strengthen the city elves position throughout Orlais.
After exiting the Eluvians, Mihris requests the secret to the Eluvians be given to the Dalish. Briala responds that unless the Dalish agree to help the city elves, she would not share their secret. Mihris agrees to pass along the offer of help to any Dalish clan she encounters and departs. Briala and Felassan also decided to part ways. Though Briala offers to tell him the control phrase, he refuses. He then kissed her on the forehead, branding a spell on her that made her pass out so he could depart unseen. Briala then began to get started on her plans.She used the eluvian network to great effect. Reports placed her sabotaging the water casks of the imperial army outside of Val Firmin on the same day she was seen delivering food to the Ghislain alienage. Her elven agents have been constantly sabotaging the imperial armies, to their great frustration. Her accomplishments have only led to greater loyalty among the elves of the alienage across the country.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Briala is met during the quest Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts. Since breaking off from Celene, Briala has raised an underground network of elves to harry both sides of the civil war. When peace talks are called during Celene's ball at the Winter Palace, Briala is invited as an ambassador, with Celene hoping to gain an alliance with the elves. Briala attends in hopes of influencing one side into elevating an elf to noble status to give her people more say in government. Gaspard was planning a coup during the ball, having been accompanied by his chevaliers and smuggling Fereldan mercenaries into the party. Celene and Briala knew of this and turned a blind eye with the hope that Gaspard would be lured into making a politically foolish move. To exacerbate the tensions between Celene and Gaspard, Briala had both their ambassadors murdered and sent each of them forged letters to implicate them of duplicity, thus putting her in a more politically advantageous position.
Briala infiltrates the Grand Apartments of the palace to investigate the mysterious murders of her spies, where she runs into the Inquisitor. Noting the corpse of the Council of Heralds' emissary down in the courtyard, she assumes that the Inquisitor didn't murder him. When the Inquisitor mentions that the murder weapon had the Chalons crest on it, Briala believes Gaspard to be behind it and reveals that the grand duke has been smuggling in chevaliers, but she cannot fathom him allying with the Venatori. Anticipating that the Inquisitor may later be involved in the peace talks, Briala offers the support of her spy network in exchange for the Inquisitor's favour.
If the Inquisitor finds an elven locket among Celene's possessions and speaks to Briala about it, she admits the locket is hers, a gift to the empress that once belonged to Briala's mother. She is surprised that Celene kept it despite the risk of discovery, hinting that she still loves Briala.
Later, Gaspard's sister, Florianne, is exposed as a Venatori agent, plotting to assassinate her cousin and implicate her brother in the hopes of plunging Orlais into chaos. Later, while privately conferring with Gaspard, the Inquisitor, and Celene if she still lives, Briala calls out Gaspard and accuses him of being complicit in his sister's plot. In retaliation, the Grand Duke insinuates that Briala knew of the plot. The Inquisitor can either support one party for the throne or encourage all three to work together. Provided that Celene survives the assassination attempt, she and Briala can even be convinced to reconcile and acknowledge they still care for each other. In the aftermath, Celene grants Briala the title Marquise of the Dales before the court and Briala joins her and the Inquisitor in giving a speech to celebrate the victory for the elves and encourage all the people of Thedas to work together in the fight against Corypheus. Briala resolves that there will be changes made to the court and Orlais is resurgent under Celene's continued rule, with many attributing the recovery to Briala.If Celene is allowed to die and the Inquisitor sides with Briala over Gaspard, Gaspard is installed as the new emperor yet rendered impotent through blackmail. Briala, now Marquise of the Dales, becomes the true power behind the throne and quickly grants new rights to the elves of Orlais and makes plans to tear down alienage walls. Gaspard sends Briala as his agent when the Inquisition marches on the Arbor Wilds. Briala will continue to wield a great deal of power and influence over the throne in secret, thanks to the leverage the Inquisitor has given her.
Solas reveals that he has personally taken control of the eluvian network from Briala. She had, until then, controlled a portion of the larger network, thanks to Felassan's refusal to take the control phrase from her.
If Briala rules through Gaspard:
Briala has a fountain erected in the Winter Palace gardens after the end of the civil war and defeat of Corypheus in 9:42 Dragon, dedicated to the memory of Empress Celene.
During the Exalted Council held at the Winter Palace in 9:44 Dragon, Marquise Briala largely stays out of sight. Court gossip suggests she is meddling behind the scenes and, despite the Inquisition's aid in gaining her title, would not hesitate to see them ended.If Briala is reconciled with Celene:
Briala visits the Winter Palace on "important matters of state" the day after the opening ceremonies for the Exalted Council, after which Celene had retired to her chambers for the duration of the talks. The relationship between the marquise and the empress is the subject of gossip, and one observer presumes that neither will be seen during the council because they "cavort like lovers half their age".
- Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts
- A Gift from the Imperial Palace (war table) (conditional)
- A Whisper from Behind the Throne (war table) (conditional)
- What Pride Had Wrought (conditional)
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire
- "Your clan could have helped the elves in the cities, taken in the strays, as your Keeper said. Instead, you rode around in wagons and searched for gifts left by our ancestors. You summoned demons and brought your doom upon yourselves."
- "We may be mere insects, Grand Duke, but so are wasps. A wise man avoids poking their nest."
- "Freedom is not given. It is won."
Dragon Age Inquisition
- "If the nobility is going to treat elves as if we are not citizens, we may as well have the trappings of a foreign power."
- "I'm an elf, Inquisitor. That should tell you everything you need to know about my life. I'm good at what I do. That's all that matters. I will help my people no matter the cost."
- "Our problem is invisibility. The people in power are used to ignoring us. We're not actors, we're scenery."
- Dragon Age: The Masked Empire is inconsistent regarding the number of civilians killed in the suppression of Halamshiral. While initially described as thousands, Briala and Celene later say that only hundreds were killed. Michel de Chevin also suggests putting down the rebellion would entail the loss of "a few hundred" elven lives during the journey to Halamshiral.
- Patrick Weekes gave a non-canonical estimate of Briala's age at about 33 to 34. Elsewhere he estimated that Briala killed Lady Mantillon 2 to 4 years after Celene became empress, which is corroborated by the fact that she returned to Val Royeaux "a few years after" Celene's ascension to the throne. Since she was 20 at the time of Mantillon's death, this would mean her approximate age as of Dragon Age: Inquisition is 36 to 38.
- Briala is described as having big, beautiful, dark eyes and curly, cinnamon-brown hair, which she sometimes wears tied back and braided to keep it out of the way. Her skin is beautiful and darker than Celene's, with freckles but no tan lines from her mask around her eyes. She also has dimples when she smiles and strong arms and fingers.