- “Sitting on my throne, I see every city in the empire. If I must burn one to save the rest, I will weep, but I will light the torch!”
Celene Valmont was born in 9:04 Dragon. When she was sixteen, Grand Duke Gaspard's wife Calienne killed her mother, Clarisse de Montfort, by arranging for "a hunting accident." Her father, Prince Reynaud, killed Calienne in retaliation, and then died himself of "illness" caused by Calienne's poisoned stiletto. Celene took the throne after that. Her ascension is swathed in rumours, with some Orlesians claiming the assassination of her uncle, Emperor Florian, was organized to allow her to take power.
Celene's ascendancy marked a period of intense struggle in the empire, as nobles positioned themselves to overthrow her. Most said Celene was too young and inexperienced to hold power, but she proved to be an adept player of the Game. She hinted at the possibility of marriage to several powerful families, while ultimately marrying no one; yet she continued to maintain alliances with these families. Today, there are still many nobles who consider Celene's rule illegitimate. As she grows older and the likelihood of an heir by birth decreases, the movement to replace her grows.
Celene has inspired something of a cultural renaissance in the Orlesian Empire. She has been a fervent patron of education and the arts. In particular, the University of Orlais and the Grande Royeaux theater owe much of their current reputation to her rule. Before Celene's intervention, the University of Orlais was severely stifled by the Chantry's limitations and served mostly as a dumping ground for the younger children of the lesser nobility. After Celene was crowned empress, she announced her intention to study at the university herself. She also arranged to lessen the Chantry's restriction on theological studies. The University of Orlais is now one of the most prestigious institutions in Thedas, respected for its studies on nature, magic, history, and the arts and attracting nobles from several nations. Noble blood is currently required for entry, though Celene has been urging the University to accept even elves if properly sponsored by a noble. Celene similarly lifted all restrictions on the Grande Royeaux, announcing that artistic freedoms should not be constrained by worldly concerns.
She is willing to put historical disputes behind her, and enter into an alliance with Ferelden, though it should be said this alliance would ultimately benefit her. She was a close contact of King Cailan Theirin, and the two of them were united in their stance against the Fifth Blight, with Celene even sending four legions of Chevaliers to aid Ferelden against the Darkspawn.
Dragon Age: Origins
Empress Celene and King Cailan's relationship was more than political. Confidential letters found in Cailan's chest at Ostagar reveal that Celene was indeed prepared to enter into an alliance with Ferelden, though it would be an alliance of marriage. Cailan apparently intended to divorce his current wife, Queen Anora, and marry Celene.Depending on player's choices, a possible epilogue slide mentions that a dark haired sorceress has insinuated herself into the Empress' royal court.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
Dragon Age II
Celene is referenced several times by the denizens of Kirkwall, such as when the merchant Hubert whom claimed that he once sold a seat cushion to her. Celene is also mentioned to be trying to mend fences with Ferelden but some members of the Orlesian nobility are looking forward to reconquer the valley due to it being weakened by the Blight.
By 9:37 Dragon, Bodahn Feddic mentions to Hawke that Celene has heard of Sandal's unique enchantments, and become extremely interested in them. She extends an invitation to Bodahn and Sandal to visit her court, so she can witness Sandal's abilities first hand.Celene also became involved in dealings with a Tal-Vashoth named Salit and she sends her long time ally, Duke Prosper to oversee the exchange on her behalf. While they expected to be given either the gaatlok formula, dreadnaught plans or a map of Qunanadar, Salit gives Prosper a list of covert Qunari agents throughout Thedas. Hawke and Tallis interrupt the deal and in the ensuing battle Prosper is left clinging to the edge of a cliff, he swears that Celene will avenge his death by burning Kirkwall to the ground. However, his threats are futile, as Varric explains to Cassandra; it would've been scandalous if it became known that Prosper was dealing with Tal-Vashoth, likely on the Empress' orders.
Dragon Age: Asunder
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire
At the University of Orlais Celene meets with Sister Nightingale, the representative of the Divine, to ask that Divine Justinia V acts directly to try and ease the tension between mages and templars. Leliana tells the empress that the Divine will make a declaration at a ball thrown in her honor in no more than a month. At a ball the same evening, Grand Duke Gaspard attempts to goad Bann Teagan, the Fereldan Ambassador, into a duel by insulting Queen Moira's memory but Celene manages to outwit him by offering her own champion, Ser Michel de Chevin, in the duel. The challenged party has the choice of weapon, and Ser Michel at Celene's behest, chooses a feather (more specifically the feather of the chevaliers). Celene believes that the situation has been resolved, but using the chevalier's symbol in this way leads some nobles to turn against her, most notably Duke Remache of Lydes.
During a hunt Gaspard and Celene find themselves isolated, as Gaspard had previously arranged for Ser Michel to be captured. Gaspard asks her to marry him, as he believes this would be the easiest solution to their dispute. When she refuses he draws his sword on her, but Celene wounds his arm with her own dagger. The rest of the nobles rejoin them before either of them are seriously hurt and Celene decides not to arrest Gaspard for fear of rebellion from the other nobles. She sends Briala to look for her champion, which she does with the help of a Dalish mage named Felassan.
When the city elves in Halamshiral start to rebel, Celene sends Briala to Halamshiral to quietly assassinate Lord Mainserai and resolve the issue. However, before Briala can carry out her mission, Gaspard and his ally Duke Remache commission a play at the Grande Royeaux Theater in which Andraste ignores the war against Tevinter after taking the elf Shartan, (played by a woman), as her lover, thus forcing Maferath to betray her for the good of the kingdom. With the people already whispering that Celene is too lenient with the elves, and the Divine only offering her support once the matter with the elves has been resolved, Celene decides to march on Halamshiral to crush the elven rebellion to dispel the unrest.
When her forces arrive in Halamshiral, they set fire to the slums and crush all elven resistance. Celene sends Ser Michel with several chevaliers to arrest Briala and keep her safe. Just as the "battle" with the elves finishes, Gaspard ambushes and routs Celene's exhausted troops, and only narrowly misses killing Celene herself. With her force completely destroyed, Celene and Ser Michel escape out of the city and try to make their way to Jader to get the help of the very loyal Lady Seryl. But the way is blocked by Gaspard's scouts and they head for Val Royeaux instead.
Briala, having escaped from Gaspard, meets up with Celene in Felassan's company. Passing through a village that Lady Seryl destroyed to drive out Gaspard's troops, the two groups agree to join forces and reach a decision to get to the Dalish to try to get them on their side, despite Briala's feelings of betrayal for the deaths at Halamshiral. During the night, Sylvans almost kill the group before they are rescued by clan Virnehn.
Clan Virnehn, led by Keeper Thelhen, makes it clear that the Dalish want nothing to do with them or their plan, nor do they care about the city Elves who they do not consider to be elves at all. They are only interested in reclaiming their past, going to such lengths as to summon a demon to try and get information from it. Imshael, though imprisoned, manages to lure Michel and tells him about the Eluvians. He returns to Celene and tells her; meanwhile Briala realizes that the Dalish aren't her people either and that Felassan is no longer even Dalish and persuades him to help them escape and get information from Imshael. They kill several of the Dalish to get Celene and Michel out, though Michel spares Mihris, the Keeper's first, despite her wanting him dead for killing her lover and her people.
Imshael, tells them about the network of Eluvians that can be used to travel quickly and unseen throughout the whole kingdom if activated with the right keystone. Michel unwittingly frees the demon, who massacres the rest of the Dalish clan. Imshael allowed Celene to keep a keystone as a token of gratitude for freeing it.
Briala, Celene, Michel and Felassan are making their way through the eluvians, which function as portals to other worlds where reality is distorted. Only the humans, even Michel despite being elf-blooded, feel extremely uncomfortable and disoriented in this world. After being attacked by possessed corpses, Gaspard and his followers catch up with them, having pursued them through the Eluvians with Mihris. After a fight with two Revenants and an Arcane Horror leaves all parties severely weakened, they form an uneasy truce until they can reach the main chamber where the eluvians can be activated. As they reach the main chamber they are attacked by a Varterral. Duke Remache breaks the truce by attacking Celene while they are fighting the Varterral, and Gaspard promptly kills him for his dishonorable conduct.
Celene and Gaspard agree to duel over the kingdom, with Ser Michel as her champion. Though initially winning, Ser Michel begins losing ground to Gaspard, due to Lienne de Montsimmard and Mihris, who secretly hex him. Once Briala kills Lienne and reveals Imshael's presence in Mihris, 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 chance to resolve the civil war. Briala steals the keystone from Celene and claims the eluvians for the elves of Orlais. Celene attempts to appeal to her lover, but Briala does not listen, having figured out that Celene was responsible for her parents' death through Lady Mantillon. Briala offers Celene, Gaspard, and Michel safe passage. After Gaspard and Michel, having betrayed his oath to Celene by yielding to the Grand Duke, depart together, Celene asks Briala to send her to Val Royeaux and leaves with a parting profession of love for Briala, telling her that she "would find joy in my love finding her people, even as my breast aches with every heartbeat I live without you." Celene finds herself back in Halamshiral, in her own Winter Palace. Unsurprised by Briala's deception and despite being in a precarious position, Celene felt more confident now than she had in a long time. She summons Comte Pierre of Halamshiral to the palace and he immediately surrenders the city to her.
Dragon Age: The Last Court
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Celene eventually returns to Val Royeaux. Her army continues to clash with Gaspard's throughout the Dales and she has since declared that wearing violets--purple like the colours of her family's crest--is a sign of political support.
At the urging of Grand Duchess Florianne de Chalons, Empress Celene will be holding a ball in the Winter Palace. During the festivities, the empress was meant to hold peace talks with Gaspard de Chalons and Briala. Gaspard was planning a coup during the ball, having been accompanied by his Chevaliers and smuggling Ferelden 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. The Inquisitor learns that the Elder One is planning to assassinate Celene, thereby throwing all of Orlais into chaos. In hopes of foiling the Elder One's machinations, the Inquisition finds itself a guest at the peace talks between Celene and Gaspard, held in the form of a grand ball at the Winter Palace of Halamshiral. When Celene has a chance to address Gaspard and the Inquisitor, she grants them courtesy separately. Later, she sends her three ladies in-waiting (the Ladies Fleur, Couteau and Colombe) to privately meet with the Inquisitor to pass on her offer of an alliance to the Inquisition as soon as Gaspard is defeated.
Should the Inquisitor find Briala's locket in the Grand Apartments vault and inform the Empress' three ladies in-waiting of this, the Inquisitor is granted a personal audience with Celene. If pressed Celene concedes she has lingering feelings for Briala.
Should Celene survive the events of the evening, she will devote herself and the Orlesian Empire to the Inquisition's cause. Later, if Celene remained Empress, she will be encountered in the Arbor Wilds, personally leading the Orlesian forces against the Elder One's armies. However depending on the Inquisitor's actions, she may grow cold towards the Inquisition and soon cease supporting them.Should the Inquisition choose to not stop Celene's assassination, Celene will be assassinated by Grand Duchess Florianne. If Gaspard becomes sole ruler, he will lead the Orlesian Imperial Army against the forces of the Elder One, claiming his goal is to avenge Celene's death.
- David Gaider revealed that the original plot for Dragon Age: Origins included a visit by Celene to Denerim. There it would have been learned that Cailan had planned to divorce Anora in favour of the Empress, and that Teyrn Loghain had discovered this scheme.
- Celene has a passionate love of tea, particularly Rivaini spice tea, and in fact keeps an enchanted tea pot in her luggage for this purpose. The tea appears to be a curative for her chronic headaches. Curiously, when speaking with her ladies-in-waiting during Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts, one of them will mention that Celene takes her tea black. This would seem to contradict Dragon Age: The Masked Empire, in which much is made of her love of tea and her particular way of taking it not black but sweetened with honey.
- Celene wears several enchanted items on her person, including a ruby ring that enchants any weapon with flames and a puzzle ring purported to have belonged to The Black Fox.
- During her conversation with Leliana it is made apparent that Celene has been trained as a bard.
- Empress Celene is related to Duke Prosper as he is her mother's cousin, making him her first cousin once removed.
- Cover art of Celene can be found in Skyhold on an unhung portrait near Vivienne's living area in Dragon Age: Inquisition.