Dragon Age II
Adventures of the Black Fox
Born Lord Remi Vascal in 8:63 Blessed, the Black Fox was a dashing thief and rogue who went on to inspire so many tales of his exploits that it is nearly impossible to determine today which are true and which are merely fabricated legend. Despite coming from nobility, he has become something of a hero of the common people.
His initial exploits involved ridiculing the tyrannical and powerful lord of Val Chevin. Wearing a mask, he would appear in public and disrupt the lord's plans to the point that the lord angrily put a huge bounty on the life of "this cunning fox" (the origin of the nickname, which stuck). That the primary bounty hunter who took the job, Karolis, ended up becoming Remi's lifelong partner in crime (only after nearly killing him several times) is one of the most popular tales told in taverns today. The story is often exaggerated to make Remi appear initially buffoonish, until Karolis becomes so furious at the Black Fox's inexplicable ability to survive that the cunning Remi gains the upper hand, which impresses Karolis so much that the bounty hunter joins him.
After years of terrorizing the lord's men and foiling his tax collectors (a favorite pastime of Remi's, according to the Orlesian commoners), Remi was supposedly betrayed by his lover Servana de Montfort (in some versions of the tale a mage of the Circle, no less) and was captured. After more than a year of torture, Remi was rescued from prison by his compatriots (including a repentant Servana), and together they escaped Orlais. In this period of Remi's adventures, he appears almost everywhere in Thedas: As his legend grew, more innkeepers and merchants were happy to claim that the Black Fox had visited their village or establishment and performed some legendary feat. If the tales are to be believed, Remi led the lord's men on a merry chase. He became embroiled in political intrigue in Nevarra, was hunted by the Crows of Antiva, and then kidnapped by a powerful mage in Tevinter. In each situation, Remi escaped death at the last moment, foiled the evil-doer, and improved life for the poor and downtrodden. Then, inevitably, he rejoined his band of adventurers and moved on to the next land. His companions Karolis and Servana, the wise dwarf Bolek, and the tempestuous knight Ser Clementis have each spawned their own individual legends over the years.
The stories all agree that, at some point, the Black Fox disappeared: He and his fellow adventurers voyaged into the heart of the Arlathan forest seeking the sunken city of the elves and never returned. Many more are the tales that expand on what ultimately happened to them in that forest and postulate on how they could someday be rescued.
—From the Adventures of the Black Fox, by Gaston Gerrault, 9:11 Dragon
- Main article: Codex entry: Alienage Culture
There have always been alienages. They have been around for as long as elves and shems have lived in the same lands. Ours isn't even the worst: They say that Val Royeaux has ten thousand elves living in a space no bigger than Denerim's market. Their walls are supposedly so high that daylight doesn't reach the vhenadahl until midday.
But don't be so anxious to start tearing down the walls and picking fights with the guards. They keep out more than they keep in. We don't have to live here, you know. Sometimes a family gets a good break, and they buy a house in the docks, or the outskirts of town. If they're lucky, they come back to the alienage after the looters have burned their house down. The unlucky ones just go to the paupers' field.
Here, we're among family. We look out for each other. Here, we do what we can to remember the old ways. The flat-ears who have gone out there, they're stuck. They'll never be human, and they've gone and thrown away being elven, too. So where does that leave them? Nowhere.
--Sarethia, hahren of the Highever alienage
Felicidus Aria—commonly known as the Silent Plains Rose—is, to this day, the only plant found growing on the Silent Plains, which were tainted by the Blight a thousand years ago. As mentioned in the section on rare flowering plants, Felicidus Aria is not technically a rose, though its flowers do exude a sweet, rose-like scent.
The flower is rare, and is in danger of becoming extinct because of its value in the creation of ambrosia, which is distilled from the roots of the plant. Dozens of these plants go into the making of just one vial. Some say that the wives of the most powerful Tevinter magisters once used ambrosia to perfume their baths in a vulgar display of wealth.
—An excerpt from The Botanical Compendium, by Ines Arancia, Botanist
The Amell Family
- Main article: Codex entry: The Amell Family
It's truly sad what happened to the Amells, isn't it? I still remember Grandmother talking about the balls that Lord Aristide used to hold at their estate and the Antivan violin players and dancers from Afsaana. No expense was spared and no one would dare miss it, lest someone think they weren't worthy of an invitation.
And then poor Revka had the child. Magical talent, running in one of Kirkwall's most prominent families? The templars had considered Lord Aristide to be viscount after Threnhold's arrest. Can you imagine the scandal had he been chosen? They whisked the child away to the Circle, and the Amells simply had no luck after that. Leandra ran off with a Fereldan mage and then Damion was accused of smuggling. Poor Lord Fausten almost bankrupted his family trying to get the charges dropped, but I hear Viscount Marlowe simply wanted the Amells out of the picture. And it worked, too, didn't it? By the time Lord Fausten got sick, there was only young Gamlen left and a mountain of debt.
I spoke to Dulci just the other day, and apparently Gamlen is now living in some Lowtown shack—sounds like the sort of character you'd cross a street to avoid! And let's not even talk about the estate.
Mother says we should remember the Amells because that sort of thing could happen to any of us. You know the old saying: "A Marcher's fortune rises and falls with the tide." If you ask me, this is just another misfortune that magic brings to honest folk. Andraste help that poor family, whatever lies in store for them.
—Excerpt from a letter written by Lady Amelie de Montfort
Andraste: Bride of the Maker
There was once a tiny fishing village on the Waking Sea that was set upon by the Tevinter Imperium, which enslaved the villagers to be sold in the markets of Minrathous, leaving behind only the old and the infirm. One of the captives was the child Andraste.
The Maker spoke. He showed her all the works of His hands: the Fade, the world, and all the creatures therein. He showed her how men had forgotten Him, lavishing devotion upon mute idols and demons, and how He had left them to their fate. But her voice had reached Him, and so captivated Him that He offered her a place at His side, that she might rule all of creation.
But Andraste would not forsake her people.
She begged the Maker to return, to save His children from the cruelty of the Imperium. Reluctantly, the Maker agreed to give man another chance.
Andraste went back to her husband, Maferath, and told him all that the Maker had revealed to her. Together, they rallied the Alamarri and marched forth against the mage-lords of the Imperium, and the Maker was with them.
The Maker's sword was creation itself: fire and flood, famine and earthquake. Everywhere they went, Andraste sang to the people of the Maker, and they heard her. The ranks of Andraste's followers grew until they were a vast tide washing over the Imperium. And when Maferath saw that the people loved Andraste and not him, a worm grew within his heart, gnawing upon it.
At last, the armies of Andraste and Maferath stood before the very gates of Minrathous, but Andraste was not with them.
For Maferath had schemed in secret to hand Andraste over to the Tevinter. For this, the Archon would give Maferath all the lands to the south of the Waking Sea.
And so, before all the armies of the Alamarri and of Tevinter, Andraste was tied to a stake and burned while her earthly husband turned his armies aside and did nothing, for his heart had been devoured. But as he watched the pyre, the Archon softened. He took pity on Andraste, and drew his sword, and granted her the mercy of a quick death.
The Maker wept for His Beloved, cursed Maferath, cursed mankind for their betrayal, and turned once again from creation, taking only Andraste with him. And Our Lady sits still at his side, where she still urges Him to take pity on His children.
—From The Sermons of Justinia II
Arlathan: Part One
Before the ages were named or numbered, our people were glorious and eternal and never-changing. Like the great oak tree, they were constant in their traditions, strong in their roots, and ever reaching for the sky.
They felt no need to rush when life was endless. They worshiped their gods for months at a time. Decisions came after decades of debate, and an introduction could last for years. From time to time, our ancestors would drift into centuries-long slumber, but this was not death, for we know they wandered the Fade in dreams.
In those ages, our people called all the land Elvhenan, which in the old Elven language means "place of our people." And at the center of the world stood the great city of Arlathan, a place of knowledge and debate, where the best of the ancient elves would go to trade knowledge, greet old friends, and settle disputes that had gone on for millennia.
But while our ancestors were caught up in the forever cycle of ages, drifting through life at what we today would consider an intolerable pace, the world outside the lush forests and ancient trees was changing.
The humans first arrived from Par Vollen to the north. Called shemlen, or "quicklings," by the ancients, the humans were pitiful creatures whose lives blinked by in an instant. When they first met the elves, the humans were brash and warlike, quick to anger and quicker to fight, with no patience for the unhurried pace of elven diplomacy.
But the humans brought worse things than war with them. Our ancestors proved susceptible to human diseases, and for the first time in history, elves died of natural causes. What's more, those elves who spent time bartering and negotiating with humans found themselves aging, tainted by the humans' brash and impatient lives. Many believed that the ancient gods had judged them unworthy of their long lives and cast them down among the quicklings. Our ancestors came to look upon the humans as parasites, which I understand is similar to the way the humans see our people in the cities. The ancient elves immediately moved to close Elvhenan off from the humans, for fear that this quickening effect would crumble the civilization.
Arlathan: Part Two
You ask what happened to Arlathan? Sadly, we do not know. Even those of us who keep the ancient lore have no record of what truly happened. What we have are accounts of the days before the fall, and a fable of the whims of the gods.
The human world was changing even as the elves slept. Clans and tribes gave way to a powerful empire called Tevinter, which—and for what reason we do not know—moved to conquer Elvhenan. When they breached the great city of Arlathan, our people, fearful of disease and loss of immortality, chose to flee rather than fight. With magic, demons, and even dragons at their behest, the Tevinter Imperium marched easily through Arlathan, destroying homes and galleries and amphitheaters that had stood for ages. Our people were corralled as slaves, and human contact quickened their veins until every captured elf turned mortal. The elves called to their ancient gods, but there was no answer.
As to why the gods didn't answer, our people left only a legend. They say that Fen'Harel, the Dread Wolf and Lord of Tricksters, approached the ancient gods of good and evil and proposed a truce. The gods of good would remove themselves to heaven, and the lords of evil would exile themselves to the abyss, neither group ever again to enter the other's lands. But the gods did not know that Fen'Harel had planned to betray them, and by the time they realized the Dread Wolf's treachery, they were sealed in their respective realms, never again to interact with the mortal world. It is a fable, to be sure, but those elves who travel the Beyond claim that Fen'Harel still roams the world of dreams, keeping watch over the gods lest they escape from their prisons.
Whatever the case, Arlathan had fallen to the very humans our people had once considered mere pests. It is said that the Tevinter magisters used their great destructive power to force the very ground to swallow Arlathan whole, destroying eons of collected knowledge, culture, and art. The whole of elven lore left only to memory.
Beyond the Veil: Spirits and Demons
- Main article: Codex entry: Beyond the Veil: Spirits and Demons
It is challenging enough for the casual observer to tell the difference between the Fade and the creatures that live within it, let alone between one type of spirit and another. In truth, there is little that distinguishes them, even for the most astute mages. Since spirits are not physical entities and are therefore not restricted to recognizable forms (or even having a form at all), one can never tell for certain what is alive and what is merely part of the scenery. (It is therefore advisable for the inexperienced researcher to greet all objects he encounters.)
Typically, we misuse the term "spirit" to refer only to the benign, or at least less malevolent, creatures of the Fade, but in truth, all the denizens of the realm beyond the Veil are spirits. As the Chant of Light notes, everything within the Fade is a mimicry of our world. (A poor imitation, for the spirits do not remotely understand what they are copying. It is no surprise that much of the Fade appears like a manuscript translated from Tevinter into Orlesian and back again by drunken initiates.)
In general, spirits are not complex. Or, rather, they are not complex as we understand such things. Each one seizes upon a single facet of human experience: Rage, hunger, compassion, hope, etc. This one idea becomes their identity. We classify as demons those spirits who identify themselves with darker human emotions and ideas.
The most common and weakest form of demon one encounters in the Fade is the rage demon. They are much like perpetually boiling kettles, for they exist only to vent hatred, but rarely have an object to hate. Somewhat above these are the hunger demons, who do little but eat or attempt to eat everything they encounter, including other demons (this is rarely successful). Then there are the sloth demons. These are the first intelligent creatures one typically finds in the Fade. They are dangerous only on those rare occasions that they can be induced to get up and do harm. Desire demons are more clever, and far more powerful, using all forms of bribery to induce mortals into their realms: Wealth, love, vengeance, whatever lies closest to your heart. The most powerful demons yet encountered are the pride demons, perhaps because they, among all their kind, most resemble men.
Blood Magic: The Forbidden School
Foul and corrupt are you
Who have taken My gift
And turned it against My children.
The ancient Tevinters did not originally consider blood magic a school of its own. Rather, they saw it as a means to achieve greater power in any school of magic. The name, of course, refers to the fact that magic of this type uses life, specifically in the form of blood, instead of mana. It was common practice, at one time, for a magister to keep a number of slaves on hand so that, should he undertake the working of a spell that was physically beyond his abilities, he could use the blood of his slaves to bolster the casting.
Over time, however, the Imperium discovered types of spells that could only be worked by blood. Although lyrium will allow a mage to send his conscious mind into the Fade, blood would allow him to find the sleeping minds of others, view their dreams, and even influence or dominate their thoughts. Just as treacherous, blood magic allows the Veil to be opened completely so that demons may physically pass through it into our world.
In Dragon Age: Origins...
The rise of the Chant of Light and the subsequent fall of the old Imperium has led to blood magic being all but stamped out—as it should be, for it poses nearly as great a danger to those who would practice it as to the world at large.
In Dragon Age II...
Thought for some time to have been stamped out in the Imperium, the practice of blood magic seems to be on the rise in recent years. The current Black Divine has lifted most of the prohibitions against dreamwalking, and so many mages in the Imperium now use it openly in the name of research.
—From The Four Schools: A Treatise, Third Edition, by First Enchanter Josephus
- Main article: Codex entry: Thedas Calendar
For most good folk, the details of our calendar have little purpose. It is useful only for telling them when the Summerday festival will be held, when the snows are expected to begin, and when the harvest must be complete. The naming of the years are a matter for historians and taxmen, and few if pressed could even tell you the reason that our current Age is named after dragons.
Each Age is exactly 100 years, with the next Age's name chosen in the 99th year. The scholars in Val Royeaux advise the Chantry of portents seen in that 99th year, and Chantry authorities pore over the research for months before the Divine announces the name of the imminent Age. The name is said to be an omen of what is to come, of what the people of Thedas will face for the next hundred years.
The current Age was not meant to be the Dragon Age. Throughout the last months of the Blessed Age, the Chantry was preparing to declare the Sun Age, named for the symbol of the Orlesian Empire, which at that time sprawled over much of the south of Thedas and controlled both Ferelden and what is now Nevarra. It was to be a celebration of Orlesian imperial glory.
But as the rebellion in Ferelden reached a head and the Battle of River Dane was about to begin, a peculiar event occurred: a rampage, the rising of a dreaded high dragon. Dragons had been thought practically extinct since the days of the Nevarran dragon hunts, and they say that to see this great beast rise from the Frostbacks was both majestic and terrifying. As the rampage began and the high dragon decimated the countryside in its search for food, the elderly Divine Faustine II abruptly declared the Dragon Age.
Some say the Divine was declaring support for Orlais in the battle against Ferelden, since the dragon is an element of the Dufayel family heraldry of King Meghren, the so-called Usurper King of Ferelden. Be that as it may, the high dragon's rampage turned towards the Orlesian side of the Frostback Mountains, killing hundreds and sending thousands more fleeing to the northern coast. The Fereldan rebels won the Battle of River Dane, ultimately securing their independence.
Many thus think that the Dragon Age will come to represent a time of violent and dramatic change for all of Thedas. It remains to be seen.
The Cardinal Rules of Magic
- Main article: Codex entry: The Cardinal Rules of Magic
You must not be under the misimpression that magic is all-powerful. There are limits, and not even the greatest mages may overcome them.
No one, for instance, has found any means of traveling—either over great distances or small ones—beyond putting one foot in front of the other. The immutable nature of the physical world prevents this. So no, you may not simply pop over to Minrathous to borrow a cup of sugar, nor may you magic the essay you "forgot" in the apprentice dormitory to your desk. You will simply have to be prepared.
Similarly, even when you send your mind into the Fade, your body remains behind. Only once has this barrier been overcome, and reputedly the spell required two-thirds of the lyrium in the Tevinter Imperium as well as the lifeblood of several hundred slaves. The results were utterly disastrous.
Finally, life is finite. A truly great healer may bring someone back from the very precipice of death, when breath and heartbeat have ceased but the spirit still clings to life. But once the spirit has fled the body, it cannot be recalled. That is no failing of your skills or power, it is simple reality.
The casteless dwarves of Orzammar have few prospects. Consigned to live in a crumbling ruin on the social and economic fringes of the mighty dwarven capital, most resort to begging, prostitution, or crime.
Just as all rivers eventually join the sea, all casteless who turn to crime eventually become part of the Carta. The Hero of Ferelden decimated the ranks of this ancient gang while rallying the dwarves to join in the battle against the Archdemon Urthemiel. Unable to recover the power they once had in Orzammar, they turned their attention "topside," using groups of surface-dwelling dwarves to smuggle weapons, lyrium, surface luxuries, people, and other goods between Orzammar and human lands.
Despite the flow of business, its members are still desperate and violent. With no strong leader to rein in their excesses, they have little sense of dwarven honor, and freely break their word, double-cross allies, and renege on deals.
The Divine is the titular head of the Chantry, although since the schism split the Imperial Chantry into its own faction there are now in fact two Divines at any one time. One Divine, informally called the White Divine, is a woman housed in the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux. The other, known as the Black Divine, is a man housed in the Argent Spire in Minrathous.
Neither Divine recognizes the existence of the other, and the informal names are considered sacrilegious. No matter the gender, a Divine is addressed as "Most Holy" or "Your Perfection."
Beneath the rank of Divine is the grand cleric. Each grand cleric presides over numerous chantries and represents the highest religious authority for their region. They travel to Val Royeaux when the College of Clerics convenes, but otherwise remain where they are assigned. All grand clerics are addressed as "Your Grace."
Beneath the grand cleric is the mother (or, in the Imperial Chantry, the father). If a mother is in charge of a particular chantry, "revered" is appended to her title. These are the priests responsible for administering to the spiritual well-being of their flock. A mother or revered mother is addressed as "Your Reverence."
Brothers and sisters form the rank and file of the Chantry and consist of three main groups: affirmed, initiates, and clerics. Affirmed are the lay-brethren of the Chantry, those regular folk who have turned to the Chantry for succor. Often they are people who have led a difficult or irreligious life and have chosen to go into seclusion, or even orphans and similar unfortunates who were raised into the Chantry life. The affirmed take care of the Chantry and are in turn afforded a life of quiet contemplation, no questions asked.
Only those folk who take vows become initiates. These are men and women in training, whether in academic knowledge or the martial skills of a warrior. All initiates receive an academic education, although only those who seek to become templars learn how to fight in addition.
Clerics are the true academics of the Chantry, those men and women who have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of knowledge. They are often found in Chantry archives, sages presiding over libraries of books and arcane knowledge. The most senior of these clerics, placed in charge of such archives, are given the title "elder," although such a rank is still beneath that of mother. All other brothers and sisters are addressed simply by noting their title before their name, such as "Brother Genitivi."
—From a guide for ambassadors from Rivain.
The City Elves
- Main article: Codex entry: The City Elves
If the Warden is a City Elf...
The humans tell tales of Andraste, and to them, she was a prophet. To our people, however, she was an inspiration. Her rebellion against Tevinter gave our people a window through which to see the sun, and we reached toward it with all our strength. The rebellion was brief but successful; even after the death of the prophetess, we fought on for independence as the human Imperium began to crumble. In the end, we won freedom and the southern land known as the Dales, and we began the Long Walk to our new homeland.
There, in the Dales, our people revived the lost lore as best we could. We called the first city Halamshiral, "end of the journey," and founded a new nation, isolated as elves were meant to be, this time patrolled by an order of Emerald Knights charged with watching the borders for trouble from humans.
But you already know that something went wrong. A small elven raiding party attacked the nearby human village of Red Crossing, an act of anger that prompted the Chantry to retaliate and, with their superior numbers, conquer the Dales.
We were not enslaved as we had been before, but our worship of the ancient gods was now forbidden. We were allowed to live among the humans only as second-class citizens who worshipped their Maker, forgetting once more the scraps of lore we had maintained through the centuries.
If the Warden is a Dalish Elf...
It is hard to tell our children about those of our people who have decided to live in the shemlen's cities. They ask, "Why would anyone want to be treated like that?" And sometimes I do not know what to say. I do not understand it myself. They were freed, but they have returned to live in the service of their former masters. They are housed like animals in walled sections of the shemlen's cities. They do the meanest of tasks and are rewarded with nothing. Why? I do not know.
We tell the children that the elvhen are strong, that we are a proud people, but they hear of these city elves who choose to toil under the humans' heavy hand. How do we teach them pride when they know there are others who would allow themselves to be trampled into the dust? So we tell them that these city elves are to be pitied, that they have given up on their people, given up their heritage. We tell them that some people are so used to being controlled that, when freed, they know not what to do with themselves. They are weak and afraid--afraid of the unfamiliar, afraid of our life of wandering. Above all, they are afraid even to hope that one day we may have a home of our own.
If the Warden is a not a City nor Dalish elf or obtained in Dragon Age II...
When the holy Exalted March of the Dales resulted in the dissolution of the elven kingdom, leaving a great many elves homeless once again, the Divine Renata I declared that all lands loyal to the Chantry must give the elves refuge within their own walls. Considering the atrocities committed by the elves at Red Crossing, this was a great testament to the Chantry's charity. There was one condition, however--the elves were to lay aside their pagan gods and live under the rule of the Chantry.
Some of the elves refused our goodwill. They banded together to form the wandering Dalish elves, keeping their old elven ways--and their hatred of humans--alive. To this day, Dalish elves still terrorize those of us who stray too close to their camps. Most of the elves, however, saw that it was wisest to live under the protection of humans.
And so we took the elves into our cities and tried to integrate them. We invited them into our own homes and gave them jobs as servants and farmhands. Here, in Denerim, the elves even have their own quarter, governed by an elven keeper. Most have proven to be productive members of society. Still, a small segment of the elven community remains dissatisfied. These troublemakers and malcontents roam the streets causing mayhem, rebelling against authority and making a general nuisance of themselves.
There are many criminal empires within the city, some of which have been around since the Imperium used Kirkwall as a hub in the slave trade. Alliances, spying, manipulation, betrayal, and open warfare is all commonplace in the never-ending struggle for power.
The Coterie is a thieves' guild that has been around for almost a century, but until recently was never a major player in the underworld. Some twenty years ago, the strongest of the local criminal empires was an ancient guild known as the Sabrathan, but its leader was betrayed from within, and during the turmoil the Coterie made a successful grab for power.
Since then, they've sunk their claws into almost every level of Kirkwall, including the city guard, the Dwarven Merchants Guild, and some of the most influential citizens in the city. It's safe to say that the Coterie gets a slice of every pie, and very little goes on in Kirkwall that escapes their notice.
The Dalish Elves
- Main article: Codex entry: The Dalish Elves
Obtained in Dragon Age II or if the Warden/ the Inquisitor is a Dalish elf...
In time, the human empires will crumble. We have seen it happen countless times. Until then, we wait, we keep to the wild border lands, we raise halla and build aravels and present a moving target to the humans around us. We try to keep hold of the old ways, to relearn what was forgotten.
We call to the ancient gods, although they do not answer and have not heard us since before the fall of Arlathan, so that one day they might remember us: Elgar'nan the Eldest of the Sun and He Who Overthrew His Father, Mythal the Protector, Fen'Harel the Dread Wolf, Andruil the Huntress, Falon'Din the Friend of the Dead, Dirthamen the Keeper of Secrets, Ghilan'nain the Mother of Halla, June the Master of Crafts, and Sylaise the Hearthkeeper.
We gather every ten years for the Arlathvhen, to retell the ancient stories and keep them alive. For when the human kingdoms are gone, we must be ready to teach the others what it means to be elves.
If the Warden/ the Inquisitor is not a Dalish elf...
I took the road north from Val Royeaux toward Nevarra with a merchant caravan. A scant two days past the Orlesian border, we were beset by bandits. They struck without warning from the cover of the trees, hammering our wagons with arrows, killing most of the caravan guards instantly. The few who survived the arrow storm drew their blades and charged into the trees after our attackers. We heard screams muffled by the forest, and then nothing more of those men.
After a long silence, the bandits appeared. Elves covered in tattoos and dressed in hides, they looted all the supplies and valuables they could carry from the merchants and disappeared back into the trees.
These, I was informed later, were the Dalish, the wild elves who lurk in the wilderness on the fringes of settled lands, preying upon travelers and isolated farmers. These wild elves have reverted to the worship of their false gods and are rumored to practice their own form of magic, rejecting all human society.
- Main article: Codex entry: Darkspawn
If the Warden is a dwarf...
The surfacers claim that the first darkspawn fell from heaven. They spin tales of magic and sin. But the Children of the Stone know better. The darkspawn rose up out of the earth. For it was in the Deep Roads they first appeared. Creatures in our own likeness, armed and armored, but with no more intelligence than tezpadam, bestial and savage.
At first they were few, easily hunted and slain by our warriors. But in the recesses of the Deep Roads, they grew in numbers and in courage. Our distant thaigs came under attack, and now it was the army, not a few warriors, being sent to deal with the creatures. Victories still came easily, though, and we thought the threat would soon be over.
We were wrong.
Those who had sought to claim
Heaven by violence destroyed it. What was
Golden and pure turned black.
Those who had once been mage-lords,
The brightest of their age,
Were no longer men, but monsters.
No one knows where the darkspawn come from. A dark mockery of men, in the darkest places they thrive, growing in numbers as a plague of locusts will. In raids, they will often take captives, dragging their victims alive into the Deep Roads, but most evidence suggests that these are eaten. Like spiders, it seems darkspawn prefer their food still breathing. Perhaps they are simply spawned by the darkness. Certainly, we know that evil has no trouble perpetuating itself.
The last Blight was in the Age of Towers, striking once again at the heart of Tevinter, spreading south into Orlais and east into the Free Marches. The plagues spread as far as Ferelden, but the withering and twisting of the land stopped well beyond our borders. Here, darkspawn have never been more than the stuff of legends. In the northern lands, however, particularly Tevinter and the Anderfels, they say darkspawn haunt the hinterlands, preying on outlying farmers and isolated villages, a constant threat.
Death of a Templar
- Main article: Codex entry: Death of a Templar
The dry, dusty earth swallows up salty drops that splatter its surface. A tiny insect pauses, sensing the vibrations, and scurries off, leaving behind its invisible enemy. As the drops fall, the dark circles merge together, expressing a mirror to their creator.
The primal emotions of bloodlust and sorrow blend into a lethal cocktail that breaks the strongest of men. The jurisdiction of strength must be left to the spirit, not arm nor chest. Only the wisest turn to His inner sanctuary to partition the mind from an all-consuming madness. Seductive voices whispering promise of glory waiting down the weaker path of the flesh, bringing a death far worse than that of hot lead or steel. These blank, hollow promises will echo the unfathomable eternally.
Living comfortably amongst material possessions, it is easy to misunderstand the true meaning of uncontrollable hate. Failing to understand the power of fighting against pure, unfaltering beliefs, against foes that listen only to their soul. Uncontrollable hate. Influenced and thus removed from innocence. The scar is permanent and internal.
The rain, now red, feeds the debt owed for actions passed. Seeking further into the earth, as the mind draws slower. What was it that drew him, himself to this situation? The mind ebbs and parts to a lingering memory of true innocence. He entered war as a newborn enters the world, unknowing of both the horrors and light of the Maker that will save him.
The sound of metal sliding along leather comes from above him. From the second he was born, to his soon-to-be dying breath, his mind was processing and analyzing knowledge and experiences. It is true that he thought he could be wise in his own eyes, but only the most humble recognizes that he knows very little. Bias, speculation and all of false pretenses make way to the sound of the sweeping steel, and then finally, his soul, as ready as his eyes dry from this final understanding, enters His promise of its purist form.
- Main article: Codex entry: Deathroot
- See also: Deathroot, Deathroot (Origins), Deathroot (Dragon Age II), Deathroot (Inquisition), Drugs and alcohol, Fauna and flora
Deathroot has been used in magic and potion making for centuries. It's a fragile-looking plant with a thin stalk and purple flowers, which fruits once a year developing bright red fleshy pods that cause disorientation and dizziness if ingested.
There are two varieties. The more common Arcanist Deathroot was first found by Archon Hadrianus when he discovered it growing on several dead slaves. The other, Lunatic's Deathroot, is most closely associated with the story of the courtesan Melusine, who sought revenge on a powerful magister and his family. She harvested the plant, baked it into small pies for the magister's banquet, and presented them to the magister at a banquet. All the guests were seized by terrifying hallucinations after eating the pies and tore each other to pieces.
—An excerpt from The Botanical Compendium, by Ines Arancia, botanist
- Main article: Codex entry: Deep Mushroom
- See also: Deep mushroom, Deep Mushroom (Origins), Deep Mushroom (Dragon Age II), Deep Mushroom (Inquisition), Fauna and flora
"Deep mushroom" refers to the entire group of fungi that grows underground in caves and many parts of the dwarven Deep Roads. Collection can be a dangerous task, as the Deep Roads are often infested with darkspawn. Because of this, dwarven merchants often recruit "casteless" hirelings for the job, and pay them a meager percentage of what they earn selling the mushrooms to surfacers.
The most common varieties used in the herbalist's trade are the Blightcap, Ghoul's Mushroom, and Brimstone Mushroom, almost all of which tend to carry the darkspawn's corruption. While they cannot transmit the disease, this trait often makes them quite poisonous. Deep mushrooms should only be handled by experienced herbalists and should never be consumed without first being adequately cleaned and prepared. Careless consumption has been known to cause insanity, severe abdominal cramping, and even death.
—An excerpt from The Botanical Compendium, by Ines Arancia, botanist
There isn't a dwarf alive who remembers the Deep Roads as they once were. They were the network of tunnels that joined the thaigs together. To be honest, it isn't even right to give them such a simple term as "tunnels": They are works of art, with centuries of planning demonstrated in the geometry of their walls, with the statues of the Paragons that watch over travelers, with the flow of lava that keeps the Deep Roads lit and warm. The cloudgazers up on the surface talk of the Imperial Highway built by the magisters of old, a raised walkway that crossed thousands of miles, something that could only have been built by magic. Perhaps it is comparable to the Deep Roads, although we dwarves didn't need magic.
I suppose it doesn't matter any more. The darkspawn rule the Deep Roads now. When Orzammar sealed off the entrances to the Deep Roads, abandoning everything that lay out there, we handed over the kingdom-that-was to those black bastards forever. To think that there are genlocks crawling over Bownammar now, tearing down our statues and defiling our greatest works! Corruption covers everything we built out there. Every dwarf who goes out and comes back says that it gets worse with each passing year, the foulness spread a little further.
And the cloudgazers think the darkspawn are gone just because they aren't spilling out onto the surface? Huh. One day, when Orzammar is gone for good, they'll find out differently. Those darkspawn won't have anywhere else to go but up, and they'll do it. The surface folk will have themselves a Blight that will never end.
- Main article: Codex entry: Demonic Possession
Why do demons seek to possess the living?
History claims they are malevolent spirits, the first children of the Maker, angry at their creator for turning from them and jealous of those creations he considered superior. They stare across the Veil at the living and do not understand what they see, yet they know they crave it. They desire life, they pull the living across the Veil when they sleep and prey on their psyche with nightmares. Whenever they can, they cross the Veil into our world to possess it outright.
We know that any demon will seek to possess a mage, and upon doing so will create an abomination. Most of the world does not know, however, that the strength of an abomination depends entirely on the power of the demon that possesses the mage. This is true, in fact, of all possessed creatures. One demon is not the same as any other.
Demons can, for instance, be classified. Enchanter Brahm's categorization of demons into that portion of the psyche they primarily prey upon has held since the Tower Age.
According to Brahm, the weakest and most common of demons are those of rage. They are the least intelligent and most prone to violent outbursts against the living. They expend their energies quickly, the most powerful of them exhibiting great strength and occasionally the ability to generate fire.
Next are the demons of hunger. In a living host they become cannibals and vampires, and within the dead they feed upon the living. Theirs are the powers of draining, both of life force and of mana.
Next are the demons of sloth, the first on Brahm's scale that are capable of true intelligence. In its true form, this demon is known as a shade, a thing which is nearly indistinct and invisible, for such is sloth's nature. It hides and stalks, unaware, and when confronted, it sows fatigue and apathy.
Demons of desire are amongst the most powerful, and are the ones most likely to seek out the living and actively trick them into a deal. These demons will exploit anything that can be coveted—wealth, power, lust—and they will always end up getting far more than they give. A desire demon's province is that of illusions and mind control.
Strongest of all demons are those of pride. These are the most feared creatures to loose upon the world: Masters of magic and in possession of vast intellect, they are the true schemers. It is they who seek most strongly to possess mages, and will bring other demons across the Veil in numbers to achieve their own ends—although what that might be has never been discovered. A greater pride demon, brought across the Veil, would threaten the entire world.
- Main article: Codex entry: Dragon's Blood
Collecting dragon's blood is extremely difficult, even for the most accomplished dragon hunter. First, one must locate the increasingly rare creatures. Second, one must bleed it. However, I believe that at the moment of death, the blood loses something special—a certain fiery essence, perhaps. Of course, bleeding a live dragon is quite tricky.
Dragon's blood has wide variety of uses, both magical and culinary. It's an important component of rune-crafting and those like my great-grandfather enjoy a sprinkling of the powdered stuff to their food at the dinner table.
—From Discovering Dragon's Blood: Potions, Tinctures, and Spicy Sauces, by Ferdinand Pentaghast
The Dwarven Merchants Guild
The Dwarven Merchants' Guild is, without question, the most powerful surface dwarf institution. It has become what the Assembly is to the people of Orzammar: a prestigious club that everyone wants to belong to and the surest means to obtain power and fortune. The guild's leaders can always trace their lineage back to Noble or Merchant Caste houses in Orzammar. The guild regulates trade between the dwarven city and the surface and so quietly controls the entire economy of Orzammar, though the ruling king or Assembly would never admit it.
The guild is heavily conservative, but has started to get more of the ascendants—especially banking families—into its membership, which has caused no small amount of infighting in the guild.
—From The Dowager's Field Guide to Good Society, by Lady Alcyone
Elfroot was first used by the elves of Arlathan, hence the name. The root gave their medicines particular efficacy, so when the Imperium conquered the elves, the magisters adopted its use and its popularity spread to all corners of the empire.
Elfroot is a hardy plant with large green leaves that grows wild in many places. It's so common that it tends to show up in most gardens and fields, almost like a weed. Unlike a weed, however, most people appreciate having access to the wonderful little plant. The roots can be used with very little preparation. Rubbing some of the juice on a wound, for example, will speed up healing and numb pain. And chewing on a slice of root treats minor ailments like indigestion, flatulence, and hoarse throats.
There are several varieties, but the most useful for herbalists are the Bitter, Gossamer, and Royal Elfroots.
—An excerpt from The Botanical Compendium by Ines Arancia, botanist
Embriums are flowers from the orchid family. Its therapeutic qualities were actually discovered because of the embrium's exceptional beauty.
The beloved daughter of Lord Ignace Poulenc of Orlais fell victim to a terrible sickness of the lungs, which her healers were unable to cure. Thinking the girl would soon perish, her parents surrounded her bed with brightly colored flowers, hoping that they would bring some warmth and cheer in her last days. Oddly enough, the girl began to recover from the illness, and grew stronger each day. Her parents were baffled, but overjoyed. The healers eventually learned that the fragrance of one of the flowers eased the child's breathing. The flower was an embrium, and later became known as the Salubrious Embrium.
The other variant that has certain magical properties is known as Dark Embrium.
—An excerpt from The Botanical Compendium by Ines Arancia, botanist
The Enigma of Kirkwall
What answers does Kirkwall hold? Why look here instead of Perivantium or Vol Dorma? The Imperium does not give up its secrets easily. Even with the magisters centuries dead, our journey is perilous. Here on the dock of the Gallows, we renew our vows.
And should we fail, search for the markings of the Band of Three.
—A tattered letter found under a cobblestone. It has curious markings and is signed, "The Band of Three"
The viscount is suspicious, but the bribe was sufficient to gain access to the restricted section of the archives. The money would have been better spent elsewhere, the archives being almost devoid of Imperium-era records.
When the slaves revolted, they hunted magisters and burned the city—at least the parts that could be burned. One account says that the streets were littered with piles of scrolls and books set aflame.
Is our quest futile? Did the slaves destroy the answer? As Maferath's armies toppled the Imperium, they sent three magisters and their legions here. They never arrived. But why march here of all places? What were they coming here for?
—Behind a panel with curious markings, signed, "The Band of Three"
It is as we thought. The quarries of Kirkwall were found after the city was sacked by the Imperium and after they started constructing the city. The Imperium found the mineral wealth, not the indigenous people. The histories give conflicting accounts on who lived here before the Imperium. Some say the Alamarri. Some say the Daefads. We do know it was a barbarian people who had little need of the metals in the hills.
So why did the Imperium come here in such force? It is hard to disprove Brother Mikhel's theory that the natural harbor would be important for their armies, but magisters ruled, not common men. What barrier would a simple sea pose to them? The wars with the Alamarri wouldn't start until centuries later.
Each clue we find only leads to more questions, but we will not give up.
—Underneath a pile of small boulders carved with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
In the back alleys of Lowtown you can find extraordinary things. Priceless tomes of knowledge can be bought with a handful of gold: The Chant of Archon Lovias, a whole chapter of the Midnight Compendium. Some of these books were thought lost forever!
And these are no forgeries. I've verified their authenticity myself. The fences have no inkling that what they're selling has value. Where did these books come from?
After several failed attempts, I got my answer underneath the city. There is a hive of hidden passages in Kirkwall's sewers. Now and then a lucky "sewer rat" comes across an unlooted chamber, and then a cache of ancient Tevinter relics spreads through the black market. We must search below the city.
—Underneath a cobblestone with curious markings, faintly glowing. It is signed, "The Band of Three"
A maze of caves, sewers, and hidden passages! We found three Tevinter chambers already looted, but today (tonight?) we found one closed. It was a small cell containing a few trinkets and a common tome, but it symbolizes hope. The magisters had hundreds of mages deep below Kirkwall. They lived and researched here, far from the scrutiny of common men.
Many ancient cities specialized in arcane research, but why did Kirkwall hide its efforts here? Why go to such great pains to keep it out of sight? Were they a cabal of renegade magisters? Or was this a special project of the archon?
—Hidden in a small fissure near curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
A master mason made a comment that set my mind afire. She said that of all the cities she's worked in, Kirkwall was the most difficult, and that the city is almost literally a maze. Recollecting my first years in Kirkwall, I have to agree. Getting lost was commonplace. The city was a sprawling mess.
The mason showed me a plan of the city, and my heart skipped a beat. There were patterns in the intersections, back alleys, and boulevards. Some magisters believed in the power of symbols or shapes. In the oldest parts of the city, one can make out the outlines of glyphs in the very streets! What manner of magic is this?
—Underneath a cobblestone with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
Ironically, the Chantry has the best records on the Imperium occupation that we've found—none of the forbidden texts, which have undoubtedly been destroyed, but many administrative records. In their cold, numbered rows, misery is told. Thousands of slaves passed through the Gallows to work the mines or to be shipped elsewhere.
The list of elven children is numbing: "three maimed, two mute, and four serviceable." These numbers don't add up. For every thousand slaves that came to Kirkwall, a hundred disappeared. I checked the tax rolls, as well, and the discrepancy exists there, too, if one has the wit to see it: 203 slaves went missing in the Imperium's 312th year! That's just one year. Other records showed similar discrepancies. Over centuries, practically a whole civilization of slaves simply disappeared.
—Hidden inside the cover of a book with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
After pursuing another dead end, we were attacked by maleficarum. I fear V. will not make it. The fences must have tipped them off. Are they cultists trying to protect the answer? Are they after it themselves? Or was it a random attack?
The mages of Kirkwall have a more troubled history than those in other Circles. A greater percentage of them do not survive the Harrowing, and a greater percentage turn to blood magic—almost double that of Starkhaven or Ostwick. Is there a secret fraternity delving into the Tevinter secrets of this city?
Either way, we must be more careful, lest we become the Band of One. Or None.
—Hidden under a cobblestone with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
Access has not been easy, and I fear my disguise will not bear great scrutiny. But I saw the records the templars say do not exist. The blood of countless slaves was spilled beneath the city in sacrifice. Whole buildings were built upon lakes of blood. The sewers have grooves where blood would flow, all leading down. The scale is hard to fathom.
A blood mage can channel great power from a simple cut. At least a thousand unfortunates died here every year for centuries. For what ungodly purpose would one need so much power?
I must retreat now before I am uncovered. But the answer is close.
—Behind a panel with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
It is well known that the Veil is thin in Kirkwall, small wonder given the suffering in the city. But we've discovered the magisters were deliberately thinning it even further. Beneath the city, demons can contact even normal men. Did they seek the Black City to compound the madness of their previous efforts? Or was it something else? We've found a chamber where the Veil is at its thinnest, long-since looted, but the power is still there. Tonight we will go there. Pray for us. Pray for us all.
—Hidden behind a rock with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
A recent trove was uncovered. This one was big, perhaps the archon's visitation chambers.
And a flood of tomes is on the market. Even the simple fences know something is amiss—they've raised their prices at the frenzy of collectors. One said he sold a copy of the Fell Grimoire! I doubt he would lie; how could he know that tome is a mere legend?
If that is real, then what of the Forgotten Ones? This journey has taken us to many strange places, and made us re-evaluate many former truths. Where will it end?
—Hidden under a cobblestone with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
We went to the center of it all. F. is dead and I am alone and injured. I must go back and put an end to it. The maddening thing is there is still no answer. But the Forgotten One, or demon or whatever it is, must be destroyed. I fear one may already be unbound.
I foreswear my oaths. The magister's lore must be burned and the ashes scattered. No good can come of it. And Maker help us if someone does answer what we could not.
—Hidden near curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
The study of the Fade is as old as humankind. For so long as men have dreamed, we have walked its twisting paths, sometimes catching a glimpse of the city at its heart. Always as close as our own thoughts, but impossibly separated from our world.
The Tevinter Imperium once spent vast fortunes of gold, lyrium, and human slaves in an effort to map the terrain of the Fade, an ultimately futile endeavor. Although portions of it belong to powerful spirits, all of the Fade is in constant flux. The Imperium succeeded in finding the disparate and ever-shifting realms of a dozen demon lords, as well as cataloging a few hundred types of spirits, before they were forced to abandon the project.
The relationship of dreamers to the Fade is complex. Even when entering the Fade through the use of lyrium, mortals are not able to control or affect it. The spirits who dwell there, however, can, and as the Chantry teaches us, the great flaw of the spirits is that they have neither imagination nor ambition. They create what they see through their sleeping visitors, building elaborate copies of our cities, people, and events, which, like the reflections in a mirror, ultimately lack context or life of their own. Even the most powerful demons merely plagiarize the worst thoughts and fears of mortals, and build their realms with no other ambition than to taste life.
- Main article: Codex entry: Felandaris
- See also: Felandaris, Felandaris (Dragon Age II), Felandaris (Inquisition), Fauna and flora
Felandaris is easily identified. It's a twisted, wicked-looking shrub with long, thorny shoots, and no leaves: a skeletal hand, reaching out from an unmarked grave. Many swear the plant radiates a palpable aura of malevolence, so it comes as no surprise that it unnerves many a junior herbalist.
—An excerpt from The Botanical Compendium by Ines Arancia, botanist
Tarohne's Book of Blood
Was Dabbon Hait one mage? Or a full cabal? I found another reference to Xebenkeck in his Black Journal:
"The blood feeds, the blood nourishes.
In blood, the call is heard. In blood, the deal is made.
My master bathed in a river of blood,
Then the Great Xebenkeck came!"
In 4:2 Black is the oldest account of the Forbidden Ones, though most mages consider them a hoax. But someone had to make that first deal, that first contact with the other side. From the unknown mage's account:
"The first of the magus cast themselves deep in the Fade in search of answers and power, always power. They found the forbidden ones—Xebenkeck, Imshael, Gaxkang the Unbound, and The Formless One. Many conversations were had and much of the fabric of the world revealed. And thus the magic of blood was born."
Even those who consider this folly dare not utter these names.
Everything you learned was a lie. Andraste was a deluded fool. The Maker is a hoax. There is far more evidence of the Forbidden Ones and demons than has been gathered over a thousand years of a fictitious god.
Demons are not enemies—they are tools to be used. Extract what secrets you can and teach others. Some of us will die, some will be corrupted. But each victory is another pieces of the truth we uncover.
Tarohne's Beginnings II
Inside the grimoire's pages were such secrets. A mage's rightful place is not under the heel of the templars. We are masters of the elements. We call forth the spirits themselves. As far as we have advanced, the ancient Tevinter mages knew so much more... and even they were only starting their journey to understand the nature of our world.
We were never meant to walk among mortal men. We were meant to command them.
The Fell Grimoire holds the names of power. It holds the key to their summoning. Xebenkeck will return. He will feast on the blood of a thousand of my enemies. It is inevitable!
Excerpt from The Last Letters of Tarohne
I have copied the grimoire and hidden it. It must live on. It is the signpost of The Path, and The Path never dies. I have set guardians along it, but you must overcome them. Read the signs, my brothers and sisters. For even if my enemies destroy me, together we cannot fail. There are secrets undreamt of deep in the Fade. Therein lies our destiny—our salvation.
The Founding of the Chantry
- Main article: Codex entry: The Founding of the Chantry
- See also: Orlesian Chantry, Andrastianism, Maker
Kordilius [sic] Drakon, king of the city-state of Orlais, was a man of uncommon ambition. In the year -15 Ancient, the young king began construction of a great temple dedicated to the Maker, and declared that by its completion he would not only have united the warring city-states of the south, he would have brought Andrastian belief to the world.
In -3 Ancient, the temple was completed. There, in its heart, Drakon knelt before the eternal flame of Andraste and was crowned ruler of the Empire of Orlais. His first act as Emperor: To declare the Chantry as the established Andrastian religion of the Empire.
It took three years and several hundred votes before Olessa of Montsimmard was elected to lead the new Chantry. Upon her coronation as Divine, she took the name Justinia, in honor of the disciple who recorded Andraste's songs. In that moment, the ancient era ended and the Divine Age began.
- Main article: Codex entry: Glitterdust
Glitterdust is the powdered form of a rock found along the Wounded Coast. When explorers brought the sparkling rock to the markets of the Free Marches, it became immediately popular among wealthy ladies who crushed it and applied the powder to their faces. The added brightness and lustre to the skin, however, soon paled in comparison to the developing rash and coughing fits.
As it turned out, glitterdust is dangerous if ingested or inhaled. It's also extremely flammable, as several ladies discovered after powdering their hair while standing next to a candle. Unfortunately, this resulted in a dozen deaths by conflagration.
These days, glitterdust is used sparingly, and only by experienced alchemists. The most common form of the substance is Volatile Glitterdust. If gathered from caves where darkspawn dwell, the rock produces a powder known as Tainted Glitterdust.
The Grey Wardens
- Main article: Codex entry: The Grey Wardens
The first Blight had already raged for 90 years. The world was in chaos. A god had risen, twisted and corrupted. The remaining gods of Tevinter were silent, withdrawn. What writing we have recovered from those times is filled with despair, for everyone believed, from the greatest archons to the lowliest slaves, that the world was coming to an end.
At Weisshaupt fortress in the desolate Anderfels, a meeting transpired. Soldiers of the Imperium, seasoned veterans who had known nothing their entire lifetimes except hopeless war, came together. When they left Weisshaupt, they had renounced their oaths to the Imperium. They were soldiers no longer: They were the Grey Wardens.
The Wardens began an aggressive campaign against the Blight, striking back against the darkspawn, reclaiming lands given up for lost. The Blight was far from over, but their victories brought notice, and soon they received aid from every nation in Thedas.
They grew in number as well as reputation. Finally, in the year 992 of the Tevinter Imperium, upon the Silent Plains, they met the archdemon Dumat in battle. A third of all the armies of northern Thedas were lost to the fighting, but Dumat fell and the darkspawn fled back underground.
Even that was not the end.
The Imperium once revered seven gods: Dumat, Zazikel, Toth, Andoral, Razikale, Lusacan, and Urthemiel. Four have risen as archdemons. The Grey Wardens have kept watch through the ages, well aware that peace is fleeting, and that their war continues until the last of the dragon-gods is gone.
Hierarchy of the Circle
- Main article: Codex entry: Hierarchy of the Circle
It is no simple matter, safeguarding ordinary men from mages, and mages from themselves. Each Circle tower must have some measure of self-government, for it is ever the Maker's will that men be given the power to take responsibility for our own actions: To sin and fail, as well as to achieve the highest grace and glory on our own strength.
You, who will be tasked with the protection of the Circle, must be aware of its workings. The first enchanter is the heart of any tower. He will determine the course his Circle will take, he will choose which apprentices may be tested and made full mages, and you will work most closely with him.
Assisting the first enchanter will be the senior enchanters, a small council of the most trusted and experienced magi in the tower. From this group, the next first enchanter is always chosen. Beneath the council are the enchanters. These are the teachers and mentors of the tower, and you must get to know them in order to keep your finger on the pulse of the Circle, for the enchanters will always know what is happening among the children.
All those who have passed their Harrowing but have not taken apprentices are mages. This is where most trouble in a Circle lies, in the idleness and inexperience of youth. The untested apprentices are the most numerous denizens of any tower, but they more often pose threats to themselves, due to their lack of training, than to anyone else.
History of Kirkwall: Chapter 1
It's difficult for many to comprehend today, but there was a time when Kirkwall was believed to be the very edge of the world.
It was Emerius then, named after its founder Magister Emerius Krayvan, and it was but one outpost on the very fringe of the Tevinter Imperium. There the magister's serfs worked the quarries for the jet stone needed for the mighty temples of Minrathous. After a slave rebellion nearly burned the temple to the ground in the great city, it was determined that a center for the slave trade would need to be established well away from the more civilized parts of the Imperium. (Though this account may be exaggerated, since the notorious Vanarius Issar narrowly escaped assassination at the hands of an elven slave at the time.)
Because the new slave outpost would become wealthy beyond imagining, competition among prospects reportedly took over twenty years to resolve, resulting in great bloodshed in the frontier, well away from the archon's eyes. Magister took arms against magister, mostly in the form of small armies of serfs and mercenaries. Over half the slaves in existence allegedly died in these battles before Emerius was finally chosen, thanks to the marriage of Krayvan's son to the archon's daughter.
Within a mere decade, the mighty fortress was erected on the cliff where Kirkwall now stands. Over one million slaves passed through its gates before the Imperium eventually fell, an unimaginable number by today's standards. The Krayvan family itself became patrons of the next three archons and was one of the driving forces behind the extension of the Imperial Highway into the Fereldan Valley, a move that would cost them considerable political influence after the resistance of the Alamarri tribes. During its height, Emerius was a jewel to rival the mightiest of the Imperial cities and the greatest center of civilization outside Tevinter.
History of Kirkwall: Chapter 2
- Main article: Codex entry: History of Kirkwall: Chapter 2
As the Imperium's borders slowly receded after the devastation of the First Blight and the subsequently barbarian invasion, many outposts in the area, known today as the Free Marches, were cut off from centers of power. Numerous warlords tried consolidating the region into a single kingdom, but resistance prevailed. Emerius held out for almost a century until it fell to a slave revolt in 25 Ancient. It was not the first such revolt Emerius suffered, but it was the last.
It started when an Alamarri slave named Known Radun began earning popularity and power by pushing for better conditions. Radun's growing influence prevented the magisters from touching him, but eventually they had him poisoned. Furious, a group of Radun's supporters stormed the Gallows and were massacred, and so began a bloody yearlong rebellion.
The city burned, and wealthy Hightown was sacked. The magisters hung before cheering crowds. Emerius assumed the new name of Kirkwall, "kirk" meaning "black," after its jet stone cliffs. The new city plunged into anarchy for over a decade, and its defenses fell into ruin. Kirkwall has been conquered many times since, the city's own independence suffering since the freeing of its slaves.
History of Kirkwall: Chapter 3
- Main article: Codex entry: History of Kirkwall: Chapter 3
The collected nations of Thedas were attempting to drive the Qunari from the northern mainland once and for all. Qunari armies were on the retreat, but in a desperate gamble, their fleet circled around the Amaranthine coast and landed a great force near the Marcher city of Ostwick. Their plan was to overwhelm the Marcher cities of Starkhaven and Kirkwall, Starkhaven to block the roads leading north, and Kirkwall to block ships on the Waking Sea coming from Orlais, all in an effort to deny supplies to the Thedas armies assaulting Rivain. The attack on Starkhaven eventually failed, but Kirkwall was attacked in a daring night raid where the Qunari used their leashed saarebas mages in an unprecedented display of sorcery. The walls were torn down and the city was taken, and for the next four years, Kirkwall endured the most brutal occupation in its history.
Writings from that time are scarce. It was not until after the city was freed that the Qunari's deeds came to light: children taken from families, forced conversion to the Qunari religion, and brutal labor camps. It's ironic that the old slave quarters of Lowtown, still intact after centuries, provided the perfect means for the Qunari to control the city's people. When the famous Orlesian chevalier, Ser Michel Lafaille, rode into the city after finally defeating the Qunari defenders, he wrote, "Kirkwall is full of people with empty eyes that have had all independent thought driven from them." When Lafaille was appointed the city's first viscount by the emperor in 7:60 Storm, he made it his mission to undo the religious conditioning. The Lafaille bloodline remained popular enough that when the city finally rebelled against Orlesian rule in 8:05 Blessed, "viscount" remained the enduring title for Kirkwall's rulers despite its origin.
History of Kirkwall: Chapter 4
Since this was followed by a civil war in Antiva (the much-maligned "Three Queens" era) and a coup in the Tevinter Imperium, many thought that the Dragon Age would bring devastating change. Perhaps this was a hasty estimate, but it was true for Kirkwall. Viscount Chivalry Threnhold was a vicious thug who took power through a campaign of intimidation, and his son Perrin who succeeded him in 9:14 Dragon Age was even worse.
Taxes were crippling and Perrin Threnhold used the ancient chains extending from "the Twins" standing at Kirkwall's harbor—unused since the New Exalted Marches—to block sea traffic and charge exorbitant fees from Orlesian ships. The Empire threatened invasion following the closure of the Waking Sea passage, and for the first time, the Chantry used the templars to pressure the viscount. Until that point, the templars had done nothing to counter the Threnholds even though, as the largest armed force in Kirkwall, they could have. Knight-Commander Guylian's only written comment was in a letter to Divine Beatrix III: "It is not our place to interfere in political affairs. We are here to safeguard the city against magic, not against itself." The divine, as a friend to the emperor, clearly had other ideas.
In response, Viscount Perrin hired a mercenary army, forcing a showdown with the templars. They stormed the Gallows and hung Knight-Commander Guylian, igniting a series of battles that ended with Perrin's arrest and the last of his family's rule. The templars were hailed as heroes, and even though they wished to remain out of Kirkwall's affairs, it was now forced upon them. Knight-Commander Meredith appointed Lord Marlowe Dumar as the new viscount in 9:21 Dragon and she has remained influential in the city's rule ever since.
—From Kirkwall: the City of Chains, by Brother Genitivi, 9:24 Dragon
The History of the Chantry: Chapter 1 - The Imperium in flames
- Main article: Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 1
- See also: Orlesian Chantry, Andrastianism
The first Blight devastated the Tevinter Imperium. Not only had the darkspawn ravaged the countryside, but Tevinter citizens had to face the fact that their own gods had turned against them. Dumat, the Old God once known as the Dragon of Silence, had risen to silence the world, and despite the frenzied pleas for help, the other Old Gods did nothing. The people of the Imperium began to question their faith, murdering priests and burning temples to punish their gods for not returning to help.
In those days, even after the devastation of the first Blight, the Imperium stretched across the known world. Fringed with barbarian tribes, the Imperium was well prepared for invasions and attacks from without. Fitting, then, that the story of its downfall begins from within.
The people of the far northern and eastern reaches of the Imperium rose up against their powerful overlords in rebellion. The Tevinter magisters summoned demons to put down these small rebellions, leaving corpses to burn as examples to all who would dare revolt. The Imperium began to tear itself apart from within, throngs of angry and disillusioned citizens doing what centuries of opposing armies could not. But the magisters were confident in their power, and they could not imagine surviving a Blight only to be destroyed by their own subjects.
Even after the Blight, Tevinter commanded an army larger than that of any other organized nation in Thedas, but that army was scattered and its morale dwindling. The ruin of Tevinter was such that the Alamarri barbarians, who had spread their clans and holds over the wilderness of the Ferelden Valley at the far southeast edge of the Imperium, saw weakness in their enemy, and, after an age of oppression, embarked on a campaign not only to free their own lands, but to bring down mighty Tevinter as well.
The History of the Chantry: Chapter 2 - A prophet born
- Main article: Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 2
- See also: Orlesian Chantry, Andrastianism
When the prophet Andraste and her husband Maferath arrived at the head of their barbarian horde, southern Tevinter was thrown into chaos. The Imperium had defended against invasions in the past, but now they stood without the protection of their gods, with their army in tatters and their country devastated by the Blight. Many felt that the timing of the invasion was yet another of the Maker's miracles in Andraste's campaign to spread His divine word.
Andraste was more than simply the wife of a warlord, after all—she was also the betrothed of the Maker. Enraptured by the melodic sound of her voice as she sang to the heavens for guidance, the Maker Himself appeared to Andraste and proposed that she come with Him, leaving behind the flawed world of humanity. In her wisdom, Andraste pleaded with the Maker to return to His people and create paradise in the world of men. The Maker agreed, but only if all of the world would turn away from the worship of false gods and accept the Maker's divine commandments.
Armed with the knowledge of the one true god, Andraste began the Exalted Marches into the weakened Imperium. One of the Maker's commandments, that magic should serve man rather than rule over him, was as honey to the souls of the downtrodden of Tevinter, who lived under the thumbs of the magisters.
Word of Andraste's Exalted March, of her miracles and military successes, spread far and wide. Those in the Imperium who felt the Old Gods had abandoned them eagerly listened to the words of the Maker. Those throngs of restless citizens that destroyed temples now did so in the name of the Maker and His prophet, Andraste. As Maferath's armies conquered the lands of southern Tevinter, so did Andraste's words conquer hearts.
It is said that the Maker smiled on the world at the Battle of Valarian Fields, in which the forces of Maferath challenged and defeated the greatest army Tevinter could muster. The southern reaches of the mighty Imperium now lay at the mercy of barbarians. Faith in the Maker, bolstered by such miracles, threatened to shake the foundations of the Imperium apart.
Of course, the human heart is more powerful than the greatest weapon, and when wounded, it is capable of the blackest of deeds.
The History of the Chantry: Chapter 3 - On the betrayal of Andraste
- Main article: Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 3
- See also: Orlesian Chantry, Andrastianism
It is said that at the Battle of Valarian Fields, Maferath stood and looked out over his armies. He had conquered the southern reaches of the greatest empire the world had ever known and built splintered barbarian clans into a force to be feared. With pride in his heart, he turned to congratulate his men and found that they had turned from him.
Maferath fell to the evil of jealousy. After all that he had done, his wife was the one to receive all the glory. He saw his wife's power and influence, and tired of his place as second husband, below the Maker. His heart swelled with fury. If he had conquered just to have his wife wrested from him by a forgotten god and a legion of faith-hungry rabble, then perhaps this war was not worth the trouble.
Here, history and the Chant of Light come apart. History tells us that Maferath looked north into the central Imperium and saw nothing but more war against a rapidly regrouping army, and he despaired. The Chant of Light holds that Maferath chafed with jealousy of the Maker, and jealousy of the glory that Andraste received although it was he who led the armies.
Maferath traveled to the Imperial capital of Minrathous to speak with the Archon Hessarian. There he offered up his wife to the Imperium in return for a truce that would end hostilities once and for all. The archon, eager to put down the voice of the prophet that stirred his own people against him, agreed. Maferath led Andraste into an ambush where she was captured by Imperial agents, putting an end to her Exalted March.
Crowds of loyalists stood in the central square of Minrathous to watch Andraste's execution. By command of the archon, she was burned at the stake in what the Imperium believed to be the most painful punishment imaginable. According to the Chantry, however, Andraste was instead purified and made whole by the flames, ascending to life at her Maker's side. By all accounts, there was only silence where they expected screams. At the sight of the prophet burning, the crowds were filled with a profound guilt, as if they had participated in a great blasphemy. So moving was the moment that the archon himself drew his sword and thrust it into the prophet's heart, ending her torment and leaving those assembled to consider the weight of what they had seen.
Whereas the execution of Andraste was meant to be a symbol of defeat for the faith of the Maker, in truth it all but sealed the fate of the worship of the Old Gods and paved the way for the spread of the Maker's chant.
The History of the Chantry: Chapter 4 - On the birth of the Chantry
- Main article: Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 4
- See also: Orlesian Chantry, Andrastianism
The crowds present at the death of Andraste were right to feel despair. It is believed that the prophet's execution angered the Maker, and He turned His back on humanity once more, leaving the people of Thedas to suffer in the dark.
In these dark times, mankind scrambled for a light, any light. Some found comfort in demonic cults that promised power and riches in return for worship. Others prayed to the Old Gods for forgiveness, begging the great dragons to return to the world. Still others fell so low as to worship the darkspawn, forming vile cults dedicated to the exaltation of evil in its purest form. It is said that the world wept as its people begged for a savior who would not come.
Andraste's followers, however, did not abandon her teachings when she died. The Cult of Andraste rescued her sacred ashes from the courtyard in Minrathous after her execution, stealing them away to a secret temple. The location of that temple has long been lost, but the ashes of Andraste served as a symbol of the enduring nature of the faith in the Maker, that humanity could earn the Maker's forgiveness despite its grievous insult to Him.
With time, the Cult of Andraste spread and grew, and the Chant of Light took form. Sing this chant in the four corners of Thedas, it was said, and the world would gain the Maker's attention at last. As the Chant of Light spread, the Cult of Andraste became known as the Andrastian Chantry. Those who converted to the Chantry's beliefs found it their mission to spread Andraste's word.
There were many converts, including powerful people in the Imperium and in the city-states of what is now Orlais. Such was the power of the Maker's word that the young King Drakon undertook a series of Exalted Marches meant to unite the city-states and create an empire solely dedicated to the Maker's will. The Orlesian Empire became the seat of the Chantry's power, the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux the source of the movement that birthed the organized Chantry as we know it today. Drakon, by then Emperor Drakon I, created the Circle of Magi, the Order of Templars and the holy office of the Divine. Many within the Chantry revere him nearly as equal with Andraste herself.
The modern Chantry is a thing of faith and beauty, but it is also a house of necessity, protecting Thedas from powerful forces that would do it harm. Where the Grey Wardens protect the world from the Blights, the Chantry protects mankind from itself. Most of all, the Chantry works to earn the Maker's forgiveness, so that one day He will return and transform the world into the paradise it was always meant to be.
History of the Circle
- Main article: Codex entry: History of the Circle
It is a truth universally acknowledged that nothing is more successful at inspiring a person to mischief as being told not to do something. Unfortunately, the Chantry of the Divine Age had some trouble with obvious truths. Although it did not outlaw magic—quite the contrary, as the Chantry relied upon magic to kindle the eternal flame which burns in every brazier in every chantry—it relegated mages to lighting candles and lamps. Perhaps occasional dusting of rafters and eaves.
I will give my readers a moment to contemplate how well such a role satisfied the mages of the time.
It surprised absolutely no one when the mages of Val Royeaux, in protest, snuffed the sacred flames of the cathedral and barricaded themselves inside the choir loft. No one, that is, but Divine Ambrosia II, who was outraged and attempted to order an Exalted March upon her own cathedral. Even her most devout Templars discouraged that idea. For 21 days, the fires remained unlit while negotiations were conducted, legend tells us, by shouting back and forth from the loft.
The mages went cheerily into exile in a remote fortress outside of the capital, where they would be kept under the watchful eye of the Templars and a council of their own elder magi. Outside of normal society, and outside of the Chantry, the mages would form their own closed society, the Circle, separated for the first time in human history.
An Honest Answer Regarding Apostates
- Main article: Codex entry: An Honest Answer Regarding Apostates
A mage who does not receive the teachings of the Circle and who does not have the words of Andraste in her heart is an apostate, and a danger to us all. Without the guidance of the holy Chantry, a mage may foolishly dabble in the darker arts—blood magic, or demon summoning, thus becoming maleficarum. And a mage's mind will ever be a doorway to spirits of the Fade; without proper instruction, this doorway remains open and unsecured. If a demon should come through this doorway and possess a mage, an abomination is created. Abominations know only madness. They cannot be reasoned with and will slaughter man, woman and child without thought. Whole cities have fallen to these creatures. Thousands have died at their hands.
The Chantry and her templars have a duty to ensure that this does not happen.
If I knew a better way to deal with magic, I would seize upon it immediately. You say we should let the mages guard themselves. I tell you that this is no solution. Look at the Tevinter Imperium. Their magisters do not know restraint. Without Chantry oversight the magisters abuse their power. Those without magic are trampled underfoot and forced to serve. Slaves are slaughtered by the hundreds to feed the magisters' hunger for power. Even some mages are not spared, for in mages as in all humans, there exists a spectrum—on one end, the very powerful, on the other, those that can barely light a candle. The Empire cares only for the strongest, and those who do not compare favorably are thrown to the wolves.
Imagine your children growing up in such a world. If a mage asked it of you, you would have to give him your daughter, not knowing what his plans for her might be. You could not resist him, and neither could she. Without our templars and without the Circle, the common man would have no defense against magic. We must deny the mages certain freedoms for the common good. I wish there was another way. I tell the apprentices this is a test of their faith, that it is the will of the Maker. Many understand that we do what we do for their own good.
The Imperial Chantry
There are those who would tell you that the Chantry is the same everywhere as it is here, that the Divine in Val Royeaux reigns supreme in the eyes of the Maker and that this fact is unquestioned throughout Thedas.
Do not believe it.
The Maker's second commandment, "Magic must serve man, not rule over him," never held the same meaning within the ancient Tevinter Imperium as it did elsewhere. The Chantry there interpreted the rule as meaning that mages should never control the minds of other men, and that otherwise their magic should benefit the rulers of men as much as possible. When the clerics of Tevinter altered the Chant of Light to reflect this interpretation of the commandment, the Divine in Val Royeaux ordered the clerics to revert to the original Chant. They refused, claiming corruption within Val Royeaux, an argument that grew until, in 4:87 [sic] Towers, the Chantry in Tevinter elected its own "legitimate and uncorrupted" Divine Valhail—who was not only male, but also happened to be one of the most prominent members of the Tevinter Circle of the Magi. This "Black Divine" was reviled outside Tevinter, his existence an offense to the Chantry in Val Royeaux.
After four Exalted Marches to dislodge these "rebels," all that the Chantry in Val Royeaux accomplished was to cement the separation. While most aspects of the Imperial Chantry's teachings are the same, prohibitions against magic have been weakened, and male priests have become more prevalent. The Circle of the Magi today rules Tevinter directly, ever since the Archon Nomaran was elected in 7:34 Storm directly from the ranks of the enchanters, to great applause from the public. He dispensed with the old rules forbidding mages from taking part in politics, and within a century, the true rulers within the various imperial houses—the mages—took their places openly within the government. The Imperial Divine is now always drawn from the ranks of the first enchanters and operates as Divine and Grand Enchanter both.
This is utter heresy to any member of the Chantry outside of Tevinter, a return to the days of the magisters, which brought the Blights down upon us. But it exists, and even though we have left the Tevinter Imperium to the mercies of the dread Qunari, still they have endured. Further confrontation between the Black Divine and our so-called "White Divine" is inevitable.
The Kirkwall City Guard
- Main article: Codex entry: The Kirkwall City Guard
No more will we defer to the will of foreign troops or draw a holy order into tasks unbefitting their mandate. These proud men and women will be of the people and will enforce the laws we have elected for a civil and ordered society. And should the specter of invasion return, the noble guardsmen will conscript from the population, for who better to amass the people's will than the constables of law charged with its inspection?
This is a great day, fair Kirkwall, and I am honored to appoint the first guard-captain. Long may he serve the will of a free people.
The Llomerryn Accords
- Main article: Codex entry: The Llomerryn Accords
Both Divines, white and black, declared Exalted Marches and for the only time since the Schism of the Chantry, they worked together. A century-long siege resulted, with the giant Qunari entrenched in Antiva and Rivain, and all of Thedas throwing armies against them.
The war drained the resources of every nation in Thedas, leaving most on the brink of collapse. For the giants, it did not appear to be the damage to their armada or the loss of their soldiers, but the terrible toll upon the Rivaini population that prompted their retreat. When the Third New Exalted March had all but massacred the people of Kont-aar without even chipping the Qunari occupying force, the giants finally withdrew.
The treaty that put an official end to the Qunari Wars was signed on the politically neutral island of Llomerryn off the southern coast of Rivain. 150 years after the assault on the mainland began, the Qunari left our shores. They received the northern archipelago in exchange for cessation of hostilities against all the nations on the accord. Only Tevinter refused to sign, and so the war continues to rage in the Imperium to the present day.
It's worth noting, however, that the Kingdom of Rivain immediately violated the treaty. Twice. Once, when the humans of northern Rivain—nearly all practitioners of the Qun and therefore by definition, "Qunari"—refused to leave their homes and go in exile to the islands. And again, when the Rivain Chantry and nationalist forces, unable to convert its people back to the worship of the Maker, tried a purge by the sword, slaughtering countless unarmed people and burying them in mass graves. It's a fortunate mystery that the leaders in Kont-aar did not alert their allies in the Northern Passage, or we'd still be fighting the giants now.
Lyrium is the king of metals. Beneath our feet, it sings. When properly refined, it is a smooth, slightly iridescent, silvery liquid. In the hands of the dwarven Smith Caste, it is mixed with steel to produce indestructible armor and blades that hold an edge for centuries. In the hands of the Shaperate, it becomes a repository for living memories. And some scholars maintain this as evidence that lyrium is, itself, alive.
It finds its most lucrative application in the hands of the Formari, who use it in conjuctionsic with baser metals like gold, silverite, veridium, or even iron to produce enchantments. Though mages, of course, consume it in a diluted form to bolster their abilities, this is not recommended. Overindulgence in lyrium can have disastrous consequences, particularly in more concentrated amounts. It is not advisable, for instance, that any reader handle raw lyrium, which in many cases can kill on contact.
The Mage Underground
- Main article: Codex entry: The Mage Underground
Every Circle in Thedas suffers from individual mages who rebel and attempt to flee. These apostates are usually found and returned to the Circle or mercifully killed if they have fallen to demonic temptation. Until now, I have never served anywhere that the populace does not fully cooperate in hunting these rebels.
Here in Kirkwall, citizens actually help rebel mages escape. Escaped apostates have survived their freedom long enough to form the "the mage underground," a network that feeds and shelters escapees and even transports apostates into remote areas of the Free Marches and beyond our easy reach.
As of late, the movement has grown bolder, sending raiding parties into the Gallows in an attempt to break out mages who lack the skills or willpower to escape on their own. This is a grave concern. My recommendation is to fight back, both physically and in turning the minds and hearts of their supporters against them.
There was no word
For heaven or for earth, for sea or sky.
All that existed was silence.
Then the Voice of the Maker rang out,
The first Word,
And His Word became all that might be:
Dream and idea, hope and fear,
And from it made his firstborn.
And he said to them:
In My image I forge you,
To you I give dominion
Over all that exists.
By your will
May all things be done.
Then in the center of heaven
He called forth
A city with towers of gold,
streets with music for cobblestones,
And banners which flew without wind.
There, He dwelled, waiting
To see the wonders
His children would create.
The children of the Maker gathered
Before his golden throne
And sang hymns of praise unending.
But their songs
Were the songs of the cobblestones.
They shone with the golden light
Reflected from the Maker's throne.
They held forth the banners
That flew on their own.
And the Voice of the Maker shook the Fade
Saying: In My image I have wrought
My firstborn. You have been given dominion
Over all that exists. By your will
All things are done.
Yet you do nothing.
The realm I have given you
Is formless, ever-changing.
And He knew he had wrought amiss.
So the Maker turned from his firstborn
And took from the Fade
A measure of its living flesh
And placed it apart from the Spirits, and spoke to it, saying:
Here, I decree
Opposition in all things:
For earth, sky
For winter, summer
For darkness, Light.
By My Will alone is Balance sundered
And the world given new life.
And no longer was it formless, ever-changing,
But held fast, immutable,
With Words for heaven and for earth, sea and sky.
At last did the Maker
From the living world
Make men. Immutable, as the substance of the earth,
With souls made of dream and idea, hope and fear,
Then the Maker said:
To you, my second-born, I grant this gift:
In your heart shall burn
An unquenchable flame
All-consuming, and never satisfied.
From the Fade I crafted you,
And to the Fade you shall return
Each night in dreams
That you may always remember me.
And then the Maker sealed the gates
Of the Golden City
And there, He dwelled, waiting
To see the wonders
His children would create.
The Maker's First Children
- Main article: Codex entry: The Maker's First Children
The Maker's first creations were the spirits, glorious beings that populated the many spires of the Golden City, and the Chant of Light says that they revered the Maker with unquestioning devotion. The Maker, however, was dissatisfied. Although the spirits were like Him in that they could manipulate the ether and create from it, they did not do so. They had no urge to create, and even when instructed to do so possessed no imagination to give their creations ingenuity or life.
The Maker realized His own folly: He had created the spirits to resemble Him in all but the one and most important way: they did not have a spark of the divine within them. He expelled all the spirits out of the Golden City and into the Fade and proceeded to His next creation: life.
The Maker created the world and the living beings upon it, separated from the Fade by the Veil. His new children would be unable to shape the world around them and thus would need to struggle to survive. In return for their struggle, the Maker gave them the spark of the divine, a soul, and He watched with pleasure as His creations flourished and showed all the ingenuity that He had hoped for.
The spirits grew jealous of the living and coaxed from them into the Fade when they slept. The spirits wished to know more of life, hoping to find a way to regain the Maker's favor. Through the eyes of the living, they experienced new concepts: love, fear, pain, and hope. The spirits re-shaped the Fade to resemble the lives and concepts they saw, each spirit desperately trying to bring the most dreamers to their own realm so they could vicariously posses a spark of the divine through them.
As the spirits grew in power, however, some of them became contemptuous of the living. These were the spirits that saw the darkest parts of the dreamers. Their lands were places of torment and horror, and they knew that the living were strongly drawn to places that mirrored those dark parts of themselves. These spirits questioned the Maker's wisdom and proclaimed the living inferior. They learned from the darkness they saw and became the first demons.
Rage, hunger, sloth, desire, pride: These are the dark parts of the soul that give demons their power, the hooks they use to claw their way into the world of the living. It was demons that whispered into the minds of men, convincing them to turn from the Maker and worship false gods. They seek to possess all life as their due, forging kingdoms of nightmare in the Fade in the hopes of one day storming the walls of heaven itself.
And the Maker despaired once again, for He had given the power of creation to his new children—and in return they had created sin.
The Commandments of the Maker
- Main article: Codex entry: The Commandments of the Maker
- See also: Andrastianism, Chant of Light, Chant of Light Verses
These truths the Maker has revealed to me:
As there is but one world,
One life, one death, there is
But one god, and He is our Maker.
They are sinners, who have given their love
To false gods.
Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him.
Foul and corrupt are they
Who have taken His gift
And turned it against His children.
They shall be named Maleficar, accursed ones.
They shall find no rest in this world
All men are the Work of our Maker's Hands,
From the lowest slaves
To the highest kings.
Those who bring harm
Without provocation to the least of His children
Are hated and accursed by the Maker.
Those who bear false witness
And work to deceive others, know this:
There is but one Truth.
All things are known to our Maker
And He shall judge their lies.
All things in this world are finite.
What one man gains, another has lost.
Those who steal from their brothers and sisters
Do harm to their livelihood and to their peace of mind.
Our Maker sees this with a heavy heart.
It has been asked, "What are maleficarum? How shall we know them?" I have been as troubled by this question as you. You have come to me for the wisdom of the Maker, but none have seen the Maker's heart save Beloved Andraste. And so I have done as all mortals must, and looked to the words of His prophet for answers. And there, I found respite from a troubled mind.
For she has said to us, "Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him." Therefore, I say to you, they who work magic which dominates the minds and hearts of others, they have transgressed the Makers law.
Also, Our Lady said to us, "Those who bring harm without provocation to the least of His children are hated and accursed by the Maker." And so it is made clear to me, as it should be to us all: That magic which fuels itself by harming others, by the letting of blood, is hated by the Maker.
Those mages who honor the Maker and keep His laws we welcome as our brothers and sisters. Those who reject the laws of the Maker and the words of His prophet are apostate. They shall be cast out, and given no place among us.
—From The Sermons of Justinia I
Mana and the Use of Magic
- Main article: Codex entry: Mana and the Use of Magic
Mana is that which defines a mage. It is potential that dwells within a person but does not always manifest itself. All men are connected to the Fade; we go there to dream. But only those with this potential may draw upon its power. Mana is, then, a measurement of one's ability to draw power from the Fade, and it is this power that is expended in magic.
As in all other things, it has limits. Just as a man has the strength to lift only so much weight and no more, a mage cannot work more magic at one time than his mana allows. If he wishes to work magic that would be beyond his strength, a mage must bolster his mana with lyrium. Without lyrium, it is possible for the reckless to expend their own life-force in the working of magic, and occasionally, ambitious apprentices injure or even kill themselves by over-exertion.
- Main article: Codex entry: Orichalcum
Deep Orichalcum is the most common type of the metal, and is often found in places where opals are mined. The rarer Crystalline Orichalcum is found in small pools in the mountains. Folk wisdom says that a drop of orichalcum mixed with wine is a potent aphrodisiac, though it has a pungent smell similar to lye, so I could not bring myself to put this legend to the test.
Long ago, the Ashkaari lived in a great city by the sea. Wealth and prosperity shone upon the city like sunlight, and still its people grumbled in discontent. The Ashkaari walked the streets of his home and saw that all around him were the signs of genius: triumphs of architecture, artistic masterpieces, the palaces of wealthy merchants, libraries, and concert halls. But he also saw signs of misery: the poor, sick, lost, frightened, and the hopeless. And the Ashkaari asked himself, "How can one people be both wise and ignorant, great and ruined, triumphant and despairing?"
So the Ashkaari left the land of his birth, seeking out other cities and nations, looking for a people who had found wisdom enough to end hopelessness and despair. He wandered for many years through empires filled with palaces and gardens, but in every nation of the wise, the great, the mighty, he found the forgotten, the abandoned, and the poor. Finally, he came to a vast desert, a wasteland of bare rock clawing at the empty sky, where he took shelter in the shadow of a towering rock, and resolved to meditate until he found his answer or perished.
Many days passed, until one night, as he gazed out from the shadow of the rocks, he saw the lifeless desert awaken. A hundred thousand locusts hatched from the barren ground, and as one, they turned south, a single wave of moving earth. The Ashkaari rose and followed in their wake: a path of devastation miles wide, the once verdant land turned to waste. And the Ashkaari's eyes were opened.
Existence is a choice.
There is no chaos in the world, only complexity.
Knowledge of the complex is wisdom.
From wisdom of the world comes wisdom of the self.
Mastery of the self is mastery of the world.
Loss of the self is the source of suffering.
Suffering is a choice, and we can refuse it.
It is in our own power to create the world, or destroy it.
And the Ashkaari went forth to his people.
—An excerpt from The Qun, Canto 1
The people of the Qun are, perhaps, the least-understood group in Thedas. The Qunari Wars were brutal, but so was the Chantry Schism. So was the fall of the Imperium. Some of this misunderstanding is an accident of nature: The race we call "Qunari" are formidable. Nature has given them fierce horns and strange eyes, and the ignorant look on them and see monsters.
Some is an accident of language: Few among the Qun's people speak the common tongue, and fewer speak it well. In a culture that strives for mastery, to have only a passable degree of skill is humiliating indeed, and so they often keep quiet among foreigners, out of shame.
But much of it is a result of the culture itself. The Qunari view their whole society as a single creature: a living entity whose health and well-being is the responsibility of all. Each individual is only a tiny part of the whole, a drop of blood in its veins. Important not for itself, but for what it is to the whole creature. Because of this, the Qunari most outsiders meet belong to the army, which the Qun regards as if it were the physical body: arms, legs, eyes and ears, the things a creature needs in order to interact with the world. One cannot get to know a person solely by studying his hand or his foot, and so one cannot truly "meet" the Qunari until one has visited their cities. That is where their mind and soul dwell.
In Seheron and Par Vollen, one can truly see the Qunari in their entirety. There, the unification of the Qunari into a single being is most evident. Workers, whom the Qun calls the mind, produce everything the Qunari require. The soul, the priesthood, seeks a greater understanding of the self, the world, and exhorts the body and mind to continually strive for perfection. The body serves as the go-between for the mind, the soul, and the world. Everyone and everything has a place, decided by the Qun, in which they work for the good of the whole. It is a life of certainty, of equality, if not individuality.
The Qunari - Asit tal-eb
- Main article: Codex entry: The Qunari - Asit tal-eb
When the Ashkaari looked upon the destruction wrought by locusts,
He saw at last the order in the world.
A plague must cause suffering for as long as it endures,
Earthquakes must shatter the land.
They are bound by their being.
Asit tal-eb. It is to be.
For the world and the self are one.
Existence is a choice.
A self of suffering, brings only suffering to the world.
It is a choice, and we can refuse it.
—An excerpt from The Qun, Canto 4
The Qunari - Saarebas
The Qun teaches that all living things have a place and a purpose, and only when they are in the correct place and in control of their self may a being attain balance. When balance is lost, suffering follows. Mastery of the self is, therefore, the first and greatest duty.
Those born with magic are at a terrible disadvantage, for demons can always rob them of their self. Because of this, the Qunari name them saarebas, meaning "dangerous thing," and treat them with the utmost caution. Saarebas must be carefully controlled by someone else, an arvaarad, "one who holds back evil," because they cannot truly control themselves. The evil is not the mage, but the loss of the mage, the loss of the mage's self, and the suffering that inevitably follows.
The Qunari pity and honor the saarebas, for striving while under constant threat from within is truly selfless, which is the highest virtue of the Qun.
The Raiders of the Waking Sea
The Raiders of the Waking Sea—or simply, the Raiders—is the common name given to an association of Antivan pirates called the Felicisima Armada. These pirates were once little more than opportunists, based out of the coastal city of Llomerryn, that preyed on sea traffic. They were often targeted by Orlesian and Free Marcher cities that were bent on destroying the pirates once and for all. After each such effort, new pirates would appear to fill the vacuum.
During the New Exalted Marches, the nations of Thedas needed every ship they could muster against the massive power of the Qunari dreadnoughts. The Llomerryn pirates were faced with a difficult decision: they had to band together under one flag and fight with those they had previously preyed upon or face conversion and annihilation by the Qunari.
Thus the Armada was formed. The pirates brought their knowledge of stealth and trickery to bear, plaguing Qunari supply lines and even launching seaborne invasions against the Qunari coast. For a time it was said the Armada was the premier naval power of Thedas, and after the signing of the Llomerryn Accord, they maintained their association rather than disband as many had hoped.
Wealthy merchants now often pay the leaders of the Armada rather than risking their ships commandeered and their merchandise stolen and sold on the black market. The Armada is hardly unified, and bloody battles between Armada leaders are frequent, but when faced with an attack by outsiders, the group instantly puts aside their differences and closes ranks; the raiders have thus become far more of a threat in the last century than they ever were before.
There is many a legend told about how dashing and romantic life aboard a Raider vessel is, but don't believe it. They are scoundrels and smugglers all.
—From The Dowager's Field Guide to Good Society, by Lady Alcyone
The Right of Annulment
- Main article: Codex entry: The Right of Annulment
In the 83rd year of the Glory Age, one of the mages of the Nevarran Circle was found practicing forbidden magic. The templars executed him swiftly, but this brewed discontent among the Nevarra Circle. The mages mounted several magical attacks against the templars, vengeance for the executed mage, but the knight-commander was unable to track down which were responsible.
Three months later, the mages summoned a demon and turned it loose against their templar watchers. Demons, however, are not easily controlled. After killing the first wave of templars who tried to contain it, the demon took possession of one of its summoners. The resulting abomination slaughtered templars and mages both before escaping into the countryside.
The grand cleric sent a legion of templars to hunt the fugitive. They killed the abomination a year later, but by that time it had slain 70 people.
Divine Galatea, responding to the catastrophe in Nevarra and hoping to prevent further incidents, granted all the grand clerics of the Chantry the power to purge a Circle entirely if they rule it irredeemable. This Right of Annulment has been performed 17 times in the last 700 years.
The Seekers of Truth
When I mentioned powers greater than the templars, I didn't mean the Chantry. Sure they command the templars, but that was not always so—the Inquisition once hunted heretics and cultists as well as mages, and their reign of terror ended only with the inception of the Circle of Magi. They became the Templar Order, for good or ill the watchers of the mages and the martial arm of the Chantry.
It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, but few know that the Chantry created yet another order to watch over the templars: the Seekers of Truth. I know little of them myself, but I can say the following things with certainty: they serve the Divine and they are feared. When a Seeker steps from the shadows, templars run for cover—because why would he come unless the templars somehow failed in their duties? Seekers are extremely effective investigating abuses within the Circle and hunting particularly evasive apostates. It's said they are immune to a blood mage's mind control and possess the ability to read minds or erase memories, but this is likely exaggeration.
So we return to my original dilemma. Who watches powers greater than that of the templars? One assumes it's the Divine, but how much could She know about their activities when their very existence is a mystery to most?
The Sermons of Divine Renata I
The weakness of mortal will is the great failing of all the Maker's children. We trade our honor as if it were the cheapest of currency. We do not understand what integrity is or what it is truly worth. From this ignorance, original sin was born.
At some time, each of us has thought, "What does it matter if I keep hold of my integrity? I am but one mortal. I am powerless." How blind we all are! The virtue of a single slave destroyed the Tevinter Imperium. The dishonor of one man drove the Maker from our sight. I tell you truly, nothing but the integrity of our hearts will win the love of the Maker back to us. It is all the power we shall ever possess to change this world for good or for ill.
—From a sermon on integrity.
- Main article: Codex entry: Silverite
The lustrous, white-blue silverite has long been prized by the dwarves for use in jewelry, rune making, and weapon smithing, but on the surface, it is more commonly used by apothecaries and healers. Since the metal does not rust, many traditions believe it to be proof against poison.
There is a tale passed down among the people of the Anderfels: A knight returned home after many years of war, only to be struck by an adder. His wife immediately bound the wound with a medallion of silverite pressed against the bite like a poultice. By morning, the poison had left him. And the knight lived to an old age.
Slavery in the Tevinter Imperium
- Main article: Codex entry: Slavery in the Tevinter Imperium
Slavery still thrives in Thedas, even if the trade has been outlawed. Who hasn't heard the tales of poverty-stricken elves lured into ships by the prospect of well-paying jobs in Antiva, only to find themselves clapped in leg-irons once at sea? And humans fall prey to this, too.
If they're lucky, they end up in Orlais, which has only "servants." Most nobles treat them decently because they are afraid of admitting the truth. Orlesians go to great lengths to maintain the fiction that slavery is illegal.
Of course, the greatest consumer of slave labor is the Tevinter Imperium, which would surely crumble if not for the endless supply of slaves from all over the continent. There, they are meat, chattel. They are beaten, used as fodder in the endless war against the Qunari, and even serve as components in dark magic rituals.
- Main article: Codex entry: Spindleweed
- See also: Spindleweed, Spindleweed (Inquisition), Fauna and flora
It is an old country saying that spindleweed grows best for the sorrowful. Verdant spindleweed in a household's garden has often brought neighbors offering consolation, usually without even asking what might be wrong.
This originates from the plant's use as a seasoning for dishes meant to speed the recovery of the infirm. A person who grows much of it is likely caring for the fatally ill.
—An excerpt from The Botanical Compendium by Ines Arancia, botanist
A Study of the Fifth Blight, Vol. One
- Main article: Codex entry: A Study of the Fifth Blight, Vol. One
While some of my contemporaries dispute whether the Fifth Blight was a true Blight or merely a large darkspawn resurgence, historians agree that it began in the swamps of the Korcari Wilds on the southeastern border of Ferelden in the year 9:30 Dragon.
King Cailan Theirin was swift in responding to the threat, gathering the royal army, every Grey Warden in his country, and sending a call for aid to the Ferelden nobility. The assembled armies laid a trap in the ruins of Ostagar, hoping to crush the force before it reached civilization. But they failed.
Darkspawn overran the defenders of Ostagar and decimated the king and his army. They continued their advance into Ferelden unopposed. Only two Grey Wardens managed to escape the slaughter. And somehow, they came into possession of ancient treaties, which compelled the races of men to join arms against the massing horde.
If the Hero of Ferelden (preset) or Martyr (preset) is selected or imported from a save where the mages were recruited:
The surviving Wardens made their way to Kinloch Hold, home of the Ferelden Circle, and conscripted the mages.
If the No Compromise (preset) is selected or imported from a save where the Templars were recruited:
The surviving Wardens made their way to Kinloch Hold, and assisted in annulling the Fereldan Circle of Magi, which had fallen to abominations. With the end of that tragic disaster, the Wardens conscripted the templars.
Nature of the Beast...
If the Hero of Ferelden (preset) or Martyr (preset) is selected or imported from a save where the Dalish Elves were recruited:
In desperation to find more allies, the Wardens journeyed into the Brecilian Forest, seeking the Dalish. The elves, too, joined the growing army.
If the No Compromise (preset) is selected or imported from a save where the Werewolves were recruited:
In desperation to find more allies, the Wardens journeyed into the Brecilian Forest, seeking the Dalish. The elves failed to uphold their treaty, but another answered in their place: Werewolves, straight out of Fereldan folktales, joined the growing army.
A Paragon of Her Kind-Supported Paragon and Fate of The Anvil of the Void...
If the Hero of Ferelden (preset) is selected or imported from a save where the Anvil of the Void is destroyed:
Into the Deep Roads the surviving Wardens went, searching for Paragon Branka in hopes she could settle the unrest in Orzammar and unite the dwarves in the battle against the Archdemon. Branka could not be located, but another Paragon was found: the legendary Caridin, who forged a crown that ended all question of succession.
If the Martyr (preset) is selected or imported from a save where Branka commits suicide:
Into the Deep Roads the survivors went, searching for Paragon Branka in hopes she could settle the unrest in Orzammar and unite the dwarves in the battle against the Archdemon. They found her, and she forged a crown that played a key role in sorting out the royal succession.
If the No Compromise (preset) is selected or imported from a save where the Anvil of the Void was reclaimed:
Into the Deep Roads the surviving Wardens went, searching for Paragon Branka in hopes she could settle the unrest in Orzammar and unite the dwarves in the battle against the Archdemon. Not only did the Paragon settle the matter of royal succession, but she also reclaimed the lost secrets of golem manufacture. An army of stone and steel joined the war effort.
If the Hero of Ferelden (preset) or No Compromise (preset) is selected or imported from a save where Lord Harrowmont is crowned king:
A Paragon of Her Kind-Ruler of Orzammar...
If the Martyr (preset) is selected or imported from a save where Prince Bhelen is crowned king:
Bhelen Aeducan was crowned king of Orzammar, and the dwarven armies marched for the surface.
Pyral Harrowmont was crowned king of Orzammar, and the dwarven armies marched for the surface.
Despite their successes, though, greater challenges were yet to come.
A Study of the Fifth Blight, Vol. Two
- Main article: Codex entry: A Study of the Fifth Blight, Vol. Two
- See also: Fifth Blight
The Wardens sought Arl Eamon, uncle of the late King Cailan, in the hopes of mustering troops from the Fereldan nobility. Upon arriving in Redcliffe they learned that the arl had fallen ill and was near death. His knights had gone in pursuit of the fabled Ashes of Andraste, Eamon's only hope for a cure, and the village surrounding the Keep was beset by a host of animated corpses. The Wardens found and stopped the demon behind the undead before joining the search for Eamon's cure.
If the Warden stopped the undead and liberated Redcliffe...
The Wardens sought Arl Eamon, uncle of the late King Cailan, in the hopes of mustering troops from the Fereldan nobility. Upon arriving in Redcliffe they learned that the arl had fallen ill and was near death. His knights had gone in pursuit of the fabled Ashes of Andraste, Eamon’s only hope for a cure, and the village surrounding the Keep was beset by a host of animated corpses. The Wardens found and stopped the demon behind the undead before joining the search for Eamon's cure.
If the Warden left Redcliffe without lending their aid...
The Wardens sought Arl Eamon, uncle of the late King Cailan, in the hopes of mustering troops from the Fereldan nobility. But upon arriving in Redcliffe, they learned that the arl had fallen ill and was near death, his knights gone in pursuit of the fabled Ashes of Andraste, as his only hope for a cure. The Wardens immediately set out to join the search for the Ashes.
No one is certain if the Wardens actually located the final resting place of Our Lady Andraste, but whatever they found saved the arl of Redcliffe.
Upon his recovery, Eamon Guerrin called for a Landsmeet and he and the Wardens traveled to Denerim.
If Loghain was conscripted into the Wardens and Anora and Alistair became King and Queen...
The gathered lords and ladies of Ferelden found Teyrn Loghain guilty of a number of crimes. He was sentenced to join the Grey Wardens to atone for his deeds. Furthermore, the Landsmeet bore witness to the betrothal of Queen Anora to Alistair Theirin, the lost son of Maric.
The nobility then pledged their own armies in the battle against the Blight.
If Loghain was conscripted into the Wardens and Anora remained Queen with Warden Cousland as Prince-Consort...
The gathered lords and ladies of Ferelden found Teyrn Loghain guilty of a number of crimes. He was sentenced to join the Grey Wardens to atone for his deeds. Furthermore, the Landsmeet bore witness to the betrothal of Queen Anora to Teyrn Bryce Cousland's youngest son, who was one of the two Grey Wardens to survive Ostagar.
The nobility then pledged their own armies in the battle against the Blight.
If Loghain was conscripted into the Wardens and Anora remained Queen...
The gathered lords and ladies of Ferelden found Teyrn Loghain guilty of a number of crimes. He was sentenced to join the Grey Wardens to atone for his deeds. Furthermore, the Landsmeet granted the vacant throne to Anora, widow of King Cailan.
The nobility then pledged their own armies in the battle against the Blight.
If Loghain was executed and Anora remained Queen...
The gathered lords and ladies of Ferelden found Teyrn Loghain guilty of a number of crimes and sentenced him to execution. Furthermore, the Landsmeet granted the vacant throne to Anora, widow of King Cailan.
The nobility then pledged their own armies in the battle against the Blight.
If Loghain was executed and Anora and Alistair became King and Queen...
The gathered lords and ladies of Ferelden found Teyrn Loghain guilty of a number of crimes and sentenced him to execution. Furthermore, the Landsmeet bore witness to the betrothal of Queen Anora to Alistair Theirin, the lost son of Maric.
The nobility then pledged their own armies in the battle against the Blight.
If Loghain was executed, Alistair became King and was married to Warden Cousland as Queen...
The gathered lords and ladies of Ferelden found Teyrn Loghain guilty of a number of crimes and sentenced him to execution. Furthermore, the Landsmeet granted the throne to Alistair Theirin, the lost son of Maric, and bore witness to his betrothal to Teyrn Bryce Cousland's daughter.
The nobility then pledged their own armies in the battle against the Blight.
If Loghain was executed and Alistair became King...
The gathered lords and ladies of Ferelden found Teyrn Loghain guilty of a number of crimes and sentenced him to execution. Furthermore, the Landsmeet granted the throne to Alistair Theirin, the lost son of Maric.
The nobility then pledged their own armies in the battle against the Blight.
If the Warden perished in the final battle...
The Archdemon clashed with the allied forces at the city of Denerim and was eventually slain, but at terrible cost. Much of the city lay in ruin and the Warden who rallied the armies—later known as the Hero of Ferelden—perished in battle.
If the Dark Ritual was completed...
The Archdemon clashed with the allied forces at the city of Denerim and was eventually slain, but at terrible cost. Much of the city lay in ruin. The Warden who rallied the armies was named the Hero of Ferelden and accorded the highest honor.
The Fifth Blight ended before most of Thedas knew it had begun. But it left a terrible wound on Ferelden. The losses suffered at Ostagar and Denerim greatly compromised the security of the kingdom. Southern Ferelden from the Korcari Wilds to the edge of the Bannorn are, to this day, a wasteland. It's uncertain how far the ripples from this event shall travel, or what waves it has already stirred.
—From A Study of the Fifth Blight, by Sister Petrine, Chantry scholar
In Orzammar, dwarven society is divided into rigid castes with houses that compete for power and prestige. But all that is discarded when a dwarf abandons the Stone for the surface. Under the open sky, everyone is equal. Or so the story goes.
The truth is that thousands of years of tradition are not so easily tossed aside. Even though surface dwarves are officially stripped of their caste, many maintain a hierarchy among themselves along the old caste lines. Formerly noble houses are accorded more respect than casteless brands who come up in search of opportunity. The poorest "noble" dwarf on the surface looks upon the rich "lower caste" dwarves with contempt.
Upper-class surface dwarf society is roughly divided into two camps: kalnas, who insist on maintaining caste and rank (typically those from the Noble or Merchant Caste families) and ascendants, who believe in leaving Orzammar's traditions underground and embracing life in the sunlit world.
Maintaining some tie to Orzammar was seen for generations as the only lifeline for surface dwarves. Bringing surface goods to their kin underground and lyrium and metals to the surface was not only the most lucrative means of making a living, but also a sort of sacred duty, as many surface dwarves willingly accepted exile and the loss of their caste to better serve their house or patron. In recent years, many surface dwarves, particularly ascendants, have branched out. They started banks, mercenary companies, and overland trade caravans. They became investors and speculators in purely surface trade. These new industries have proven tremendous sources of wealth, but are looked down upon by their more conservative kin.
For less-affluent surface dwarves, association with a powerful kalna can open many doors. They can get credit with dwarven merchants and are offered work opportunities by the powerful Dwarven Merchants' Guild more readily, sometimes, than more qualified but less-connected individuals.
—From The Dowager's Field Guide to Good Society, by Lady Alcyone
- Main article: Codex entry: Tal-Vashoth
And then I found myself beset by several bands of Qunari, apparently working in concert. I fled and managed to hide in a little village by the name of Vindaar. The people there, mostly humans and a few elves, were devout followers of the Qun.
It was the most organized village I ever laid eyes on. The houses were identical and arranged along perfectly orthogonal lines. The fields were well tended and apparently communal. But there were signs of damage everywhere, as if the town had suffered repeated sieges: buildings shattered, fields burned, and a great many empty houses. I spent the night in the home of Vindaar's matriarch, who introduced herself only as, "Seer." When I tried to regale my hostess with the tale of my Qunari assailants, I discovered something.
Qunari, Seer said, are people who follow the Qun. Her people. Those born into Qunari society who reject the Qun are called Vashoth, which means "gray ones." These gray ones must leave their homes, for they have no place among the Qunari. Sadly, many turn against the society that cast them out.
These outcasts call themselves Tal-Vashoth, "the true gray ones." Often, they have no skills to make an honest living, so they sell themselves into service, usually becoming mercenaries. Even the most inept fighter among the Qunari race possesses prodigious size and an intimidating visage. These, she informed me, were my attackers in the countryside, the same band that wreaked such havoc on Vindaar.
The Tal-Vashoth wage a bitter war against the Qun, the Qunari, and sometimes against order itself. They are no match for the Qunari army, so they generally strike at farms, travelers, and those who stray too far from Qunari protection. I was lucky to escape with my life.
The Tale of Iloren
- Main article: Codex entry: The Tale of Iloren
In the far north, where the hills wander the plains and the earth is eternally baked beneath the uncaring sun, the lands which the shemlen call Anderfels, a clan of our people lived, struggling to survive the Blight.
Iloren was their keeper. A hunter in his younger days, crafty as any wolf, he led his people always just ahead of the darkspawn who chased them. But the old hunter knew that even halla cannot run forever. They must turn and fight, or be run down.
At the foot of the Merdaine, the darkspawn cornered Illoren's clan. That night, the moon was strangled by clouds, the earth concealed by a dread mist that rose out of nowhere, so that the elvhen could not tell up from down. In the confusion, the darkspawn attacked.
But Iloren had prepared for them. All around the camp, the hunters had strewn dry grass, brush and brambles. When the sound of rustling footfalls began, Iloren and the other hahren called upon the old magic. They struck out with lightning, and though the bolts missed the darkspawn, they hit their target all the same. The sea of kindling lit, and not one of the dark creatures made it through the fire to reach Iloren's clan.
Often portrayed as stoic and grim, the Order of Templars was created as the martial arm of the Chantry. Armed with the ability to dispel and resist magic in addition to their formidable combat talents, the templars are uniquely qualified to act as both a foil for apostates—mages who refuse to submit to the authority of the Circle—and a first line of defense against the dark powers of blood mages and abominations.
While mages often resent the templars as symbols of the Chantry's control over magic, the people of Thedas see them as saviors and holy warriors, champions of all that is good, armed with piety enough to protect the world from the ravages of foul magic. In reality, the Chantry's militant arm looks first for skilled warriors with unshakable faith in the Maker, with a flawless moral center as a secondary concern. Templars must carry out their duty with an emotional distance, and the Order of Templars prefers soldiers with religious fervor and absolute loyalty over paragons of virtue who might question orders when it comes time to make difficult choices.
The templars' power derives from the substance lyrium, a mineral believed to be the raw element of creation. While mages use lyrium in their arcane spells and rituals, templars ingest the primordial mineral to enhance their abilities to resist and dispel magic. Lyrium use is regulated by the Chantry, but some templars suffer from lyrium addiction, the effects of which include paranoia, obsession, and dementia. Templars knowingly submit themselves to this "treatment" in the service of the Order and the Maker.
It is this sense of ruthless piety that most frightens mages when they draw the templars' attention: When the templars are sent to eliminate a possible blood mage, there is no reasoning with them, and if the templars are prepared, the mage's magic is all but useless. Driven by their faith, the templars are one of the most feared and respected forces in Thedas.
Tevinter: The Magisters
Before it became the Imperium, Tevinter was ruled by a dynasty of kings. And long before the Chantry there was a Circle of Magi: the society of mages in each city. The titles our modern Circles use—enchanter, senior enchanter, first enchanter—all originated here. But above the first enchanter, the Circles of Tevinter had another office: magister.
The magisters formed a council of the most powerful mages in the kingdom. They convened in Minrathous and held dominion over all magic in the land. When Darinius seized the throne in -1195 Ancient, the Court of the Magisters became the royal court, and "magister" was the only title of nobility recognized in Tevinter.
The Imperium today is a magocracy. Political power is solely in the hands of the magisters, who come only from the ranks of the Circle. Every young mage aspires to be a magister's apprentice because it's the best chance of ascending to the rank of magister themselves.
If the Warden/ Hawke/ the Inquisitor is a mage...
Although apprentices do not know the nature of the Harrowing, all of them understand its consequences: They either pass and become full mages, or they are never seen again. Those who fear to undertake this rite of passage, or those who are deemed weak or unstable, are given the Rite of Tranquility instead.
The actual procedure, like the Harrowing, is secret, but the results are just as well known. The rite severs connection to the Fade. The Tranquil, therefore, do not dream. This removes the greatest danger that threatens a weak or unprepared mage, the potential to attract demons across the Veil. But this is the least of Tranquility's effects, for the absence of dreams brings with it the end of all magical ability, as well as all emotion.
The Tranquil, ironically, resemble sleepwalkers, never entirely awake nor asleep. They are still part of our Circle, however, and some might say they are the most critical part. They have incredible powers of concentration, for it is simply impossible to distract a Tranquil mage, and this makes them capable of becoming craftsmen of such skill that they rival even the adeptness of the dwarves. The Formari, the branch of the Circle devoted to item enchantment, is made up exclusively of Tranquil, and is the source of all the wealth that sustains our towers.
If the Warden/ Hawke/ the Inquisitor is not a mage...
The Tranquil are the least understood but most visible members of the Circle. Every city of respectable size boasts a Circle of Magi shop, and every one of these shops is run by a Tranquil proprietor.
The name is a misnomer, for they are not tranquil at all; rather, they are like inanimate objects that speak. If a table wished to sell you an enchanted penknife, it could pass as one of these people. Their eyes are expressionless, their voices monotone. Incomparable craftsmen they might be, but they are hardly the sort of mages to put ordinary folk at ease.
Vallaslin: Blood Writing
- Main article: Codex entry: Vallaslin: Blood Writing
If the Warden is Dalish...
When the children of our people came of age, they earn the privilege of wearing the vallaslin, the blood writing. It sets us apart from the shemlen, and from the elves who have thrown their lot in with them. It reminds us that we will never again surrender our traditions and beliefs.
The ritual deserves great reverence. The one who is to gain the vallaslin must prepare by meditating on the gods and the ways of our people, and by purifying the body and the skin. When the time comes, the keeper of the clan applies the blood writing. This is done in complete silence. Cries of pain are signs of weakness. If one cannot tolerate the pain of the blood writing, they are not ready to undertake the responsibilities of an adult. The keeper may stop the ritual if they decide that the one gaining the vallaslin is not ready. There is no shame in this, for all children are different, and our ancestors once took centuries to come of age.
If the Warden is not of Dalish origin or obtained in Dragon Age II...
After my encounter with the Dalish elves on the road to Nevarra, I studied every book on the elves I could find. I sought out legends and myths and history and tried to make sense of it all. But there is only so much one can learn from books. I knew that in order to truly understand the Dalish, I would have to seek them out—a dreadful idea, in hindsight. In my defense, I was young—and also inebriated when the idea popped into my head. Unfortunately, even after I had regained some measure of sobriety, the idea still held appeal. It proved remarkably resistant to my attempts to ignore it.
I gave in after months of that nagging thought at the back of my head and set out to learn about the Dalish first-hand. I tramped through the forests bordering Orlais for weeks before I finally found—or was found by—a Dalish hunter. I stumbled into one of his traps and suddenly was hanging from a tree with a rope about my ankles.
So there I was, defenseless, upside down with my robe over my head, my underclothes on display. Descriptions of my predicament might elicit laughter these days, but trust me when I say it was a situation I would not wish on anyone. Thankfully, my ridiculous appearance may have caused my captor to stay his hand—what threat is a silly human with his pants showing?
And so he sat, made a small fire, and began to skin the deer he had caught. I soon mustered the courage to speak. I tried to assure him that I was not there to harm him—but he laughed at this and replied that if I were there to harm him, I had failed terribly. Eventually we got to talking, and when I say talking, I mean that I asked him questions, and occasionally he would deign to answer.
He told me that while some Dalish actively seek out human travelers to rob or frighten, most of his people would rather be left alone. He seemed to believe that punishing the humans for past actions only led to more violence. I asked him about the intricate tattoos on his face; he told me they were called vallaslin—"blood writing." His were symbols of Andruil the Huntress, one of the most highly revered elven goddesses. He said the Dalish mark themselves to stand out from humans and from those of their kin who have chosen to live under human rule. He said the vallaslin remind his people that they must never again surrender their beliefs.
When he finished skinning the deer, he cut me down. By the time I had righted myself and conquered the dizziness of all the blood rushing out of my head, he was gone.
I do not recommend that my readers seek out the Dalish for themselves. I was very lucky to have met the man that I did, and to have walked away from our meeting unscathed. Perhaps the Maker watches over those who seek knowledge with an open heart; I certainly would like to think so.
- Main article: Codex entry: The Veil
I detest this notion that the Veil is some manner of invisible "curtain" that separates the world of the living from the world of the spirits (whether it be called the Fade or the Beyond is a matter of racial politics I refuse to indulge in at the moment). There is no "this side" and "that side" when it comes to the Veil. One cannot think of it as a physical thing or a barrier or even a "shimmering wall of holy light" (thank you very much for that image, Your Perfection).
Think of the Veil, instead, as opening one's eyes.
Before you opened them, you saw our world as you see it now: static, solid, unchanging. Now that they are open, you see our world as the spirits see it: chaotic, ever-changing, a realm where the imagined and the remembered have as much substance as that which is real—more, in fact. A spirit sees everything as defined by will and memory, and this is why they are so very lost when they cross the Veil. In our world, imagination has no substance. Objects exist independently of how we remember them or what emotions we associate with them. Mages alone possess the power to change the world with their minds, and perhaps this forms the nature of a demon's attraction to them—who can say?
Regardless, the act of passing through the Veil is much more about changing one's perceptions than a physical transition. The Veil is an idea, it is the act of transition itself, and it is only the fact that both living beings and spirits find the transition difficult that gives the Veil any credence as a physical barrier at all.
The Exiled Prince
The Demon's Gift
- Main article: Codex entry: The Demon's Gift
Before the First Blight, there lived an old man and woman. One day, a beautiful stranger came to their house, seeking shelter. The old man and woman gave her food to eat and a downy mattress to sleep upon. In return, she offered them a golden mirror that would grant three wishes.
Looking into the mirror, the woman frowned at her wrinkles and grey hair. "I wish I were young again," she said. Suddenly, the face of a lovely maiden stared back at her. The man angrily grabbed the mirror, saying, "You're so selfish! You could have given youth to us both! I wish you weren't so stupid."
At once, the woman was brilliant beyond measure and saw that her husband had never loved her; he tolerated her only because her age and ignorance made his own seem less by comparison.
Angry now, the old woman grabbed for the mirror—at the same time, they both said, "I hate you. I wish that you get exactly what you deserve!" With that, they were back together, both ugly and old, but now knowing exactly how much contempt they had for each other.
Each Circle of Magi is home to various fraternities of enchanters that serve as social outlets for mages and ways for those of like mind to promote their philosophies on magic. The most marginal of these were always the Libertarians, who believed mages must take a more active role in the politics of Thedas. While publicly only advocating greater power for the Circles, many Libertarians secretly wished to split completely from the Chantry, as mages did in Tevinter. The Chantry allowed the group to continue in order to note potential troublemakers.
The Resolutionists changed all that. Splitting from the main Libertarian fraternity, the Resolutionists are open apostates who support freedom for mages at all costs. They have engaged in acts of terror and sabotage against the Chantry throughout Thedas, and many are connected to Kirkwall's mage underground. They have declared that unless mages are freed to rule themselves, they will show every person in Thedas how little protection the Circle of Magi actually offers.
The Vael Family
Before the Vaels came to power, Starkhaven was ruled in quick succession by a number of petty warlords; some were genuine bannorn, but others were little more than bandits. Tired of the constant petty raiding and warfare between Starkhaven and neighboring cities, the original Lord Vael organized a peaceful protest against "King Ironfist," the low-born, self-declared "king of Starkhaven." Hundreds of Starkhaven's most prominent citizens fasted for ten days and nights on the steps of the chantry, their numbers increasing every day. When his soldiers began deserting in droves at this example of piety, Ironfist surrendered his sword to the templars and left Starkhaven forever.
In gratitude, the people of Starkhaven demanded that Lord Vael be king; he refused, however, saying he had no right to that title. He was instead proclaimed prince of Starkhaven, and his family has ruled there ever since. They remain devout, dedicating at least one son or daughter per generation to become a cleric in the chantry.
The Black Emporium
Andraste in Nude Repose - Invisible
- Main article: Codex entry: Andraste in Nude Repose - Invisible
Can stone lie with purpose? Can it beckon with raw feminine command, yet shine with an inspiring virtue? That challenge was posed to sculptor Arwand de Glace, artisan and son of Empress Vougiene of Orlais. It was busywork and rhetoric in a time of excess, but answer he did—with the reserves of a nation and a passion unhealthy. His subject? Our Lady, though not as depicted in traditional statuary.
Arwand's mad ambition summoned the form of Andraste uninterrupted by the trappings of war and devoid of the vestments she assumed after death. It was living, commanding, obscene, yet inspired. To gaze upon it was to be enthralled, spiritually and physically. It was the latter that alarmed Chantry officials. They blanched at the thought of Our Lady being possessed of such a base appeal, even as they, too, were drawn.
The work could not be destroyed without threatening the balance between empire and hallowed, so a grave censorship was enacted under the guise of honoring. Enchanters were tasked with extending the ethereal that hides the Fade, drawing it around the form like a cloak. Our Lady remains in the stone and in this world, but mortal eyes are forever denied her treasure and glory. She is veiled in every sense.
As in all things, unintended consequences must vex those with pure intentions. Modesty would have been better served by a thickened sheet, drawn back when techniques were to be studied. As it is, the sculptor's skills are accessible only to an exploring touch, defining the shape by intimate caress. All manner of strange congress has stemmed from tempted hands and the innocent wish for clarity.
—From Art and Shame: Forbidden Wonders of Faith by Foisine de Petitforet, translated by Philliam, a Bard!
The Basket of Lost Socks
- Main article: Codex entry: The Basket of Lost Socks
In my career as first enchanter of the Circle of Ansburg, I have lost 208 socks of various and sundry description. Utterly. Without a trace. Ser Mallorick, the templar who supervises the Circle's laundry rooms, assures me that this is a common natural phenomenon.
Hogwash, I say! It is physically impossible for an article of the material world to vanish completely and leave no signs of its passage. The only rational explanation, therefore, must be that the disappearances are magical in origin. This, I hope, will be the definitive treatise on the subject.
I set upon my research with the following premise: Since it is a well-known fact that objects of worldly origin cannot travel between places on Thedas without crossing the intervening distance, then socks must originate in the Fade itself. They are emanations of some spirit projected into the waking world and whimsically recalled when the spirit desires.
I therefore devised a plan to observe my socks over a period of eight months; I hid within a sock-blind so that I might catch them unawares—both in the physical realm and in the Fade—and hopefully witness their natural behavior firsthand.
—From The Interplay of Spirits in the Common Laundry Room, by First Enchanter Luidweg of Ansburg
The Box of Screaming
- Main article: Codex entry: The Box of Screaming
I received the box from a man I met in the Silent Plains. He spoke little and would not reveal his name. For reasons I shall not detail here, I had been kidnapped and left for dead in that gray, wind-blasted wasteland.
After days of walking, I was parched and close to death. I was about to dash my head on a rock to speed my passing when the man arrived. He possessed a waterskin containing ample water for a person traveling from our location to the Imperial Highway. From there, he said, I could find my way to Solas or Perivantium. He offered to give me the waterskin if I agreed to take three things from him: a glowing crystalline shard, a bronze sphere, and an iron-bound box with no hinges.
I asked the man if he wished to have these items delivered. He said that he merely wanted me to have them. It was an odd request, but I was too weak and too desperate to think much of it. And so I agreed. The man put the items into a leather sack, which he handed to me along with the water.
"What about you?" I asked. He said nothing, only pointed in the direction from which I had come. "There is nothing that way," I said. He merely smiled at me.
I found the Imperial Highway about a day later, and a caravan driver agreed to take me to Perivantium in exchange for the large glowing shard. In Perivantium, I bartered the bronze sphere for new clothes and room at the inn. That night I examined the iron-bound box and found no way to open it. I held it to my ear, and thought I heard slow, measured breathing coming from within. My mind was afire with curiosity, and I obtained from the innkeeper a large hammer, thinking to smash the thing open. The moment the hammer touched the box, it shrieked—the shrill sound pierced the depths of my soul.
I gave the box to the innkeeper in the morning and felt better for having rid myself of it.
—A page ripped from a mysterious journal, on display in the Black Emporium
Broken Dowsing Rods - No Refunds
- Main article: Codex entry: Broken Dowsing Rods - No Refunds
There have been several Chantry investigations to determine whether the dowsers' art is magical in nature, but nothing conclusive has ever been determined. In 3:86 Towers, Divine Joyous II declared that the practice of dowsing was freely permitted by the Chantry on the grounds that dowsers never attempted to use their skills for nefarious purposes.
A brief theological debate ensued over what sort of nefarious purposes a dowser might have; the worst possible dowsing-related crime suggested by Grand Cleric Willhemina of Hossberg was that they might go looking for poisonous worms which could be left in the chantry offertory. The Chantry agreed that this, while unacceptable, was a relatively mild threat.
Chest of Unanswered Invitations
- Main article: Codex entry: Chest of Unanswered Invitations
In a peculiar shop in Kirkwall, a large chest sits filled with letters and cards. Upon closer inspection, each is an invitation. Events of every possible description are represented: grand balls held in the palace at Val Royeaux, the wedding of the reigning king and queen of Nevarra, countless naming day parties, the Chantry's solstice celebrations for six consecutive years in Cumberland, five different versions of the invitation to the funeral of Ser Roland Ferrar dated five years apart.
Ship-naming ceremonies. Quickly-penned notes suggesting business lunches, one signed in blood. Several invitations to duels sent between the same two families in Antiva City over a period of forty years. Nineteen letters from members of the Dwarven Merchants Guild addressed to Varric Tethras of Kirkwall, asking him to attend critical guild meetings. One very fine embossed card, yellowing with age, from the Grand Cathedral inviting the King of Antiva to tea with Divine Theodosia II.
Given their current location, it seems unlikely any of these invitations were answered by their intended recipients, and less likely that they were ever received at all. Would anyone buy such things? I can hardly imagine.
Crate of Live Death Watch Beetles
- Main article: Codex entry: Crate of Live Death Watch Beetles
The loud tapping sound of the Death Watch Beetle is widely believed to foretell a death in the household. In Nevarra, the beetle is prized; households sometimes keep one in a small cage for good luck. However, the Rivaini, consider them to be an extremely ill omen, and kill the beetles on sight.
The strangest reaction to the Death Watch Beetle, however, happened in Val Royeaux in 8:62 Blessed. Upon the death of her husband after a long illness, Lady Ivaline Fernande took to the beetles, so much that she commissioned a dark silken gown patterned after its distinctive appearance, right down to the legs and wings. Her arrival at the royal court in this ensemble sent a stir throughout the empire. Within a week, every dowager in Orlais was wearing beetle brooches, beetle masks, and capes evoking beetle wings.
The sensation finally came to an end when the Widow of Lord Verchin appeared at a ball with live Death Watch Beetles in her hair. One fell onto the emperor while he was greeting Lady Verchin, and His Imperial Majesty's scream could clearly be heard on the outskirts of the city. The horrified emperor declared that never again were the creatures to appear in his sight.
The Emergent Compendium
- Main article: Codex entry: The Emergent Compendium
Messere Darvies, you said that a scholar's life is not for everyone. Now I understand—I couldn't be more frustrated by the marvel I have sent you. Chief among its pre-Tevinter strangeness, the volumes are automatos: new entries appear of their own accord, with no scrivener's quill in sight. When a mage consultant says it's impossible, but your own eyes see it happen—and often—it's clearly a wonder.
But the content! Each new addition is single image created unseen, accompanied by a line of gibberish. And what bogglers these imitari! Records of the mundane and the fantastic with no rhythm or weight. I have observed a dragon in flight, a man in regal robes but of a complexion I have never seen, countless peoples at the moment of death, and no end of devices I cannot fathom in the least. The only image remotely familiar was extremely so: mine own wife! But the babble of the legend gave no hint to the significance, and that volume has since vanished.
I cannot imagine the purpose, or the library that could hold what has surely been accumulated. It would be as though transcribing the individual birds of a flock twittering about you. A dozen images appeared as I wrote this, and by the time you hold this, they will be lost in a thousand more. To be granted the world at once both intimate and distant is almost unbearable. I know so much is there, but can never know it, myself. It makes one feel very small, indeed.
The newest pages:
-A newborn of Rivaini complexion subtitled "bE qlK"
-A hornless Qunari with tightly braided hair, subtitled "viqpbkle abfi vlskb beQ"
-My wife again! Subtitled "illc x akxypre obe ,prqflz qplM"
-Two shadowed spheres among stars subtitled "aboofqp iboxE'kbC px bpmfizb kX"
—The notes of Scholar Bodaliere on The Emergent Compendium in the Original Tongue, author unknown
The Hedge Witch
- Main article: Codex entry: The Hedge Witch
Saramish was an witch who lived in the Planasene Forest about a hundred years ago. She possessed only a modicum of magical power—enough to draw the templars' attention, but not nearly enough to defend herself from them. As the templars closed in on her, Saramish worked a spell of transformation. No one knows what her intentions were, but the outcome could not have been to her liking. All that was left of Saramish when her spell was complete was a mighty hedge, almost as tall as a man.
The hedge was uprooted and taken to the College of Enchanters in Cumberland, where the enchanters declared it harmless, and not too different from a common hawthorn. Since hawthorn bushes do not have the capacity for thought, it was decided that it would be impossible for Saramish to return to her true form. Out of pity for the poor woman, the "hedge witch" was planted outside the college.
It was later uprooted and sold to a private collector of curios, as the college's groundskeepers could no longer maintain the "hedge witch"—for while it required very little water or sunlight, the bush's aggressive growth made constant trimming a necessity.
The Pickled Apples of Arlathan
- Main article: Codex entry: The Pickled Apples of Arlathan
I expressed my incredulity to the shop's assistant, who coldly noted that he did not like my implication. He insisted that every article in the Black Emporium was genuine—no fakes, imitations, or cheap knock-offs.
I must have appeared unconvinced, for the assistant narrowed his eyes at me and disappeared into the bowels of the shop, returning several minutes later. He removed the jar of pickled apples from its display case, and proceeded to carefully, reverentially, remove the wax seal from the lid of the jar.
I watched with fascination as the jar was opened, and a single, rosy apple pulled from it. It looked as if it had been picked just that day, at the peak of ripeness. With a paring knife, the assistant cut the tiniest sliver of flesh from the apple and presented it to me.
The flavor of that one small sliver was astonishing. It was as close to a perfect apple as ever there was. I was experiencing the essence of every apple ever eaten, and that ever will be eaten. When it was over, the sense of loss that filled me was sharp enough to move me to tears.
The rest of the apple was returned to the jar, which was then resealed. I paid five sovereigns for that single taste, and I believe I got the better part of the bargain.
Statue of Blessed Brother Joffrey of Ghislain
In 4:25 Black, Lord Joffrey of Montfort left the life of a courtier behind, citing irreconcilable differences with Lady Chantal of Val Chevin. He traveled to a small abbey outside Ghislain and took orders as an initiate of the Chantry.
From his cell, Brother Joffrey penned innumerable meditations on the nature of sin and the forgiveness of trespasses, most of which he sent to Lady Chantal.
In 4:40 Black, the Chantry declared the first Exalted March to end the heresy in Tevinter. Brother Joffrey celebrated the occasion by writing a series of letters to the chantry in Minrathous, denouncing their scandalous behavior and urging them to better themselves. Although none of his letters were answered, Brother Joffrey was undeterred—he continued writing to the Minrathous Chantry, suggesting in the strongest possible terms that they apologize to the Divine at once, as she was really quite upset.
Upon his death in 4:52 Black, the brothers of the Ghislain abbey found Joffrey's humble cell stacked with copies of his letters from floor to ceiling. The Divine officially recognized his efforts on behalf of the Chantry in 4:57 Black, when his correspondence was moved into the archive of the Grand Cathedral.
The skeletal hand of Brother Joffrey, still clutching his pen, is kept in a reliquary in Ghislain abbey to this day. There are several documented cases of people being overwhelmed by a desire to apologize after touching it.
- Main article: Codex entry: Velvet Cailan
According to rumor, King Cailan commissioned a large number of these paintings. The portraits were distributed to stores around Denerim shortly after his coronation, and the king received a portion of the profits from each sale. The coin funded his ever-growing kennel of mabari war dogs.
Art patrons throughout Thedas find the Velvet Cailans singularly revolting. As part of her ongoing mission to rid Thedas of their ghastly influence, Orlesian art collector Blanchette de Lemoux is offering a reward for every Velvet Cailan brought to her. Mistress de Lemoux has publicly derided the paintings and has been quoted as saying, "I despise furry art."
—Excerpt from the Hightown newsletter Artists' Quarterly
A Vessel of Tears
- Main article: Codex entry: A Vessel of Tears
Although this wax-stoppered vessel is clearly labeled "Tears Shed During the Burning of Treviso", many questions remain, not the least of which is: Which burning of Treviso? When the Qunari conquered it in 6:35 Steel? When it was burned by the liberating armies of the White and Black Divines during the Second Exalted March of 7:52 Storm? Or when it was accidentally burned to the ground in 8:62 Blessed after a dockhand knocked over a lantern in a warehouse full of lamp oil?
Even assuming the correct event could be determined, the question of whose tears have been collected remains. Presumably not any of the numerous fire victims. Surviving relatives, perhaps? Nobles with summer homes on the Antivan coast? It should be noted that nowhere on the label does it say that these tears were shed in relation to the event, so they could have been the tears of a woman in Montsimmard, weeping because she was not asked to dance at the last costume ball, unaware that at that very moment, one of the greatest port cities of Thedas was aflame.
Amgeforn the Foul
We called it Malvernis. The Pestilent One. It devoured thaigs, turning our fairest work into a noxious waste. It consumed living warriors, turning their bodies to slime, and when its hunger was not abated, it consumed the bones of our ancestors.
Foulness came from its touch, poison and filth and desecration. It threatened even the Stone itself. The Shapers bound it. Chained in lyrium stained with the blood of a hundred warriors. But within the orb, it hungered, it waited.
We carried it here to the wasteland of the surface, where it can threaten nothing of value. The Stone will live. The Stone must live. We have sworn to defend it from the Foul One at any price.
Amgeforn the Lonely Vigil
One watcher each generation will be chosen from the Warrior Caste. He will stand guard until his death.
Only the constant vigilance of the Stone's Children can keep the foulness of Malvernis at bay. The burden of living in exile beneath the sun is terrible, but this sacrifice, this amgeforn, will ensure the sanctity of the Stone forever.
—By decree of Paragon Ilona
Amgeforn the Wasteyard
You who must serve beneath the empty sky, you stand between this Poison and the Stone. The Ancestors will remember when all others have forgotten your name. Remember your oath: it must endure even beyond death itself. Be vigilant.
If the Pestilent One awakens, you will know it by these signs: The air will fill with the scent of putrefaction. You will hear a sound like the cadence of drums. Malvernis the Defiler will try to weaken your will and compel you to bear the orb out of Amgeforn, but you must hold fast.
This is the sacred duty that cannot be forsworn lest the Stone fall to poison and death.
Dumat, the Dragon of Silence
- Main article: Codex entry: Dumat, the Dragon of Silence
Dumat was the most powerful of the Old Gods, known as the Dragon of Silence for the vows of silence undertaken by his acolytes. Chantry lore claims it was he who taught the first magister, Archon Thalsian, the powers of blood magic. It was Dumat's followers who are believed to have entered the Golden City, thereby corrupting it with their presence.
Modern scholars question whether the Old Gods were truly gods, or whether they were merely a more advanced species of high dragon, possibly capable of magic or speech, that were worshipped by the ancient Tevinters. Whatever the truth of his history, Dumat was also the first of the imprisoned Old Gods to have been discovered by the darkspawn and thus transformed into the first Archdemon, the monstrous force behind the First Blight.
The First Darkspawn
- Main article: Codex entry: The First Darkspawn
Those who had been cast down, the demons who would be gods, began to whisper to men from their tombs within the earth. And the men of Tevinter heard, and raised altars to the pretender-gods once more, and in return were given, in hushed whispers, the secrets of darkest magic.
But it was not worship the false gods craved.
They urged the magisters to ever-greater depravity, rewarding them with power and more. Arrogance became a great caged beast in the lands of Tevinter, an emptiness that consumed all and could never be filled. To satisfy its hunger, the mage-lords, at the goading of their gods, assaulted the Golden City, heart of all creation, to take the Maker's power for themselves.
The moment they entered the city of the Maker, their sin poisoned it. What had been golden turned black, and violently they were flung from the world of dreams back into the waking world. Twisted and corrupted by their crime and their magic into monsters, they fled underground, unable to bear the light of day. The first darkspawn.
Mark of the Assassin
The ox-men do not kill their prisoners. The Qun abhors waste, and a person is a valuable commodity. Instead of death, we found ourselves housed in a labor camp run by the Ben-Hassrath. They called us "kabethari"—simple ones—and this was where we were to be inducted into the Qun.
The accommodations were no match for the State Inn in Minrathous, but we never expected them to be. Our dormitory was kept spotless, and we were fed three daily meals of a bland but nourishing porridge. Water and a strong unsweetened tea were always available as well.
Both males and females are chosen to join the Ben-Hassrath, which struck me as peculiar. I'd always heard that the Qunari drew distinctions between what counted as men's work and women's work. Thinking on it, however, perhaps it makes sense. The Ben-Hassrath are responsible for "re-education" and the assimilation of conqured peoples. Both women and men, in my experience, relate better to those of their own sex. It is thus prudent to choose women for the re-education of women and children, and men for that of men.
To their credit, the Ben-Hassrath were never cruel. They were always reasonable, if firm. I played along, repeating what they taught, but holding in my heart the truths by which I was raised.
Others were not so clever. Some of my platoon resisted the indoctrination, refusing even to pretend. The Ben-Hassrath see rebellion and discontent as an illness that can be cured, and they took these men to the "viddathlok," temples dedicated to healing and recovery. I do not know what happened there. The men who returned were changed in profound ways.
Others, we never saw again. I can only assume the "cure" did not take.
—From the memoirs of an Imperial soldier captured at sea
Bust of the Outlaw Bearded Beast
- Main article: Codex entry: Bust of the Outlaw Bearded Beast
What in this fearsome visage appeals to us? What virtue can this otherwise uncouth and generally suspect creature inform?
Raw, fiercely bearded aggression, not so much carved as inflicted by the chisel. Common humor claims that whole figures are carved, then sundered to the bust, the limbs used to beat the form from the next sculptor's block. Examples are common and deliberately crude—none claim to be an accurate representation of a specific person and the name is irrelevant, often stolen from the fears of the day.
So if it is not the honoring of a villain turned folk hero, what is left to discern? What does this say about the manners of court, that beneath is an affectation for such unfettered and brutal images of strength. What is hidden by this beard?
—Musings on a Form: The Beast, as collected by Jun Emond, Esr
Most of the Orlesian aristocracy has ties to the chevaliers. Joining the knighthood and dedicating one's life to the empire is a tried and true method to improve one's social standing. It is the obvious choice for landless nobles and noble children not in line to inherit.
The knighthood welcomes both men and women, although it is rare for a woman to choose the harsh life of a chevalier over the gentle bliss of marriage and children or the peace of the Chantry. Those who do are following in the footsteps of the first woman knight, Aveline, but we hope that not all meet as ghastly an end as she did.
Sadly, some members of the order abuse their power to commit atrocities that will not be recounted here. All decent Orlesians know them to be no true knights. One day, they shall answer to the Maker Himself.
The Cult of the Sky
The thane of Wyvern Hold, so the story goes, had a vision and in it he beheld his clan, sleeping, deep in their cups after a feast. And as he watched, they transformed one by one into serpents. The only ones who escaped this fate were those snatched up by eagles and carried away.
The thane took this to mean that a terrible calamity would befall his people and that only the Lady of the Skies could save them. So the Wyvern clan forswore all other gods and devoted themselves to the Lady.
But the other Avvar clans feared that the disrespect of Clan Wyvern would bring the wrath of Korth the Mountain-Father upon their people. The other thanes tried words and then blades to change Wyvern's ways without success.
When the Tevinter Imperium came with their legions to claim the mountains, many clans were wiped out, enslaved, or forced to flee across the Waking Sea to the south. Clan Wyvern, however, was not among them. They simply disappeared. And to this day some Avvar thanes will tell you—if they have had enough mead—that the last any soul ever saw of the Wyvern clan was a great flight of eagles descending to their hold.
Lady Amandine du Val
- Main article: Codex entry: Lady Amandine du Val
Lady Amandine du Val arrived at the court of Emperor Corentine, aged only fifteen, and by all accounts took it by storm. Her bright gold hair, expressive eyes, and graceful mannerisms endeared her to all. The emperor's sister, Lady Charlotte, wrote:
"Little Amandine is a true delight! Such sparkling wit, and oh, those dainty feet flitting across the ballroom... she is spring come upon our tired court."
This adoration did not last long, however. Not a year after her arrival, little Amandine became enchanted with a bard who taught her swordplay, amongst other things. Being young and nimble, Amandine took to blades like a fish to water. Seduced by the life of romance and high adventure, she ran away from court, dressed as a boy. In the years that followed, Amandine became a sailor, a highway robber, and a courtesan. Once, she was betrothed to the emperor's cousin.
At the age of forty-four, Amandine entered into a cloister. She remained there till the end of her life and died a penitent.
—From The Gallery of Knaves, a portrait book, compiled by Lady Wilhelmina Bonchance
A Library of Distinction
- Main article: Codex entry: A Library of Distinction
It was with no small flair that Duke Prosper de Montfort offered a home to the exiled Esme de Jolie's considerable library of social graces, including the ever-growing volumes of Courtly Prominence so carefully logged by the dedicated scholars of Her Majesty's intimate circle.
It was an act of charity to a former enemy that, while earning a considerable influence, was no small expense of delivery. De Montfort downplayed these elements with customary charm, insisting that he accepted this burden with the increase in status firmly second among his considerations. "It is an honor to be honored when literary lineage is the true benefactor. De Jolie can rest well knowing that I hold his treasured tomes where none shall harm or read them. If he is allowed to encroach upon Orlesian territory at some distant time, perhaps he can petition to visit them."
—A Library of Distinction: Notes on the Dispensing of the Holdings of the Disgraced Esme de Jolie, collected and edited by Delsea Veland in service of Duke Prosper de Montfort
Notes on the Avvar Sky Cult
- Main article: Codex entry: Notes on the Avvar Sky Cult
Every Avvar holy site, regardless of clan or deity, has a well-hidden opening in the altar which would be aligned with the rising sun on the Winter Solstice, where the sacred relics of the god or goddess would be enshrined. This would never be removed, even in dire emergency, for fear of angering the gods.
Avvar tales from the Divine Age are filled with warnings about those who mistreat or showed the least disrespect to altars of the Lady of the Skies. Unfortunately, the superstitious Avvars counted a host of innocuous things as disrespectful, including speaking, coughing, holding objects in your right hand, and possessing anything containing feathers. It is unlikely there is any real danger in approaching the altar.
Portrait of the Dowager
- Main article: Codex entry: Portrait of the Dowager
- See also: Mantillon (The Masked Empire) and Mantillon (Inquisition)
To a foreigner, this might sound like some sort of proverb. In fact, Dowager Lady Mantillon has been one of the most influential members of the Imperial Court for over thirty years, and nobody advances in the Game without her favor. The rumors surrounding her are many: She was Emperor Florian's mistress. She was Florian's assassin. She placed Empress Celene on the throne. She once killed a rival with only harsh words. She rules Orlais from the shadows.
One thing is certain, however. If you must have the best society in Orlais, ask a dance of the dowager.
—From A Guide to Good Society, by Lady Alcyone
Pride and Rider
- Main article: Codex entry: Pride and Rider
An image in oil of the last pure Anderfel stabled at court, before the practice of mounted sport fell from favor. This is an absolutely iconic and typical example of the artist.
The work preserves the true majesty of a species that, while in abundance on their natural plains, becomes exotic to a people who eschew mounted travel in their daily existence. An ambitious work often referred to as Pride and Rider, it is part of a series of similarly-themed canvasses which, for reasons known only to the creator, were labeled And Went the Griffon.
—Auction notes for the works of Bujete Pochesvides, a catalogue of the foreign and lost dispensed by the holding house of Therein and Whatnot
Qunari of Other Races
- Main article: Codex entry: Qunari of Other Races
Many believe that Qunari is the name of the race of horned behemoths from the north. They are mistaken. "Qunari" means "people of the Qun." There are elves, humans, even dwarves who have submitted to the Qun and who think of themselves as Qunari.
All soldiers of the Imperium must remain aware of this fact: Any person could be a Qunari spy. Elves seem particularly susceptible to conversion.
New converts uniformly become zealots, either of their own volition or as a result of the Ben-Hassrath's "re-education." Yet the converts still understand our culture as only those born to it can. They can move unnoticed in Tevinter lands. If elven, they may even return themselves to slavery.
These spies, as long as they remain undiscovered, will pass sensitive information to Par Vollen. They may even try to convert others by sowing doubt and uncertainty. Every Imperial soldier must watch for this treachery.
—From a lecture to new recruits of the Tevinter army
In uncertainty, find infinite possibility.
—An old Orlesian saying
Adder of Antiva
These brightly painted bows are prized possessions among the Antivan pirates. A rain of arrows can clear the deck of an approaching ship and light fire to its sails.
Among the magi, some still whisper of Caleth the Renegade. Seeking freedom from beneath the templars' heel, he fled the Chantry with a cabal of his most loyal acolytes. They reached the mountains before the winter squalls and lived there as free men for one glorious season. The spring thaws brought a vast mercenary army, however, paid for and led by the Templar Order. Wanting to avoid bloodshed, Caleth and his acolytes surrendered peaceably and allowed themselves to be made Tranquil.
Might of the Sten
This heavy Qunari sword is exquisitely balanced. Although no nicks mar the edge, the bloodstains on the leather grip suggest that it has seen its share of battle.
Ring of Resilience
This faceted iron ring pulses with a mysterious energy. As the beating of your heart increases, so does the intensity of its glow.
Emblazoned with the symbols of the Chantry templars and greatly scarred from use, this large iron shield bears an unseen weight. It has been warded against magic, to better protect the Seekers who wield it in the pursuit of apostate mages.