- 1 Confessions of a Lyrium Addict
- 2 Dwarven Runecraft
- 3 Eluvians
- 4 Lyrium
- 5 Oculara
- 6 Phylacteries
- 7 Red Lyrium
- 8 Regarding the Calling
- 9 Spirit of Wisdom
- 10 Spirits and Demons
- 11 The Black City
- 12 The Breach
- 13 The Creation of a Phylactery
- 14 The Laws of Nature in the Fade
- 15 The Lost Art of Veilfire
- 16 The Risk of Saarebas
- 17 The Rite of Tranquility
- 18 The Tranquil
- 19 The Veil
- 20 Veilfire Runes in the Deep Roads
- 21 Vitaar
Confessions of a Lyrium Addict
A prison cell, a scrap of paper for my confession, scarce enough bread and water. All I get for skimming one lousy bottle from the lyrium stores. Knight-Lieutenants Freyan cut my normal rations for "insubordination." Insubordination, my arse. It's because I saw him desert the guard tower to meet his girl. Freyan thought he'd teach me a lesson.
I'm thirsty, but the water doesn't work. It should be more... blue.
You take it like medicine at first, the lyrium. Your whole body sings with it, like the Maker's own fire. You're not scared of anything, not even abominations. After, it even takes away the nightmares.
But the ration's too small. If they don't give you enough, your hands get cold. The sky starts to press down on you. Little things slip away. So you have to stay.
The senior templars all have that look, that cloudy look in their eyes.
"Sign your confession," they said. I'm trying. I can't think of what name to sign.
- Main article: Codex entry: Dwarven Runecraft
Within the Diamond Quarter of Orzammar lies the Shaperate, a branch of dwarven society so ancient that the dwarves themselves do not know when or where it began. They are the keepers of history for a people who have never known the sun or seasons, and who track time by the lives and deaths of kings. But they are not mere historians. They are craftsmen. For the living history of the dwarves is not written, but forged. "The Memories," as the dwarves call their records, are runes painstakingly crafted from lyrium which contain the actual thoughts of the Shapers who made them.
The making of runes is not restricted solely to the Shapers. The most commonly useful kind are crafted by many members of the Smith Caste from lyrium and other magically reactive metals and can imbue a variety of fascinating new properties to an item when properly applied, just as the runes of Tevinter design do. But runes are found everywhere in dwarven artwork and not all serve a practical purpose - at least, not one that's known. They are carved onto houses and store fronts. They are embroidered on garments. Etched in glassware. Even painted on chamber pots.
The meanings of the symbols themselves are sacred knowledge kept by the Shaperate. They are not, as many surface-folk believe, the written language of the modern dwarves, but rather are remnants of a lost language that predates Orzammar, the dwarven kingdom, and even the tens of thousands of years of history recorded in the Memories. The Shaperate recognizes the meanings of a few dozen dwarven runes. "Memory," obviously, is used for their record keeping. Many have not so much been translated as inferred. Runes which decorate both armor and load-bearing architecture might very well mean "Strength" or "Endurance." New symbols are unearthed now and then in the fallen thaigs, brought back by the Legion of the Dead and jealously hoarded by the Shapers who struggle to find their uses and origins. Were these symbols an earlier version of the written dwarven tongue? A language that fell into disuse, replaced by the modern King's Tongue? It is hard to guess, and the Memories offer us no wisdom.
Let me tell you something: there are mirrors. Old mirrors, from the ancient times when our people ruled every part of this land. Only they're not really mirrors—they're eluvians. You find some dusty old scholar, he's going to tell you our people used eluvians to talk to each other. Don't believe it. They're portals. You walk into one, and eventually you come out the other side... or, at least, this is what I'm told.
You ever wonder why they've never found any elven roads, like our ancestors never walked anywhere? That's why! They used eluvians, and there are still eluvians in the old places today. Some of them even work, and Briala knows where they are. If we can get our hands on them, we'll have an advantage that no human could ever hope to counter: the ability to move across half of Thedas in a heartbeat.
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 its 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.
A skull set upon a staff, these macabre artifacts cause magical shards in the area to glow with magical radiance when a viewer looks through the eyes of the skull.
Alexius was quite clear in his orders. We must scour the countryside to find more of the shards. Without them, the Venatori cannot claim the treasure our master seeks. For that, we need the oculara. Without them, the shards are nearly impossible to find, even if they are no longer cloaked by whatever magic hid them for all these centuries.
There must be more Tranquil in the area—the rebels abandoned most of them when they fled their Circles. Remember, the skull will only attune properly if the Tranquil is in close proximity to one of the shards when the demon is forced to possess him. Even then, the blow must be delivered immediately. The oculara produced from Tranquil killed even minutes later failed to illuminate the shards when used.
I trust you to continue your efforts in this matter. Our master expects success.
—A letter found in an abandoned house in Redcliffe Village
A phylactery is a vessel, often a glass vial, containing the essence of a magical being. The Circle of Magi and the Chantry use small phylacteries filled with blood—taken from apprentice magi—to track down mages that turn apostate to flee the wrath of the templars.
Before an apprentice passes his Harrowing, his phylactery is kept at his home Circle Tower. Phylacteries of first enchanters are stored in the White Spire, an Orlesian Circle and the Templar Order stronghold. Vials belonging to legal, yet powerful and controversial mages are kept in carefully hidden caches in remote locations. For anyone but a member of the Chantry, tracking one down is all but impossible—quite literally like trying to find a needle in a hay farm.
To answer your question, my lord: yes, I have indeed heard of this "red lyrium" of which you speak. A single piece of it surfaced in the eastern city of Kirkwall, and its influence alone was nearly enough to cause the city's destruction. As near as we can determine, it is regular lyrium that has been somehow corrupted. Those who have touched red lyrium—or even come near it—report that it "sings" to them, like whispers in the mind that slowly drive them mad.
We do not know, however, what might stem from extended contact with red lyrium. Madness, surely, but would there be a physical corruption as well? What would happen if a mage or a templar used red lyrium as they use regular lyrium?
Far more disturbing is the fact that lyrium could be corrupted at all. Treat any red lyrium you encounter as if it were poison. Do not go near it, do not attempt to destroy it... and most importantly, do not attempt to use it.
—From a partially burned letter by an unknown writer, affixed with the Grey Warden seal.
Regarding the Calling
So many refuse to speak of it, but how can we know it, how can we identify it, if we do not share it? The Calling is not a source of shame. The song that whispers in the back of my mind is no evil upon my soul, but the mark of a life well lived in service of a greater good. If all things come from the Maker, then is this too not part of His plan? Could it not be a gift, a final haunting melody to send us into the afterlife with hearts opened? Could this not be His song?
It scratches at my thoughts, the music almost a voice, at once unearthly and beautiful. I found myself humming it aloud a few days past. Where once it intruded, it now feels a natural part of my mind's course. It coils around memories I hold dear—training with Ser Keller, riding in the moonlight, my mother's face the last time I saw her—and inserts itself into them, so that I could almost swear that music, that sense of a presence watching and calling, had always been a part of what I remember.
This is what the senior Wardens warned us of, I imagine. I should not find it beautiful. I must remember the corruption and recognize that my mind is slowly losing the wit to differentiate between this world, and that which would consume and destroy it. I must. I can.
But if I am to die, after all I have given, can I not at least allow myself the pleasure of the song's beauty?
—The final pages of To My Fellow Wardens, by Ser Marjorie Berran
Spirit of Wisdom
- Main article: Codex entry: Spirit of Wisdom
When the summoning ritual was complete, the spirit appeared. Both spirits and demons have no gender as we understand it, but this one, much like the rare and dangerous desire demon, presented as female. Although its form was not threatening, the spirit carried itself with a confidence, an awareness, I suppose, that I have seen only in the most powerful of demons.
This spirit of wisdom was polite and courteous. It answered our questions about the Fade, even acknowledging the difficulty when we could not understand what it meant. There was none of the bargaining one normally associates with a summoned creature, save that the spirit sometimes asked us questions as well. Heras shared a mathematical formula he had recently proven, while Etrenne explained her study on magical themes in the Chant of Light, and young Rhys talked a little about his mother.
When we were finished, the spirit thanked us for the conversation and then vanished, although none of us had dismissed it. We soon discovered that the summoning ritual we had devised was critically flawed. The spirit had been under no compulsion to come or remain. All the time it had talked with us, it had stayed of its own volition. Heras was greatly concerned that such a powerful spirit remained free, and has updated the ritual to correct for the weakness in the binding enchantment. I understand his caution, but I also confess that I quite enjoyed the conversation. I am not certain the spirit would have talked so freely had it been shackled at the time.
—An excerpt from Spirits of the Spire by Senior Enchanter Francois
Spirits and Demons
- Main article: Codex entry: Spirits and Demons
When first I summoned her, she was a rose,
Unwithering, unchanging, and unthorned,
A spirit of the purest love one knows,
Who never hated, coveted, or scorned.
A second time I drew her 'cross the Veil,
And shared a walk, a dance, a stolen kiss;
With such a perfect beauty, pure and pale,
No woman could compare, no man resist.
Then in my weakness I essayed a third,
Tho' magisters their warnings did impart.
She broke my binding with a single word,
And said this smiling as she clutched my heart:
"Though love I was, your passion's changing fire
Has forged this spirit into cruel Desire."
The Black City
- Main article: Codex entry: The Black City
No traveler to the Fade can fail to spot the Black City. It is one of the few constants of that ever-changing place. No matter where one might be, the city is visible. (Always far off, for it seems that the only rule of geography in the Fade is that all points are equidistant from the Black City.)
The Chant teaches that the Black City was once the seat of the Maker, from whence He ruled the Fade, left empty when men turned away from Him. Dreamers do not go there, nor do spirits. Even the most powerful demons seem to avoid the place.
It was golden and beautiful once, so the story goes, until a group of powerful magister-lords from the Tevinter Imperium devised a means of breaking in. When they did so, their presence defiled the city, turning it black. (Which was, perhaps, the least of their worries.)
—From Beyond the Veil: Spirits and Demons by Enchanter Mirdromel
What does it mean to pierce the Veil, that which separates our world from the realm of dreams and demons? For the average man and woman, it is a frightening thought to consider just how fragile this separation actually is.
The Veil is not a physical curtain, not a structure limited to a particular place—it is everywhere. It is in their home, in the streets where they walk, in farmers' fields as well as remote mountain vales. At any moment it could be torn to shreds, allowing demons and other horrors to flood into our world like water through a burst dam.
Known lore tells us that small rifts can be sealed... but what about a large one? What if some catastrophic magical event created a rift so large and horrific, it weakened the integrity of the Veil as a whole? Such a "breach" would threaten our entire world, turning concerns about occasional demonic intrusion into a charming anecdote compared to the monsters we would then face.
If there is anything to be done, any reason we should look at magic with fear, it is for that possibility more than any other.
The Creation of a Phylactery
We let the boy rest, the first night they brought him to the White Spire, I convinced Knight-Commander Belrose to delay the ritual 'til the morning. The journey was long, and the lad could barely keep his eyes open, poor thing. I was certain escape was the furthest thing from his mind. Medine found him a clean cot in with the other young apprentices, and when I came in with his supper, he was already fast asleep.
In the morning, I showed Medine how the phial was to be prepared. First, a simple charm to preserve and protect the glass. Then a spell that to keep the blood from forming dark clots. The last step could only be completed with the apprentice present. I sent a young templar recruit off with the message that we were ready.
The boy was escorted to the chamber by Belrose himself. I could tell he had just been awakened. There was a smear of dirt from his face, perhaps from the road. I called the boy to me and cleaned his cheek with my sleeve as I explained the ritual. "We have to take your blood," I said. "Because you're special and we don't want you to be lost. If it happens, the blood will allow us to find you and bring you home again."
I let Medine take the lancet this time. The tremor in my hands was worse that day, and I didn't want to make too deep a cut. I held the boy close, and Medine made a small, neat incision on his palm, exactly as instructed. I felt the boy struggle and start to cry. He tried to pull away, but Medine gripped his hand firmly, letting the blood run into the phial.
Then Medine cast the spell, like we practiced. Within the phial, the blood churned, and grew bright in the presence of the mage to whom it was bound. It was done. Another phylactery, another link forged. He was leashed to the White Spire.
The boy could not look away from the glow. He was enthralled, and the pain and the tears were forgotten. "See? This is magic," I said to him. "When you are older, I will teach you." Belrose let the boy hold his phylactery for several minutes before he locked it away in the chamber.
The Laws of Nature in the Fade
It is simple to say that the laws of nature do not apply in the Fade, but while traveling in the Fade is often confusing for mages, it is rarely so chaotic as to defy description. In fact, while the placement of items may seem random, those items usually operate as we would expect them to in the real world. A book opens to show pages, although the pages may be blank or lined with gibberish. A pen and inkwell let a user write, though the pen may write on its own, and the inkwell never runs dry. Those items that float usually hover at the relative height where they would have sat had the objects meant to support them existed—candles suspended in the air as though held by a phantom candlestick, for example.
Why are the laws of the Maker bent but not fully broken? Why does a book not turn into a dragon, or a statue explode into countless shards of energy? The answer, I believe, lies in the fact that the items we see in the Fade were most often made by the hands of men. A statue is a created thing. The mortal hands that shaped it gave it purpose, and it knows what it is meant to do. The objects that strain against the laws of nature are ironically those that are more natural themselves. Great stones, for example, hang in the sky. No hand has ever touched them, no mortal mind shaped them to purpose.
I suspect, though we may never know, that if dwarves dreamt and shaped the Fade with their own perceptions, the rocks would not float.
—From The Shape of the Fade by Enchanter Ephineas Aserathan
The Lost Art of Veilfire
- Main article: Codex entry: The Lost Art of Veilfire
Though it is an elven magic, I submit that veilfire is worthy of consideration, for they perfected it at the height of their civilization. Certainly, mages often use it as a source of light, for its flame burns without wood or oil. It can also activate dormant spells, which has its uses. Veilfire's true potential, however, is as a medium for writing.
Veilfire runes convey more than the literal meaning of their text. Veilfire can transfer a tangible impression of sights, sounds, and even emotions on the reader. With diligent practice, any mage can learn this astonishing technique, but compared to the ancient elves' examples, current works are crude. I hope this book will guide those who, like myself, would rekindle an interest in this delicate art. Together, let us rediscover subtleties lost to the ages.
—From Veilfire: A Beginner's Primer with Numerous Teachings, Exercises, and Applications, by Magister Pendictus
The Risk of Saarebas
This sheaf of notes is written mostly in Qunlat. But select paragraphs have been translated into the common tongue:
Those born outside the Qun will not comprehend the seriousness of using mages to help us. They believe the worst that can befall a mage is demon possession. They do not truly understand that the loss of mastery comes with a loss of the self. Those of the Qun since birth do not understand why we risk using saarebas. We have immersed them in a sea of magic until it seems impossible they could ever do anything but drown. It is right that we enlighten you so your purpose here is clear.
We have learned from this place that there lived an elven mage who saw a great wrong and sacrificed all to right it. This mage made the Veil, which protects us from the Fade. This Veil stripped power from his rulers, who had treated their people with such excess that it makes the southern kings and queens seem staid.
Thus does every action carry rightness and all paths converge.
In his greatest magic, the elven mage became an agent of peace through the Veil. In our willingness to brave this place, we may discover how the Veil can be strengthened through our own mages. For that, we risk our lives. The saarebas who have joined in this endeavor understand the dangers and have made their choice. Remember the words of Ashkaari Koslun:
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.
For peace, we will endure any horror here. We will create a safer world, or destroy the old one.
The Rite of Tranquility
- Main article: Codex entry: The Rite of Tranquility
We called it the Rite of Tranquility: a mind, branded with lyrium, brought to a state devoid of either emotion or sense of self. The rite was required to achieve the true peace that could draw a spirit of faith from the depths of the Fade. A difficult task, considering a Tranquil mind is all but invisible to these beings. The candidate must be pure. If the candidate proved worthy, the spirit would touch his mind... and he would be freed from Tranquility as well as made into a Seeker in truth. If he proved unworthy, Tranquility was permanent.
It was only later, when the first mage attempted to join our Order and failed, that we learned Tranquility rendered a mage unable to access his magic, as well as immune to demonic possession. Thus, when the Circle of Magi was born, we gave them the most holy rite we possessed. It was a sacrifice we made for the good of all, so dangerous mages could be spared execution and yet live productive and harmonious lives. What we did not give them was the secret of its reversal. That knowledge, and our ancient bond with the spirits of faith, shall forever be solely ours to keep.
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.
- 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.
Veilfire Runes in the Deep Roads
In the light of the veilfire, the runes seem to shift, coiling and uncoiling like snakes. A thunderous voice shatters the stillness, shouting:
For a moment, the scent of blood fills the air, and there is a vivid image of green vines growing and enveloping a sphere of fire.
The vision grows dark. An aeon seems to pass. Then the runes crackle, as if filled with an angry energy.
A new vision appears: elves collapsing caverns, sealing the Deep Roads with stone and magic.
Terror, heart-pounding, ice-cold, as the last of the spells is cast.
A voice whispers:
"What the Evanuris in their greed could unleash would end us all. Let this place be forgotten. Let no one wake its anger. The People must rise before their false gods destroy them all."
After extensive study of the Qunari specimens you kindly provided, I've come to the conclusion that the painted markings on their face and body are not, in fact, solely for ceremonial purpose, but provide a practical benefit. Oh, I'm certain there is some cultural significance to the patterns and colors they choose, but the Qunari do nothing without purpose, yes?
They call these markings "vitaar," which in their tongue means "poison armor." It's called this because the markings are magical in nature and actually harden their skin to an iron-like quality without hindering flexibility, and my analysis says the paint consists largely of poison. It's mixed with something else—blood, perhaps their own?—and that neutralizes the poison, but only for one with Qunari physiology. Anyone else would perish almost instantly (which reminds me: I'll kindly require another body slave). The process activates the magical qualities of the poison, which provides the protective effects, almost in the same manner that lyrium runes do.
How this works, and whether it can be used for our purposes, will require further study. Perhaps some live specimens this time?