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!