Late in Act 2, return to the Hawke Estate to find Aveline requesting your help. Assuming you have recruited Isabela, she will also be present, and will argue with Aveline – Isabela has found the relic that she lost, and retrieving it would mean that her pursuer, Castillon, would spare her life. You will need to choose who to help first.
Enter the Hawke Estate at Hightown. If Isabela is present but you choose to help Aveline first, you immediately activate this quest – this will cause Isabela to leave permanently. If you don't want to lose her, help Isabela first (the To Catch a Thief quest), after which this quest will continue.
Depending on previous choices, it's possible that you will encounter Aveline by herself near the start of Act II at your estate. If this happens, you can accept the quest at this point with no adverse effect on Isabela as long as you don't go to the Arishok with Aveline before completing To Catch a Thief. Also, you will still have the above described encounter where Aveline and Isabela argue over who should help first after you complete Following the Qun.
Go with Aveline to the Qunari Compound by the Docks. She expects trouble, so finish any pressing business first. (Completing the quest ends the Act.) Make sure that the party has any desired potions, grenades and injury kits stocked as they will not be able to buy anything during the quest. It is also useful to enhance the party's Electricity Resistances, since they will face several Saarebas utilizing electricity spells against you.
When the conversation with the Arishok is started, the Arishok will ask Hawke about the status of their stolen relic. Choosing to tell him "Isabela has it" regarding the relic earns an amount of respect from him.
During the conversation, the two fugitive elves who were granted religious sanctuary will reveal their crime. A city guard forced himself on their sister. When they reported him, the authorities did nothing about it. So they took matters into their own hands and murdered the corrupt guard themselves.
- If Hawke disagrees with Aveline’s comment ("That doesn’t excuse murder") by saying "Yes it does", this gets Aveline: rivalry (+10) for doing so.
- If Hawke agree with Aveline’s comment by saying "Aveline is right", this gets Aveline: friendship (+10) for doing so.
The Arishok will ask Hawke's opinion on the matter of whether he should hand over the two elven fugitives for their trial.
- If Hawke has an aggressive personality and they choose the aggressive option then this will earn them another degree of respect from him.
- It's possible choosing not to hand them over will earn another degree of respect from him.
(All the respect goes towards earning the "A Worthy Rival" achievement. If Hawke has been honest and upfront in their actions and words during their dealings with the Arishok (particularly reporting his missing delegation, not hiding the zealot's torture, and telling him the truth about how they were tortured over the course of Offered and Lost), regardless of whether or not Hawke asked for money in the first Javaris business in Blackpowder Promise, Hawke can earn the achievement by the end of this conversation. It will unlock after the following cutscenes, on the screen where the player is prompted to choose the party. It's possible to have already earned enough respect for the achievement, but this conversation is the last chance to earn his full respect.)
Regardless, he is determined to defend the two elven "viddathari," as is his duty under the Qun. As he cannot simply leave Kirkwall without the relic, neither can he stay and remain blind to the city's "dysfunction." The conversation will end with his decision to attack the city and convert it to the Qun.
After the attack on the party in the Qunari Compound and a short cutscene, they appear in Lowtown and are given a chance to rearrange your party.
- If Hawke does not accept Aveline, they will get Aveline: rivalry (+10) or Aveline: friendship (+5) if your friendship is high enough.
- If Hawke accepts Aveline in your party, they will get Aveline: friendship (+10). She tells Hawke to go to the Viscount's Keep.
- (Picking or not picking her does not have any influence on your friendship with Aveline in patch 1.04)
Note : If Hawke chooses their romantic partner, there will be a small scene with them indicating their worry over you.
Passing through Gamlen's neighborhood you will find a group of Grey Wardens. If the game imported a Dragon Age: Origins save where Alistair was not made King, killed or exiled, he will be leading the Wardens and will give Hawke the Sacred Heart amulet. Otherwise the Wardens will be led by Stroud, who will give Hawke the Warden's Promise ring instead. If you took Bethany or Carver on The Deep Roads Expedition and they survived, they will be among the Wardens as well. They will not rejoin your party.
Hawke can choose to go south first to an optional fight with a large party of Coterie-dressed Looters, led by a Coterie Rogue. After this, the party will fight a Sten, along with other Qunari, right before they enter Hightown. Two waves will spawn in this lower section of the market area, with melee Elven supporters.
The opening battle of Hightown pits the party against a Sten with at least one Ashaad, followed by a Saarebas that spawns after the battle starts.
At the end of this battle, the party is blindsided by another Saarebas. Knight-Commander Meredith dispels its magic and runs it through. After a brief discussion, she asks Hawke to meet her at the Viscount's Keep. Unlock the Complex-ranked chest for loot and keep moving. There is a massive battle at the Merchants' Guild square, featuring Qunari battling Carta Thugs. They will attack each other at first, but if party members build enough threat they will put their differences aside to kill them.
On the way to the main square, there is a corpse on the ground, which can be looted for the Recipe: Elixir of Heroism. Easily missed, the corpse is located in a corner to the right, just before entering the square. After killing a few enemies in the main square, a Saarebas will spawn. After the final enemy falls there will be a series of cutscenes that result in moving on from this area.
In the first cutscene, First Enchanter Orsino is lying on the ground and Hawke helps him to his feet. If Bethany was the surviving sibling and she was not taken on the Deep Roads Expedition, Orsino will heal her and she will leave with him. Meredith will arrive shortly after with her reinforcements. If Carver was the surviving sibling and he was not taken on the expedition, he will be the one appearing with Meredith as she leads a group of templars to join you.
After saving Orsino, you must choose between Meredith's and Orsino's plans. If Hawke is diplomatic, you can also ask them to stop arguing, after which Orsino suggests that you lead them and make the decisions. If you follow Meredith's plan, you will fight more Qunari; this plan gives you more items and experience. Whichever choice you make, the hostages are not killed.
As the party enters the Viscount's Keep, they are attacked by a large contingent of Qunari led by a Saarebas and later a Sten. After the fight, loot the remains and containers and disarm any remaining traps. Obtain the The Seal of Kirkwall and Twice-Blessed Ring. Go to the Viscount's Throne Room in the back and a cutscene will start.
If Hawke did not get the Arishok's respect (A Worthy Rival achievement) he will order several Qunari to attack you before he will talk with you.
If Hawke has romanced Isabela at some point in the past or has fifty points of Friendship or Rivalry with her, she will return with the Relic and they must now choose whether to give Isabela to the Arishok or not.
- If Hawke refuses to turn Isabela over:
- If Hawke says that you will punish her:
- If Hawke appeases the Arishok by giving him Isabela, they will lose her forever. The Arishok and the rest of the Qunari will leave Kirkwall peacefully. Isabela will be furious with Hawke and vow revenge. If Aveline is in the party then Aveline: rivalry (+10).
The Arishok will offer Hawke a duel:
- If Hawke refuses to turn Isabela over when the Arishok demands it.
- If Isabela did not return and:
If Hawke agrees, there will be a one-on-one duel to the death ( Varric: friendship (+10). See Arishok (strategy) for details on fighting him in single combat. Otherwise you will have to fight the entire group.
If the duel is not offered or is offered and refused, the party will fight the Arishok and his Qunari to the death (the Arishok may be easier to beat this way). If the Arishok is the only one alive at the end of the combat, this provides an opportunity to loot the other bodies.
After the battle, Hawke is rewarded with Sataareth and the Mantle of the Champion gloves. Note: The Arishok is not meant to be looted, nor is it possible to do so. When the killing blow is landed, he does not actually die, but rather, turns into an "ally" (blue ground ring) and a plot point. The cut scene then triggers, so a lootable body is never present.
After some more cutscenes, three years have passed and Act 3 begins.
- Act 2 of Varric's Tale of the Champion ends, and Act 3 begins.
- The Qunari leave Kirkwall.
- With the Qunari threat ended, the nobility of Kirkwall and Knight-Commander Meredith declare Hawke to be the Champion of Kirkwall. Cassandra queries Varric on these final moments of the battle, finding it "romantic" if Hawke defeated the Arishok in single combat. Seeing that Hawke is very heroic in Varric's tale compared to the version of the story she had heard, she begins to wonder how different the events that followed truly are. She is starting to believe that Varric's account is the truthful one, and wishes to know how the events at the Gallows played out.
For the final showdown inside the throne room of Viscount's Keep, there are three choices available. Two of them yield the same experience.
- Giving Isabela to the Arishok results in no fight. (13200xp)
- Dueling Arishok. (13200xp)
- Fighting Arishok and killing all Qunari with him. (13886xp)
There are also several items that are given as rewards or that may be picked up during the course of this quest:
- Recipe: Elixir of Heroism
- Depending on class:
- - Requires a Dragon Age: Origins save import where Alistair did not stay with the Grey Wardens.
- - Requires a Dragon Age: Origins save import where Alistair is still in the Grey Wardens, i.e. isn't King and wasn't imprisoned or exiled after the Landsmeet.
- Even though it is seen that a qunari snaps the neck of one of the citizens in the keep he is seen cheering after Hawke is victorious, this is however due to the fact that they use the same model for multiple individuals.
- After talking to the Arishok in the Qunari Compound, when you talk to Aveline and get the Change Party screen, if you do not add Aveline to the party, she tells you to go to your estate. This is impossible as you cannot enter your estate once the Qunari have attacked the city.
- Just after the talk with Aveline, sometime during the first fight (when Qunari appear on the stairs) Some Qunari might clip through the stairs and end up beneath it, causing companions to get stuck in attack mode without it being possible to kill the enemy. These enemies will follow you beneath the ground and cause some companions to be unable to move. Reloading can (but does not always) fix this bug. Luring the Qunari to the bottom of the stairs will prevent this. You may also kill the stuck enemies with AoE spells such as Cone of Cold or Holy Smite if you lure them down the stairs (though you cannot directly target them with any spells).
- Approaching the Qunari compound at night will turn the city guards stationed outside the compound into hostile NPCs. After the fight a single guard NPC remains at his post. Returning to the Docks during the day makes all the guards appear at their posts again. (As of Patch 1.02 this is no longer the case.)
- After killing the last group of Qunari, your game may send you back to an earlier dialog.
- If you choose to slaughter the Qunari in the Viscount's throne room, the closing cutscene may still feature Qunari standing around the throne room area.
- If you choose to duel the Arishok one on one, the post-duel cutscene may not trigger after defeating him. Instead, he may revive himself and become unkillable. This occurs when the 20,000 experience from defeating him causes Hawke to level up. PC users can solve this by using the console to add experience until it would require more than 20,000 to reach the next level.
- If the Arishok backs you against the wall with the entrance door, he may knock you through the door/wall. It is impossible to get back into the room and finish the fight.
- If this occurs, as a mage, you may still be able to defeat the Arishok from the back room during the glitch and gain an advantage as his attacks will not be able to harm you. Elemental Fire/Ice attacks can strike the Arishok if positioned correctly near the wall the Arishok is attempting to attack you.
- If you defeat the Arishok as an Archer Rogue, the cutscene will show your character dual wielding to make the killing blows.
- Sometimes Isabela would not return, even if you had 50% or more friendship or rivalry. The only known way to fix this is by using the console to set your relationship to an active romance, and after Act 2 has ended, clear the romance.
- Using the console to fix Isabela can set the Denied or Ended romance flags if you're in a romance with a different companion. Before their Act 3 romances will progress properly, you'll need to use the console and clear those flags.
- During the duel with Arishok, the quest will mark itself as completed in your journal even though Arishok is still alive.