The First Blight began in -395 Ancient (800 TE) and lasted nearly two centuries, the longest Blight in history. Many thought it to be the end of days, and entire generations lived and died warring with the darkspawn.
- 1 Background
- 2 Dwarven empire
- 3 Tevinter Imperium
- 4 The Grey Wardens
- 5 First slaying of Dumat
- 6 Battle of the Silent Plains
- 7 Aftermath
- 8 See also
- 9 Note texts
- 10 See also
- 11 References
Corruption of Dumat
- See also: Second Sin
In -395 Ancient (800 TE), seven Tevinter magisters, each the High Priest to one of the Old Gods opened a gate into the Golden City with blood magic and entered it physically. According to the Orlesian Chantry, the result was catastrophic; the City turned black, and the mages came back twisted and corrupted, devolving into monsters—the first darkspawn. The taint they carried infected others, turning them into darkspawn as well.
By chance or design, the darkspawn located Dumat in his prison and corrupted him, freeing and transforming the Old God into the first Archdemon. The darkspawn multiplied and, in -380 Ancient (815 TE), attacked the underground kingdoms en masse, concentrating at first on the Deep Roads. Although there were early warnings of the advancing horde—travelers who mysteriously disappeared, patrols of dwarven warriors gone missing while on duty—they were subtle at best, nothing to truly indicate what was to come.
- See also: Corypheus
The Orlesian Chantry teaches that the magisters were trying to usurp the Maker's throne and were cast out of the Golden City for their sinful pride. In their depravity they sought the Old Gods, and, finding Dumat slumbering deep within the earth, began the Blight. The dwarves, on the other hand, give little credit to Chantry beliefs, but they themselves have only theories about the origin of the darkspawn. As far as the dwarves are concerned, the darkspawn first appeared underground invaded the Deep Roads and began to attack the more remote western thaigs, at first with small war bands and later with a horde that overran the dwarven empire in just a few years.
A few Grey Warden scholars believe the magisters may have even found Dumat by that time, and that it was he who helped them to reach the Golden City. Different groups of mages may have been pursuing different agendas that were later fused.
The First Blight was disastrous for everyone who lived during that time, but arguably none more so than the dwarves. Despite the advanced technology the dwarves brought to bear, the darkspawn tore through them and brought the race to the near-brink of extinction. The more remote thaigs, completely unprepared for the hordes that poured out of the darkness, were the first to fall in a matter of days. The darkspawn swiftly overran the sites of their early victories and used them as staging grounds to push further into the dwarven empire, conquering entire kingdoms in the span of decades.
When the First Blight began, the dwarven capital of Orzammar was caught in the midst of a bitter inter-house war. The greatest members of the Warrior caste were either busy battling in its petty skirmishes, or had been injured in those fights. When news of the darkspawn horde arrived, every noble dwarven house wished to have their own thaig defended, leading to political chaos and a disorganized defense. The Assembly was so tied up with the infighting that the darkspawn spread, unchecked, to the gates of Orzammar.
Aeducan of the Warrior caste, realizing that his entire race was facing certain doom, grudgingly took command of the armies, called upon the Smith caste to supply them with arms, enlisted the aid of the Mining caste to collapse overrun passages, and bypassed the Assembly and the nobles entirely. Eventually Aeducan achieved victory but with the loss of countless thaigs. In reward for his heroism, Aeducan was made Paragon by a near-unanimous vote of the Assembly.
Introduction of golems
In -255 Ancient (940 TE), the dwarven smith Caridin discovered a method to forge a construct of steel or stone with great strength and survivability. Those living engines, named golems, became one of the dwarves' most effective weapons against the darkspawn. For the first time since the start of the Blight, the dwarves were able to reclaim thaigs and sections of the Deep Roads that had long been given up for lost. Golems became the backbone of the dwarven armies, and some were even exported to Tevinter.
However, to bring each golem to life required the soul of a living dwarf. Initially, volunteers gave their lives willingly, but controversy arose when there were no more volunteers to be found. The dwarven monarch at the time, King Valtor, became greedy and forced casteless, criminals and his political enemies onto the Anvil. When Caridin opposed the king, after six years of continuous production, he too was made into a golem.
In -248 Ancient (947 TE), just when dwarves believed they were winning the battle against the darkspawn, Caridin vanished into the Deep Roads, taking his followers, the Anvil, and the secret of the golems' construction with him. Many were accused of having a hand in his disappearance, but no culprit was found. Many expeditions were sent into the Deep Roads to search for him, but all were pushed back by the darkspawn. After years of debate in the Assembly, Queen Getha sent the entire Legion of Steel, a force of 126 steel golems, into the Deep Roads with the task to recover the Anvil, but none of the golems ever returned. The Shaperate declared Caridin dead, dashing any hope of a swift victory over the darkspawn. Due to the incalculable loss of the Legion of Steel, Queen Getha was deposed and all-golem regiments were forbidden in the Deep Roads, the remaining golems in Orzammar became coveted and are only to be used in the most dire circumstances.
—From Codex entry: The Blights
The darkspawn used the tunnels of the Deep Roads to travel to all corners of the continent and they surfaced on the edges of the Tevinter Imperium in -380 Ancient (815 TE). The armies of the Imperium attempted to face down the darkspawn hordes, but they could not be everywhere at once. As the hordes continued to rise up from underground, Tevinter was forced to turn its focus further and further inward, leaving its outlying territories to fend for themselves. The armies were called on to protect Minrathous above all else.
As the darkspawn advanced on the surface, the land around was sucked of moisture, blackening the earth and turning plants to dust. The skies filled with rolling black clouds that blocked the sun. Disease and rot followed.
Not only had the Blight ravaged the countryside, but Tevinter citizens had to face the fact that their own gods had turned against them. Gifts and prayers to the remaining Old Gods went unanswered, and many began to question their faith, some going as far as murdering priests and burning temples. The people of the far northern and eastern reaches of the Imperium rose up in rebellion. The magisters summoned demons in response, leaving corpses to burn as examples to all who would dare revolt. Still, the Imperium began to fall apart from within, angry and disillusioned citizens doing what centuries of opposing armies could not.
The Memories record that large forces of darkspawn began to bypass barricaded thaigs to strike on the surface from unexpected quarters. Although the dwarves sent warnings to the human kingdoms when they could, they had little other assistance to spare.
While the Imperial troops were more than adept at fighting elves and other humans, their armies were in no way prepared for the unyielding, unrelenting thirst of the darkspawn, and the Imperium began to lose its ability to maintain cohesion. Whole cities that had once depended on the Imperium's armies for defense were swallowed by the ravaging darkspawn.
The Grey Wardens
In -305 Ancient (890 TE), at the height of the Blight, the Order of the Grey Wardens was born. The Wardens were all seasoned veterans from darkspawn battles; humans, elves and dwarves who abandoned their allegiances, titles and families and dedicated themselves to end the Blight at any cost. A fortress was built at Weisshaupt in the Anderfels, a region not as hard hit by the darkspawn but still strategically close to Tevinter.
They developed the Joining ritual, that proved instrumental to their success. Those who underwent the ritual became nearly-immune to the taint, could sense the presence of darkspawn, and could "overhear" their unspoken communication.
The Wardens then began an aggressive campaign against the darkspawn, reclaiming lands that most had given up for lost. They built fortresses at strategic points and grew in reputation as well as numbers, recruiting from all races and backgrounds.
Led by the legendary Carinus, the first Wardens actively searched for more effective ways to fight. Records say that Nakiri of the Donarks was the first one to suggest consuming darkspawn's blood, as his people were known to consume the blood of their enemies to absorb their power. The first Grey Wardens consulted many Tevinter mages, who confirmed that there was power in blood, as blood magic was far from uncommon at that time, and the Wardens began studying Donark and Tevinter practices. Some secret knowledge from ancient Arlathan was provided by elven slaves as well, on the condition that the Grey Wardens would hold elves equal with the other races, and turn their efforts to elven liberation once the Blight was over. Several notable dwarven warriors, led by Paragon Moroc the Maul, were also present at the Grey Wardens' founding. They shared all they had learned about the darkspawn with their Warden allies. Through the Joining they also had proof that the darkspawn were driven by a centralized motivating force.
Siege of Nordbotten
The Grey Wardens' first recorded battle was at the city of Nordbotten, which was besieged by the horde. Accounts tell of the Wardens mounting the now-extinct griffons and swooping into the ranks of darkspawn, each facing ten or more enemies at a time. They also launched aerial attacks at the archdemon, using spears and spells. The battle was a major victory. It became the turning point of the First Blight, giving the people of Thedas some much needed hope.
The first Grey Wardens' legendary success at the Siege of Nordbotten is no historical exaggeration. The darkspawn were disoriented, unable to distinguish the newly Joined Wardens from their own. Beholden to no temporal lords, the Grey Wardens were free to sacrifice villages and fortresses that could not be defended, preserving their might for the clashes that truly mattered.
First slaying of Dumat
In the course of the First Blight, Dumat was slain multiple times, to no avail - he would always return. Some people saw it as proof of his divine power. The Grey Wardens, thanks to the taint in their blood, could feel the Archdemon die and rise again, as its spirit would go on to possess the nearest tainted creature. They eventually realized that their connection to the Blight might make it possible to kill Dumat for good.
The Grey Wardens met with great success in their early years. A group of Ander soldiers even managed to slay Dumat while he was on the run from a Warden offensive. The celebrations were cut short when Dumat returned unharmed, however, a few days later. In the years that followed, Grey Warden scholars learned that the Archdemon's death had only forced its soul to relocate into the body of the nearest darkspawn, whose form it then twisted back into the shape of a corrupted high dragon. It seemed that as long as a single darkspawn remained, Dumat was immortal. The Grey Wardens despaired.
Eventually, Grey Warden scholars proposed that if Dumat were slain by a Grey Warden, due to the Wardens' subtle ties to the darkspawn, his spirit would rush into the body of the Warden that had killed it. Unlike the darkspawn, a Warden's body already has a soul, and the resulting paradox would destroy both Warden and Archdemon.
Battle of the Silent Plains
In -203 Ancient (992 TE), the Grey Wardens formed a formidable force made up largely of Tevinter, Dwarven, Rivaini and Ciriane soldiers. In a coordinated attack, they slew Dumat and routed the darkspawn forces at the Battle of the Silent Plains. A third of all the human armies fell in the battle. It's believed that when a Warden struck a fatal blow against Dumat, their souls destroyed each other.
Dumat did not return in the years that followed. Although the darkspawn horde remained large in number and the battles persisted, without the Archdemon to lead them, they became disorganized and by -195 Ancient (1000 TE) were forced underground. For the surface world, the Blight was over.
Records do not say who exactly gave up his soul to destroy Dumat, for many Wardens struggled against him, and the Archdemon's very death throes slew seven or more of them.
The Grey Wardens used the victory to sign contracts with the nations of Thedas, ensuring their rights and solidifying their authority. The Right of Conscription was also granted to the order in that period. The Wardens swore to stand vigilant against future darkspawn attacks on the surface and preached constantly about the possibility of another Blight, but most Thedosians were reluctant to listen.
Soon after the surface world claimed victory and the darkspawn were driven underground, they continued pushing the crumbling dwarven empire. Though the darkspawn did not coordinate their attacks well without an Archdemon to lead them, what they lacked in focus they made up in savagery and the weight of numbers. Those who survived did this only by close cooperation, and by sealing most of the Deep Roads. Communication between the surviving dwarven kingdoms began to falter, and each kingdom elected its own king while maintaining allegiance to the High King of Orzammar.
In -40 Ancient (1155 TE), High King Threestone of Orzammar, with the consent of the Assembly and with great sorrow, ordered all Deep Roads to the remaining dwarven kingdoms permanently sealed. Within a decade, word reached Orzammar that Hormak and Gundaar had fallen. Kal-Sharok has no direct access to the surface and no word was ever received, and this led the dwarves of Orzammar to eventually conclude that they are the last ones still standing.
The Prison of the Vimmark Mountains
In -189 Ancient (1006 TE), the Grey Wardens encountered intelligent darkspawn, eventually capturing the most powerful, a darkspawn emissary known as Corypheus. Senior Warden Sashamiri used Dumat's blood to trap Corypheus in a prison of their design, hidden in the Vimmark Mountains.
When released of his prison in the Dragon Age, Corypheus mentioned entering the Golden City, but knew nothing of his own state, unaware of the time that had passed between then and now.
Rise of Andraste
Even after the Blight, Tevinter was still loosely controlling most of the continent and the only organized nation in Thedas, but its army was scattered and its morale dwindling. With the Imperium severely weakened, the barbarian Andraste called for an Exalted March against the Imperium in -180 Ancient (1015 TE) later.
- Codex entry: Archdemon
- Codex entry: The First Blight: Chapter 1 - The Second Sin
- Codex entry: The First Blight: Chapter 2 - Dumat Rises
- Codex entry: The First Blight: Chapter 3 - The Dwarves Fall
- Codex entry: The First Blight: Chapter 4 - Griffons Take Flight
- Codex entry: The Old Gods
- Codex entry: Orzammar History: Chapter One
|Arlathan (0 FA–6625 FA) · Orseck Garal (~6350 FA) · Darinius (†15 TE) · Endrin Stonehammer (†64 TE) · First Blight (800–992 TE) · Aeducan (~815 TE) · Caridin (†947 TE) · Andraste (992–1025 TE) · Dales (1030–1314 TE) · Inquisition (1095–1214 TE) · Emperor Kordillus Drakon I (1159–1239 TE)||-2 Ancient|
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