Only available after the Birthright quest is completed. Go to the Chantry Exit of Hightown in Act 1 (not the Chantry itself). Magistrate Vanard will be waiting near the exit to the World map at the base of the Chantry steps. Magistrate Vanard will inform you about an escaped criminal who has taken refuge in an abandoned ruin outside of Kirkwall. A patrol of guards was sent to retrieve him, but they were slaughtered by unspecified "creatures" in the ruin. If you accept the quest, he will offer Hawke a promise of future support for the return of the criminal, as long as he is brought back alive and unharmed.
Upon arriving at the Abandoned Ruins, Hawke meets with guardsman Nabil, who tells him that the criminal has likely been killed by the beasts inside the tunnels. Elren, an angry elven merchant, shows up and berates the guard for failing to deliver justice to the murderer within. When questioning the elf, he reveals that the criminal has been kidnapping and murdering elven children for years and hasn't been punished. Furthermore, his last victim was Elren's daughter, Lia. He accuses the guards of simply stalling for time to allow the murderer to get away. Nabil insists that defying the magistrate's direct orders is "madness." Hawke can state their intention to bring the criminal back to Magistrate Vanard, as originally promised, or to kill him for Elren. (Hawke can, however, change their mind later.) Should Hawke agree to kill the criminal, Nabil states that it's not wise to go against the magistrate. Hawke will automatically respond based on their personality: a diplomatic Hawke insists "[they] must do what is right," a humorous Hawke quips "Well, we'll be quiet then," and an aggressive Hawke declares "The magistrate can sod off. I won't let a murderer walk."
After this, walk up the slope and enter the Ruined Passage.
The Ruined Passage contains various spiders, undead and a group of raiders, all of which are vulnerable to electricity damage. Thus, a Primal mage with Chain Lightning, particularly its upgrade and a warrior capable of causing Stagger, will be the preferred companions in these tunnels. The group of raiders sits to the east of the entrance chamber, while the Spider's Silk Gland for the Herbalist's Tasks quest can be obtained from the venomous spider in the northern chamber. In both scenarios (the route east is barricaded, requiring the party to travel north), it is advisable to use a powerful AoE like Firestorm in the doorways to significantly weaken the enemies before engaging them in earnest.
Follow the northernmost hallway all the way east to find a chest protected by a Master-ranked trap, located right in front of it. It requires 40 Cunning to detect and disarm, or 30 with a piece of equipment that confers a Bonus to disarm traps. As such Cunning and gear is often unavailable until Acts 2 and 3, the only way to disarm this trap, aside from using add ons or promotional content, is to play a rogue Hawke and invest every point through level 11 into Cunning (which means not investing anything in Dexterity for the entirety of Act 1). The trap is worth 200xp, which is hardly worth the time and effort one would have to go through.
The chest can be safely opened from the sides or behind, as the trap only affects the area in front of it. Triggering or disarming the trap spawns a handful of giant spiders, a few Critter ranks nearby and two Normal ranks back by the door. This should be an easy fight even with one character temporarily caught in the web generated by the trap.
Return to the intersection and head south into a circular chamber with a large ceremonial bowl of fire. An arcane horror spawns in and should be dispatched quickly, followed by a full retreat back into the northern corridor to corral the spiders and corpses. If they didn't join the fight earlier, there will be some Skeleton Archers, Poisonous Spiders, and an Elite-ranked Corrupted Spider in the circular chamber, so take care of them as well. Head south out of this chamber, then east into a long hallway.
Here, Hawke will find an elven girl sitting at the end of a walkway. She reveals that she is Lia, and that the criminal let her go. While the man was "hurting her" in some unspecified fashion, he abruptly stopped and started crying, stating that "demons" in his head were making him kill elven children. He then told her to run away, which she did. However, Lia asks Hawke not to hurt him, insisting that he isn't responsible and to find a way to help him.
The final fight consists of Critter-ranked Skeleton Archers on either end of the hallway, with the east end protected by two Standard-ranked traps. Use a rogue to disable the traps, then use a mage or archer to take down the three on the west end while sending everyone else to engage the archers and corpses there. Or, take out the ones where you entered from and use ranged attacks to take out the ones further ahead, then disable the traps. In the final chamber, Hawke will find Kelder, semi-lucid and cowering up against a pillar. Kelder is actually Magistrate Vanard's son, who has been covering up his insanity and the atrocities resulting from it; however, he does not want to be rescued, begging Hawke to kill him to stop "the demons" compelling him to kill more elven children.
Hawke can either kill Kelder or attempt to bring him back. If Fenris is present, he will offer to kill Kelder if Hawke will not; allowing him to do so has no effect on his friendship/rivalry. Every single one of your companions will agree, for once, and advocate killing Kelder. Leave the ruins and return to Elren and the guards.
However, if he is not killed, Kelder runs away and must be tracked down in the ruins, which will result in a fight with a revenant and some corpses. This fight results in more experience than if Kelder was killed outright. If you opt for this fight, a simple solution is to catch the attention of the revenant and retreat to the hallway. If Long Way Home has been completed, use similar tactics for the optional revenant on Sundermount. This fight will be much easier than that one, particularly if Merrill is present and has learned Chain Lightning and/or Horror, and the handful of corpses that follow are Critter rank rather than Normal. Clean up the remaining enemies in the circular chamber without the interference of the revenant, then exit through the northern door.
Either way, return outside to speak with Nabil and the reunited elves. Return to Magistrate Vanard in Hightown and speak to him to formally turn in the quest. If Kelder lives, the magistrate will dismiss Hawke's claims that Kelder needs help and refuses to let his son see a day in prison over the petty concerns of a few elves, at which point Hawke can refuse payment or demand an extra reward (see Rewards for specifics). If Kelder was killed, Vanard simply has an ambient monologue threatening Hawke to "leave [his] city and never return" as he turns around and marches down the steps to Darktown. Either way, the quest completes after speaking to him.
- Kelder lives:
- Lia and her father leave Kirkwall.
- Kelder dies:
- Lia will approach Hawke during Act 3 in the alienage, telling them that the decision to kill Kelder was the right one. She goes on to mention she was out of her head when she asked he be shown mercy. She has since joined the City Guard, and if Aveline is present, she will also make a comment about her newest recruit.
- Regardless of Kelder's status or Hawke's blackmailing, the magistrate is never seen again and has no further effect.
Friendship and rivalry
If Fenris is in the party, Fenris will request to kill him (denying or obliging his request grants no Friendship/Rivalry change). When encountering Lia, Fenris warns Hawke that her plea for mercy on Kelder's behalf is probably due to childish naivete, and that she should not be heeded.
For freeing Kelder:
- Aveline: rivalry (+5)
- Bethany: rivalry (+5)
- Carver: rivalry (+5)
- Isabela: rivalry (+10)
- Merrill: rivalry (+10)
For killing Kelder:
- Aveline: friendship (+5) (only if you do not let Fenris kill him)
- Bethany: friendship (+5)
- Carver: friendship (+10) (or (+5) if you let Fenris kill him) (May not occur with Isabela in the party)
- Isabela: friendship (+15) (or (+10) if you let Fenris kill him)
- Merrill: friendship (+10)
- Varric: friendship (+5)
For demanding a reward from Elren upon killing Kelder:
For refusing payment from the magistrate after sparing Kelder:
- Mont de Glace Strand
Damage: 59 physical damage
(55 per second)
+5% critical chance (inside a chest - standard in a room directly in front of the Ruined Passage entrance, near some paragon statues)
- Pewter Pendant of Wolves Howling at the Moon
+2% critical chance (inside a chest in the northernmost room of the Ruined Passage)
- If Kelder is killed: 1 from Elren and 400 experience.
- If Kelder lives, the reward received from Magistrate Vanard is dependent on the second dialog choice:
- If Merrill is in the party when talking to Lia, she will respond with "Don't be afraid, da'len. Everything's going to be all right now." "Da'len" is the elven term for a junior/younger elf, relative to the one using the term, and is the same term of endearment with which Marethari refers to Merrill.
- Sometimes, upon sparing Kelder, his escape fails to trigger, and he just sits there against the column where you find him. In this case, just backtrack to the entrance and go outside, the proper cutscene will still trigger once you leave the ruins. (though you'll miss out on the extra XP from the creatures, obviously)
- pcAs of v1.03, killing Kelder with Anders, Merrill, and Isabela in your party may not result in Anders: friendship (+5). Approval for Merrill and Isabela changes appropriately.
- After leaving the ruins and viewing the cutscene, if you re-enter the ruins before finishing the quest, Kelder will follow you again and a quest arrow will point toward the other exit. This does not affect the completion of the quest.
- Doors bug and won't allow you to progress, save often before and after missions.
- A workaround for this happening after the cut scene with Kelder is to use one of the console zz_rdr goto commands to teleport to another Act I location and then teleport back to the abandoned ruins. The conversations with Elren and the guards will then proceed normally.