Rescue the Queen is the mainline quest to free Anora, King Cailan's wife, from Arl Howe at the Arl of Denerim's Estate. After completing Arl of Redcliffe and gathering the other allies, the Warden travels to Denerim with Arl Eamon Guerrin. After arriving, Arl Eamon arranges for Anora's handmaid, Erlina, to meet with the Warden. Erlina tells the party that the queen is being held prisoner by Arl Howe at the Arl of Denerim's Estate.
- See also: Arl of Denerim's Estate
- Arl of Denerim's Estate
- Travel to the Arl of Denerim's Estate
- Meet with Erlina, who helps you sneak in
- Explore the main level and find your way to the dungeon
- Confront Arl Howe
- Converse with other prisoners
- Main level reprise
- Fight interior guards
- Rescue Anora
- Escape or surrender
Travel to Arl of Denerim's Estate from the City Map and meet with Erlina. She will explain that, due to peasant unrest, only the back entrance is open. If Shale is in the party, Erlina will insist you leave it behind, since a golem could not possibly pass for one of Howe's soldiers. Sneak past the crowds at the main entrance and follow the path to the back of the estate. If the party is spotted, fight the four or five guards who appear as they will not sound the alarm. One way to avoid being spotted is to leave the entire party before entering the balcony area and then sending a stealthed character forward to pick up all of the loose items. Once the stealth character has reached the door with the two guards, Erlina and the rest of the party will warp forward, skipping the balcony area completely.
When the party meets up with Erlina again, she will warn the Warden that the door guards will recognize your party as impostors, so let her distract them. Take a few steps away from the door to trigger the cutscene and then advance towards the door to enter the main level. Should the Warden choose to fight the guards outside, the disguises will no longer work and the party will have to fight their way through the estate. On pc, the disguises still work until the party enters the dungeon, even if the exterior guards were killed. If the Warden chooses the disguise route, the party's equipment will be re-equipped the first time combat occurs.
Possible Bug- If a party member gets a little too close, the guards may activate (red circles) but not attack. If this happens, Erlina will not go to distract them. As long as they are not attacked, the party can run far enough away and combat will end. Return and walk toward the back wall, away from Erlina and further from the guards, and the scene of her distracting them should trigger at that point. If the party does fight them, then Erlina only says "So much for subtlety..." in a resigned tone.
Once inside, search the western part of the main level, thieving and looting as you might anywhere else. Eventually, you will end up at the Queen's room, which has been magically sealed, forcing you to find the mage responsible and thus—most likely—the Arl himself.
You can continue to loot the remaining rooms with impunity except for one belonging to Vaughan Kendells. You can blow your cover now or save that room for later. Either way, trouble is on its way. If you do enter, you will interrupt a maid and a guard enjoying an intimate moment. He recognizes that you are not one of Howe's guards and sounds the alarm. Although he is easy to kill, the remaining guards will turn hostile.
In the last hallway before reaching the dungeon you will find a locked door that requires 70 Cunning to unlock. Behind it lies piles of treasure, including Howe's Shield, Medium Gold Bar, and a lot of money. In the last room before the dungeon, loot a Chest of Documents for the Grey Warden papers, required for gaining access to the Grey Warden Vault later in the game.
As you arrive in the dungeon, one of the prisoners takes advantage of the distraction of your entrance to overpower his guard. Riordan is a Grey Warden from Orlais who has a brief conversation with you before heading out. Give him the Grey Warden documents you took from the chest in the previous room.
Your disguises will no longer work, so get ready to start fighting. Eventually, you will find your way to Arl Howe, who offers very little conversation before attacking; if playing the Human Noble Origin, there will be slightly more dialogue available than for the other origins. Morrigan approves (+6) if a Human Noble Warden successfully refutes Howe's taunts with a successful Intimidate/persuade dialogue. His corpse has Biteback Axe and his key, allowing you to free the Queen as well as taking a shortcut back to the main level (via the stairs just outside the room with him or through the metal bar gate to the right).
- See also: Rendon Howe (strategy)
Before you leave (or on your way to Howe), you also have an opportunity to chat with (and perhaps free) some of the other prisoners. Freeing Oswyn and Irminric and speaking to Bann Sighard and Bann Alfstanna at the Gnawed Noble Tavern will grant you their support in The Landsmeet. Freeing Rexel and sparing him will grant a reward when the Missing in Action quest is completed at the Chanter's Board. Freeing Soris will net Zevran approves (+4) to Zevran approves (+7) and he can later be found in Cyrion's Home. Releasing Soris will also make Shianni somewhat less hostile to the non-City Elf Warden when she's spoken to during the Unrest in the Alienage quest. Furthermore, Soris will be furious and insulting towards a City Elf Warden if they accepted Vaughan's offer during the Origin story.
Take special note of Vaughan, who can be convinced to give you a key to a lockbox that contains 40 in exchange for his release. Obviously he won't be there if you killed him during the City Elf Origin; however, if you didn't, then the ensuing dialogue will be quite different and the Warden also has the option of demanding him to join the Chantry in order to repent for his sins in exchange for his freedom. His lockbox is located in the room with the guard that sounds the alarm when the warden interrupts the guard and the maid. Vaughan can also be spared in exchange for his vote at the Landsmeet. With high persuasion, it is possible to convince him to give you the key before unlocking the cell door, and then you can free him, leave, or kill him. If you release him from the cell then Zevran disapproves (-5) and Morrigan approves (+2). Note that he sometimes only snores when trying to start the conversation with him, making it impossible to start the conversation. It has been reported that this bug can be avoided by selecting the locked cell door to initiate dialogue, rather than Vaughan himself.
- See also: Arl of Denerim's Estate - Dungeon
There are two exits back to the main level--the southern stairs just outside the room with Howe and the northern one back up to his bedroom. Up the southern stairs, there is a locked door, requiring Arl Howe's Key to unlock. This opens into the corridor extending south from the main entry room (the Queen's room is on the opposite side). All the guards in adjoining rooms are alerted (as indicated by red hostile dots on mini-map). So, you may want to turn around and use the other path. The northern stairs can be reached easier now by unlocking the metal bar gate just right of the room with Howe. It is a longer but safer walk on the main level.
If the Warden only engaged hostile Howe guards in the dungeon, the return path to the Queen's room is free of any guards (no entry room guard and no patrolling one between the library and the chantry). The mini-map still shows red hostile dots in southern rooms, but you can avoid them and not actively look for combat. If you have Vaughan's Key, you can enter his room and open his lockbox, as long as you don't interrupt the guard and the maid, by clicking on them.
If you decide to fight, as soon as you open one door in the southern corridor, all others will open simultaneously and the guards and mabari will come out swinging. Area of Effect spells, traps, and bombs are very helpful in controlling the masses and choke points. Regardless of the path, return to the Queen's room, where you will find her disguised for travel back to her estate.
Note that these guards are likely the ones that you would have otherwise fought and killed on your way to completing this quest if you had chosen not to wear the disguises.
However, if you dutifully wore the disguises, did not fight any of the estate's guards except those in the dungeon level, and bypassed the estate's guards on your way back, the party will receive 1250 extra XP upon speaking with Anora, as a reward for completing the rescue without unnecessary bloodshed. This exceeds the amount you'd get from murdering all 39 counted guards with 28 XP each, thus giving you a total of 1092 XP. On pc, the game script actually checks for the deaths of entire guard squads (the guards in the hallway, break room, the guards and dogs in the mabari kennel, the guards in the armory, and the guards in the large dining room, and the single guard with the servant and Vaughan's chest), rather than individual guards. After shedding the disguises upon coming up from the dungeon, a player could carefully pull and kill all but 6 guards (leaving 1 guard in each squad alive) and still get the extra XP for "peacefully" rescuing the queen, though the small amount of additional XP gained this way is usually not worth the hassle. Alternatively, all of these guards can be killed with no repercussions after talking with Anora, although only one can be fought if you surrender to Cauthrien.
Alas, for all your subterfuge and prowess eliminating Howe's guards, the exit is blocked by Ser Cauthrien, who offers you the choice to surrender or die.
Choosing to surrender
You can decide to surrender to Cauthrien, which causes the Warden (and Alistair, if present) to be locked up in the jail at Fort Drakon and activates the quest Captured! (see the main article for details).
Not all companions think surrender is a pragmatic choice: Sten will react with (-15) approval and Oghren with (-5) approval. However you will gain (+4) from Leliana or Zevran if they are in your party. Cauthrien releases your party members and takes only you (and Alistair if present) to Fort Drakon, admitting that she did not expect things to end peacefully.
Choosing to fight
- See also: Ser Cauthrien (strategy)
Cauthrien's team presents one of the toughest challenges in the game. Winning is rewarded with The Summer Sword and the freedom to walk out. If the party loses, the Warden (and potentially Alistair) will be captured. Either way, Anora will escape during the chaos and retreat to Arl Eamon's estate.
Best XP and Loot Scenario
If you surrender to Ser Cauthrien, you miss the XP and loot from her and her guards. If you fight and win, you miss doing the entire "Captured!" part of the quest. The option that gives the most loot and XP is to fight and kill Cauthrien and her party except for one guard. Loot the bodies, then proceed to suicide using AOE spells (if playing a difficulty that allows friendly fire) or unequipping all weapons and armor for your characters, leaving them vulnerable enough so that you may be captured by the single remaining guard. This way you get the XP and loot for both fighting and surrendering. If you used the disguises to sneak through the estate, you may wish to kill and loot those guards as well before allowing yourself to be captured.
Furthermore, you will meet Ser Cauthrien again later and get yet another chance to kill her and a different set of guards, earning a second Summer Sword. This is presumably because Ser Cauthrien will be revived after the first battle, just like you would if you fell in battle but one of your companions wins the day.
"Just the Summer Sword" Scenario
If you want Cauthrien's fancy Summer Sword and its codex entry, but do not want to surrender, do not want to be struck down by Cauthrien's soldiers, and do want to keep Ser Cauthrien alive for story purposes, there is another option on the PC version (tested for PC 1.04) -- if you brought a rogue with combat stealth. The trick is to leave at least one guard alive -- the game doesn't count Cauthrien as dead for story purposes until all the soldiers in her party are dead.
When the fight begins, pause, withdraw quickly into the queen's room, and close the door once Cauthrien follows you inside. If done properly, some guards (most of the archers) won't follow you, and they will remain standing in the big chamber. Strike down Cauthrien and take her Summer Sword while in the queen's room. Enter stealth mode with the rogue and withdraw the rest of the party back toward the Arl's bedroom, far away from the main chamber, and have them hold position. Now, walk the stealthed rogue past the archers and to the estate's exit. If done correctly, the archers lose aggro after both the rogue and the party are far enough away from them. You'll exit combat mode, and can then exit the Arl's estate. Report back to Eamon to continue the quest line.
You eventually meet Ser Cauthrien again in front of the Landsmeet Chamber, where you can persuade her to stand down (leaving her alive for story or roleplay purposes), or kill her for good and get another Summer Sword.
You can accomplish a similar feat without a rogue by moving your party past the main entrance after killing Cauthrien and down the south hall. Once the troops guarding the main entrance have lost aggro, you can then exit the Arl's estate through the servants' entrance.
- Queen Anora is rescued (no matter how you played it) and can be found at Arl of Redcliffe's Estate.
- Elven Alienage is unlocked; Unrest in the Alienage is activated.
- 1250 XP if no alarm sounded on the main floor of the estate and no guards and mabari were killed on that level.
, source: Arl Howe
, source: Chest of Documents in Howe's bedroom
, source: Chest in Treasure Vault
, source: Treasure Pile.
, source: Ser Cauthrien
- If you defeat Ser Cauthrien and her guards, thus bypassing the Fort Drakon mission, some sidequests (such as those offered by the Mages' Collective) may become available. [confirmation needed]
- In most areas of the estate, if you find the guards too tough to handle, retreat to another room. Only some of the guards will follow.
- See also: The Landsmeet, Fort Drakon
- If you choose to kill the guards outside the servants' entrance, once inside, Erlina will still offer to fit you up with disguises. However, you will still have to fight the interior guards. On pc, the disguises still work until you enter the dungeon, even if the exterior guards were killed.
- If you entered the sequence in Morrigan's Romance where she gives you her ring she mentions she can track you down with it if you're captured by Cauthrien.
- If you alert the interior guards you will not have to enter dialogue with the dungeon guards; they will be positioned further into the dungeon (making the first fight in the dungeon easier).
- If you return to the dining hall after rescuing Anora (subsequently fighting and killing Ser Cauthrien and her guards) you will find a group of off duty guards that you can kill for extra XP.
- Attempted dialogue with Vaughan can lead to hearing him snore in his cell, and the inability to initiate dialogue. It's been reported that this is can be avoided by targeting and selecting the locked cell door to initiate conversation with him, rather than Vaughan himself.
- If the Warden is not of the City Elf origin, it is possible that Soris will simply repeat "Oh, Maker..." and will not respond to the Warden unlocking his cell door. It has been reported that this bug can be fixed by addressing Vaughan and then returning to Soris afterwards, where dialogue should now be available.
- Morrigan can sometimes lose her upgraded armor when the Guard disguise is automatically removed; instead of her Robes of Possession, she ends up with Morrigan's Robes. To work around this, equip Morrigan with any other armor before beginning the quest or choose not to disguise yourself.
- Alistair can sometimes lose his upgraded armor when the Guard disguise is automatically removed; instead of his Blood Dragon Armor Set, he ends up without any armor except for his helm. To work around this, equip Alistair without any armor before beginning the quest or choose not to disguise yourself.
- Another possible bug is to end up with the "disguised" equipment permanently, including the battle with Howe and beyond. This bug can even extend itself to Fort Drakon, rendering your actual play-run useless (disguised equipment cannot be removed). (present in 1.04 patch, known as the 'Armor Disguise Bug' in Bioware's official forums. Recommended workarounds are the "runscript zz_economizer" console command, and blowing your cover by entering the room with the guard and the maid sharing an intimate moment.)
- If the Warden has Ranger abilities and has summoned an animal, when the Warden first speaks to Anora at the magically sealed door, the summoned animal can sometimes be placed in the locked room with Anora. Anora can be interacted with, but she will only mention that the Warden must find a way to unseal the door. Unfortunately, since the summoned animal is now trapped in the room with Anora, it can now no longer follow the party and must be banished. The room itself contains nothing of value.
- If you kill Howe and loot the key of his body before the cutscene of his death, the Quest Marker will point to his body, although you already got the key.
- Wynne - if you have Wynne in your party, during the run for the servant's entrance if you step into the side courtyard at the back containing a large fountain, she comments that the fountain was built by Arl Eamon's father, "and after that all the nobles had to have one."
- Alistair - "Join the Grey Wardens! See the sights from the floors of the best prisons in the land! It's not much of a recruitment slogan, is it?" A possible reference to an old US Navy recruitment slogan, "Join the Navy! See the world."
- The Grey Warden's dialogue option to disguised Queen Anora, "Aren't you a little short to be a guard?" is an allusion to Star Wars. Humorously, Anora's response to a dwarven Warden will be, "Is that supposed to be ironic?"
- The following line may be a reference to Prince Humperdinck and Westley's encounter in the Fire Swamp, from the film and novel The Princess Bride.
- Ser Cauthrien - "Surrender and you may be shown mercy."
- Warden - "Death first!"