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 Guerrein. 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 Rendon 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. Sneak past the crowds at the main entrance and follow the path to the back of the estate. If you are spotted, fight the four guards who appear; they will not sound the alarm.
When you meet up with Erlina again, she will warn you 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.) Advance towards the door to enter the main level. Should you choose to fight the guards outside, the disguises will no longer work and you will have to fight your way through the estate.
Possible Bug- If you get 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 you don't attack them, if you run far enough away, 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 you do fight them, afterward, 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 Bann Vaughan. 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 Mechanical Expertise to unlock. Improved Tools with a high enough level of Cunning will work as well. Behind it lies piles of treasure, including Howe's Shield 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 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. His corpse has Biteback Axe and some keys, allowing you to free the Queen as well as taking a shortcut back to the main level.
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. Take special note of Bann Vaughan, who can be convinced to give you a key to a chest that contains 40 gold 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 compared to the other Origins. The chest 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 and then kill him.
- See also: Arl of Denerim's Estate - Dungeon
There are two exits back to the main level: the entrance closer to Howe requires fighting larger numbers of guards simultaneously; returning the way you came involves more walking, but smaller confrontations. Area of Effect spells, traps, and bombs are very helpful in controlling the masses and choke points. Regardless of the path, fight your way back 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 way your 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 by using the farther-away staircase, 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 the guards. 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 Vaughn'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.
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).
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.
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.
- 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.
- Miscellaneous loot includes: Howe's Shield, Biteback Axe, The Summer Sword, 40 from Vaughan (or 80 on the ps3), and a pile of treasure.
- 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.
- If you entered the sequence in Morrigan's Romance were 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).
- 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.)
- Ser Cauthrien - "Surrender and you may be shown mercy."
- Warden - "Death first!" This line may be a reference to Prince Humperdinck and Westley's encounter in the Fire Swamp, from the film and novel The Princess Bride.
- 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.
- An additional Star Wars reference occurs as a dialogue option with Oswyn in Howe's dungeon. Oswyn indicates that his father, Bann Sighard, will give whatever reward is requested in return for his rescue. One of the dialogue options then presented to The Warden is "I don't know...I can request quite a lot." This may be a reference to a quote from Star Wars when Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are discussing his reward and Han says "I don't know...I can imagine quite a bit."