Dragon Age Origins: Shadow of the Blight
As he climbed the narrow stairs connecting the Lowtown and Hightown districts of Kirkwall, Erik was quite taken aback by the change of his surroundings. A vast maze of shantytowns and labyrinthine corridors now gave way to lavish mansions and opulent courtyards filled with nobles and merchants trying to tempt them to part with their wealth. Typical that the Chantry be situated amongst such grandiose settings, Erik grumbled. The Kirkwall chantry was a sight to behold, unmistakable from the large draped banners emblazoned with the sun-like symbol of the Chantry, as several prodigious bronze statues appeared to stand guard upon its entrance. It seemed as much a symbol as a place of worship, rivalled perhaps only by the Vicount’s tower. Symbolic perhaps of the Chantry’s influence in Kirkwall. Rumour had it that although Vicount Dumar ruled over Kirkwall, he did so at the behest of the Knight-Commander, one Meredith Stannard. The Chantry embroiling itself in politics yet again. The thought incensed Erik, and he simmered little as he climbed the stairs.
A templar standing at the entrance eyed the mans chainmail armor curiously, particularly the wolven head upon his left gardbrace, but let him pass. Probably another adventurer seeking penance, he mused. Erik pushed on by barely acknowledging the guard as he set foot into the nave of the chantry. Still angry as he was, Erik could not help but be a little over-awed by the colossal statue of Andraste which dominated the building, somewhat silhouetted by the light coming from the windows behind, but also set aglow by the many hundreds of candles surrounding the base, almost giving the illusion that the statue itself was on fire. Considering the prophets fate, it was a sombering thought. Erik bowed a knee and muttered a small prayer under his breath before continuing in. After all, he was angry at the Chantry, not at the Maker himself.
“Erik?” a familiar voice came from the shadows in the side. “What are you doing here?” A young man approached from the side. He wore gleaming white armor, but this was no plate mail, and he was no templar.
“Sebastian, I came as soon I heard the news,” Erik replied.
“Thank you, cousin. But I hardly think you have travelled all this way to pay your sympathies.”
“No. I haven’t,” Erik began, “I’m here to protect you, and to offer my blade to seek vengeance for your family.”
“Again I thank you, but I cannot accept your offer. Enough Vael blood has been shed already. I will not put you at risk.”
Erik grimaced. “I am a Draven now. Your Chantry saw to that”.
“Forgive me, Erik, I did not mean to offend,” Sebastian said. “Our families have both lost much,” he offered.
“Allow me this opportunity to restore my family’s honour then!”
Sebastian became more firm. “You don’t understand. Goren has claimed the throne. This was not simply mindless murder. This was planned.”
Erik was dumbstruck. Goren was a relative, but a simpleton. “Goren?”
“He can’t have conceived of this alone. He is someones puppet.” Sebastian said. “There are greater forces at work here, and if they plan to kill off the Vael name, then assassins are probably on their way here this very minute!”
“Then we will fight them off together!”
“No, don’t you see?” Sebastian retorted, “the Draven name has probably saved your life, and those of your mother and sister, otherwise you too would be dead.”
The grim realisation hit Erik like a maul to the chest. The thought of his mother and sister in danger terrified him.
“They’re still in Starkhaven,” Erik said meekly.
“Then you cannot stay with me,” implored Sebastian. “If my enemies see you with me, they’ll have your family killed. You must leave and find somewhere else to live, at least until the threat to your lives has passed.”
“And what of you?”
“I will be fine. I stand here before you now. If the Maker has kept me safe thus far, I have faith that he will keep me still.”
Sebastian’s faith in the Maker was admirable. Even now he was steadfast.
“Go. Restore honour to your family’s name,” Sebastian said. “And may the Maker guide and watch over you”.
Erik scrambled down the stairs made out of the carved rock that lead to the jetty. The harbour were bustling with dock workers busy about their business, loading and unloading their wares as peddlers haggled and bid against each other for the pick of the goods.
“Can I help you Serah?”
Erik looked around to see the elf who addressed him. He was a lanky fellow, dressed in scruffy clothes a little too loose for him, standing on one of the jettys next to a small merchant vessel.
“Perhaps. Tell me, where are you travelling to?”
“To Ferelden. Denerim, I thinks.”
“Room for a passenger?”
“I’ll ask the cap’n.”
The elf bounced along the gangplank of the ship and into the cabin. A few seconds later, the elf returned with a dark skinned man in tow, tricorne tilted to the side, with a blue bandana peeking out from underneath. The captain was unshaven and had wild unkempt hair, but stepped across the deck and off the gangplank with aplomb and authority.
Even speaking so curtly, the captains thick rivani accent was unmistakable.
“If I may, Captain?”
“You’re mistaking the Bonita for a ferry.”
“Please, I won’t be any hassle.”
The captain paused, pursed his lips a little and adjusted his hat as he ran his eyes over Erik’s shiny armor. He stroked his chin a second then turned and dismissed the shiphand.
“Why are you looking to leave Kirkwall in such a hurry?”
Erik stiffened. “My business is my own.”
The captain leaned in and eyed him so closely that Erik could spell the spiced ale on his breath.
“Very well.” The captain swivelled on his back foot and began to head back towards the ship, and shouting over his shoulder
“Well, are you coming or not?”
A few days later, the Bonita pulled into port in Denerim. As the crew tied the ship to the pier Erik climbed onto deck to survey the sprawling city that lay before him. The place smelled of wet dog.
“So this is the birthplace of Andraste,” he remarked.
“So they say,” the rivani affirmed, coming up behind him, then pointing his finger out towards a dark tower rising up out of the city, set into the side of a mountain. “…And that is Fort Drakon. They say the Hero of Ferelden slew the archdemon atop there”.
“From the stories I’ve heard, the Hero of Ferelden sounds a little too good to be true, I feel,” dismissed Erik.
“Perhaps. But whether you’ve come to Ferelden to seek fortune or seek help…you’ll find both at Vigils Keep.”
Erik turned towards the rivani.
“Thank you, Captain.”
“Thank me when you’re your own hero. Preferably with gold,” joked the Captain.
Erik left the city and made his way along the Pilgrims Path. Whatever awaited him in Vigils Keep, it seemed that it was there he must go. Perhaps the Maker was watching over him after all.