Dragon Age Origins: Shadow of the Blight
The elf looked around his meagre surroundings at the dirt, dust and grime thatcovered his humble home. Or shelter, he thought. The Denerim alienage never really had felt like home to Iorveth. Not that he was ungrateful for the sanctuary that it had provided him over the years, but Iorveth had never really been able to integrate himself into the community among the others. He had never really been able to settle anywhere, as attested by the scant mementos of his travels that reminded him of what had been largely a nomadic existence.
It had not always been this way. Iorveth’s early years had largely been spent in the service of one of the nobles in the southern bannorns, and while it was not an easy existance, where was for an elf? But the biggest change of his life occurred when his noble master joined the rebel forces of King Maric during the Orlesian occupation of Ferelden. His life then quickly changed from one of simple servant to messenger and runner, before his unexpected elevation to a most unusual role.
As Iorveth cast his mind back, he kneeled to the floor and starting feeling along the grooves in the wood, searching for purchase. His fingernails caught underneath the side and gently he lifted one of the floorboards, and then another, and then a third. He carefully removed a long package, bundled in hide and cloth and placed it on the floor in front of him. The alienage was a hotbed for crime, and he had been burgled several times over the years, but thankfully they had never found this, he thought. He methodically pulled back the covering to reveal a finely made greatbow and quiver full of arrows. He lifted the bow out, and pulled back the bowstring, drawing his fingers back, gently grazing against his face. Still taut, he found.
The dreaded Night Elves, they had been called. A band of archers, many of which drew upon the services of the elves that accompanied the rebel army; first utilised by Loghain Mac Tir out of necessity to slow the usurpers forces onslaught upon the Ferelden rebels encampment, but which soon became an elite company capable of raids against the enemy on their own territory. At night, in the darkness, the elves ability to see better in the dark transformed them into feared killing machines. For once, being an elf did not mean the second-class life and discrimination it meant almost universally elsewhere, but instead was an advantage. Ironically, what had been some of the toughest years for the future King, his generals and nobles, had actually been some of the best for Iorveth. During those years of the rebellion, he had quickly learned how to live off the land, how to track, how to hunt and, often most importantly, how to stay hidden. There, in the wilds, with the army, Iorveth had found himself valued, and with it happiness, and a home.
It was not to last. After Maric defeated the Orlesian puppet King Meghren and ascended to the throne, the night elves found themselves dispensible again, and were disbanded. The same old prejudices returned, and Iorveth found himself once again without a home. For the years that had followed he had offered his services as soldier for hire, as a mercenary and bounty hunter which had paid well enough for him to eventually earn enough coin to buy himself a house in the teyrnir of Gwaren, a major but remote town in the South of Ferelden full of loggers and fishermen. There he lived for a number of years, trying to keep himself to himself in quiet isolation hoping to not draw to much attention, but sure enough local troublemakers soon took exception to an elf having the audacity to live amongst humans, burning his house down, with Iorveth barely escaping with his life upon a ferry headed to Denerim.
And here we are, he sighed. Iorveth gathered his things, and looked outside into the alienage. Along the main thoroughfare, elven labourers and merchants worked tirelessly while children danced and played among them. Further into the centre of the alienage, yet others sat sheltered underneath the canopy of the “Tree of the People”, the Vhenedahl, a symbol of the first elven homeland of Arlathan. We are all a people without a home, Iorveth lamented to himself. Nonetheless, despite the crime, hunger and disease that seemed to be rampant in the cramped slums, for the most part the elves seemed to be generally happy to call the alienage home. He would not begrudge them such sentiments.
“Iorveth!” An attractive red-head approached him. “Going somewhere?” she said, as her eyes scrutinised the bundles on his back.
“Yes, Shianni, I think so,” he replied. The girl, though relatively young in years, was the Denerim alienage hahren, or elder. Although traditionally the role of hahren was given to the oldest soul, the wisest, cleverest, and the most level-headed, Shianni was an exception. Full of spunk, she was tenacious and spirited, and although her fiesty attitude sometimes antagonised relations with the guards and nobles of the surrounding districts, she had proved to be a popular choice, always actively seeking to improve the elven condition in the city.
“And where are you planning to go?” she quizzed.
“I…do not know” Iorveth admitted. “Its just time to go”.
Shianni moved close. “Go to Amaranthine, to Vigils Keep”.
“The Wardens? Why there?” he queried.
“Because they may have use for someone like you” Shianni suggested, smirking as her eyes glanced towards the tall bundle on his back. “And we owe them”. Although Iorveth had not been in Denerim at the time, he knew what she was alluding to. During the last blight the darkspawn army had assaulted the capital, sacking much of the city and causing widespread destruction. Ironically, the walls built around the alienage to keep the elves in had been enough to keep the corrupt menace out until the Grey Wardens and the united armies of Ferelden had arrived. Many lives had been saved.
“How did you…?” Iorveth was startled.
“I’m the hahren, its my job to know” she replied with a grin and a wink.
Iorveth was surprised, but not alarmed. In a close community like the alienage, there were few secrets, even for someone who kept to himself as he did. He had told noone of his past when he arrived, but perhaps someone had recognised him, a trader or merchant passing through. Regardless, it did not matter now.
“Be careful out there” she urged.
The older elf smiled and nodded. “I will”.
Iorveth made his way through the alienage and through the city gates towards the northern highway they called the Pilgrims Path. The elf looked around about, taking in all around him. The roads were awash with travelers and the trees were beginning to bud. Spring was in the air. Time for a fresh start, he mused. Iorveth looked at the trees, felt the wind against his face and the gravelly road underfoot. It had been a years since he had stepped out of the city, but as he gathered all his senses, he felt revitalized, like the years lifting from him. It would take time for him to reacclimatize to the wilds and adventure, but the journey to Vigils Keep would be long and give him opportunity to readjust. He looked once again at the weary wayfarers coming the opposite direction, coming to journeys end.
His journey was just beginning.