SWTOR: Home Decorator Edition

With the addition of strongholds to Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare has found a brand new way to suck time out of my life I would never have thought would work. I’ve become a magpie, searching for shiny things dropping from mobs or popping up in vendor listings.

I troll the Galactic Trade Network for cheap decorations and in the vain hope that someone has mispriced a jukebox. The preview window now consumes much of my time and designing bedrooms for each of my characters has taken an embarrassing amount of resources.

This post begins a new series in which I’ll be including screenshots of decoration and views I like, support for things that work well, and a wish list for things I want to put in my various homes around the galaxy.

As a side note, the legacy storage is a beautiful thing but the cost of unlocking the various doors really points up the problem with having no legacy bank. If I have four alts with half a million credits each I have to e-mail all the cash to one character rather than piling up my take from various dailies, weeklies, and runs through the latest expansion to open it with whoever happens to cap off the required amount. A bank would save me a fair amount of irritation and reduce the amount of loading I have to do to get the last hundred thousand credits for the balcony view on Coruscant.

To begin my bragging, here’s a shot of the urban jungle my smuggler is building in that same penthouse. I’m going for variety, here, so there’s still room for more plants as I find them around the galaxy. I wish more of them were like the Rishi flora rather than being potted but I’ll take what I can get!
Next, a lovely fountain on Manaan I would adore having out on my giant landing pad.
This was just an taste of SWTOR strongholds. My next set will focus on signs and banners, both those I want and those I already have. It will include more than a measly couple of pictures, too! If only the screenshot button worked during cut scenes. [sigh]

The Mako's Back, Baby!

Despite whatever else might be going on with Mass Effect, regardless of any feelings left about ME:3, no matter what else may have happened in the past five years surrounding the ME franchise, I’m buying Mass Effect: Andromeda.

How do I know, after a single teaser trailer? BioWare is finally giving me back my Mako.

Now, as Johnny Cash fan and someone mildly obsessed with Mass Effect, the trailer alone might have been enough to guarantee a preorder the moment I can make one. Add to that the sneaky announcement that the N7 featured in the trailer isn’t the protagonist and top it off with the beloved Mako finally returning to the series and I was looking for the “shut up and take my money” button the second I hit the end of the trailer.

Realistically, I have no idea where BioWare is taking the franchise (beyond a new galaxy, obviously). I must admit that I don’t care. There will be new companions to adore and new worlds to explore with a customized new face over which I can spend two hours agonizing.

SWTOR swallowed me alive several months ago because I finally picked up the Shadow of Revan expansion. (It took some time to get my characters ready start it.) The first run blew me away and I’m chomping at the bit for more BioWare-style stories. Knights of the Fallen Empire comes out in two months so running my twenty characters through the whole mess should keep me occupied for another year.

Eventually I’m going to need something new, however. Just knowing that the Mako is rumbling patiently out there, somewhere, just waiting for my shiny new space cowboy to saddle up is enough to get me excited about Mass Effect all over again. Oh, and there’s that jetpack.

Stay tuned for more flailing and happy dances as BioWare begins the drip feed of ME: Andromeda information. Also, I’m finally going to post more, starting with a review of the SWTOR expansions and some screen shots of the gorgeous worlds Shadow of Revan brought us.

Why I Never Bring Zaeed on Missions

As part of a different discussion, I was reading a debate about whether Zaeed in Mass Effect 2 was or was not useless as a leader. One side paints him as an experienced warrior whose past exploits show that he places the mission ahead of individual team members. The other side points out that that’s exactly the problem.

If you’ve read pretty much anything I’ve written about him, you know I have no respect for the mercenary forced on us at the beginning of ME2. Had hubby and I known anything about the character we’d never have downloaded him in the first place. I don’t believe I’ve ever explained why, however. Rather than further derail the thread on which the latest debate is taking place, I thought I’d do so here.

The only knowledge you get of Zaeed is what comes from his stories and the way he behaves during his loyalty mission. His tales of past missions all end about the same: “…and I was the only one who survived.” Some might see that as dedication to the job he undertook but it tells me something quite different about him.

Music Posts and Page to be Revamped

Much to my utter disappointment, yesterday Grooveshark closed down and I've lost my BioWare playlists and every embed except YouTube videos. If anyone knows of a comparable service that doesn't make you have an account to listen and allows for embeds, please let me know. I'll be exploring the possibility of SoundCloud but I fear few of the songs will be on the service.

Because almost none of my song posts (and my entire music blog) have songs in them any longer I will be finding or making videos for each of them. I'll also be remaking the playlists on Spotify, short of a better option at the moment, and reposting them on my BioWare Music page. The links on the songs listed all point either to The Not-Pop Jukebox (which no longer is) or to posts here at Just a BioWare Fan so all of them will need to be replaced as well.

The replacement of all of the music will be a slow process but I'm going to leave up the page with the explanations as I work in case anyone's curious enough to listen to the songs even if they have to find them on their own. I...probably won't start for a few days. Right now I'm devastated at the closing and the loss of literally years worth of passionate support for the site. If you've got a spare curse or ten, go ahead and send them to record companies that insisted not only on royalties but the closure of the site and the creators' intellectual property related to it.

Again, if anyone knows of a service with a large catalog that is free and allows for embedded tracks I would adore hearing of it. Thanks for your patience in this transition.

Swingin' Saturday: The Swing of Things, Chapter 14

Stormy Weather

Thankfully, Captain Anderson proved to be as anxious to confront the ambassador as his trumpet player. Kaidan got a reply while he was still assembling his meal.

Having a deadline settled his stomach further. By the time he’d finished eating he had begun to look forward to clearing the air. It almost doesn’t matter what Udina says, he thought. I’ll just be glad to be done with it.

The next morning dragged with routine problems and fixes. The green recruits under his training could tell their Lieutenant still hadn’t fully returned to them, though they assumed he still suffered from his migraine rather than simple distraction. He’d long ago earned enough respect to keep them on diligently on-task without his scrutiny, a fact for which he was thankful as he found his thoughts turning every five minutes to the afternoon’s confrontation.

Transmutation, Chapter 11

Rallying the Troops

In many places Cullen found no Templars at all, though the slaughter was just as bad. Most of the corridors remained empty but Fade creatures had sprung up all through the tower. In some rooms he found mages who had fought against them and died for their pains. Relief at seeing how many of them had resisted this plot which had spun so quickly out of control cut through the grief of seeing the loyal mages sprawled, lifeless and bloodied, in their own quarters.

Every few rooms presented yet another tableau that fueled Cullen’s anger and determination. The appalling waste of life and the proof that the Chantry had been right all along pushed him through his desolation. He used his every reserve to keep moving. Once he’d investigated each room on the periphery he headed to the open central area, one used on each level for a different purpose. The one he hesitated outside held the storerooms, manned by Tranquil who could not be possessed because they had no connection to the Fade.

Cullen stood with one hand on the door, awkwardly holding his sword in his shield hand rather than sheathe the weapon. He reminded himself that any tactician would want to secure the potions and tools contained within so he should expect the worst.

BioWare’s New IP—Under Development and Under Wraps

David Gaider announced that, after a decade of wringing fan’s tears from them, he’s leaving the Dragon Age team to write for the new BioWare IP. Whatever it is, I’m now dancing with delight that Gaider’s delicious brand of snarky evil will be a part of it.

Patrick Weekes, brought from Mass Effect to join the DA team a couple of years ago, will be taking over as head writer. As a fan of his novels and the characters he writes, I’m absolutely fine with that. He’s wrung his fair share of tears from his fans (Mordin’s death scene and the Solas romance spring immediately to mind) so the feels-crushing seems likely to continue unabated.

I do wonder, however, whether this means an announcement of the super-secret new universe they’re creating is imminent. They’ve hinted and mentioned it since before Mass Effect 3 came out but all details have been kept under wraps. Is Gaider’s move to their team a sign that the veil of secrecy is about to be lifted?

Falon’Din’s Plaint: A Song Post

Those of you familiar with the glitterotica pantheon theory for the ancient elvhen gods likely have an image of Falon’Din built up in your heads. For some reason, he’s emerged as the bad boy of Arlathan, a combination of Alex from A Clockwork Orange and Harry Potter’s Voldemort—pointlessly, gleefully, viciously evil and over-the-top powerful.

Yet lore tells us of a softer side to Falon’Din, a deep and abiding friendship, a beautiful love for Dirthamin, his almost-brother and closest companion. What does a pair of gorgeous, morally bankrupt immortal men do? Apparently, in the case of Falon’Din, head canon insists he spends his time complaining about how amazing he is.

I know you’ve all heard someone while about how they’re so sexy or rich or smart that it’s all become so terribly dull,

Questions: Solas and Random Dalish Guards

Solas tells us in Inquisition that he’d approached Dalish camps only to be turned away by foolish mortals too superstitious to entertain a stranger in their midst. I got to wondering how those conversations might go. It turns out they fit perfectly into my Questions series. What a coincidence!

Solas: [strolls into camp] No need for alarm. I am merely a humble mage seeking shelter for the night.
Guard: [aims arrow at his eye] Where did you come from, flat-ear?
Solas: I wander the world, exploring the Fade and learning about history. Perhaps I could speak to your Keeper.
Guard: What’s the name of your clan?
Solas: I don’t have a clan. I am a lone wolf, as it were. [smirks]
Guard: How do we know you’re not an abomination?
Solas: [ponders] I haven’t killed you yet.
Guard: [narrows eyes] You…may have a point. What do you want?
Solas: A meal and a place near your fire to put my bedroll for the night.
Guard: You want me to let a clan-less stranger with no vallaslin into the heart of our camp when everyone is sleeping?
Solas: Hence my suggestion you fetch your Keeper.
Guard: How about you fetch your flat-eared self the hell out of here?
Solas: I admire your caution but I think someone a bit farther up the food chain should make that decision.
Guard: I’ll give you a food chain, loser.

Mythal's Sorrow Part Five

As he listened to his heart a step sounded on the loose scree behind him. He whirled, staff blazing to life as he snapped the blade to ready, and found an old woman standing there, grinning mischievously at him. The rows of studs on her rich armored leathers gleamed in the moonlight and feathers showed black at her shoulders and hips against the rising light. She bore no weapons and stood without fear, waiting for his reaction.

None of this made more than a passing impression on Abelas. It was her hair that arrested his attention. She bore the jutting white horns in which he’d first seen Mythal, though nothing else about her looked the same. Instead of the proud ears echoed by the elaborate style she had a shemlen’s rounded-off nubs. She lacked the glorious decoration with which all the elvhen gods had shown the power and devotion of their followers.

He dismissed all of this as unimportant. None had ever worn their hair thus.

Mythal's Sorrow Part Four

Fen’Harel, often a guest and a dear friend of Mythal, had arrived ashen and furious to sob at the edge of the well, pleading with her to return, to lead him to those that needed her judgment more than any elvhen ever had. Days had passed as the priests milled around the edges of the clearing, distraught and confused, but none had been brave enough to question a god to whom they were not pledged.

His grief had soothed them, somehow. Though everyone at the temple had felt the shock of her death none of them could tell for certain what had happened. Until the god had said it, had boldly stated their beloved Mythal was dead at the hands of another, the priests and sentinels had clung to the hope that she would return. As he had quieted, they had accepted the truth and begun to wonder what would become of them

After a week, Fen’Harel had exhausted the noisiest portion of his grief. He had knelt, slumped and silent, face buried in hands dripping tears, as the moon rose above the pool. The silhouette of a wolf at full howl with three ruby eyes gleaming in its head had been worked into the tail of his long tunic where it trailed between his heels. For a moment Abelas had expected the god to mimic this symbol

Mythal's Sorrow, Part Three

At their remove, the priests and guards suffered far less than those at the heart of Arlathan.  They were not, however, immune to the dissolution.  The sentinels had fended off a dozen groups, from bands of slaves seeking asylum to a small army marching under no banner the priests could recognize.  As each gave his or her life to protect Mythal’s Heart the well had grown, from a chalice to a basin to a pool.

Finally Mythal had come a final time.  Abelas, then known by another name, had met with her in one of the forested glades near the temple.  Slaves had brought heady wines and rich cakes, their faces resolutely bent to keep from being blinded by the glittering majesty of their god.  She waited to speak until they were quite alone once more.  Other sentinels had kept guard out of earshot so that none might interrupt their conference.

She’d spoken his name gently, drawing his attention from his contemplation of how pale she looked, how worry shadowed her eyes to a deeper amethyst, and lightly laid a hand on his arm.  “I cannot tell you all that comes,” she said,

A No-Spoiler Review of the Jaws of Hakkon

I finally bought and played the Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC this past weekend and, I have to say, I’m delighted. The Jaws of Hakkon gives you a big new area with all kinds of brand new goodies, lore, and challenges. Since most people can't even play it yet I thought I'd post my thoughts without spoiling the story for anyone.

When BioWare made the Frostback Basin they took pieces of the most gorgeous areas in Inquisition and blended them. They took the Arbor Wilds and combined the best bits of the Storm Coast and Crestwood into it. There’s a dash of Fallow Mire for flavor and you might find a hint of the Western Apprach in the ruins.

It’s late afternoon in the Frostback Basin and the mountains shade parts of the landscape (until later, when you emerge from a ruin and it’s night with that huge moon from the Hissing Wastes laying a silver glow over the still-active forests.)

Mythal's Sorrow Part Two

The passage through the eluvian brought only a moment’s discomfort.  It hadn’t been pain, precisely, more a dislocation centered on his navel, one that slewed his viscera a hand’s span widdershins and his heart a finger’s breadth to the right.  The twist drove the breath from his body so that he gasped indecorously as he emerged from the blue glare into a diffuse gleam.

Had he been able, he’d have caught and held his breath the moment his eyes adjusted.  On the graveled path before him stood the goddess herself, her flowing gown coated in gem dust so that it glittered and flashed even in the muted light.  It had covered one arm and left the other bare, covered in a filigree of gold chased with bright silver.

The waist had been caught with a wide belt of pale leather on which her symbols had been worked in the same threads that sparkled from his own new cloak.  Her hair had been braided and coiled to lie over the exposed shoulder in tangled profusion while the sides had been tied and lacquered into impressive horns that swept back just shy of meeting well behind and above her head.

Mythal's Sorrow Part One

Abelas could not recall a time he’d been so afraid.

When he’d strode from the temple that had been the heart of his life in every way he’d had a destination in mind.  Once he’d known the way; he had walked the path a thousand times.  Once Mythal had been alive and her sentinels patrolled a wide swath of the wilderness that protected her home.

Abelas, his name never more appropriate in the anguish of failing in his final and most sacred duty, got no farther than what had been a road before his last, lingering bit of purpose failed him.  What had stretched across miles, shining white stones fitted with precision and arching over the gorge of a rushing river, now lay in rubble and broken spans.

The river had dwindled to shallow, still pools flanking a sluggish stream.  Once-familiar trees, stretching graceful limbs to shade the road, had gone.  A jungle had replaced them, choked with undergrowth and trailing vines that had strangled the trees into tortured shapes.  Yet this was no young forest.  Abelas could see fallen trees with trunks twice his height, their roots long since crumbled from the banks the meandering course of the river had undercut.

Two More DA: Inquisition Songs

I’ve been entertaining myself lately with songs that leap to mind during certain portions of Dragon Age: Inquisition even though they either contain too many anachronisms or just really don’t fit.  To that end, I thought I’d share a few of my head canon songs for entertainment purposes.

First, there’s Van Canto’s cover of Primo Victoria.  It has to be the cover because there are no electric guitars in Thedas.  There aren’t any Nazis, either, but at least we can get the music right if not the lyrics perfect.  If you can ignore the date of the D-Day invasion and hear “Nazi lines” and “Venatori” you might get a sense for why this one pops into my head.

Every time I’m getting ready to go to the Arbor Wilds and throw the weight of my epic army against the forces of evil (as in the Red Templars) I start hearing

Solas and Blackwall - Who's the Biggest Liar?

Blackwall and Solas have more in common that you might see at first glance.  Both are lonely, guilty men who ran from their respective pasts and come to face the music.  Each has constructed a fa├žade behind which he hides and each finds through their time with the Inquisition that the time has come to tear it down.

We never get a chance to ask Solas how old he is.  BioWare also leaves the reveal that the village he claimed to have grown up in had been in ruins for centuries until after he’s run off at the end of the game.

Our Inquisitor never gets the opportunity to confront him about his history.  When you consider how much traveling he says he’s done, how much distance he’d have to cover, and the fact that he doesn’t have his own freaking horse at the very least you have to question how he’s managed to stay so smooth-faced.

Stepping Inside

Generally, after a passionate kiss on the balcony outside her bedroom, a girl presumes returning indoors will result in something more or less physical.  Saetha, in this one single case, was like most women.

As she followed him into the room she couldn’t help but smile.  After months of her teasing and tempting, she’d finally gotten him to give in to his desire.  She thought she had, anyway. 

Solas, unfortunately (in this one single case), was utterly unlike most men.  Instead of taking her in his arms again, he started toward the stairs.

Transmutation - Chapter 10

Searching for Hope

Cullen took the time to investigate the novice barracks though he was sure he’d left all of the children in the atrium with Wynne and the apprentices.  There wasn’t much he could have done had he found a young mage cowering in the baths but he couldn’t chance some creature leaping up at his back.  

The bunk beds, lined up in ranks with trunks at their feet, gave him a clear view across the long room.   He found nothing more threatening than balls of dust and the occasional lost slipper or glove and a makeshift ragdoll that had fallen from some poor little girl’s pillow.  Cullen picked it up and tucked it into the bunk beside which he’d found it in the hope that its owner was one of the little ones safe behind Wynne’s barrier.  He prayed fervently to Andraste that they could be reunited soon.

When he felt satisfied nothing lurked in the shadows he left, closing the door behind him.  It went much the same on the rest of the lowest level.  Those who’d lived so close to the main doors had either fled before the doors had been shut or ascended to join the fighting.

Why Fiona Is an Idiot

So it turns out Alistair’s mom really is an elf and a mage. Scandalous! She was a Grey Warden at the time and when she’s miraculously, mysteriously cured of the taint she heads right for the Circle so she gets a pass on the apostate part, at least. Randy Ol’ King Maric, though, has some ‘splainin’ to do what with the maid that died having another of his bastards about the same time.

Given the sort of battle prowess one presumes she once had, having been recruited to the Wardens in the first place, one would have thought she’d be a great leader for the mage rebellion. She does manage to cement a power base for them with the regent of Ferelden and a safe haven in Redcliffe with one of the most defensible castles in Thedas.

Then, someone whacks her with the stupid stick. Consider the situation, if you would.

From Where to Archdemons Come?

As usual, I was reading the BioWare boards and an idea sprang into my head.  You see, it’s never sat well with me, this image of high dragons huddled in caves deep underground.  Dragons fly.  They don’t tunnel.

(Sidebar: Why are they called Archdemons and not Archdarkspawns or Archspawns?  [narrows eyes at writers]  It sounds cooler, sure, but do demons really come into it?)

At any rate, the thought of dragons snoozing so tightly bound and deeply buried that the Darkspawn take centuries to dig it up bothers me.  How did they get there and who put them to sleep?  (Fen’Harel?  Only time will tell, if BioWare ever does.)

What if what the Darkspawn find underground is not literally a sleeping dragon, it’s a magically sealed vessel containing the soul of an Old God?  They let it out and

Why I Leave Hawke in the Fade

Keeping the Tome of Koslun in Dragon Age 2 is a dick move. It’s like stealing ancient religious scrolls from the Vatican, running off to Luxembourg, and waving them in the Pope’s face while saying, “Neener neener”…and then killing the captain of the Vatican guards, most of his best men, and kicking the rest of them out of the country. When they’re gone you shove the scrolls in a chest and never speak of them again.

The game, however, did not give you the option of giving the Arishok the Tome without also giving him Isabela. It’s also the one thing Hawke actually achieves in the entirety of DA2: saving Kirkwall from the rampaging Qunari. That lasts for four years and then it descends into chaos after Anders does his thing. Hawke keeping Isabela in Kirkwall in the first place also arguably causes their continued presence and eventual loss of patience so, really, it’s all her fault in the first place.

Hawke’s whole story revolves around damage control, whether that damage accrues to (or from) her family, her friends, Kirkwall, or the mage or Templar faction. I play her like Mr. Incredible: I just cleaned that up! Can’t the world stay saved for, like, five minutes? Every time she turns around there’s another idiot doing something to endanger people and she’s the only one who can stop it.

Transmutation - Chapter 9

Tenuous Survival

A lone woman moved among the slaughter near the far door. She looked about her dazedly, dark hair matted and hanging in her face. To all appearances she was having as much trouble believing she’d survived as Cullen was. The mages who had been fighting around her sprawled in untidy, unmoving heaps.

Cullen recognized the enchanter lying just at her feet. His heart sank at the sight of the healer’s body but he picked his way to her through the filth and blood. She lay unmoving, so pale he thought she must have fallen to one of the demons. As he reached her side, however, Wynne sat up, her shaking hand going to her head while she swayed. The other woman gasped, “I thought she’d been killed.”

“As did I.” Wynne’s calm voice sounded wry as ever, weak though it was. She took but a moment to gather herself. “We have to get the children somewhere safe.” She spoke serenely, as though she weren’t sitting among dead abominations and the bloody remains of her friends.

The Darkspawn, the Deep Roads, and the Blight

I was pondering recently about the ruined land your Inquisitor finds in the Western Approach.  It’s been centuries since the Darkspawn roamed the lands freely and still nothing can live there.  As the blights of old lasted years the horde had plenty of time to ruin the land.

Since our superstar Warden ended the Fifth Blight in a mere year, Ferelden recovered quickly.  There are still a few references to tainted land but not a horizon-spanning, blasted waste.  One more reason your Warden is awesome—as if you needed one!

In following this trail of thought, however, I suddenly realized that the dwarves have a much bigger problem in reclaiming the Deep Roads than I’d thought.  Also, BioWare has a much bigger lore problem.  The Darkspawn have been carousing down there for a thousand years.

A Theme Song for Solas

I’ve written in a few places about how deeply The Head and the Heart’s Lost in My Mind moves me. Now that I’ve played Dragon Age: Inquisition it has a new layer of meaning for me. I picture Solas, humming this song as he’s painting the mural of your Inquisitor’s story. I imagine the lyrics running through his mind when he’s talking about or to the Dalish.

Most strongly, I want to see him singing this with Abelas, the perfectly pitched, civilized howl of loss and yearning and hope for moving forward. Solas sings the first two verses and Abelas the third then they burst the hearts of shemlen everywhere with the emotion of the chorus, sung together.

Excepting a minor anachronism the words fit beautifully for a pair of ancient elves embarking on a painful journey out of the past to which they’ve clung for so long.

Transmutation - Chapter 8

Nightmares Come True

Cullen’s mind wandered a bit with his aches and boredom. The mages had begun discussing the various fraternities and how best to keep the peace among those factions within the Circle. As the conflicts had amounted to little more than verbal tussles and the occasional thrown punch, they themselves held little interest for the Templars.

The views of the fraternities, however, did, at least the ones obvious about how they chafed at the Chantry’s control of the Circles. As the mages technically governed themselves the Templars could do little overtly but many of the Order found methods, subtle to varying degrees, to encourage those who supported the status quo. The little privileges the knights encouraged the First Enchanter to grant and the more aggressive treatment the others received made the Aequitarians a strong faction, even if they weren’t the strong Chantry supporters the Loyalists were.

The differences fed the restlessness of the Libertarians. They pointed to every perceived inequity, no matter the true source, as further proof of their oppression. Cullen wondered from time to time

Quizzy: The Inquisition Outreach Program

I know many people hate the “fetch quests” that proliferate across Inquisition. I, however, look at them as the best way my Inquisitor can make a name for herself in Thedas.

The Dragon Age has heroes already—the Hero of Fereldan and the Champion of Kirkwall in the past decade alone. My Inquisitor has to set herself apart somehow. Hawke and the Warden focused on tattered pantaloons and lost knuckle bones delivered without comment. It can be done better!

Thus the Inquisitor sets about delivering flowers to graves, scattering ashes, lighting candles, and feeding the hungry. She doesn’t just bring back a [often quite strange] lost heirloom, she delivers medicine to save lives. She helps the grieving. She gives blankets to the cold.

Is Inquisition the Disney Dragon Age Game?

While Dragon Age: Inquisition showcases the robust senses of humor that informs so much of what BioWare writes, it has a bit of a reputation for being much less dark than the previous Dragon Age titles.  In part, that may be because it actually has a color palette, rather than shades of brown, grey, and gore.

For those of you who think Inquisition is all Disney princesses (though none of them would sit like Josie does at her desk, I’m telling you) and fluffy fennecs, I’ve compiled a list of forty things I would qualify as dark and/or creepy.  The list is in no particular order, just how they came to mind.
  1. Tevinters making the ocularum out of the skills of the Tranquil, with the explanation in that locked hut in sleepy Redcliffe
  2. The Hunter’s note about mages and Templars behaving badly, with its desperation, murder, and implied rape
  3. Dead bodies in poses of torment freakin’ everywhere, most particularly at the Temple of Sacred Ashes half-melted into the ground

Transmutation - Chapter 7

Settling Down

The tower felt dank and empty after Kyla left with Duncan. Cullen dreamt of her often; the fleeting contacts and covert smiles haunted him. The other mages seemed dull in comparison and even overtures from friendly Templars could not tempt him. He focused on his training and renewed yet again his devotion to Andraste and the Maker.

Jowan’s display had shocked him out of the complacency into which he had so quickly settled. Between the proof that the mages needed closer watching and the removal of Kyla’s insidious, if delicious, influence he found himself more sure of his duty than ever. Events over the following weeks tested that new dedication.

The Warden’s sudden departure left all of Kinloch Hold on edge. The Templars who’d believed Duncan had been ready to recruit them groused about a blood mage and a slip of a girl, an apprentice mere months past her Harrowing, forcing him to leave before he could decide which of them to take.