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
it goes Harvester, conglomerating dozens of Darkspawn into the body of a corrupted dragon.  That’s how they get tainted—not a contagion but literally what the majority of its body is made of in the first place leaching the blight into the soul animating it.

(Sidebar Two: Could that be where the idea for the Harvester came from in the first place?  Some proto-dwarf catches echoes of the process—or, hell, happened to be in a cave overlooking the site and saw it—and wants to see if he or she can make a force to fight it.)

One presumes that this process must take time, as I picture this little chamber and long, messy tunnel leading to one of the ubiquitous chasms that litter the Deep Roads.  Somehow, I picture the Darkspawn as sloppy diggers, leaving jagged chunks of rock sticking out of the walls and clumps littering the floor.

At any rate, the Old God in question could suck up a few of its “rescuers” for a quick hit of strength.  One would think it would be a bit disoriented when it wakes up there in the dark after thousands of years asleep.  Picture Dumat, stretching and yawning, weak as a kitten.  He reaches out for the nearest snack—apparently I picture all gods as using their followers for juice—and, to his chagrin, discovers that everything around is full of kale.

Sure, the juice powers him.  It’s strong and somehow tied to the powers that made him a god in the first place.  But it tastes horrible and once he starts drinking it he can’t get the taste out of his mouth.  Wait—that metaphor went wrong.

Imagine waking up, sleepy and starving, expecting to find your servants with a ready boost.  You take what’s handed you only to find that it warps your power and infects your mind.  Instead of a triumphant return you end up leading a seething mass of blighted followers.  It’s a heady rush for someone returning from centuries of slumber with kale blight eating away at his soul.

Tevinters tell us the Old Gods were dragons but we don’t know why they believed it.  My thought?  The Old Gods are incorporeal.  When they manifest physically they pick the form of the most intimidating creature known to Thedas: the high dragon.  That doesn’t make them dragons, it makes them good showmen.

When they get imprisoned, however that happened, they aren’t giant winged lizards.  They’re little sparks of life somehow cut off from their ability to take over bodies or incorporate.  When released they have to regain their ability to take physical form.

(To be fair, they could just possess a Darkspawn and somehow grow the body into a giant dragon, like Corypheus does on a smaller scale with that Warden but I like the Harvester imagery so I’m going with that.)

Urthemiel lived in Kieran, if the kid existed.  Because he’d been first tainted and then yanked from his conglomeration of maddening power, he didn’t have enough strength to take over the boy entirely.  When FleMythal yanks his spark out and sends it into the eluvian, as she appears to do, he’ll have to start over.

This time, he won’t be surrounded by tainted kale Darkspawn and he can rebuild as sane as an Old God can be.  (I’m not setting that bar too high.)  If Briala has elves traipsing around the Beyond as The Masked Empire implies he should find a healthy snack fairly quickly.

This raises the question of what happens if your Warden refused the Dark Ritual (or if you have the default world state that does not include Kieran).  Can Urthemiel survive the death of the Archdemon and the Warden?  If so, does that mean the other Old Gods wander Thedas, disembodied and weak or gathering power somewhere?

If the Architect was giving Warden blood to Darkspawn to “awaken” them and it was him that freed Urhtemiel, then it may be that he fed the growing Archdemon the Awakened that had drunk the blood.  What if that kale juice had lots of apple mixed in to thin it out?  (I have got to get away from this metaphor.)  Instead of a full-on tainted body invading his mind Urthemiel gets blight and anti-blight at the same time.

That explains why he made his move so much sooner and less effectively than other Archdemons.  His mad drive to take over the world wasn’t fully tempered by the sly cunning of the Darkspawn side of things.

That would also offer BioWare a convenient hand-wave for his soul surviving whether Morrigan managed to convince the Warden to take her offer or not.  They just need to come up with a story explaining where the spark has been for ten years and how it ended up in the same place after everything.  Oh, Flemeth!

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