Valorien, Alistair, and Wynne, accompanied by the golem Shale, climbed the mountain incline towards the gates of Orzammar. The mighty iron gates were set in the mountainside, and flanked by a crescent of stone steps. As the group ascended these steps, they saw a group of Ferelden soldiers arguing with one of the stout dwarves.
“We demand you let us inside! This is intolerable,” the leader was yelling. “We are representatives of King Loghain. We have urgent need to speak with your king.”
“I’ll tell you the same as I told you yesterday,” the dwarf guard growled. “King Aeducan is dead. The Assembly has not yet voted on a new king.”
“You’ve been telling us this story for over a month, now! In the name of our king, we demand to see someone in charge.”
Unmoved the dwarf replied, as if repeating it for the hundredth time, “I don’t care who you are, or who your king is. You don’t have any business with Orzammar until our king says you do.”
“Wow,” said Alistair to his companions. “Loghain certainly got a promotion while we were away.”
The soldiers turned as the four approached. “Those are the Grey Wardens!” the leader barked. “You must arrest them; these men are criminals in the kingdom of Ferelden!”
Valorien moved calmly to the guard. “Loghain is not king. At least not yet. He is barely regent for Queen Anora.”
“You watch your tongue, knife ears! You’re not fit to polish King Loghain’s boots!”
Without removing his gaze from the soliders, Valorien said, “Alistair, please present the guard with the Grey Wardens’ treaty.” Alistair pulled the heavy vellum from his scrip and handed it over.
The dwarf examined it. “Yes, this is the seal of our kings. The throne is vacant until such time as the Assembly can come to a decision about the succession, but you are free to pass inside.”
“What!?” sputtered Loghain’s man. “You would let these — these criminals enter, but deny the king’s rightful representatives?”
“Sorry,” the guard growled, “neither you nor your ‘king’ have any proper credentials.”
“Then we will deal with these traitors ourselves.”
“Not on this doorstep, you won’t!”
With a curse, the soldiers went down to the ground on one side of the stairs. Alistair, Shale, and Wynne moved down the other, coming around to face them. Valorien simply unshouldered his bow and shot down the soldiers from the railing where he stood.
“Hmph,” the dwarf grumbled. “Coulda took ’em further away.” Turning away to hide the gruding admiration in his eyes, he moved to unbar the gate for them.
Orzammar Gate Outtake:
Valorien flips the gate guard a gold coin as he walks past. “Sorry about the mess.”
Orzammar Ia: Politics
the dwarves have an elected king, not neccessarily the descendants of the old king. prince bhelen is the heir-apparent, but many people belive he murdered his two brothers, and possibly his father as well, to get where he is. lord harrowmont is his challenger. by his account, the old king named harrowmont his successor, and made the lord swear not to let bhelen assume the throne. the grey wardens can meet with neither party, as they are both too suspicious of assassins. instead, their aides make a bid to solicit the grey wardens’ help in the election. behlen with some questionable blackmail documents against harrowmont, and harrowmont asking for aid in the provings, since his fighters have been ‘influenced’ to quit. asking around, folks have opinions both ways. harrowmont is fair and takes care of his men. bhelen on the other hand has a more open policy towards inter-kingdom trade and relations, as well as a radical new outlook on the traditional caste system and the criminal outcaste.
Valorien and Alistair debate the pros and cons.
“Harrowmont is beloved by his men,” Valorien agreed. “Yet he may wish to preserve his mens lives by not sending them to the surface to fight.”
“Well, I don’t know.” Alistair scratched his head. “Bhelen might have murdered his brothers. It’s like we only have a choice between two bad decisions — we can’t win!”
“The answer is clear, Alistair.”
“It is? I wish you would tell me!”
“You will have to deal with the dwarven king when you take the throne of Ferelden. Which one would you prefer to work with?”
Alistair chewed his lip, not liking to be reminded of his doom. But his eyes lit up with realization. “Well, Harrowmont. He seems the sort I could get along with. I don’t know as I’d ever trust that Bhelen character.”
“Then that is whom we shall support. Come.”
they put a stop to one of the fighters’ blackmail, but can’t find an incriminating letter to release the other one. so… valorien must fight in the provings. the provings are an arena spectacle, where the dwarves fight each other for the glory and the honor of the ancestors — perhaps themselves as well. some bouts are to first blood, but most are to the death, as is the case today.
valorien has improved his odd bow-duelling technique since meeting ser landry: pinning and crippling his attackers, knocking them back, and generally standing off to feather them. they send twins against him — since they are twins, they only count as one opponent. later, they send a team, and valorien calls for harrowmont’s man to fight along side him.
at last, they defeat all comers to the cheers and stampings of the crowd. great glory is brought to lord harrowmont. valorien bows to the provings-master and leaves the arena.
Valorien tugged at Wynne’s elbow. “Let the others go on ahead. I need a quiet place to sit down.” He swallowed thickly and paled.
Alarmed, Wynne drew him down the hall and into one of the fighters’ ready rooms. She sat him down on the bench and closed the door. “Are you all right?”
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he said, putting his head in his hands.
“Why? Valorien, what’s wrong? Did they use poison blades? Are you ill?”
He shook his head. “No. But to kill like that…. Not in battle, but for a spectacle that others may watch…. It is not right.” His body trembled. “I did not expect that. I thought… they meant to spar. Not to kill.”
Wynne was at a loss for words. She’d seen the elf dispatch people without batting an eyelash. He was frightening that way, as if he held no emotion for others at all. Apparently, she had been mistaken about him. “It’s their way,” was all she could say. “Are you going to be all right?”
“Yes. I shall.” He took a breath and rubbed his face. “I will have to be,” he said quietly, perhaps not meaning for her to hear. “Please go on with the others, before they begin to worry. And Wynne? Don’t tell them.”
“Don’t tell them what? That you’re not a ruthless, cold-blooded killer?”
“That I have deeply regretted this decision.” He hung his head.
“That’s not a crime.”
“No, but they are counting on me. Alistair trusts me.”
Wynne said, “They can’t expect you to be perfect and completely infallable!”
“I know. But this is not a minor error. People died. Please, do as I ask.”
“All right,” she said quietly. She turned and went out the cubicle door. She saw Alistair down the hall, come looking for them, and she waved.
“Is everything all right?” he asked as he approached.
“Yes,” said Wynne. “Valorien just needed a few bandages. He’ll catch up with us in a while, after he freshens up.”
Alsitair gave her a weird querying look, but he said nothing as they left.
Orzammar Outtake: Alistair wins an argument with Shale
Shale: “it seems particularly weak, especially when it comes to making up its own mind.”
Alistair: “i don’t like making decisions, okay?”
Shale: “it prefers to be led around and told what to do. somewhat like the dog.”
Alistair: “hey, have you ever tried running a kingdom?”
Shale: “it especially has problems with even the slightest responsibilities.”
Alistair: “shale — BIRD!”