Saturday, June 15, 2019

Meaningful Banters: Dog and Sten, Crime-Fighting Duo

"I'm a giant with a war dog. Either I am making a delivery, or I am besieging your fort. Hope for the former." Sten and Dog. Crime-fighting duo. And it is GLORIOUS.
STEN: (Resigned Sigh) ... Fine. Bring me the stick. But this is the last time, I swear it.

This is a silly, sweet, goofy post simply to celebrate the unspoken adoration between Sten and Dog in Dragon Age: Origins.

Because it deserves illustrations and blog posts and statues since it is, honestly, amazing. Sten seems to have a special affinity for delicate things. For flowers, kittens, animals. For creatures weaker than himself. And it's a lovely, hidden and very subtle character note.

He has an especially lovely relationship with the Warden's mabari ("Dog") if they saved the dog in one of their earliest quests.

Which is why I think we need to visit it here, since it is sweet and adorable and funny and we really need it, especially (if you're me) after analyzing the nihilism of the Qun for two weeks straight).

So here we go:

The first thing you must absolutely accept is that Sten does not like animals. Nope. Nope. Nope. He may pet kittens and play with them. He may talk seriously to our darling Dog (whom I call "Barkwise," called "Barkspawn" by the fandom) but oh, no, he does not care about them at all.


Sten Hates Pets

However, late, late at night, if you are awake at the Warden's camp, you may witness a few cracks in Sten's armor when it comes to your faithful canine companion:

DOG: (peers up at Sten, tail wagging)
STEN (sternly): We don't have time for this now.
DOG: (Dog continues peering, a little more determined)
STEN: No, absolutely not.
DOG: (Whines)
STEN: There is no time. We have work to do.
Dog: (Whines)
STEN: (Resigned Sigh) ... Fine. Bring me the stick. But this is the last time, I swear it.
DOG: (Very Happy Bark!)

Meanwhile, back at Camp, Sten is pretending not to adore Dog and pay him allegiance. Because he is Sten and has a secretly chewy nougat center:

DOG: (Barks)
STEN: I don't understand you.
DOG: (Whines)
STEN: ... Are you trying to say something about a child in a well?
DOG: (Dog gives Sten a quizzical look)
STEN: No? Never mind, then...

Sten visits again another night at camp. Dog gazes into his eyes:

DOG: (Growls)
STEN: (Growls back)
DOG: (Growls)
STEN: (Growls back)
DOG: (Barks)
STEN: You are a true warrior and worthy of respect.
DOG: (Happy Bark)

There's a subtext of this -- that Sten appreciates a fellow warrior, even a wordless one. But let's face it. The tragedy and sweetness of Sten is that he loves animals. And they love him. Look at his little shy hidden moments with kittens, with talking to Barkwise (DOG) like he's an equal. It becomes apparent that the Qunari do not allow these indulgences, and as in most cases for me with Sten, it kind of breaks my heart.

Y'all, Sten just wants a pet. Or maybe a houseful. I know Cullen breaks the Internet as of Trespasser with his imaginary sweet home for retired mabari, but come on, Sten is more your total ASPCA guy, going:

STEN: You are here to adopt a pet.
VISITOR: Yes, sir.
STEN: What kind of an animal do you wish?
VISITOR (swallowing visibly) I wish... a dog.
STEN: Simply for use, or affection?
VISITOR: (squeakily) Affection?
STEN: That is doubtful due to your country's insistence upon canines primarily as useful agents of protection.
VISITOR: Fereldans love their dogs, sir. We do indeed.
STEN: As you should. Hmm... 

A break.

STEN: And how do you feel about felines? They too, require love and serve a purpose...
VISITOR: I would be open to a cat as well. But we need something to guard our homestead.
STEN: I see. Yet still, a feline that helped to guard your barn and surrounding areas would manage the vermin and give a home to a highly worthy animal. 
VISITOR: Ah... I...
STEN: And they are highly amusing, felines. Try dangling a piece of string. They respond with surprising enthusiasm.
STEN: It is... quite charming.


VISITOR: I'd love a cat and dog, please.
STEN: Thank you. Please sign here, here, and here. And please make sure you spay your feline after you have a litter to succeed her in your barn. I will be following up personally.
VISITOR: Ab—er, absolutely.

Sten, with genuine regret: "And now, I'm talking to an animal. I've been in this country too long."
Barkwise: "HAPPY BARK!"

Best. Mission. Ever.

So of course Sten chooses Dog for the Fort Drakon rescue of the Warden. And it is EVERYTHING:

They are challenged. Sten shrugs with all the centuries of Qunari assurance on his shoulders and in his visage. He is stern, calm, immovable:

STEN: I'm a giant with a war dog. Either I am making a delivery, or I am besieging your fort. Hope for the former.
GUARD: I wasn't told we were getting a mabari.
STEN: Must I point out the obvious? I'm a large, impatient man with a war dog. Either let us in, or get someone who will.

The guard lets them in. Because, come on. Sten and Dog.

STEN (to DOG): This is pointless. We should simply go in fighting.
STEN: And now, I'm talking to an animal. I've been in this country too long. 
STEN: I am supposed to take this dog to the kennel!
GUARD (dubiously) You're a dog trainer?
STEN: ...I have a dog. What more do you want?
GUARD: I don't even know what you are. But you certainly don't belong in here.
STEN (to DOG): I didn't want to sneak in, anyway.
GUARD: Men! We're under attack!
DOG convincingly begins to shake, shudder, and retch.
GUARD: What's wrong with him?
STEN: I know nothing of... beasts. You are Fereldan, don't all you people keep dogs?
GUARD: I'm not poking and prodding no mabari to see what's wrong with him. I like not bleeding.

They are allowed entrance. And all is right with the world.

Sten and Dog, fighting crime. One dimwitted guard at a time. Coming soon to a network near you. OR IT SHOULD BE.

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