Monday, July 13, 2020

TEVINTER NIGHTS Analysis: The Dread Wolf Take You

"The Dread Wolf arrived. It was no elf, no mortal mage. It was a beast unlike any I had ever seen. Lupine in appearance, but the size of a high dragon, with shaggy spiked hide and six burning eyes like a pride demon, and it came to us on wings of fire..."
—From "The Dread Wolf Take You," DRAGON AGE: TEVINTER NIGHTS

WARNING: SPOILERS on TEVINTER NIGHTS! Please read at your peril!

Happy Summer, you beautiful Wardens, Hawkes and Inkies!

As always, I hope this finds you safe and well, despite our increasingly crazy world. And apologies for the lag in posting this latest analysis—between an incredibly lore-centric piece here by Ser Weekes that took me a month to annotate and research, I admit I may also have escaped into Hamilton a few times too. (I mean, come on. Hamilton! Up close and personal! We can see Lin-Manuel Miranda's tears—and everyone else's!)

So this took some time, but I really felt like it was important to do this piece before I addressed the tantalizing possibilities of the images we glimpsed last month from BioWare that appear to be from Dragon Age 4.

Meanwhile, let's escape back to Thedas once again, shall we? And please do forgive a few formatting weirdnesses here—Blogger is clunky when it comes to bullet-points but I felt they were essential for this analysis, so you'll be seeing the occasional wonky image,  bullet- or number-point here.

Welcome to the latest in my series of analyses on Tevinter Nights, concentrating on the stories that I feel add substantially to the lore, and which may give us potential clues to Dragon Age 4. Today, I wanted to share my notes and thoughts on Patrick Weekes's elegant and mysterious "The Dread Wolf Take You," the final story in the collection. Please do check out my previous Tevinter Nights analyses, also, on "Three Trees to Midnight," "The Horror of Hormak," and "Callback."

New clues from TEVINTER NIGHTS, in Patrick
Weekes's "The Dread Wolf Take You"
And here we go!

The Story at a Glance

It's a year since the events of "Trespasser," so by my estimates we're roughly around 9:45 Dragon at the moment.

This story is different than any of the others in the compilation, as it's presented as a tasty puzzle box full of enigma-wrapped cipher-chocolates and sprinkled with delectable mystery-sugar. And you don't really appreciate this dessert until you get to the end.

It starts on a dark and stormy night, like all the best stories. Well, okay, it's dark. We don't know that it's stormy. But it should be. And let's face it, it's stormy somewhere.

At a tavern called The Teahouse near the docks in Hunter Fell, our old friend Charter shows up to what is obviously a clandestine meeting. Persons of interest at the meeting include such minor characters as a knowing Qunari doorman (a survivor of the Qunari occupation of Kirkwall years back), the Nevarran dwarven bartender Sage, a middle-aged human serving-woman, plus consummate spies who, in addition to Charter, include a Carta assassin, a Mortalitasi, an Executor from "across the sea," and an Orlesian Bard, outfitted in golden curls and an Orlesian dragon masque.

Charter reveals the code word for the meet as "Gauche, party of five." I found this amusing, because it could be Orlesian (in which case, it means "left"), or literal—in which case, it might mean "awkward," or "lacking grace." 

The order for the table is one black tea, one herbal, one spiced wine. Charter, missing her girlfriend Tessa, adds to this by ordering a tea of Anderfels mint, two sugars (which Sage effortlessly remembers even after ten years—there's obviously a warmth between the two of them). 

The meeting is quickly revealed to be a strategic "state of the union," in which major players on the world stage reveal their recent experiences in the international chess match against Solas (now revealed to all involved as Fen'Harel). 

The Players

The Carta Assassin is a tough, weathered man drinking coffee. He's also snappish and stressed, and mocks Charter for the Inquisition's sheltering of "The Wolf" for over a year.

The Orlesian Bard is slender, dressed in bright silks, and has curly golden hair. His mask is ornate and covers his whole face. Before him is a cup of tea, drops still present in the spoon. He speaks with the accent of Orlais.

The Nevarran Mortalitasi mage is a pale, cruel woman drinking mulled wine, lazily using magic to stir it (more on this farther down). She is cold but unerringly polite.

The Executor known only as one of those from "across the sea" is a dark, hooded figure whose face is hidden by a kind of mesh. They are genderless, chilling, mysterious and scary; even the patterns in their robes are painful to Charter's eye. They smell faintly of the ocean and are drinking red wine.

Charter is a lot of fun throughout this story—as always, she comes across as smart, poised, and observant, and beyond this, she's a true pupil of Leliana in every way—an actress playing a part flawlessly, pretending emotions, hiding others, eliciting reactions for the benefit of the mission. Her role in this story makes me pretty certain we're going to see her in Dragon Age 4, as well (possibly taking on Leliana's former spymaster role, or as an advisor).

The story is broken down into a series of fireside tales, and each reveals a new aspect of Solas's mission and goals (I'll get into what each reveals in the section to follow). As a brief recap, the Assassin reveals that Solas wants the lyrium idol taken from the heart of Meredith's statue, and that the idol was stolen after the smugglers were killed in their dreams by a mysterious force and attacking vallaslin-less elves. The Mortalitasi reveals that she was present at a Tevinter ritual aimed at opposing Solas, a ritual destroyed by the appearance of a monstrous six-eyed Dread Wolf the size of a High Dragon, which attacked accompanied by warrior-spirits, and then continued to persecute the mage in her dreams. The Bard meanwhile tells of how he saw Solas steal the idol from a hidden chamber in an auction house in Lomerryn, and then escape with it through an eluvian.

The meeting breaks down into a series of recriminations and quiet threats, led first by the malevolent Executor, who is quieted by a touch from the Bard. After the rest of the tales, emotions run high again, and Charter, rather shockingly, simply turns to the Bard and quietly begs for her life. The others are oblivious, and easy prey as the Bard, now revealed as Solas, grants her her life, but kills the other two (the Executor he'd petrified many minutes before, with a single touch).

The story ends with Solas asking Charter for understanding (and forgiveness from the Inquisitor), but with clear expression that he has not given up on his plans. Charter is more determined than ever to stop the Dread Wolf, and begins to write her report for the Inquisitor.

What it Adds to the Lore

There are some terrific little nuances to this story that I felt were especially worth noting in the introductory section, and which I'll further organize by tale to follow:

  • The fact that the meeting is at the Teahouse is an exquisite irony, given the revelations we get. I love it so much. You just know the Bard chose the location.

  • Charter is interestingly referred to as "the elf currently known as Charter." As Charter is, of course, elven, and elven names have meaning and purpose, what I'm wondering is, has Charter taken on a different name (even privately) since the traumas of Inquisition or beyond? As it's implied Abelas may do after the Well of Sorrows, or as Solas may once have done after avenging Mythal? One that denotes a new quest or self-definition in penitence (which is what I think Solas did all those millennia back)?

  • The Executor is a fascinating new race we first heard tantalizing hints about (and may have received messages from, depending on our choices) briefly in Dragon Age: Inquisition. All we know is that they watch, they are superb spies, they are disquietingly creepy, and are from "across the sea" and possibly outside known Thedas. I love the idea that they are perhaps unknowable—as male or female, as old or young, or as anyone specific beyond that faint scent of the sea.

    I love this moment of description, for instance: "It was less a voice than the idea of a voice, rendered acceptably but no more." I am dying to know more about the Executors!

  • Interesting that the Qunari Ben-Hassrath and Tevinter Siccari were also invited and declined to send emissaries to the meeting. I'm so bummed right now that we don't get The Iron Bull's take on all the revelations about Solas after "Trespasser." I'm just sayin'. You know the analysis would be sharp and the language would be colorful. (And I would be here for that. Sigh.)

  • I love the revelation that the Carta agent shows up only as a favor to "Viscount Tethras," who has also (it's revealed) been protecting Kirkwall from the effects of Meredith's red lyrium statue ever since). That's our Varric. Although he'll probably feel a bit bad for the guy, given the outcome of this meeting...

The Assassin's Tale Revelations

There are so many delightful little details as we dive back into this world:
  • Among my favorites are the revelations about Varric's attention to the red lyrium situation after Kirkwall (and after the events of Inquisition).

  • I love how self-aware it turns out people were after Meredith went mad. And that (while she was a lyrium statue) Varric was so conscientious in making sure nobody else chipped off, er, pieces of her (which was something I'd wondered about—a radioactive statue just sitting out there). The statue is confirmed as being guarded AND behind barriers for people's protection. But the dwarves still hear it singing as they approach, which, sheesh, Kirkwall doesn't need any of those additional negative vibes, folks!

  • We know Red Lyrium is Blighted, but it's nice to hear the facts emphasized and confirmed here. I still think it's important to point out those hints of a Red-Lyrium-Blighted future from those "Dread Wolf Rises" teasers and images, and how they may curiously echo back to that "In Hushed Whispers" quest for the Redcliffe mages (and where we meet a Red Lyrium-infected Solas and companions in an alternate universe where Solas's belief that he is living in an unreal world and timeline is actually true).

    Also nice to know the Carta also won't touch the red variety (which of course creepily whispers in the Kirkwall square, reminding everyone of its malevolence). More of Varric's protective influence?

  • We also learn that the Carta has kept on selling lyrium to former Templars in Kirkwall, but only as long as they "kept trouble to a minimum." 

Idol Confirmations and Details

Speaking of which: Nice to have confirmation of a few points that have embattled Dragon Agers since the "Dread Wolf Rises" teaser came out: 

  1. Yep, the idol was in fact Meredith's Sword (this was hotly debated in some quarters)

  2. The sword exploded (recreated of course, depending on your options, in Inquisition).

  3. An elf's dreams (cough, cough, wonder whose?) told the visiting elf that the idol could be drawn from the remains of Meredith's statue (using a special potion to soften the lyrium). Note: The elf is not apparently Solas, since he wears a vallaslin, and I don't see Solas doing that, even to disguise himself.

  4. Timewise, this is of course while the statue was still in the square in Kirkwall, and not an addition to the shadows of the Black Emporium.
  5. Further, it can't be a coincidence that the idol was removed from the statue's chest (where her heart resided). He pulled out her heart, and hidden inside was this image of two figures in comfort or grief or both.

  6. And what a metaphor for Solas's situation and romance, if you romanced him.

  7. But... keep in mind... Meredith's statue is the alchemical outcome of her transformation/corruption by red lyrium. How the heck did the statue GET INTO HER HEART?

Describing the Idol

We also get an incredibly telling confirmation of the idol physically here as well as its removal. The description gives us several clues and confirmations we could only guess at by looking at it previously, so I'm going to collect ALL those descriptions from across the tales here, in one place:

  • "It’s not much to look at—a couple hugging, too thin to be dwarves—but it’s sitting there, glowing softly like a ruby lit by the grace of the Maker himself..."

  • "When I hefted it in my hand, it was like it wanted to keep moving, like it was liquid inside."

  • The Mortalitasi's tale adds this aspect: "...we saw it clearly—an idol crafted from red lyrium, which seemed to show two lovers, or a god mourning her sacrifice, depending upon how it caught your fancy."

  • In the Bard's tale, even though we cannot of course trust ANYTHING he says, he does let slip a detail at the end about the idol that intrigues me, because it provides us new context on the idol and what it may mean to Solas:

    "He whispered something as he picked it up, tracing his gloved fingers gently along the crowned figure who comforted the other, but I could not make out the words, for I fear they were elven."

    This description is unlike the others, as if Solas himself knows more about what the statues are actually depicting. And it's interesting that he describes this moment as an almost holy one for Solas—certainly one involving deep emotion and perhaps memory?

    I thought the woman was wearing a sort of helmet (interestingly mirroring those of both Andraste and Meredith), but the word 'crowned' now makes me think more than ever that it's the "Queen" of the Evanuris, Mythal, perhaps being held by Solas even as her body died. Which is why I'm more convinced than ever that the statue depicts some variation on Solas and Mythal after her murder by the Evanuris (echoed yet again when Solas held Flemeth's body in the epilogue of Inquisition), but that it may also foreshadow that one day Mythal will hold Solas's body to her in the same pose—perhaps this time, in grief and regret after his own death.

Back to the Assassin's Tale

Additional interesting aspects to note from this tale:

  • Given later revelations, I enjoy that the Bard moves like a bard, liquid and graceful. It adds believability and context to the person we have met.

  • The chest with the idol is taken by a Tevinter agent of the Tevinter house Quintara, who pays a hefty bag of gold to the rogue Templars and departs. I can't find any information about these guys—anyone? Bueller?

  • After the initial Templar attack, there's a far more terrifying attack, in which someone attacks everyone with nightmares—nightmares that even affect the Carta dwarves! The dreams are so horrible that all the sleeping dwarves and guards die, bleeding from the ears. The attack is supported, notably, by elven archers. But I'm still stuck on the fact that Solas can kill people of all races en masse in their dreams. What a terrible ability (petrification would've been kinder).

  • The elves who show up are without vallaslin, and are decidedly un-humble or servile, and are wearing "fancy armor" (cough, ancient elven armor).

  • The accents are "normal Ferelden," according to the assassin. Then another leans down to say a prayer over the dead elf, and this one DOES sound Dalish, even if he's without vallaslin, saying, "The Dread Wolf guide your soul to peace, brother."

  • After this tale, everyone gets more refreshments. I think it's a wonderful sly detail that the only ones to thank the servant are Charter and the Bard, who politely declines more tea. This additional detail is delicious given who the Bard actually is, of course.

  • As they all sip their beverages, we realize the Mortalitasi has enslaved a wisp spirit to inhabit the stirring stick that stirs her wine, and it's really effective and gross (she threatens it for slowing down).

  • The Executor meanwhile notes that House Quintara fell when the city of Ventus was conquered by the Qunari. Yet another reminder (bookending the opening story) that the Qunari are relentless and are very much pursuing that far-off day Sten once envisioned.

  • Charter smiles, able to refute this, noting that according to her spies, the idol was sold or traded to the Danarius family before the city fell. (Okay, of all the people to touch the idol, this one is the grossest to me. Danarius is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad person. Who also—it's worth pointing out, based on what we learned about his experiments on Fenris—knows a heck of a lot more about lyrium (and lyrium magic) than most people in Thedas do.)

  • The Assassin is irritated that Charter already knew, while the Bard simply enumerates the facts as they currently stand. He tosses his golden locks effectively, but a little clumsily—it's a terrific subtle detail here, given later revelations.

  • When the Assassin and Executor nearly come to blows, the Bard intervenes calmly and coolly, resting a pale, long-fingered hand on the glove of the now-quiet Executor. Ever observant, Charter notes that the Bard's rings have no tan lines, so they are not daily wear for him. Again, it's such a fun, subtle detail, and it's a great way to show us how smart Charter really is.

The Mortalitasi's Revelations

The Mortalitasi's Tale is fascinating, and reconfirms what we learn about Nevarran practices from across this entire short story compilation, as well as providing several additional enjoyable secrets and revelations:

  • I also love the haughty reminder that they disdain Tevinter's need for mages to rule, and it's true—the Mortalitasi are more efficient. They simply control the King. And everything else falls into place.

  • The Mortalitasi basically starts by admitting that the Mortalitasi had communicated a message from our darling Dorian, who has admitted that Dragon's Breath (the Antaam Qunari plot) had dangerously destabilized the entire world of Thedas.

  • The loss of various priests and other destabilizing influences have crushed Tevinter and progressed the Qunari plans without regard for other outcomes for regular citizenry. So the Mortalitasi admits that the Antaam splintering off is now common knowledge, and that, further, "I fear everything east of Vyrantium will be under their control inside a year, and northern Antiva as well." Yep. Sten was right.

  • One more reason, by the way, that I feel like Dragon Age 4 will involve a time jump of at least a few years. Maybe more.

  • The Mortalitasi notes that "The mage who came to us had a way to drive back the Antaam: he would perform a ritual with our help, directing the course of the Fade against the Antaam, so that every dream, every demon, every half-interested spirit would urge them back to the north, away from humanity. Their resolve would weaken, their invasion would crumble, and all would go back to the way it should be."

  • I love how the plan is "unsubtle" because, well, that's how Tevinter rolls. Bull would have a fit over so many aspects of this.

  • The ritual is deeply upsetting and Solas would have been shrieking. I mean, it involves Mortalitasi, the catacombs in the Grand Necropolis, slaves (bound and sacrificed), bound spirits, and ancient artifacts. I mean, OH MY GOD. (NOTE: I thought at first the elven mage might be Solas, but there's no way he's gonna stand by while they sacrifice slaves. Just no way.)

  • The ritual grows in strength and nears its climax, then the Tevinter mage raises the idol, and "a spike of lyrium spring[s] from the base of the idol, so that all at once, it was not merely an idol, but a ritual blade." Okay, THIS IS SO COOL. And creepy!

  • Then there's "a great booming roar" that's powerful enough to shake the Fade itself (and it appears to echo back even from the Black City itself), and my lore geekness knows no limits, because yes, folks, it's happening, THE DREAD WOLF APPEARS. The actual Dread Wolf. Like, NOT A METAPHOR! But the wolfiest wolf ever!


    (I pause to do a Snoopy dance around my apartment, then return. AWOOO! Look, I'm probably getting 75% of this stuff wrong, so anything I guess that turns out right, I am one ecstatic lore nerd...)

    And it's a FREAKING PRIDE DEMON DREAD WOLF—basically, the six-eyed avatar we have seen so many times on Solas's Tarot cards and on the Dread Wolf Rises teaser! It's described as follows:

    The Dread Wolf arrived. It was no elf, no mortal mage. It was a beast unlike any I had ever seen. Lupine in appearance, but the size of a high dragon, with shaggy spiked hide and six burning eyes like a pride demon, and it came to us on wings of fire that resolved themselves into a horde of lesser demons as the Dread Wolf landed before us.

    And then the awesomeness gets even better, as the Dread Wolf SPEAKS—and IT'S IN THE "HALLELUJAH" CADENCE! Meaning, pairs of iambs ("heartbeats"), repeating, and ending each stanza in an amphibrach.

The Dread Wolf's Dialogue in "Hallelujah" Cadence

Here you go, as follows, presented in-rhythm (as usual, I've divided up syllables where needed to mimic the song format):




Y'all, I almost cried. In a good way. It was delightful to see this cadence again! Solas is still singing one of the world's saddest and most beautiful songs in secret.


Back to the Mortalitasi's Tale
  • There's an interesting further revelation here by the way from the Mortalitasi, who notes that the "lesser demons" that attacked presented as if they were actually "spirits of Valor or Justice," but she then scoffs at this idea and assumes that they are bound demons, as "no kindly spirit would tear into us as these creatures did."

    Not even if the ritual was attempting a desecration of the Fade? Come on. Of course they were spirits. And they wield blades forged from the raw Fade itself.
  • This is another really incredibly important detail. Solas has not one, but two armies: He has the army of elves he has been calling and amassing for the three years since he absorbed Flemeth's essence. And he has an army of spirits in the Fade that love him and are loyal to him—and they will fight for him (and for the Fade).

  • Meanwhile, in the midst of all this fabulous drama, a young noble's son among the Mortalitasi grabs the Lyrium Idol (whose lyrium blade is either retracted or shattered—it's not clear), throws it into the chest, and runs off with it, fleeing into Tevinter.

  • The Mortalitasi may be arrogant, but she ends her tale with grudging admiration: "Whatever fear the name of the Dread Wolf carries, he has earned. While we might visit the Fade, it is his natural home, and the spirits there serve him gladly. They whisper in my dreams now, accusing me of crimes I never committed and promising vengeance if my wards fail."

    She also adds that the Dread Wolf may be seeking to kill her or drive her mad, and that she now realizes they had with the profane ritual somehow messed up whatever he was planning.

  • There's a slight intermission here, where there's a discussion of Corypants and his alliance with a fear demon back at Adamant as a way to trap the Grey Wardens, and the Bard's voice betrays his disapproval when he notes that "the Grey Wardens trapped themselves." Given the revelations to come, I love these little clues about who the Bard really is. Solas has always disliked the Grey Wardens, even though we still don't know why (I'm guessing it's something to do with the archdemon/"Old God" blood aspect and the melding/corruption involved in the Joining).

  • The Assassin asks the Executor for their tale, but the Bard interrupts, and offers his own revelations. Of course, again—rereading this is so much fun, because it becomes very clear by the end why the Bard interrupted here. The Executor's tale-telling days are done.

The Secrets of the Bard's Tale

Okay, first and foremost, the best part of the Bard's Tale is all the affectionate allusions to beloved characters from across the trilogy:

  • The Avvar augur (if it's the guy we met in the Frostback Basin, I love him and he's totally on my crush list)
  • The Rivaini pirate captain (a nod to Isabela)
  • The disapproving Starkhaven noble (Sebastian, is that you?)
  • The red-haired Ben-Hassrath agent (definitely Tallis!)
  • Xenon the Antiquarian from the Black Emporium (still shrieking at his urchins for "a moist towelette!"—which always makes me think of Cassandra from "Doctor Who")
  • Divine Victoria herself (whoever we chose, although for me it's most delicious if it's Leliana for various reasons)

The Bard describes these wonderful little glimpses, then tells the story of his following some Ben-Hassrath agents down to a clash between Qunari warriors, Tevinter mages ("Siccari"), and a golem. It's an ancient elven ritual chamber complete with a working eluvian. The idol lies on a stone pedestal between the two factions. When you realize this is all Solas's fanfiction, it's even more fabulous. Like, the idol's just sitting there. Waiting on a fancy pillow to be picked up and cherished.

  • The Bard then pretty accurately describes Solas himself as we last saw him, in the ancient elven armor of super-hotness, wolf pelt over his shoulder. Solas then instantly petrifies everyone with the glowy-eyed magic we saw in "Trespasser," then picks up the idol.

  • The most important thing we should remember here is that everything the Bard (cough, Solas) tells us here could be a lie, a feint. And probably is.

  • The Assassin and the Mortalitasi begin to bicker over the Bard's account, and I enjoy the fact that the Assassin is smart enough to scent the lie in it.

  • Charter however, sighs, and goes very still. She agrees that there are many liars at the table, then, in a revelation that hit me like a sledgehammer, she quietly begs for her life.

  • The others continue to bicker, and Charter asks for her life again. There's something really moving about this for me. She knows she has zero weapons at her disposal here against the real person behind the Bard's mask.

  • It's pretty heartbreaking when Charter, who is very aware that she may be just moments from death, reveals that she will regret not recognizing Solas for who he was back at Haven for the rest of her life.

  • When Charter asks for her life a third and final time, Solas responds in elven with "Ar lasa mala," which I translate as "I give [it to] you," and which Solas translates as "I grant it to you." (I love the detail that his ancient elven accent is not quite the same as that of the Dalish, which is something I've always enjoyed as as headcanon).

  • It's so in-character that of course the first thing Solas does after petrifying the other spies is to free the enslaved wisp from the Mortalitasi's stirring stick. He even uses his old catchphrase: "You are free."

  • Solas admits that he called this meeting so he could learn what the Inquisition knew about his plans and movements. He also admits to Charter that his honesty to the Inquisitor in "Trespasser" was "a moment of weakness."

    See, but I don't think so. I think he wants Charter to stop him.

  • Just like I think he wants the Inquisitor to stop him. And that's why he spoke honestly to the Inky back then. And of course, if romanced, it also enabled him to pull back the lie implied when he ended their romance and to give her the comfort of truth—that he'd never stopped loving her, he just could not do so while lying to her. So the honesty freed him. It's still one of my favorite things about that final scene there.

  • And I think the real reason he called this meeting was that he's lonely. Sure, he's a semi-god leading two armies, spiritual and elven, but he's also alone. Three years ago, he had friends, companions, a beloved. Now he's an archvillain on an inexorable road to death. And, as I always believe is the case on some level with Solas, he's lying to himself constantly.

    Now obviously, I could be headcanoning like a madwoman here, but, as before in "Trespasser," when he moved heaven and earth to foil a Qunari plot and spend 15 minutes with the Inquisitor (also saving their life in the process), there's something touching to me about Solas arranging all of this if he did do so for a brief reminder of what he had lost. If he'd done it just for these few moments of companionship with someone he genuinely respects.

    There's a melancholy and real sense of regret to Solas. It's always a quality that I love in the character, whether we see him as a villain or antihero. Above all, there's still that lonely or yearning quality to him that always affects me, and that makes it easy for me to believe, sure, he'd do all this just to hear how the Inquisitor is doing. And his friends.

    And I admit it, as a Solasmancer? It totally slays me when his voice breaks at the end, as he asks her to tell the Inquisitor that he is sorry. 

  • Charter asks him to reconsider his plans, thinking of Tessa, her lover, who would not survive. Solas admits he feels this way as well, and once again refers to himself as "prideful, hotheaded, and foolish"—words very similar to many he has used about himself in the past, to both Blackwall in Inquisition banters, and to the Inquisitor at the end of "Trespasser."
  • He still says he's committed to his path. He still thinks his plans will save, not damn, the world, and that he has no choice. He still thinks the elves will have a better life once his ritual is complete.

  • Charter notes the new details we learned about the idol—especially that "crowned figure comforting another," and ends by recommitting to stopping the Dread Wolf.

And then I go off and hug a fluffy pillow, my cat, and weepily drink a large glass of wine.

Meanwhile, what did you think of the story? And did I miss anything cool here? Please share in the comments!

NOTE: Hey all, I updated a few of my bullet points in that final section, because the most important ones on Solas's loneliness and meeting justifications somehow got deleted. Sorry for the post update!


  1. I've been somewhat of a silent reader of your wonderful blog, and have felt a sense of kinship with your take on the Solas-Lavellan romance! And you'll not believe how I squealed when I saw that you had made a post on THE STORY from Tevinter Nights!

    It was a amazing read, and I hope there is a way for our Inky/DA4 protagonist to resolve the mess while saving Solas as well! He deserves all the hugs in the world, even if a few of them are literally chokeholds!

    1. Thank you, Kikyo! I'm sorry this reply is so late, but I so appreciate your thoughts, and am so glad that you've been enjoying my posts about Solas! This was an amazing story and definitely a treat for us Solasmancers.

  2. Awesome!! I love your analysis and writings! Brilliant!

  3. This was exceptionally well-put. As a Solasmancer myself, I have read this chapter 3 times and noticed new details each time and you have put it all in here. It is truly such an intricate and masterfully designed chapter, reeking of lore and subtle hints, I could spend hours picking it apart, word by word.
    I completely agree with you that he is the loneliest man in all of Thedas right now and I think he misses the live he had with the Inquisition, as well Inky herself. And it probably kills him because he wants to feel that again but he has convinced himself that he must sacrifice it all to fix his mistake as well as believing he simply does not deserve love and belonging in such a way... maybe afraid that it will make him content with the world as it is. Isn't that why he practically beams when Inky says she would use the power of the well to make things right, to restore what was lost. He wants to be understood and stopped at the same time. He is the most devastating character and my absolute favorite in all of fiction.

    Thank you so much for your time and the love you have put into this. I will link it to both my sisters who are as obsessed with DA as I am. I can't wait to see where this will lead.


    1. Thank you, Elmira! I so appreciate your thoughts here, and I agree that his loneliness is really one of the most powerfully affecting things about Solas. And I agree -- his tragedy that he wants understanding, but he also wants her to stop him (and I'm not sure he's even aware of that fact).

      And thank you so much for sharing it -- I'll look forward to your thoughts going forward as well!

  4. Honestly ( I don't wanna be a's just the inner pessimist in me) I feel like we won't have a way to save Solas. I MEAN DONT GET ME WRONG I REALLY HOPE THAT THE WRITERS DO GIVE US AN OPTION TO SAVE HIM BECAUSE I AM A SOLASMANCER ALL THE WAY! But also...when Solas said there is only death on his journey...I mean. Looking from a writers standpoint, I feel like that's not something you just put in there (unless they just wanted to run salt in the wound which is highly plausible). There is a reason and I feel like that reason was to give us a foreshadowing/warning that we won't be able to save him �� But like I said I am a solasmancer for the rest of my life and I TRULY hope that the writers give us a way to say the egg ��

    1. You may be right, sadly. At the end of Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts, my romanced Lavellan chose the "sad" option on the dialog wheel, stating that she felt sorry for Gaspard (assuming you got him sentenced to death); and Solas told her that she could not "save people from themselves". I've always found it foreshadowing...

    2. I'm with you on this -- I do feel deeply that we will not really be able to save Solas. I hope I'm wrong, but that's my fear.

      My one consolation is that "the first of [his] people do not die so easily," so even if Solas sacrifices himself in DA4, I think he will still possibly return.

  5. Wonderful article and analysis, as always. Several parts made me think you haven't had a chance to read the comics, and I can't recommend them enough as they provide a lot of the information you asked about in your comment of the Assassin's Tale (house Qintara, the fall of Ventus, how Charter knows it went to house Danarius - not Danarius himself, mind you, the experiment on Fenris, etc.). Blue Wraith especially goes into details about all these events, and I think they'll be super important for DA4. So sorry if I'm mistaken and you just didn't want to spoil the comics for anyone!

    I don't think I've ever see you mention it: what do you think of the Old Gods as wards keeping the Evanuris locked in the Fade theory? Could it be part of the reason Solas disapproves so much? The idea of the Evanuris tricking the Magisters into taking the Blight back to Thedas and to the Old Gods, and then having the Grey Wardens destroy each God-lock so they can escape sounds a bit complicated to me, but plausible. Especially since five locks down could explain how Ghilan'nain is "back in business" with her pools.

    On lighter notes, I loved the nod to DW. I'm not headcanoning that Xenon listens to Toxic when bored.

    1. You are absolutely right that I hadn't caught up on ALL of the comics when I wrote this -- thank you for those details and updates! I needed to catch up on what Fenris was up to, darn it.

      On the Evanuris and the potential of the Old Gods as wards helping to keep them locked up -- I actually do think that's a possibility (very strong). I also think we're all in deep trouble if Solas just drops the Veil, because of that very fact, so it will be interesting to see.

      And I agree as far as Ghilan'nain! AGHGHGH. I think they are already partly free, and I can't wait for some Evanuris-Solas conflict in DA4.

  6. For me, the biggest revelation was that the red lyrium idol was Solas' all along. When the Dread Wolf scolded, "YOU USE MY IDOL CARELESSLY" I literally shouted out loud.

    I can't wait to learn more about the origins of the idol, and if it was the "weapon" that Fen' Harel entinced the Evanuris with when he trapped them behind the Veil. There's just so much about the current state of Thedas that traces back to Solas' decisions and actions.

    1. That's a GREAT point! I've been wondering if the idol was fashioned by Solas somehow to echo Mythal's murder, and to entice them into their prison. And then he lost (or hid?) the idol once creating the Veil.

      There's still a lot we don't know about Solas's activities the year before the Conclave, not to mention the activities of his agents like Felassan -- so the idol could have been hidden in the Thaig deliberately.

      We'll see!

  7. Hi! I just came across your blog. Can I just say I really, really love all your posts on Solas? I've just finished DAI again and romanced Solas and I'm still not over that terrible last date lol. I really love and hate him at the same time, and all your stuff on Dragon Age is a joy to read. I haven't played the DLC yet but will do that soon. I hope you'll continue!

  8. I adore these posts so much, I don't have any clever comments or anything, just wanted you to know someone is out here reading and appreciating them.

  9. After reading Tevinter Nights I desperately want more Dragon Age. I went to fan fiction since I've read all the official stuff, but there's definitely magic missing.

    A whisper in the back of my mind is telling me that "magic" is called an editor. Among other things.

    Anyway, I've been diving into your blog (again, I was here a while back) to further drown myself in all things Dragon Age, at least until I get a new work assignment and my version of the real world begins to kick me around again. My real life job is... not fun and games in the middle of a pandemic, let's say.

    I'm not much of a Solasmancer. I'll be honest, I've never played through it. I tend to go for boring. I also don't usually play Dalish. My second warden was a city elf and those Brecilian Dalish can get eaten by werewolves as far as I'm concerned. Still, your analyses are so on point and well-written I get drawn in.

    Just wanted to let you know I'm enjoying your work!

  10. I have such low energy this year, but finally pulled out Tevinter Nights to read this very story AND IT WAS AMAZING. Stories like this remind me I need to be more critical of the narrators and not just take them at their word! (LOL). The Mortalitasi was the easiest one for me to doubt because the slaves were obviously brought for blood magic :(

    Loved the interaction between Charter and Solas. I keep hoping there is a way to bring down the veil without destroying everyone but the elves.

    Thank you for this analysis; beautifully done.

  11. You write the most amazing reviews.
    Thank you for the details from the scenes...
    and how to consider the place of these details in the greater picture
    of this story we all treasure.
    (And apologoies I took so bloody long to comment down here!)
    Happy New Year.... looking forward to more DA4 news.
    love from Sunny Peace


"Dragon Age: Dreadwolf" Predictions & Ponderings (and "What's in a Name?" Redux)

He doesn't call, he doesn't write, but finally, it looks like we might be hearing from Solas at last (2023?), as BioWare announces t...