Dragon Age: A Sword of Glass

The Story so Far...
Rocky beginnings.

The Year is 9:30 by the Divine Calender, within the Dragon Age. It is within this year that I, Damien Reed, chart my progress within the nation of Ferelden:

Wandering alone within the dark, a random group of adventurers stumbled upon a campsite, fire still burning in the dark. Knowing the dangers of the harsh wilderness within the Bannorn, they banded together. Borrif Bouldershoulder, Falas, and Frieda. Discovering signs of battle upon the ground, the group investigated a nearby farmhold, where they found the door shattered, blood staining the home, and no signs of the family. Their search was interrupted by the local militia, who, upon seeing looters, began their attack before being driven away. The group, having no further concern, rested and proceeded to the nearest village of Rockcrest, where they encountered the militia again, along with their captain. Falas was slain in the ensuing battle, and the group routed. From this defeat, they traveled south, soon finding another farmhold, Terace, this one larger and busier. Frieda, approached by a group of Dalish elves on the outskirts, was informed that a payroll containing wages for the King’s Army was taking the night within town. Joining with her kin, Frieda and Borrif raided the inn where the guards were stationed before escaping with the treasure in hand. Once outside, the two surviving Dalish had a philosophical disagreement about wealth distribution and Dallar betrayed his clanmate, slaying him, and joining the group.

From here, the newly enriched group again journeyed south towards the Imperial Highway, encountering an injured forest wolf while making camp, as well as a casteless dwarf, Duergath, markings of his station tattooed into his skin. The wolf had not come alone, however, and during the night, they were set upon by a pack of ravenous black animals, Blight wolves, twisted monsters caused by the poison that darkspawn left upon the land. Dallar was torn apart during the battle, but Borrif nursed the injured wolf back to health and the animal began to follow his new pack. The following day, they heard music echoing throug the wheatfields and sparse trees, and upon investigating, came across an Orlesian man sitting in a tree, who introduced himself as Reed. Reed offered them a boon: a chevalier was in the town of Riverside, and if they dealt with Reed’s pursuer, they would have the full contents of the knight’s inventory. Borrif encountered the chevalier surrounded by townsfolk, for his crime of raping a Ferelden woman. With a little encouragement, Borrif engaged the knight, and between himself and the Fereldens, made short work of the chevalier, discovering a wanted poster upon his body for Reed. Duergath returned, carrying the deceased knight’s saddle, and they enjoyed the relatively little amount of wealth contained within. Reed appeared and, impressed by the two dwarves’ resourcefulness, asked that he accompany them on his way to Denerim. With food, board, and fame within Riverside, the group decided to take to the road again the next day, joining forces with Jacques le Fleur and Pierre, two other Orlesians on the run who were taking refuge in Riverside. Setting out, they were quick to discover that Chasind raiders lay in hiding along the Imperial Highway. Hiding themselves in long grass and mud, they struck from a small tributary that led to Lake Calenhad. Though the wildmen were beaten back, the party spotted several more boats encroaching upon Riverside, but wounded and tired, none decided to return to defend the town; instead, they marched to the trade hub of Lothering.

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The Story so Far...
Doomed March

Within Lothering, the group found themselves surrounded by soldiers of the King’s Army, marching south to Ostagar. They encountered one Bann Teagan, who offered the obviously capable fighters a position as mercenaries within his forces. Feeling the ache of their pockets for silver, they accepted, and were instructed to report to Captain Airia, who in turn, assigned them to Sergeant Jeern. In Jeern’s small company, the sole survivors were Antlis and Verdun of Highever. The company recieved its orders to alight the Imperial Highway and make it safe for travel by night. They were to reactivate a Tevinter watchtower that controlled the glowstones set within the moarter of the road. With little time before the army began its march towards Ostagar, and nightfall quickly approaching, they set off immediately. Verdun and Duergath tracked through the dense forest to the ruins of the watchtower, which appeared strangely undisturbed, despite the bones that littered the ground. The reason became clear soon enough, as massive crows, suffering from the Blight, ambushed them and, though individually weak, proved to be too numerous and too swift for the party, forcing them to retreat inside the tower.

Once inside, several skeletons of long dead Tevinter legionnaires arose to challenge their passage. Dispatched, the group discovered the mechanism to alight the glowstones and illuminate the Highway; the green pathway snaked through the forest just as darkness replaced daylight. Then, venturing deeper within the tower, the group came across the underground catacombs of Tevinter soldiers long buried, with a single corpse nailed by his rotting flesh to the stone wall. Upon opening the largest of the toombs, the corpse wailed an unholy sound and rose off of the spikes driven into it, to assault the group. Once re-dead, the corpse erupted into a pool of blood, and the victorious group finished searching the toomb of a Tevinter lord known as the Archon. As the only one who read ancient Tevene, Reed claimed the Archon’s journal.

Once outside into the newly created light of the Highway, they were greeted by a very pleased Captain Airia. However, as the army marched south towards Ostagar, it became clear that the glowstones would not stop the darkspawn. The company was set upon from all sides by elements of the horde, and the group faced the darkspawn for the first time. Creatures making a mockery of life, the paty was so struck by fear that their attacks were sloppy and their forces were uncoordinated. It was a grueling battle within the night, but with persistence and the death of the Emmisary coordinating the darkspawn assault, the monsters broke ranks and fled back into the darkness. Separated from their company, the group decided to journey back to Lothering to treat wounds and recover, leaving Jeern, Antlis, Verdun and Reed to fend for themselves.

Along the way, Jacques heard a beautiful melody being sung from within the Hinterlands mountains, and investigated. A Dailish girl sang a song of mourning and told of her lost tribe, asking vengeance against the darkspawn that had taken them. Agreeing, the party set out across the winding mountainous paths of the Hinterlands, eventually coming to find a group of genlocks pouring over their kills in the smoking remains of a Dalish encampment. Screams still echoed within the mountain peaks. Deciding the engage them on a narrow path, the party withdrew and baited the genlocks in. But this path worked as much for them as against them, and the darkspawn rained down arrows, finding flesh under armor, before being knocked aside by a Terrible Beast of Unspeakable Evil. This Blighted creature, once a sacred Halla of the Dalish, now lived out its tortured existence to slaughter, and rampaged through the party’s defenses. Broken and desperate, Borrif grabbed the deer by the horns, as it were, and flung them both off of the steep clifface. The rest of the group struggled to survive as the remaining genlocks hunted and laughed within the night before finally being smote upon the rocks. The bloody but victorious party made a more cautious way down in search of Borrif, finding his crushed body and the dead carcas of The Terrible Beast of Unspeakable Evil. Injured but alive, they regrouped and traveled, now west, back towards Lothering.

Along the way, they encountered Jeern, Antlis and Verdun, sent out to investigate the road to Redcliff. Finding burned and scorched wagons of refugees, the party followed, finding a trail of blood and death that took them along the road to Redcliff. Fererlden men, women and children, along with Chasind hunters and refugees littered the path, cut into small pieces and left for the carion birds. Within a days march to Redcliff, they tracked the bloody trail back to a group of Chasind hunters, black poison coursing through their veins. The hunters attacked from shadowed tree canopies and fired many arrows, but were wild and ravenous, and no match for a well coordinated assault. But, as the battle progressed, additional threats began to arive. Large, unpainted men, not Chasind, drawn by the sounds of battle, attacked from the party’s flank, engaging all present with throwing axes and bloodlust. The lines were split, and what was a simple battle turned into a cluttered melee. Finally slaying the crazed Chasind and driving off the axe-wielders, Borrif discovered Antlis, standing over the corpse of one of her enemies, and gushing blood from an arrow wound in her throat. Rushing their direly injured companion back to Lothering, they managed to save her life, although she would never talk again. Lothering was now empty of soldiers, a far cry from the comotion of three days ago, except for the elite corps led by Ser Cauthrien: Teryn Loghain’s elite soldiers. Ser Cauthrien had taken notice of their deeds and offered them a position within the Teryn’s forces. Although the party refused, the offer stood, and the group, accompanied by Cauthrien, arrived at the magnificent fortress of Ostagar.

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From Roïn’s Journal
“Awakened, Amidst Blood and Steel”

I am Roïn of No Forest. I awoke in the chaos of some slavers’ arena. The first sensation of taste and touch were the dust and smooth, blood stained stone floor. My first sound the drowning of not my own cries, but that of hundreds of bloodthirsty observers. My first sights that of this group who I would come to take arms with and shed blood beside.

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From Roïn’s Journal
“Traveling: Werefish, The Mages’ Collective”

A blur of memories; encounters, people, and landscape. I do not remember much. I know my name, I know not my forest. I find myself remembering a great many things. That I have traveled to lands far and wide; but it comes back only in glimpses at a time. The group I am party to is a strange mix indeed. I follow them. The three fighters, roguish and warrior alike and the three mages: apostates of blood, spirit, and primal magicks each. We arose from the place of my first consciousness, the slavers arena, in a Mages’ Collective. My benefactors granted me an allowance and a blade. I graciously accepted. I will find my way and cut through the shrouds concealing my past and future. The primal one seems to have found a direction, a quest, from some female magister. We were very well equipped. Our first expedition is across the great Lake Calenhad. I held our craft steady at the helm while the party fended off the several aquatic beasts that assailed us. Me made it to the opposite shore laden with the carcasses of one of our assailants, a great werefish, and that of several great fish caught by our mage’s dexterous fishing skill. Between the primal mage and the crafty dwarf duster they augmented a buckler with the cursed teeth begotten from the werefish. Crude Shemlen crafts, I think. I was afforded a mount as well, ‘Helen’ is the steeds name. Swift is she, and fleet of foot. Looking into the beasts eyes I see glimpses of a memory, staring into the eyes of another mount, a great white stag amidst a dense wood. A memory far set apart from the sparsely wooded plains and the flat and crystalline expanse of the lake. Who am I? Where is the forest? Where am I from?

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From Roïn’s Journal
“The Weight of an Anvil: Orzammar and the Deep Roads”

I entered the heart of Dwarven civilization with rapture. The wondrous craft of stone and steel all about me held me in amazement. We further stocked provisions and arms here, I think, before going on enroute to the Deep Roads. I met with a curious dwarven artisan here that offered a reward from lyrium dust. From the same artisan my benefactors purchase for me a fine crossbow in the Fereldan fashion with a quiver of 20 steel crossbolts. A mighty construct indeed. Upon wielding it, I find myself working it with expert dexterity. I contemplate: I was, am, an archer. I continue to tour the city, turn into the inn for a nights rest alongside the rest of the party, and continue onwards. Along the way I am illuminated unto the details of our particular quest. We have been commissioned by a mage of great substance in the Mages’ Collective to retrieve a magical anvil from some dwarven keep lost long ago in the Deep Roads and infested by Darkspawn. The entrance to and the location of the keep in question was availed to us in Orzammar and our road would now take us to perils that would prove both our steel and will.

Vir Assan,
Vir Bor’Assan,
Vir Adahlen.

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From Roïn’s Journal
“The Weight of an Anvil: Spirits, Beasts, and Darkspawn”

(notes heavily smeared with dried blood)

It is unlike anything I have seen (or can remember). Not a day into our excursion into the Deep do we encounter a pair of darkspawn envoys and other perils. We find strained respite in a defensible cavern formation the first ‘night.’ I find myself initially unnerved by the claustrophobia, but find solace in the earth and stone, home to the roots of life above. It is a small thought that is put far from our minds as we came across another darkspawn patrol. We cleave through this patrol readily, our melee arm sweeping them off guard with the searing support of our primal mage blazing fire and ice upon the field. We were barely laying the finishing blow on the last of them whence an enraged and feral beast barreled out of the darkness and set upon us. A ‘bronto’ our dwarven companions cried in alarm, a great beast of burden, once domesticated by the dwarves. This one, wild and with a certain bloodlust in its charge assailed us in a furious rage. Through our combined efforts; my arterial strike; the warriors’ rodeo engagements; and the mages’ magical bombardments, the great beast was finally brought to its knees. Memories of hunts long past assail me briefly. I honored the beast’s spirit by speaking a hunter’s prayer for the hunted and slain, cut out its heart, and drank of its blood.

The Shemlen walked off, paying no such honors. Do they treat the contest of life with so little respect? I take another draught of the life we had dispatched.
==
We encounter a sorely wounded dwarf. The sole surviving member of a dwarven envoy that braved the deep roads. He refused to continue with our party choosing to brave the dark roads to see what became of his compatriots. A brave soul, worthy of the stone should that be his fate.
==
We come across the ruins of a crafting outpost populated by the ghostly visages of dwarven wraiths, endlessly going through the throes of their last actions before they were obliterated. It is their vengeance that keeps them entrapped in these memories it seems. Their souls warped and torn to exist as these spirits, these ethereal memories. Dangerous as well as I was the first to find. We camped here for a night, at once safer for the walls, but ill at ease for the ghostly apparitions that would unerringly and regularly transit and perform the memory they have been doomed to repeat for eternity. I station myself upon a rooftop of one of the subterranean buildings, scouting ahead for danger.
==
A great envoy of patrols and darkspawn come down upon the encampment. They obliterate all dwarven spirits they come across; the leader wielding some sort of enchanted weapon that rend through the wraiths and tore their spirits asunder. I realize there is no way to communicate to my comrades barricaded in the building I am atop. I pray they don’t do anything stupid.

No telling with Shemlen though.
==
The envoy passes. I come down to inform them of the army that overlooked us and go to secure the perimeter of scouts. Which I readily encounter. I stealthily stalk them back into the camp and our party ambushes the unwary scouts before they have the chance to report back. It is a quick kill.
==
The mages depart to retrieve a staff they left behind. They come back happy. The dwarves and I examine ways to rig a bridge along the way to collapse. Entertaining conjecture. We see in the distance a great keep of some kind: The Legion of the Dead. “Allies, they may be,” so says the dwarven comrade, “or not.”

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From Roïn’s Journal
“The Weight of an Anvil: Deadly Shrieks, Undercity”…

A parting prayer for the released dwarf spirits and we continued forth. Myself and the dwarf rogue set out ahead to scout. It was not long until we came across the party that I recognized as one of the greater escorts to the army. We assailed them. I decided to forgo my bow and thrust myself into the melee with my blade. Foolishly. The great and hulking darkspawn I challenged pressed with a wicked ferocity, bringing me to my knees with his two devilish curved twin daggers. Rescued by my comrades and our coordinated strikes, we finally vanquish them, though at cruel cost to our own health. I took some savage blows from the beast, who’s weapons were tossed my way. I belted the sheathed daggers, stained with my own blood and that of my allies. We pressed on grimly.
==
The magisters decided to take a moment of respite while the dwarf and I again scouted ahead. We came across a pair of beastly darkspawn; shrieks. Deadly and efficient predators; gruesome in their effectiveness. They bounded for me, having taken point. The one on me pouncing on my back as I turned to flee, the other leaping past for my dwarven compatriot. The savage protrusions from its arms tore into my back and body as it brought me to the ground. I felt the end as it tore open wounds only just bandaged from our previous encounter. The dwarf and his pursuer disappeared around a bend. The grisly gnashing of teeth and the guttural death whispers of the shriek buffeting all other sounds. The sounds of the earth. The roiling, living earth. The searing heat of it’s magma lifeblood flowing below. With desperate dexterity, I freed myself from the creature’s hold and barreled into him full force. This final assault took the monster off guard, but more importantly, off the ledge of the precipice overlooking one of the great magma floes in the Deep. I gritted my teeth, my vision limned in red, scouring the surroundings for more assailants, for my ally. I pick him out far back, in dire struggle himself against another shriek. I load a bolt into the crossbow and let fly, aiding in his dispatch of the other shriek down into the lava floes.

Our allies find us in a sorry state… “Death is the road to awe.”

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From Roïn’s Journal
“The Weight of an Anvil: To Fight an Ogre”

A light at the end of the passage where we encountered the shrieks gave renewed energy to our steps; there was a unanimous hope for a small reprieve. For light.
==
The sight would be replaced by darkspawn, a legion of them in patrol about the Undercity we sought and had now found. Illuminated to high-noon like brilliance by a great crystal beset in the great cavern’s ceiling, the metropolis before us was not unlike the great masonic splendor I had witnessed in Orzammar. Atop a central building was a figure seated upon a throne beside the Anvil we sought, it’s glow and magnificence captivating even at that distance. The wonder of it all was brought to earth with a reverberating thud. From our high vantage, we discovered several of the patrols were bolstered by beastly ogres, the like of which brought terror and grim gazes from all about the party. We happened across some golems, guardians of some noble dwarven clan in the city. The party left to scour the clan manor for the device which would allow them to give life to the statue and bring it to our control. I took to the rooftops, scouting the vicinity and diverting patrols attentions away from the preparations of the party.
==
Battle ensues. I managed to lure a whole patrol into the building I was atop and seal the foolish creatures in. The Ogre is brought to bear upon our party. Our golem guardian matches the great fearsome beast toe to toe. Melee on the ground and archers up top, we snipe out the darkspawn mages as they attempt to bolster the ogres monstrous strength. The dwarven fighter launches a flask of this fiery liquor we obtained in Orzammar. It strikes the ogre in combination with a fiery barrage at the hand of our primal mage. The fireball in addition to a great many barrages of spells, blades, arrows, and the sacrifice of our great golem bring the beast down. Its darkspawn handlers and envoy disperse, their vanguard broken. We rose to scale the steps towards the anvil and the armor clad guardian seated enthroned beside it.

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From Roïn’s Journal
“The Weight of an Anvil: Invictus, the Oath”

(sketches of the Grey Warden seated upon throne overlooking Undercity:
proud but staggered due to the final stages of darkspawn toxicity)

A Grey Warden stares across a ruined city deep in the ground, far from peaceful sky or soothing seas. I stood not before him, but beside him. Unflinchingly, with a heart to brave the maelstrom of the darkness. To brave destiny when all others only see death.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the [Fade],
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

(Invictus, by Henley)

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From Roïn’s Journal
“The Weight of an Anvil: Spoils”

(self-portrait; detailing a jagged and dark wyvern tattoo)

We set out to escape from the Deep Roads. The spoils of our conquests in tow. Asides from the Anvil, we had looted a considerable sum of gold, gems, materials and other artifacts from our excursion in the darkspawn infested deep and through our initial fittings in preparation for the journey. Our primal mage had found a girder defending him from deaths that had occurred to their previous owners, a staff that could summon a great invisible water craft, another staff of some power, and cloth armor with a headdress providing some mysterious boons. The dwarf obtained a katar like blade with a bladed defensive hilt contraption. I gave him my serrated blade when he professed a desire to dual wield it with another weapon. The other fighters obtained some weapons and armor of varying quality in the Deep Roads but obtained their most valuable fittings during our trip to Orzammar. Their arms and armor were of great strength and enchantment; an axe imbued with a mighty flaming ability and armor with improved fortitude against melee attacks. My interests were fairly frugal; taking for my own but a small nugget of lyrium I found amidst the rubble of the demolished golem and a beautiful obsidian tablet with the likeness of a dragon on it. A small compartment at the bottom of the tablet caught my attention. I remember setting the lyrium nodule inside out of curiosity: what followed could only have been a dream. The dragon upon the tablet came alive, slid up my arm akin to a living tattoo, and snaked up to my face. A searing pain. I wake up from this dream many times. It besets even my meditation and reveries. I wake up from sheer force of will. The tablet was shattered, obsidian slivers everywhere, the lyrium and compartment no where to be found.

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