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You tend to get up to interesting things. You meet interesting people and then you kill them.
— Zevran Arainai

The Warden's Party is a group of various individuals gathered together by the Warden during their quest to stop the Fifth Blight. The group first began with Alistair, a Templar Grey Warden fresh from his Joining, and the Warden at the Battle of Ostagar. After the Darkspawn horde left the Grey Wardens decimated and the two remaining Wardens barely alive, the Witch of the Wilds Morrigan joined them at request of her mother, Flemeth. Leaving Flemeth's hut, they are joined by a stray mabari war dog that had bonded to the Warden.

Arriving in the town of Lothering, the Warden then recruits Leliana, a Chantry lay sister, and Sten, a Qunari beresaad imprisoned for murder. The party leaves Lothering, recruiting the dwarf berserker Oghren in Orzammar after finding his wife Paragon Branka, and the senior mage Wynne at the Circle Tower in Lake Calenhad. While travelling, the Warden is nearly assassinated by Zevran Arainai, a Dalish Antivan Crow. Showing mercy, Zevran joins the Warden's party while hiding from the Crows. They also happen upon Shale, a stone golem frozen in the town of Honnleath without any memory of its past.

As the party bonds over their mission to recruit armies to stop the Fifth Blight, they ask the Warden to fulfill a personal quest for them. The Warden is more than willing to comply, despite the time it takes from their mission; Oghren bonds with a former lover called Felsi, Sten's original sword Asala is recovered, Leliana's past ties to the bards of Orlais are severed, Alistair meets his half-sister Goldanna, Wynne makes amends with one of her former apprentices, and Morrigan's mother Flemeth is slain.

Once the armies have been gathered and the matter of Loghain Mac Tir is settled, the Warden's Party leads the charge against the mighty Darkspawn horde. Defeating them at the gates of Denerim, the party makes final good-byes to all of their companions before leading a small force of the Warden's most trusted and powerful allies to defeat the Archdemon. Slaying the beast and ending the Fifth Blight, the party depart, with all of its members scattering to the wind, likely never to see each other again.

Battle vs. Vulcan's Party (by MovieStuff65 and BeastMan14)

The winds howl, the snow biting savagely across the crags and cracks of the mountain. Up in the Frostbacks, it'd be the action of foolish to try and cross their treacherous peaks. These were the thoughts of the Witch.

"Why are do we continue to waste our time on this fruitless endeavor?"

Morrigan asked once more, using her staff as a walking stick as the party advanced. "After all, you don't even believe in the Maker. What makes you think this will even work?"

Alistair, the Templar, snapped back as he drew his cloak closer. "It doesn't matter if it works or not. We're not abandoning the Arl!"

Wynne nodded in agreement, but the others in the party kept quiet. Except Shale, that is.

"Moments like this make me elated I'm not one of the things." The golem happily stated, stomping easily ahead of the others, undeterred.

"Glad you're so sodding giddy, golem! I ain't used to this surface cold yet." Oghren bellowed, and Zevran nodded in agreement.

"You know, I think I'd stand a better chance against the Crows than up here."

Before the party could continue their bickering, a hand from their leader told them to hush. Drawing his sword and equipping his shield, the Warden ordered his comrades to prepare with a nod.

Alistair and Oghren quickly joined his side, the former activating Threaten and the latter slowly pumping up with Berserk. Wynne and Morrigan retreated behind them, activating their respective sustained spells while preparing their staves. Zevran retreated into the shadows, and the Warden looked around carefully.

To be frank, he didn't know why he was searching for the ashes of a crazy lunatic who believed in men in the sky. All he knew was that he needed a way to cure the Arl for his army, and this seemed to be his only option.

The Warden had no other options, and that frustrated him. Luckily, he felt there was something nearby to pound his anger away at.

That helped...a little bit.


As another burst of cold wind slashed at his face, Vulcan almost felt grateful for the intrusive, grumpy asshole of a demon living inside of him. His teammates, however, were not so lucky as to have a demon of fire corrupting their souls. “Remind me why we’re climbing this blasted mountain again.” Rhelmar grumbled. Edwen, showing no discomfort despite wearing what amounted to a black tablecloth, scoffed, and replied, “Because an item of great power lies on the other side. Perhaps you should have paid attention when I was explaining rather than staring at my ass.” Rhelmar glared at her, but kept his mouth shut.

Buffalo awkwardly cleared his throat. “Right. Now, would someone please tell me what exactly it is we’re looking for?” Edwen rolled her eyes, and Sybil, who had up until this point been walking by Vulcan, began to speak, “According to my research, it’s known as-” Mathras raised a skeletal hand, silencing her. “Allow to me handle this, sweet Sybil. We, dearest Buffalo, are searching for an artifact known as the Urn of Sacred Ashes. The ashes in question belong to Andraste, bride of a deity known as “the Maker”. I was never one for religion, but “the Maker” has always held much power in this region. These ashes, however, apparently contain magical properties, and if I suspect correctly, they could enhance Vulcan’s already considerable strength.” Buffalo, satisfied with the answer, grunted, and returned to trudging through the snow and trying to ignore the cold.

Fools. Thy only way to boost thy strength is if thee were to gift me your complete body. This “Urn” is nothing but a distraction from the World Heart. The demon angrily grumbled, it’s voice echoing through Vulcan’s head. Vulcan chuckled, and replied, “Well, once you get control of my legs, you can decide where we go.” Sybil turned to look at him, curious, and asked, “Is it speaking to you again?” Vulcan nodded. “It’s closer to whining, but sure.” Sybil’s look of curiosity became one of concern. “Are you sure you want to do this? If these ashes work, the power could overwhelm you and enable the demon to take control. If that happens,-” Vulcan laughed. “If that happens, then the worst thing that happens is that I take a few thousand Deadwalkers, and maybe even an Ice Lord or two, with me. Trust me, Sybil, I’m a big kid. I can take care of myself.” Sybil frowned, and seemed to struggle with forming her next sentence, “I know. It’s just, um, it’s just that I care about you, and I don’t know what I’d do if you died because of me.” Vulcan took her hand and smiled reassuringly, “And I care about you. Let’s just get up this mountain and get this over with so we can get back to camp.” The demon sounded disgusted. The love of mortals sickens me.

Just then, Randval, who had gone scouting ahead, returned. “The Knight sees the village we seek on the horizon. His companions should reach it before nightfall.” Vulcan nodded, then said,”Anything else?” Randval unsheathed his sword, which was black with a mysterious blood. “The Knight also encountered a new foe. They resembled Deadwalkers, but fell much easier.” Vulcan, puzzled, turned to look at Edwen, who shook her head. “It appears Blackfrost is using new troops. He did not mention it when he and I were working together.” Mathras spoke up again. “Tell me, Randval, were these creatures ghoulish in appearance, with gray skin, perhaps?” Randval nodded as he began cleaning his sword. “I see.” He lowered his head in contemplation for a few seconds, then began walking with a quicker pace. “I recommend we get to the village, Vulcan.” “Why?” “Because I have encountered creatures such as these before in my travels. They are known as Darkspawn, and when one encounters a few, a horde is often fast approaching, and I’d rather we not fall into their hands.” The party exchanged confused looks, then followed Mathras towards the village.


"Alistair, finish off the ogre!"

As Shale brawled and grappled with the mighty ogre, Alistair slammed his shield into its knee. The darkspawn buckled, and Alistair thrust his longsword into its face, finishing the beast.

"You know, I can sense darkspawn too. I knew they were coming..."

The Warden raised an eyebrow as he sheathed his sword, a pile of decapitated darkspawn surrounding him.

"Okay...I didn't. But I killed a bunch of them!"

"Sounds quite good for you Alistair- perhaps you will be more useful than a brief distraction for our enemies."

"Shut it, Morrigan- you have wounded my manly pride!" He replied, feinted pain in his voice.

"Maker, you two need to get a room. Ease the tensions a little, eh?" Zevran suggested, his trademark smirk meeting the witch's glare and Alistair's surprised look.

Oghren burst out laughing, Wynne rolled her eyes, and Shale sighed in contempt.

"It seems as if our dear Zevran has suffered severe head trauma- perhaps the old woman can fix him?"

"I amm sorry, Morrigan, but the sickness in his mind is far too strong for me. As for your's..."

A cough from the Warden stopped the bickering, and the group marched ahead towards Haven. As Morrigan caught up to her friend, he noticed a smile across his face.

"Ugh."


TBC

Expert's Opinion

TBD

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Hawke's Party (by MovieStuff65)

In an abandoned port in Rivain, two parties walk slowly towards each other. Stepping forward first was the Champion of Kirkwall, Hawke. On the other end, the Hero of Ferelden known only as the Warden did as well.

"Surely it doesn't have to be this way?"

The Warden shook his head, before drawing his longsword and shield. His party behind him did likewise, preparing themselves for combat.

"Not a very talkative fellow, are you?" Hawke grimaced, drawing his staff, with his companions equipping their weapons too.

Hawke was the first to attack, casting Paralyzing Hemorrhage just as the Warden and Merrill cast their own spells. All of the Warden's party save Oghren and the Warden himself immediately started convulsing and trembling as Hawke's magic twisted their blood against them. Merrill cast Chain Reaction, further shocking the Warden's Party and dealing damage. The Warden's own Blood Wound managed to halt the advancing members of Hawke's Party, but Merrill quickly dispelled the magic while Anders cast Aid Allies.

The dwarven warrior cast Cleanse Area, halting the area of effect spells as he charged forward with his maul. Aveline went out to meet him, activating Retaliation and Raise the Guard as she does so. Meanwhile, the Warden instantly casts Mana Clash against Hawke and Merrill; the latter instantly fell, while Hawke struggled to regain his composure. Morrigan cast a Death Hex on Hawke, and Leliana finished him off with a swiftly aimed Critical Shot.

With all the mages down, Wynne cast Grease around all of the remaining members of Hawke's Party as the Warden cast Fireball. The combination wreaked havoc, taking down an unprepared Isabela and weakening Fenris. Leliana's Scattershot further peppered away at the party, with Fenris falling down.

Sensing how powerful the Warden was, Carver used Lingering Silence on the mage. He leaped forward with Reaper, charging forward swinging his greatsword. Although Morrigan was left staggered by the blow, instincts learned from ancient Arcane Warriors prepared the Warden, letting him easily parry the sword swing. Confident, the Warden looked in shock as Carver used Lasting Cleanse. Left without his sustained spells, the Warden began to engage Carver in a secluded dual as the battle raged on.

Oghren closed in on Anders, who cast Winter's Blast just as Oghren came within axe range. The frozen warrior could do nothing as Anders cast Cone of Cold, leaving him freezing and brittle. Varric spotted the opportunity, aiming Bianca and using Bursting Arrow- the explosive bolt obscured Anders while taking the weakened Oghren down.

Forgotten in the thick of combat, Wynne cast Group Heal on the party, letting them all regain their composure and enter fully into the battle. "Come after me! I'm the one you want!" Aveline yelled, taunting the Warden's Party to engage.

Sten and Zevran immediately targeted Aveline, who stood firm and composed despite the overwhelming amount of attackers. Every blow the warriors struck her did little to harm her, while Zevran's axes barely made a dent in her armor no matter the angle. Activating Unstoppable, the Warden's allies and their attacks proved fruitless as she weathered the onslaught.

The Warden and Carver remained completely focused on their private dual, neither gaining ground. Although the Warden had managed to reactivate his sustained spells, Carver's Templar training prevented him from casting any other spells.

Likewise, Carver found himself equally matched against the Warden; he tried an overhead swing, but the Warden sidestepped it and thrusted his longsword. Carver lowered his blade, catching it, and attempted to strike at him with the pommel. The Warden dodged it by leaning backwards, narrowly avoiding the blow.

Taking advantage of the brief space in distance, the Warden cast Stonefist. The earthy projectile slammed into Carver, who only barely managed to remain standing as he stumbled back from the blow. Before he could reengage the Warden, a taunt echoed across the battlefield.

Loghain had used Taunt, unintentionally drawing Varric's ire as well as Carver's. The dwarf let loose a volley of bolts from Bianca as Carver moved in with Reaper, the arrows and sword briefly disorienting the general. Recovering just in time to block a sword swing from Carver, Loghain gestured to the archer as he parried Carver's thrust.

Morrigan registerd Loghain's request, casting a Vulnerability Hex on Varric. The rogue quickly fled with Back-to-Back, disappearing into the shadows beside Carver before the Warden could cast Winter's Grasp. Unfortunately, that was the moment Loghain used War Cry, knocking both down to the ground. Left outside of stealth, Morrigan cast a Winter's Grasp at the same moment the Warden used Crushing Prison. Left frozen and instantly shattered by both spells, Varric fell.

"Carver, I'm starting to falter!"

The Templar looked over to see Aveline's defense beginning to waver. Her counterstrikes, once powerful and decisive, were now sluggish and weak. He watched as Zevran easily avoiding each blow, ducking underneath or around them to counter with a swiftly aimed backstab. Arrows from Leliana covered her shield and armor, while Sten's sundering blows forced her on the defensive.

Before Carver could engage to help her, the Warden and Loghain both attacked Carver simultaneously. He narrowly avoided both their blows, using Whirlwind to maintain distance.

The mage healer, who'd previously been focusing on the guard, cast Heal on Carver. At that moment, he finally used Regroup. Knitting together the flesh and bone of his party, everyone in Hawke's Party rose up again to continue the battle. Surprised, the Warden's companions quickly fell victim to an onslaught.

Varric started with Zevran, disorienting him with a Pinning Shot. Aveline quickly took advantage, using the last of her energy to use Scatter. The blow knocked Sten away from her, while outright killing Zevran as her blade slashed across his throat. Already left weakened by his Aura of Pain, Sten was massacred as a resurrected Fenris swooped in and thrust his hand into his chest, silencing the Qunari.

Isabella, cloaked in stealth, had snuck behind the duo of Morrigan and Leliana. She used Shoreleave, stunning both of them as she weaved between them with several backstabs. Morrigan fell quickly after as Merrill used her own Death Hex, while Leliana only managed to loose a single missed arrow at the pirate before her blade sank into her back.

Only the Warden and Loghain remained firm, remaining on the offensive as Carver barely fought them both off. The rest of Hawke's team converged, with Fenris and Isabela going after the Warden while Merrill, Varric, and Hawke focused their fire on Loghain.

The elf swung down with his greatsword, intending to use that as a distraction to repeat his previous kill. The Warden, prepared, instead parried the blow and bashed his shield into Fenris' face. Left stunned, the Warden then cast Blood Slave.

"You...cannot...control-" Fenris struggled, before the Warden's overwhelmingly powerful blood magic forced the ex-slave to be his thrall.

"Shit, they got Broody!" Varric yelled, only for Hawke to smirk.

"They can keep him."

Anders smiled as well, deactivating Panacea and reactivating Vengeance. "I've always wanted to do this."

The healer cast Searing Fireball as Hawke used Tempest, the knockback of the former sending Loghain and the Warden to the floor. The lightning strikes shocked them both, but the mind-controlled Fenris escaped the spells. Lashing forward with his greatsword at Anders, he cleaved the healer in two. Activating his Lyrium Tattoos, he pursued Hawke and Merrill next.

The elf took that chance to cast Dispel Magic, deactivating all of the Warden's sustained spells. She backtracked as Fenris stabbed at her, casting bolts of magic to defend herself. Activating Wrath of the Elvhen, roots and stones sprung from the earth to assault the warrior. Merrill then cast a Misdirection Hex, with Fenris' sword swings missing her with every strike. Merrill then cast Dessicate, trapping him in stone, which allows Varric to finish him with a Bursting Arrow.

Both Grey Wardens struggled to stand, with Isabella and Aveline leaping into the fray between them. The former slashes several times into Loghain, her daggers slicing through every chink in his armor and his entire face. Waiting as Merrill cast Walking Bomb, Isabela lept in to finish Loghain. She finished it off the chain of attacks with a Explosive Strike, ripping into his face and skull. 

The Warden himself fought valiantly against foes on all fronts, parrying sword blows from Aveline and Carver while blocking bolts from Varric's crossbow. Isabela disappeared into stealth, briefly decloaking as she prepared to assault from behind. Before she could deliver the killing blow, the briefly forgotten Wynne cast Stinging Swarm on the rogue. Mosquitoes and insects converged onto the pirate, who's screams of pain warned the Warden of her prescence. 

Bashing his shield into Aveline, he turned around and cast Winter's Grasp on her. Wynne then cast Stonefist, shattering her into several frozen peices. 

"Isabela! NO!" Hawke yelled. Varric and Merrill looked at their friend in grief, who's sobs were replaced with a roar of rage. 

"Wynne, get the others back up now!" 

Just as Wynne cast Revivval, Hawke gave in entirely to his Blood Magic. He cast Firestorm, ordering Varric and Merrill to do so as well. The combined onslaught of bolts, arcane fire, and dark blood magic easily crumpled the old woman, who used her last ounce of strength to revitalize her recently resurrected allies with Group Heal. 

Both sides left without their healer, the two parties separated as the Warden used Mind Blast to gain space between himself and the warriors assailing him. The Warden reactivated his Blood and Combat Magic, his body entering into the Fade as he looked at his allies. Hawke did the same, twirling his staff and examining his own companions. 

"Tell me if you want to slow down; it gets crazy from here."

Looking across the scorched, bloody battlefield at their respective opponents, the Warden and Hawke's Party began the fight renewed. 

Oghren activated his Berserk, taunting and challenging the young Templar to attack him. Carver obliged, leaping forward with Scythe and slashing outward in a wide arc. Oghren absorbed the blow, using the chance to close the distance. He smacked the boy with the pommel of his maul, before swinging it underneath his legs. Left stunned and disoriented by the sudden onslaught and raw strength behind Oghren's blows, the templar fell onto his rear. Looking up, Carver screamed as Oghren used Final Blow; the maul promptly smahed into Carver, reducing his head to a bloody pulp and splattering his allies in his blood. 

Meanwhile, Leliana and Varric were both trading arrow after arrow against each other. The storyteller kept moving, disappearing and reappearing beside allies to prevent the bard from obtaining a good shot. He unleashed bolt after bolt from Bianca, but she stood her ground.  She held her Defensive Fire and Aim, only moving slightly and gracefully to avoid Varric's counters. She used Mark of Death when he was exposed, hindering him. She drew her last arrow, pulled back the bow, and let loose with an Arrow of Slaying. The arrow ripped clean through the dwarf's hairy chest. The arrow flew through him, reappearing as it sailed through his back and planted his heart firmly into the wall. 

Aveline firmly held her ground, desperately trying to draw the onslaught of damage her friends were taking to herself. Proving to be her downfalll, saddled already from the sustained stamina draw from her other abilities, she sluggishly thrusted her sword at Loghain. He swatted it aside, using his mace to break her sword arm. Before she could even react, Loghain used Assault, slamming his shield directly into her face. The first blow stunned her, the second knocked her unconscious, the third broke her neck from the impact, and the fourth and most destructive blow smashed the front of her skull inwards. 

The Witch of the Wilds made short work of her Dalish adversary- casting first a Misdirection and Death Hex, she left the elf unable to retaliate against her. Shapeshifting into a Bereskearn, the mage charged at her and rammed her shoulder into Merrill. Tearing at her with claws and teeth, Morrigan stood proudly over the mutilated elf. Mumbling feebly to her Dalish gods, Merrill could do nothing as Morrigan finished her off by ripping out chunks of her throat. 

Finally, the Warden advanced towards Hawke. Left alone and without a chance at survival, Hawke unleashed every spell he possibly could at the mage before him. Arcane fire, primal blasts of lighting, shards of ice, and gravity itself pushed against the Warden, who only slowed slightly at the magical onslaught. The Warden, in retaliation, just cast Crushing Prison, ending the spellfury altogether as Hawke struggling against the enclosing magic pushing into him. Hawke struggled and looked at the Warden, his face obscured by his helmet. 

"Isn't this the part where you say "Any last words?", and then I-" 

Interrupted, Hawke's smirk disappeared instantly as the Warden casually thrust his sword into Hawke's stomach. 

​Expert's Opinion

The Warden's Party was far too powerful, too well-coordinated, and too experienced for Hawke's Party to even hope to stand a chance against. While Hawke's Party had marginal advantages in combing their talents and spells into an element of synergy, this pales in comparison to the Warden's Party, who could easily fight either as individuals or as a cohesive unit.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Koloss and Steel Inquisitor (by Leolab)

This warrior won a Battle of the Year Award
This warrior won a Fantasy Battle of the Year Award








Framing: Nobody Expects the Orlesian Inquisition!

Varric Tethras oiled his crossbow, Bianca, in the dining hall of one of the many strongholds of the re-formed Inquisition. The door crashed open, and Cassandra Pentaghast walked in, looking furious as always.

“Ah, Seeker,” Varric says, grinning insolently, “Is there a book you forgot to stab?” Cassandra simply glared at the dwarf, who simply chuckled, unaffected. “You know, Seeker, there’s one thing I’ve been wondering for a while.”

“That is?” she asked wearily, feeling another one of his stories in the making.

“You asked me so much about Hawke during our little talk, but never about Anders.”

“And why would the Mage be more important?”

“Besides the fact that he’s the one who blew up the Chantry and forced this war on us?”

“Hawke was the central figure.”

“Hawke, for all I respect him, was played like a fiddle. Anders was the bow.”

“And who was the player?”

“Well, let me tell you a story…”

Prologue: No Murder Knife For You

Anders walks through the halls of Vigil’s Keep, responding to a summons by his commander. An elf known only as “The Warden Commander,” his superior was the Hero of Ferelden, who slew the Archdemon and stopped the Fifth Blight. The world saw The Warden as a hero.

Anders knew him as a friend, a man with a shared past. They had both left the Circle of Magi and joined the Wardens. Their love for the fine things in life and their shared anger at the Chantry for oppressing their fellow mages created an almost instant bond. The Warden was a friend, however, for whom he was deeply concerned. He entered the storeroom, nodding to the semitransparent armored figure inside.

“Anders!” The Warden called, “Ready to kill some Darkspawn?”

Anders sighed at the thought. “It’s always Darkspawn this, Darkspawn that with the Wardens. Why can’t we relax, throw a party, maybe invite some of the barmaids from Amaranthine?”

“With our luck, another Archdemon would wake up just as we got started,” The Warden says, chuckling, “And for another, being around a walking tear in the Veil is something of a buzzkill for most women.”

And there was the issue, out in the open. Anders had no idea how to broach the subject; his friend had constantly kept up an ancient Elven magic that let him exist both in Thedas and the Fade simultaneously. Anyone, much less a Warden steeped in the blood of countless foes, who constantly existed in the Fade for so long would be of concern, a magnet for Demons and likely to be possessed. The crux of the issue lay elsewhere, however.

As the two entered the Deep Roads through the Silverite gates constructed beneath the storeroom, Anders caught the telltale red glow of a Mage using his blood for power. That was the major bone of contention between the two. Anders retained the distrust of Blood Magic the Chantry had ingrained in them, while the Warden… the Warden seemed to revel in it as it weakened the Veil around him.

While he was wrestling with that quandary, the Warden held up one armored fist. They stopped and listened. Nodding to each other, the Warden draws his sword, Vigilance, and shield while Anders readies his staff. They round the corner and see a massive horde of Darkspawn – including two Ogres, moving in their direction.

Wasting no time, the Warden immediately leads off with Blood Wound, leaving most of the Darkspawn twitching and helpless. Anders activates Flaming Weapons as the Warden charges in, and then casts Grease on the still-reacting Darkspawn horde. The Warden points Vigilance at his foes, and a fireball leaps from the tip, setting the flammable liquid on fire and knocking down the Darkspawn caught in the blast. The Warden reaches the remaining part of the horde, hewing Darkspawn heads and limbs with each stroke of his sword, cutting through until he is surrounded. He unleashes Hand of Winter, freezing all the Darkspawn around him solid as Anders casts a Glyph of Repulsion in the area, shattering the frozen Darkspawn.

Barely thirty seconds had passed, and nearly a hundred Darkspawn lay dead or dying, leaving only the two Ogres standing. The Warden charges, as Anders moves into a position near one of the many crags. The Warden fires off a Misdirection Hex from Vigilance at one Ogre and a Death Hex at the other. He charges at the one with the misdirection hex, and ducks under its punch and slashes deep into its arm. Taking the fist’s momentum, he spins and pulls his blade free as he bites into the Ogre’s leg. He slashes four times at the beast’s chest and abdomen, and drops his shield. Using the gaps he just made as footholds, he climbs up the Ogre and stabs it repeatedly in the face until it comes crashing to the ground.

He then turns to look for the other one, seeing it charging straight for Anders, who’s ranged attack spells had just run out. The Warden then pulls a knife from a sheath and hurls it, the flat, triangular blade flashing as the knife spins end over end into the Ogre’s skull.

The massive Darkspawn, already weakened by Anders’ attacks and the Death Hex, takes the hit and crumples forward, sliding into the chasm. The Warden runs to try and retrieve his knife, but the corpse slips away before he could do so. The Warden looks glumly at the chasm as Anders rushes over.

“Is a knife really so important?”

“This one is. It’s my murder knife.”

“Ooooooookay then….”

“I’ve had it since I left the Circle.”

“And you call it your ‘murder knife’ why?”

“A good friend named it that,” The Warden replies, fiddling with the rosewood ring on his finger. “You know, Anders, I’m not going to be able to keep the political pressure from the Chantry off forever.”

“You… what?”

“I’m going to need to leave soon. If the next Commander of the Grey buckles, go to Kirkwall with Justice.”

“Why Kirkwall?”

“It’s the best place for you to help free the other mages from the Chantry.”

Anders just looked at his commander, slightly stunned. Before he could ask what he meant, though, a messenger came running up.

“Warden, sir, and Anders, Vigil’s Keep is under attack.”

The Warden nods at Anders, and motions for the scout to go back, the three making their way out of the Deep Roads and up to the walls of the Keep.

Preparations

The Warden and Anders join up with the rest of their party on the walls of Vigil’s Keep, overlooking the approaching enemy. There were seven small groups of massive, blue-skinned giants with equally large swords moving rapidly towards the keep, intent on taking it for themselves.

“That some new Darkspawn?” Oghren asks.

“Whatever it is, it’s not good for us,” Nathaniel replies, “They’ll be here in a few minutes.”

“Then we’ll await them just inside the gates,” The Warden says, “I don’t think those will hold out very long. Get your weapons and armor ready.”

Three minutes later, the Warden’s entire party, seven in all, stands arrayed in the courtyard of Vigil’s Keep, ready to repel the attacking Koloss and Steel Inquisitors, 357 in all. Outnumbered 51 to 1, they wait apprehensively as the doors are battered by the invading army, creaking and splintering slowly.

Break-In

Just before the door splinters completely, The Warden nods to Justice and Oghren. They activate their respective sustained talents, increasing the effectiveness of the party and their own abilities. As they do so, The Warden simply raises Vigilance, point facing the door.

The instant it shatters, The Warden casts Blood Wound, paralyzing the first Koloss charging in. Their compatriots swarm in around them, and the three warriors rush in to meet them, with Sigrun and Anders following at a distance. Oghren activates his Aura of Pain, and starts to hew limbs from the charging giants, ducking and weaving between their legs as Justice unleashes a War Cry that causes several to falter, and draws the ire of the horde. As they charge in swinging, he simply deflects and dodges their blows, too hard-pressed to make an attack.

Seeing this, Sigrun activates Flicker on the area around Justice, moving with blinding speed to strike all the Koloss facing Justice in the back. This injures them enough that when The Warden flings a fireball from Vigilance, most of them don’t recover from the blow.

Nathaniel, meanwhile, sits on the sidelines, nocking arrows and firing them as fast as he can. While he hits accurately, they don’t even penetrate the Koloss’ skin.

“Just do your bard stuff and sing,” Velanna says, charging in herself, “You’ll be a better support that way.”

“Yes, yes, please do,” Anders says, firing off a few healing spells, “Your singing motivates us all to fight.”

“Does it really?” Nathaniel asks.

“Yes, we want to kill things so that you stop.”

After a brief glare, Nathaniel does as asked, using his talents to passively support the group. Despite this, the Koloss horde has numbers on their side. Justice’s shield slips slightly, letting a massive sword slam down into his armor. He falters, and watches as Oghren’s battle fury rages, despite the wounds he has taken.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Anders’ staff flash white. A wave of power washes over them, and Justice can feel the bones and flesh of his borrowed form knitting together, letting him stave off another few blows and return some of his own.

Velanna, meanwhile, is fighting on a different front, using her Keeper abilities to stop the Koloss in their tracks. She stands in place, surrounded by furious storms of primal energy, watching as her foes close in to attack, fall, and then have their vitality drained to fuel her own. Confident in her abilities, it comes as a total shock when she sees a human figure standing in front of her, spikes driven through his eyes and body.

Princess Stabbity

That small moment of hesitation is her undoing. The figure – a Steel Inquisitor – compounds Steel, shooting out his hand with blinding speed, driving a spike right through the elf’s right lung. Using duralumin-boosted brass, he subjugates the mage to his will.

Powerless to resist, Velanna turns to attack her former comrades, zeroing in on Anders first. Noticing the shift, Anders casts Dispel Magic, but to no effect. As she closes in on him, he casts Spell Shield and starts using his attacks to slow her down.

Sigrun, meanwhile, has entered stealth mode and is slowly creeping up on the Steel Inquisitor. As she reaches position behind him, she signals the Warden Commander, who points Vigilance at the Inquisitor and fires off a Death Hex, making the Inquisitor more vulnerable to attack. Sigrun then break stealth using Unending Flurry, repeatedly stabbing at the Inquisitor until one of her strikes severs its head.

Velanna staggers, holding her head, while a small knot of Koloss looks similarly disoriented. The blue skinned giants then start to turn on each other, relying on their natural instincts once freed from the Steel Inquisitor’s control. The three look at each other, and Velanna runs back to where she was holding the line while Sigrun goes back into the main melee. Velanna and he surviving members of the Koloss that had turned on each other freeze, and turn back to fight the defenders with renewed vigor.

Sigrun turns and sees this, and rushes to see another Steel Inquisitor looming on the battlements, who then takes a small chunk of metal and holds it in his palm, and it shoots out to the ground in front of her. She sidesteps, dodging the streaking bit as it digs its way into the ground in front of her. The Inquisitor then launches himself at an impossible trajectory, fueled by his allomancy, and lands right in front of Sigrun.

Friendly Fire

The spiked man swings his axe in an overhand chop, intending to split the dwarf in front of him in two. Sigrun rolls out of the way, and lashes out with her sword and dagger. The Inquisitor moves out of the way, and aims another chop at her neck. She blocks, but the Inquisitor starts burning Atium and reacts inhumanly fast, the precognition imparted by the metal guiding his axe into a low chop to Sigrun’s chest. Gravely injured, she can only watch as the Inquisitor swings his axe for the kill.

The Inquisitor, however, quickly burns Iron and rushes away from Sigrun, who immediately finds herself in the eye of a massive magical firestorm. She feels the warm glow of magic knitting back flesh, bone, and blood and nods to Anders in thanks, barely visible through the swirling column. As he finishes healing, he notices something hurtling towards him out of the corner of is eye. He instinctively puts up a Spell Shield, which dissipates the Stonefistfired at him by the still-controlled Velanna.

“Andraste’s knickerweasles…” he mutters, quickly casting a Glyph of Paralysis around her. The Keeper freezes in place, unable to move or act. Anders nods in satisfaction, which turns to shock as three arrows pierce her head, neck, and heart.

OOM

Anders turns and glares at Nathaniel, who had already turned back to the rest of the fight, ineffectually shooting at the Koloss and Steel Inquisitors. He gathers mana to cast Revival on Velana, but his concentration is broken by an urgent shout from the Warden, who had disengaged to get a better sense of the battle.

“No, Anders!”

"What? But she..."

“Is controlled. We don’t know how. Nor do we have the time to find out. Focus on the ones who can fight.”

Anders grits his teeth and does as bidden, firing off a few support spells as the Warden charges back into where Justice and Oghren are holding the line. He joins the melee with his sword and magic, taking some of the pressure off of them. The three spread into a rough triangle, keeping the onrushing giants from flanking any of them. Despite the immense battle prowess of the group, they only barely manage to hold out, being driven slowly inwards.

“Oil incoming!”

Anders casts the spell as he yells, and the Warden puts a Fireball in the area almost immediately afterwards, igniting a small clump of Koloss. The Warden follows up with Blood Wound cast on the opposite flank, and the three melee fighters move forward a little, taking advantage of the extra breathing room. The flurries of stabs and slashes, interspersed with the arcane light of spellcasting, match and repel the onslaught of heavy blows unleashed form the oversized blades.

They were only three, however, and could only hold for so long. The blows kept coming hard, but the defenders started flagging. Little by little, Oghren’s and Justice’s stamina started to wear down as they unleashed skill after blow after skill on their foes. The Warden still seemed fresh, but small rivulets of blood started to trickle down his ghostly form, not all of it from his foes; this was the toll exacted on Blood Mages who fed their magic solely with their own blood.

A massive sword slipped through The Warden’s defenses. It crashed behind him as he barely rolled out of the way. He ducked and weaved over more blows, slipping out of sight just as Anders yells.

“I’m out of Mana!”

Drink to the Legion

"By the tits of my ancestors, Anders, you have horrible timing,” Oghren yells, hacking at the leg of a Koloss. “As does the Warden. Spikey guy incoming!”

Sigrun rushes in in stealth, activating Flicker on the area around the Inquisitor. She moves with blinding speed to stab several Koloss in the back of the neck, killing them. The Inquisitor sees this and immediately starts burning Bendalloy, creating a bubble around him where time moved faster than normal. He flares it to intensify the effect, looking outside the bubble as Sigrun runs to and fro, seemingly moving at normal speed while everyone else moved sluggishly, as if caught in Drayco time. The path she was on to the next Koloss crossed his path. He sidestepped and let the bubble drop. His axe split her nearly in two.

“Anders!” Oghren calls.

“I saw.”

“I’ll cut ye a path to the lass!”

He proceeds to do just that, hewing and hacking left and right to create a small beachhead in the surging wave of Koloss. The going is slow, but steady, and the beachhead expands into a narrow path and he slices his way through, getting within inches of Sigrun.

A Koloss swings its sword in an overhand chop, which he can’t escape in the narrow path he had cut. It splits into Oghren’s head, and the gap closes as more Koloss spill out. The Warden’s party was down three men with their leader nowhere in sight, and they’d only managed to kill a hundred of the beasts, along with a single one of their commanders.

Second Wind

Justice backs up a bit, looking grim. A brief look passes between the two men and the possessed corpse. Death was what they had signed up for. Death was what they faced here.

And then, a shout rang out from within the blue horde. “Anders! Glyph of Repulsion on me!” Hearing their commander’s voice ring out rallied the men, as does seeing a small knot of Koloss freeze in place thanks to Hand of Winter. Anders does as bidden, and the Koloss shatter, giving him a clear view of Sigrun and Oghren so that he can cast Revival.

The two dwarves feel their dying flesh knit back together, restoring them to health, and they pick themselves up as the Warden, also hit by the Glyph’s burst, summersaults through the air. The dwarves sprint through the gap opened up, turning to face the onrushing horde as the Warden lands behind them, sword in the ground.

Rallied, Justice, Oghren, and the Warden slice into the Koloss ranks, Sigrun shanking any who get past them. The horde gets drawn in, determined to smash the four warriors who were killing their fellows. The press of numbers allowed, by the laws of chance, a few strikes to get through, biting into armor and flesh. Each time this happened, however, Anders had a healing spell at the ready, mending the flesh, bone, and steel.

In a few moments, they had bounced back from the brink of defeat and into true Warden form, standing firm against an army of giants and slaughtering them in droves. One of the Inquisitors sees this reversal and casts around for an advantage he can take. Drawn by the coarse, screeching chanting, his head swivels to see Nathaniel, still “singing,” while unleashing arrows that were little more than an annoyance before the Inquisitors’ allomantic prowess. The Inquisitor grins, seeing the faint blue lines of metal sources pointing towards the man’s quiver. He slips on a pure Iron ring, and starts feruchemically filling it with nearly 90% of his weight while burning Iron as well, using the arrowheads’ metal to yank himself right in front of the archer.

This Is Why Rogues Suck

Nathaniel turned just in time for the Inquisitor to ram a spike into his right lung. He gasps in shock and pain, which is quickly erased by a Duralumin-enhanced Brass flare. Now subordinate to the Inquisitor’s commands, he lifts and draws his bow, using Scattershot on Sigrun. It takes her in the back of the head, and the shattered arrow splinters into Oghren’s leg, and he goes down on one knee.

He’s unable to defend against the oncoming swing from a Koloss, which nearly splits him in half diagonally.

“Warden!” Anders yells, “It’s got Nathaniel!”

The Warden turns and points his sword at the rogue, firing off Stonefist as Anders casts Haste, and breaks out into a run to fight the Inquisitor, extending his sword behind him and casting Virulent Walking Bomb into the horde to keeps some pressure off Justice. It doesn’t work, however, since a pair of Steel Inquisitors make Allomantically-enhanced leaps over the Koloss horde, landing in front of Justice and cutting the corpse down with three swings of their axes.

The Warden charges in, riding the momentum for a diagonal slash. The Inquistor simply burns Steel to deflect it while he comes in for a blow with his axe. The combat instincts imparted by the phylactery – the training of the ancient Elven Arcane Warriors, absorbed in an instant – has him raise his shield to block the axe while sidestepping.

The Inquisitor uses Steel to Push the shield out of the way with the same contemptuous ease it used to deflect the sword strike earlier. The strike missed the Warden’s body by centimeters, while he stabs Vigilance towards the Inquisitor’s abdomen. The blow moves directly at its center of mass, so the Inquisitor is forced to use brute force to stall the stab in its tracks. It sweeps its axe in a quick upward arc, aiming at the Warden’s throat while he was struggling against the Steelpush.

Another Secret

The Warden casts Cone of Cold, freezing the Inquisitor solid. Vigilance, suddenly free of the struggle, shoots forward and shatters the ice. He turns as Anders reaches him and skids to a stop, also turning to face the enemies left.

“How are we?” The Warden asks, taking stock of his spells.

“Well, I see five of those spikey guys and ten times as many of the big blue ones. My mana’s running low, but with only you to heal it should build up again.”

“Workable… how much time until you can revive Oghren, Justice, and Sigrun?

“’bout a minute, I’d say”

“Okay… they seem tired of us talking. Grease fire and Blood Wound. I’ll try to control one of the spikey guys and get the rest of them.” Anders nods in agreement, and casts Oil on one flank of Koloss while the Warden casts Blood Wound on the other. As he does so, a Steel Inquisitor compounds Iron, making himself many times heavier than normal. He also burns normal, allomantic iron, pulling the Warden towards the group.

Hazekiller

The Warden runs with the force, throwing a fireball at the oiled targets before pointing Vigilance at one of the Inquisitors. A complex web of power shoots out, latching onto the Inquisitor as the spell Blood Control. The Inquisitor, however, is controlled directly by Ruin, who is loath to lose one of his pawns. Ruin breaks this control, but the Inquisitor is left staggering and puking blood. It’s finished off by the Warden’s sword, turned vertical to shear off the head, which he bats with his shield at the face of the Inquisitor pulling him, distracting it and halting the pull.

Arcane light flares and flashes as the Warden fights, the interweaving of spells and swordplay colliding with the Metallic Arts and the swings of wicked, obsidian axes. The Inquisitors duck and sidestep around the Warden’s strikes, one man hard-pressed against four. The Warden, in turn, meets the scything axes with his ethereal shield, deflecting strikes and dodging what slips through.

Several swings penetrate his defenses, gouging his armor and flesh, but Anders leaps right in with a burst of healing energy to revitalize him and enable him to turn the next blow. After twenty seconds, the Warden sees his first opening, and he moves in for the kill.

The Inquisitor had wound up a bit too far for his swing, a fraction of a second behind the rhythm of his fellows. The Warden swings out his shield and catches the axe blow, Vigilance pointed for a stab. The Inquisitor frantically burns Steel to force the point away, and one of the other Inquisitors cuts into his now unprotected flank. The Warden simply casts Drain Life, revitalizing himself while draining the Inquisitor, and follows it up with Flame Blast, then a quick twist to dislodge the axe from his shield sees him spin behind his foe to follow up with a Stonefist to the back of the head, pulping it. The Inquisitor falls, head a bloody mess and body aflame.

He turns his head, hearing Anders bellow a battle cry, facing down a knot of sixteen Koloss that had come after him.

"Suck on a Fireball!"

He, however, is quickly set upon by the three remaining Steel Inquisitors, unable to help. The rhythm of battle continues as before, though with considerably less danger to the Warden now that his foe’s forces have been quartered.

Anders, meanwhile, casts Inferno, surrounding himself with a swirling column of flame. A Fireball and Flame Blast roast several Koloss advancing on his position. Twirling his staff, he casts Arcane Bolt at another Koloss, and then uses Hand of Winter to freeze a group that had almost reached him. He then casts Lifeward on himself, and hits the Koloss with a Flame Blast.

One of them hits him dead center with a sword slice, sending him flying out of the flames he conjured. Lifeward kicks in, however, and the injured flesh knits and heals as he soars through the air and lands back on his feet. A quick twirl of his staff casts a Glyph of Paralysis on the still-raging Inferno spell, trapping another knot of Koloss within. Oil and Fireball take care of several more, but by now he is reduced to barely a sliver of mana. He is stuck sending small bolts of power at his three remaining foes, managing to bring one down before the other two run him through.

KNEEL BEFORE ZO... Ruin.

The Warden continued dodging, swinging, and casting to hold back the three Steel Inquisitors, barely able to fight them to a draw. He was then hit in the back by two massive swords, driving him out of the Fade and to his knees. The damage to his body triggered his safeguards, which prevented him from drawing any more mana from his own life.

For the first time since the Fifth Blight, the Warden existed solely in the real world. For the first time since Ostagar, he had been brought to his knees in combat. His hands gravitated to the pommel of his sword as he closed his eyes, exhausted and drained. His right hand came to rest on his left, touching the rosewood ring on his finger, and his eyes snapped open.

No. Not done yet.

As he knelt, sword planted into the ground, he tapped into his mana reserves, untouched since the Blight save to power his existence in the Fade. He unleashes Hand of Winter, followed by the most basic spell taught to novices in the Circle: Mind Blast. The shockwave shatters the three Steel Inquisitors, and he simply hacks the remaining frozen Koloss to pieces.

Winner: The Warden's Party

Epilogue: Vengeance

Anders slowly awakens, seeing a man in black armor treating his wounds. He takes a few seconds to realize that it’s his commander, fully out of the Fade. “I… what…”

“Can you cast Revival?”

“Yes, but what…”

“Use it on them,” The Warden says, pointing towards the small cluster of bodies comprised of the rest of his party. Anders complies, and the now-hale group enters Vigils Keep, intending to have a good, long night’s rest.

The next morning, The Warden had vanished. As he had anticipated, the new Commander of the Grey had buckled under pressure from the Chantry, recruiting a Templar who kept watch over Anders.

“The rest, Seeker, is history,” Varric concludes.

“Blue-skinned giants with massive swords? Mages with spikes driven through their eyes and the rest of their body? Do you really expect me to buy that?”

“I’m only telling you what he told me.”

“Still… the Warden Commander. He never was friendly to the Chantry, but this?”

“Think about it, Seeker. With so many Ferelden refugees in Kirkwall, what are the odds that Hawke just happened to be friends with Anders? A Grey Warden under the Warden, who left the Order despite that only being possible through death, possessed by a spirit who also worked under the Warden.”

“It is a little too much to be coincidence. And this Morrigan woman we’re dealing with here… wasn’t she rumored to be his lover?”

“The Warden’s playing a long and complex game, Seeker. I won’t pretend to know what it is.”

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