OBVIOUSLY, there are spoilers below for Dragon Age: Inquisition. There will be no unmarked spoilers for the DA novel “Last Flight” however there will be a paragraph clearly marked below which will require translation using the Rot13 cipher with some reflections on the book.
So what’s next for the Wardens? It’s something I’ve found myself pondering even more since completing Dragon Age: Inquisition and subsequently reading Dragon Age: Last Flight.
The Grey Wardens have existed in Thedas since the time of the First Blight which began in -395 Ancient (800 TE for you magisters out there). It wasn’t until -305 Ancient that a group of warriors gathered in the Anderfels to perform the first Joining. Since then, they have been instrumental in the defeat of subsequent Blights, leading the nations of Thedas in their struggle against the Darkspawn hordes.
The time between the Blights ranges from 100 – 200 years and each time the Wardens defeated the blighted Old God but with 400 years between the Fourth & Fifth Blight many folk thought the Darkspawn defeated for good. The Wardens began to pass into legend – a relic of a darker, better forgotten past. Many years after the Fourth Blight, in 7:5 Storm, the Warden-Commander of Ferelden (a previous rival to Ferelden’s throne) took her chance to seize power and the Warden’s were banished, only allowed to return & rebuild in 9:10 Dragon by King Maric.
And then the Fifth Blight came in 9:30 Dragon. It was snuffed out in a comparatively short space of time, only 1 year, and by a small Warden force – consequently it’s likely that the Order wouldn’t have seen a swell in their numbers, particularly as mistrust of the Wardens may still have been present. Though the glory of the Archdemon’s defeat surely inspired a new generation of potential Wardens and contributed to changing attitudes towards them, the lack of the urgency of a Blight is likely to have lessened the desire of individuals to risk the Joining.
“In 9:30 Dragon, the strength of the Grey Wardens is estimated at over 1,000 in the Anderfels, several hundred in Orlais, and around two dozen in Ferelden. With unknown numbers in other nations and the Free Marches.” – DA Wikia
With a force spread thin across the continent and not necessarily joined up in their communications it is easy to see how the Wardens’ fear of another Blight and their capacity to support the affected nations could drive them to the desperation we see in Inquisition. With a slowly dwindling force due to the Calling that every Warden finally submits to you can imagine the fear that struck the Orlesians Wardens when every single of them them heard the sweet song of the Old Gods yet to be unleashed.
“The Grey Wardens are known for ignoring a recruit’s racial, social, national, and even criminal background if they deem the person valuable in terms of character or ability.” – DA Wikia
The Grey Wardens are not bound by loyalty to one nation or race, and can demand aid if it is not willingly given. This gives them power and flexibility in the building of their forces but leaves them extraordinarily vulnerable – with petty squabbles and political intrigue rife across Thedas which nation would prioritise aiding the Wardens in peace time over the more immediate concerns within their own borders? And would the Grey Wardens accept such support? Notoriously secretive and protective of their rituals – can such an ancient order afford to show weakness?
Whether you support Blood Magic or no, the Wardens clearly made a grevious error, aside from the fact that the mass Calling was a trick, the way in which the Wardens chose to handle the events were shocking for an Order which has shown great wisdom in the past.
“The Wardens are the good thing that means the bad thing’s about to happen” – Sera, Dragon Age: Inquisition
But perhaps they don’t need to be, perhaps the Wardens can aid Thedas outside of war. If you choose to forgive the Wardens in DA:I you will find that the Orlesian Wardens declare it time for the Order to step out of the shadows “to join the rest of humanity in fighting their ancient foes”
Rumours abound that they severed ties with their leaders at Weisshaupt, and that a bitter war now rages between them.
Does the sudden silence indicate a battle within… or something far worse?
If you choose to banish the Wardens from Orlais, they return to Weisshaupt in exile, many perishing on the journey. Word soon spreads of an internal battle for control over the Order.
- Warden ally is alive: It is said that the Warden ally leads the Orlesian Wardens in their rebellion, a fight to change the Order from within.
- Hawke is alive: If Hawke reaches Weisshaupt with them is unknown. Indeed, before long, all news out of Weisshaupt ends.
- Whichever you choose you also hear that “Slowly, the Wardens withdraw from across the north as well. Some believe the ancient order is on the verge of vanishing forever.”
- On top of all this, it can be revealed during the course of DA:I that the Hero of Ferelden is currently searching for a cure to The Calling -a mission that, if successful would change the role of the Wardens remarkably.
What could be learned from such a cure may lead to major discoveries in the treatment of those infected with the Blight as well as the potential for removing the taint from Darkspawn themselves. If such a thing were possible, the Wardens’ in Thedas could find themselves with a surge of new recruits and a whole new kind of power.
It is difficult to predict where the story will head next but broadly, I’ve got four scenarios in my head.
The Extinction of the Wardens
The internal strife within the Order destroys it entirely, communication lines break down, the few left find it difficult to rally their comrades or find new recruits. The Grey Wardens fade into legend.
I find this highly unlikely, Wardens are too crucial to the world and too thoroughly weaved into the lore and story of Thedas although their relevance to Dragon Age’s current direction (the focus on the Elven Pantheon of gods & goddesses) puts into question the Wardens’ potential role in the future.
The Order, Divided – Step out of the shadows
The strain of conflict within the Order leads to a group of Wardens splintering off. This new group has a more outward facing focus and believes in being more involved in Thedas – Wardens across the continent rally to the cause.
I’d quite like to see this. Perhaps with the Warden ally from DA:I or Hawke at the head? (Ideally it’d be the Hero of Ferelden but I’m not convinced that would happen). This could be complex to implement in-game, however.
The Order, Divided – Preserve the traditions
As above, instead though a new branch of Wardens with hyper-traditional views emerge. In their bid to preserve they cut themselves off even further from Thedas.
Sadly, this feels like it could happen. Although it does depend on the true nature of the events at Weisshaupt and the reliability of reports coming out of the Anderfels (to me, this scenario has strong connections to the ending of Dragon Age: Last Flight).
The Greynaissance of the Wardens
The turmoil is harsh and takes its toll on the Wardens but ultimately leads to a major overhaul. Little blood is spilled and the Wardens find new purpose and take a greater role in the world beyond the Blight. Again, events of DA:LF could easily contribute to this.
It feels unlikely to happen because that’d just be too easy, wouldn’t it?
DRAGON AGE: LAST FLIGHT NOVEL SPOILERS IN CIPHER BELOW – use Rot13 to translate it: http://www.rot13.com/
Bar jbeq, tevssbaf. Gur vpbavp ornfgf bs gur Jneqraf naq gubhtug gb or rkgvapg (ol gur Jneqraf unaq nf jr yrnea). Gur qvfpbirel bs gur pyhgpu bs ungpuyvatf pbhyq rnfvyl fche ba gubfr jvfuvat gb erghea gb gur cnfg qnlf bs terngre cbjre naq gur fhcerzr enevgl bs gurfr navznyf pbhyq vapernfr gur frperpl bs gur Jneqraf gra sbyq, nf n jnl bs cebgrpgvat gurz.
Nygreangviryl, gur Jneqraf pbhyq erwbvpr naq pryroengr – vafcvevat zrzoref npebff Gurqnf naq enyylvat arj erpehvgf gb gur pnhfr.
Guvf vf nyy nffhzvat gung Inyln unf gbyq gur Jneqraf nal bs guvf juvpu vf hapregnva ng gur pybfr bs gur obbx.