This is a brand new series I am trying out. I am a gamer as well as a writer, and although I play some truly amazing games in terms of stories and content, I find myself asking "What if" one thing had happened differently?
The technical reasons for this series as well as what this story is and is not will be below in the second author's note, but for now I will simply say that all characters and games belong to their respective owners. This chapter takes place in the Bioware game "Dragon Age Origins."
The Dwarf Faren has been recruited into the ranks of the Grey Wardens, a legendary force of warriors who must fight a demonic invasion by an army of Darkspawn. After the Grey Warden army is betrayed and decimated during a battle at the city of Ostagar, Faren is forced to rebuild the Wardens as well as build a new army to battle the Darkspawn.
Seeking the aid of the Elves, Faren and his companions traveled into the forests, only to discover the elves were suffering from werewolf attacks and the effects of the lycanthropy curse. The elf leader Zathrian asked the Warden to kill the Lady of the forest, whose heart will end the curse, however, Faren soon discovered there was more to the story of the werewolf curse than he had thought.
When he confronted Zathrian about his role in creating the curse, the elven leader revealed that he had a greater role than first thought. Determined to end the curse, he unleashed a spell that paralyzed the werewolves and attacked the Grey Wardens.
But what if the spell that kept the werewolves from joining the battle had failed?
Zathrian held his staff in trembling hands as he stared into the eyes of the Grey Wardens and past them, to the werewolves that stood snarling in front of their Lady.
The Dwarf Warden, Faren, drew his axe as he stared the old elf down. "You mean to tell me you were the one who created the werewolf curse? The same curse that plagues your people?"
At his nod, Faren continued "Your people are turning into werewolves, the werewolves that serve the Lady are the only ones who are not savage beasts, and you called this curse down years ago to gain revenge on humans?"
"They slaughtered my family!" Zathrian yelled, gripping his staff in a white knuckle grip. "Those humans were the monsters, I simply enabled their outside to match their wicked hearts!"
Faren closed his eyes "I understand your grief and your thirst for vengeance, but this isn't the way. Your tribe should not have to suffer for a crime committed long ago. This anger towards the werewolves you created, it has to end."
The Lady inclined her silver head, her eyes shining pools of wisdom "You created me Elf, binding your anger and magic to a physical form in me and the curse I spread. If we both die, the cycle can be broken, and both our people cured."
Faren nodded as well "You asked me to end this curse in exchange for your aid against the threat of the Blight. Harming the Lady is not the way, everyone must be cured."
The elven leader pointed a crooked finger at the silver she-wolf "No, I asked you to bring me her heart! With it, my tribe can be saved!"
"Through our sacrifice, both our peoples will benefit." The Lady added, "I am willing to die for my kin, are you?"
Zathrian turned to the Grey Wardens he had hired, looking down at Faren "I will not help them…" He spat "The hatred in me is as hard and as twisted as the roots of the trees, and I cannot free myself from it. The heart of the Lady will be mine, no matter what stands in my way!"
Faren raised his axe "I will stop you Zathrian, this isn't the way."
"Then you shall fall with them!" He yelled, eyes alight with insanity as he raised his staff, calling the magic he possessed to his aid.
Faren didn't even have to look to see that his three allies had drawn their weapons, whatever their doubts about his choice, they stood with it.
Alistair, the only other Grey Warden to survive the battle at Ostagar, held his sword Oathkeeper in a tight grip, his shield ready in his other hand as he glanced around, wondering what magic the elven mage would throw at them first.
Beside him stood Leliana, a bard, swordfighter, and rogue. Her axe shifted in her hand, almost as if it were a living thing, itching to strike out at an enemy. Her red hair shone under her helmet, almost as if flames cascaded down her shoulders.
Finally, Morrigan stood near the back, her pale hands gripping her magical staff as she too called upon the frost and the lightning that ran through her veins. She'd never trusted the elven leader and was glad to see her suspicions weren't wrong. Maybe Faren would trust her more in the future if they survived this.
The ground shifted underneath them as two demons clawed their way out of the ground, long three clawed hands flapping and groping as they roared. Their legs were a massive blob of tentacles that were obscured by the dark crimson smoke their bodies produced. Shade demons didn't last long in this world, and thankfully Faren's party had dealt with them before, so their time in the mortal plane would be even shorter.
Then the trees around them crackled as they seemed to stretch, coming alive with magic as their branches moved like hands and their roots popped out of the ground with a shower of dirt and stone. The four possessed Sylvans roared and waved their branches, walking forward.
Faren took a breath, before shouting orders to his party. "Alistair, Leliana… take a Shade and take it down, Morrigan protect the Lady, then help me deal with the Sylvans!"
"Werewolves!" One shouted, "Defend the Lady!"
The battle was joined swiftly, as the Lady bounded forward, magic pouring from her very body to spar with Zathrian's staff. The old elf cursed as a blow from the Lady knocked his staff askew, shattering his concentration on a paralysis spell.
The Werewolves leapt upward, attaching to one tree with their claws and hacking at it with powerful blows, clambering over its branches as it tried to knock them off. As woodchips were gouged out from the bark, the tree screamed in pain swinging a hand like branch to knock a werewolf into the wall.
Alistair charged the first Shade, blocking a swipe of its claws with his shield as he swung his sword, the silver blade shearing off a tentacle. Perhaps it was the Grey Warden in him, or maybe the Templar training he had received before he had become a Warden, but he loved battling demons and Darkspawn. There was something satisfying about causing a demon to leave the mortal world, much more satisfying than taking a human life.
He stepped backward to avoid another swipe and smashed his shield into the Shade's face, smiling as it roared in pain and left itself open for another attack.
Leliana danced around her demon, her axe moving faster than the eye could follow as she avoided its claws and barraged it with cuts of her weapon. She ducked under a jab and swung her axe into the Shade's vulnerable side, smiling at the shriek of pain it got her. As the demon pulled away, her eyes turned to the wider battlefield, scanning it for Faren.
He was currently fighting the only Sylvan not besieged by the werewolves, his shield, and axe hacking away at the branches that descended on him. The frost enchantment on his axe froze the branches solid and a bash of his shield shattered them into ice and woodchips.
She admired him, not just for his fighting skills and talent for leadership, but also for his heart. He had been hired to kill the Lady and end the curse, but instead, he was doing the right thing in ending the curse for all those affected, not just the elves. Her brain quickly turned to thoughts of how it would feel to have his heart focused on her…
Pain jolted her out of those thoughts as the demon railled and swung a claw, ducking under her shield and tearing through her leather armor. She pulled away with a squeak of pain, before gritting her teeth and fighting back. The injury was simply an annoyance, nothing more.
Faren shoved a branch away from him with his shield as he turned to Morrigan, who was blasting away at a wounded Sylvan, sending bolts of lightning into the wounds the werewolves had made in the bark.
"Morrigan, can you freeze my opponent?"
"Right away!" She shouted, lifting her hand and letting it explode with frost magic. The ice coated Faren's foe, quickly rendering it immobile as she turned back to her opponent. Her eyes noted that the punishment the werewolves had inflicted on it had caused whatever spirit that made the tree come alive abandon it, and the now lifeless tree plummeted to the ground.
She turned to face Faren's tree, blasting the still form with bolts from her staff, as Faren leapt onto a low hanging branch.
Faren gripped the icy branch with numb fingers, digging his axe into the tree's middle as he began climbing upward going hand over axe.
The magical frost began to fade away as he stood on a branch, cursing as the Sylvan began to move. His axe was jarred loose from its position and clattered to the ground as he gripped the wood tighter, digging the toes of his boots into the bark.
The Slyvan's face twisted with rage as it tossed itself back and forth, attempting to dislodge him, and Faren held on ever tighter. A fall at this height could easily break a few bones, and he couldn't afford that.
He began to shift his weight and move his shoulder, letting his shield slide off his back and into his hand. Without his axe, he needed a weapon, and his metal shield would suffice. He gripped it and kicked off of the tree, pulling himself back with his other hand as he smashed the rim of his shield into the tree's face.
The Sylvan screamed and fell backward, colliding with the wall as it screeched in pain, the spirit animating the tree fleeing back into wherever it had come from.
Faren leapt away from the lifeless tree, rolling with his fall as he retrieved his axe, as Morrigan tossed him a smirk. "I half expected you to yell timber when the tree fell, isn't that what humans do?"
"Humans maybe" He replied, "But I'm a dwarf."
Alistair grinned widely as he stabbed with his sword cutting straight through the shade, and causing it to let out a death rattle before disappearing in a cloud of crimson smoke. He heard the Slyvans begin to fall and turned to Leliana.
His companion was clutching her side as blood pooled around her shield hand, and her eyes flashed with pain as she swung her axe, still managing to cut into the Shade.
Without hesitation, he flung himself into the battle, bringing his blade down on the Shade's head. "Focus on me ugly! I'll give you a fight!" He yelled, hoping to attract the demon's attention.
Faren and Leliana might be oblivious to the signs they were producing, but it was clear the beginning of a romance was starting to smolder and spark between them, and he was determined to keep them both alive until they realized it.
He saw Leliana grab a health poultice from her bag and gulp it down, letting the potion heal her side as she swung her axe again, shearing the Shade's head off.
The head roared in pain before the Shade retreated in a cloud of crimson smoke, and Leliana smiled "One more down."
With an earsplitting crash, the last Sylvan fell and the werewolves rushed to the defense of their Lady, followed by Faren.
The air crackled with bolts of energy and magical fire as Zathrian and the Lady continued their duel, the Elven mage slammed his staff onto the ground, hurling spikes of ice from the tip and bringing lightning down from the sky by muttering words of power. His eyes watched the magic carefully, seeking that final moment when her defenses dropped and he could fling a spear of energy into her heart.
The Lady responded to his attacks with growls and lunges, parrying the ice spikes with a wave of flame and deflecting the lighting with a flashing shield. Tree roots exploded from the ground to entangle her opponent, and heavy winds buffeted him, knocking him off balance.
Despite the massive displays of power both opponents were expending they remained locked in a stalemate, unable to find even the slightest weakness to exploit to turn the magical duel in their favor.
The Lady sensed, rather than saw, her werewolves and the Grey Wardens rush to her aid, attempting to charge en masse at the mage. Her resolve intensified then, as she redoubled her attacks, abandoning her strategy of ending the duel and instead using her power like a hammer, smashing her magic against Zathrian.
Her allies were covered in blood and wounds, the werewolves she called her children were panting heavily, but they still fought to protect her.
What amazed her the most was the trust she felt the Grey Wardens gave off towards their leader. They had been enemies before she had explained the true origins of the werewolf curse, but at Faren's word, they were risking their lives to protect her… all because the dwarf had put his trust in her.
Now she would win, not only to protect her werewolves and end the curse that plagued them but also to make sure the trust of the Warden's was well-placed. So she roared, sending her attacks towards the elven mage in greater waves, as her children battered at Zathrian's back with their claws.
With one final blast of magic, Zathrian threw everyone backward, letting his power fade away.
Faren grunted as his back hit the wall, and only the thickness of his steel armor saved him as he stood up.
"Surrender Zathrian! You're outnumbered here!"
Zathrian looked at him then, and Faren saw that the old elf did not want to fight. It was over.
"I surrender to you, I cannot win… and to save my people I will do what I must." He laid down his staff, approaching the Lady. "I will begin the ritual."
He then began to chant, words in elvish that he didn't understand, and the Lady began to join his chant. As their words got louder, their bodies began to glow, until finally, a bright flash filled the room.
Faren rubbed his eyes as the room cleared, letting his sight adjust.
"They're gone" Leliana whispered softly, as Faren nodded. The Lady and Zathrian were gone, and where the werewolves had been now stood eight humans.
"The curse has been lifted." Faren smiled, watching the now human werewolves rejoicing and embracing. "We did what we set out to do." He muttered, still wondering about Zathrian's words.
"The hatred in me is as hard and as twisted as the roots of the trees, and I cannot free myself from it."
He was on a mission of vengeance. He wouldn't deny part of the reason he wanted to strike against the Darkspawn was to avenge the army and his fellow Grey Wardens who had been lost at Ostagar by a savage betrayal. He could tell himself that he was railing the world to fend off an invasion to save it, to make it better, and to protect the innocent, but his heart burned with hatred to slay both the leader of the Darkspawn invasion and the human general who had condemned his fellows to death.
If he didn't let go of the hate, then would he become like Zathrian? Would he be so consumed with anger that he would sacrifice his friends and people for one chance at revenge?
Leliana's hand gently rested on his shoulder before pulling away, and he blushed, instantly knowing the answer. He had people he cared for more than anything else, and he'd take one night with his companions over a thousand chances at revenge.
He led his party out of the ruins. He'd speak to the elves and let them know the curse was no more, then he'd go back to his campsite, and rediscover what he was fighting for.
Well that battle was much more fun to write then to play it out without the werewolf support. Two demons, four trees, and one mage to deal with for my four man party on hard difficultly... not fun.
Anyway I hope you enjoyed the story and read on for more! Also feel free to give any suggestions or support, I need it!
Please leave a review, feel free to check out my other works, and have a great day!
Now the tech stuff:
This story will be a series of excerpts from games, with scenes that I feel should have happened but didn't. These can be cutscenes I felt were too short, moments I felt could have happened to make the game better, or alternate choices I wished the game would let me make. This series will not be changing my choices that I have made in my playthroughs e.g I made choice x but what if I made choice Y. These will be choices the game doesn't let me make or things I have no control over.
These choices are all my personal headcanons and I will provide a brief (spoiler-free) synopsis of the scene before showing the choice, then getting into the story.
I can take requests, so if you are a gamer and have a scene you wish to see please PM or review!
Thank you and have a great day! :D