Path of the Grey Warden 4: The Brutally Betrayed Bard

So it looks like rambling about my progress through Dragon Age Origins turned into a thing I’m sticking with, surprisingly. Check out the rest of my babble-through series here:

After conquering Dragon Age Origin’s bittersweet main campaign, it’s time for me to dive into the DLC content. I scored the Ultimate Edition from Steam with everything, including Awakenings, for $7 CDN. What a steal, eh? I decided Leliana’s Song would be the first-next place to go.

And wow, she’s more of a badass than I thought.

Leliana was Grey Warden Ellen’s BFF in the main campaign. You find her as a seemingly innocent Chantry Sister in Lothering near the start of the game, though it’s quite obvious she has a dark past (her adept murdering skillz kinda give her away). She seemed like an annoying religious fanatic to me at first, but her benevolent personality quickly shone through. She follows the Chantry and its deity, the Maker, but she’s more than willing to bend the more questionable teachings for the good of others.

Leliana told me a lot about her shaky history during many of our camp chats (along with very entertaining stories). However, it’s one thing to hear a story, but it’s quite another thing to actually live it. It really hammers home the point of why I love video games so much – you get to experience the lives of other people.

The Leliana’s Song DLC puts you in control of the badass bard herself and shows you just how brutal her past was. It only took me a little over an hour to beat it, but the whole experience was quite powerful. I should also state for the record that the Marketplace area background music has knocked Final Fantasy XIII’s battle music down a spot on my favourite game music list. That should say something!

So, here we go! Time to babble about the bard’s adventure. As always: MAJOR FREAKING SPOILER WARNING!!!

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It’s always fun meeting new people.

It’s all about the game, apparently. The DLC opens up with a very cool intro cutscene showing Leliana and her two companions, Tug and Sketch murdering some people in Denerim for Bardmaster Marjolaine. Tug is your typical awesome dwarven warrior smartass, and Sketch is a jittery but powerful elf mage. And oh Maker, it didn’t take long for Marjolaine to make me feel very uncomfortable. She’s so possessive of Leliana in a very chilling way. You can tell there’s something sinister behind those words “pretty thing.” Leliana seems apprehensive, but she goes along with it anyway, obviously wanting to please her master. The developer’s know the players know a betrayal is happening, so they wasted no time foreshadowing big bad’s motives.

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Something about a future Chantry Sister robbing the collection plate amused me, a lot.

After the intro, you take control of Leliana, Tug, and Sketch as they work to complete Marjolaine’s mission. This is the first Dragon Age experience I’ve had in the shoes of a character I didn’t create. There’s still dialog choices for Leliana which helps you customize her personality a bit (kind of like how the choices in Horizon Zero Dawn shape Aloy). I have to say Leliana is a bit of a jerk in this stage of her life – she steals from the Chantry, kills without mercy, and seemed to enjoy messing with the local merchants and guards. The first part of the mission is to create “problems” in the Market district by completing jobs for their clients. I didn’t fulfil the optional objective of fully embarrassing Guard Captain Eams, but everything was fairly else easy to accomplish.

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Urge to Snow Punch… rising.

When the deeds are done, Marjolaine conveniently appears, playfully tackles Leliana to the ground, and teases her a lot. I don’t like the Bardmaster’s motives at all. I think Branka is still the evilest of my dear companions’ exes, but Marjolaine is a more personal kind of crazy. The vendor dude shows up, and then it’s off on the next mission. With the Market in chaos, the crew can now infiltrate the Arl’s estate and plant some “embarrassing papers” for their employer. Leliana questions why she wasn’t told this was the mission in the first place. It’s clear there is some mistrust going on. I murder some guards and bury the bodies in a pumpkin patch (nervous Sketch was adamant they hide the evidence), then climb into the estate via open window.

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“Flirting giggle”… “little dragon”… Oh Maker, so many terrible jokes I can make here! 😂

The crew make their way through the Arl’s estate, effortlessly murdering guard mobs as they go. I really like Sketch’s Lightning spell, by the way. Soon they discover Marjolaine seducing a commander by saying she wants to “see his little dragon”. Yep, I almost died laughing, but Leliana seemed understandably unimpressed as they disappear together with the caption “Lecherous laugh” (stop it BioWare, you’re killing me!! 😂). Leliana shakes off that disturbing scene and finds a spot to plant the papers in the master bedroom. Leliana is suddenly horrified, realizing Marjolaine left out another important detail – the papers are Orlesian Military documents and this is an act of treason. Marjolaine shows up (that was quick… sorry) and Leliana expresses her problems with the job. Embarrassing nobles is one thing, but treason is a far more dangerous game. The guards are coming soon, so they hightail it back to base camp without much discussion.

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Poor Leliana probably doesn’t have a bard HR department to take this up with.

Back at base, Leliana has an argument with her abusive boss lady. Marjolaine is not happy Leliana is questioning her, but Leliana stands her ground saying treason is far too dangerous. Leliana also says that she would have talked Marolaine out of the job, if she had known. Leliana seems to have some sway over Marjolaine’s decisions after all. Marjolaine asks Leliana if she is upset over the little dragon encounter (I’m terrible, I know). Leliana tells her to “Just fix it.” (Well, that’s the option I chose), and Marjolaine reluctantly agrees. I get to chat with Sketch and Tug for a bit before heading off to the estate, again. While trying to undo the treason in the estate, the alarm goes off. Marjolaine says she’ll hold off the guards while the others escape. Somehow I doubt she’s so caring of her crew all the sudden. Sure enough, after fighting my way to the courtyard this happened:

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Leliana finds Marjolaine casually chilling by the pumpkin patch. She has an uncomfortably close chat and then…
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Marjolaine ruthlessly stabs Leliana. Ouch!! Even I felt that.
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Oh look, Marjolaine was working with Commander Raleigh (and his little dragon… sorry, I can’t stop) the whole time. Leliana passes out as he threatens to have “his fun” with her.
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The next scene is poor Leliana sobbing on a dungeon cell floor. It seems she has endured several days of brutal torture at the hands of Raleigh’s men.
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Praise the Maker! There’s the light after all this darkness.

Heartlessly betrayed by the woman she loves, tortured by the cruel man with the little dragon, reduced to a sobbing mess, and then left to rot on a dungeon cell floor… no words to describe the ouch in all that. But all hope is not lost for the defeated bard! A gentle voice calls to her from above – through a conveniently placed and illuminated grate in the ceiling. The person identifies themselves “a friend” and tells Leliana to “find her resolve”. Leliana has no will to continue on, but the voice makes a good point – “You have more than enough enemies, girl. Why are you defeating yourself?”. Wow, I wish I knew a nice voice like this! The next line even encouraged me – “Others need you, even at your lowest. And that is a source of strength I cannot describe.” I feel so… inspired. Come on, Leliana. We got this! The voice drops some weapons down to Leliana, and she pulls it together enough to fight forward.

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Misery really does love company.

Leliana fights her way to her old mage buddy Sketch, and new guy named Silas (who hates Raleigh and is more than happy to tag along). Their stay has been about as enjoyable as Leliana’s, I take it. But where’s Tug? The group fights on, destroying guards with ease. I was not prepared for the next discovery…

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… 😦

The group horrifically finds the body of Tug, still strapped to a torture table. It seems he protected Sketch from a terrible fate and this was his punishment. Leliana is shocked, deeply saddened, and then incredibly pissed. You know what motivates people the most, o voice in the ceiling? RAGE!! Leliana vows to make Marjolaine and “her beast” (aka little dragon) pay for this. I free some more hapless prisoners before Leliana collapses into the divinely illuminated exit.

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I’m cranky when I wake up too.

Next we’re in a cheery Chantry. Leliana’s holding a knife against a sister, and Mother Dorothea (aka the voice in the ceiling) appears to calm things. Leliana is visibly upset and very uncooperative as the Mother describes the situation. The Mother has had her own bad encounter with Marjolaine, encourages Leliana to be strong and help people, and finally tells her where Marjolaine and the little dragon are. I chat with Sketch, Silas, and the vendor dude (he was betrayed too apparently). Sketch is very sad over Tug’s death and blames himself. Leliana comforts him by saying “We’ll make sure everyone pays. I swear.” Silas says he was caught for poaching game. He asks what Leliana wants and her angered response is “Me? Nobody cares what I want.” After that, it’s off to some cliffs for the final showdown!

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Can I Snow Punch her now?? Please, game!

After arriving, Marjolaine and her little dragon man greet our um, heroes? Raleigh basically tells them to buzz off, but nope, revenge needs to happen, sorry. Raleigh’s ultimate plan is to start a war with Orlais, but Leliana doesn’t really care. She just sees him as an obstacle between her and Marjolaine. I battle my way though monsters in a canyon area and the final fight starts on top of the cliffs.

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Well, I’ll be damned… he does actually have a little dragon!

Leliana finds Raleigh, a random mage lady, and get this – an actual little dragon. This is the final battle and it happens in two phases. First, you bash the dragon Raleigh sends after you, while he and his mage minion are shielded. The dragon was a bit of a pain. It stuns the group and flies around, but still went down. Then Raleigh and his mage assault you. This is a bit tricky and took me a couple tries. Focusing on the mage and making sure Raleigh doesn’t kill Sketch did the trick. After the final battle, you are treated to some satisfying scenes where your dialog choices change things a bit. I saved before the final fight so I could see all the options. The ultimate outcome is the same, but it’s nice to see how multiple story elements play out. Here’s how my first time went:

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Leliana approaches a cowering Raleigh, like the boss she is.
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He taunts her by mentioning her torture time, and I chose the option for her to push him off the cliff. Good riddance to him and all of his little dragons!
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Majolaine was chilling by the cliffs while all this went down and Leliana has a very emotional confrontation with her. Basically, Majolaine says she betrayed Leliana before she could betray her. Leliana says she’s not like her – she only wants to stop Marjolaine, not kill her. It’s obvious they skill have feelz for each other as the scene abruptly ends with Leliana just saying “Marjolaine…”
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Before the credits roll, Leliana is shown under a statue of Andraste (the Maker’s prophet) back at the chantry while future her is narrating the story. See you in Lothering later, sister!

That’s all she wrote! I really wanted to Snow Punch Marjolaine, but it’s neat how they left it open ended like that. I always liked Leliana’s character, but I have a new appreciation for just how awesome she is. It takes guts and incredible strength to push yourself above all that pain and hatred. She is a very inspiring bard!

Next I’ll be answering the biggest question that the main campaign left me with – Where the hell did Morrigan go?? Tune in sometime (maybe) when (if) I do a post about the next DLC I played: Witch Hunt.

Wannabe Writer’s Notes:
– Quiz: How many times did I say “little dragon”? I’m terrible…

⚡Thanks for reading!⚡

13 thoughts on “Path of the Grey Warden 4: The Brutally Betrayed Bard

  1. *fangirling intensifies*

    Haha wonderful write up! Leliana is one of my favorite characters, along with Morrigan, so seeing her backstory was just… well it was heartbreaking, but also a testament to her will to change and become the person she wants to be, rather than the person Marjolaine wants her to be.

    I immediately hated Marjolaine not only because I saw the slow build up before the train crash, but… well my Warden would not have been very happy, let’s say that haha.

    From a story perspective, Marjolaine and Leliana have a fascinating relationship, because it’s not equal (or healthy), but Leliana isn’t quite as subservient as Marjolaine wants her to be either.

    I think I’ll sign of before I totally break down Leliana’s character in your comments section, but this was a great read and I’m looking forward to finding Morrigan! haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!! Glad you liked it, o Goddess of Wisdom! There were some very emotional scenes in Leliana’s past, for sure 😦 Morrigan is really awesome too! I just wish I would have trusted her. Maker, why?? (Sorry, I’ll get over my Alistair’s fate eventually, haha)

      Leliana was my Warden’s best friend so I hated seeing how Marjolaine treated her. I wanted to kill her in the main game, but I got the sense that would have upset Leliana so I didn’t.

      Marjolaine and Leliana’s relationship is the definition of unhealthy, I think. Marjolaine is predatory and possessive, but Leliana can stand her ground if she truly believes in something. In her own twisted way, I think Marjolaine does love Leliana too. It is a truly fascinating relationship! BioWare is the champion of character creation. Oh and Leliana is definitely better off with Renya 🙂

      You are more than welcome to share any thoughts you have on Leliana (you are the expert after all).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, she’s much better off (haha).

        I always thought that Marjolaine loved Leliana in a way, but possibly more on the “desired” end of things, especially considering that Marjolaine is about 10 years older than Marjolaine and Leliana began working for her at 16. I taught 18 year olds at 26 and… they were still kids in a lot of ways, so it really takes a certain kind of person to “fall in love” with someone at such a different point in their lives, to put it lightly. But maybe she did love Leliana, but once Leliana began to rival Marjolaine’s skills, by that point Marjolaine had changed and become paranoid. Who knows?

        I just hope that one day Leliana is allowed to really figure out who she is. Out of all the characters in Dragon Age, she’s the most impressionable throughout the series, even as she presents such a strong – and at times frightening – front. Sigh…

        Haha I think that’s enough fangirling for one evening!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m always cheering for Team Leliana and Renya, haha.

          Very true! Marjolaine would have been the only “true” love Leliana would have known, especially at such a young age. It explains why she is so attached to her, even after being brutally betrayed (I can’t stop with the alliterations… help!)

          I’m looking forward to seeing how Leliana grows in Inquisition!! There can never be too much fangirling. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

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