Playing Dragon Age
The weekend after they’d moved into their new apartment, Leto and Andreas had their friends over for what Henry called a house warming party and everyone brought them a little something to celebrate their new home. Mostly bottles of wine. Henry and Miranda of course attended, along with Casey, and Henry’s group of friends, Derrick, John, Dave and Chris.
Andreas made lasagna and they broke open the bottles of wine and sat around the living room chatting amiably. Henry’s friends still stared at Leto and Andreas, marveling how easy and comfortable they were with each other, such a contrast to how they were back in Kirkwall.
Henry’s friend Derrick prodded them both. “Come on, have one of your mage rights arguments. Please?!”
Leto and Andreas blush and look at each other. Then Andreas recalled one of their many arguments. “Ooh I remember one. Follow my lead, Love.”
Andreas cleared his throat and tried to speak seriously. “So, there must be mages in Tevinter that don't use blood magic.”
Leto forced his face into a scowl. “Of course. There are slaves. The magisters do not hesitate to collar their own kind.” He took note of a slight shiver that went through Andreas at the word collar.
Andreas countered. “But no magisters?”
“Why must you go on about this? No magister would turn down an advantage over his rivals. If he did, he'd be dead,” Leto said, frustration building in his voice.
Andreas turned to Leto then. “You know, to use blood magic you must look a demon in the eye and accept his offer,” Andreas argued. “I just figured some of them would say no. For aesthetic reasons, if nothing else.”
Then the pair of them burst out laughing. Andreas had tears in his eyes. “I can’t believe I’d actually said that, but I know I did. Oh Maker, we were ridiculous weren’t we?”
“Speak for yourself, Amatus,” Leto said fondly, placing a kiss on Andreas’ cheek.
Henry and his friends were laughing as well, while Miranda and Casey just looked at each other and shrugged, obviously missing the entire joke.
Then Henry stood. “Before I completely forget, I have some more presents for you guys. Hey Derrick, Dave and Chris, care to give me a hand?”
The men walked out, leaving a very puzzled Leto and Andreas. While they waited they refreshed Miranda, Casey and John’s glasses of wine.
“What was that all about?” Miranda asked.
“Leto and I used to argue all the time back in Kirkwall,” Andreas shrugged. “Partly because of our pasts, partly because we didn’t want the other one to know we were attracted to each other.”
Miranda chuckled. “That’s actually, kind of adorable.”
Just then the others returned, carrying computers and monitors. “I know you already have some computers, but they really aren’t the best for gaming,” Henry explained. “I also pre-loaded these with the Dragon Age games so you get a chance to experience them for yourselves.”
“You are far too generous, Henry,” Leto admonished playfully, showing them the way back towards their office. Henry quickly hooked them up and got the two computers running, showing Leto and Andreas how to access the Dragon Age games.
“Hey, Miranda and Casey,” Henry called out towards the living room. “Come take a look at this.”
When the two made their way back towards the office, Henry was seated in front of one of the computer monitors and had a YouTube video queued up. “Look at this, these are the arguments between Leto and Andreas back when they lived in Kirkwall. They also went by the names Fenris and Anders then as well.”
They all watched the various sequences until at one point the coat Anders wore in the video changed to black.
“Hey wait a minute,” Andreas said. “I never had a black coat like that.”
Henry paused the video. “Oh, sorry, that’s right. You both were transported here before the third act of the game.”
“So that…would have been my future self?” Andreas asked “This must be close to when I’m supposed to have blown up the Chantry?”
Henry nodded. “Do you want to watch the rest?”
Andreas nodded. After a few more sequences, the banter began to get more personal and there was an implication of Fenris having been intimate with Hawke. Then about Anders having replaced Fenris as Hawke’s lover. Both Andreas and Leto were blushing over these revelations, even knowing some of this from what Henry had told them.
“I…I guess if we’d stayed, neither of us would ever have had the guts to admit our attraction towards each other,” Andreas said, pulling Leto in a brief embrace. “I am so very glad we went through that Eluvian.”
“So you don’t regret having a chance with Hawke?” Leto asked teasingly.
“Not one bit,” Andreas said easily.
“Alright break it up you two,” Henry teased. “You can play with each other later.”
Andreas and Leto blushed again. “Oh, yeah, sorry about that,” Andreas apologized. “Why don’t we all head back out to the living room?”
As they all passed the Play Room, Casey spoke up. “What’s in this room? It’s the only one you haven’t shown us. You don’t have like a torture chamber or something that you’re hiding, do you?” Casey laughed loudly at his own suggestion.
Leto and Andreas both blushed several deeper shades of red at the question. “Well, um…”Andreas tried to come up with an explanation and his mind blanked.
An awkward silence fell over the group. After a few moments Casey mumbled an apology. “Um…I’m sorry I asked…never mind.”
They all returned to the living room and Leto offered everyone another glass of wine, which everyone gratefully accepted.
“So, when are you opening your studio, Leto?” Miranda began, breaking the awkward silence.
Grateful for the change in topic Leto explained what all had yet to be done and said he hoped to be open within a month.
“Oh and has Miranda told you yet?” Andreas asked Henry. “I’ve decided to go to medical school.”
“That’s wonderful news! Will you be going to the university over in Aurora?” Henry asked.
Andreas nodded. “Yeah, by the time I start next Fall I should have a car and hopefully can get there in fifteen minutes or so.”
Chris spoke up. “You know how many years that’ll take you to do?”
Andreas nodded. “Yes. I expect at least twelve years. But since I don’t have to worry about the Calling, demons or darkspawn anymore, I think I’ll be able to manage.”
As everyone finished their wine, they slowly began making motions to leave. “Have fun playing Dragon Age. Let me know what you think about it,” Henry said with a wink as he closed the door, leaving the two of them alone again.
Andreas busied himself clearing up the dishes and loading them into their dishwasher as Leto made his way back towards the office. They both agreed if they were going to play, they would play together to compare notes.
Once Andreas was done in the Kitchen he made his way back towards the office, and sat himself behind his new computer. “So, we should start with Origins first, right?”
Leto nodded. “Agreed. That would be prudent as the events during the fifth blight affect the events in Kirkwall. Should we try to recreate the Hero of Ferelden from what we know about her, or should we make our own?”
“Well since I actually met her, why don’t I make her, and you can create whoever you like?” Andreas suggested. Leto nodded his assent.
As they began to play the game they were both shocked by the violent pasts each of their characters had. Andreas had no idea what Elissa Cousland had lived through before her recruitment into the Grey Wardens, and seeing the betrayal by Arl Rendon Howe and the murder of the entire Cousland family was shocking.
Leto was equally shocked by what unfolded for the male city elf he chose to create, watching the human nobles drag away his character’s supposed bride to be gang raped. In that moment Leto realized that the elves in the alienages truly weren’t better off than the slaves in Tevinter and that people in power, mages or not, would always take advantage of those less fortunate. Once again Leto felt shame over not having listened to Andreas’ arguments.
After both reaching Ostagar within the game, they decided to turn in for the night. “I had no idea that the Warden-Commander had been through so much tragedy. Dealing with the fifth Blight was bad enough, but to see her entire family murdered? It’s no wonder she personally wanted to kill Arl Howe, and why Vigil’s Keep was gifted to the Wardens. Even Nathaniel’s reactions. It all makes so much more sense now.”
“Who was this…Nathaniel?” Leto asked curiously.
“Oh, he was the son of Arl Rendon Howe. He was in the Free Marches during the Fifth Blight and returned soon after the Archdemon was defeated. He tried to sneak into Vigil’s Keep, his family’s former home, right after the Darkspawn attack. I think he was planning to murder the Warden-Commander, but in the end she conscripted him instead,” Andreas explained. “I…may also have had a little…crush on him.”
“Andreas” Leto said with a warning growl.
“Sorry, shutting up now,” Andreas said with a grin.
“Good boy,” Leto said. “Now let’s get ready for bed.”
“Don’t you want to talk about your character’s origins?” Andreas asked.
“No, not tonight,” Leto said. “It was very…disturbing. I need time to process it.”
“Alright, Love,” Andreas said, pulling Leto in for a quick embrace.
After their nightly ablutions they went straight to sleep, Andreas curling around Leto protectively, sensing the elf needed comforting.
The next morning Andreas awoke to an empty bed, which was highly unusual. He rose and went to look for Leto, finding him in the office playing Dragon Age with a tear streaked face.
“Hey, Leto, what’s wrong?” Andreas asked.
Leto got up and launched himself into Andreas’ arms. “They’re dead. They’re all dead!” Leto sobbed.
Andreas pulled Leto closer to him, trying to calm him with soothing words. “Remember, Love, it is just a game after all.”
“But…what if it isn’t? We’re real after all, aren’t we? Weren’t we part of this game? This did happen…the Battle at Ostagar happened. Even the slaves heard about it in Tevinter. I just…didn’t realize how much it would impact me to see it.” Leto confessed.
“Come on, let me make us some breakfast and let’s talk,” Andreas suggested, leading Leto out of the office.
As Andreas made breakfast Leto sat silent, nursing a cup of coffee. He then picked at his food haphazardly. Andreas reached out and took Leto’s hand. “Hey, talk to me, Love.”
“I’m sorry, this is all affecting me more than it probably should,” Leto confessed. “I know when we spoke with Mr. Gaider, there was a very real possibility that we are the result of some very special circumstances, and that the games we’re playing now really are just games. Yet it relates to our histories, our pasts, and I feel connected to it. Knowing that in our reality the same events very likely took place. Yet since we know that Elissa Cousland became the Hero of Ferelden in our reality, what became of Darrian Tabris? If Duncan didn’t recruit him, he surely would have been imprisoned or executed.”
Andreas nodded. “Well considering all the other character possibilities, all of them may have met tragic ends because of the specific character we chose to create. In your game, Elissa probably wound up dead along with the rest of her family.”
“I have an idea,” Andreas said. “Why don’t we just play the one game? We could take turns if you like or you can just watch as I play Elissa. Maybe that will be less traumatic?”
Leto nodded. “I think you’re right. We don’t both have to play through this nightmare.”
“That’s the spirit!” Leto said laughing, trying to change the mood.
They each poured another cup of coffee and headed back into their office. Leto shut his game down and moved his chair so he could watch Andreas playing instead. He left off right before the Battle of Ostagar so he continued from there.
Andreas tried to remember as many details as he could about Elissa’s quest to end the Blight in Ferelden, and the rest he guessed at based upon what he knew of her and what kind of choices she would make.
He played through Lothering, recruiting Leliana and Sten, much to Morrigan’s disdain, and moved on to Redcliffe where Alistair confessed his royal birthright to Elissa. Andreas and Leto knew exactly who Alistair was and that came as no surprise, although the self-deprecating young man that he was at this stage in his life did come as somewhat of a surprise. It was quite different from the confident man and ruler he’d later become.
They decided to take a break once they’d saved Lothering from the undead army, Andreas realizing their next stop would have to be the Circle of Magi in order to enlist the mages for help to save Connor, which is what Andreas knew Elissa would have done. Leto was in favor of just killing the poor child outright, but Andreas wouldn’t hear of it, and Elissa wouldn’t have made that choice.
“So why don’t they do this for all possessed mages? Why couldn’t this have been done to separate you from Justice?” Leto asked.
Andreas sighed. “Because it takes a large group of mages and a lot of lyrium, if you want to avoid blood magic, for one, and in my case Justice was physically removed from the Fade, he wasn’t possessing me remotely from the Fade like most demons do.”
“Well let’s take a break and make some dinner,” Leto suggested. “I am curious what we will find in this Circle of yours.”
“Well I can tell you what we’ll find, if it’s the Hero of Ferelden entering the tower at Kinloch Hold,” Andreas said. “That’s when the tower was overtaken by Uldred and his blood mages.”
Leto felt a shiver run through him. “We’d heard about that all the way in Tevinter. How did you escape all that?”
“Well you remember how many times I’d escaped,” Andreas shrugged. “Uldred rebelled sometime after my seventh, and last, escape from the Circle. It was during the Fifth Blight and I managed to elude the Templars for a lot longer than I had previously and they didn’t catch up to me again until after the Archdemon was slain.”
Leto nodded. “That’s right I remember now. That’s when you were recruited into the Grey Wardens. I wonder if we’ll see that in the game?”
Andreas shrugged. “Probably. I guess we’ll find out. Now let’s go have some dinner? We have lots of lasagna leftover.”
Andreas and Leto headed back out towards the kitchen and had dinner, washing the lasagna down with some more wine.
After dinner Andreas and Leto agreed to run through the Circle of Magi before going to bed. It was strangely addicting to revisit the Thedas of the past like this.
Entering into the tower and seeing Knight-Commander Greagoir again made Andreas breath hitch.
Leto placed a hand on Andreas’ shoulder. “Breathe, Amatus. Was he one of your tormentors?”
Andreas shook his head. “No, but he may as well have been. He turned a blind eye to everything that was happening under his command.”
Next they met the mage Wynn as they made their way into the tower. Andreas was grateful to have a better healer on his team, sending Morrigan off into whatever limbo she went into when she wasn’t in the active party.
“I remember Wynne quite fondly,” Andreas explained to Leto. “When it was discovered I was a Spirit Healer, she took me under her wing to help me develop my magic. Spirit Healers are rare enough to actually be valued. It’s probably the only reason they even allowed me to even make it to my Harrowing.”
“Valued enough not to be made tranquil, but not so valued as to leave you unmolested?” Leto said with a slight growl.
“Well you see, Spirit Healers are the best mages to molest, because we can heal and hide all evidence of the abuse,” Andreas said coldly. “I don’t doubt Wynne suffered her own share of indignities when she was younger.”
Andreas guided his version of Elissa through the tower, solving various riddles along the way, and fighting ever increasing hordes of blood mages, demons and abominations. When they reached the sloth demon near the top of the tower Andreas nearly had a panic attack, and Leto had to help him think strategically through how to solve the Fade puzzle that would lead them to the demon where they could finally defeat it. The entire place was an endless nightmare and it required Leto’s strategic thinking along with Andreas’ knowledge of the Fade to finally complete it.
The final part was to get up to the Harrowing Chamber and stop Uldred. Before they could they ran into poor Cullen, tormented and trapped behind some kind of magical barrier. Andreas felt a deep pang of guilt seeing Cullen like that.
“Oh Maker,” Andreas said. “I knew he’d been the lone survivor of the tower but I had no idea how much he’d been tortured. I feel bad for snubbing him in Kirkwall like I did. He was always one of the nice Templars in the Circle.”
“You couldn’t have known, Amatus,” Leto reassured him. “I am just glad you did indeed escape before all this happened, or you may not have come out of this alive.”
Andreas nodded. “You’re very likely right about that.”
Andreas then sent Elissa and her companions into the Harrowing Chamber to deal with Uldred, saving as many mages as he could in the process.
When it was all over and they had secured the help of the Mages to save Connor, Andreas and Leto were both exhausted.
“Come, Amatus,” Leto urged Andreas. “Let’s go take a shower and go to bed. We both have work tomorrow.”
Andreas nodded, letting Leto lead him to their master suite.
They kept playing through Dragon Age: Origins in the evenings and weekends until they completed it. Andreas was a little embarrassed for Leto to see him in the Awakenings expansion, prior to being joined with Justice.
Leto was startled at first. “Why…does your voice sound like Cullen’s?”
Andreas blushed. “Oh…well…my voice changed after merging with Justice. Back in the Circle they used to tease us because we sounded so alike that they thought we must be related.”
While they kept playing in the evenings and weekends, during the day they both continued their work. Andreas was gaining quite a reputation as a healer among the local homeless population and his clinic was always busy, not unlike his Darktown clinic in Kirkwall. He never could turn away a patient and it was good that the mission closed at 8pm, which forced Andreas to quit. Now that they lived farther away, Andreas took a taxi home instead of waiting for Leto to walk him, which gave him a little bit of leeway in terms of when he arrived home. Soon he planned to take the driver’s test so he could buy a car and get himself around more easily.
Playing Dragon Age 2 was quite a trip for them. Seeing Kirkwall, Hawke, Merrill, Varric, themselves and the rest of the gang was a bit nerve wracking. Once they played that game to its ultimate conclusion Andreas was beaming a bit. “See, I told you Knight-Commander Meridith was insane. The red lyrium just amplified it.”
Leto had to agree that Meredith’s erratic behavior was clearly enhanced by the red lyrium, and that her extreme paranoia was enough to push so many mages towards blood magic out of sheer desperation. He felt more guilt over his long hatred of mages.
Once they completed Dragon Age 2, they moved on to the newest game, Inquisition. They were surprised to find Varric and Cullen in the game but it was nice to have two familiar faces. Andreas had decided to play out a romance with himself in Dragon Age 2, and it was amusing to talk to Varric about his supposed whereabouts.
Andreas immediately took a liking to Dorian, and since he had created a male character in the game started to flirt with the Tevinter mage, which caused Leto to threaten punishment. In the end, Andreas won out, saying it was an integral part of the experience of the game and that he really didn’t like Cassandra or Josephine as a romantic interest, and the Iron Bull just scared him. Leto had to agree and finally relented and allowed Andreas to let his Inquisitor to pursue a romantic relationship with Dorian. In the end Leto decided that perhaps not all Tevinter mages were bad.
It was a bit of a shock to see Hawke again in the game as well and Andreas easily chose the Warden Stroud to be sacrificed when they found themselves trapped physically in the Fade.
Everything that was ultimately revealed once they played through all the expanded content seemed quite disturbing. Leto wasn’t sure how he felt about it all, especially since he was an elf. Finding out the truth about Solas, and about the Ancient Elves really shook Leto to the code. On the other hand Andreas was in awe over some of the final revelations.
However, at least they now knew the past, present and future of Thedas and it did help them find a sense of closure they hadn’t even realized they were longing for.