We pick up this week with the group having split up, Alec and Erwan traveling with the Dwarven Grey Wardens Legnar and Orta to Orzammar while Koryn, Parlit, and Solaras head to Merlanthraille to check on Ruby.
Alec, Erwan and the Wardens arrive at the gates of Orzammar. They get let in without much of a fuss; King Bhelen has opened Orzammar to the surface world and the Grey Wardens have always been welcome there, even with current tensions between them and Orzammar.
The two Dwarven Wardens head to Dust Town to find a place to stay during their extended visit, while Alec and Erwan explore, eavesdrop, and try to get a feel for the current state of Orzammar.
It turns out, Bhelen has been slowly reforming the Caste system, helping the lower castes and Casteless without doing enough that it would anger the upper castes. It is a delicate balancing act, but he’s pulling it off. That combined with the increased wealth overall from him allowing trading with the surface world, and the lower castes should be really happy.
They’re not. Crimson Dawn priests stand on street corners, preaching Hagann‘s words, of the Red Daughter who has come to restore the Dwarven race’s access to magic. They love the sound of this, the promise of power. With power, they could rise up and eliminate the Caste system altogether.
Alec and Erwan split up, Erwan heading to the Dust Town tavern where they agreed to meet the others, while Alec tries to tail one of the cultists back to their base.
The cultist doesn’t seem to spot Alec following him, but takes a winding path through back alleys and side roads anyway, as if being careful not to give away his destination and throw off tails.
Unlucky for him, Alec is good at this. Unlucky for Alec, he eventually tails the cultist to a bridge, where there is no cover, no way to follow without giving himself away. He watches the cultist head into a tunnel on the other side and, erring on the side of caution, heads back to the rendez-vous point.
At the tavern, Erwan speaks mainly with Legnar, who shows some sympathy for the lower caste and Casteless. Erwan fears that the Crimson Dawn might be able to stir their supporters up into a revolt but Legnar assures him that these people, these unarmed, unarmored, untrained people will need something more than just words to be driven to act. The Crimson Dawn will need to provide some sort of proof. These people will have to meet this Red Daughter.
Alec arrives and explains where the cultist went and where he lost him. Legnar replies that the tunnel he headed into leads directly to the Deep Roads. He suspects that the base is set up in some old, lost Thaig in Darkspawn territory.
Erwan begins to plan for him and Alec to head into the tunnel and search for the Crimson Dawn’s base, but Legnar advises against it. With only two people, only one a Grey Warden, the danger would be too great. Recognizing the wisdom in that, Erwan instead decides to head back to Fell’s Landing to get the rest of the party, and return with them as reinforcements. They leave the Dwarven Wardens behind to continue their recon mission until they return.
Meanwhile, Koryn, Parlit, and Solaras had noticed that they were being followed, but had failed a number of times to find or flush out their pursuer. They head to an Elven ruin in the area, where the had previously fought an apostate who had acquired some Red Lyrium, knowing that the tower was surrounded by a large clearing. They cut across the clearing, and manage to lose their pursuer. They rush the rest of the way to Merlanthraille, wanting to make sure their pursuer cannot pick back up their trail before they get away.
In Merlanthraille, after Koryn smiles and acts nice to Ranalle with an obvious, venomous undertone to her voice, the group meets with the Keeper. In his hut, they see that Ruby and Calder are fine, and discuss their situation with the Keeper.
Koryn explains that she has a past with Magister Noctua and trusts him, though she doesn’t explain what that past is. The Keeper is inclined to take her word for it, but his distrust of the Tevinter runs deep.
The topic turns to what can be done to ensure Ruby’s safety. The Keeper offers to alter some of the wards he has been using to obscure her power, knowing some techniques that will make her particular difficult for Tevinter magics to find, at the risk of possibly making it easier for other magics to spot her.
Solaras asks the Keeper what he thinks would happen if the Tevinter got ahold of Ruby. The Keeper apologizes to Koryn for speaking ill of her people (she assures him that she feels the same about most of them), and states that he is certain that they would flay Ruby alive, dissect her, and experiment to determine what makes her tick.
He admits that he shares the curiosity that they would surely feel, but that his own tests on Ruby are entirely benign, harmless, and non-invasive. He observes her from without only. To his people, knowledge is power, and Ruby represents to him knowledge that no one else possesses. That could possibly help in regaining what his people have lost.
The Keeper takes this opportunity to mention an interesting tidbit he discovered; Ruby enters the Fade when she sleeps, just like humans, elves, and qunari. Very much unlike her own people.
Solaras brings up the Grey Wardens. If they allow them to take her, she could live her life openly as what she is, with them to protect her from those who would come after her. He likes he idea of her getting to live openly, instead of hiding what she is and being forever an outsider like he has had to do. Koryn is against the idea, feeling that would condemn Ruby to life as a weapon against the Darkspawn. Koryn would like to see Ruby choose her destiny for herself.
In the end, it is decided that the best thing for Ruby right now is to leave her with the Dalish. The Keeper explains that they are free to take her back if at any time they decide another course of action is better, he just asks to be able to still see her and aid in her training.
As the others head out, Solaras stays behind and asks for the Keeper to teach him what he learns about Ruby. The Keeper explains that he wouldn’t want to give Solaras any information until he is certain it is true, but promises to share anything he discovers for certain with him. As he only Mage in the group that has taken responsibility for the child, he would need to know.
Before they leave, Parlit visits with her father. He gifts her the first part of the smithing gear he is making for her, her own hammer. He explains that he could have probably had the entire set made by now, but that he is taking his time to ensure that it is all of the utmost quality. When Parlit thanks him, he says with a sad sort of smile that he is doing that for himself, as he is sure if he half-assed her gear, her mother would rise from the grave to smack him silly.
Koryn, Parlit, and Solaras return to Fell’s Landing, and go about their usual business for a few days. When Alec and Erwan get back, both groups share what they had been through with one another and decide to begin preparations to head to Orzammar together, to hunt down the Crimson Dawn in the Deep Roads.