Go to the Wounded Coast Approach and talk to Ser Thrask, who informs Hawke of some apostates hiding in the Runaway's Cavern behind him. Ser Thrask will then request help in resolving the situation peacefully, before another group of more violent templars arrive to kill the apostates.
Upon entering the Runaway's Cavern, Hawke's party will be attacked by several apostate mages and weak undead. Eventually Hawke will run into a mage, Alain, who informs Hawke that the apostate leader Decimus has turned to blood magic. Alain will then appear as if he is going to join Ser Thrask at the cavern's entrance so he can return to the Circle.
The cave contains one standard chest and no traps. Make sure to grab the Raw Lyrium west of where you met Alain.
Decimus can be found at the end of the cavern, and he will attack under the belief that Hawke is working for the templars (once combat starts, you will receive Codex Entry: Blood Magic: The Forbidden School, if you did not get it from your interaction with Idunna in Enemies Among Us, main quest). This battle will include numerous undead, as well as three other apostate mages. After Decimus is defeated, Grace will approach and request that Hawke kill Ser Thrask so the surviving mages can flee to the outskirts of the Free Marches.
When Hawke returns to the entrance of the cave two groups of skeletons attack, unless Hawke agreed to kill Ser Thrask in which case two groups of templars will attack instead.
When Hawke returns to the entrance of the cave a second group of templars, lead by Ser Karras, will have arrived and will be arguing with Ser Thrask. The dispute varies slightly depending on the previous choices made, but all quarrels seem to indicate that Ser Karras intends to simply execute the mages rather than return them to the Circle.
If the decision to return the mages to the Circle was made, Hawke will be given the opportunity to:
- Return the mages to the Circle. Ser Thrask will promise to return them unharmed and Ser Karras implies that Ser Thrask will not survive long enough to do so.
- Free the mages instead, resulting in a fight with the templar reinforcements.
If the decision was made to lie to the templars, then the party has the following options:
- "I killed the mages." All subsequent conversation options lead to combat with the templars.
- "I'm a friend of Thrask's." Leads immediately to combat.
- "I'm a friend of the mages." Leads immediately to combat.
- Defer to Varric if he is in the party. Varric will tell the templars that Hawke is a foreign templar that Knight-Commander Meredith specially requested to help investigate the situation. Alternatively if Hawke is a mage, he'll tell them you are Enchanter Hawke from Ferelden who came to root out rebel mages. He then says that some of the mages are dead and others escaped to the coast. The templars will leave and the mages can escape without any form of combat.
- "I'm your best friend." This option is only available to a sarcastic Hawke. Hawke will claim that Kerras has been done a favor, and that some of the mages are dead but their leader fled towards the coast. The templars will leave in pursuit and the mages can then escape without a fight. There is no variation for a Hawke mage and Ser Karras appears to be unaware of the fact.
If you choose to defer to Varric, you will have the option to tell the templars how they died.
- They killed each other.
- Their leader escaped.
- We killed them.
Varric will explain that a couple may have fled in "back-passages" to the sea prior to Hawke's arrival. If Hawke is a mage, the templars express surprise that mages are capable of cooperating with the templars.
Ser Thrask will always assist Hawke in the combat with the templars. If the templars are slain, they can be looted for the Edge of Song and Glory and the Dragon Hunter's Hauberk. If Varric takes care of the situation, he will automatically succeed at fooling the templars. As long as the apostates are freed, Grace will give the Chanters' Staff as a reward regardless of the action taken.
When conversing with Ser Thrask:
- Agreeing to help him
- Joking response accepts the quest with no approval change
When speaking with Alain (first mage encountered in caverns):
When speaking with Grace:
Choice 1 (If Hawke is a Rogue or Warrior, skipped if Hawke is a Mage):
- "I'm sorry."
- "So raise him from the dead."
- "He was a blood mage."
Choice 2 (If Hawke is a Mage):
Choice 2 (If Hawke is a Rogue or Warrior): no effect
- "I won't help you."
- "I'll convince him you're dead." / "Murder is going too far."
- "I will kill Thrask."
Outside the Cavern
If Hawke chose to return the mages to the Circle
- Return the mages to the Circle
- Free the Mages
If Hawke chose to lie to the Templars
- "I killed the mages."
- "I'm a friend of Thrask's."
- "I'm a friend of the mages."
- Letting Varric speak
- "I'm your best friend." Only available to a sarcastic Hawke
- "I'm sorry Ser Thrask" After combat
Max possible approval changes:
- Between Anders: rivalry (+40) and Anders: friendship (+15)
- Between Aveline: rivalry (+15) and Aveline: friendship (+20)
- Up to Bethany: rivalry (+15)
- Between Carver: rivalry (+10) and Carver: friendship (+20)
- Between Fenris: rivalry (+10) and Fenris: friendship (+15)
- Up to Isabela: friendship (+10)
- Between Merril: rivalry (+35) and Merril: friendship (+20)
- Between Varric: rivalry (+15) and Varric: friendship (+20)
Rewards summary Edit
- 400 XP (Quest) + 318 XP (Combat) If the Templars were killed: Up to 718 XP
- 2 0 0
- Random coins, junk, potions, equipment
- Unique items:
- The Hypnotist's Staff
Damage: 22 electricity damage
(30 per second)
+8% magic resistance from Decimus
- Edge of Song and Glory
Requires: Weapon and Shield
Damage: 16 physical damage
(30 per second)
+7% physical damage from the Templars, if they are killed
- Dragon Hunter's Hauberk
Requires: 20 strength
+460 fire resistance from the Templars, if they are killed
- Chanters' Staff
Damage: 22 spirit damage
(30 per second)
+21% healing by this character rewarded by Grace, if the mages are freed
- Crafting materials:
If the templars were killed, a group of their order will seek revenge against Hawke in the Act 2 side quest, The Midnight Meeting. Also in Act 2, Hawke will have the option of further helping the templars (Side quest: Bounty Hunter) or mages (Side quest: The Underground Railroad) depending on whose side Hawke chose in the quest.
If the mages are returned to the Circle, Hawke can talk to Thrask in Act 1 in the Gallows courtyard to learn that Meredith ordered three Starkhaven mages executed at random. If Grace is allowed to escape and is not sent back to the Circle, she will eventually be caught and returned to the Circle in the next three years. Regardless of Hawke's decision in this quest, in Act 3 she will team up with Ser Thrask to rebel against Knight-Commander Meredith. She will, however, kill Thrask with blood magic when Hawke comes to intervene.
- Due to the way in which the quest progresses, you will be unable to change party members between the two largest friendship/rivalry gains, which are speaking to Grace and making your final decision. Therefore, certain party members such as Carver, Anders, and Fenris will be subject to a double-check no matter what and must either add to their gains or have them reduced. In Carver's case, for example, the (+10) from refusing to kill Thrask is negated by (+10) if you decide to let the mages go. In short, between these two scenarios and despite your dialogue choices he may only gain +20 Friendship, +10 Rivalry, or no change at all. There is no way around this.
- In some cases, the rumor about this quest may remain in the quests list. This seems to happen if Act of Mercy is accepted before completing A Business Discussion. To fix this you can use gffeditor -> SAVEGAME_CAMPAIGN -> SAVEGAME_JORNAL -> SAVEGAME_JORNAL_ACTIVE_LIST -> 0 -> rumors_act_of_mercy. If you find it, you can right click on full tree of 0 -> delete. You can then add your save back to your savegame folder.