- See also: Character: Sophia Dryden
"Sophia Dryden is Ferelden's light and her most brilliant jewel; nothing on this earth can ever quench her fire."
Arlessa Sophia Dryden was the young Arland's rival for the throne of Ferelden. Dryden was a strong and charismatic leader with much support from the Bannorn. When Arland finally won the crown, Dryden refused to relent. She pushed her claim, was caught, and accused of treason. Her sympathizers continued to support her, however. In order to appease them, Dryden was spared execution, and forced to join the Grey Wardens instead.
Dryden survived the Joining and dazzled the Grey Wardens at Soldier's Peak with her leadership skills and charm. She eventually rose through the ranks to become Warden-Commander of Ferelden. Before Commander Dryden, the Grey Wardens were seen as a relic of an older time and an unnecessary drain on the nobles' coffers. Dryden, though, with her political connections, reinvigorated the Wardens and rapidly increased their numbers.
In the meantime, Arland proved himself a devious king, willing to go to brutal lengths to silence his opponents. Arland's reign of terror grew worse with each passing year, and some of the banns approached Commander Dryden in desperation, begging her to intercede. She agreed, and thus was the rebellion against King Arland born.
Arland learned of the rebellion and took steps to end it. He publicly suspended all tithing to the Grey Wardens and declared they were no longer welcome in Ferelden. Some of the Wardens, mindful that they were supposed to remain politically neutral, felt disgraced by Dryden's involvement in Fereldan politics and left her side even as the king's forces lay siege to Soldier's Peak. The siege took months and ended with the death of Sophia Dryden.
--From the personal files of Levi Dryden, merchant