The Dales still bear the scars of the Exalted March: a time long ago when the might of the Orlesian Empire crushed elven forces and drove them from their own land. Although the nation of Orlais now lays claim to the Dales, every branch, stream, and stone preserve the memories of elven history. From the lush forests of the Emerald Graves to the icy highlands of Emprise du Lion, fractured remnants of the ancient elves live on.—: Exploring The Dales
The Founding of the Dales Edit
During the centuries of slavery, after their ancient civilization of Elvhenan fell to the Tevinter Imperium, the elves lost most of their language, history and lore. However, when Andraste and her husband Maferath led their Alamarri army against Tevinter in 1020 TE, the elven slaves led by Shartan rose up and helped fight against their masters.
Shartan was killed when Andraste was betrayed to the Tevinters, but in 1025 TE, Maferath and Andraste's sons gave the elves the Dales as a reward for their part in the war. At that time, the Dales were on the fringe of Tevinter territory and were barely populated, with only the scattered Ciriane people to the west, and the barbarians of Fereldan Valley on the other side of the Frostback Mountains. The freed elves set off for their new home from Tevinter on foot in what would come to be called "The Long Walk". Many perished along the way, but those who survived founded the city of Halamshiral – meaning "the end of the journey" in Elvish. They were joined by elves from across Thedas and began the task of restoring their lost language, religion and lore.
The Dales were patrolled by a border guard known as the Emerald Knights. These elven warriors protected the boundaries of the realm, riding halla mounts and accompanied by their steadfast wolf companions known as "Knight's Guardians." These loyal wolves fought and lived with the Emerald Knights and guarded them as they slept.
The Fall of the Dales Edit
- “Andraste's path was difficult, as was ours. But we did not falter, as she did not. And we will be rewarded, just as she was. Elves were guilty of the greatest sin, of turning from the Maker. But we will show them mercy, for that is what Andraste teaches...when her chant is spoken from all countries of the world, the Maker will return. We are one day closer to his coming. Even Maferath the Betrayer had a part to play. Who are we to say elves do not?” ―From a sermon given by Sister Amity, at the conclusion of the Exalted March of the Dales
In their attempt to regain the lost glory of Elvhenan, the elves cut themselves off from their human neighbors. Throughout the Second Blight, which lasted for most of the Divine Age, the elves of the Dales remained neutral and unhelpful. When the city of Montsimmard was nearly destroyed by darkspawn in 1:25 Divine, it is alleged that an elven army watched from a nearby hilltop and did nothing. Their apparent indifference fueled increasing hostility between the Dales and Orlais after the Blight. For example, rumors spread among the Orlesian people that the heathen elves practiced human sacrifice. According to human accounts, border skirmishes escalated into full-scale war after elven forces attacked the Orlesian town of Red Crossing in 2:9 Glory. The Dalish claim the war started after the Chantry sent templars into their territory after the elves forcibly removed Andrastian missionaries from the Dales.
By 2:10 Glory, elven forces had captured Montsimmard and advanced to the doorstep of Val Royeaux. Elven occupation didn't last long however, and in Orlais' resurgence the chevalier Ser Yves de Chevac struck down the elven forces' commander with a shot to the throat at two hundred feet.
At this point, the Chantry called for a holy war against the elves that became known as the Exalted March of the Dales. Orlais was the only nation to provide troops. The elves were pushed back to the border by Orlesian forces. Halamshiral was conquered and the elves were completely crushed by 2:20 Glory. The Dales were claimed by the Orlesians, who uprooted elven settlements and forbade worship of the elven gods. Elves who accepted the Chantry's offered truce were required to accept the Maker and live in slums, known as alienages, within human settlements, becoming the city elves. Some elves, however, refused to give up their worship or their dream of a homeland. These became the nomadic Dalish, retaining the name of their second lost homeland and vowing to keep the elven language, history and religion alive.
After the Fall Edit
Ville Montevelan in the Exalted Plains was the first settlement humans established in the Dales following their victory of the Exalted March. Soldiers were the earliest residents of the village. In 2:21 Glory, Sister Amity, champion of the Exalted March, laid the foundation stones of the village chantry in a symbolic gesture; the construction was completed in 2:22. Amity lay aside her sword and bow to become Revered Mother Amity; she served in Ville Montevelan until she died peacefully in her sleep in 2:64. Her ashes are interred in the chantry's vault, where dozens of pilgrims still come each year to pay their respects.
Elven ruins still litter the Dales. Some, like Citadelle du Corbeau, have been reclaimed and repurposed by humans.
War of the Lions Edit
If Briala is reconciled with Celene or rules alongside Gaspard:Briala was named Marquise of the Dales by the Orlesian Monarch, in recognition of her 'service' to Orlais. The Dales are once again ruled by an elf for the first time since the Glory Age.
The Dales are the area of southeastern Orlais on the western side of Gherlen's Pass from Ferelden and are approximately the same size as the Bannorn. They are bordered by the Arbor Wilds on the southern end, the Frostback Mountains to the east, and the Waking Sea to the north. They are in the mountain shadow of the Frostbacks, with little rainfall and no major rivers, so most of the present-day human settlements are along the coast.
Notable areas Edit
- Emerald Graves: home to an elven burial site where a tree was planted for each soldier killed in the Exalted Marches.
- Exalted Plains: this is where the elves of old made their last stand before they were defeated.
- Halamshiral: During the time when the Dales were home to the elven nation, their capital and only city was Halamshiral in the northeast. The city is home to the Winter Palace, which has since become an estate in the possession of Empress Celene.
- Emprise du Lion
Development (Inquisition): 
- For a long time (during the development of the game), the Exalted Plains, Emerald Graves, and Emprise Du Lion were all part of one continuous giant level, thus making the area enormous.
- The developers decided to split up the area because they couldn't craft the drastic environmental differences we could see in the final version. The transition from lush forest to frozen highlands wouldn't have felt natural. They felt it really needed more separation, and splitting the level allowed them to drastically boost the visual impact for each space.
- They also had to consider that the level had three separate story arcs, which the player would have had to play through linearly. Splitting the levels allowed the player the option to play in any order or even skip one entirely. From a perspective of balance, dividing the level into three brought each separate space more in line with the size of other levels in the game.
- In the Exalted Plains, the developers wanted to put the player right into an area where the Orlesian civil war was being fought. They wanted to show the devastation—a town in ruin—and also the fact that war wasn't new to the area. They wanted to make sure to represent evidence of the elves and the war that ended their reign in the land.
- The Emerald Graves was their journey into creating a space on the very fringes of civilization: the last roadway before the deep wilds of the forest. The aim was to create a space in which the player would at times feel overwhelmed by the natural world around them, both fauna and flora.
- Emprise Du Lion went through a lot more iterations than the other two (the Exalted Plains and the Emerald Graves), in regards to both the visuals and the narrative. The developers really wanted to ramp things up here, aiming for an extremely striking visual design, as well as creating a scenario that held back no punches. They knew that the players were going to be high level, well-equipped, and likely with a few good battle scars picked up along the way. There was a time when the villagers had more freedom—farms up and running, merchants trading—but they felt that wasn't really creating the impression that these people were near the point of accepting death at the hands of the red templars. The change to a frozen landscape really helped them improve the narrative for the zone. They wanted to have a town on the precipice of death. Combining the red templar threat with this freak blizzard really helped drive that home.
- ↑ Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 46
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Dragon Age: Origins: Prima Official Game Guide, Collector's Edition, p. 342
- ↑ Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 32
- ↑ Codex entry: Knight's Guardian
- ↑ Codex entry: The Dales
- ↑ Codex entry: The Death of Elandrin
- ↑ Bane of Red Crossing
- ↑ Codex entry: Ville Montevelan
- ↑ Mary Kirby (August 28, 2009). "The Dales today" . BioWare Social Network. Retrieved on June 4, 2011.
- ↑ The Bioware Forum-XBox Magazine Dragon Age Inquisition Preview.
- ↑ Dragon Age: Asunder, p. 24.
- ↑ DragonAge.com - Exploring The Dales
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