Dragon Age: Origins (mentioned only)
- See Dalish elves for the modern remnant of the civilization of the Dales.
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 an uncharted Boreal Forest called 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.
During the time when the Dales were home to the elven nation, their capital and only city was Halamshiral in the northeast.
The Founding of the Dales Edit
—From Codex entry: The Long Walk
- "Only sixty-five of our group made it to Halamshiral. Some gave up. Some sickened, especially the little ones. Bandits stalked us. My mother forgive me, I had to steal food. A child fought me for extra scraps of bread. A few days later, I carried her for miles after her legs gave out. She died shivering in my arms.
- I used to have a master, a mage. He fed me well, never beat me, even taught me how to read so I could do his accounts. But if he had a theory or a spell he wanted to test out, he'd get out his daggers, have the other servants tie me to a post, and carve furrows into my skin. I was so afraid. Every time, I was sure I would die. But at worst I'd collapse, get bandaged up, and lie in bed too weak to move for days. The other slaves visited me in secret to survey the damage. I'd heal just enough before he needed blood again.
- That is why I traveled from Val Dorma to the Dales with nothing but rags on my back. That is why there were one hundred and five of us when we set out, all elven. That is why I fell to my knees and wept when we crossed through the gates of my new home, a village for my people."
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 barbarian 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 barbarians of Ferelden 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 – "the end of the journey". They were joined by elves from across Thedas and began the task of restoring their lost language, religion and lore.
The Fall of the Dales Edit
—From Codex entry: The Dales
- Like dragons they fly, glory upon wings.
- Like dragons they savage, fearsome pretty things.
- --Unknown poet, written of humans shortly before the fall of the Dales
In their attempt to regain the lost glory of Elvhenan, the elves cut themselves off from their human neighbours. 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 the elven army simply watched from nearby. Partly because of this, the end of the Blight saw increasing hostility between the Dales and Orlais. According to human accounts, border skirmishes escalated into full-scale war after the elven forces attacked the Orlesian town of Red Crossing in 2:9 Glory. However, there is also reason to suspect the Chantry, which objected to the worship of the elven pantheon, of inciting fear and hatred of the elves by allegedly spreading false rumours of human sacrifice. The Dalish claim the war started after the Chantry sent templars into their sovereign territory after the elves kicked their missionaries out of the Dales.  By 2:10 Glory, elven forces had captured Montsimmard and were on the doorstep of Val Royeaux.
At this point, the Chantry called for a holy war against the elves that became known as the Exalted March of the Dales. While the elves eventually sacked Val Royeaux and pushed well into human lands, Halamshiral was conquered and the elves were completely crushed by 2:20 Glory. The Dales were appropriated 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 their own homeland. These became the Dalish, retaining the name of their second lost homeland and vowing to keep elven language, lore and religion alive.
Though the Dales had at least one Lord called Hassandriel in 2:7 Glory, towards the end of the elven nation, it was in essence based on an aristocratic/oligarchic model rather than simply a monarchy.
As the Dales continued, its citizens became increasingly isolationist, perhaps simply because they had learned to distrust humans during their long slavery, or perhaps because they were seeking to regain the immortality that legend says contact with the humans had robbed them of. Certainly Chantry missionaries would have been unwelcome in a land trying to re-establish the old elven religion, but historians also claim that the elves refused to trade with their neighbors and that "Emerald Knights" were posted at the borders to forestall visitors.
- Main article: Elven Language
Along with their lore, much of the language of the ancient elves was lost with the fall of Elvhenan and the long enslavement of the elves by the Tevinter Imperium. The elves who founded the Dales did so with the intention of regaining their language. Some words still survive and are used by modern-day elves, primarily the Dalish.
- Main article: Elven Pantheon
Ancient elves worshipped a pantheon of five gods and four goddesses who fell silent before the fall of Arlathan, trapped in heaven by Fen'Harel, the trickster god. Worship of this pantheon declined during the centuries of slavery under the Tevinter Imperium, but was revived in the Dales. Tales of humans captured and sacrificed to these gods are almost certainly Chantry propaganda designed to incite fear and hatred of the "heathen" elves.
- ↑ Kirby, Mary (August 28, 2009). "The Dales today". BioWare Forums. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
- ↑ From a note titled "Long Walk to Halamshiral," Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Vol. 1, page 28.
- ↑ Prima Official Game Guide, Collector's Edition p342. See also pre-Ages.
- ↑ According to conversation with Lanaya, regarding the relationship between humans and elves, and the downfall of the Dales.
- ↑ Codex entry: The Dales
- ↑ Dates from the Prima Official Game Guide, Collector's Edition, p343. Reproduced in the Ages article.
- ↑ Codex entry: Uthenera
- ↑ According to David Gaider on the Bioware Social Network at http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/371/index/16738122/3
- ↑ Codex entry: The Dales
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