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The Fifth Blight occurred in 9:30 Dragon in the nation of Ferelden. The Blight's origins began with the tainting of the Old God Urthemiel during a botched experiment by the Architect to awaken it. The darkspawn rabble organized into an army under the Archdemon's banner and launched their attack upon the surface.

Hostilities began in southern Ferelden at the edge of the Korcari Wilds. The first major engagement of the war took place at the fortress of Ostagar, where the king of Ferelden, Cailan Theirin, had assembled an army to fight the darkspawn horde. Despite the assurance of the Grey Wardens, the Fereldan commanders did not believe at this time that an Archdemon had risen, and its threat was dismissed.

The Battle of Ostagar proved to be a critical point in the war. The King, the Grey Wardens, and the Fereldan army were betrayed and left to die by Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir during a major darkspawn assault on the fortress. Loghain fled the battlefield with his forces and returned to the capital, where he usurped the throne, refused entry at the border to the Orlesian Grey Warden reinforcements, and sparked the Fereldan Civil War. With Ostagar overrun, the horde were free to enter Ferelden proper.

Ferelden would have been at the mercy of the darkspawn advance were it not for the survival of two Fereldan Grey Wardens and the infiltration into the country by an Orlesian Grey Warden. The Fereldan Grey Wardens were able to evade assassination attempts and assemble a coalition of dwarves, Dalish, golems, Circle mages, templars, soldiers from Redcliffe, and werewolves, to combat the Archdemon's forces. Additionally, the Grey Wardens supported the Fereldan royalists, who removed Loghain from power through diplomatic, rather than military, means, and thus put an end to the civil war.

The Fifth Blight culminated in the Battle of Denerim, where the Archdemon was slain by the Wardens at the top of Fort Drakon. It was the shortest in history, stopped before it had the chance to gain its full momentum.

Prelude Edit

Awakening Urthemiel Edit

The Architect, an intelligent darkspawn, found the Old God Urthemiel and attempted to convert it into a disciple, hoping in doing so to unravel the darkspawn's compulsion to seek the Old Gods at its source. The experiment went wrong however, and Urthemiel was instead tainted and transformed into an Archdemon. With an Archdemon to lead and rally them, the darkspawn began massing into a substantial military force.

The lands of southern Ferelden became the focal point of the darkspawn's surface invasion. The horde emerged from the Deep Roads into the forests of the Korcari Wilds. Whether by coincidence or design, Ferelden was an ideal target. The nation was weakened from having driven the occupying Orlesians from its borders three decades prior. More importantly, the Grey Wardens had only recently been permitted to re-enter Ferelden, and their numbers were few.

The first hints of the Blight were sensed by the Grey Wardens in 9:25 Dragon,[1] but the bulk of the horde wasn't detected until much later. Dwarven scholars, however, place the beginning of it earlier, in 9:13, with the fall of Bownammar. According to the Memories, the horde raised by Urthemiel was more numerous than ever before.[2]

Grey Warden involvement Edit

Grey Wardens had long been entrusted with the task of slaying Archdemons during Blights. With so few present in Ferelden, the Warden-Commander, Duncan, undertook a search for new recruits. Prior to the first major engagements at Ostagar, Grey Warden candidates were searched for in Denerim, Redcliffe, Highever, Orzammar, the Circle of Magi of Lake Calenhad, and the Brecilian Forest.

When informed about the Blight, King Cailan reached out the Orlesian Grey Wardens for help. Among the Wardens Cailan contacted was Clarel de Chanson.[3] The Fereldan Grey Wardens were to be reinforced by 200 or so Grey Wardens and four legions of Chevaliers[4] sent from Orlais. The Orlesian Grey Wardens, however, were prevented from entering Ferelden by Loghain.

Treaties Edit

Main article: The Grey Wardens' Cache

Prior to the Battle of Ostagar, the Grey Warden Joining candidates, including the Warden, ventured into the Korcari Wilds with Alistair and retrieved ancient treaties as part of the preparations for their initiation. Alistair and the Warden retained the treaties and acted independently to deliver them after the disastrous battle at Ostagar. The long-standing treaties compelled the Dalish elves, the Circle mages, and the Orzammar dwarves to aid the Grey Wardens during a Blight.

Orzammar Interregnum Edit

Main article: A Paragon of Her Kind

In 9:30 Dragon, dwarven society in the city of Orzammar was fractured by the death of King Endrin Aeducan. There was a power struggle in Orzammar following this event, meaning there was no king who could be compelled to assist the Grey Wardens in fighting the Blight. Two serious contenders emerged during the political infighting: Lord Harrowmont and Bhelen Aeducan. The decision on which of them would accede to the throne would ultimately lie with the Paragons.

Dalish elf-Werewolf conflict Edit

Main article: Nature of the Beast

The Dalish elf clan led by Keeper Zathrian was encountered by the Grey Wardens in the Brecilian Forest during the Fifth Blight. The Dalish were unable to guarantee their assistance, however, as clan members had recently become afflicted with lycanthropy and were under attack from werewolves. Further Grey Warden investigation led to the discovery of the Lady of the Forest, the leader of the werewolves, and of the curse's origins with Zathrian.

A revolt on the Circle Tower Edit

Main article: Broken Circle

A chaotic situation occurred at the Circle of Magi shortly after the Battle of Ostagar. Uldred, one of the senior mages present at the Battle of Ostagar, had survived the battle and managed to return to the Circle. He attempted to persuade the Circle to support Loghain, but when Wynne, another senior enchanter who also survived the battle, revealed Loghain's treachery, the Circle denied their support. Uldred then attempted to stage a coup and became possessed by a pride demon. The Circle Tower was subsequently overrun by abominations and demons, which the Grey Wardens had to deal with before either the templars or the Circle mages could assist them against the Blight.

Conflicts of the Fifth Blight Edit

Siege of Castle Cousland Edit

Main article: Siege of Castle Cousland

Under the command of Arl Rendon Howe, Amaranthine's forces occupied the Teyrnir of Highever and laid siege to Castle Cousland, while Teyrn Bryce Cousland was mustering his troops to join the war effort at Ostagar. The conflict resulted in the near-annihilation of the Cousland family line and the conquest of Highever by Arl Howe, who later became Teyrn of the land under the de facto rule of Loghain Mac Tir. Though fought shortly before the beginning of the Fifth Blight and the Fereldan Civil War, it was later a major factor in the discord among the Fereldan nobility, not least because of Loghain's support of Howe and his actions.

Battle of Ostagar Edit

Main article: Battle of Ostagar

The darkspawn first exposed their true numbers in 9:30 during the devastating Battle of Ostagar.[5] The army of Ferelden assembled at Ostagar under the command of King Cailan in an attempt to break the darkspawn horde. A plan was made in which the King's army would draw the darkspawn horde into a skirmish. At a pre-arranged signal, Teyrn Loghain would then flank the horde with his troops. When the moment arrived for the plan to be put into motion, things went awry. The tower was overrun by darkspawn, delaying the lighting of the signal. When the signal was lit, the Teyrn retreated. This action resulted in the loss of the king's army, the king himself, and all but two of Ferelden's Grey Wardens.

Darkspawn advance Edit

The defeat at Ostagar left Ferelden increasingly undefended, and the darkspawn were able to push northwards into the nation's heartland, unopposed by any force of significant size.[6] Ferelden soldiers were still active in attempting to protect the roads from darkspawn, but could do little against the main horde. Many villages and towns were attacked by darkspawn war bands advancing ahead of the horde, spreading terror and disrupting the nation's supply lines and attempts at defense.[7]

A few days after the Battle of Ostagar,[8] the village of Lothering was overrun by the advancing horde. Only a handful of survivors were able to escape before the darkspawn attacked the village. Another host of the horde also attacked the town of Gwaren in the east. Most of the population of Gwaren managed to survive, however, as they left the town with ships.[7] Meanwhile, the bulk of the darkspawn horde marched to the southwest, laying waste to the southern lands,[9] including the village of Honnleath[10] and the arling of the West Hills.[9]

As the horde advanced, the land itself began to be corrupted. The skies turned black, vegetation began to die, ghouls and strange mutant creatures began to roam in the wilderness, and the blight disease spread across the kingdom faster than the horde.[7]

Once the south was taken over, the bulk of the darkspawn horde began to slowly move into the heartlands. The Southron Hills and the southern Bannorn were overrun,[11] and a host composed of 2500 darkspawn even got as far as to Edgehall and the frontier with Orlais near Gherlen's Pass. This host was stopped by a coalition of local banns and mercenaries in a hard won battle.[12] Another branch of the horde continued north across Lake Calenhad and attacked Crestwood. This host of darkspawn was stopped by Crestwood's mayor, who flooded the old Crestwood village to kill the beasts and the blight diseased refugees who were hiding in the nearby caverns.[13]

Fereldan Civil War Edit

Main article: Fereldan Civil War

Following King Cailan's death at Ostagar, Loghain usurped the throne and declared himself Regent. This caused major upheaval as some of Ferelden's nobles, either disbelieving his explanation of the disaster at Ostagar or feeling that Loghain was opportunistically grabbing a throne he had no claim to, refused to acknowledge his authority and demanded he resign the regency. Loghain's refusal to do so and his violent, heavy-handed tactics to force the nobility to comply to his demands sparked off a civil war.

As part of his propaganda, Loghain blamed the Grey Wardens for the king's defeat at Ostagar and branded them outlaws. He then hired an Antivan Crow assassin to kill the two remaining Wardens in Ferelden. Meanwhile, his closest ally, Arl Howe, usurped the Arling of Denerim and engaged in the torture and imprisonment of subversive nobles, as well as other intrigues, during Loghain's reign.

Having lost contact with Ferelden's Grey Wardens, the Grey Wardens of Orlais decided to dispatch a Warden native to Ferelden, Riordan, to infiltrate the country and find out what had become of them. After reaching Denerim, Riordan soon fell into a trap set by Rendon Howe, and was made prisoner and tortured by the treacherous Arl.[14]

Meanwhile, the Orlesian Wardens remained vigilant at the border, making no attempts to enter Ferelden by force. From their perspective, if they expended themselves against Loghain, then they would risk the Blight devastating Thedas once again. They decided to save their forces to fight the advancing darkspawn horde, even if that meaning sacrificing Ferelden to the Blight.[15]

The civil war was resolved when Arl Eamon Guerrin, the Teyrn's major political opponent, called for a Landsmeet, resulting in the reunification of Ferelden under the crown.

Some time before the Landsmeet, Riordan had been rescued by the Fereldan Wardens. Realizing they were still novice members of the Order, he shared with them all the knowledge he had about the Blight.

Impact of the Blight and the Civil War on FereldenEdit

The advance of the darkspawn horde and the civil war caused a civil breakdown in the kingdom. Banditry and brigandage became commonplace with gangs of highwaymen taking advantage of the chaos to prey upon refugees, trade caravans and undefended townships,[16] as banns and their soldiers were busy fighting against each other, and were unable to protect their lands.[7] After the news of the death of King Cailan spreaded across the kingdom, riots and foot shortages became commonplace. Humans usually attacked alienages to steal any food the elves may had.[17]

Denerim citizens began to fall ill to the taint as blight diseased refugees sought safe shelter in the city.[7] A virulent outbreak spread quickly in the Denerim Alienage, killing many elves within days.[18]

Battle of Redcliffe Edit

The Grey Warden allies gathered at Redcliffe. Redcliffe Village was under attack by several darkspawn ogres, emissaries, and numerous darkspawn troops. After a brief siege at the fortress's gates, the attacking force was pushed back. However, the attack on Redcliffe was a strategic feint: the bulk of the horde was actually marching on Denerim, with the Archdemon Urthemiel finally revealing itself at its head. After the Warden annihilated the enemy at Redcliffe, the allied army quickly set off to meet the Archdemon's main force at the capital.

Battle of Denerim Edit

Main article: Battle of Denerim (conflict)

In 9:31,[19] the darkspawn horde, led by Urthemiel himself, reached Denerim and attacked before the reinforcements from Redcliffe could arrive. It was estimated to be three times bigger than the allied army the Grey Wardens had formed. The city gates, the elven alienage and the market district saw the fiercest fighting until the hurlock generals were slain by the Warden. Fort Drakon was captured by the darkspawn, and was reinforced following the downing of the Archdemon, who had been brought down by injuries inflicted by Riordan atop the fortress's roof, unable to escape by air. A small team led by the Warden assaulted the fortress and, despite the efforts of the darkspawn garrison to protect it, Urthemiel was slain. With his death, the darkspawn horde, bereft of leadership and direction, lost the will to fight on, and as the bulk of the Fereldan Coalition forces counterattacked, the darkspawn abandoned Denerim.

The Fifth Blight had ended before most of Thedas knew it had begun.

Aftermath Edit

See also: Epilogue (Origins) and Darkspawn Civil War

With the death of the Archdemon the horde scattered, but many of the more powerful darkspawn survived to organize small war bands that warred with each other, and terrorized settlements along the coast of the Waking Sea.[20] The Orlesian Grey Wardens were in charge of chasing off those stragglers during the Thaw Hunt.[21] The most violent hunts took place in the Arling of Amaranthine.[22] The darkspawn would later emerge again in significant numbers under the command of two new intelligent darkspawn, the Mother and the Architect, who were engaged in a civil war over ideology.

However, immediately following the Battle of Denerim, the focus among Fereldans was the victory over the Blight. The nation had been saved and embarked in a slow process of rebuilding, while all Ferelden rose up in joy for the coronation of its new ruler (either King Alistair, Queen Anora, or both ruling together). The Warden, who was responsible for leading the effort that ended the Blight, was acclaimed as the Hero of Ferelden, and accorded the highest honour across Thedas. The Fereldan Grey Wardens began to rebuild their presence in the kingdom with the assistance of their comrades from Orlais. They were granted Vigil's Keep and the surrounding lands of Amaranthine for this purpose.

The lands of Ferelden were ravaged during the Blight, however, and the recovery of the environment was slow. In 9:32, efforts were made to rebuilt Lothering,[23] however by 9:34 the town was finally abandoned as the Blight had poisoned the land. It is believed that it will take decades for the region, now known as the Blightlands, to recover; while others believe the land is corrupted beyond recovery.[24] The rest of the kingdom didn't fared better. Most regions were still recovering by 9:37,[25] while others, such as Crestwood, were still in ruins by 9:41 Dragon.[26]

Perhaps the most surprising consequence of the Blight, however, would not be felt until 9:37 Dragon. During the Blight, many Fereldans fled north to the Free Marches, where many would stay for years to come. Amongst the refugees was a young human by the name of Hawke, who would become a central figure in the politics of Kirkwall, rising to prominence and eventually becoming the future Champion of Kirkwall.

Notable veterans Edit

See also Edit

Codex icon DA2 Codex entry: A Study of the Fifth Blight, Vol. One
Codex icon DA2 Codex entry: A Study of the Fifth Blight, Vol. Two
Codex icon DA2 Codex entry: The Hero of Ferelden

References Edit

  1. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 25
  2. Codex entry: Stalata Negat
  3. According to dialogue with Stroud in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
  4. According to Loghain during The Landsmeet.
  5. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 159
  6. According to Varric's narration during The Destruction of Lothering.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Mentioned in rumors from Bodahn Feddic or the Bartender, and the patrons in the taverns of Lothering and Redcliffe, or outside the gates of Orzammar.
  8. As hinted by Carver during The Destruction of Lothering.
  9. 9.0 9.1 According to Arl Wulf during The Landsmeet.
  10. As seen in the quest The Golem in Honnleath.
  11. As seen in the quests Caravan Down and Desperate Haven
  12. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Game Master's Guide Set 3, p. 90
  13. Codex entry: Letter Of Confession.
  14. See the quest Rescue the Queen
  15. Codex entry: A Fine Time to Close a Border
  16. As seen when the Warden arrives to Lothering for the first time
  17. Dragon Age: Last Flight, chapter 6.
  18. According to dialogue with Shianni during Unrest in the Alienage.
  19. Dragon Age: Inquisition Official Strategy Guide, p.5
  20. See the epilogue
  21. According to dialogue with a romanced Warden Alistair in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
  22. Dragon Age: Warden's Fall
  23. According to the World map in the Witch Hunt DLC
  24. Letter: A Message from Lothering
  25. According to Alistair during the quest King Alistair
  26. See the Village of Crestwood in Dragon Age: Inquisition
  27. Dragon Age: Knight Errant, number 1