I just recently pulled up a save from DA2 to check something, and it occurred to me that it's very easy to get lost in Kirkwall. I evidently saved in middle of Hightown, and since I could not remember how to pull up a map, I wandered around, trying to find my home. After walking around for a while and ending up in front of The Blooming Rose twice, I stood in front of a familiar door.

"This must be it!" I thought. "Here we go. Say hi to Mum!"

I entered, and there was... Fenris.

Putting aside the fact that Hightown looks like an American suburbia with cookie-cutter houses, it turns out that Hawke and Fenris are neighbours. That never occurred to me while I was playing, but I bet there were occasions in which Leandra tried to make scones, ran out of sugar, and instead of using three billion sovereigns that Hawke manages to get from just randomly walking around Kirkwall, she thought "oh hey, I'll just borrow some" like a good Amell she is, went to her neighbour's house, knocked on the door, and asked to borrow a cup of sugar. Then Fenris opens the door. Here's how the scene looked like in my head:

"Oh, hello Leandra."
"Hello Fenris. You look a bit cheerful today. Something nice going on?"
"Not much. Your son/daughter brings me to weird places. Anyway, did you want something?"
"Oh yes. Would you mind if I borrow a cup of sugar?"
"Sure thing, Mrs. Hawke. Let me get some for you. May I take the measuring cup?"
"Oh thank you so much! You're such a sweet boy."
-Fenris returns with sugar-
"Here you are, Mrs. Hawke. Baking something?"
"Fruit scones with raisins and citrus peels. Would you like some, my dear?"
"That'd be lovely. Thank you so much, Mrs. Hawke. Your brandy fruit cake was amazing."
"Oh, it's nothing, dear. I'll send my son/daughter with some when I'm done. Thanks again!"

Silliest. Scene. Ever. Of course, Leandra won't mind the dead, rotting bodies and smashed-up decor and wine stains on the walls, because evidently no one seems to. Hawke cares so much about the estate that (s)he needs two curtains per window, but says nothing about the broken tiles and dead bodies that HAS to be smelly by Act II in his/her neighbour's home. Hightown residents must be very tolerant.

But I did wish for some variation in the scenes. You can't get lost in Denerim, for instance; the street behind Wade's shop looks very different from the alley that leads to The Wonders of Thedas. Maybe it's just me...

Anyway, after seeing Fenris getting betrayed and being sold to Danarius and getting irked with wandering around my home turf trying to find my home like a lost three-year-old, a thought came up. You can sell Fenris for measly few gold pieces (if Danarius wanted his "shaggy" wolf - pun intended - back that much, why didn't he send, say, a hundred gold pieces? He's so cheap) at 100 friendship, which surprised me. That's really out of character, isn't it? Wouldn't it make more sense if, say, 100 RIVALRY Hawke had that option, but 100 friendship Hawke couldn't?

So I came up with an excuse for Hawke to sell Fenris. Not that I condone it, mind you. As I said before elsewhere, I hate the wheelie because my Hawke kept saying things I didn't mean for her to say; this was a prime example. The wheelie said "take him", so I thought Hawke meant "take him, Fenris, and hack him into bits then feed him to my dog", not "take him, Danarius, and oil him up and you can send me 3 gold bits in payment instead of the 300 that you clearly make his worth to be". So I clicked on that, and lo and behold, Merrill's begging me not to do it, Fenris looks like a beaten puppy, Anders is dancing a jig behind me and I'm going "NOOOOOO!". I had to reload a save. I lost 20 minutes of playtime. Thanks, Bioware.

But rant aside... here is what I wrote. Part of the microfiction challenge (700 words or less). Hope you enjoy it.

Lost in Kirkwall

It was undeniable that whoever designed Kirkwall severely lacked in imagination. Or so Hawke thought. People made fun of Merrill for getting lost and accidentally wandering into Darktown, but what did Anders know about the terrors of Kirkwall in its uniformity? It wasn't like Anders ever left Darktown by himself anyway. That git.

So, as Hawke was trying to get back to the home in Hightown, it occurred that he was lost. Completely. Everywhere he looked, it looked exactly the same. White walls, same doors. Even the heraldries looked the same unless examined up close.

After wandering around in circles for a good half hour, he gave up, and wandered over to… hey, this looked familiar! This must be his house!

So he yanked open the door and…

A smell hit his nose.



Hawke pulled out a relatively clean handkerchief – relatively, because Varric evidently used it to wipe up something that was clearly on the tabletop of The Hanged Man – and held his nose. The stench was plain awful. Rotting meat. Maggots. Flies. Oozing pus. All sorts of unsavoury thoughts came with the stench, and Hawke wondered how the neighbours managed to not complain.

"What are you doing here?" a sullen voice interrupted his thoughts, and Hawke turned. He understood that this couldn't be his home, and just who exactly owned this place. Fenris.

"Maker's sake, Fenris," Hawke complained, his voice muffled through the firmly clamped down nose and the handkerchief, "would it kill you to clean up the dead bodies! It smells worse than the Deep Roads here!"

"I suppose not," said the elven warrior, pouting prettily, "but I like this décor."

"You call this DÉCOR? It's dead bodies that's at least three years old and broken furniture! Hanged Man has better furnishings than this! How come your neighbours don't complain?"

"They do," said a woman's voice. The two men turned to see Aveline, Captain of the Guard of Kirkwall, standing by the door by the mysterious horn standing on the pedestal that made the companions appear and disappear at random. She held a huge handkerchief by her nose. "I've been getting all sorts of reports. You said you'd be good, Fenris."

"I have!" said the Tevinter elf, whining.

"THEN CLEAN UP!" Hawke and Aveline bellowed.

Fenris pouted again. "But… but…!"

"But what, Fenris!"

"But… they talk to me!" Fenris wailed. "I can't sleep without them! They sing me lullabies! And, and, Bob over there?" he pointed at a dessicating corpse in the corner; it was so badly decomposing that neither Aveline nor Hawke knew what it originally was. All they knew was, it smelled terrible. And was that a maggot as large as Aveline's thumb crawling out of the eyesocket?

"Bob… Bob tells me stories!" Fenris yowled. "They tuck me into bed! And tell me stories about teddy bears and bunnies!"

Hawke and Aveline decided to leave as soon as possible, leaving Fenris wailing to himself. They rushed out the door, unable to breathe in the fetid air any longer. As soon as they got out, Aveline gasped for breath, and Hawke leaned onto the wall.

"I think the lyrium got to his head," Aveline noted, but she got no reply. Hawke was looking into the distance. There was one thought in his mind, and one thought only:

I have to get rid of him. I wonder if it's contagious.

"And this is your new master then? The Champion of Kirkwall? Quite handsome."

"If you want him, he's yours."

Fenris looked at him. "WHAT?"

Hawke looked back. "Dude, man, I've told you again and again that the dead bodies have got to go. And did you listen? Noooo." The Champion looked at the Tevinter mage. "He's all yours. And do instill some hygiene in him, will you?"

So there you go. Mystery solved. Now I shall go hide before the Fenris fangirls find me and start beating me up with Blade of Mercy replicas.

By the way, did you know that Sword of Mercy is actually real? It is usually housed in the Tower of London, and is carried between Sword of Spiritual Justice and Sword of Temporal Justice during the British coronations. It is said that it was the blade of Edward the Confessor, and the blade is snapped in two, which earned the name curtana (it is also called cortana, not to be confused with the character from Halo). It looks like this:


The middle blade is the Sword of Mercy, now part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Evidently legend (legend? What legend?) holds that the tip was broken off by an angel to prevent wrongful killing; not that it'll kill anybody, it's housed in a glass case in the Tower. But I believe this is what the riddle asked by Archon Hessarian in The Gauntlet refers to. Here is the riddle:

Q: She wields the broken sword, and separates true kings from tyrants.
A: Mercy.