After literal years of neglect, a couple of weeks ago, I fired up my Loral Mahariel game and finished it, all the way through Witch Hunt. See my Tumblr post, linked above, for a couple of snaps. My previous shots of Loral are from my brief attempted at playing DAO on my Mac, which did not go well, so I recreated him on my console (which is why he looks a little different, although I think I got him pretty close). But I was unable to get any better pictures, and most unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to take a good snap of his reunion with Morrigan. I am quite fond of him in the Blackblade armor, though.
Thoughts on Loral’s endgame and DLC choices:
When last I wrote in detail about Loral, he was facing the truth of what happened to Tamlen, and some of the potential consequences of his actions. I wouldn’t say the encounter changed him completely, but it did leave him a little more open to exploring alliances with humans when it seemed advantages. So after getting all of the treaties taken care of (he put Harrowmont on the throne, mostly out of indifference, and destroyed the Anvil despite Morrigan’s objections -- it stank too much of slavery for his comfort), he was quite receptive to Anora’s suggestion of an alliance. Although he and Alistair never became friends, relations thawed between them somewhat (especially after Fort Drakon), and he couldn’t see forcing Alistair onto a throne he didn’t want. Anora seemed capable and no worse than any other human monarch as far as the elves were concerned. He also unbent enough to talk to nobles and actually won the Landsmeet, then executed Loghain with no regrets (though tempted to conscripting him as a punishment worse than death, he decided he wasn’t willing to alienate Alistair that much again).
Next was the return to Redcliffe -- Zathrian was there, to my surprise, and he and Loral chatted a bit -- and Riordan’s revelation, and then of course Morrigan’s offer. Loral killed Flemeth for Morrigan’s sake, and though she was grateful, she started imposing more distance between them: refusing to share his tent, expressing anger and frustration when he wanted to talk about their relationship, but also clearly reluctant to end things between them. When she told him about the ritual, her behavior began to make more sense to him, even though he was heartbroken at the thought that she would be gone forever after the battle. Still, he agreed to the ritual -- he accepted the necessity of a Warden’s death to stop the Blight and was willing to make the sacrifice if need be, but all things considered, he would rather live. And he couldn’t imagine giving up the opportunity for one last night together.
The battle of Denerim was fairly straightforward. He asked Anora to grant lands to the Dalish (if I knew this was the origin-specific boon, I had forgotten), and said he planned to go back to his people. Although I haven’t decided exactly how this will work -- I think I need to see the clan’s travel play out in DA2 -- my sense is that he was never able to settle back in to the daily life of a Dalish hunter, so when the Wardens asked him to take charge at Vigil’s Keep, he agreed.
Awakening went about as well as you might expect for an elf who is impatient with humans, but trying to atone for his past mistakes -- Redcliffe in particular weighs on him now, which is why he fought to save Amarathine when the time came. Unfortunately, most of the final conversations never fired, and I couldn’t get Velanna’s personal quest to trigger, so he ended up befriending only Anders, although he recruited everyone. I did find Velanna’s early interactions with him interesting, and I headcanon a closer relationship between them, even though he never did find out why she left her clan. Once the Architect and the Mother were both dead, Loral left Vigil’s Keep, but rather than attempting to return to Dalish, somewhat to his own surprise he stayed with the Wardens. A year of traveling around Ferelden helping people, even sometimes against his will, had given him a taste for it, and so he thought he’d stay where he could do the most good. Until one day, when he ran into Alistair, who mentioned that Morrigan had been seen in Ferelden.
Witch Hunt could probably take up a whole post on its own. I played through it quite quickly -- in less than an hour -- but the combination of a Mahariel and the romance with Morrigan gives the story far more emotional punch than the other times I’ve played it. Ariane interacts somewhat differently with a fellow Dalish, and she asks about the ring (which of course Loral wore throughout both Awakening and Witch Hunt) as well as his feelings about coming back to the ruins, to this place where his life changed forever. For better? For worse? Loral doesn’t even know any more. But he does know that he wouldn’t go back change it, even if he could.
The confrontation at the eluvian was quite satisfying (more satisfying than their goodbye in Denerim, which I suspect didn’t fire properly). I hadn’t decided for sure what Loral would do upon meeting her, but when the moment came, it felt right for him to ask to join her. She said yes, and they stepped through the mirror and out of the story... at least until DAI, about which I am now wildly curious. But it’s going to be awhile before I get there -- I need to play out my Adaar first, as well as DA2 with Loral’s backstory (except for romancing Isabela with a female mage Hawke, I haven’t 100% worked out a concept for that game yet). So for now, I say goodbye to Loral and his world, although I’m sure I will revisit it in fic from time to time.
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