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Your character is a Dalish (that is, free) elf living in a camp in the southern forests. As the campaign opens up, you're on patrol with your friend Tamlen.
You'll start out in a forest clearing (#1). Three humans will stumble into you. When you question the humans, you'll learn that they just found a cave with some ancient relics in it -- but that the cave is supposedly guarded by a "huge" demon. Tamlen won't think much of the story, but he'll decide that the two of you should check it out. It won't make any difference if you kill the humans or let them go.
You'll find the cave to the west (Exit A). Inside, you'll have to battle some giant spiders and dodge or disarm some traps (T), but eventually you'll come to a strange mirror (#4). A bear-like creature called a bereskarn will attack you when you get close to it, and then afterwards Tamlen will touch the mirror regardless of what you say to him. Something bad will happen then, and you'll be knocked unconscious, but fortunately a Grey Warden named Duncan will find you and take you back to your camp.
Note: You'll lose all of the equipment worn by Tamlen when he touches the mirror, so it's a good idea to strip him down first.
When you wake up in your camp, you'll be greeted by an elf named Fenarel (#7), who will quickly shuffle you off to Keeper Marethari (#6). Marethari will tell you about the Grey Wardens, and about the darkspawn they fight, and then she'll ask you to take Merrill (#17) with you back to the cave so that you can look for Tamlen, who is still missing. Before leaving, you should explore the camp and meet some of your fellow elves. If you talk to Fenarel again, then he'll offer to join you, which will make the final part of the quest easier.
When you return to the forest clearing (#1), you'll find it just how you left it -- except for some darkspawn creatures called genlocks wandering around. You'll have to fight your way through them, and then fight through some more in the elven ruins (including the genlock emissary at #3), but eventually you'll arrive back at the mirror (#4).
When you reach the mirror, you'll find Duncan there. He'll tell you that the mirror has been tainted by the darkspawn, and that Tamlen is probably dead because of that taint. Duncan will then destroy the mirror and leave the ruins, but you shouldn't go with him. Instead, you should continue to explore. You won't ever find Tamlen's body, but you will be able to head west from the mirror and loot some chests and click on a statue (#18).
When you leave the ruins, you'll automatically return to your camp. Keeper Marethari (#6) will ask you to tell Paivel (#15) that Tamlen is dead, so that he can prepare a service. Afterwards, when you return to Marethari, she and Duncan will tell you that your sickness can only be cured by joining the Grey Wardens, and you'll have to accept. Marethari will then give you a
, and you and Duncan will leave the camp for
Note: Just like with Tamlen, when Merrill and Fenarel leave your party, they'll keep their equipment. So you should strip them down before you leave the elven ruins.
1 - Starting Point
2 - Dead Halla
You'll find a dead halla here, plus the wolves that killed it. Between the two, you'll receive the Creatures codex entries for
3 - Statue
Tamlen will recognize the statue as representing one of the gods of the elven people, and he'll speculate that elves and humans must have lived in the ruins together.
4 - Mirror
5 - Sarcophagus
Inside the sarcophagus you'll always find a useful but random object, plus a
Dalish Leather Belt
6 - Keeper Marethari
In the pile of sacks next to Marethari, you'll find a
7 - Fenarel
When you talk to Fenarel, he'll ask you to let him accompany you when you return to the cave to look for Tamlen. For him to actually join you, though, you'll either need to persuade or intimidate Merrill (#17), or simply ask Keeper Marethari (#6).
8 - Wooden Crate
Inside the crate you'll find a
. Leaning against the crate you'll also find a dusty scroll. If you read the scroll then you'll receive the Culture and History codex entry for
Arlathan: Part Two
9 - Pol and Junar
Pol will give you an idea of what it's like to be a city elf.
10 - Ilen
Ilen will act like a shopkeeper. If you're persuasive, then he'll also give you a
. On the aravel next to Ilen, you'll find a carved wooden head. If you click on it, then you'll learn the Magic and Religion codex entry for
June: God of the Craft
11 - Cooking Pit
By the cooking fire you'll meet Ashalle. If you're persuasive, then she'll tell you how your parents died, and she'll give you the key to your mother's chest (#15). Inside the chest you'll find an
and 8 bits. You'll also receive 100 xp for opening the chest.
12 - Maren
Maren will tell you a little bit about the halla. "I admire them for their strength and pride. They are equals, not servants like the shemlen horses." If you click on the broken statue next to Maren, then you'll learn the Magic and Religion codex entry for
Ghilan'nain: Mother of the Halla
13 - Aravel
If you click on the carved wooden head on the aravel, then you'll learn the Magic and Religion codex entry for
Elgar'nan: God of Vengeance
14 - Storage Aravel
You'll find a few chests here, including one chest that requires a key (see #11). Near the chests you'll also find a book and a scroll, which will give you the Culture and History codex entries for
Arlathan: Part One
History of Ferelden: Chapter 2
15 - Central Fire
Next to the fire you'll meet Paivel, who will teach you some of the history of the elves. On a bench near the fire you'll also find a small scroll that will give you the Culture and History codex entry for
The City Elves
16 - Statue
If you click on the statue then you'll learn the Magic and Religion codex entry for
Fen'Harel: The Dread Wolf
17 - Merrill
If you click on the note next to Merrill, then you'll learn the Culture and History codex entry for
18 - Strange Statue
If you click on the statue, then all of the skeletons in the tunnel with you will rise up and attack you. Next to the statue you'll find a locked chest containing some
$ - Treasure Container
T - Trap
- Entrance to the Elven Ruins.