You are born into the world a royal bastard. Your mother is gone shortly after your birth; you’re told that she was simply a serving maid the king fancied, and once you were born, she lost her life. All that remains of her is an amulet, a trinket that serves as a painful reminder of the fact that you never had a loving mother to care for you. You think of your mother quite often. In your younger years, your thoughts are more geared towards how angry you are that you never got to have a mother while others lived happily with a doting mother. In a fit of rage, you took her amulet and sent it spiraling into a wall, breaking it into pieces upon impact. You regret doing that now that you’re a young man because no matter how hard you wish you could, you can’t take that moment back.
King Maric Theirin of Ferelden cannot look after his bastard son, especially not when he has his own legitimate heir to look after instead. Instead, you’re brought up by Arl Eamon Guerrin and his wife Isolde. You met your biological father once in passing when he went to visit the arl, but he paid you no mind and moved on quickly. You don’t know what you were expecting there. You doubt he even realized you were his son. You don’t dwell much on that brief interaction; you can’t afford to wish for a dad who will never be there for you.
Especially not when he dies some years later after your first and last meeting, leaving his legitimate heir to take over his place.
Eamon is the closest thing you have to a dad in your youth, but his wife keeps him from getting too close to you. Isolde looks at the way he takes care of you and she thinks your his bastard, and she loathes you because of it. She makes you sleep out in the barn with the hounds, and she looks at you only with a scowl on her face. Life with the Arl was difficult and made you yearn for something more like a real family. But life with Eamon was better than being a Templar. Oh, how miserable that was.
When Isolde became pregnant with her and Eamon’s first child, they saw no use in keeping you around for much longer. It was off to a monastery with you to become a servant to the Maker Himself: you were to become a Templar, a knight dedicated to keeping mages in check. The Chantry dictates that magic must serve man, not rule him; thus, all mages are to be locked up in towers delightfully named “Circles of Magi,” and a Templar’s job is to make sure they don’t escape -- and to make sure that they don’t turn into abominations by dealing with demons and blood magic.
You hated Eamon for sending you off. You hated Isolde for looking at you so scornfully. You hated both of them so much. You were hardly ten years old and they decided that you weren’t worth their time. It hurt. By the Maker, such an emotional wound to someone so young hurt. To have the only scraps of family you had throw you away so carelessly was quite possibly the worst thing that could have happened to you. Losing everything you had in one fell swoop. You suppose you didn’t have much to begin with, but it still hurt to be cast aside with no remorse.
On occasion, Eamon tried to visit you at the monastery. You were always short with him whenever he appeared, though. You had no patience for a man who was so ready to throw you to the wolves. You consistently brushed him off and told him to go away, not once genuinely appreciating the time you spent together. With time, he showed up less and less often, up until he simply stopped coming altogether. By the time he no longer visited you, you finally regretted being so off-putting towards him.
Life in the monastery was far from enjoyable for you. The sisters spewed religious words relentlessly and all of the other initiates couldn’t stand you. The noble initiates called you a bastard and paid you no further attention while the ones coming from poorer families thought you acted as if you were better than them. Nobody looked at you with anything other than bitterness and contempt, and you wished you could have been anywhere but that monastery.
At some point early on, a sword was shoved into one hand and a shield in the other. From there, you were taught to defend yourself and attack others. You suppose the monastery was good for teaching you not only how to fight, but also in disrupting the abilities of mages. It was taxing and difficult to learn all of those things in a span of nine years, but you managed to do it. The more you trained as a Templar, the less you wanted to be one, though. You didn’t feel welcome by your peers, and you felt utterly uncomfortable about the idea of keeping mages in check. You only killed one possessed mage in your training, and that was enough to shake you up about the idea of being a Templar.
And then he came and saved you.
A man named Duncan came to the monastery representing the Grey Wardens, expressing his dire need for more recruits. He took one look at you and he decided you were the one he wanted to recruit. There was much arguing and going back and forth between him and the Grand Cleric in charge of the monastery, as she cited that you hadn’t become a full Templar yet and she feared that the secrets you had learned would spill upon your departure. However, as a Grey Warden, it was Duncan’s right to recruit whoever he wanted, and you ended up leaving with him to the tower of Ostagar.
He whisked you away from a life of being a Templar, and you could never thank him enough for that.
You left with him and found out that you had to undergo the Joining to become a full-fledged Grey Warden. The Joining, it turns out, consists of drinking ghoulish darkspawn blood, which will either kill you or make you a Warden. You’re lucky enough to turn out to be the latter. And from then on, you feel like you’re at home.
Duncan is like a father to you, even more so than Eamon. He treats you with respect and looks after you, giving you advice and making sure you’re holding up just fine. The other Wardens welcome you with arms wide open, treating you like you’re one of them right away. They laugh with you, share drinks and swap stories of fantastic adventures they’ve had. You fit in. For once in your life, you fit in with a group of people, and you’re not immediately cast out or looked at like you’re some demon. You feel happy. For the first time in a long time, you feel happy.
It doesn’t last long.
The Grey Wardens are still in need of recruits. King Cailan has requested their help -- and the help of his wife’s father Loghain Mac-Tir -- in fighting off an impending horde of Darkspawn. Duncan finds a new recruit some six months after you joined and brings her back to Ostagar. She -- and she is a woman, a rarity amongst the Grey Warden ranks -- is beautiful. That’s the first thing you notice about her. Even with her obviously tired eyes and exhausted posture, she’s positively gorgeous. She hails from the noble Cousland family, and she’s just lost everything but the armor on her back and the hound at her side. Nearly her entire family has been slaughtered, save for a brother whose whereabouts are unknown. By some miracle, she plays along with your attempts at humor, laughing along and bantering back and forth with you.
By the Maker, you hope and pray that she’ll survive the Joining.
And with a stroke of luck, she does survive.
After her Joining, the clock is ticking and time is of the essence. A horde of darkspawn will assault Ostagar soon. You and Warden Cousland are told to go to a nearby tower to signal when the time is right to attack for Loghain’s forces to join Cailan and the Wardens. You’re upset that you won’t get to join in the big battle, but you’re reassured that your actions are vital. You and Cousland reach the tower and light the signal.
And... Loghain’s troops don’t enter the battle. They leave. The Wardens and King Cailan himself perish without backup. Duncan dies in the battle. You and Cousland are rescued by rogue mages, and the two of you emerge as the only survivors of the Battle at Ostagar.
You’re distraught and horrified. You just lost your family. Though you try to keep the mood light and don’t bother your companion with your uncomfortable feelings, it’s difficult to act like everything is fine. But you have to push on. The darkspawn are sure to overrun the land if you don’t keep going. You have to recruit allies and gather an army against the darkspawn to make sure they don’t taint and ruin everything.
One of the rogue mages decides to come along with you. Morrigan is her name, and she is the most vile woman you have ever met. While Lady Cousland is fair and humorous, Morrigan is a spiteful witch who loves to watch others suffer and you trust her about as far as you can throw her. You don’t like her, not one bit, no. How can she be so careless and so evil? You have no idea. Maybe it’s a side-effect of living out in the wilds instead of around people. Either way, she scares you and you don’t like her, but you suppose she is useful, and for some reason Lady Cousland lets her stick around, so you’re stuck with her.
With that, you take off on your journey to gather support from around the nation. You gather some strange allies here and there, and hands-down, your favorite is Lady Cousland. As the only other Grey Warden, you feel closest to her. Especially close. What starts off as light flirting builds up to the strongest connection you have ever felt with another person. You both have lost so much, and you each take comfort in having one another on this long, tiresome journey to stop the darkspawn. You could think of no one better to share your heart with. You open up to her and make her laugh, and she accepts you for everything you are.
You’re even bold enough to tell her that you’re the bastard son of King Maric, and she still loves you for who you are, not simply because of your bloodline. She even manages to find the amulet of your mother’s, painstakingly put back together by who you can only assume to be Eamon, and it’s like the weight of a thousand tons is washed away from your shoulders. When you mention a maternal half-sister that you’ve always wanted to meet, she takes you to meet her immediately. While the meeting goes horribly wrong, the love of your life tells you to take it as a learning experience and realize that not everyone in the world is a good person. You take that lesson to heart, and you thank her every day for helping you become a stronger person.
She means everything to you, and you’re so glad that out of all the Grey Wardens, you still have her.
On the path to gathering allies, the fact that Ferelden’s king has died has made it impossible to gather troops from the capital city. It is suggested that you become the new ruler, not Cailan’s widow Anora. At first, you’re not so sure about that. You? A king? You’re only twenty! Some days you can barely put your boots on the correct feet! What good are you going to be as a king? Can you even do that as an illegitimate heir? But your lover assures you that you would make a wonderful king, and eventually, you start to agree, and you do find out that you do have some claim to the throne after all.
You and Warden Cousland eventually reach the capital and decide the fate of Ferelden. You even find another Warden locked up there and free him, gaining yet another ally to your cause. Loghain himself is at the capital and tries to stop you once and for all, but ultimately, his life reaches an end by your own hand -- a fitting revenge for Duncan, you feel. In the aftermath, the nobles all look to your lover to make a decision on who shall lead Ferelden, and she makes a surprising announcement: you will be king, and she will rule by your side.
So much has happened all at once, but just for a moment, you’re the happiest man alive. There is nothing better than knowing that you get to marry the woman you love, and you get to stay by her side for the rest of your life.
Or so you thought.
The other Warden announces that only a Warden can kill an archdemon. As an archdemon leads the darkspawn, it is vital for the archdemon to die. If it does not die by a Warden’s hand, its soul will find another darkspawn host to inhabit and continue to live. If a Warden kills it, however, its soul tries to inhabit the Warden’s body, killing both Warden and archdemon in the process. The Warden offers to take the final blow, reasoning that as the eldest, it’s his responsibility to do so.
Unfortunately, he does not make it, leaving only you or your lover to make the last blow.
She chooses herself in the end, and she leaves you crushed. You were so willing to throw your life away for her, you wanted to die for her. She deserved to live so much more than you did, and you tried and tried to convince her that it should be you who should die, but she assured you that she was making the right choice, reaffirming her love for you all the while. She loved you too much to let you undergo such a painful death, so she died for you.
And once again, you lost everything that had ever mattered to you. The world seemed determined to not let you be happy for long.
After the defeat of the archdemon, you were officially crowned as the king of Ferelden and celebrated by your people who learned to adore you. At the soonest possible moment, you held a funeral for your lover. You lamented on how the two of you never got to share the rest of your life together like you had wanted, but you made sure that everyone in Ferelden knew she was a hero. Posthumously, she was dubbed the Hero of Ferelden. To you, she was always going to be more.
When the funeral ended, you started your life as a king without his queen.