Dragon Age: Inquisition left us with quite a few unanswered questions. What will happen to the Inquisition now that the game is over? Will Dorian succeed in reforming Tevinter? Will we ever find out what the nug king’s tax plan is? But perhaps most importantly, aside from the nug king, what is our favourite elvish megalomaniacal sociopath up to? Well, being ever the benevolent lord that I am, I will seek to sate your curiosity with this article. You’re welcome. But first things first, in order to answer that question we must first answer another one: What is it that Solas wants?
Cracking Open the Egghead
Now, Solas’ overall goal is pretty straightforward. Bring down the veil, cause the collapse of all human civilization, deal with the likely still-somewhat-miffed Elven gods and recreate an ideal world for the Elves so they can frolick through the magical forests living happily ever after. You know, that old chestnut. That all seems clear enough, but how can he actually accomplish this?
Well, we know how he was going to accomplish it at first. To recap: He was going to let Corypheus unlock Fen’Harel’s basketball of mass destruction, let him die a horrible death, take the thing from his cold, dead, and very disgusting darkspawney hands and use it to bring down the veil. But with Coryphefish being ever the cluts and dropping it like a fucking idiot, that’s not going to happen anymore. So what he needs now is an alternative source of magical power.
Now yes, from his adventures in sculpture creation we know that absorbing Flemeth’s essense has made him very magically powerful. And since it’s implied that he simply needed time to recover after his long slumber to regain his power, it’s quite likely that with time he’ll only get stronger. But clearly he’s still not powerful enough to bring down the veil. After all, if he was he would’ve brought the thing crashing down by now.
Now you could argue that all he needs is time. Time to recover enough of his magical power to bring it down. But considering his flurry of action in Trespasser, I don’t think it likely. Also the fourth game might be rather dull if its main antagonist just sits in a tree admiring his stoned enemies and playing wicked grace while the player slaughters random elves in Tevinter. So at this point you might be asking “So, you smug asshole, what is he going to do then?” Albeit in your own barely intelligible way using no punctuation and all caps because you’re “super cereal.” Well, I will present you with three wonderful possibilities in increasing levels of awesomeness.
The first possibility is definitely the one I fear most: He’s going to try and find a McGuffin of ultimate magical specialness and elvish awesomeness. Why do I think this might happen?
Well, the Bioware guys are big fans of McGuffins. The main highlights being the aforementioned incredibly fragile stone ball of green death, which sets the plot for all of Inquisition in motion, and the deus-ex-machina-tastic kid-out-of-the-box from Mass Effect 3. So it could well be Solas is looking for an item. This would also explain why he went out of his way to take control of the eluvians in Trespasser. If you want to find something that could be anywhere in the world, a global network of shiny mirrors that can transport you anywhere in an instant might come in rather handy.
For Those Who Like Ruins…
It could also be that Solas is looking for a lost Elven city. After all the next game is almost certainly set in Tevinter. And according the interviews with the Dragon Age staff, after the fall of Arlathan the Tevinters just took over most Elven magic and cities and slapped a new coat of paint over them. The fact that there is a city literally called Solas, also the elven word for pride, in Tevinter is a possible clue hinting at the importance of this piece of history. This city also happens to be around the location where the Inquisitor sticks his dagger (inconsiderately destroying a really nice oaken table) at the end of Trespasser. So take away from that what you will.
Why would he want it? This city could have sleeping ancient elf mages which can help him cast the spell, it could have some sort of magical power source, it could be the location of some hidden magic, have some place where the veil is thin, or anything else magickey like that. Basically, your guess is as good as mine.
Again, trying to find a lost Elven city would give Solas a very good reason to want to control the network of eluvians. Eluvians were found all over the elven empire, so chances are that this city would have one. So even if he doesn’t know where it is geographically, he might be able to find it through searching the eluvian network.
Alternatively, and to me this is the most interesting possibility, it could be that Solas seeks to manipulate the politics of Tevinter so they just give him the power he needs.
It’s no secret that the Tevinters are powerful mages. And it’s a poorly kept secret that the Tevinters engage in blood magic using the blood of their slaves. So some kind of giant blood sacrifice of slaves done by the most powerful Tevinter magisters to give Solas the power to take down the veil could be a thing. They wouldn’t help him willingly, of course. Instead Solas would basically use the internal divisions in Tevinter to manipulate and decieve those magisters. Get them to do this stupid thing for some other reason, like they think it will resolidify their control over the empire, and then exploit it. This does seem dark, yes. But remember, Solas is the guy who’s planning to basically murder every non-elf in the world.
It also has a precedent in the Dragon Age world. If you’re familiar with the story of the creation of the darkspawn, in other words if you’re not a mere video game peasant, you’ll know something very similar happened when the Magisters entered the golden city. Some magisters were desperate, they heard whispers from a god and they then used a huge blood sacrifice of slaves to bypass the veil and enter the fade. And if my theory on what the golden city really is is true (link to be found here once the article has been posted), then it would tie in very nicely in some other very poetic ways.
Why I’m Looking Forward to a Massacre
Now why do I like this alternative so much? Well, there are a couple of reasons. And no, one of those is not that I love the screams of the innocents, that’s just a nice perk. First and foremost is that it would make for a very dynamic game full of possibilities. If you just have to chase Solas down and find some McGuffin or lost city, then there’s really not that much to the game. It’s just a search and destroy mission. But if Solas’ goals are political, there’s a lot more to it.
In order to stop him you’d have to talk to people, explore the divisions in the empire that Solas is trying to exploit. Be confronted with Tevinter’s glories and flaws. Talk to its most powerful leaders (the magisters who’d be performing the ritual) and its lowliest inhabitants (the potentially sacrificed slaves). Perhaps even try to redeem the corrupted magisters, to stop them from working with Solas, or incite a slave revolt, to deprive them of slaves to sacrifice.
You would have to be careful to make the right allies and avoid Solas’ spies and minions throughout the game. Find out who’s supporting Solas and who isn’t. Find out what factions will stand with you, find out which ones won’t. In other words in this case it would be essential to fully explore the world and interact with its denizens. Which is exactly what I would want if I spent so many years developing a game’s world.
Moustachio of Justice
These politics could also tie nicely into Dorian, a beloved fan character, and what we already know of Tevinter. We could find a situation where we have Dorian trying to keep Tevinter together. Where he is trying to keep the peace and root out the corruption that plays into Solas’ hands. But also a situation where Dorian’s reforms are making a lot of powerful people angry. Where old magisters are fighting against their priviliges being stripped away and find themselves willing to resort to desperate means to hold on to them. Desperate men do desperate things after all, just ask the former priest of Dumat: Good old Corypheface. A man who participated in a huge slave blood sacrifice, much like what Solas could want, to see his fading order returned to prominence.
Solas trying to achieve his goals through bribing or exploiting corrupt Tevinter magisters would also tie in very well with the series’ theme of corruption. Corruption is probably the most important theme in the series, something Maddy has written about at length (link). The darkspawn are an example of it, Iron Bull’s betrayal was caused by it and in Trespasser the corruption Solas points out is pretty much the main factor in deciding whether or not to disband the Inquisition.
Remember That Little Club You Started Last Time?
Speaking of the Inquisition, this storyline would provide plenty of opportunities for you to see what it’s been up to and for it to have an effect on the plot. We already know from the end of Trespasser that the Inquisitor is heading to Tevinter and aiming to stop Solas. The Inquisition, if it still exists as an organization, could be involving itself in Tevinter politics.
In addition corruption in the Inquisition’s ranks could help lead to Solas’ eventual plan working. This would give weight to the risk you were taking if you kept the Inquisition together after Trespasser. But it might also be the case that without the Inquisition as an active organization the new player character doesn’t find out about what Solas is doing until it’s too late, whereas with the Inquisition’s resources it finds out beforehand so you can try to persuade Solas to stop what he’s doing. This in turn would be giving weight to the risk you took in disbanding the Inquisition. And it would give a nice opportunity for the return of the Inquisitor in either trying to assassinate Solas or help you talk him out of what he’s doing in the final scene.
Shameless Fawning Over A Murderous Megalomaniac
Finally, I also think this route would be the most interesting for Solas as a character. Solas is, by all accounts, a tragic character. A deeply good and compassionate man, who nevertheless finds himself doing horrible things out of guilt. One of the most compassionate and good things he ever did was to free the elven slaves from the Evanuris. So wouldn’t it be terribly interesting to see him resort to a huge slave sacrifice to accomplish his goal? Sliding further into darkness, doing exactly what his worst enemies did, in an attempt to undo his previous mistakes. Making even bigger mistakes along the way. All because he can’t let go of his guilt over something that happened centuries ago. Appropriately tragic, no?
And, if the Inquisitor joins the new player character in their final confrontation with Solas, it might give the Inquisitor a good way to call out what Solas has become and convince him to abandon his insane plans. Something which would tie into the Inquisitor’s promise to redeem Solas (if the player chose this option in Trespasser).
On top of this, Solas having to work with Tevinters, the very people who destroyed his people, to accomplish his goal would be fantastic. It could be a very interesting dynamic to see play out, especially considering his disdain for them. And considering he’s resorting to their tricks to accomplish his goal. Or alternatively, you could see it as him trying to trick them into destroying themselves out of revenge and fury for what they did to the Elves after the fall of Arlathan. In short, there are just so many character-related possibilities here and going this route would mean they could take full advantage of them.
So to sum it all up, while I don’t have a strong evidentiary basis for suggesting this is Solas’ grand plan, and it is a bit ambitious, I do think it would be optimally in line with the goals and ideas behind the Dragon Age series. So while you might say “you’re full of shit, you doesn’t have any evidences brah” and indeed I might be completely off the mark, with the very limited information at hand this is my guess. Most importantly, to me at least, it’s what I would want to see. So to sum up the sum up: this is awesome and screw you.
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Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the video games “Dragon Age: inquisition” and “Dragon Age: Origins.” We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. “Dragon Age: Origins” and “Dragon Age: Origins” were created by Bioware.