"I swore to do whatever it takes. I won't go back on my word. From now on, there is no place for me in the world, but the Inquisition. No role, but the Inqisitor's. I am free. And I made my choice."
- Éirinn Lavellan about her role after losing her vallaslin (appeared in the first version of "You are free")
Inquisitor Éirinn Lavellan, known to many as the Herald of Andraste was a dalish elven mage, born in 9:17 of the Dragon. She became the leader of the Inquisition, and swore to close the Breach.
Looking at Éirinn the first thing one can realise is her unnatural paleness. She has really fair skin, pale lips, her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows are white - this has nothing to do with her powers, more with genetics. She has a strong pigment deficiency, so her skin and eyes are quite sensitive to strong light. Her irises are pale blue.
Her face is quite slim and long, her lips are thin, and she has a small overbite. Her hair is originally long, slightly wavy, but she likes to keep it in a bun, with a side-braid, only a few bangs left out. As all dalish, she has a Vallaslin - the Vallaslin of Falon'Din, the Friend of the Dead. Her tattoo is pale blue. Many people consider her beautiful - Solas mentions it several times, but Josephine also made a comment about her hair once.
After her breakup with Solas, her appearance changes - she cuts her hair, very short at first (later she lets it grow a little, but never long enough to return to her original, braided hairstyle), and she no longer has her Vallaslin. After the Exalted Council, she loses her left arm. She also looks significantly more tired, as the story progresses.
For an elf, she is quite tall, but also really slim - as a mage, she doesn't really need strong muscles.
Éirinn is a highly rational, and very straightforward person. She said she'd do "whatever it takes" to close the Breach, and she acts like this - in every case, she knows the priorities, and she can be really annoyed if someone can't put an argument or an old grudge behind when it is important. Roderick described her (as Cole said) as "desperate and simple, pure", mostly because of these traits. This makes her seem a bit cold for many, but she actually isn't... she can be merciful and open, and really loyal to friends or loved ones, she simply focuses on the tasks.
She almost never lies, and even then, only to hide her personal feelings, and keep others focused. For her, honesty is always the better answer, meaning that she often seems rude or a bit cruel when making a statement. However, she doesn't intentionally hurt anyone, and she can be helpful or comforting in her own way, when she sees someone hurt.
She is curious, loves to read and often asks questions. That was basically the first thing that captured Solas' attention - her nature to ask questions, and never believe anything at once. She is also quite strategic, she rarely rushes into danger, it is important for her to plan, and be well-equipped, when going into battle.
In love, she is quite decisive... which was a surprise even to her, considering her behavior towards most people. She realized and accepted her feelings quite easily, and expressed them without hesitation, however, betrayal and rejection caused her great pain. After Solas leaves her, she distances herself even more, and has only one role, and only one goal: the Inquisition. As she often says, from that moment Éirinn Lavellan, the Dalish elf was no more, she became only the Inquisitor.
During the time of Trespasser, she changes slightly. She is still cold and rational most of the time, but the pressure is taking it's toll, and there are times when she snaps. When she disbands the Inquisition, she does it with anger and passion, when her mark causes her pain again, she also reacts with anger, rarely seen from her before.
Talents and Skills
Éirinn is a talented mage, mostly relying on frost magic from the elemental techniques. She knows some spells based on lightning or fire, but she likes frost the most - it fits her personality and style as well. However, as the Inquisitor, she turns her interests towards the Fade, and she becomes a powerful Rift Mage. She learns to interact with the Fade in a unique way, even using some of her frost techniques (like the "Fade Step"), and when fighting she almost entirely relies on these spells. Cole and Solas strongly support this area of interest.
However, Éirinn's strongest weapon is never her magic. Her strict and somewhat cold personality, mixed with her intelligence makes her a calm, collected and reliable leader. She believes knowledge is power, and learns to take every opportunity she can. She is very stable emotionally, despite the immense stress she is under (only breaks down once, during the Exalted Council, when it seems like her mark will kill her, as mentioned before), and this gives her great power both on the battlefield and in politics.
She has very little skills in hand-to-hand fighting, but she is quite fast, which makes it difficult to defeat her even when she is without a staff. If she can, she avoids direct sunlight.
She also learns a lot of non-combat skills... for example, she is really interested in potionmaking, history, even picks up some nobility knowledge from Leliana. She never grows to like the Orlesian parties, but at least she is quite confident that "she won't step on anyone's toe". She is also quite good at chess and logic games - although she is sure that the one time she played with Cullen, he actually let her win.
Éirinn was always a black sheep among the dalish - strictly metaphorically. She was insulted most of her life, and learned to live with it. First, there was her appearance. Although it was genetical, no one knew it, and it wasn't normal... both of her parents had darker skin, dark, thicker hair, and darker eyes... the pale child that was Éirinn was unexpected, almost unreal. Some even said she must have been touched or even possessed by a spirit, and this got worse, when her magic showed itself at the young age of four. Everyone looked at her like she would be different, weird, and she grew up amidst these looks. Adults mostly scolded the children if anyone tried to make fun of her but it didn't help much. She still heard some of them whisper "Éirinn Era'harel" (Demon-mage Éirinn) behind her back.
Clan Lavellan was more open to the outside world, than most Dalish, but the fact that she was deeply interested in the life of city elves, humans, and other races gained her another nickname "Shemlen lover". She loved to read books despite the tradition being passing down stories through speaking. She had her own heroes among humans and dwarves as well as among Dalish. As the Keeper's First, even Deshanna mentioned sometimes, she should spend much more time learning and guarding the elven customs, instead of learning about others - but even so, Deshanna was the most accepting and understanding person Éirinn ever met in her life. Éirinn didn't really have friends in the clan, so she was as much her best friend as her mentor.
When she came of age (she was sixteen) and was granted with her Vallaslin, she got the symbol of Falon'Din. Meditating and purifying herself was hard for her at first, and some believed (especially those who called her "Shemlen lover") that she wasn't even ready, but the ultimate decision was the Keeper's. She could sit through the ritual in silence. In the following years, she practiced her magic, but refused to turn her back to the knowledge from the outside world (she even read the "Tale of the Champion" while still travelling with Clan Lavellan), and sometimes even dared to mention, that maybe the Dalish could find their place in the world, if they would open their eyes and change, if a change is needed. When the time of the Conclave came, despite all the anger, and all the looks she gained because of her strange views and behavior, they became the reason she was chosen to go to Haven. She knew more about the outside world, than anyone in her clan, and therefore seemed the only candidate. In some ways, it seemed like all her life prepared her for this one moment.
Jaws of Hakkon
In the two years after the defeat of Corypheus the Inquisition grew stronger and stronger. More soldiers decided to join, their Keeps were well supported, and the people were grateful for the help they received. Since Leliana was now the head of the Chantry, few people dared to bother them, and the strong alliance with Empress Celene and Briala helped a lot as well. However after a time, their influence drew more concern from the nobles of Orlais and Ferelden, so the Divine had no choice, but to call the Exalted Council.
Although Éirinn felt that the Inquisition was her greatest work, and her role as the Inquisitor defined her, it was true, that she started to grow tired, and she also remembered, that she wanted to disband the organization once their work was done. However, when they discovered the dead qunari and the qunari plot, her views changed. She felt there were still conflicts, big problems to solve, and Thedas needed the Inquisition. As she traveled through the Eluvians, and learned more, her feelings became even more conflicted, and it didn't help, that the information about Fen'Harel made the matter more and more personal... in Darvaarad, she realised that the elven god whom the qunari thought to manipulate the whole Inquisition was actually her former lover, Solas. She stopped the qunari with the help of her friends, but her mark was getting worse, and soon, she met Solas again as well... learning, that he was most likely a much bigger threat. The elf saved her life once again, and she knew that his feelings were true... so, even though she warned him, if he decides to go with his plan, she will have to stop him, she also swore to try to redeem him, if possible. She lost her arm during this last meeting, and arrived at Halamshiral weakened, angry, but somehow with a newfound resolve.
She disbanded the Inquisition, and gathered her remaining friends. Together, they started to plan their next move.
After it all...
The first few weeks after losing her arm was almost unbearable for Éirinn. Although she still had her right hand, she could no longer hold a staff, and sometimes she found it hard to perform the simplest tasks. She tried to hide her struggles, but she got more and more stressed, and what happened with Solas didn't help at all. She retreated to Kirkwall, where, thanks to Varric, she had a place as a comtesse. She didn't meet up with her clan in Wycome, only exchanged letters, ensuring the Keeper and her parents that she was fine, but "still dealing with the aftermath of the situation". Her primary concern, much more important than her recovery - either the physical or the emotinal - was to find someone whom she could send against Solas, someone who would be an unknown, a new player on the board, but at the same time, had enough knowledge and empathy not to rush the judgement, and give her a chance to save the elf from himself.
She still kept in touch with the Inner Circle of the disbanded Inquisition, mostly Cassandra and Divine Victoria, but also her closer friends. This was the first time when she desperately wanted to believe in something - perhaps than she could get a string of hope, that there was a chance for a happy ending.
Éirinn was attracted to the mage basically from the moment they met. He had a calm, mysterious aura around him, spoke about the Fade as an expert, and treated her with respect and understanding. They could talk a lot, he answered questions happily, and many times asked them as well. She didn't call this attraction love for a long time, but she enjoyed innocent teasing, discovering if he was interested in her, too... and it soon turned out that the feeling was mutual. After the destruction of Haven everyone was at an edge, even if Skyhold was a safer, better place for housing the Inquisition, and when Solas mentioned they should talk somewhere else, Éirinn was happy to relax and just talk with him for a while. She felt that something was wrong when they reached Haven, but as it often happens in dreams, she didn't actually realize it wasn't real or normal. The dream ended with a kiss, and after Solas' reaction, Éirinn was worried she might have acted too fast, and should have left him more time to sort out his own feelings... although the fact that he kissed her back encouraged her.
They became a couple while investigating the matter of the Orlesian Wardens, and the assassination attempt against Empress Celene. Solas asked her help with the Wisdom spirit, and he was happy how intelligently and, in comparison to her often cold demeanor, how compassionatly she handled the matter. He later visited her in her quarters, and while talking, mentioned that he "didn't forget the kiss" - he also said that it would be kinder in the long run if he just left, but Éirinn asked him not to go... so they soon kissed again, and he declared his love for her. As a couple, they were discreet and almost shy. They rarely even held hands in public, only kissed when there were only the two of them, and most of the time they spent together, they did what they would have done alone: read books, talked about magic, the Fade, science or history, enjoyed the view from Skyhold's balconies if they were too tired for everything else. The only difference was, they did it together. For Éirinn, it was originally hard to open up, and let herself be vulnerable with anyone, but with Solas, it seemed natural and easy - she never had lovers before, but she somehow didn't feel uncomfortable because he endearingly called her vhenan, nor because he said "I love you" so easily.
Their break-up affected Éirinn greatly. She felt like opening up, letting herself become vulnerable was a mistake, and she distanced herself more both from friends, and Solas himself. She didn't get angry, nor sad, she replied coldly and cynically, hoping she would get out from that scene with fewer injuries. But whatever she tried, the feelings stayed, and she had to accept them... when, years after the defeat of Corypheus she met Solas again, now knowing he was the Dread Wolf, she couldn't turn entirely against him, and swore to redeem him, despite seeing his determination.
If Éirinn had to name one best friend, it still would be Dorian. She got some really close friends, but the Tevinter mage was basically the only one with whom she got along from the first moment. They had much more in common, than one would originally think... they were both outcasts in some ways, had conflicted relationships with their family and the people they left behind. They had to fight for respect and acceptance, but they were open to new things... and they found that acceptance, and a mutual understanding in each other. Dorian was there for Éirinn even in Haven after she allied with the mages, comforted her after the hard decisions at Adamant Fortress, and later, after her break-up... he was also the only one, who had a positive comment on her short hair, even though he mentioned she should ask someone to make it "less messy".
When Dorian started his relationship with the Iron Bull, Éirinn was supportive, and happy that her friend found someone.
It's safe to say that their friendship had a rocky start. They were different in many ways... Cassandra hated mages. Éirinn was a mage. Cassandra was deeply religious. Éirinn didn't know what to believe. However, she soon earned Cassandra's respect when the Seeker realised she was dedicated, and she knew what she was doing. Éirinn also helped her on several occasions, before and after Haven, and despite their disagreements, she accepted and appreciated her faith, never tried to argue with her on it. She also found her views on the Chantry realistic and right - but later, she supported Leliana, not only because she agreed with her, but also because she felt Cassandra had other dreams and plans that were just as important. The trust between them grew stronger, and by the time they had to face Corypheus, they fought together, ready to put their lives to the hands of the other. As Cassandra often said, their friendship was unexpected, but that didn't make it less important.
The dwarf was understanding and helpful towards Éirinn from the moment they met. No matter how much she embraced her role as the Inquisitor, Varric was careful to never let her lose sight of who she was as a person. That meant long conversations about books, Wicked Grace parties with the team, sharing old stories, telling bad jokes. Varric was there for her through thick and thin... and when she felt like she couldn't take much more, he supported her and opened up new paths for her. Thanks to him, she got a place in Kirkwall, and he helped her a lot in getting through the aftermaths of the Exalted Council.
However, they never got as close as he was with Hawke, and even if Varric didn't openly blamed her for anything, Éirinn never forget how hurt he was after he lost his best friend. She was sure, that was an obstacle in their friendship they will never overcome.
Éirinn absolutely loved Cole from the moment they met. Maybe it was because she wasn't a people person... Cole just knew what she wanted or meant. She never had to, and never could pretend or lie when she was talking to him, and Cole himself was honest and innocent as well. Their friendship was different from everything two humans could form, but she cherished it nonetheless. Éirinn even grew a little protective of him, and had several arguments with Sera or Vivienne because of it.
When Cole wanted help, so Corypheus wouldn't bind him, Éirinn encouraged him to become more spirit. She thought a lot on it, but when thinking about how pain and injustice made him more human, she felt like it was a violent change in a purer creature. She believed that if Cole could forgive, it somehow made him better than humans... and therefore, she asked Solas to help him do it. She was grateful in the end, that she never had to forget him.
- Books and reading, learning above all. She is kind of an information-addict, she is ready for almost anything to learn, and even her calm, controlled behaviour can break a little. She got drunk only once in her life, with Iron Bull, and the reason for it was really simple: she got lost in the conversation.
- Her favourite flower is Dawn Lotus.
- She loves rice and eggs. She enjoys the taste of thyme. However, she doesn't really like fatty food.
- Chess and strategy games.
- Respect and acceptance. If she sees that someone can understand her, and follow her the way she is, she treats the person with the same respect.
- She hates orlesian dances (unless she dances them with Solas), she only got some lessons from Leliana, and even though everyone said she was great at dancing, she never stopped worrying she would step on a toe.
- Dresses. She simply hates skirts, so she always wears trousers, uniform, but never a dress.
- Spiders. She is not afraid of them, but she certainly dislikes them. Only tries to get along with them, because they are creatures of nature too...
Other (hopefully) interesting facts
- Éirinn's name originates from the Irish word for Ireland, that comes from the name of Ériu, the goddess of Ireland. It's pronounced "Ayrihn". I wanted to give her a Celtic or Irish name, but originally it would have been the much easier "Erin", I later switched to the final version.
- If she was an animal, she would be a Snowy Owl (the sacred animal to Falon'Din, the god whose Vallaslin she wore was also an owl)
- She is a non-believer, in every way. She never denies that a higher power exists, she is just sceptical. This makes both the Inquisitor's position, both her life as a dalish really hard, but Solas personally agrees with it, and appreciates her scepticism.
- She often had really strong phantom pains after losing her arm, sometimes she couldn't sleep because of them.
- Besides her sensitivity to light, her eyesight is worse than most people's because of her pigment deficiency. One of her greatest fears is going blind.
- Her voice is Alix Wilton Regan. If I imagine a cast for her in a movie, the actress would be the same.
You are free - Éirinn tries to sort out her feelings after her break up with Solas, and also cuts her hair in the process...