"Your task is to unite the land, inspire its men, and turn them from their petty politics to face the Archdemon."
The Last Cousland. Hero of Ferelden. Queen of Ferelden. Arlessa of Amaranthine. Champion of Redcliffe. All of these are titles Briana Cousland has held at some point in her life. Born in 9:11 Dragon and the youngest of Teryn Bryce Cousland's children, Briana has survived civil war, a Blight, assassination plots, and even a Qunari invasion.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Biography
- 3 Relationships
- 4 Miscellaneous
- 5 Links
- 6 Gallery
Briana is slightly on the smaller side in stature. Beneath her armour is a small frame and lean muscles, lending her an appearance that is more unassuming than anything else.
Like her father and brother, Briana has the dark brown hair of the Couslands. Despite its impractical nature, she keeps it long, with the dark curls hanging well past her shoulder blades. Should the need arise, she will keep it in a single simple braid - usually during combat, sparring, or when she needs to look more inconspicuous.
Her gaze, however, is piercing, with dark green eyes the colour of the stormy Waking Sea. As she speaks very little, her eyes often express deep emotions - particularly her anger and ferocity.
Briana is quiet and introspective. She speaks very little and only when she is certain she has something worth saying. She is better at expressing herself through body language and touch - a small smile here, a reassuring hand squeeze there. This makes her seem cold towards those who don't know her very well or have only seen her come alive or speak when she is angry.
As a Warden, Briana was abrupt and dismissive. She can be driven by a singular overwhelming emotion, for better or worse. As a Grey Warden, that feeling was often revenge and anger.
As a queen, Briana is very aware of her role in relation to the king, and while she is knowledgeable in politics, she is careful not to overshadow and lessen the rule of her husband (especially since she placed him on the throne to begin with). However, she will speak up if she feels it's needed, usually to take command of a situation or step in when Alistair looks to be overwhelmed by some uppity lord's political doublespeak.
Talents and Skills
Briana was trained to fight with a traditional sword and shield. Despite the lessons given to her by her father, in the beginning Briana is largely undisciplined in technique, but fights with the ferocity of a woman determined to survive. Further (and slightly more practical) instructions she's given by her companions helps her to refine her movements and techniques and become a more formidable opponent in the field. Although small and without the stocky build expected of a warrior, Briana makes up for her shortcomings with speed, remaining quick and light on her feet as she leads with her shield and finishes with her blade.
Briana is also proficient on horseback as while her family did not keep kennels, they did keep a stable full of horses. The Grey Wardens are not known for relying on traditional cavalry but with the griffons gone, they make do with what they have. Having experience on horseback all her life, Briana is more dangerous on a horse than on the ground.
While she would not consider herself a natural leader, Briana's ability to keep ledgers and a careful stock of resources and finances served her well during the Blight. She is proficient at budgeting and rationing and was known to be found sitting quietly in camp or in the corner of a tavern or in, looking over maps or making notes on parchment.
Briana is well educated and fully literate, able to read and write in both Fereldan and the Common Trade Tongue. While Fereldan is her native tongue, she is fluent in Common Trade as well. She can speak some basic Orlesian phrases as well, although her accent is harsh and her understanding of the language clumsy.
Childhood and Upbringing
Briana Cousland was born in Harvestmere in 9:11 Dragon to Teryn Bryce Cousland and his wife Teryna Eleanor Cousland. Despite being the younger of two children, Briana was raised nearly equally alongside her brother Fergus, being given instruction in politics, leadership, and combat arms. Being veterans of the Orlesian Occupation which had ended only a decade prior, both Couslands knew the importance of their children being able to protect themselves and serve both their country and king however they were needed.
Unlike her brother, however, Briana was also given instruction in the "finer" arts, such as household management and basic accounting. While she was good at keeping track of coin and such, she didn't find any particular enjoyment in it, and was known to complain quite frequently and loudly to both her mother and her instructors - particularly if she was kept inside for these tasks while her brother was afforded more time in the training yard. Despite this, she was given a large amount of freedom and leeway by both her parents. While her mother could worry that her daughter would never find herself a suitable husband with the amount of time she spent in the company of straw dummies, she never actively barred her from doing as she pleased.
The freedom and leisure with which Briana was allowed would, however, lead to her growing up to be a bit spoiled. While not mean-spirited in nature, she was stubborn and willful, and when her mind was set on something, it was difficult to persuade her.
While the teryn often entertained guests, his family did not leave the teyrnir often. Briana in particular was not one to stray too far from Highever, content with the expanses of open fields, and high rocky cliffs along the shore. At the age of nine, however, she accompanied both her parents and brother to Denerim for the annual Landsmeet. Bryce would often make the annual trip alone, however he felt it was time Fergus accompanied him in order to see a Landsmeet for himself and learn how to properly navigate them. Seeing equal learning opportunities for both his children, it was decided the entire family would make the trip.
Whilst in Denerim, Briana accompanied her mother to the Arl of Redcliffe's city estate for lunch and tea with the arlessa. Not having much of a taste for the frilly cakes and Orlesian pastries favoured by the arlessa, Briana took to wandering the estate grounds. During her exploration, she came across the kennels as well as a rather disagreeable stablehand who was left to look after them. While hesitant to speak to her at first, the boy eventually relented and introduced her to the kennel's puppies. Briana instantly fell in love with a fat little mabari puppy she was informed was always stealing the kennel master's food whenever he could. Upon the arrival of her mother and the arlessa, Briana proudly declared that she wanted this mabari. Her mother, however, was pre-occupied by the soiled state of Briana's dress and took her away from the kennels, despite her daughter's tearful protests.
Briana would not give up on the idea of the puppy, refusing to eat her dinner or to speak of anything else. Her father - just a touch too amused by all of this - gave in, and said he would speak to the arl about purchasing one of his mabari. Unexpectedly, the arl agreed and would not accept coin in return. And while he would not explain why, saying only that he had it on good authority that a little girl would love it, he insisted Bryce take the fat little pup Briana had taken a liking to the previous day. Briana and the mabari immediately bonded. She named him Royland and they became fast and loyal friends.
As Briana grew, Royland became one of her only friends. While her future was not given much consideration or thought, as Briana grew into a teenager, questions of what station she would hold began to come up more and more. She could not stay in Highever forever; it was Fergus' to inherit. But Briana had no desire to do anything but live the life she was used to living and do as she pleased, especially after a disastrous betrothal to Thomas Howe.
As longstanding and close friends, it was hoped by both Bryce Cousland and Rendon Howe that they would have the opportunity to unite their families. While not made binding or formal, an arranged marriage between Howe's eldest son Thomas and Briana was suggested and seen as favourable to both men. Briana herself wasn't entirely against the idea until she was introduced to Thomas. The boy was rude, disagreeable, and horribly mean. Worst of all, he mocked Briana for her affinity towards swords and shields and remarked that the only attraction to someone like her was the name and status she brought with her. The engagement was immediately broken off, and neither Bryce nor Eleanor ever suggested any further matches for their daughter, but the damage was done. Thomas' words deeply affected her and she began to view other nobles (particularly men) with distrust, suspicious of any good words or compliments paid to her. She believed the only value others saw in her was the name she carried.
The Fifth Blight
In 9:30 Dragon, King Cailan of Ferelden put a call out to all loyal lords and their armies to march south towards the Kokari Wilds. According to the Grey Wardens stationed in Ferelden, there were signs that a Blight was approaching. While Bryce and Fergus Cousland intended to march south with the combined forces of Highever and Amaranthine's forces, they were visited by Warden Commander Duncan the eve of their departure. Duncan had been passing through in search of recruits for the Wardens before returning to the rest of the order stationed at Ostagar with the king's forces. In his absence, Bryce gave Briana instructions to see to Duncan's hospitality as he would no doubt want to test the merit of the men who remained behind. Ser Gilmore in particular had caught his eye to which Briana was none too pleased.
In the meantime, news had arrived with Rendon Howe that his company of men had been delayed due to heavy rain impeding their movements along the road. The northern coast of Ferelden was known for its violent storms and wet weather, so the delay did not raise any concerns or suspicions. Bryce, however, agreed to stay behind and wait for Howe's men to arrive so that they might set off for battle together. Instead, Fergus was sent on with the majority of Highever's forces alone. With the teryn agreeing to stay behind, Howe saw his opportunity. Upon the arrival of his forces during the night, Howe commanded his men to lay siege to the castle and to take no prisoners.
There were very few survivors. Briana was only able to escape with the assistance of Duncan. The Grey Warden, however, had only agreed to see her to safety under the condition that her father give her to the Wardens. Mortally wounded, Bryce had very little leverage to bargain with the man and so agreed. Furious that Duncan would take advantage of such a situation, Briana refused. She would not leave her parents. Duncan was forced to invoke the Right of Conscription and drag her away from her mother and father. Briana would not ever forgive him for it.
The only survivor of the massacre in Highever, Briana traveled south with Duncan to Ostagar. Upon their arrival, they were greeted by King Cailan During this initial meeting, Briana was given a glimmer of hope when the king swore he would bring Howe to justice. He would turn his armies north, but only once the darkspawn were seen to. To her disappointment, Cailan seemed far more concerned about Grey Wardens and glorious battles worthy of song than what had befallen her and her family. She was also advised that while her brother had arrived safely to Ostagar, he had been gone scouting in the Wilds for several days now and would not be back for several more still. She would have no choice but to wait and pray for his safe return.
Having been given wholly to the Wardens, Briana was made to prepare for her joining alongside the other recruits and beneath the supervision of the Order's most junior member, Alistair. While neither Alistair nor Duncan would share much information about the Joining, Briana was not curious or nervous like the other recruits. She felt very little and cared even less, still trying to cope with and process what had happened in Highever. She still greatly disliked Duncan as well, and still viewed him as a cunning and manipulative opportunist who had taken advantage of her dying father. So when Ser Jory tried to back out of the Joining ritual and Duncan ran him through with his sword, Briana could not say she was surprised.
Out of Duncan's three recruits, Briana was the only one to survive the Joining. There was very little ceremony about her inclusion into the Order. She was given only what gear could be scrounged up from the blacksmiths who had joined the armies. Despite this, she was greeted again by the king who enthusiastically offered his congratulations which Briana accepted with all the grace she could muster.
Whether because of her position as one of the only two surviving Couslands or her status as a Grey Warden, Cailan requested her presence alongside Duncan at his war council. Despite arguments with his advisor, the decorated war hero Teryn Loghain, the king gave Briana the task of lighting the signal fire at the top of the Tower of Ishal alongside Alistair. Once lit, it would signal the teryn's forces to move in and flank the darkspawn, pinning them between the forces of Gwaren and the king's royal army.
Despite Alistair's later protests, they did as ordered and lit the signal fire. However, for reasons that are hotly debated, upon seeing the beacon lit, Loghain issued the order to retreat instead of to join the battle. Overwhelmed and with no relieving force, King Cailan and his soldiers were overrun and massacred by the darkspawn as were Ferelden's Grey Wardens. Briana and Alistair too were overwhelmed by dark spawn inside the tower. They were saved at the last minute, however, by Flemeth, a Witch of the Wilds who bore the two surviving Wardens to safety.
With her parents murdered and now her brother assumed to be dead somewhere within the swamps of the Wilds, Briana was not certain how she was expected to press on. The idea of being a Grey Warden was still not something she was very keen on, and she was more preoccupied with making those that had hurt and betrayed her pay than anything else. With Loghain having left the king for dead, he had robbed her of a promise of justice for her family. And while Alistair and Flemeth emphasized the Blight and how Wardens were needed to stop it, Briana saw the Warden treaties more as a means towards her own end. With the treaties, she could recruit aid and soldiers who could march on Highever and take back her home. This idea changed upon her arrival in Lothering though, when she learned that Loghain had declared the Grey Wardens murderers and she and Alistair were now fugitives. She now needed to wrest control back from Loghain, an action made all the more important upon later learning that the teryn was conspiring with her family's murderer.
Despite her motivation and desire for vengeance, Briana quickly learned that the instruction she had been given by her father were not comparable to real world experience and she was very much out of her element. Shortly after leaving the Dalish camp in search of helping the clan end a werewolf curse, the group was attacked and Briana herself mauled by a werewolf. While she did survive and was able to be carried back to the Dalish camp, she eventually came down with fever and illness like the infected elves. Despite this, she was determined to press on, and succeeded in breaking the curse and healing the Dalish as well as herself.
Most of Briana's actions during the Fifth Blight are recorded in various printings and retellings of "The Warden's Tale" which has been penned by both aspiring and established authors alike. And while the focus and details of each retelling may vary, the important points remain the same. After breaking the werewolf curse and freeing the Dalish, Briana led the people of Redcliffe to defend themselves against a mysterious force of undead. In learning that the source of these attacks was the arl's son Connor who had been possessed by a demon, Briana ventured to Ferelden's Circle in order to recruit mages who could save the boy. Finding the tower overrun and barred by the Templars who were awaiting approval of the Rite of Annulment, Briana cleansed the Circle of demons and abominations, putting and end to Uldred's uprising and saving what few mages she could. The Circle now secure, the Senior Enchanter accompanied her back to Redcliffe where the demon controlling the town was vanquished.
With winter approaching, Briana and her growing company of fighters sought shelter below ground in Orzammar. And while the nuances of dwarven politics were largely foreign to her, Bhelen Aeducan promised troops in exchange for her support in his bid for the crown and so Briana threw her lot in with him. This included being sent into the Deep Roads in search of the missing Paragon Branka who had disappeared in search of the legendary Anvil of the Void. Briana found Branka and the Anvil, but returned to Orzammar with neither, both Anvil and Paragon having been destroyed. With Bhelen crowned king, she was given troops as promised. All that remained was to heal the ailing Arl of Redcliffe, made possible only by an ancient relic of Andraste's Ashes. A force of united armies and the backing of Redcliffe behind her, Briana turned her sights to Denerim and those that had wronged her.
Using her family's position within Ferelden, Briana was able to drum up support among the gathered banns. The support of most of Ferelden's nobles behind her, she brokered an alliance with Queen Anora whom she had rescued from Howe's estate. If she would support Briana and speak out against her father, Briana would ensure the crown remained with her. On the day of the Landsmeet, however, Loghain refused to concede despite lacking the support of the Fereldan nobility. He conceded only to a duel, to which Alistair was named as her champion and beheaded the teryn at the conclusion of the duel. Loghain's death without fair trial or judgment caused Anora to revoke her support and order Alistair's execution. Left with only one choice to take control back and save her companion, Briana declared Alistair king and threw her support behind him as queen.
What is not as well known or documented, however, is Briana's fight against the Archdemon Urthemiel. Details on the lead up to the battle and Briana's survival are sketchy at best. She remains the only Grey Warden to have survived and encounter with an Archdemon and to come through the battle alive. First hand accounts say she was pulled from the battlefield seemingly lifeless but alive, and spent several days unconscious and several weeks more slowly regaining her strength before she was up and moving about. For her actions during the Fifth Blight as well as her pivotal role in ending Ferelden's civil war, Briana was given the title of Hero of Ferelden.
The Fifth Blight ended with the death of the Archdemon Urthemiel, but both Ferelden and its Grey Wardens had a difficult recovery ahead. In the immediate aftermath, most of the Crown's resources were put towards rebuilding Denerim, re-establishing trade routes, and preserving what arable land remained in order to prevent a widespread famine. Amaranthine, situated along an important trade route between Denerim and the south, was transferred over the Grey Wardens as punishment for the late Arl Howe's actions. The gift was well received by the company of Wardens freshly arrive from Orlais, but was not enough to distract them from the mysterious circumstances of the Blight's ending.
The Wardens were not expecting to arrive in Ferelden and find the Grey Warden who had dealt the killing blow still alive. News of Briana's survival was sent back to Weisshaupt where the First Warden was quick to summon both Briana and Alistair for a full report and inquiry into Ferelden's Blight. While neither Warden was able to provide any satisfying answers as to what had truly transpired with the Archdemon, Briana's ability to unite the peoples of Ferelden and end a Blight in only a year earned her the position of Warden Commander of Ferelden. Her first act was to name Alistair as her Warden Constable, despite his objections.
With the arrival of spring, Alistair and Briana were married in the midst of Bloomingtide and Briana formally coronated as the Queen of Ferelden. Only one month after their wedding, however, she was called away to the new Warden fortress of Vigil's Keep in the arling of Amaranthine. With the Blight having ended, the darkspawn were now in retreat and with the Order attracting new members and recruits, orders were given to hunt down what darkspawn remained on the surface.
During her time in Amaranthine, Briana learned firsthand how difficult it was to balance political duties as arlessa and queen with her responsibilities as a Grey Warden. Several banns and liege lords did not take kindly to a Cousland stepping in and commanding their allegiance, and Briana found herself the target of an extensive assassination plot. The attempt on her life was thwarted by the Vigil's seneschal, but in the wake of the conspiracy and at the Crown's insistence, Captain Garavel was made Briana's personal bodyguard.
When the Wardens found themselves pawns in the midst of a darkspawn civil war, Briana did all she could to keep the Vigil strong. She put her efforts into rebuilding and fortifying its crumbling walls and outfitting both Wardens and guards alike with sufficient steel. And while she was able to successfully protect the surrounding lands of farmers, peasants, and merchants from the darkspawn, the city of Amaranthine itself did not survive the conflict. When it was discovered that darkspawn at come up from the sewers and laid siege to the city, she gave the order to raze the city to the ground in order to stop the darkspawn and prevent the spread of Blight disease.
With her actions being viewed as divisive, Briana attempted to bring peace to the region by naming Nathaniel Howe the new Arl of Amaranthine and giving him active command of the Vigil as Senior Warden in the absence of both herself and Alistair. Weisshaupt, however, was not as easily placated, and Briana was summoned and thoroughly questioned and investigated again after word reached the First Warden that she had allowed an ancient darkspawn magister to escape the region alive. With regards to her actions and the Architect, Briana insisted she had not allied with the magister and had tried to hunt the magister down after killing the sentient broodmother known only as the Mother. Weisshaupt, however, still ordered a contingent of Grey Wardens to be sent from the Anderfels and conduct their own investigation, capturing and rounding up several strange specimens of darkspawn that had not been seen before.
Cure for the Taint
Despite the issues in Amaranthine, the early years of Briana's reign were generally without incident. While her marriage to Alistair and his position as king was unpopular with some nobles who considered their reign as a Grey Warden conspiracy, the public adored the young king and queen. But it was not to last, and as the years pressed on, Briana became faced more and more with the pressure to produce an heir as well as the realization that her time as a Grey Warden was slowly ticking down to the day she'd leave on her Calling.
While they did try to conceive, pregnancies would not take and it began to drive a wedge between Alistair and Briana who weren't sure how to cope with the sudden unhappiness in their lives. Briana became silent and moody more and more frequently, until turning her unhappiness and frustration towards finding a cure for what she now considered a curse placed upon her for being a Grey Warden. Despite Alistair's objections and insistence it was a waste of the time they had left, she ventured out on her own, chasing rumours, and ancient stories and documents to try and find a solution to the taint in her blood.
Official records kept by royal historians gloss over the Queen's "Warden Business" and fail to mention her or her absence entirely during the years surrounding the Mage Rebellion and rise of the Inquisition. Due to the king's unwillingness to say anything about where she had disappeared to or why, as well as his growing unhappiness, rumours that he had in fact done something to her - locked her away or banished her - surfaced regularly.
Unofficial records and eyewitness reports have her sighted far beyond the borders of Ferelden, seen wandering and exploring the western countries, including the desolate wastelands of the Anderfels. For a time, she travelled in the company of the former Antivan Crow Zevran, but most sightings (and indeed for most of her journey) she traveled alone.
While she was too far away to be affected by the false Calling of the Elder One, Briana's own and very real Calling began to develop. Despite being a Grey Warden for only a decade, her direct contact with the Archdemon Urthemiel's soul had left lasting and still largely unknown effects on her. Upon reflection, she would later attribute this early Calling to that encounter. At the time, however, it made her all the more desperate to succeed. With a ceaseless song growing in her head and beginning to show physical signs of Blight sickness, Briana faced the last and largest hurdle in her journey - drawing blood from a live dragon. She had learned of the power in dragon blood and its resistance to the Blight, and knew it to be the remaining ingredient in what she hoped would be a concoction that could reverse the Joining she had once been put through. The catch, however, was that the dragon had to be living in order to capture the energy within its blood.
It was a harrowing experience, but one that ended in success. While her shield arm was badly burned, Briana managed to escape with her precious ingredient and her life. Despite knowing full well that there was an equal choice that the mixed concoction could kill her just as much as it might simply not work, with nothing else to lose, Briana administered the cure to herself. Purging the Grey Warden taint was not a pleasant experience and Briana lay in her meagre campsite greatly ill and delirious for days. Yet, miraculously, she eventually came to... tired and feeling as if she had suffered a long illness, but with no more song in her head.
Feeling both relieved but elated at what she had achieved and how much it could change everything within the Wardens, Briana made the journey to Weisshaupt to present her findings. She had plans for the Grey Wardens, knowing that a potential out at the end of years of service would perhaps make the Order more appealing to outsiders and therefore boost their numbers (something southern Thedas was in dire need of after both the Fifth Blight and the Siege of Adamant). The Grey Wardens, however, did not share her enthusiasm and instead painted her as a disgrace. They did not need to be cured, she was told, and with no taint in her blood, no connection to the darkspawn or the Blight, she was not a Grey Warden. While she was given the choice to undergo the Joining ritual again, Briana refused. She had given up too much to ever go back. In response, the First Warden had her stripped of command. It was only because of her previous actions in slaying the Archdemon that she was given medical attention for her arm and a Grey Warden escort through the Anderfels. She was left at the border of Tevinter to find her own way home.
Defeated and disgraced, Briana returned to Ferelden. While her reunion with Alistair was welcome after all their years apart and she did not regret what she had done, her loss of the Grey Wardens left her bitter for some time. Despite having not wanted to be a Grey Warden, she had warmed to the idea of making them her own. As the Warden-Commander she had loyal troops that answered to her and followed her command, and she had built them from the ground up after being decimated at Ostagar. It was not a loss she took lightly.
With Briana no longer the Warden-Commander, command of Ferelden's few remaining Grey Wardens fell to Alistair. It was a position he refused to accept, however, both as a show of solidarity with his wife but also because his own view of the Order had grown quite unpleasant after running afoul of the Orlesian Commander Clarel. Under Briana's recommendation, Nathaniel Howe was named Commander-of-the-Grey, although for the entirety of his life, Nathaniel would retain that he was commander in name only. Briana's title as the Hero of Ferelden and Weisshaupt's distance from Ferelden's corner of the world meant that the Grey Wardens that would come and go through Amaranthine would always defer to her as their commander.
The Qunari Invasion of Ferelden and Orlais
Despite the Arishok formally condemning the Dragon's Breath plot in 9:44 Dragon, Ferelden's monarchs realized that the possibility of a future attack or assault by Qunari forces was becoming more and more real. So despite Tevinter still continuing to be the major front of conflict, when word was sent from Highever that dreadnoughts were seen on the Waking Sea, Briana was sent to meet up with her brother and assess the situation.
The presence of the dreadnoughts, however, was intended to be a distraction and while Ferelden's eyes were on the Waking Sea, the Qunari were able to launch a naval invasion, sailing in from the Amaranthine Ocean and splitting their forces between northern Ferelden and the southern Free Marches. Denerim, as a port city, was vulnerable and an easy target and the capital had not yet fully prepared for the inevitable. While not completely defenceless, Denerim was not able to stand to the more advanced Qunari war machine. A meagre defence was hastened with Alistair at its head while the two young heirs, Liam and Rosalyn were smuggled out of the city separately. It was expected that some Qunari would make landfall, but the Arishok himself - formerly Sten - was an unexpected presence. Perhaps it was because Denerim represented one of the southern capitals, or perhaps it was the personal history he shared with its ruler, but while Qunari forces assaulted both Ferelden and the Free Marches, the Arishok chose to accompany his troops south.
In a bid to buy time for his children, Alistair met Sten in a formal duel between two rulers. Sten readily accepted. However, unlike their previous encounter years earlier in Tevinter, Sten was playing for keeps and sought to eliminate Alistair rather than restrain him and despite Alistair being a seasoned fighter, he was defeated. Although it was a fight to the death, Sten still owed Alistair for sparing his life in Tevinter. In order to repay his debt, Sten chose to dump Alistair in the river instead of striking the finishing blow. News, however, was still spread that the King of Ferelden had fallen to the Arishok.
Briana did not return to Denerim in time to lend her aid or to step in and save her family. She was stopped and urged to turn back by retreating forces who informed her the city had fallen, something she only conceded to upon learning her children had been smuggled out of the city. She was not very far behind the advisors and soldiers who had taken them into their care, and so, still reeling from the sudden news that Alistair was gone, she went after her children, reuniting with her son and daughter before disappearing into hiding with them.
Briana knew that as the still living half of the monarchy, she had a responsibility to fight back against the invaders. She knew that as the Hero of Ferelden she would be a rallying point. But she was struggling to keep herself together, having lost her home and part of her family suddenly for the second time in her life. The children kept asking after Alistair, and did not take very well to suddenly having to move from place to place and sleep either in backwater taverns or make camp outside.
With the Qunari regrouping in order to further press their advance and news arriving that similar assaults had occurred elsewhere in Thedas, Briana worried that she wouldn't able to keep moving and hiding for very long. Having moved south as far as the Kokari Wilds in order to disappear, she began to make her way west towards the Frostbacks, hoping that she would reach Orzammar before the dwarves sealed their gates. The alliance she had forged with King Bhelen had continued beyond the Blight, and while Briana knew that the dwarves would not bend to the Qunari and simply retreat into their underground kingdom, she hoped that Bhelen might extend that safety to her.
Alistair, meanwhile, had not been executed by the Arishok and was fished out of the river by Zevran. Grateful for his stroke of luck and his old friend's impeccable timing, Alistair realized he had no news of his family and would need to find them. His first thought was also of Orzammar, knowing the dwarves would honour their alliance with him in the face of surface invaders.
With both Alistair and Briana headed in the same direction, a reunion was inevitable. Sure enough, one night in a bid to find shelter, Alistair and Zevran unknowingly entered the small abandoned hut Briana had been allowing the children to rest in for a period of several days. Fearing assassins, a scuffle between them broke out before all three realized they knew each other. Alistair and Briana were reunited, and Alistair with his children.
But the country still remained occupied, and they remained in danger - even moreso now that they were traveling together. Continuing to move in secret, Briana and Alistair eventually arrived at the gates of Orzammar. Honouring his alliance, Bhelen agreed to asylum, however the decision was made to leave Liam and Rosalyn in the care of the dwarves. They would be save within Orzammar while Briana and Alistair worked to liberate the south.
With much of Thedas now under direct threat from the Qunari, uprisings and alliances were beginning to form. With the Inquisition acting as the militant arm of the Chantry, their role and authority was once again expanded upon in order to aid the south. Orlais, still recovering from its own civil war, was also left vulnerable and allied with the former Inquisition. Skyhold - defensible and not easily accessed within the harsh climate of the Frostbacks - became a safe haven for the growing resistance as well as a base of operations for the southern alliance. With their children safe within Orzammar, Alistair and Briana retreated into the Frostbacks, bringing Ferelden into the alliance.
Eventually, after continued minor skirmishes and raids on the occupying Qunari, a united force emerged from the mountains to push back against the Arishok and his troops. The gruelling campaign came to its climax with the attempted liberation of Denerim. While this would not push the Qunari completely out of Ferelden, it would stand as an important moral victory, encouraging more raids and a greater show of force from the Fereldan troops led by several arls and banns who had refused to submit. Once again, Alistair and Sten faced each other, Alistair believing he was better prepared to take on his old friend.
Briana had been very careful to avoid any direct confrontation with Sten. She respected the Qunari and understood she had earned his deepest respect as well. But she understood his loyalty was to the Qun first just as her loyalty was to her family and that any encounter between them would be difficult and leave Briana conflicted. That the rules of combat with the Arishok were firm on no interference suited her just fine - she would rather Alistair step forward and her not have to face Sten directly. However, despite being better prepared this time, Alistair was still unable to match the strength of his former ally and Sten would not be merciful this time. Upon seeing Alistair fall to the ground and the Arishok about to strike the killing blow, Briana broke the code of respect and intervened, throwing herself and her sword between the two of them. Despite strength being firmly in Sten's favour, Briana had caught him by surprise. Taking advantage of the moment, she pushed Sten's blade back and thrust her own forward, running him through. Though she was heartbroken to have to end things this way, that it had been either him or Alistair had her convinced there was no other choice.
Despite his previous injuries, Alistair survived the reclamation of Denerim although his wounds would keep him out of the remainder of the conflict. With the king on the sidelines, Briana took over as the commanding force of the Fereldan portion of the southern alliance. With the Hero of Ferelden present in the field, the south rallied against their invaders and while there continued to still be many battles with land gained and lost between both sides... with the execution of the Arishok, the Qunari force gradually weakened until the southern nations were able to expel them completely.
It wasn't that Briana disliked Alistair in the beginning, but she was very indifferent towards him. He was too friendly, too optimistic, and just too much in general for her to deal with. He didn't seem to understand her lack of enthusiasm for being a Grey Warden, and nothing he said or did could seem to get Briana to warm up to him. But after Ostagar, things began to change. As Alistair tried to process his own loss and grief, Briana became softer and less hostile towards him. She recognized her grief in his own and Alistair began to see the same in her. It brought them closer together first as two people in mourning, then as companions, friends, and eventually much more. Alistair looked at Briana and saw someone who remained strong and determined to keep going despite her grief, but Briana looked at Alistair and saw someone who remained determined to be kind in the face in so much sadness and cruelty. They became inseparable constants in each other's lives, and Briana - who never was very good at being openly kind or generous or approachable - would sacrifice the entire world just to keep Alistair safe and happy.
While Leliana's rather zealous faith gave Briana some reservations in the beginning, the two of them ended up getting along well enough. Leliana seemed well-traveled and always had a story to share on almost any occasion. It was a comfort the way the bard seemed to be able to read Briana's moods and act accordingly, managing to endear herself as a close friend and what Briana assumed having a sister was supposed to be like. As Divine, Leliana was ruthless towards her enemies of which there were many, but despite time and experiences leaving her hardened, she always had a soft spot for the young woman she had insisted on tagging along with in Lothering.
Morrigan and Briana had what could be considered an uneasy and strained relationship at best. Briana was young and inexperienced and Morrigan knew it, and did not hold back from giving her opinion on things - regardless of whether or not it was asked for. While the two never openly argued with one another, there was often a tense air between the two. Theirs was a friendship of convenience for the most part with each one exchanging favours (Morrigan agreed to go into the Fade to save Connor only because Briana had brought back a certain tome from Kinloch Hold). That Morrigan would come to view Briana like something of a sister was wholly unexpected as despite Morrigan's insistence that it was to save her life, Briana never felt right about the Dark Ritual nor did she believe it would really work. But whatever her other motives, Morrigan's gamble worked and the last time the two of them saw one another, she again would save Briana's life by giving her the tome which would point her in the direction towards curing her Taint and overcoming her Calling.
Oghren was not so much recruited as he just didn't leave. Most of Orzammar and the Deep Roads is a blur of disjointed memories that Briana's mind has mostly tried to block out or forget, so by the time she was able to return to the surface she was not too concerned about telling the dwarf she hadn't intentioned to leave with him. He drank, he stank, and he seemed to have a crass remark ready for anyone and anything. He was good at cracking skulls though, so she tolerated him as needed. What Briana didn't realize, however, was that this endeared her to Oghren. He came to respect her greatly, viewing his journey on the surface with her as a chance to start over and be something greater than he used to be. Briana appreciated his loyalty, and was flattered that he claimed it was his experience with her during the Blight that seemed to inspire him to want to join the Grey Wardens.
Briana grew up hearing stories about the War with Orlais, some of which included the claim that a mage with a powerful demon had fought in battle alongside King Maric. Briana didn't think that golems were real, however, until she found Shale in the middle of the common in Honnleath. Both Briana and Shale found each other strange and curious, although Shale also considered Briana's constant questions about what she was or who she was rather annoying. Shale was glad to have her freedom again, however, and so was content to follow Briana in her quest without too many complaints. At the end of the Blight, they parted ways as Shale decided she wanted to see the world and discover new places. Unfortunately, due to Shale's hatred of birds, the two of them weren't able to keep up any correspondence.
Briana found Sten frustrating and mean. Every conversation they had left her feeling frustrated and undermined as he answered every one of her questions with another question of her own. She was convinced he greatly disliked her, thought her a poor warrior and an even worse leader, and that he likely regretted his decision to leave the cage in Lothering. What Briana didn't realize however, that every time Briana pushed back against Sten or challenged his own worldview with her own, she endeared herself more and more to him. By the end of the Blight, he had grown to respect her greatly and caught her completely by surprise when he expressed his admiration even going so far to name her "kadan." He did not remain in Ferelden for long, however, returning back to his homeland where rumour says he later became the Arishok. Briana thought that having such a close friend as the new Arishok would mean the Qunari would be no threat to Ferelden. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case and while Briana did everything she could to avoid having to confront Sten, in the end it was inevitable.
Briana very much wanted to like Wynne, but while Wynne was kind and soft and motherly towards Alistair, she was not the same with Briana. Wynne meant well, and believed that what Briana needed was stern encouragement in the face of a cruel and merciless world. Alistair had shouldered the burden of being a Grey Warden and accepted what it meant while Briana was still caught up in how she never wanted it and wanted her old life back. Unfortunately, Briana resented Wynne for her tough love especially when she looked at the woman and constantly compared her to her own mother. The last straw for Briana was when Wynne expressed her concerns with Briana's intentions towards Alistair as she seemed concerned with Alistair's feelings and no care for her own. Like with Duncan, however, Briana did her best to be polite and hold her tongue when it came to her feelings about the Circle mage as Alistair asked her to stay on as his arcane advisor after the Blight.
Briana was not in the business of sparing assassins, but she thought Zevran might have useful information about Arl Howe. It was a fortuitous decision, as Zevran earned his place in the group as a dependable and formidable fighter. He also endeared himself as a loyal friend, always looking to make her smile but respectful of her boundaries, and she came to love him dearly. Unbeknownst to her, Zevran was never too far away, always keeping tabs on his two favourite royal Fereldans and thwarting a number of assassination contracts before either Alistair or Briana caught wind. He tracked her down when she left Denerim to search for a cure for the Calling, and traveled with her for a time until business with the Crows called him away. He was always a frequent visitor and guest within Denerim, dropping in unannounced before disappearing to wherever the wind called him.
Briana's story was originally conceived as a revenge quest narrative. While her growth and development has led to her motivations and decision-making being more multi-faceted, her drive to avenge her family remains as the undercurrent to her character. This carries beyond the Blight as to Briana, family is the most important thing.
Briana and Alistair have four children together: Liam, Rosalyn, Bryce, and Fiona. Bryce and Fiona are fraternal twins. Alistair has no idea that his youngest daughter is named for his real mother.
Briana originally was a rogue, not a warrior. However, as the Cousland origin gives you the family sword and shield, it was decided to make her a warrior albeit an inexperienced one.
Canonically, Briana speaks with a northern-English lilt similar to both Bryce and Fergus in game.