Physical Appearance Edit
Katalina was a slim woman of 4’10” (147cm) height when the Blight began, average for an adult female elf, before she eventually grew to 4'11" (150cm). With her slenderly built body, many people would assume her to be physically weak. Yet any careful examination of compact muscles on her limbs and torso could suggest otherwise, though most of her enemies only realized the truth too late. She was considered as an attractive woman, though more handsome than beautiful, and by no means as dazzling as the Queen of Ferelden. Her cousin Shianni was generally acknowledged as prettier than her, though Katalina herself didn't lack admirers who appreciated her athletic and heorine style.
She inherited the fair skin tone of her father. Unlike her red-haired cousins, she grew a head of auburn hair which she kept in crisp, short styles. Her large, almond shaped eyes had a turquoise color that rare among elves and almost non-existing among other races, something she was secretly proud of.
Due to her more than half year's ordeal in the notorious fortress prison of Fort Drakon as a teenage girl, including a long period of malnutrition, her physique development was negatively affected. While originally she had potential to be even nimbler than Elissa Cousland because of elven racial bonus, eventually her dexterity was reduced to roughly the same level as Elissa.
The only trait on her body that made her a little insecure was the small size of her breasts. She had a cup size of "AA", and she blamed her Fort Drakon months for it, though in reality these two things might had little to do with each other. It made her feel inferior in front of Leliana, who had nice, nearly perfect breasts of "C" cup. Leliana spent much effort to persuade her that every size had its own beauty. After a while, Katalina came to realize her cup size was a part of her body, a part of herself, just like her pointed ears. They were not something to be ashamed of, whatever other people might say.
The harrowing experience of Fort Drakon no doubt contributed her reluctance to wear skirt, too. Her habit of only wearing trousers, breeches or chausses (usually as part of armor) even in the court initially caused much controversy, as one of most popular court gossip put her as Queen Elissa’s lover, in the meantime some malicious nobles claimed that was yet another evidence of elf’s barbarism. Eventually Elissa made a deal with her that required her to wear skirt in a Royal Ball and dance with male nobles who invite her.
Outwardly, Katalina was a solemn woman who didn’t show much of her feelings to other people. Taciturn, sarcastic when she did speak, not suffering fools gladly, she gave anyone who was unfamiliar with her an impression of a stern and uncompromising character. It was not a coincidence that many human nobles of the kingdom who disliked or feared her nicknamed her as “The Greyhound of Vigil”, though that name undoubtedly also contained some degree of grudging respect. Gruff, almost to the extent of arrogance, she was not someone who could be worshipped like her friend Elissa. Even so, her subordinates generally admired her devotion to the duty and caring for their welfare, and they were willing to go anywhere, fight any enemy under her command.
A few intimate friends of hers instead recognized a woman with great integrity and tender inner sensibility. Under the surface of iceberg, there was a volcano of emotion ruthlessly suppressed by long years of iron self-discipline. They knew that contrary to the supposed common knowledge, Katalina Tabris did care about other people, she loved and hated with an intensity few could match. To those who won her trust and respect, they couldn’t find a more devoting friend, who was willing to accompany them to the edge of the world, to face most dangerous foes, and to guard them with every ounce of her strength and willpower, even sacrificing her own life. To her enemies, however, she was equally loyal.
Talents and SkillsEdit
Loghain Mac Tir, under the sanction of Prince Maric Theirin, once organized some city elves into an archer unit called “Night Elves” in their struggles against Orlais. Nevertheless, the “benevolent” regime of Maric soon showed its true color to elves, as the unit was quickly disbanded after eviction of Orlesian rule from Ferelden. One of first laws declared after the kingdom’s newly won independence was to forbid any city elf to carry a bow or crossbow without special permission. Though elves were not explicitly forbidden to carry or own other weapons, guardsmen tended to harass or fine any elf who did so in order to encourage elves to remain unarmed. Under Cailan’s rule the situation deteriorated further, as city guards usually attacked any armed elf on sight, even as it was technically illegal to do so.
Under such circumstance it’s difficult for a young elf like Katalina to be properly trained in martial arts. Her mother Adaia was an accomplished rogue who immigrated to Ferelden from Free Marches, a woman who could fight with her daggers proficiently, and also a passable archer. The fact that Duncan once considered to recruit her into Grey Warden is a testament of her martial prowess, and she was determined to pass her expertise to her daughter. Taking great risk, she also hoarded a dalish hunting bow in their house.
Katalina began her martial training at a very young age, and from 12 years old, Adaia began to train her with daggers. The next year, her mother planned to tutor her archery, but she died several months later before proper instruction could be finished. Her father Cyrion, fearing for the consequence of the bow being discovered, burned it without Katalina's consent. After Adaia’s death, Katalina’s martial training became irregular because she could only rely on self-training and occasional tips from other members of Thieves’ Guide henceforth. Cyrion did everything he could to discourage her. Still, she showed that she was a natural-born killer when she disguised herself as a maid, and, with utmost calmness and precision, killed five of House Kendells’ guards without giving them any chance to retaliate.
That success notwithstanding, Katalina’s martial training was initially greatly lagged behind that of Elissa or Alistair. Elissa as a high-ranking noble could train as much as she liked and her family could afford to hire best instructors for her. Alistair had passed templar training which people generally considered even more demanding than that of a knight. After the Blight, when she had recovered her physical fitness, Katalina was subjected to an intense training program to become an archer. Leliana and the former slaver guard captain, a Tevinter city elf woman named Devera were her tutor. When Elissa had time, she also personally trained Katalina with dagger techniques and swordplay. Even so, Katalina’s martial instruction only lasted three months before the Amaranthine War broke out. As a result, both Elissa and Alistair worried she was not adequately trained to fight as a Grey Warden.
During the Amaranthine War, Katalina was initially kept in a distance from battle line as an archer to provide supporting fire for others. She proved herself in numerous battles, showing that she was highly gifted in archery, and generally was able to keep her composure even under severe duress. In the later part of the war she was allowed to fight in a more advanced position, and by positioning herself in proximity to enemies she was able to fully exploit her lightning reflexes and rain down arrows to darkspawns. Her dueling skills also improved a lot to the extent she could hold her own on several occasions when she needed to fight darkspawns in melee.
After the war she was trained several years further by Elissa, Leliana and Devera. By the time Mage-Templar War broke out she had grown up into such a formidable warrior that Alistair believed she had fulfilled the high hope Duncan once placed on her. She was a much better archer than her friend Elissa, and eventually her skill even surpassed that of Leliana. As a duelist she was competent, able to disarm a physically stronger opponent with quick, incisive strikes, but her swordplay and pacing lacked the uncanny precision that trademarked Elissa’s deadly style.
Weapons and Equipments Edit
Katalina’s mother, Adaia, first appeared in Denerim Alienage in 9:12, two years after The Order of Grey Warden returned to Ferelden. No one know exactly where this young woman came from except that she spoke with a Marche accent. Years later Katalina would send inquires to various Free Marches Alienage, but no one remembered a woman who fitted the description with that name. Except for good at knife fighting, Adaia was also proficient with a sword or a bow, which led some people like Leliana to speculate that she was once a dalish elf but ran away from her clan before her Vallaslin could be applied. Again, no evidence could be found.
Her arrival at Alienage coincided with a transistent period in King Maric’s rule. Already grieving for his deceased wife, Rowan, he was further distressed by a recent adventure and became colder and remoter every year. His closest friend and advisor, Loghain, was shocked to discover an Orlesian plot to kidnap the king so he was mired even deeper in his xenophobia. For the city elves in the kingdom, these years saw last of them purged from the army and a formal ban to own bow and crossbow applied on them. The ban was directly against the exalted Fereldan tradition that every freeman had the right to carry his own weapon, but elves swallowed it timidly. Adaia, however, continued to possess her bow, though she no longer carried it openly.
It’s known Duncan, then as Constable of the Fereldan Grey Wardens, intended to recruit Adaia into their rank. Adaia, on her part, showed no interest as she now occupied a solid place in Thieves Guide. Perhaps to make her point, she soon married herself to a young artisan and tinker, Cyrion. In the Alienage, his job was not only profitable, but also respected, so Cyrion didn’t lack admirer, but as he admitted himself, few could resist the charm and vigorous charisma of the young rogue woman. They married a year later. But from what Hahren Valendrian told Elissa and Alistair, Duncan kept his effort for another year, only to give up after Katalina's birth.
The pregnancy and childbirth were difficult enough for Adaia that she didn’t wish to have another child. But when Katalina was five years old, Cyrion adopted his brother’s daughter Shianni, who is one year older than Katalina, into their home after her parents were killed by bandits. From what Katalina could remember, Adaia was not enthusiastic, but, perhaps out of guilty that she wouldn’t give Cyrion another child, she didn’t oppose his decision. Once Shianni arrived, though, Adaia treated her fairly enough. Unfortunately, Shianni was physically more fragilely built and not agile enough, so while Katalina received a proper martial and weapon training from her mother, her younger cousin was taught nothing more than some basic knife fighting techniques.
The city elves’ lot took a turn for the worse in the last years of Maric’s reign when they were further forbidden to do business with humans except through various guilds that all controlled by humans themselves. The restriction hit people like Cyrion hard as he was now unable to earn profit after paying a hefty extra fee to the guild. As a result, he was forced to shut down his workshop and find a job in a Bann Rudolf’s Denerim house. That was perhaps exactly the decree's purpose: to deprive city elves of their freedom to choose a job, so render them poor and less able to launch a rebellion that The Crown must have feared. Adaia was unhappy about her husband’s decision, seeing he degrade himself from a proud artisan to servitude, but Cyrion had little choice. For the first time in her life, young Katalina saw her parents quarrel with each other, and for the first time, the little girl truly knew fear.
To offset their financial loss, Adaia began to take riskier jobs for the guild which increasingly worried her family. With King Cailan’s accession the city guards took an even harder line against elves as they tended to find excuses to attack any armed elves on the spot, yet any offense outside Alienage against elves was more and more likely to be ignored. Cyrion alternatively fought with his wife and begged her, but Adaia refused to give in. In retrospect, her demise was almost predestined, as the family breathed a collective sigh of relief every time she returned home alive.
Adaia's end (to be edited)
After Adaia’s death Tabris family was in tatters, as Cyrion found his meager salary was barely able to feed three mouths. Either out of pity or guilty, the thieves’ guild allowed Katalina to inherit her mother’s membership, even as she was only 13 years old. Cyrion opposed her daughter to have any further connection with the guild and suggested her to seek a job as maid, but Katalina vehemently opposed the idea, swearing that she would never serve a shem, so that matter was dropped. To discourage Katalina from following her mother’s path and meeting the same tragic end, one day Cyrion secretly destroyed Adaia’s bow, the only weapon she left behind, when Katalina went out to do the guild’s bidding. After the girl found out, she screamed at her father, cursing and hitting him, and had to be dragged away by Shianni. Afterwards the family hugged themselves together and wept. However, even after losing her mother’s bow, Katalina continued to “train” herself with any knife she could find, even there was no one left to instruct her. Knowing that his daughter was restless, Cyrion was determined to marry her off with whatever saving he still had, before she could get herself killed, too.
The Wedding day and subsequent events Edit
In 9:30, when the Fifth Blight already began to rage in Kocari Wilds, Cyrion finally decided to get Tabris cousins married. He found a suitable fiancé for Katalina, a young blacksmith called Nelaros, from Highever Alienage. The match was not an equal one. Nelaros was already an accomplished smith despite his age. Handsome, powerfully built, he didn’t lack admirers. On the contrary, Katalina was officially a jobless girl without any “useful” skill. So, Katalina’s family needed to pay extra money to Nelaros’ family. The proposed marriage cost almost all of Cyrion’s saving, which meant he couldn’t choose a suitable match for Soris and Shianni, so they had to accommodate themselves to whatever spouse Valendrian assigned. While Soris was resigned to his fate, Shianni refused. On Cyrion’s part, he also wanted to wait and see if he could save some more money to find a better match for Shianni, thereby it was decided Katalina and Sorris should marry first. Valendrian even invited Revered Mother Boann, Grand Cleric Elemena’s right hand, one of most influential clerics in Fereldan Chantry, to minister the double wedding. He thought that could guarantee the weddings went without accident, as well as putting Tabris family back in human authority’s good grace after Adaia’s death. Instead, it became cause of subsequent tragedy.
The wedding day was set on 23rd, August, after Arl Urien of Denerim marched away with his soldiers to fight darkspawns. The king had already left, along with bulk of royal army and Teyrn Loghain. According to custom, Urien's only child and heir, Vaughan Kendells, a young man with very questionable characters, was named as provisional governor of capital city. He was supposed to administer and guard the Crown Land, including the capital, until the king and his father returned. In reality, Queen Anora, as Queen Regent in her husband’s absence, was the person who was expected to do the job. That arrangement suited Vaughan well, since he had no intention to do his duty. On the contrary, he regarded this as a perfect opportunity to satisfy his own wanton desire of vandalism. Just three days after his father left, Vaughan got his chance.
On that day, two of Vaughan’s evil companions came to report an Alienage wedding was about to begin, ministered by a revered mother, which immediately piqued his curiosity. The trio intruded the wedding scene uninvited. Upon seeing that, Shianni hit Vaughan with a brick, sending him to a hasty retreat. Before long, however, they returned with a squad of soldiers and forcibly took away all young women present. Katalina tried to assault Vaughan, but Valendrian sternly warned her off. In this moment of hesitation, she was knocked out by a soldier and became a captive herself. To Vaughan, this was an exciting adventure, hunting “knife ear” preys under a high-ranking cleric’s nose, letting him reminisce on one of his childhood hobbies, namely taking away a little girl’s favorite doll, ruining it as much as he can before returning the misshapen wreckage to its original owner, watching her wailing and screaming. That’s exactly what he planned to do with these kidnapped girls and Mother Boann, respectively.
When Katalina waked up in storage room, she found other victims, including her cousin sitting there and discussing what to do. The majority opinion was just letting humans do what they like and forgetting everything afterwards, only Shianni spoke against it. Before she could persuade others, armed soldiers came, taking away her and another girl. Since there were four of them, and all other girls except Shianni were weeping and begging, Katalina knew resistance was futile, the only thing she could do was pretending to be still unconscious. After soldiers left, she slipped out of the room. To her surprise, no one stood guard outside, perhaps because no one believed any victim had the courage to escape. Not without regret, Katalina quickly knocked out a female elven servant, changed into her cloth and escaped from back door. Then she calmly walked out of the main entrance with a basket in hand. The single guard posted there didn’t challenge her, the experience of Cyrion working in a noble’s estate proved useful, after all.
On her way back to Alienage, she met Duncan, Soris and Nelaros and was told they were coming to rescue. She was told that Valendrian called upon Duncan’s help, but what surprised Katalina was Nelaros’ willingness to risk himself, as previously she believed he had little affection for her. Now she knew the young smith was genuinely fond of her. Since Duncan’s only concern was her safety, he suggested the three young elves returning to Alienage and letting him negotiate with Vaughan, but Katalina insisted she and Soris must do the job. Nelaros demanded to come along, too, then Duncan could do nothing but giving his consent.
The Warden Commander proved to not only have a detailed knowledge about Arl of Denerim Estate’s outer wall, but also the building's inner layout, as he led the elves to a spot where a grapple hook could be securely placed above the wall. Then he showed them how to proceed to the living area from there. After watching Katalina and the other two climbing over the wall, he went to the main entrance.
What happened next was related by Alistair to Elissa in a wildly exaggerated version, perhaps in order to put the arrogant noblewoman in her place. He told her Katalina bravely and single-handedly slaughtered half a dozen armed guardsmen and how she, drenched with their blood from top to toe, went to confront Vaughan. It failed to curb Elissa’s arrogance, but she did wonder for a long time how an Alienage elf managed to do this. The truth was far less heroic and bloody --- unil last minute, anyway --- but no less dramatic.
Inside the estate, the trio found there were less soldiers than they suspected. Only three individual guardsmen were encountered. In each case Soris and Nelaros went to distract the soldier, while Katalina sneaked behind him and knocked him out. The unconscious man was then quickly dragged into some less noticed place and strangled to death. By this way all three luckless guards were sent to The Maker without a fuss and without shedding a single drop of blood. Vaughan was an unpopular master, so if any servant found out what the trio were doing, they pretended seeing nothing.
The real trouble only came in the last possible obsacle. Before Vaughan’s pleasure room there were double guards. Now the elves faced a dilemma, as Katalina couldn’t take out two men simultaneously. Nelaros volunteered to help. Soris stumbled and broke a bottle of wine in front of these two soldiers. As they came forward to beat him, the other two elves struck. It was then the plan went awry. With all his strength, Nelaros was not a natural born killer like Katalina. He wavered at the last moment, giving the guardsman enough time to react. His strike only slightly wounded his target, but the guardsman immediately retaliated by stabbing him in the chest, fatally injuring him. On other side Katalina neutralized her target without error, and before the other human soldier could pull free his dirk, Katalina’s knife was already planted deeply between his eyes.
Inside the door there was a scene of degradation. Vaughan’s two minions, Braden and Jonaley, each held a naked bridesmaid. Vaughan himself seemed to notice the noise outside, as he already shoved Soris’ bride Valora away and grasped a dagger. On the floor, they could see Shianni, obviously also fully naked, lied under a thin blanket, sobbing and whimpering. Then the other two nobles also pushed their victims away and rushed to their clothes. To Katalina and Soris’ surprise, these two also carried dagger with them. What followed was a tense confrontation, as neither side could be sure they were able to defeat their opponents. Katalina knew most human nobles, at least male ones, received combat training, though that Vaughan was surprised by Shianni earlier didn’t say well of his skill. On the other side, she knew Soris probably couldn’t fight off any of them so it was all left to her. If she lost, not only she and Soris would die, but also every other elven girl in the room. Vaughan was afraid, too, yet he refused to capitulate completely. He declined to let those girls go, but offered paying Katalina and Soris off with forty sovereigns, a stunning sum by Alienage standard. He also promised to release his victims “unharmed” once their “party” was over. Soris asked her to accept the deal, Shianni wished her to fight. At that moment, Duncan and Valendrian’s warning of not hurting any noble played a decisive role. Katalina decided to accept Vaughan’s deal even as she was deeply ashamed of herself. She asked one of Vaughan’s friend to go with them and retrieve the money he promised. To Braden’s horror, Vaughan personally shoved him toward two armed elves without hesitation. After a final, harsh warning to Vaughan they would come back to kill him if any girl was hurt, Katalina and Soris hurriedly left the room, taking Braden with them, even as Shianni desperately begged them to stay. Only then they found Nelaros already stopped breathing. Katalina could do nothing but to leave his corpse behind.
Braden led them to Vaughan’s bedroom and retrieved the money, but Katalina decided he needed to remain a hostage until they left the estate. When they approached the main gate, they found Duncan was waiting for them. With his help they managed to leave the estate without problem. Katalina still wanted to hold Braden hostage until Shianni and other girls were released, but Duncan ordered her to let the nobleman go immediately. At his advice, Katalina also stashed the money in two secret places so it would not be confiscated even if Vaughan sent guards into Alienage later.
Duncan wanted to leave the city with Katalina immediately, but she decided to notify the Hahren what happened inside Vaughan’s lair first. Even as they walked back to Alienage, Katalina was already regretting what she had done. She wanted to go back and kill Vaughan, but Duncan stopped her. He said by now Vaughan must have summoned a lot of guards so coming back was suicidal, which was undoubtedly true.
When they were back in Alienage, still arguing what could be done for Shianni and others, the captain of City Guard arrived with a full squad of soldiers. Katalina knew she made another mistake. Now it was too late to leave. Trying to deny her involvement was pointless. Duncan invoked Right of Conscription, but the captain, who was already angry Duncan snatched Daveth from his justice just a month before, refused to comply. He insisted to take Katalina away, claiming that anyone who tried to assassinate the heir of an arl could only be pardoned by the king himself, though he promised Katalina would be safe in his custody until Cailan judged her. Soris was also arrested.
After the captain left, Duncan and Valendrian immediately went to Palace and Grand Cathedral of Denerim respectively, to petition Queen Anora and Grand Cleric Elemena’s help. Meanwhile Mother Boann also made a formal complaint to Elemena.
Vaughan had no intention to keep his promise. After summoning additional guards, he and his minions returned to their orgy. Increasingly drunken, they began to abuse their victims with even more cruelty. When one of bridesmaid, Nola, tried to resist, Vaughan violently pushed her down. She fell on the floor, broke her head and died. Only then the three noblemen awakened a little. Before they could summon servants to depose the corpse, a guard came. He carried Anora’s message that demanded Vaughan to release his victims immediately and warned the consequence of an elven riot when almost all Denerim’s soldiers had marched away. Soon, the Grand Cleric also sent a message with similar request. Despite Vaughan’s reluctance, he had no choice but to release Shianni and other two girls. So, in the end, it was Anora and Grand Cleric’s intervention rather than Katalina’s threat that saved Shianni’s life. But Katalina herself didn’t know that. For a long time, she blamed the Chantry for doing nothing to help on that day.
Shianni returned to Alienage mentally and physically broken. That Katalina might be urged by Hahren Valendrian and Warden Commander Duncan to spare Vaughan was not a sufficiently good excuse for her. She remembered her cousin’s promise to always protect her. Valendrian, Duncan, or any other people didn’t make such a promise. Katalina did. And broke it. To Shianni, her cousin’s betrayal was unforgivable.
Inside Fort Drakon Edit
Katalina was incarcerated into Fort Drakon on the same night. She expected to be sent to some underground dark hole, but instead, she found herself in a nice room high above the ground. The room, though only modestly decorated by nobility’s standard, was already more luxurious than any accommodation she had ever lived, even with its own privy. The bed was not of bunk type, but with its own posts and curtain! It turned out that’s not an ordinary prison cell, but somewhere to hold a noble hostage. Since a hostage was not formally regarded as a criminal, a certain degree of living standard was still maintained. She could see a noble’s life, even as a hostage, was still more comfortable than elf like her could ever hope for.
If Katalina wished she could have some quiet days before the shemlen king decided her fate, such hope was already shattered on next morning. Vaughan was by no means finished with her. After receiving the report that the meddling warden commander had left the city, he immediately dropped everything on hand and went to Drakon. He demanded the commandant of that fortress prison to transfer Katalina’s custody to him, but the commandant refused to cooperate. Cailan’s obsession with Grey Warden was well-known, so the commandant dreaded the consequence for himself if the king learned a precious warden recruit was tortured and abused to death because of his decision. Unfortunate for Vaughan, his own father also knew his limitation. To prevent him from causing too much mischief, before leaving the city, Arl Urien explicitly excluded the strategically vital Fort Drakon from his son’s authority. Vaughan couldn’t simply issue a command, at least not before he became the arl.
Frustrated by the commandant, Vaughan still refused to give up. He came outside Katalina’s room, making all kinds of insult and threatening her with every nasty way he would apply on her once she fell into his hands. The guards didn’t dare to open the door for him, but they didn’t dare to chase him away, either. He only left after he exhausted himself with a torrent of verbal abuse and curse. Next day, he came again. As every day after that. Eventually the commandant agreed to give him Soris, hoping to appease him, but he still came every day, brining headache to everyone around.
However, acquirement of Soris led Vaughan to decide another approach. If for the time he couldn’t lay his hands on Katalina, he would take his revenge on other three girls. Shianni and another bridesmaid had good sense to hide, but Soris’ fiancée Valora naively believed the worst had passed so she was quickly kidnapped by Vaughan’s henchmen. Henceforth began many days’ horrible nightmare for her and Soris.
Every evening, Vaughan would bring Soris and Valora out of their dungeon cells and tortured them for hours. Then he would rape Valora while his henchmen forced Soris to watch. Every time after forcing himself upon her, he would cut a deep, fresh wound on Valora’s cheek to celebrate his conquest. Soris was forced to watch that, too. Both elves screamed, howled, wept, begged, while Vaughan himself laughed ecstatically and his minions duly cheered. The next morning, he would come to visit Katalian once again and described what happened on last night with vivid details, in the mean time promising he would inflict ten times more pain and humiliation on her later. That became a routine. In the end, Soris and Valora’s mind were almost completely broken, while Katalina lived in unending remorse, forced to relive the moment she stopped her hand again and again, wishing she could be bold enough to kill him or die trying.
Ironically, that kind of depredation only ended with arrival of Rendon Howe, who would later be dubbed as ‘Butcher of Denerim’ for his massacre of that city’s Alienage. But for now, he was the savior of Tabris cousins and Valora, for he toppled Vaughan. The cruel predator himself finally became the prey of someone who was every bit as sadistic, but much more calculating. This was the first life-threatening crisis Katalina managed to evade, since only one day or two later, the news of Arl Urien’s death arrived, which would put Vaughan on the position of arl and gave him the authority to command Katalina’s transfer.
After usurping Vaughan’s place, Arl Howe soon marched his entire force to Alienage, and a great massacre began. Unlike Loghain, he was not a racist that believed elves posed a serious security risk to Ferelden, but he wanted to show other nobles, most of all Loghain and Anora, that he meant business, and the unfortunate Alienage served as a cheap mean to this end. Howe had three hundred soldiers under his command, plus some city guardsmen. While there were many more rioters from Alienage, most were armed nothing more than kitchen knives or clubs, many were completely unarmed. Several score members of Thieves’ Guild constituted as core of this short-lived rebellion, but even they mostly only possessed shabby leather armors, or no armor at all, which made them easy victims of professional human soldiers. It’s an unequal struggle that ended within a single day, hundreds of elves died in the fighting, many more in subsequent slaughter. Even the Alienage Orphanage was burnt down with death of nearly everyone inside except a few lucky souls. In the meantime, Katalina sat helplessly in her cell, listening the guards talk about the very massacre she trying so desperately to avoid, even at the price of her own conscience and other girls’ dignity.
Katalina struggled to keep back her tears until night, when she believed no shemlen was outside, ready to savor her grief. But there was one, a female guard called Judith. This woman already had sympathy for Katalina back to the days Vaughan still came for his daily clamor, threatening her with those tortures solely reserved for female that could make any woman terrified or furious. Judith heard her sob and came to investigate. To her own surprise, Katalina found herself tell everything to that shemlen woman. Her guilty, her agony, her regret. Perhaps because she desperately needed to talk to someone after spending weeks in solitary imprisonment. After hearing her stories, Judith agreed to help her. For a price.
The bargaining process was a long one, since neither side trusted the other very much, so at first it seemed both women were not eager to reach an agreement soon. Judith wanted as much reward as she could get for this risky work. Katalina, on the other side, wanted to use the money she got from Vaughan to compensate Shianni and other girls, seeing this as only chance she could be forgiven.
While she and Judith argued about the guardswoman’s reward, Judith utilized the chaos created by Rendon Howe’s ‘reorganization’ of Fort Drakon (i.e. sack of many guards and replacing them with thugs hired by him) to strike off Katalina’s name from the prisoner’s list. From now on, ‘Warden Recruit Katalina Tabris’ officially ceased to exist. Instead, she was moved to a dungeon cell recently vacated by its previous occupier, an elven thief who was deceased after several years’ confinement and assumed that prisoner’s identity. But Judith wouldn’t set her free before a price could be agreed.
They bargained for nearly three weeks, on and off. Finally, an agreement was reached: Katalina had buried her treasure in two stashes, following Duncan’s advice. Now she agreed to give Judith the location of one stash and twenty sovereigns within it. The price was steep, but Katalina realized if she didn’t get out of prison alive, Shianni and other girls wouldn’y receive a single copper.
Unfortunately, the long negotiation proved to be Katalina’s undoing. When the deal was finally struck, it was already the second week of Havestmere. Rendon Howe had already taken a few nobles hostage. After Loghain returned and proclaimed himself ‘Regent’ he arrested more nobles for daring to speak against him. Fearing they might escape in disguise, Loghain gave order that anyone who left Drakon must remove his headgear. This was a death blow to the escape plan for there was no way Katalina could conceal her pointed ears now. It took a while for Judith to find a suitable set of guard uniform for Katalina, since she as an underage elf was extremely short by human standard. Now it all came to nothing.
For Judith, the danger was also approaching. She had already heard plan to recheck and rebuild a credible prisoner list which would expose her doctoring. The plan, just like many similar bureaucratic plans, never came beyond that, but to Judith that’s the last straw. Worrying her own safety, one night she came to Katalina’s cell. She apologized for unable to keep her promise. Then, after leaving her belt knife and suggesting the young elf to take her own life with it if worst came to worst, she hastily fled, Katalina’s desperate plea unheeded. At that moment, watching Judith’s departing silhouette, as the crushing numbness engulfed her entire body, Katalina, with a sinking heart, realized she must be feeling exactly what Shianni felt when her cousin was left behind by the one person she trusted most.
Now hopelessly marooned in her cell, Katalina could do nothing but endure. Because the cell was totally separated from outside world, after a few days she completely lost sense of time. In the dungeon it was always darkness that only barely challenged by a faint oil lamp here and there. The meager food was not given on a very regular basis. The water was given once in two or three days. The only thing that enable her to keep track of time was scream. Fort Drakon was located on a low mountain that lied adjacent to Denerim. Its particular structure enabled the high-pitched sound to be heard from long distance. Of all such sounds, it seems nothing transmitted better than scream. Everyday, two or three hours before the midday, the grim work of torturing prisoners began, which soon became a popular entertainment among guards after Rendon Howe took over. It reached daily climax around supper time, obviously because such work helped appetite for not a few guards. The torture work didn’t stop until well after midnight. For a prisoner in dungeon cell, which meant in the bowels of the mountain, the screams came from nowhere and everywhere, genderless and ageless, without any clear identity but a very clear indication: agony. When they stopped, Katalina knew another day of torment had passed.
This part of dungeon which held long-term inmates was kind of leper colony. The guards didn’t want to enter it too frequently. To avoid being violated by them, Katalina used Judith’s knife to cut her hair short frequently and disguised herself as a boy by all means possible. But the guards’ fear of being contaminated by disease might well be the biggest reason why she escaped their attention. Especially after many young elves were captured after Alienage riot was put down, the guards naturally were unwillingly to risk themselves while so much fresh meat was available.
But the danger was not entirely absent. The prisoners were ordered to do chores like bringing food or cleaning. When Katalina came to some cells, she could see their occupiers, usually males, watching her with eyes that as lecherous as Vaughan’s but with so much more madness. They knew what she was and they didn’t mind contamination or void. Fortunately for her, after being imprisoned much longer than her, they were simply too weak to implement whatever their designs for her. But the feeling of repulsion was built into this unending nightmare. There were also a few times every single elf prisoner was summoned to gather in the great hall and was forced to watch some of their own race tortured and abused publicly. Katalina knew a few of them. There were even her friends from Thieves’ Guild. Their resistance crushed, their rage spent, now all remained for them was suffer in their captor’s hands, like those Arlathan elves, and Dalish elves after them. On one or two occasions she could swear someone she knew recognized her, too, but she couldn’t read their eyes. Maybe it’s plea, maybe accusation. She couldn’t help them in any meaningful way. Instead, she had to shrink back even further into the crowd, lest she be identified and suffer the same fate. Increasingly shamed and disgusted with herself, Katalina felt she was betraying her friends again and again. Gradually her mind began to break down and her health deteriorated. She had a feeling her end was coming.
It was. By now it was already late winter of 9:31. ‘Regent’ Loghain, mired in a civil war he was unable to win decisively and desperately needing more money, struck a deal with a Tevinter Magister, Caladrius, to sell elves into slavery. But a Landsmeet was quickly approaching, which Loghain was powerless to stop. It would be a great embarrassment for him if the slavery business was being conducted somewhere just a few city blocks from the Landsmeet Hall. So Caladrius decided to terminate the entire business in early Drakonis. On the final day, every elf prisoner in Fort Drakon would be offered to him at on-sale price. Whoever he refused to buy would be summarily executed, as continuing to feed those useless ‘knife ear’ mouths was obviously judged as unpatriotic by Loghain. Unknown to Katalina, she was already deemed unfit for sale due to her illness. Though this final solution was supposed to be a closely guarded secret, a week before that fateful day, the guards decided to announce it to all its intended victims, because they enjoyed to see the elves’ reaction. So, when Katalina was resigned to her fate and waited to be sold as slave, she was actually waiting for her death.
In the end, the death did pay a visit to Fort Drakon, in a rather generous way, but not exactly as the guards expected. Three days before the final deadline, on an early morning as desolate as many such before it, Katalina was awakened by screams that much more audible than before, then the door to her cell was kicked wide open. Beyond it Katalina could see a terrified guard held by several armed people. Their leader was a blonde human girl who looked every bit as heroinely as Andraste in Chantry’s stories.
Her nightmare at Fort Drakon finally came to an end.
As Elissa Cousland's Handmaiden Edit
Elissa brought three of her closest companions with her. All human. The dark-haired woman called Morrigan held herself aloof. She didn’t bother to speak, but Elissa introduced her with a very adoring tone. The other woman, the red haired Leliana, was amiable, but Katalina was not elated to hear that she was a Chantry sister. The only male present, a young man called Alistair, was presented by Elissa as ‘our new king’ with some sarcasm. Despite that, she didn’t seem to be against such an idea. It was Alistair himself who appeared quite uneasy about that. He looked more than a little awkward, lacking self confidence. Thus, at this point he didn’t leave a very positive impression upon Katalina.
Being led out of the dungeon, Katalina met others from Elissa’s team in the Great Hall. She couldn’t help but marveling Shale, the first golem she ever saw. Sten’s equally imposing figure, on the other hand, brought a very different reaction. As her gaze met the Qunari’s emotionless eyes, she felt an instant sense of danger. The first encounter with Qunari people was definitely negative experience for her, and that first impression never really changed. Unlike many elves who chose to embrace the Qun, Katalina quickly obtained a distrust for everything about Qunari. The dwarven warrior, Oghren, held even less appeal. Even as Katalina just met him for the first time, he already was making lewd, mocking comment about her body shape. A sharp reproach from Elissa immediately shut him up, but that’s not the last time he tried to harass her. There was also an old woman there, who introduced herself as Wynne, a Circle mage. Like everyone, Katalina also heard bad things about mage, but Wynne was all kindness, looking genuinely concerned about Katalina’s poor health.
The last of the group, Astraea Amell, had strange silver hair that didn’t befit her age, as Katalina realized the girl must be just a few years older than herself. Like Morrigan and Wynne, Astraea was also unarmed, or it looked so. Yet, while Morrigan and Wynne showed an aura of authority, Astraea, whom Elissa affectionately called ‘Tracy’, appeared to be a bookish young woman, even a bit timid. Unlike Alistair, her bearing was not awkward, but seemed to be somewhat deliberate. Katalina mistakenly took her as Elissa's scribe. Only much later did she realize Astraea could be almost as deadly as Morrigan.
Joining the Grey Warden: Amaranthine War and Aftermath Edit
As Warden Commander of Ferelden Edit
This jovial and seemingly harmless young healer joined the Grey Warden on the same day as Katalina, at the very first Joining Ritual presided by Elissa Theirin. As the fellow founding member of new Fereldan Grey Warden, he and Katalina should enjoy a friendly relation, but they didn’t. Katalina was a victim of a previous sexual assault. Though the assault didn’t succeed, it left mental scar on her, which was only exacerbated by her experience in the prison. Thus, Anders’ attempts to flirt with her brought very negative reaction from her. Their relation was strained from the beginning. Anders, after his flirtation was rebuffed, thought Katalina was nervous, childish, and overindulged by Elissa, while Katalina regarded him as corruption among ranks. After Anders merged with Justice, the relation between them quickly deteriorated to open hostility, with Anders’ attack on templars and Katalina’s subsequent attempt to arrest him providing the last straw. Katalina maintained her hardline stance against Anders in subsequent years and dissuaded Elissa from bringing him back. It eventually damaged her relationship with Leliana, as Leliana believed Katalina’s obstinate animosity toward Anders was partly responsible for his self-destruction and the catastrophe caused by it, but she never regretted. Just like Velanna and Nathaniel couldn’t find a more caring friend than Katalina, Anders couldn’t find a more stubborn enemy.