Eleanor Laerke Celestine Theirin (née Cousland), Warden-Commander of Ferelden, Arlessa of Amaranthine, The Opal Blade, Lady of Highever and Hero of Ferelden Savior of the Fifth Blight.
Though she holds many titles and wears many hats, Laerke remains humble and grounded. She considers such lofty labels completely unnecessary and rarely goes out of her way to acknowledge the majority of them or pull rank unless it is of importance. She was born 9:12 Dragon to the former Teyrn and Teyrna of Highever, Bryce and Eleanor Cousland, making her the younger sister to the new Teyrn, Fergus Cousland. As a Grey Warden, she took her duties to heart and strove to uphold not only the honor of the Cousland name but that of the order itself. She found a quiet pride in her position as Warden-Commander of Ferelden following the Blight and wouldn't trade it for anything...well except for that small detail about the Calling, but that's something she's working on.
"I aim to be lionhearted, but my hands still shake and my voice isn't quite loud enough."
- 1 Physical Appearance
- 2 Personality
- 3 Talents and Skills
- 4 Biography
- 5 Relationships
- 6 Miscellaneous / Trivia
- 7 Links
- 8 Gallery
Taking after her father, Laerke has the Cousland stormy-blue eyes and strong features such as high cheekbones and a solid jaw. However, like her mother Eleanor, she has sandy blonde hair and stands at about average height. Her build is athletic and structured rather than shapely and this was a point of contention for Laerke growing up and even into adulthood as she hardly thinks of herself as similar to many other young noble ladies.
Initially, as a girl, she wore her hair long and loose until she learned her lesson one day running through the woods while chasing after her brother. She tripped and stumbled into some brambles only to then get caught on the branches of a tree in her attempt to free herself. The solution was to cut it short if only to avoid a similar situation from happening again. When initially recruited by Duncan, she wore it in two messy pigtails behind her head but eventually let it grow out enough to wear a relaxed ponytail until after the Blight, when she tends to wear more intricate braided styles.
Laerke is a Cousland through and through. She was raised to be honorable, kind and diplomatic, while still possessing a mind for battle. Unlike many noble girls, she was wholeheartedly encouraged to take up the sword alongside her older brother Fergus and defend the family name as she saw fit. For the most part, Laerke is reserved and quiet. She is more the type to observe and soak everything in before weighing in with her opinions. It is her soft-spoken and much more gentle manner that some see as easy to exploit or consider a weakness, especially in a leader or monarch. However, others have spun theories that it hides a sharp mind, and that beneath the distant smiles is the fierce warrior and hero who saved them all.
Talents and Skills
- Swordsmanship - Laerke was raised in a household of blades. Her father and brother before her were both respected warriors, and even her mother had been known for her own talents back in her heyday. Laerke is a proud and skilled fighter, preferring the use of a long-sword. Her style is less about sheer power and lasting against her enemies than it is about quick, well-time strikes intended to disarm and take down her opponents before they can get the upper hand.
- Shield Tactics - As a sword and shield style warrior, she relies on her shield, decorated with the Cousland Heraldry, to soak up the blows and trip up her enemies so she can strike with her blade before they have much chance to get a foothold out on the field.
- Leadership - It takes a little bit of time for Laerke to develop this particular talent, as she was not a natural-born leader from the get go, despite her noble upbringing. After the Blight, when she is promoted to Commander of the Grey of the Ferelden Grey Wardens, she has no choice but to figure out how to lead. By the time she is tasked to rebuild the order, starting in the newly acquired Vigil's Keep of Amaranthine, Laerke is feeling much more confident and capable of leading her Wardens. She still owes a lot of thanks to them, and her companions before that, who helped her find that balance between friend and leader/commander.
- Silver Tongue - Despite always preferring to be on the battlefield, swinging a sword around and seeking adventure from very young, Laerke did not come away without being taught proper etiquette, how to speak and hold herself like a proper lady.
- Navigation - Laerke has an excellent internal compass and a very strong sense of direction. In addition, she is fairly knowledgeable on Thedas' geography.
Naturally, as a noble, Laerke had lived in privilege growing up. Being a Cousland, the family closest to the throne with almost as much power as the King himself, she had access to the best of everything. Yet she never used her status and wealth to lord over anyone else as Bryce and Eleanor raised their ilk to be humble and respectable people, an example they themselves set.
While Eleanor may have wanted a daughter she could raise into a proper lady, one they could be proud of and one they would expect to carry on the family line, Laerke was far more interested in knights, dragons and adventure than parties and mingling with the other nobles. She was constantly chasing after Fergus and pestered him and her father to teach her to fight and to use a sword. Tales of brave knights, Chevaliers and the Grey Wardens of old inspired her to become a proud warrior like them. It was more common for her to be wearing breeches and climbing trees than in pretty gowns and sipping tea. As she got older, so began Laerke's admiration for Ferelden's beautiful Queen, Anora, who ruled beside King Cailan. Laerke regarded her as someone she aspired to be like one day.
Laerke was in no way prepared for what was about to happen and how her life was about to drastically change. The massacre of Highever was horrific, nightmarish and had a lasting effect on her since.
Prologue / Ostagar
Despite her reluctance to leave her parents behind, aided by her very best friend Jasper (the family Mabari), Laerke willingly followed Duncan and agreed to join the Grey Warden order. She knew it was her only option if she wanted to escape the castle and Highever with her life. Though still in mourning, Laerke made it her job to greet everyone she met at Ostagar with grace and respect. Even going so far as to helping out a prisoner by seeing that he got a final meal, and finding the necessary ingredient to cure a sick Mabari Hound in the kennels.
It was in the Korcari Wilds, just outside of Ostagar, that the party met up with what they assumed to be the (or one of the) infamous "Witch of the Wilds" who became known to them as Morrigan. It was only by luck that Morrigan's mother was also a skilled mage and saved Alistair and herself from the Tower of Ishal when it was overrun by the Darkspawn in the failed battle.
The small village was their first stop on what would be a very long, difficult journey to stop the Blight.
- Convinced merchant to trade fairly
- Calmed the doomsayer
- Recruited Leliana
- Recruited Sten - got key from Revered Mother
After learning about Arl Eamon's illness while in Lothering, and in desperate need of his aid and his men anyway, Laerke made Redcliffe the next destination.
- Met with Teagan in the Chantry - helped Redcliffe soldiers prepare for battle
- Promised Owen she would rescue his daughter - convinced him to work
- Aided Redcliffe in the battle against the undead
- Found and rescued Bevin - convinced him to go back to his sister - returned sword - gave them money to travel
- Successfully got into the castle & learned of the situation with Connor, agreed to Jowan's ritual
- Isolde sacrificed herself for her son.
- Found Alistair's mother's amulet and later returned it
- Freed Owen's daughter and sent her home
It was determined that Alistair and Laerke would call upon the Grey Warden Treaties of old to assist them in the Blight, but strange rumors of chaos within the Circle of Magi make Lake Calenhad (and the Circle tower) their next stop.
- Persuaded the Templar to take them across the lake to the tower
- Once inside, spoke with Irving and Greagoir both - determined to save as many mages as possible - refused to annul.
- Ran into Wynne - recruited her to the cause
- Found black grimoire (gave it to Morrigan)
- Braved the fade - got the Litany of Adralla from Niall - saved First Enchanter Irving
- Refused Ser Cullen's request
- Mages allied for the Blight
Nature of the Beast
After the Circle was dealt with, Laerke traveled further east to the Brecilian forest where a clan of Dalish elves was said to have settled, another group sworn to aid the Wardens in times of a Blight. But like everyone else, there would be no peace found among the elves either.
- Without the necessary skills, Laerke was unable to assist the Halla.
- Laerke successfully helped Cammen & Ghenya come together after putting aside their reservations
- Discovered Deygan, a lost hunter, in the forest after an initial excursion. Brought him back to camp.
- Returned wife's things to Arthas, did not reveal the true nature of her death.
- Successfully bartered with crazy old hermit for the Great Oak's acorn
- Found ironbark for Varathorn, told him to make equipment for the elves.
- Laerke convinced Zathrian to lift the curse - established peace between the Elves and Werewolves.
- Elves recruited for the Blight
Haven & Urn of Sacred Ashes
Laerke and her companions, after following the path Isolde's men took, they happened upon a strange village town that may as well never have previously existed.
- Confronted Weylon in Denerim - killed the imposter
- Found Genitivi's notes
- Discovered Haven
- Found strange altar in villager's home and encountered cultists upon exiting
- Confronted Father Eirik in the Chantry - killed him in defense
- Saved Genitivi and traveled with him to the Ruined Temple
- Killed Kolgrim and his followers
- Did not disturb the High Dragon
- Was given some closure by facing Bryce at the start of the Gauntlet
- Successfully passed Gauntlet
- Did not defile the Sacred Ashes
Paragon of Her Kind
The last of the treaties happened to be for the Dwarves and so the party ventured to Orzammar where they found yet more unrest and in the midst of their own succession crisis.
- Met and recruited Oghren
- Agreed to help Brother Burkel with establishing a Chantry in Orzammar
- Helped Zerlinda and her family reconcile
- Could not locate stolen tome for the Shaperate
- Convinced the Circle to let Dagna study with them
- Found evidence linking Orta to a noble house - got her into the assembly
- Did not participate in Rogek's lyrium deal
- Infiltrated the Carta's base - killed Jarvia
- Laerke told Filda that Ruck died in the Deep Roads though he survived
- Fought against Branka - sided with Caridin and destroyed the Anvil of the Void
- Bhelen was crowned King in Orzammar
Denerim > Landsmeet
With all of the treaties acted upon and Arl Eamon healed and ready to lead once again, it was time to start preparations for a Landsmeet. This brought Laerke and her companions to Denerim to handle a few things before it would begin.
- Encountered Ser Landry - denied his duel. Killed in self-defense
- Successfully handled the Crimson Oars and rowdy customers in the Pearl
- Visited Goldanna with Alistair - did not harden him
- Returned scroll (found in the temple) to Sister Justine for study
- Did not complete Master Ignacio's assassinations
- Laerke did not encounter Slim Couldry at all
- Helped the Denerim Alienage - returned the amulet to the beggar
- Snuck into Arl of Denerim's estate to rescue Anora
- Freed Bann Sighard's son Oswyn
- Took Irminric's ring back to Alfstanna
- Killed Rendon Howe
- Confronted Marjolaine with Leliana - let her go
The Stone Prisoner
Somewhere along their travels, Laerke and her companions stopped in the village of Honnleath after receiving a control rod for a golem from a passing merchant.
- Shale was awoken and recruited
- Saved Amalia from Kitty, neither she nor Matthias were possessed.
After being approached by a young man by the name of Levi from the fallen house Dryden, he expressed a desire to find any evidence that his descent, Sophia Dryden (once the commander of the Grey Wardens) was a hero, in order to restore his family name.
- Agreed to travel with Levi to Soldier's Peak
- Uncovered the secrets of what went on there
- Defeated Sophia Dryden
- Avernus was spared - humane experiments only
The time had finally come to not only face Teyrn Loghain after all that had been done and take a stand against him but to gather the noble houses and decide, once and for all, the future of Ferelden's leadership. Despite the resounding support for the Grey Wardens, that Laerke and her companions had acquired through combined acts of diplomacy and shows of respect, the Landsmeet still devolved into chaos when a fight broke out between Loghain, his men and everyone else. It was decided after this fight was brought to a swift end, that a duel would take place. As the elected champion, Alistair faced off against Loghain in a duel that unfortunately ended in his execution, much to Anora's dismay. It was difficult for Laerke to go against Ferelden's beloved Queen, Cailan's widow, and a woman who she had looked up to and idolized for many years. When it came time to decide Ferelden's next monarch, Laerke put her support behind Anora as she had originally agreed, much to Alistair's relief (and Eamon's disappointment). She detested the idea of throwing Alistair to the wolves after all he had expressed about not wishing to be tied to his so-called "legacy" and lineage. They both agreed that Anora was the best suited for Ferelden, as she had already long proven herself to be a skilled leader and beloved monarch. Though many rejoiced and celebrated the continuation of Anora's reign, this was no victory for Laerke who found herself wracked by guilt over openly defying Eamon after what happened with Isolde.
Following the Blight, Laerke and Alistair were celebrated for their efforts, with Laerke being dubbed the "Hero of Ferelden". Their visit with court was brief before being called to Weisshaupt Fortress in the Anderfels by the First Warden himself. Though initially suspicious of how they both survived and managed to end the Blight so quickly, Laerke was thusly promoted to Warden-Commander of the Ferelden Grey Wardens. She was given leave to rebuild the Order and establish a foothold in Amaranthine, from where they would be operating out of. Additionally, she was also spending this time cleaning up remnants of the Blight around the city and outlying areas as the Darkspawn had not yet completely vanished and gone back underground.
It was a while later that a lead on a possible cure for the Calling cropped up and took her away from her duties as Warden-Commander, temporarily leaving Nathaniel Howe in charge as de-facto leader and Warden-Constable. She set off with Alistair, Zevran, and a handful of the new Wardens in search of something that could change lives not just for Alistair and herself, but for all Grey Wardens. It was somewhere at the start of her travels following this lead that she became aware of both the Breach and the forming of the Inquisition.
Alistair - Initially she was a little intimidated, as he was the senior Warden among a group of recruits, but his use of humor and his generally sweet disposition helped chase away her initial reservations. It was easy to relax around him and feel confident he was a genuinely good person. From the get-go, Laerke admired his dedication to duty, to the Warden order. Even while she was still wrestling with the deaths of her family, of her entire household, he had a way of making her feel safe. That became more prevalent the longer they traveled together and she got to know him more. She fell first for his genuine warmth and kindness, but found herself completely in love with his devotion, tenacity, carefully hidden wit, and ability to be vulnerable. It was no surprise to any to see the two married off after the Blight in a small, intimate ceremony without the pomp and circumstance that would ordinarily come with her status as nobility.
Companions - Origins
Morrigan - She was put off by the woman's bristly and sour nature at first and couldn't understand why the witch was so openly disapproving every time she tried to do the 'right thing' or put herself out there to help those they met along their travels. She was, however, fascinated by the woman and still tried to understand her. It took time for Morrigan to come around but when she did, Laerke found a woman with immense strength, a strong sense of independence, and a complex view of the world they lived in and a thirst to know more of the world outside of the swamp she grew up in. Laerke found herself a kindred spirit in that respect.
Leliana - The former lay sister was sweet and delightful company from the start. As someone with deep faith, she found herself admiring the Bard quite quickly. Her worldly knowledge and stories told in the camp were a welcome contrast against her dreary task of trying to stop a Blight. There was an underlying sadness to Leliana that only made sense as her past came to light in small pieces over time. Once out in the open and after the confrontation with Marjolaine, Laerke only became further endeared to the rogue and cemented their friendship as two women trying to make something of themselves in a world that often seemed needlessly cruel.
Zevran - You know, some might think it strange how a person could become such dear friends with a man who had been hired to kill her, but it happened. Zev was witty, charming and bold from the get-go, all traits entirely unexpected from a trained assassin. At least, from what she expected somebody in his line of work to be like. His honesty was refreshing most of all, and she was fascinated by his stories of Antiva and his time with the Crows. Despite his attempt on her life, she considered him a reliable ally and trusted his word that if he had really wanted her dead, she would have been. His skills as a rogue were more than useful, but over their travels, she came to admire his reliability, appreciate his companionship, and his varying degrees of advice. They became close friends and he later joined Laerke on the hunt for the Cure to the taint. Despite his initial reticence, Alistair genuinely trusted the man to keep her safe.
Wynne - On the heels of having recently lost her mother, it was no surprise that Wynne helped fill that void. She was no replacement for Eleanor but having someone with a motherly-like demeanor certainly helped her heal from the loss. Laerke regarded Wynne's gentle but firm manner warmly and appreciated her guidance during their travels. Wynne's criticism of her budding relationship with Alistair did frustrate and discourage her at first, but it allowed for some growth on Laerke's part as she was forced to analyze the sincerity of her relationship and decide if it was ultimately worth it. Hearing of the Enchanter's death some time later during the search was heartbreaking news and Laerke made a point to stop and pay her respects at some point on her return.
Sten - Being fairly sheltered meant Laerke had no experience with the Qunari and felt more than awkward when dealing with Sten. His taciturn and quiet demeanor, along with a penchant for very few words when he did have something to say, was a stark contrast to her other companions. While they never become dear and loving friends, by the end - and after she helped retrieve his sword thought lost - they had developed a strong mutual respect for one another.
Shale - Well, she never expected to befriend a Golem in her lifetime, let alone one who used to be a Dwarf, but stranger things have happened. Despite her bristly nature, Shale wasn't too difficult to win over and Laerke found herself rightly amused by the golem's snarky humor. Even the subtle teasing about being a "squishy thing" strangely worked at keeping morale high. Shale was just something so unusual that Laerke couldn't help but find enjoyment in. It was meeting Cairidin and finding Cadash Thaig, learning more about Shale's past and life as a "squishy thing" that further endeared them to each other. It led to something of a tearful goodbye when they parted ways, finally, after the Blight was over.
Oghren - Her relationship with Oghren was a complicated one. His demeanor was hardly welcoming at first and his dependency on liquor helped matters little. However, despite his shortcomings - being his temper, marital problems, and addiction - the dwarf was a reliable force on the battlefield and an especially helpful guide through the Deep Roads. When it came to dealing with Branka, she got to see the vulnerability behind the drunken ramblings and the anger, leading her to realize that he had a good heart, it was just bruised after everything he's been through and the dwarf didn't know how to handle it all without a crutch. They were slow to bond as she gave him space to determine when and how he wanted to process what happened in Orzammar, but over time they steadily came to an understanding and developed a bond of trust and respect. She later helped him reconnect with an old flame, Felsi and encouraged him to try a fresh start with her. Eventually, they reunited again in Amaranthine and for a minute it felt like no time at all had passed. She agreed to let him join the Order, not realizing it was an escape from the family he unwittingly built, feeling himself incapable of filling the role Felsi and their child needed. By the end, they had become closer friends than ever and she was proud to have him serving within the Grey Warden order.
Companions - Awakening
Anders - Right away, Laerke knew the mage was going to be trouble, but it was trouble she deemed worthwhile. His disarming humor, charm, and flagrant flirting were amusing and made his company highly entertaining. After a while, however, she could see there was so much more to him than that. As she came to know Anders, she found him a man who was not unlike those she met before - someone who was determined to live life by his terms, rather than the Chantry or the Circle's. He was rebellious by nature but that did not stop her from inviting her into her heart as a dear friend and family-adjacent. Learning what happened later - his flight from the Wardens, joining with Justice and the trouble in Kirkwall were all such a shock and left her with conflicting feelings. It was only later when she met up with him and his friend Devyn Hawke - Champion of Kirkwall - that they were able to have a heart-to-heart discussion and clear the air. Laerke still didn't know quite how to feel about his actions against the Chantry, especially as a woman of faith, but she quickly decided that she had no place to judge him for good or for ill as she had only a shallow understanding of his plight and that of his fellow mages. She still cares for him as like family, and respects his conviction and the fact that he stands by his decision at least.
Nathaniel - The moment she was brought to his cell in the dungeon, Laerke was furious. Realistically, she knew Nathaniel had nothing to do with his father's treachery and slaughter of her family. Yet he was still a Howe and held fast to his family pride, insisting his father was right to question the Couslands who were suspected of consorting with the Orlesians. After a tongue lashing, she ordered his release, gave him his family's things, and sent him on his way much to his surprise. It gave her time to come down off her anger and such that when he confronted her and the party on a trip back to the Keep, insisting he join the Order so he may work to restore his family's name and honor, she reluctantly accepted. With enough time and persistence, they came to see each other as family-adjacent once more. After all, why throw away the years of friendship between their family just because Rendon was a bastard? She realized it wasn't fair to hold their father's crimes over Nathaniel and his siblings. As they had not seen one another since childhood, she quickly came to admire Nathaniel as he was now for being devoted, too clever for his own good, and a very skilled archer. While she could not turn the Vigil back over to him and his family, she went on to appoint him as Warden-Constable and acting Commander of the Amaranthine Wardens in her absence after she set on a journey to find the cure for the taint.
Sigrun - What wasn't there to like about the former Legionnaire? Sigrun was surprisingly jovial, inquisitive about life on the surface, she was an excellent addition to the Order and to the ever-growing family that her Wardens felt like by the end. Though she regarded others like Anders and Nathaniel closer, she still cared for Sigrun and the rest deeply as a mother-like figure.
Velanna - Much like Morrigan, Velanna was prickly at first meeting but Laerke found her surprisingly reasonable and level-headed when push came to shove. Being fairly ignorant to the ways of the Dalish, she didn't always understand the elf, but certainly tried to make an effort in learning more. By the end of her tenure as Warden-Commander, she and Velanna had developed a respectful mutual relationship, one in which she could trust Velanna to do what was necessary as a Warden while Velanna respected her command, making Laerke's parting from the order bittersweet.
Justice - Justice was certainly one of the more unusual of her companions, being an actual spirit of the Fade inhabiting the corpse of a fallen Grey Warden. Admittedly, she was not at all educated much on the Fade, on spirits and demons as much as politics and people. She did find him interesting if a bit strange. By the she left on her search, she and Justice had forged an odd yet strong friendship built on a foundation of respect for her lead on his part and his willingness to understand the mortal world and work within its limitations. She felt a strange sort of sadness later when she found out about his joining with Anders, assuming him to be gone for good but her relief came later when she learned more about the nature of their joining and that Justice was not at all gone, but very well could have vanished had Anders not done something to help.
Miscellaneous / Trivia
- Her title of The Opal Blade was given to her by the people inspired by the color of her sword: Starfang
- She is absolutely terrified of Broodmothers and panicked when they faced one the first time
- Laerke's face claim is Rebecca Ferguson from "The White Queen"
- Changed Worldstate - her Champion is now Devyn Hawke and Inquisitor is now Anzo Cadash.
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