"Remind me why I'm doing this again?"—Zaren Lavellan, throughout most of Inquisition.
Zaren is a Dalish elf, who, after an explosion at the Conclave, was dubbed 'The Herald of Andraste' and later went on to become the leader of the Inquisition. This was in spite of the fact her identity as both a mage and an elf caused many to distrust her.
Zaren is a tall, lean elven woman, with pale skin, short dark hair and violet eyes. She has the vallaslin of Elgar'nan tattooed in black over most of her face, and extensive scarring over the same area. Her left hand is scarred with a green mark created during the Conclave.
Zaren is a serious, albeit frequently exasperated woman, who generally dislikes being mocked or condescended to. In spite of her cautious and reserved exterior, Zaren is also prone to dangerous and risk-taking behaviour due to her depression. She holds herself in little regard, and therefore frequently engages in self-destructive actions with little thought to how they will affect her in the long-term.
She also has difficulty engaging with strong emotions and expressing them to others, usually appearing very stoic in the face of trying circumstances. The only exception to this rule are situations in which she experiences intense anger. Being dedicated to Elgar'nan, God of Vengeance, means that Zaren considers anger to be an acceptable emotion for her, so she's prone to unexpected and vicious outbursts of rage.
Zaren becomes more natural in company she knows well, such as her Clan and her family, allowing herself to express a wider range of emotion. This is because she is more comfortable that she won't face retaliation or judgement from these people.
Zaren is also a strong believer in reparative justice, taking the line that crimes should be repaid by the perpetrator whenever possible, and subject to appropriate punishment when it is not. This conviction stems from having grown up with a similar justice system when she was living with her Clan.
Talents and Skills
Before the Conclave, Zaren was a highly skilled mage and dedicated First of Clan Lavellan. She was adept at using magic for both combat and utilitarian purposes, and a scholar of elven history, religion and magic. She had a particular talent and predication towards fire-based magic, as most of her ancestors had done before her, as well as the founder of her Clan and distant ancestor, Nuven Lavellan. She also had a skill for studying, able to concentrate for hours on end, using the same focus that fed her talent for magic.
After the Conclave, Zaren found her magical ability weakened by the mark on her hand, and her usual method of casting without a staff became very difficult for her. She was forced to learn how to wield magic with a staff, and slowly build on her combat skill once again. By the end of Inquisition, she became very skilled at combat both with and without magic. She also became a stronger leader and strategist due to her position as Inquisitor.
Zaren was born in 9:23 Dragon to Aridhel and Elgadir Lavellan. Her brother, Maena, had been born four years before, making her their youngest child. Elgadir was the Keeper of Clan Lavellan, still training his young First, Deshanna Istimaethoriel to succeed him. Aridhel was a hunter, though she also had a small magical talent, and had transferred from Clan Sabrae to Clan Lavellan, along with her younger sister, Enasalin.
Zaren was three years old, when, in 9:26 Dragon, both her father and mother were killed in a darkspawn attack, along with many of the other adults in Clan Lavellan. Deshanna was one of the few survivors, and, now the leader of Clan Lavellan, she quickly made the decision to merge with Clan Sabrae, the nearest clan, and the one Zaren's mother and aunt had originated from, in order to save the Clan from dying out completely.
After this incident, both Zaren and Maena were taken under Deshanna's wing, as she felt it her duty to take care of her deceased mentor's children. Though everyone in the clan helped to raise her and her brother, Zaren had always seen her Keeper as both a mentor and a mother-figure, looking up to her greatly. Her aunt, Enasalin, though a blood relation, was unable to take care of her niece and nephew at the time, due to still being a child herself, being only fourteen when her older sister died. As a result, Zaren always saw her aunt as more of an older sister, though they didn't know each other for long.
After three years, when Zaren was six years old, Clan Lavellan split from Clan Sabrae once more to go their separate ways. Zaren, Maena, and Deshanna, now Keeper Deshanna, all left to become a part of Clan Lavellan once more. Enasalin stayed behind with Clan Sabrae, knowing that the burden of being expected to look after her niece and nephew would be too much if she remained with the Clan. As a result, Zaren spent only a short time knowing her aunt before they were split apart once more. Zaren had always felt slightly betrayed by Enasalin's decision.
Now a part of the new Clan Lavellan, Zaren was believed for a while to have no magical gifts, as everyone else in her family had manifested magical talents at a very early age, with the latest being her aunt, who manifested at six. She did end up coming into her magic at age eight, causing quite a stir in the Clan when she accidentally froze one of the aravels. From that time onwards, she was trained in magic with her brother, the only other child with magical talent at the time. It was expected that one of the two would eventually become the First to Deshanna.
It became quickly apparent that Zaren's magical talent far exceeded that of her brother, so he suggested that Deshanna make Zaren the First rather than him. Maena had become very protective of his sister after their parents died, and Deshanna suspected that he was trying to shield her, so she insisted on making him First instead—if only until Zaren was old enough to take up the mantle herself. This caused something of a rivalry between the two siblings, since Zaren was determined to prove herself, both as First, and to show her brother she didn't need to be protected.
In spite of this, the two continued to have a close relationship. Zaren, while feeling she didn't need protection, did regard her older brother as a role model and friend. Maena, though always trying to look after his little sister, also encouraged her talents and respected her ability, so the two of them to remain close. They were frequently allowed to go looking for elven relics in the ruins Clan Lavellan camped next to, working as a team to navigate through the various traps throughout the ruins, albeit, with an adult nearby to keep watch.
In 9:36, however, tragedy struck. Clan Lavellan were camped in the Brecillian Forest, having been marooned there after trying to escape a flood in the Free Marches. The Veil was notoriously thin in the Brecillian, and Zaren had been getting increasingly bad nightmares as a result of the spirits all around. She had also become withdrawn from the Clan and focused instead on her duties as she grew distant from her brother in particular. He was becoming more withdrawn from her himself, as he knew it would soon be time for him to give up the mantle of First and transfer it to Zaren. He was worried about being unable to protect her anymore, as well as his future role in the Clan as a hunter.
All of this, combined with increasing pressure from Deshanna to work more with the rest of the Clan, a skill Zaren had never been good at, made Zaren feel as though she'd been abandoned by her Clan. The demons beyond the Veil fed off her fear and resentment, and her nightmares got worse and worse the longer they stayed in the Brecilian.
Though Maena tried to cheer her by taking her out exploring nearby ruins, they come across a strange mirror in the process. Maena tried to warn her away from it, knowing from the letters he exchanged with Enasalin what a similar mirror had done to her a few years before. Zaren is angry, but allows herself to be pulled away. She is even more resentful than ever of Maena's protectiveness, and, later that evening, the demons that lurked in the Fade convinced her to return to the ruin and the mirror. She reaches out to it with her magic, and it activates, turning into a portal and revealing it's true nature as an eluvian. Maena had gone looking for her by this point, and is just in time to be pulled through with her to the Fade.
This was the first time Zaren stood physically in the Fade. She quickly realised her brother was missing and enlisted a spirit to help her find him. After being forced to fight her way through several demons and many fearlings, Zaren found her brother. The spirit that had helped her quickly disappeared, leaving her and Maena, who was still unconscious, to the mercy of the fearlings that swarmed them. Though they were both able to escape the Fade, Maena was badly injured by one of the fearlings and died not long after they left.
Zaren was never quite the same after this incident, becoming even more withdrawn than she had before, not even speaking for almost six months. She was deeply depressed and attempted to take her life several times, though she always failed. She also began to have hallucinations of her brother, where he would speak to her, and try to convince her to try and let go of her grief. She never shared these visions with anyone, afraid she would be deemed insane, though Deshanna and the rest of the clan did their best to try and help her recover after her loss.
Zaren eventually resumed her lessons as First, throwing herself deeper into her work than ever before, sometimes not seeing anyone for days. This worried Keeper Deshanna, who eventually made Zaren help her tutor the other young mages in the Clan to try and prevent her from withdrawing completely. This had the desired effect, and Zaren bonded with the young mages she helped to teach, growing particularly close with the young twins, Nira and Minehn.
Tragedy would strike the Clan again however, when, in 9:38 Dragon after having camped close to the city of Starkhaven for several weeks, the city's templars were alerted to their presence, and they were forced to leave. The templars continued to pursue them throughout the Free Marches however, eventually catching up to them in late autumn. The Clan was forced to fight the templars, and though they won, Minehn was killed in the battle. Zaren tried to help Nira overcome her grief over the death of her brother, but Nira just pushed her away, blaming Zaren for his death in her grief. Though Zaren was finally elevated to First after this battle and gained her vallaslin, she began to withdraw once more.
Keeper Deshanna became extremely worried once she noticed this, and implored a young hunter by the name of Arnumin Sulahn, a close friend of Zaren's, to help her draw her prodigy out of her depression once more. Arnumin did this, and she and Zaren became very close, Arnumin having admired Zaren for her magical gifts and hard work ever since she was a child, and Zaren helping her friend with her hunting and her curiosities about magic. It didn't take long for Arnumin's admiration of her friend to grow into something more, and she finally told Zaren how she felt about her when they were both sixteen.
Zaren was initially reluctant to enter a relationship with Arnumin, not because she didn't care about her, but because she was ar'vhen (asexual) and worried she Arnumin would reject her if she found out. However, when Zaren finally revealed this to her, after several months of indecisive replies, Arnumin told her that that didn’t matter to her and that she was determined to make their relationship work, whatever form it may take. They decided to officially begin courting not long after this.
Nira remained somewhat resentful of Zaren after her brother's death, but continued to train under her, since she respected her skill. Deshanna began to fully prepare Zaren for her role as Keeper, not wanting what happened to her to happen to Zaren—having to take on the role of Keeper while still young and unprepared. Zaren continued to study magic and elven history, eventually becoming an expert on the subject, and beginning to write her own comprehensive notes on the matter.
Arnumin and Zaren become officially 'engaged' not long before the Conclave, but in order to marry the two had to individually prove they could provide for the Clan, and make wedding gifts for each other as an expression of their love. Since the two of them had both already proven their worth to the Clan by becoming a hunter and First respectively, all they had to do was make gifts for each other. Arnumin gave Zaren a pendant set with lazurite, Zaren's favourite stone, to allow her to better channel her magic, before she left for the Conclave. Zaren had intended to carve Arnumin an enchanted hunting bow, engraved with a prayer to Mythal, Arnumin's patron Goddess, to help her with her tasks when she returned from the Conclave, and allow them to officially be married. This does not go to plan.
- Went through the mountain pass
- Denies being chosen by Andraste
- Allied with the mages
- Declared the Inquisition for the elves
- Conscripted the Wardens
- Stroud was sacrificed
- Allowed Briala to rule through Gaspard
- Clan Lavellan survives
- Samson’s armour was destroyed
- Drank from the Well
- Respected Temple tradition, allied with the Guardians
- Leliana was made Divine
- Discovered and met Ameridan, sharing the truth about him
- Saved the lyrium mines, and stopped the earthquakes
- Disbanded the Inquisition
- Attempt to redeem Solas
- Recruited Blackwall, made him join the Grey Wardens
- Recruited Dorian, allowed him to reconcile with his father
- Recruited Iron Bull, saved the Chargers
- Recruited Sera, allowed her to kill Harmond
- Recruited Cole, encouraged him to become more spirit-like
- Recruited Vivienne, gave her the Snowy Wyvern heart
- Helped Cassandra find the seekers, but encouraged her to disband them
- Helped Solas free his friend
- Helped Varric track down the source of lyrium
- Told Cullen not to take lyrium
- Leliana’s assassins dealt with the Du Paraquettes
- Leliana was inspired
After defeating Corypheus, Zaren returns to her clan for a month, finally reuniting with Arnumin. Zaren had begun sending letters back and forth with her soon after attending the ball at the Winter Palace, and the two had agreed to put their relationship on hold until Zaren could return. By this point Zaren strongly suspects that the Mark will eventually kill her and confides this fear to Arnumin. Arnumin quickly decides that if that’s truly the case, then she wants to be able to spend as much time with Zaren as possible, and to do that they should make their relationship official.
The two get married in Wycombe without much ceremony, and Zaren does her best to meet up with her wife as often as she can while still clearing up the remains of the rifts for the Inquisition. This is made more difficult than it might otherwise be by Zaren’s insistence that no one outside Clan Lavellan know of their marriage. Though she had grown used to others calling her ‘Herald’ and the general derision for her religion, she was still deeply miserable about it, and didn’t want the Chantry to ruin the last of her personal life and happiness.
Zaren also formally cedes her position as First of the Clan to Nira, who has forgiven Zaren and grown into a more mature and responsible woman. The Clan has opened its own school of magic, separate to the College of Enchanters, to help educate the mages in Wycombe in the absence of any leadership. This has won them criticism and support in equal measure, but though there is still unrest in Wycombe, Zaren’s influence and the support of the families of mages has kept the situation stable.
Zaren comes across Ameridan only after defeating Corypheus, but when she does it shakes her deeply. Though she has always believed as much, when she looks at Ameridan she sees her own future stretching out before her, almost identical. This causes her to become very withdrawn from her duties as Inquisitor and deeply resentful of her advisors, who she still blames for allowing the rumour that she was the ‘Herald of Andraste’ to spread. She also becomes very watchful of false depictions of her as she travels through Thedas, as well as demanding to see Varric’s book before he publishes it.
By the time the Exalted Council arrives Zaren had long decided it was time for the Inquisition to disband, having already subtly started to dismiss their workers and send them home, without the knowledge of her advisors or companions. She was also sure she would soon die from the Anchor, and as a result had been spending much more time with Arnumin, despite the growing suspicion of everyone at Skyhold. She had intended to permanently return to her wife after the Council to spend her last days in peace, but the events of Trespasser change her plans.
Firstly, Arnumin, after hearing through rumours that her wife may have gone terminal without her, forces her way into the Winter Palace, demanding to be allowed to see Zaren. Zaren had already left to pursue Solas by this point, so when she returns she is simultaneously very pleased and very worried about their future. She has also resolved to prove Solas wrong, and show him he could help the elves of the present rather than the past. Although she is no longer bound by the Inquisition after Trespasser, she knows she cannot return to her Clan, knowing they, and potentially all elves, everywhere, are in danger from Solas. Instead she, Arnumin and a close taskforce of her most trusted advisors from the Inquisition form a group to pursue Solas and bring him down.
Leliana: Zaren was initially quite suspicious of Leliana, as she was of all devoutly Andrastian humans, but she was also aware that Leliana had been a close friend of the Hero of Ferelden, also a Dalish elf, so she was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. As it turned out, she was right in doing so, and quickly found that, ironically, Leliana was by far the most sympathetic to her struggles as both an elf and a mage of her entire inner circle.
Zaren could also sense a certain darkness in Leliana, a cynical hardness brought about by grief—the same as she had seen in Nira, and once experienced herself. She also highly valued people’s lives, and quickly began to interfere once she realised Leliana believed her agents to be expendable. This eventually drew Leliana away from her hardened attitude towards life, softening her outlook again.
Zaren was also naturally more inclined to subterfuge, and as such, Leliana became one of her most trusted advisors by the end of Inquisition.
Josephine: Zaren didn’t really know what to make of Josephine at first. Josephine always treated her with respect, but as she was a diplomat, Zaren had no idea whether this was genuine or not. She also naturally chafed against the idea that the Chantry was a peaceful and valuable organisation, as Josephine seemed to believe. Despite this awkwardness, Zaren did value the work Josephine did, knowing that diplomacy, while not always ideal, was an important part of any organisation—even if it was one she didn’t really want to be a part of.
That said, when Josephine requests help with her family’s situation, Zaren nearly turns her down, annoyed that she didn’t seem to realise the privilege she had. Upon further consideration though, she does agree to help, particularly since it seems Josephine’s life might be in danger. It was by this same rationalisation that Zaren choses Leliana’s way of dealing with the House of Repose. Zaren’s first interest is in seeing Josephine’s safety ensured. She trusts that Josephine’s method would have worked, but refused to gamble her life by spending so much time in annulling the contract.
She also respected Josephine’s dedication to pacifism after her revelation about her days as a bard. While Zaren herself strongly felt that violence was sometimes necessary, she understood Josephine’s viewpoint, and respected her decision to leave that violence behind wherever possible.
Cullen: Zaren didn’t like Cullen when she first met him and she still doesn’t by the time Inquisition ends. By the time the Kirkwall Chantry was blown up there wasn’t a Dalish clan in the Free Marches that hadn’t been strenuously warned away from the city because of the templars residing there. So, Cullen, being both a templar from Kirkwall, and a templar who still believed mages ought to be returned to their Circles again, angered Zaren on principal. Not to mention that, with her strong belief in reparative justice, she was deeply irritated by the fact she couldn’t punish him for the crimes he’d committed while in the templar’s employ.
She also suspected that her identity as a mage made him uneasy, and often worried about what she would do if he tried to rally the more anti-mage sect of the Inquisition against her. He never did, of course, but she could never shake her unease from her mind, and tried to give him a wide berth while they worked together. When informed of his attempt to kick his lyrium addiction, along with throwing a glass vial at her head, that was the last straw. While Zaren told him in no uncertain terms that he was not to continue taking lyrium—she may not like him personally but she wouldn’t enable his addiction—she also demanded that Cassandra remove him from his position while he recovered.
Cassandra proceeded to take over most of the Inquisition’s military movements from that point on, and while Cullen did recover, he did so away from the chains of command.
Solas: Zaren had...complex feelings about Solas. She found his disdain for the Dalish and elves in general to be infuriating, a situation only exacerbated by Sera’s similar feels towards elves. This worsened her isolation from her companions and frequently drove her into long periods of depression. She also found him to be one of the only people, with perhaps the exception of Dorian, to truly understand the nature of magic as she understood it. Zaren had always found magic to be deeply fascinating, and had never considered it evil, though she was fully aware it was dangerous. Solas shared this view, and was often willing to talk about it, which they did, frequently.
Zaren was also sympathetic to his view of spirits, as she had always held a similar view of their nature. As such, she was happy to come to his aid when his friend was threatened, though she prevented him from killing the mages that had bound them, also being sympathetic to their plight. They were fairly close friends throughout Inquisition, with Zaren viewing him as something akin to a fellow academic.
When he disappeared, she was initially surprised, but quickly realised something was wrong. Despite this, until Trespasser she had no energy to look into the matter, particularly as she was sure Solas could take care of himself. Throughout the events of Trespasser however, she gradually realises exactly who he is, and their confrontation is quite painful. Zaren is dedicated to the elven pantheon, and while she acknowledges the possibility Solas may be telling the truth about the Evanuris, she does not believe him. Fen’Harel is the god of trickery, and as far as she is concerned, he is doing his best to trick her.
She regrets that he seems to find it necessary to destroy the world to restore what once was, but is also fully aware that, were she in the same position, she would do the exact same thing—she already had, with Dorian, in Redcliffe. As such she decides it is in everyone’s best interests that she persuades him to do otherwise, though if she must kill him, she will.
Vivienne: Zaren did not get along with Vivienne. Zaren was fiercely anti-Circle, knowing as a fact what all Dalish knew, that properly trained mages were never a threat unless they wanted to be, and that people should not be punished for what they can do, but what they do do. Not to mention the damage the templars had done to her Clan in the past. As such the two of them got off distinctly on the wrong foot. Zaren thought Vivienne was small-minded and selfish, while Vivienne thought Zaren was ignorant and reckless. Both are forced to reconsider this view when they discuss magic and deal with Cole.
Zaren eventually comes to realise that Vivienne’s views on the Circle stem from fear, as well as being merely what she was taught her entire life, much like how Zaren had been taught her magic was a gift. She never believes that Circles are necessary, but she becomes less prickly towards Vivienne about them once she realises she won’t change her mind. Vivienne, meanwhile, comes to realise that spirits are not necessarily vicious demons through her acquaintance with Cole, and, through this, realises that Zaren can’t be wrong about everything if that was true. Vivienne still believes Zaren to be wrong about most things, but recognises her skill and begrudgingly respects her.
When Vivienne asks Zaren to obtain the heart of the Snowy Wyvern for her, Zaren quickly sees that whatever reason Vivienne is asking for, it is one important to her, and does not pry. Zaren gives her the correct heart, and witnesses the death of Bastien with Vivienne. This is a deeply unpleasant moment for Zaren, because, for the first time, she can put herself directly in Vivienne’s position. She can imagine how she would feel having to witness Arnumin’s death, she can imagine sharing it with a distant acquaintance, one she didn’t really even like, and she can see herself doing precisely what Vivienne does, as her face moves to conceal any emotion—any weakness.
They don’t talk much after that, but when they do, it’s with a respect they never would have thought possible from one another at the start of their acquaintance.
Dorian: Zaren’s initial impression of Dorian is one of suspicion. Of all the humans in Thedas, the Tevinter magisters had single-handedly done more to harm her people throughout history than any other group since, except maybe the Chantry. Once it becomes clear he has no interest in selling her into slavery however, she becomes more at ease. Though not before having the rant of her life upon discovering his views on slavery itself. They settle into a more natural friendship after that, both having strong interests in the study of magic.
They would frequently talk in the library about various esoteric fields of magical study, with Solas occasionally interjecting from below. It also helped that Dorian very strongly reminded her of Maena, or what she still remembered of him anyway, and talking to him helped her stave off her hallucinations somewhat. Zaren was also happy to speak with him about politics and the reforms he wanted for Tevinter, since seeing Tevinter do things like ban blood magic and slavery would be highly conducive to making life better for the elves that still had to live there.
When Mother Giselle tells her about the letter from Dorian’s family, she immediately suspects something is afoot, and refuses to bring him into a potential ambush unprepared, so she informs him about the letter. When they meet with Dorian’s father, she is deeply disgusted by what he attempted to do to his son, and is also deeply sympathetic, unable to think what she would do if she were in his position. She still recommends the two talk to each other though, since she feels Dorian will never have closure unless he does.
Sure enough, while Dorian and his father never fully reconcile, Dorian seems noticeably happier afterwards, and the two remain close friends throughout and even after the events of Inquisition.
Varric: Zaren is initially distant from Varric. She can sense that he wants her to be...vulnerable, emotional, like a person, and her stoic nature forbids this from happening. Nevertheless, though Zaren feels constantly in danger while serving the Inquisition, one of her main defences is sarcasm and this endears her to Varric. Though the two never become more than distant friends, she can appreciate his attempt at doing the best he can by joining the Inquisition, and Varric eventually learns that Zaren’s distance is simply her way of coping with what’s going on.
When Zaren meets Bianca things are...awkward. She suspects from the start that something isn’t quite right, and that Bianca seems nervous around her. Her suspicion is eventually justified when she discovers that Bianca is responsible for the Red Templars finding the red lyrium. This is one of the few moments where her anger clouds her rational judgement in Inquisition. She viciously snaps at Bianca, furious about the damage she inadvertently caused, and storms off in a huff. Though she knows that Bianca was trying her best to fix her mistake by bringing them with her, her fury about the hundreds of lives lost to the red Templars and the red lyrium infuriates her too much to apologise to Varric until much later.
The two do reconcile after this, but never as particularly close friends.
Sera: Zaren doesn’t know what to think of Sera. Initially, she viewed her of something of an irritating if well-meaning child, not unlike the ones she used to teach back in Clan Lavellan. As time passes however, Zaren finds her less and less tolerable, not understanding her childishness and lack of direction, particularly seeing as she was actually older than Zaren. Zaren, while deeply depressed and occasionally non-functional, had always had a direction in life. She saw no direction whatsoever in Sera.
If that had been her only criticism, Zaren could probably have grown to like Sera, after all, she knew others like Sera in her Clan and, as First, had always tried her best to help them find something worthwhile to contribute to the Clan. Sera’s virulent hatred towards elves enraged her though. Zaren had become used to the idea of people fearing magic by this point, though it would always be a foreign concept for her. She could cope with that. But insulting her people—both Dalish and city elves? That would not stand, not even if it came from another elf.
For a time Zaren tried to engage with Sera only on what she was interested in, sensing she would not easily change her mind. However, after the Temple of Mythal, and Sera, perhaps not entirely sincerely but still, threatening to shoot her with an arrow, their friendship was formally ended.
Cole: Zaren had always found Cole to be fascinating, in a not dissimilar way to Solas. She had never been afraid of spirits, and so she found it easy to get along with Cole. That said, had he been able to actually clearly convey her emotions past the obstruction provided by the Anchor, she would have been a lot more uncomfortable with him. Perhaps even angry.
As the situation was though, she was happy to assist with ensuring Cole wasn’t bound by a blood mage, and, from there, she agreed with Solas that Cole ought to be returned to his spirit-like nature. Although she wasn’t entirely sure whether she considered spirits to be fully realised people, she did think they were sentient, and that Cole should not be turned into something else merely so they would be more comfortable with him.
Cassandra: Zaren and Cassandra’s relationship was...complex. Zaren didn’t like her from the start. She, like Cullen, was essentially a templar, and not only was she essentially a templar, she was also supposed to have oversight over other templars. Meaning they were the ones who were supposed to prevent templars from abusing their powers over mages, a task Zaren felt she and her order had failed miserably at. The only thing which mitigated this annoyance on Zaren’s part was Cassandra’s willingness to own up to and attempt to correct these mistakes. That was something Zaren could greatly respect.
There was only additional friction between them caused by their differing religious beliefs. Zaren, for her part, is willing to live and let live so far as other people worshipping other gods went. She deeply chafes, however, at people trying to convert her to theirs. Cassandra never tries to outright suggest to Zaren she should worship the Maker, but Cassandra’s ill-hidden derision for Zaren’s beliefs severely pisses her off. Not to mention Cassandra’s wholehearted belief that she is the Herald of Andraste, in spite of Zaren’s denial of this title at every turn.
In spite of this conflict, Cassandra does respect Zaren’s strategic and combat skill, as well as her general judgement. As such, the antagonism on Zaren’s part is somewhat one-sided, as Cassandra isn’t intentionally trying to anger her, she’s just not aware of the struggles Zaren faces, nor how insensitive she appears. As such, it doesn’t take long for Cassandra to ask for Zaren’s help with the missing Seekers. Zaren does help her find them, considering them to be something of a loose end. She does not, however, encourage Cassandra to rebuild them, considering them to be beyond fixing, and also pretty useless since Zaren has no intention of restoring the Circles in any capacity.
Eventually the subject of Cassandra’s brother comes up, and for the first time Zaren finds she can deeply relate to and understand Cassandra. They had both lost an older brother whom they idolised to forces beyond their control, they had both been greatly changed by the experience. Though Cassandra had grown fearful of mages and Zaren had grown angry at herself, she felt a close connection to her and found that for once she somewhat understood why others were afraid of magic. She still didn’t think it was an excuse, but now she could at least comprehend the other point of view.
Blackwall: Of all the humans in her Inner Circle, Blackwall was the only one Zaren had few reservations with from the beginning. Zaren had respect for the Grey Wardens, and was of the opinion that all organisations in Thedas should be organised with the same principles of equality. Blackwall himself, though he admitted he expected her to be human, did at least seem to respect her race and beliefs, which was more than could be said of most of her Inner Circle.
The revelation about his former identity was an unpleasant one, though when she met with him in prison and discussed his crimes, she respected the fact that he wanted to atone, and had been trying to do as much as best he could without much guidance. She still wasn’t happy about his lies, but she was of the opinion he ought to officially join the Grey Wardens and do something useful rather than be executed to set an example. As such, she released him from prison and judged him herself. They remained friends until the end of Inquisition, when he left to join the Order officially.
Iron Bull: Zaren was suspicious of Iron Bull from the start, and didn’t fully let go of that suspicion until he officially became Tal-Vashoth. No spy worth his salt would ever reveal himself without a motive, and Iron Bull still worked for the Qun, so he definitely still had some sort of motive. As such, she had Leliana closely monitor both his and the Ben-Hassrath’s letters for any signs of betrayal.
When Bull asked her to help with cementing a formal alliance with the Qun, she immediately agreed, mostly because she fully believed this to be some sort of ruse, and did not want to be caught unprepared. As it turned out, it was more of a test of Iron Bull’s loyalty, and she chose to have him save his company without hesitation. She didn’t want him to return to the Qun, and so far the Chargers had proven themselves more useful than any of the Ben-Hassrath reports so far. As such Bull remained loyal throughout both Inquisition and Trespasser.
Zaren didn’t naturally gel well with Bull’s hard-drinking hard-playing lifestyle so they didn’t talk much, except about life under the Qun, since Zaren wanted to know if it was truly as horrific as some said. They remain mostly acquaintances throughout most of Inquisition.
Zaren is, in fact, closely related to the Hero of Ferelden, as Enasalin was recruited by Duncan not long after Zaren left Clan Sabrae. She is not aware of this however, as, though she and Enasalin have been exchanging letters ever since they were parted, Enasalin never went into detail about the events of the Fifth Blight, and had accidentally given Zaren the impression she was recruited as a Grey Warden after the Archdemon was slayed. This was because, for a quite a long stretch of time, Zaren refused to reply to her letters, still being resentful of having been abandoned. When Zaren eventually learns the truth after meeting her face-to-face, she is...less than happy, though the two do quickly reconcile.
Reddit Headcanon Threads:
Reddit Writing prompt Threads: