Girls, romanticize yourselves. You are a queen. You are a warrior. You are an enchantress. You are a mermaid. You are a goddess. You are all these things and more, you are the stuff of fairytales.

Women, traumatize others. You are a dragon. You are a wolf. You are a bump in the night. You are the last thing they see in the darkness. You are all of these things and more, you are the heart of their fucking nightmares

… Okay, I don’t get it.

I have a mod that lets me open all the halla doors. I have this because a) I spend most of this quest hopelessly lost and terrified of my dropping court approval and this alleviates that terror a bit and b) it lets me pursue all possible quest endings up to the last minute. I know that’s cheating, but I don’t care. I want to see the setup for options I’ll never choose, and since my Inquisitor couldn’t possibly have read The Masked Empire, I think it’s completely reasonable for her to snoop in every corner before making her choice. Her knowledge is not my knowledge.

But this thing with Briala’s locket … I don’t get it. Briala already knows Celene still loves her. It’s the last thing she says to her:

“I will fight to save this empire, Bria. And I will take joy in my love finding her people, even as my breast aches with every heartbeat I live without you.” 

Celene walked alone to the mirror, and with a quiet phrase Briala awakened it.

“As does mine,” she whispered after Celene had disappeared.

The Masked Empire

We are all quite clear on Celene loving Briala … insofar as that means anything. And that’s the point: Briala cannot trust Celene, because, ‘love’ or no, Celene doesn’t fully accept her as a person.

She’s a fucking Orlesian noblewoman. To them, only other Orlesian nobles are really people – and they are either enemies, or at best uncertain allies. Everyone else is a pawn to be sacrificed. That’s the horror of the Game: every person’s worth is measured in terms of what they can do for your position. The life of an elven servant can be thrown away without thought. Briala isn’t literally a pawn: she’s a more valued piece; a bishop or knight perhaps. But she’s a piece on the board nevertheless.

Celene murdered Briala’s parents to get ahead. Her recent massacre of the Orlesian elves is really not a first offence. She murdered them, along with the rest of her servants, and then lied to Briala about it for years.

Briala plays the Game, too: it’s reasonable to point out that, up to a point, you don’t have much choice in the matter, but she spent her life carefully balancing her moves between helping her people, and protecting Celene, whom she loved and whom she believed for a long time was the best hope for helping her people.

The degree of Celene’s betrayal, the length of time she’s successfully kept this from her, the way she’s used her all these years, demonstrates to Briala that Celene will simply never have her back the way she’s had hers. Her love is real … but ultimately worthless.

‘Celene kept a locket hidden away in a vault’ ultimately changes … fuck all about this state of affairs. She’s still the woman who murdered Briala’s family, then used her grief to get her to eliminate another dangerous player, then took her to bed as though nothing happened.

So … what the hell am I watching here?