Support Your Lavellan’s Vallaslin
I know what you’re thinking, reading that title. “Support slave markings? Did you not pay
attention to the game?” But just here me out for a second. I’m not telling you
you’re wrong for choosing to remove them, I’m only asking that you listen to
this side of it. Because there’s more reasons to keep them than just looking
DOES NOT CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR TRESPASSER!
Yes, we know from Solas that the vallaslin was in fact slave markings in the ancient days. People would write on their slaves faces in honour of the “gods” they chose to worship.
The vallaslin has a terrible history. They were used as a visual marker of someone’s status. Someone literally tattooed your face with a sign that said, “I’m a slave.” And of course the elves of ancient time would love to have them removed.
But that was then, and this is now. Elves still fall victim to slavery, but by a different race. And on top of that, they have something equally hard to fight. One word. One word my people are very familiar with. That word is:
Cultural assimilation: the process by which a person or a group’s language and/or culture come to resemble those of another group.
In current Thedas, the vallaslin has adopted a new meaning. Yes, the Dalish got it wrong. They got a
lot wrong. But their history was
rewritten for them. They did not get to choose to become enslaved, have their
culture, language, and identities erased. If they saw pictographs of elves with
vallaslin, how were they to know the true meaning? When they’ve got such a
limited amount of knowledge to go by, everything was probably deemed worth preserving.
And so just like us, the fans, they made theories. It just so happened their
theories were wrong.
But they didn’t know that of course, and neither did anyone else. And so the vallaslin was never questioned as anything other than a source of pride. It is now a symbol that defines the Dalish. A mark of adulthood that says yes, I am a Dalish elf, and I refuse to submit to the humans.
Lavellan is the head of a Chantry-connected organization,
and if you don’t think for a minute the people look for every opportunity to assimilate
them, then just remember the original inquisitor, Ameridan. Revealed to
actually be an elven mage, when the Chantry wrote in the history books that he
was a human warrior. Because their racist minds cannot compute with the idea of
an elf holding a position of power.
Constantly, Chantry shit is shoved down the Inquisitor’s throat. From the beginning to end people keep expecting them to suddenly give up their people’s religion and adopt Andraste, for no other reason than just because they think it’s better.
The Winter Palace was hell for Lavellan. (Just as much for Adaar, and somewhat for Cadash, too.) Everywhere they went they had people either telling them how civilized they were “for an elf,” or the exact opposite, saying they can’t believe the Inquisitor is a “rabbit.” As well as the constant sexualisation as well. (A Lavellan having to overhear the guards’ gossip about the elven servants like they’re objects for the taking, holy shit.)
So it makes sense for Lavellan to want to hold onto as many things that differentiate them from what the Chantry wishes they were. And that includes the vallaslin.
It was once a bad thing, but does it have to be anymore? I’m not saying yes or no, just pondering. But what I do know is the Dalish are not the bad guys for having it. They use it as a visual defense mechanism, really. And I don’t think most Lavellans would give it up so easily. At least not without some serious thought.
At the end, if Lavellan keep the vallaslin, Corypheus taunts the Inquisitor. Saying they “wear their slave markings with pride.” And while it probably wouldn’t be with the same level of pride as before, I still think that statement would be true. Pride that Lavellan refuses to bend to the human world they’ve been enveloped in. Pride that Lavellan retains their Dalish roots. Pride that they are not human, and will never be human.