29th day of Eluviesta, 44th year of the Dragon Age
We arrived in the waters of Northern Tevinter without further ado, and in order to avoid any unwanted entanglements with the authorities of the Imperium, asked our ship captain to put us to shore a ways outside the city of Minrathous. From our impromptu harbor we crossed overland to the Imperial Highway, where we hoped we would be able to travel unmolested — and indeed, no one challenged us as we made our way south. Our goal was the Grey Wardens’ fastness at Weisshaupt, where we hoped to take rest and resupply before journeying into the Anderfels proper.
Our troubles began as we left the highway and made our way westward towards Weisshaupt. We found, to our dismay, that the hills were veritably crawling with darkspawn. After avoiding a number of small patrol groups, we crested a hill and found ourselves looking at a true army — the most darkspawn I have seen congregated in one place since the last Blight, an observation I find deeply troubling. We quickly retreated and made haste towards Weisshaupt: first with stealth, and a dear hope that the horde had not spotted us in turn; and then in a mad dash, all thoughts of subtlety or caution thrown to the wind, when we felt that stealth had no more to offer us.
By the grace of the Maker we arrived at the gates of Weisshaupt without an army snapping at our heels, and were granted access by the Wardens. We were given food and shelter as we explained the nature of our quest. The commander of the garrison informed us that our greatest chance of finding black lyrium lay in the tunnels beneath the fortress. Though they had long since been mined out, they did provide a direct route to the Anderfels proper, and if we were blessed with good fortune there was a chance we might even find what we sought in their stygian depths.
Thoughts of descending into the tunnels immediately were curtailed, however, when the garrison’s scouts reported back that the army of darkspawn we has encountered was en route. Had they followed us to Weisshaupt, or had attacking the fortress always been their intent? It mattered little — they were here now, and we decided it was only right and proper that we help defend this place from their predations. (The one exception was the Crow-dwarf Ciel, who decided that fighting a siege was not for him, and elected to scout the tunnels ahead of us.)
Luckily for us, while the darkspawn horde was numerous and fairly well-organized, we had the benefit of sturdy walls and an elite garrison to man them. The first few waves broke against Weisshaupt like ocean waves on rock, and while there was a harrowing moment when the darkspawn used stolen Qunari blasting powder to breach a wall, the Wardens’ nerve never faltered and we quickly held them there. Out of impatience or desperation, the darkspawn general appeared to force the breach personally. He was a mighty hurlock alpha of great skill and cunning, a worthy foe for any Warden to face. My comrades and I took great pleasure in sending him to Hell.
With their leadership gone, the remaining darkspawn broke and ran. I have no doubts they will return, and in greater numbers than before, but I fear that is a matter for the Weisshaupt garrison to attend to — our path leads elsewhere, and I feel we must follow it post-haste. I can see the dark clouds of a new Blight gathering on the horizon, and I fear we will need Azriel’s creation sooner than any of us would have hoped….