It occurred to me that I haven’t actually seen any in-depth commentary on the Forgotten Ones since Trespasser came out... which is kind of a shame, because I think we can make some fairly educated guesses about them, their natures and their motivations now.
To recap the non-spoilery stuff: the Forgotten Ones are the ‘evil’ half of the Dalish pantheon, gods of disease, malice, spite and fear. Most of their names have been lost, though we know of Anaris, Geldauran and Daern’thal. And Fen’Harel is said to have been a member of both pantheons, the only being able to convince both sides he was one of them. (We’ll get to that in a bit.)
Worship of the Forgotten Ones was banned in the time of Halamshiral, but continued in secret regardless; there are clans of elves who worship them, and I am avoiding using the word ‘Dalish’ in this sentence because I suspect the Dalish would vehemently deny those clans as their own. I doubt humans see much of a difference, though.
Oh, yes - and the Forgotten Ones have vallaslin associated with them.
So with that out of the way, let’s move on to the spoilery bits.
Firstly, and probably most importantly, we now have their own representations of themselves, in the Jaws of Hakkon codex entry Geldauran’s Claim:
There are no gods. There is only the subject and the object, the actor and the acted upon. Those with will to earn dominance over others gain title not by nature but by deed.
I am Geldauran, and I refuse those who would exert will upon me. Let Andruil's bow crack, let June's fire grow cold. Let them build temples and lure the faithful with promises. Their pride will consume them, and I, forgotten, will claim power of my own, apart from them until I strike in mastery.
And second, we now have some cold hard facts with which to examine the Dalish version of events and extrapolate our own conclusions.
Fact #1: The Evanuris were not gods.
Taking this with Geldauran’s Claim up there, I think we can safely say the Forgotten Ones weren’t either.
Fact #2: The Evanuris were slavers, and Fen’Harel worked against them to free their slaves.
Extrapolation #1: The Forgotten Ones were rebel slaves.
This would explain why the Dalish consider Fen’Harel to be a member of both pantheons, and would fit with Geldauran’s statement that ‘I refuse those who would exert will upon me‘.
Fact #3: The Forgotten Ones have vallaslin.
Extrapolation #2: The Forgotten Ones were more interested in becoming rival ‘gods’ than in freeing other slaves.
See Geldauran’s Claim, again. It’s probably more likely that both pantheons hated Solas equally than that they both thought he was one of them.
Fact #4: The Forgotten Ones lived in the Void, wherever the Void is.
Fact #5: The Forgotten Ones have ‘disease’ among their portfolio list.
Extrapolation #3: The Forgotten Ones have something to do with the Blight.
The Blight is most likely connected to the Void, so beings who live in the Void and have something to do with disease... yeah.
They could have created it, or they could have been the idiots responsible for unleashing it in the Primeval Thaig. Or both.
Fact #6: The Forbidden Ones are somehow related to the Forgotten Ones.
See here. The Forbidden Ones are... demons, possibly, it’s very unclear. They’re also said to be the beings who taught the Neromenians blood magic.
At this point things become less open-and-shut, but I see two possibilities here: either some of the (apparently very numerous) Forgotten Ones were spirits rather than elves (it wouldn’t surprise me to learn the Evanuris enslaved spirits too), or the Forbidden Ones are some kind of spirit remnants of four elven Forgotten Ones.
Could the Formless One be related to this guy, I wonder? Losing the ability to take physical form at all seems a fitting punishment for illegal shapeshifting, doesn’t it?
Either way, I think we can safely say that:
Extrapolation #4: The Forgotten Ones taught blood magic to humans.
Possibly to increase the size of their armies, or to distract the Evanuris. Possibly just for the lols. But I bet it was them. And considering Geldauran’s might-makes-right rhetoric up there, I wonder if they didn’t help to form the Imperium in some other ways, too.
So to sum up:
Putting it all together, we can say with reasonable certainty that the Forgotten Ones were a bunch of rebel slaves who decided they wanted a piece of this god-king scam for themselves and set themselves up as rival Evanuris. We can also say with reasonable certainty that they lived in the Void, probably to avoid the aforementioned Evanuris, that they were in some way responsible for the creation or release of the Blight, and that they were -
- involved -
- with -
- humans -
- underground -
- oh, shit.
IMAGE: Dragon Age: Origins conversation log window, showing the following conversation from the Dalish Origin:
Tamlen: I can’t believe this. You recognise this statue, don’t you?
Mahariel: It’s worn, but it looks vaguely familiar...
Tamlen: Back when our people lived in Arlathan, statues like these honours the Creators. When the shems enslaved us, much of that lore was lost.
Tamlen: This looks like human architecture... with a statue of our people. Can these ruins date back to the time of Arlathan?
Mahariel: It’s interesting. So much of our past is lost to us.
Tamlen: I’d never have guessed ancient elves might have lived here! With humans!
Tamlen: This place makes me nervous.
Mahariel: What do you think all this is?
Tamlen: I’m not sure. This looks like a very old human place. Why did they build this? And why would elven artefacts be here?
Tamlen: Maybe some of our ancestors lived here, in caves like the dwarves. I’ll stick to roaming the land, myself.
Tamlen: [The eluvian is] showing me places. I can see... some kind of city... underground?
Tamlen: And... there’s a great blackness...
For the sake of full disclosure, Tamlen does tell Mahariel that the statue is of Falon’Din. Well. Sort of:
Tamlen: I saw a picture of it in one of those old books the Keeper never lets anyone touch. It was one of the old gods. The Keeper called him a ‘friend of the dead’.
Mahariel: ‘Friend of the dead’? What does that mean?
Tamlen: He was a guide who took people across the spirit land to their final rest in the Beyond. But he wasn’t an evil god, not like Fen’Harel - the Great Wolf. It doesn’t seem right that a place so... wrong... would be his.
DO YOU KNOW WHO FALON’DIN IS, HERO OF FERELDEN?
Apparently Clan Sabrae isn’t even 100% sure of the correct translation of Fen’Harel, so Lavellan not knowing who Mythal is might not be so out there as we all thought.
Which... makes me question whether Tamlen has his iconography right, frankly. Everything else in those ruins suddenly looks like it may be less related to the Creators, and more related to... those other elven gods.
So. Food for thought there.
Poor Tamlen. I think he might have accidentally stumbled into Geldauran’s Blight-making lab, or something.