Unlike previous Dragon Age games, Dragon Age 4’s villain will be a returning character from the last title, giving fans a rough idea of what the antagonist’s goals will be. Solas, the Dread Wolf, wants to tear down the Veil — the barrier separating the magical realm of the Fade from the material world.
Fans also know the Dread Wolf's motives. Centuries before the events of the Dragon Age games, Solas himself created the Veil to trap the ancient Elven gods in the Fade in an attempt to free his people from slavery. However, once cut off from their magic, the Elves were no match for humanity when it arrived on the continent and formed the Tevinter Imperium. Solas wants to restore his people to their former glory. There may be one more missing piece of Solas’ plan in Dragon Age 4 that explains some major mysteries in the games so far: The Darkspawn.
The Elves And The Darkspawn
The origins of the Darkspawn remains one of Dragon Age’s biggest mysteries. Dragon Age: Origins opens with one account, explaining that long ago the Magisters of the Tevinter Imperium used blood magic to break through the Veil and enter the Maker’s Golden City in the Fade. As punishment, the Maker turned them into the Darkspawn, triggering the First Blight, and vowed to leave his creation until the day the chant of light was sung from all four corners of the world.
The Imperial Chantry does not follow this account, and Corypheus, Inquisition’s villain and one of those original Magisters who breached the Veil, hinted in the last game that the Magisters did enter the Maker’s Golden City, but found his throne already empty. It’s possible the Maker never existed at all. The true origins of the Darkspawn might not lie in humanity’s history, but in the history of the Elves of Thedas.
The Evanuris, the Elven pantheon, were not real gods. They were extremely powerful Elven mages who ascended to a godlike status in their society, and, aside from Mythal and Solas, began using their newfound power to make slaves of their own people. When Mythal objected, she was killed, though her spirit would eventually return possessing Flemeth. Solas led a rebellion in response, gaining the name the Dread Wolf. In the end, he won by creating the Veil, trapping the Evanuris in the Fade and cutting the Elves off from their natural source of magic.
This makes the old Elven gods prime suspects for the creators the Darkspawn. They have the means and the motive. They’re extremely powerful magical beings, and seeing the Empire destroyed by the Tevinter Imperium, there’s a poetic justice in turning Tevinter’s most powerful mages into monsters that would wreak havoc on human civilization.
Even if the Evanuris don’t actually turn out to be the creators of the Darkspawn, the Blight could still play a key role in Solas plan to restore the ancient Elven empire. Whatever started the Blight seems to reside in the Fade, and tearing down the Veil could allow a new Blight to sweep across Thedas. The problem would be the Blight’s chaotic nature — it’s hard to see how Solas would be able to control it so that Elves would be saved. There is, however, one Dragon Age mystery which may come to the rescue.
Each Blight is telepathically led by an Archdemon, one of the Old Gods of Tevinter who has been corrupted by the Blight. If killed, an Archdemon’s soul will jump into the nearest Taint-infected being. If that being is a Grey Warden, the fact that they still have a soul causes a paradox which destroys both the Archdemon and the Warden themselves.
At the end of Dragon Age: Origins players had the option to save themselves or their Warden companion by participating in Morrigan’s dark ritual, conceiving a child that would take on the Archdemon’s soul instead. This was optional, but if players made that choice the child returned as Kieran in Dragon Age: Inquisition. During Inquisition’s plot, Flemeth appeared to take the Archdemon’s soul from Kieran. At the end of Inquisition, Flemeth then appeared to transfer her life essence — both Mythal and the Archdemon — into Solas.
If Solas has the soul of an Archdemon in him, it stands to reason that he might at least believe that he can control a new Darkspawn Blight, using it to wipe Thedas clean and allow the Elves to rebuild from scratch. Whether or not he can truly remain in control without losing a part of himself is another question entirely.
A New Blight
If the Dread Wolf has a major tragic flaw, it’s his inability to accept the unpredictable outcomes of him exercising his great power. Solas created the Veil to save his people and ended up leaving them vulnerable to centuries of slaughter and slavery. In trying to correct his actions, Solas could find that the Darkspawn will come to control him as much as he controls them.
A focus on the Darkspawn would also explain why BioWare’s marketing for Dragon Age 4 has shown more Grey Wardens than the games have since Origins. There’s at least one Grey Warden companion, Davrin, and BioWare released a piece of concept art showing Warden ranks awaiting battle.
Tevinter’s Silent Plains are the site that the First Blight was defeated, and as an area where the Veil is particularly thin and where the Dread Wolf first began recruiting Dalish tribes by whispering to their elders from the Fade, it could be the perfect place for Solas to try and tear open the Veil.
Of course, some fans did not go through with Morrigan’s ritual. However, Dragon Age has found ways to overcome the potential differences in player choices in the past, such as canonically resurrecting Leliana in Inquisition if she died in the Temple of Sacred Ashes in Origins. Only time will tell, but if Solas plans to control the Darkspawn, it could help bring several hanging plot threads to satisfying conclusions.
Dragon Age 4 is in development.