- "Nothing is forbidden to a Grey Warden, not even blood magic. The Blight... changes everything. We do whatever we must to win."
- ―Aedan to Levi Dryden
Aedan Cousland, commonly known as the Hero of Ferelden, is the second son of Teyrn Bryce Cousland of Highever and his wife, Teyrna Eleanor. He is Fergus's younger brother, Oren's uncle, and the main protagonist of Dragon Age: Origins.
On the night his brother took Highever’s troops to war, the Cousland’s ancestral castle was betrayed from within by Arl Rendon Howe when he launched an unexpected surprise attack and slaughtered most of the inhabitants, including the teyrn and teyrna. Aedan witnessed the massacre firsthand and was able to escape with his life due to Warden-Commander Duncan's intervention. However, the experience made him more bellicose and continues to weigh heavily on him. In exchange for being led to safety, Aedan joins the Grey Wardens where his training in both combat and diplomacy were put to the test.
As the Fifth Blight began devastating Ferelden following the disastrous battle at Ostagar, Aedan evaded assassination attempts to assemble a coalition to combat the Archdemon Urthemiel’s forces. By utilizing ancient treaties, he enlisted the aid of the Dalish elves, dwarves, Circle mages, Templars and Redcliffe soldiers. Upon ending a bloody civil war and uniting the country under a single banner, Aedan led the coalition forces into battle against the darkspawn at the siege of Denerim, where he killed Urthemiel and was proclaimed the "Hero of Ferelden".
Six months after ending the Blight, Aedan assumed the fallen Duncan’s mantle as Ferelden’s new Warden-Commander and rules over the arling of Amaranthine as its Arl. Yet while stationed at Vigil’s Keep, several new challenges arose during the Thaw period: when reports of two warring factions of highly intelligent darkspawn led by the Architect and the Mother engaged in a civil war over ideological differences threatened the security of his lands, Aedan initiated a strike team to lessen the darkspawn threat and destroyed the Mother, effectively changing the darkspawn's fate. He returned to rebuilding the Wardens’ presence and oversaw reconstruction efforts to Amaranthine while consolidating his control over the arling, serving with honor until his disappearance several years later.
Shortly before the War against the Elder One, Aedan traveled deep into the western lands to find a cure for the Calling. With a renewed determination to save all Grey Wardens from its effects, Aedan intends to prevent the Calling from further afflicting the Order by any means necessary. His efforts were proven to be difficult yet successful, and he soon made his return to the known world where he has since retired to a private life with his family.
Born on the seventh day of Wintermarch in 9:05 Dragon, Lord Aedan Sarim Cousland is the second and youngest child of Teyrn Bryce Cousland, ruler of Highever and one of the most powerful nobles in Ferelden, and his wife Teyrna Eleanor Cousland (née Mac Eanraig). For countless generations, the Couslands have stewarded the lands of Highever dating back to less civilized days before the crowning of Ferelden’s first king. As a child, he rarely left his family’s ancestral lands other than to accompany his father to the capital city of Denerim for a Landsmeet.
Not much is known about Aedan’s early education, other than that he studied within his grandfather’s private library. His tutors, Aldous and Mother Mallol, described him as "one of the most determined and brightest" students they have ever taught.
His academic grades soon caught the attention of Orlais' ambassador to Ferelden, Marquis Gaston de Boissonade, who sponsored Aedan to the University of Orlais where he proved himself an amateur scholar and patron of the arts—showing talents in history, literature, politics, economics and mathematics. It was during this time he became acquainted with Chantry scholar Brother Ferdinand Genitivi. Hailed as a prodigy by nature, Aedan was praised by his tutors as one of the best of his generation. While in Val Royeaux, he learned to speak fluent Orlesian and studied the arts of the Grand Game. After his graduation, Aedan returned to Highever to serve in his father’s court as seneschal.
At some point in time, he attended Fergus' and Oriana’s wedding to congratulate them.
It is believed that Aedan held his first sword when his father sent him to the Arling of South Reach to train as a squire under Arl Leonas Bryland on his fourth birthday. He also participated in the Grand Tourney in Markham when he turned 16 and defeated opponents such as Dairren, his brother, and even his father.
Despite Fergus’s martial skill, however, many speculate that Aedan is more likely to be chosen to take over as the next Teyrn of Highever instead of his brother. From then on, he was known as the young scion of House Cousland—living up to his family’s proud heritage.
List of characters Aedan killed
The following is a list of characters actually killed by Aedan:
- Sophia Dryden (Possessed) – Aedan encounters Sophia Dryden at Soldier’s Peak, but quickly discovers that she was possessed by a demon and kills her after refusing to make a deal.
- Arl Rendon Howe – Aedan desired to exact revenge on him for betraying and murdering his family. He encounters him in the Arl of Denerim’s dungeon and kills him.
- Ser Cauthrien – She is killed by Aedan while trying to arrest him for the murder of Arl Howe.
- Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir – Right after losing the Landsmeet to Aedan and Arl Eamon, Loghain refused to abide by the decision and tried to stage a coup d’état. He was defeated in single-combat and summarily executed.
- Urthemiel, the fifth Archdemon – During the final battle of the Fifth Blight at Denerim, Aedan fought and killed Urthemiel by sinking his blade deep into the Archdemon’s head.
- The Withered – When Aedan reached the top of Vigil’s Keep, he encounters the Withered attempting to break Seneschal Varel's will. He subsequently defeats the Withered to save Vigil’s Keep and its inhabitants.
- Olaf (Out of Mercy) – Learning that he was infected by the darkspawn taint, Aedan put Olaf out of his misery by slitting his throat.
- The Lost – He and his inferno golem were killed in the ensuing confrontation with Aedan at Kal’Hirol.
- Lord Guy – After discovering that Lord Guy was part of a group of nobles conspiring against his rule over the arling of Amaranthine, Aedan tracked him down and killed him along with his fellow co-conspirators.
- Lady Liza Packton – After discovering that Lady Liza Packton was part of a group of nobles conspiring against his rule over the arling of Amaranthine, Aedan tracked her down and killed her along with her fellow co-conspirators.
- Lady Morag – After discovering that Lady Morag was part of a group of nobles conspiring against his rule over the arling of Amaranthine, Aedan tracked her down and killed her along with her fellow co-conspirators.
- Ser Timothy – After discovering that Ser Timothy was part of a group of nobles conspiring against his rule over the arling of Amaranthine, Aedan tracked him down and killed him along with his fellow co-conspirators.
- The Mother – Aedan impaled the Mother through her stomach, chest and finally ran a sword through her mouth.
- Bann Margaret Harling – Before leaving Ferelden to travel to the uncharted western lands, Aedan learned of Margaret's plot to overthrow him and seize the arling of Amaranthine for herself following an anonymous tip. He arrested the treacherous noblewoman and had her executed for treason.
Personality and traits
- "You’re the best friend I could ever have asked for. I would be dead if you hadn’t saved my life a dozen times over by now."
―Alistair to Aedan
As a child, Aedan was a very kind and cheerful boy. In his youth, he had a desire to be acknowledged as the greatest teyrn Highever had ever seen. Even as an adolescent, Aedan was noted to be wise beyond his years and spent much of his time in libraries researching the history of Thedas from ancient writings.
As an adult, Aedan’s most prominent traits are his sharp wit, patience, cunning and intelligence; as such, he displays both great maturity and a sense of responsibility. A politically astute man, Aedan has been a master of court politics and intrigue his entire life. Unlike the vast majority of the nobility, Aedan was not politically ambitious nor was he interested in personal gain; he cared not only for a separate class of citizens but for everyone around him—regardless of their race. To his family, his ideals represented everything the Couslands stand for: justice and temperance, but knows when to be stern and strict in serious situations. Along with his older brother Fergus, Aedan dearly loved his parents, his sister-in-law Oriana and his nephew Oren. However, when Arl Rendon Howe betrayed the Couslands and launched a brutal coup d’état against that resulted in the murder of almost the entire family, Aedan was completely devastated as he witnessed the heinous act as he irrationally tried to protect people close to him despite the fact that Highever was already lost, only stopping when Eleanor manages to talk some sense into him. Duncan described Aedan as a man "who lost everything except his life." After the fall of his family’s teyrnir, Aedan’s personality was altered: his mind was clouded by loss, grief and suffering, developing an unsated hunger for vengeance, never forgetting who wronged him or his friends and dedicated his life to killing Howe, to the point where Alistair, Leliana and Wynne are shown to be very worried about his well-being.
Apparently being emotionally scarred from the trauma he experienced during the Highever massacre, Aedan was portrayed as an aloof, melancholic, and serious man. He is willing to take risks for those he cares about, but is willing to let those who wronged him suffer for it, as shown when he brutally killed Howe for what he did to his family and when he personally executed Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir for crimes committed during his regency. In a way, Aedan slowly began to regain portions of his morality when in the company of his companions, but antagonists seeking to harm them force him to remain hardened and has developed a talent for giving people an icy-cold death stare when unimpressed with something. He ultimately comes to terms with his dark nature which he thought he has put away for good. Nonetheless, despite this change in mindset, Aedan’s main drive does still appear to be carrying on the Cousland legacy and honoring the sacrifice of his parents by staying alive and doing what is right, even trying to let go of his hatred and desire for vengeance as he realized it threatened to consume him.
He has also shown to be rather selfless towards his companions as demonstrated when he offered to help them with their personal quests. Furthermore, he adores his lover Leliana very much and thinks of her dearly, showing genuine affectionate towards her and will not hesitate to put himself in harm’s way in order to protect her. This mutual affection with Leliana led to several months of courtship that eventually led to the two getting married and having a son. Since then, Aedan became very caring and protective of his family. Despite the fact that his duties as Warden-Commander make it difficult for him to be a family man as he wanted, Aedan always tried to make time for them, proving himself as a loving husband and father. However, Aedan also acknowledges his mistakes and is willing to apologize for them. While he is happy in his marriage to Leliana, Aedan enjoys teasing her after she becomes Divine Victoria.
Titles, styles, honor and arms
Commonly known as "Warden" and "the Hero of Ferelden" to most, Aedan was given many titles over the years, including, but not limited to:
- Lord of Highever
- Seneschal to the Teyrn of Highever (to Bryce Cousland)
- Acting Teyrn of Highever
- Grey Warden
- Champion of Redcliffe
- Champion of the Dwarven Provings
- The Conciliator
- General in the Fereldan Royal Army
- Hero of Ferelden
- Chancellor to the King of Ferelden (to Alistair)
- Qunoran Vehl
- Conqueror of the Fifth Blight
- Vanquisher of the Old God Urthemiel
- Commander of the Grey in Ferelden
- Arl of Amaranthine (ex officio)
- Dark Wolf
- Savior of Kal'Hirol
- Dragon Slayer
Through his father, he is a lineal descendant of Bann Sarim Cousland who founded the family branch after the reigning family of Conobar Elstan became extinct during the Towers Age. Aedan’s ancestors can be traced to early Alamarri nobility before the Unification of Ferelden. He is first in line to succeed his older brother, Fergus Cousland, as Teyrn of Highever.
In the beginning of the Storm Age, several of Aedan’s ancestors conspired with Warden-Commander Sophia Dryden in the Grey Warden’s attempted rebellion against the brutal and tyrannical King Arland Theirin. However, the king executed the Cousland Teyrn and a number of others to ensure their loyalty. His paternal great-grandfather Teyrn Ardal Cousland was slain during the Battle of Lothering while defending King Vanedrin Theirin during the Second Orlesian Invasion of Ferelden; his paternal grandfather, Teyrn William Cousland, died of illness during the final stages of the rebellion against the occupation.
His maternal grandfather, Fearchar Mac Eanraig, was Bann of the Storm Coast Bannorn and a famous raider known as “the Storm Giant”. From his mother’s side, he had three unnamed Mac Eanraig relatives.
The name Aedan was a 6th-century king of Scotland. The Ancient Irish equivalent is Aodhan, a form of Aodh, which means "fire".
- "You look familiar. Have I seen you at the Landsmeet?"
―Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir to Aedan
Aedan has blue eyes and chin-length dark hair with bangs parted down to frame both sides of his face; his hair and bangs grow longer over the years. During his early childhood, Aedan wore a long-sleeved white outfit containing golden embroidery with a family pendant containing the laurel sigil, and navy blue pants.
Arl Eamon Guerrin once mistook Aedan for his father Teyrn Bryce Cousland, whom he greatly resembles. Other nobles such as Bann Sighard of Dragon’s Peak and Bann Alfstanna Eremon of Waking Sea recognized him as Bryce and Eleanor’s son due to their stark resemblance as well. As stated by Lady Landra, Aedan is considered quite handsome and good looking as he attracted many suitors. Before the beginning of the Fifth Blight, Aedan’s clothing consisted of the traditional Cousland clothing: a navy blue, long-sleeved shirt with golden embroidery and a pendant once more containing the green laurel sigil and dark violet pants. When his parents were killed during the siege of Castle Cousland, he took possession of his father’s signet ring and wore it for some time, only to return it to his brother after defeating the Archdemon.
As a Grey Warden, Aedan has grown noticeably more muscular and slim. He was first shown wearing a Warden recruit’s armor with a high collar, cladded with silverite armor and blue cloth and chainmail, along with an argent griffon heraldry on the front of his chestplate. He also wore brown boots from halfway up to his knees and brown gloves that covered his forearms and stretched up to reach past his elbows. He also wore a black cloak with this to conceal his identity during the Fereldan Civil War. While at camp during off-duty hours, he wears a sleeveless grey shirt with a red belt sash around his waist. His gloves were also removed, and he wore bandages on his wrists. Another noticeable trait is that along with this new outfit, Aedan grew a beard and allowed his hair to grow to shoulder-length as well with his bangs hanging to the right side of his face. During his fight with Arl Rendon Howe in the arling of Denerim’s dungeons, Aedan obtained a small vertical scar running over his left eye.
Six months after the Fifth Blight, now as Warden-Commander of Ferelden, he wears heavy Grey Warden armor and has cut his hair shorter to chin-length. He dons a navy blue cape decorated with white motifs on the edges and wears a locket containing a small portrait of his family around his neck. The hilt of his sword also has a blue fabric tied around it, a folklore entailing a maiden’s favor to bring her champion victory in the coming battle.
- A landmark of Aedan Cousland, alias the Hero of Ferelden, stands in the Hinterlands near Redcliffe.
- A shrine of the Warden and those who died defending Ferelden during the Fifth Blight stands in Lothering outside the local Chantry, though it bears no plaque.
Appearances in other media
- "It shall be done."
- "I will help however I can."
- (escaping from Highever) "Arl Howe will pay for what he’s done to my family."
- "We have much to do, and little enough time to do it."
- "I swear, when this is over…"
- (to Leliana) "You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am grateful, Leli. I am truly blessed to have you here with me, at my side."
- "Perhaps we should take the time to review what we’ve learned?"
- (fighting Arl Howe) "You’re not going to get out of here alive, I assure you."
- (to Ser Cauthrien) "Get in my way and I’ll kill you, too."
- (to Loghain) "The Blight is the real threat here, not Orlais."
- "It’s alright. This is the path I’ve chosen. I am a Cousland after all, and we do what must be done."
- "Our differences are many, but our cause is one."
- (conscripting Anders) "As a matter of fact, I do have something to add to this, Your Majesty. As Commander of the Grey Wardens in Ferelden, I hereby invoke the Right of Conscription on this mage. Effective immediately, Anders is to be placed into my custody."
- (to a group of nobles conspiring against him) "Bann Esmerelle, along with Lady Liza Packton, Lady Morag, Lord Guy, and Ser Timothy, are charged with plotting to kill a duly appointed arl with right to high justice in this land. You will be arrested and held until such time that your sentence can be levied upon you all for your conspiracy against me."
- (to Velanna) "No one deserves to suffer at the hands of the darkspawn."
- (to Nathaniel, about Arl Howe) "The only failure was your father."
- (to Seranni, about the taint) "You’re infected. You’ll die if you don’t get help."
- (to Rylock) "I warned you. I told you that if you pressed this you would suffer the consequences. But you did it anyway. Now you must pay for your incompetence."
- (to the Architect) "Don’t make me regret my decision to spare you."
- (to Jerrik) "You’re being secretive."
- "If you aren’t afraid of me, you should be."
- (upon seeing a Harvester for the first time) "By the Maker! What is that thing?"
- Maxwell: "You have a history with the Warden who ended the Blight, don't you?"
Leliana: "He is always in my thoughts, even when we're far apart. My love is on a quest of his own. When the Inquisition has no further need of me, I will join him. For good, this time. I have lost enough. I will not lose him as well."
—Maxwell and Leliana about Aedan
- "I was with the Hero of Ferelden when he defeated the Archdemon. With him by my side, anything was possible."
—Leliana about Aedan
- Maxwell: "How are things between you and the Hero of Ferelden?"
Divine Victoria: "We see each other whenever we can. There is gossip, of course. People who call me inappropriate. But love is one of the Maker’s greatest gifts and nothing to be ashamed of. Start and end with love, and everything else falls into place. As Divine, I have tried to spread this message. It’s taken some time, but I think people are listening. Especially now."
—Maxwell and Divine Victoria discussing the latter's relationship with Aedan
- Despite the traditional lines of succession, many outside Highever speculate that Aedan would be more likely to become Teyrn of Highever than his older brother Fergus himself. However, this did not happen as Aedan was instead recruited into the Grey Wardens.
- He is right-handed.
- After Alistair and Aedan survived the disastrous battle at Ostagar, the two leaders soon became good friends and considered each other brothers. Lately, it seems the friendship between Aedan and Alistair has been compared to that of King Maric and Teyrn Loghain.
- Aedan’s hobbies are reading and taking walks.
- Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, Arl Eamon Guerrin, Arl Gallagher Wulff, Bann Sighard, Bann Teagan Guerrin and Bann Alfstanna Eremon have compared him to his father Teyrn Bryce Cousland, at least in physical appearance.
- He is the first Grey Warden in 400 years to defeat a Blight and the only one in history to ever survive the slaying of an archdemon.
- Sten views Aedan as a fluke like "some sort of ambulatory pair of paints or talking horse," since a competent and honorable person outside of the Qun appears impossible to him.
- Aedan once slept with Niamh (his elven childhood friend), Isabela (a libidinous pirate) and Iona (Lady Landra’s elven lady-in-waiting), implying he was once a womanizer.
- He hates insects.
- His favorite animal is the mabari.
- Aedan’s mother was nicknamed the "Seawolf" while his father was famed as the "Soldier" and their first meeting went so badly it was immortalized in the famous sea shanty called "The Soldier and the Seawolf". During the Thaw, most locals in Amaranthine called him "the Dark Wolf".
- According to Nan, Aedan’s favorite drink is Rivaini spice tea. Some of his favorite foods are galantine of pork and brie tart.
|Warden-Commander of Ferelden|
|Arl of Amaranthine|