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"In the cloister, away from the fuss and the flurry of the cities, I found peace. And in that stillness, I could hear the Maker."

 

Leliana, also known as "Sister Nightingale", is an Orlesian bard who came to the village of Lothering to become a Lay Sister of the Chantry. There she met the Grey Warden Aedan Cousland and became one of his companions.

Growing up during most of her adult life in Orlais, Leliana was trained as a bard under Marjolaine, a highly skilled player of the Grand Game. For many years, she was Marjolaine’s lover and instrument in the Game. While she was devoted and affectionate to Marjolaine, the reverse was not true as Marjolaine ultimately betrayed Leliana by making it seem as if she was selling government secrets to other countries, branding her as a traitor. She almost succeeded in killing her, but Leliana survived the encounter thanks to Revered Mother Dorothea’s interference. Following Marjolaine’s deception, Leliana sought refuge in the Lothering cloister in Ferelden and discarded her past life. Inspired by Dorothea, she dedicated herself to the Andrastian Chantry and became affirmed as a lay sister, where she was expected to spend her time in a simple life of meditation and prayer to the Maker, asking Him for forgiveness for her past deeds.

During the Fifth Blight, after receiving what she believed to be a vision from the Maker, Leliana chose to leave her sanctuary in favor of joining Aedan Cousland on his quest to defeat the darkspawn. Throughout the course of their journey, the two fell in love and began a romantic relationship. Shortly after ending the Blight, Leliana married Aedan and eventually gave birth to their son Adrien.

Three years later, Leliana received a summons from her old friend Dorothea—now known as Divine Justinia V—and returned to Orlais to become the Left Hand of the Divine and oversaw Justinia's spy network, where she assumes the alias "Sister Nightingale" to conceal her true identity. As the Divine’s left hand, she handles the Chantry’s dirty work from behind the scenes throughout Thedas and is highly regarded as one of its best agents. However, during a peace summit between mages and templars, Divine Justinia was killed in an explosion that destroyed the Temple of Sacred Ashes and caused the Breach. It was shortly after the Divine's death that Leliana became a founding member of the reformed Inquisition in order to defeat Corypheus and serves as both its spymaster and an advisor to Inquisitor Maxwell Trevelyan.

Following the end of the Mage-Templar War and War against the Elder One, the College of Clerics chose Leliana as the late Divine Justinia's successor. She ascended to the Sunburst Throne under the name of Her Holiness, Divine Victoria of the Andrastian Chantry, the First of Her Name. Afterwards, Leliana began overseeing the birth of a new Chantry, one that she hopes will unite all the peoples of Thedas.

BackgroundEdit

Leliana was born on 27 Drakonis 9:06 Dragon in Orlais, and though she is culturally Orlesian, her mother was from Ferelden and so she considers herself as such. Her mother, Oisine, was a servant of Lady Cecilie Vasseur, an Orlesian noblewoman. One of Leliana’s earliest memories is smelling the garden and recalling standing there with her mother amidst the scents of sweet orange, lavender and especially the scent of her mother’s gray linen dress. Though Leliana is uncertain if this powerful memory is real or not, she cherishes the image of her Fereldan mother.

Following the Fereldan victory in the rebellion, Leliana’s mother followed Lady Cecilie back to Orlais. Cecilie raised Leliana after her mother’s death (though did not likely legally adopt her) shortly after her fourth birthday, and in her care Leliana learned much about the royal court and Orlesian culture.

Oisine’s death cast a pall over young Leliana’s normally sunny disposition, however, and to try and cheer the girl her new guardian, Lady Cecilie, gave her whatever she asked for. Leliana only ever wanted books. As a result, she quickly developed an obsessive passion for Orlesian and Fereldan stories, ballads and songs, as well as any tales she could learn from Cecilie’s elven servants. Tutors were soon called by Lady Cecilie to foster Leliana’s passion. Leliana often practiced her dancing on the stone terrace of Cecilie’s villa on the Waking Sea, as well.

At age sixteen, Leliana made her first trip to Val Royeaux, to attend a soiree with Lady Cecilie. There she met and was impressed by Marjolaine, a wealthy widow and patroness of the arts. Indeed, Marjolaine began calling upon the aging Lady Cecilie shortly after the soiree, who often left Leliana to entertain the dazzling visitor. Leliana was thrilled by Marjolaine’s worldliness and daring, and the two became close friends. On a hunting trip, Marjolaine gave Leliana her first bow. In teaching her how to use it during that trip, Leliana accidentally wounded a hart that a group of hunters were tracking. Too upset to end its suffering, Leliana watched in amazement as Marjolaine efficiently killed the animal.

That same summer, Leliana visited Marjolaine at her Val Royeaux estate and the widow began to teach her the way of the bard: manipulation, subterfuge and combat. Always her teaching was subtle and disguised, easily assumed to be merely a lady’s idle amusements. Ultimately, the aging Lady Cecilie passed away. In time, Leliana fell in love with Marjolaine and ran errands for her, becoming a merciless killer and thief.

List of characters Leliana killedEdit

This list shows the victims Leliana has killed:

  • Jovi Merice
  • Commander Harwen Raleigh
  • Marjolaine
  • Venatori Interrogator (alternative timeline) –
  • Felix Alexius (alternative timeline) –

Personality and traitsEdit

"Sometimes it takes another to show us the truths we hide from ourselves."

Leliana spent much of her life in the service of the Orlesian court as a bard — an entertainer who traveled the land and doubled as a spy and sometimes assassin. Over time, her deeds left her with the feeling that she was not built for such a life. She felt guilty about the wrongs she had done, and eventually fled her masters in court. This meant secretly fleeing to the east and hiding out in a small convent in the Fereldan village of Lothering. There she found her calling, entering the sisterhood and beginning what she thought would be a life of religious contemplation and — she hoped — some measure of peace with her past. While there is a deeper side to her, a very spiritual side where she tries earnestly to look for meaning even the most mundane things, on the surface she comes across as cheerful and witty and perhaps even a little flighty. Ultimately she is a voice of good and will try her best to steer others around her in the right direction.

She is described as cheerful, sassy and charming, but also flighty and loves making up stories about things and people. However, she has flights of fancy and is hard to take seriously. Sometimes she is a little too whimsical for her own good.

Leliana is highly romantic—especially during her relationship with Aedan Cousland. Despite his vindictive expression and her shady past, the two enjoyed each other’s company and became very close. As the Blight developed, her friendship towards him grew into genuine care and affection, eventually leading her developing romantic feelings for him. Whenever Aedan tries to make her happy, she blushes and is very comfortable around him. After dealing with Marjolaine in Denerim, Leliana finally confessed her love to Aedan and the two had sex for the first time. Leliana loves Aedan very much and wishes to spend her life with him. She didn’t make much of an attempt to hide her feelings, however, as she frequently showed her jealousy when other women flirted with Aedan.

After marrying Aedan, Leliana has an unshakable faith in him. Upon becoming a mother, she raised Adrien on her own due to Aedan being away on his Grey Warden missions. Despite that, Leliana has a very close relationship with her son as she is shown to be gentle and nurturing, yet has seemingly gained a stricter side. However, she is not above joining in his fun, such as pulling pranks with him and demonstrates how proud she is of her son but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t get angry at Adrien at times. In spite of all that, Leliana is known to be fiercely protective of her family, as seen how quickly she is enraged whenever her enemies attempted to abduct or physically harm Adrien.

When Divine Justinia V was killed during the Breach, Leliana was deeply devastated and hardened to the point where she will kill anyone she believes guilty of betrayal and at times questioned herself when she shows weakness as well as often remarking on how killing can be a necessity when dealing with those who oppose the Inquisition and expresses doubt at the Maker’s plan. After arriving at Skyhold, Leliana blames herself for the people who died at Haven and believes if she didn’t pull her agents back, they might have had more time to work against Corypheus and perhaps save Haven. Once more, Leliana attempted to kill Sister Natalie, but spared her life and releases her upon the intervention of Inquisitor Maxwell Trevelyan. Her personality eventually softens again and is thankful to her friends for helping her see what was right, admitting that she feels reborn and realizes she is more than what Justinia made her.

Appointments and titles heldEdit

Commonly known as "Sister Nightingale" to most, Leliana was given many titles over the years, including, but not limited to:

  • Her Perfection, Divine Victoria
  • Most Holy
  • Left Hand of the Divine
  • Spymaster
  • Co-founder/Seneschal of the Inquisition
  • Chantry Lay Sister

EtymologyEdit

The name Leliana (which apparently has no meaning) is the name Eliana, which means "God has answered."

AppearanceEdit

Leliana has pale skin, blue eyes, red hair and a curved feminine figure. In her youth, she wore her long hair tied in a ponytail. When she became a bard, she cuts her hair and keeps it at approximately chin-length and does experiment with a small braid to keep it from her eyes from that point onward. As Leliana grew into a young woman, she is noted to have become very attractive.

During the Blight, Leliana wore leather armor with boots that laced up to her knees.

When the Inquisition was reformed, Leliana had changed her outfit to one that marked her as the Left Hand of the Divine: a light chainmail dress with leather shoulders and a leather mandarin collar that had the Eye of the Divine stamped into it and peeked through the hooded cowl she so often kept up, only putting it down when she is in the closest of company. By the time of her coronation as Divine Victoria, Leliana is now seen wearing the official white ceremonial robes with red sashes wrapped around her, brown gloves and a glistening headdress with golden plates bearing Andrastian flames on the center. Leliana’s hair also increased slightly in volume and grows past her shoulders.

Skills and abilitiesEdit

"You’re better than Marjolaine said. The bards of Orlais have earned their reputation."
—Commander Raleigh to Leliana

In combat, Leliana is renowned for her superior speed, dexterity, agility, and lightning reflexes. Marjolaine noted she could easily dispatch multiple soldiers without even breaking a sweat. Leliana can quickly take notice of an enemy’s vulnerability to seize the advantage.

QuotesEdit

Leliana's Song

  • (about ‘The Game’) "The only way out of this game is to kill or be killed."
  • "Do you want to know a secret? This tale of foolish people long ago… I know what happened, and what is true… but I don’t know how it should end. Let me tell it one more time, and perhaps together, we will see."
  • (about Marjolaine) "Marjolaine commanded fear, respect, and a high price. She was the Orlesian aristocracy’s answer when the next step in a rivalry was to end it. And she was everything I wanted to be. She never spoke of herself, never gave hints of who she was away from the game, but she always seemed to know how to captivate us. She was a mentor, not a leader. She suggested, and others grew wealthy in her shadow."
  • (about Sketch) "I met Sketch in Val Royeaux, but he had spent so much of his life hiding among immigrants and smugglers he lacked the connection, resentment, and even accent of other city elves. His primary concerns were persecution as a mage, not an elf. He was not the bardic type, but I suppose the game was more forgiving than the templars."
  • (about Tug) "Tug was a dwarf with few words for strangers, and choice words for friends. He was a strange fit in Orlais, but he never offered a reason for why he left his home. I had accepted his company and friendship knowing he would share what he wanted in his own good time."
  • (about Silas) "Silas Corthwaite was an odd one. He eagerly fell back into the role of soldier. At the time I assumed he wanted revenge. I would come to see that he was trying to be the example that Raleigh had spoiled. I’m not sure Silas even realized he was doing it. Eventually I would feel a sad kinship—Marjolaine had offended my profession in a similar way. Silas had been stripped of everything, so he had nothing personal to show his nature. But there was something about the way he looked at the trappings of the Chantry, especially the candles. He was a stranger there, like me, but as a Fereldan, he was not so far from home. It was important that everything be “just right,” not because he believed, but because someone believed. I found that charming."
  • "Do you want to know a secret? That moment, I keep, because even now, I don’t know what ending serves best. But being able to choose, that is the truth of this story. The rest, it changes with the audience. All things change… when they find purpose."

Dragon Age: Origins

  • "I tried to be merciful!"
  • (to Alistair) "Dying while in the company of a lovely seductress… tell me that isn’t a good death."
  • (about her reflection during the Gauntlet) "Did you see the cruelty on my… on her face? Is that really what I am?"
  • (about Marjolaine) "She was a worldly woman and there was so much she knew and was willing to share with me. I would have done anything for her, once. […] She used to be different. Happier, I think. She loved music… and had a weakness for sugary cakes. Maybe she was always lying about who she was, or maybe she changed over the years."
  • "I love stories far too much to keep them to myself. Everyone should benefit from them, I think."
  • "Oh, I think I could talk about shoes all day…"
  • (to Aedan) "I have never regretted leaving Orlais. I do not regret any of the pain, the anger, the loneliness… because it brought me to you. And I… love you. It’s so wonderful to say that to someone again."
  • "There were many lovely young initiates in the Lothering cloister – all of them chaste and virtuous. Ah, it added to their mystique."
  • (when confronted with the floor puzzle) "Ooh, this looks fun! I’ll bet we’ll have to work together, join hands, and sing a happy song to get across."
  • "Look at what that woman’s wearing! Is she drunk or does she just have bad taste?"
  • "[Chuckles.] Oh look, my bruises form a pretty pattern!"
  • (to Aedan, bidding farewell before the final battle) "Whatever happens, I… I will always treasure the time we shared. No darkspawn, no archdemon, will ever take that from me. You are my Grey Warden, and our savior. Win this war for us, my love, and… come home."
  • "So here we are. The conquering hero has won the day, and now he takes his bow and exits the stage. A fine ending."

Dragon Age II

  • (to Hawke) "The Divine sent me to investigate the possibility of a rebellion here in Kirkwall. I have… some experience in unconventional situations."
  • (about Aedan) "He is… dear to my heart."
  • (about the Resolutionists) "They are an offshoot of a fraternity within the Circle of Magi. There have always been factions that support freedom from the Chantry and the abolition of the Circle. We have… tolerated them. But the Resolutionists have become violent. They are likely behind the unrest here."
  • "The whole world is watching Kirkwall. If it falls to magic, none of us are safe."
  • (to Sebastian) "Tell Elthina to leave. There is refuge for her at the Grand Cathedral in Orlais. She will not be safe here."
  • (to Tallis) "You look stunning this evening. Your hair is darling. Did you do it yourself?"
  • "You meet all sorts of people in Orlais. It keeps life exciting."
  • (to Cassandra Pentaghast, noting the disappearances of Aedan and Hawke) "It is no coincidence."

Dragon Age: The Masked Empire

  • "The elves are the children of the Maker, just as we are, and just as deserving of His grace."
  • "I have… been comrades-in-arms with elves. I would not see them harmed."

Dragon Age: Inquisition

  • "Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just. Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow. In their blood, the Maker’s will is written. Is that what you want from us? Blood? To die so that Your will is done? Is death Your only blessing?"
  • "I’ve known mages. Some of them were better people than me. And yet I’m free and they’re not. It’s not right."
  • (about Aedan) "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."
  • "The Chantry has committed many injustices. If we’re going to change it, why not change the whole thing?"
  • (about Kieran) "He saved us, did you know? I would have lost my love without Morrigan’s child. I may never know her intentions, but I will always be grateful."
  • "The Chantry dictated where it should have inspired. It spoke of judgment instead of acceptance. It should encourage the good in everyone, rather than rebuke us for our sins. No one should be turned away from our doors. No one is without worth. Whoever you are, whatever your mistakes, you are loved. Unconditionally. ‘In your heart shall burn an unquenchable flame.’"
  • (after becoming Divine) "I’ve been many things—bard, sister, left hand—and always because someone needed something from me. But I realize now that I am all these things, and yet, not defined by any one. I am now Divine Victoria, but to my friends—to you—I will always be just Leliana."

Trespasser

  • (to Maxwell) "Many are frightened of the Inquisition’s power, but I will do all I can to allay their fears. […] Explore the grounds. Let yourself be seen. The delegates need to put a face to the legends. I have much to do, but let me say this: I may no longer be your spymaster, but I am always here if you require."
  • "It would be nice to just be ‘Leliana’ again for a few days."
  • (about the dead Qunari) "This is a warrior, not a spy. Part of the Antaam, the Qunari military. Most of his wounds come from a fight against someone using magic, but at least a few are from a blade. He was badly hurt, separated from his allies, and made it here before he died. But how?"
  • (when asked about her relationship with Aedan since becoming Divine) "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."
  • (to Arl Teagan) "Without our organization, you would not be alive to complain."

TriviaEdit

  • Leliana’s appearance is described as: "Red hair, pale, slender."
  • Josephine Montilyet considers her a sister.
  • Her appearance is based on adult model Alexandra "Alleykatze" Stein.
  • When imagining a single-note scent for Leliana, she is likened to "sugared roses, incense and candy floss."
  • When Aedan gave Leliana a nug as a pet, she names it Schmooples.
  • According to Bethany Hawke, she says "I miss the Lothering chantry. Sister Leliana told the best stories."
  • After her marriage, Leliana may have taken the surname Cousland.
  • According to Aveline Vallen, she comments about feeling uncomfortable around chantry sisters due to a "red-haired trickster in Lothering."
  • Leliana’s aliases include "Sister Nightingale." She is also referred to as "Red" by Iron Bull and "Shadows of Birds" by Sera.
  • Despite an Orlesian accent, Leliana’s features are strikingly Fereldan and reflect her heritage.
  • As the Left Hand of the Divine, Leliana is considered the "sinister" agent of the Divine working in the shadows, a counterpoint to Cassandra’s more knightly position as the Right Hand. When diplomacy or military might fail, she steps in on behalf of the Chantry and the Inquisition.
  • A paper found in Redcliffe Castle reports that Leliana has the highest resistance to the Blight of any other people experimented. The cause of this, however, is unknown.
  • According to rumors, Leliana is seen as having the most in common with the Elder One. Both are "burned believers." In fact, the Elder One is referred as her "dark mirror."
  • When asked about the Inquisition’s advisors, Solas will note that Leliana has a brilliant mind but her faith has been damaged and she sees life as a game of tactics.
  • Nug breeding and wrangling became one of Leliana’s hobbies.

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