STORY QUEST - Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts
Recommended Level: 12-15
Head to the War Room to find a way into the Winter Palace (Power cost: 30)
Enter the war room at Skyhold and begin the operation once you have the required power. A brief talk with your advisors will give you a better idea of what's going on in the royal court and the factions involved (plus a bit of background info if you ask the investigation questions). When the talk is over, you'll be on your way to the Winter Palace.
When you arrive at the palace, you'll be wearing your best duds and you'll get the chance to meet the Grand Duke. He'll drop some hints about supporting you if you help him become emperor and ask you to help him with the leader of the elvish faction.
Enter the Winter Palace
Court approval (x/100) * normal starting value is 40
+5 bonus if you are from a noble background (human), as the court is impressed by your lineage.
-10 penalty if you are an elf or a mage as the court doesn't approve of either.
If you reach 0 approval, you will be forcibly removed from the ball.
Raising the court's approval to full leads to an achievement (if you complete the finale of this quest with approval at 95 or higher) and additional dialogue. You can do this by completing sidequests in the area as you go. Take a look at the "Winter Palace" sidequest section for more details. If you only want the approval boosts, look for the sidequests which reward '+x approval.'
When you are ready, head through the palace gate to enter the palace itself. As you walk inside, you'll have a quick meeting with Josephine about court etiquette before reaching the inside.
Enter the ballroom
You'll regain control in the vestibule, Climb the large staircase in front of you. The ballroom is directly ahead at the top of the stairs. Talk to the Grand Duke next to the door when you are ready to make your entrance.
Upon entering, you will be restricted to a slow walk which is a bit annoying (but understandable in the circumstances). You can wait around to hear your companions names and achievements read out (Cassandra's is pretty funny if you know her background). Approach Celene when you are prepared to talk to her. Keep in mind that your dialogue choices may earn you favor, or lose you a lot of favor from the court.
"It's an honor."
"The weather may turn foul." (+5 court approval)
"There is an assassin." (-15 court approval)
"I can't do it credit."
"Call off the ball."
Speak with Leliana
Take the time to have a word with your advisors if you want before leaving for the vestibule again. Listen to Leliana's theory about who the assassin is.
Explore the Grand Library for information on the Empress's occult advisor
You may want to talk to some people for approval increases before moving on with the story objectives.
Duke Germain (council) - can be found in hall of heroes in a small side room
[investigate] "Gaspard is your nephew?" (+5 court approval)
The Dowager (council) - can be found in the grand ballroom
"Care to dance?" (+5 court approval)
Council of Heralds vassal - can be found in south west room of hall of heroes, near the door to the balcony that leads to the three women who give you the Empress's message
"Phillipe is a jerk!" (+10 court approval)
"How did you cross Gaspard?" (-15 court approval)
Search the library for clues
Note: A very annoying mechanic is introduced here. If you are absent from the party for too long (around 40 seconds or so) your court approval will begin to drop as people notice your absence. This means you will have to dash around, doing your story quest and sidequest stuff as quickly as possible. Save up the sidequest approval items to recover any lost approval if you can.
Climb the trellis in the guest garden and open the door in front of you. A quick advanced search will locate a book on a nearby bookshelf that you can pull to open a door in the wall nearby. On the desk inside is a letter to Celene you should snatch up and speed back to the party. There is a puzzle here to do as well (must be done) to pick up some hidden loot and the confusion grenade recipe. Head back to the apostate's study and light a veilfire torch.
Exit the room into the one with the six vases and light them in this order:
If you do it correctly, a hidden staircase will appear in the center of the room leading down to some loot and the recipe. There is also a locked door in the main library with some regular loot inside and a few loot containers scattered around if you want to pick them up. Return to the party when you are done. That's it for the Library.
Investigate Briala's agents
To start with, you need to find two pairs of whispering elves in the hall of heroes area and eavesdrop on both their conversations. One pair can be found in the North area and the other in the South-West. Listening to both should inform you that someone was meant to pick up a "package" from the area.
The package is a cylinder that can be found with advanced search (after finding out about it) in the "guest wing" on a balcony at the south end of the hall of heroes.
Once you have the cylinder, enter the guest gardens and climb the trellis like you did before to access the Library. Instead, turn left at the top of the climb to find a door in that direction. The area inside is in shambles. Grab the note from the center of the room (negotiations) and the alarm will begin to ring out.
Return to the ballroom
Enter the ballroom to trigger a cutscene and a familiar face will show up to say hello. All of the dialogue options lead to the same result and none of them affect your court approval so select whatever you like. No matter what you select, you'll end up with the key to the servant's quarters.
Investigate the servant's quarters
The servant's quarters are at the north end of the hall of heroes. Use the key to unlock the door and you will change areas.
Explore the servant's quarters
When you regain control, you will have a corpse in front of you. Equip your armor and weapons and explore the kitchen and bedchamber for some loot.
Explore the grand apartments
Walk into the garden and drop down from the ledge when you are ready. Looks like the servants have all been butchered.
Find the harlequin
After seeing the assassin, you'll be attacked by four venatori zealots. Fight them off. The path splits here and you can enter the grand apartments from either side. Both sides have a group of enemies to deal with. The left has less enemies but no sidequest items. The right has a bigger group but two sidequest items to nab. Make your choice. Either way, head for the marker showing the stairs leading up.
Upstairs you'll find a large group of venatori enemies along with the harlequin assassin. AoE and knockdown attacks work well here due to the clustered nature of the hallway. Once the coast is clear, you'll enter cut-scene mode one more.
"I'm sure they're devastated."
"You shouldn't be here either."
"Gaspard's work I think."
"Gaspard didn't seem desperate."
"I'll stop him."
"I might do that."
"You paint a pretty picture."
"And the cost?"
Return to the ballroom to confront Gaspard
Follow the ambassador's example and leave by jumping down from the balcony. There is a nearby area transition point at the top of some stairs. Head back there to re-enter the palace.
"May I help you?"
"You have interesting timing."
"Let them hear us." (-15 court approval)
"I'm seeing someone."
"Let's dance." (+10 court approval)
"Not right now."
[special - human noble] "Orlais' war is Thedas's war." (+5 court approval)
[special - human] "Orlais is everyone's business." (+5 court approval)
"I was briefed by my staff."
"Why don't you educate me."
"As much as I care for." (-10 court approval)
"I can agree with that." (-10 court approval)
"Is that what we both want?"(+10 court approval)
"That's why I'm here." (-10 court approval)
"I'm here to help." (-10 court approval)
"Which am I to you?" (+5 court approval)
"Not my problem." (-10 court approval)
"I trust Briala." (-10 court approval)
[secrets Inquisition perk]"I trust no one." (+5 Court approval)
"Who do you trust." (+5 court approval)
"I trust Gaspard." (-10 court approval)
"I trust the Inquisition." (+5 court approval)
"I trust Celene." (-10 court approval)
"I have noticed that." (+5 court approval)
"Isn't everyone?" (+5 court approval)
"Tell me what you know." (-15 court approval)
"It's a nice change."
"No dances for Corypheus."
"I got some information."
"Gaspard is the traitor."
"Florianne is up to something."
"I found venatori agents."
"I have a lead."
"We're not doing that."
"What do you mean?"
"We let them succeed?"
"Now we're talking."
"Gaspard would be my choice."
"What is the best path?" *Note: Thanks advisors, you lot are sooooo helpful. You're as decisive as stunned mullets.
"I need more information."
"We save the empress."
"I would support Briala."
After the discussion ends make sure you are finished with the sidequests (excepting those involving halla statues, coins or scandalous secrets) for the Winter Palace and your approval is 100 if possible before heading upstairs to the Royal Wing area. Make sure you equip yourself before going further in the Royal Wing.
Find material in the Royal Wing to blackmail Gaspard
Find material in the Royal Wing to blackmail Briala
As you reach the first upper area at the top of the stairs, youll hear a scream ring out as you near one of the doors. Open it and watch the Inquisitor deal with the assassin inside. After that you'll have a brief chat with the elf you just saved.
After the talk, she'll leave and head downstairs. You on the other hand need to keep exploring this floor. In the next small area (marked on the map), a loud crashing sound can be heard from behind a door. This is the cut-off point for all the remaining sidequest. Make sure to hand in any you want to complete before opening the door here. Open it to find out the real mastermind behind the attacks.
Evade the trap (+200 Influence)
After the Grand Duchess leaves, you will be under attack by venatori marksmen and demons under a fade rift. This area is rather small and the demons can be difficult to deal with. Especially if you didn't equip before the battle. Stick to the normal tactics and suitable for the enemies you run into (I had despair demons and greater terrors alongside the marksmen, the enemy demons are randomized). Remember to disrupt the rift if you are getting swarmed.
After the battle, you'll enter yet another discussion, this time with Gaspard's captain.
[Secrets inquisition perk] "Come work for me." (+1 Agent, +100 Influence, +1 Power)
"He's breaking the truce?"
"I'm surprised you agreed."
"I'll need you to testify."
Leave through the private chapel (battling a group of venatori zealots and archers) and descend the stairs to find more assassins. Cross the garden and explore the side rooms before returning to the ballroom.
Upon re-entering the ballroom, Cullen will ask how you want to proceed.
"Wait for Florianne to attack." (Allow the Empress to die before dealing with the Duchess)
"I'll talk with Florianne." (Publicly expose the Duchess's crimes to the court, avoiding further bloodshed)(Solas+++, Dorian+++) *This allows you to arrest Florianne if you have enough court approval (90+), bypassing the boss fight altogether and skipping you straight to the leader decision dialogue below the boss section.
"Detain the duchess." (Save Celene's life, then deal with the Duchess) (Sera ++, Cole+++)
I'll talk with Florianne path:
"You should turn yourself in."
"Everyone is watching. Smile."
"I will execute her myself." (Solas--, Blackwall---, Sera+, Cole--)
"Take her away." (Solas++, Dorian+, Sera++, Cole++)
Detain the duchess path:
"Stop pitying yourself."
Confront Grand Duchess Florianne
If you were unable to arrest the duchess, you will follow her outside and begin the battle with her. She is an archer type rogue class, with a few extra abilities to make things more difficult. She normally only attacks a single target at a time (for heavy damage on unguarded characters), so your warrior should be taunting her as much as possible while the rest of your squad piles on the damage. If she targets you, run around and distract her while everyone else hammers her instead. The battle will start with a few venatori enemies present as well.
She has a couple of more annoying abilities as well. These include guard (adding armor to her health after a certain amount of time) to make her harder to kill. She also will occasionally move away from the fight and your party members will call out "She's up to something." After this, she will put your whole party to sleep for around three seconds. This can be dangerous if an enemy is attacking you at the same time.
At 75% and 50% health, she will summon in combinations of venatori soldiers and manequins (assassins). The soldiers pose little threat and can be disposed of in the regular way. The assassins on the other hand are a different story. When they appear, you should keep moving to avoid backstab attacks (they seriously hurt) and can one shot characters with less defense than a warrior pretty easily (ie: I had a level 21 archer with lv 19 armor. They were level 15, yet could still instant kill me with a backstab).
Once you are past the second wave of summoned enemies, it will just be down to her. Focus fire on her and you should whittle down her remaining health pretty fast. The real threat of the fight was the summoned assassins. Once the battle is over, return to the palace to resolve things with the three factions.
Return to the ballroom
Loot the body of the Duchess for a decent bow (unique) and then climb back up the stairs and enter the ballroom once more.
*Note: This choice is determined by how much evidence you have collected in your time here and effects who ends up in power at the winter palace. The first two choices will always be available.
"Briala helped stop Florianne." (Solas+) (Use the evidence gathered about Gaspard to support Briala) --> Accuse Gaspard path
"Gaspard was planning a coup." (Reveal evidence of Gaspard's crimes to the Empress) --> Accuse Gaspard path
"All of you are at fault." (Solas++)(Try to force the three leaders to a truce) *This option is only available if you have all three testimonies from witnessess in the royal wing (the elf, tied up chevalier and mercenary captain) --> Accuse all three leaders path
Accuse all three leaders path
"Gaspard planned a coup."
"You lured Gaspard here."
"Briala's playing both sides."
"Work together for Orlais." (Sera+, Cassandra-, Cole+++)
"You've been outplayed."
"You work for me now." (Sera++)
Accuse Gaspard path
"We have Gaspard's orders."
"He murdered an emissary."
"Gaspard was making threats."
"We met your mercenary captain."
"No, spare Gaspard's life." (Sera++) - Gaspard lives
"As you wish."
"Briala is an accomplice." *Appears if you accuse Gaspard of planning a coup
"What about Briala's reward?" (Sera--, Cole++) *Appears if you mention Briala's help in stopping Florianne
"Peace should be our concern."
"The enemy is connected."
"Be ready to fight."
"It's good to see you."
"They ran out of punch."
"I needed some air."
Ha, wow. That reminds me so much of Dragon Age: Origins that it hurts. She kinda barged her way into your party then too.
[investigate] "You want to join us?"
[investigate] "What can you do?" (opens up the special option below)
[special] "Are you a blood mage?"
"I don't get a say?"
"I'll be watching."
"More trouble is coming."
"I'm completely fine."
"It's been a long night."
"Not yet. Let's dance." *Nice end scene here if you brought along your romantic interest
"Let's go home."
"I need a moment."
When you arrive at Skyhold, a chantry Mother will accost you and Josephine at the entrance. After the talk, the quest will conclude.
"How can I help you?"
"It's always something."
"I'd have to let them decide."
"Those are crucial people."
"You've been told no."
(+3200 Influence, +4 Power)