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AKA, What is Cauthrien responsible for? Seri’s quick analysis.
So, straight up - Cauthrien is responsible for a lot of the bad shit that affects everyday people in Ferelden during the Blight. A lot of this, if not all of it, is somehow under order, which may, for some people, excuse her of full culpability.
What we know:
However, on that last part, I’d argue that it’s not inconceivable that she did voice misgivings - she did so at Ostagar, if ineffectively. But that’s personal interpretation.
Re: the use of torture - Cauthrien casts this as a regrettable reality. She doesn’t touch on Rendon’s use of it directly, but it’s tricky to know if, when you bring up the topic, she knows you mean Rendon’s dungeons, or if the Warden is referring to Drakon. At Drakon, we see Ser Gilmore and Mother Mallol dead, presumably having been tortured and finally killed.
My best guess as to what happened is that Rendon had them thrown into Drakon as Orlesian conspirators, both to bolster his claim to what he did to the Couslands with Loghain and to get them out of the way. Cauthrien must have allowed this, and must have also given the order to have them tortured - possibly for almost a year.
She likely didn’t perform the torture herself. Being head of the army during a civil war and running the guard of a city is, uh. A lot of fucking work. But I wouldn’t rule out her being present at a few sessions to try and gain confessions.
Re: the civil war - This is actually where I see her greatest crimes, because they affect the largest number of people. The Bannorn is in SHAMBLES by endgame. Whole fields have been burned. People have been slaughtered. Loghain’s armies, for some unknown fucking reason, don’t seem to be attacking Banns’ estates, they’re attacking the people.
Which is so incredibly stupid for so many reasons.
But the upshot is, even after the Blight, even if the Blight had never happened, there is going to be famine. With how much Loghain (and Rendon, with his embezzling) empty the Denerim coffers, it’s going to be hard for Ferelden, already the poorest country in Thedas, to import food, and the breadbasket of Ferelden has been half-torched.
And during the civil war/Blight, I doubt there was a lot of food to go around/to be harvested.
So Cauthrien, whether she was just following orders or not, and whether she regretted it or not, seriously injured her country. She killed men and women not unlike her parents, and who she would have been had she not met Loghain on the road.
Re: obsession with Loghain
Well, Loghain is Ferelden to her, for a large number of reasons. She idolizes him. He’s everything she wants to be - a loyal protector of her country, her home, a man who helped push out Orlais, a man who crafted her in to one of the best knights in the kingdom, if her position is to be accepted and not written off entirely to favoritism (which, given her effectiveness in battle and the fact that the civil war was at a standstill, I’m willing to do).
And he gave her a sword.
So, at Ostagar - Cauthrien doesn’t have the Summer Sword.
But she sure as hell does the next time we see her. But hey, cool upgrade, right? Except that sword is Loghain’s. Codex entry states even how he got it - by killing a chevalier during the last war. And Cauthrien has it. I very much doubt she just picked it up and went, hey Ser, can I use this. No, he gave it to her to use. A sword with that much meaning.
It will always be a bribe to me, a piece of support she can’t refuse, a sign that she is following a great man.
And now I’ve kind of lost the thread. But, summary-
Cauthrien did bad shit. She did a lot of it under orders. She did a lot of it by giving orders. She regrets a lot of it, if you peel back her defenses enough. She mourns the loss of Loghain as a great man. But she did not, as far as we see, fight too hard against him. She doesn’t betray him until the end.
I’m willing to give her a chance of redemption, and obviously love trying to articulate what would happen afterwards… but I also understand why this is unspeakable to some people.
(Though I would hope that if you kill Cauthrien because you want to (and not because you can’t make the check), that you also kill Loghain. But I also understand why that might not be the case.)