Ash has been playing "Dragon Age" since the first game's release. She enjoys exploring and explaining the characters and the lore.
Flemeth (voiced by the phenomenal Kate Mulgrew) is an evil swamp witch who first appears in the book The Stolen Throne to aid the protagonists, Maric and Loghain, in their quest to boot out the Orlesians. She does this (what she refers to as "nudging history") in exchange for a secret deal with Maric (likely his dragon blood).
She is known to the Dalish as Asha'bellanar, the woman of many years. To the Chasind, she is the Mother of Vengeance. But most commonly, she is simply known as Flemeth.
Interestingly enough, she doesn't seem to confirm "Flemeth" as her actual name. When the Warden first meets her in Origins, she laughs and says that "Flemeth" is just what the Chasind call her. And later in Dragon Age 2, she dismisses the name again and quotes Alistair when she calls herself an old hag who talks too much.
Flemeth is easily one of my favorite characters in the entire Dragon Age franchise, so her heavily implied death is just another reason for me to hate and despise Solas. Sadly, I never experienced a rivalry with Solas because he kept agreeing with everything I did, so I didn't even get the satisfaction of punching him. . . .
Oh well. Let's talk about Flemeth.
The Legend of Flemeth
You can learn the legend of Flemeth from two sources in Dragon Age: Origins. There's Morrigan, who will tell you the story her mother told her. And there's Leliana, who is reciting a legend fabricated by the people.
In Leliana's version, Flemeth of Highever was married to Bann Conobar, but fell in love with the bard Osen and ran away with him. Conobar punished Flemeth by killing Osen. Flemeth called on a spirit for justice (Mythal) and killed Conobar before fleeing into the wilds, where she lived as an abomination.
In Morrigan's version, Flemeth was with Osen first. Then Conobar came along. Osen wanted to get rich, so he said to Flemeth, "Hey, mind if I wh*re you out?" Flemeth agreed. But Conobar went back on his word and killed Osen out of jealousy. A furious Flemeth called upon a spirit of vengeance to aid her (Mythal) and killed Conobar and his men before fleeing into the Wilds to live as an abomination.
And you know what? I think both stories are wrong. Since writing my big, fat Dragon Age theory, I've been giving this some thought, and I don't believe Flemeth and Osen and Conobar ever existed. I believe they are a Chasind retelling of the betrayal of Andraste and that "Flemeth" is little more than one of Andraste's many daughters and yet another host of Mythal.
Yes, Morrigan got this story directly from her mother (I think. I need to replay Origins) but she also constantly points out how Flemeth often twisted the truth and kept secrets from her. I could see Flemeth telling Morrigan this story as a way of telling her the history of their tradition (hosting Mythal) in preparation for the day when she would pass Mythal on.
After coming to this conclusion, I was surprised to discover that there's an actual in-game codex by Brother Genitivi that suggests the same thing. So . . . I'm just more convinced now.
Was Flemeth Ever Meant to be Evil?
It certainly seems as if they were setting her up to be.
When Maric and Loghain meet Flemeth in the book The Stolen Throne, there are shredded corpses hanging from the trees outside her hut. Loghain tries (rather foolishly) to attack Flemeth, only to have the tree reach down and snatch him into the air. She then proceeds to chat with Maric as if Loghain isn't even there (kicking and thrashing) in the background. Eventually, she lets the two of them go, but only in exchange for Maric's dragon blood. (The implication here being that she would have coldly killed them otherwise?)
This is reiterated later in Dragon Age 2 when Merrill tells Hawke she's very lucky to be alive after meeting Flemeth, since most people who do wind up in little pieces in the trees.
In Origins, you discover Flemeth's grimoire in the Circle tower. Morrigan deciphers it and is disturbed to discover that her mother is planning to one day possess her body, this being her method of extending her long lifespan.
Once you've killed Flemeth, you can find Morrigan's "Robes of Possession" in the witch's hut. These horrifically named robes lower mental defenses when worn.
Flemeth in "Dragon Age 2"
Flemeth's seeming cruelty and indifference continues in Dragon Age 2. She swoops out of nowhere and saves Hawke (sometimes swooping is good . . .) but reveals within six seconds that she did so out of mild curiosity. Hawke's sibling will ask in bafflement, "Wait! You're just going to leave us here?" and Flemeth replies indifferently that she is. It isn't until she can get something from Hawke that she really decides to help.
Flemeth knows that Morrigan is eventually going to try having her killed (apparently "again"), and this time by the powerful Warden, who might actually defeat her. Flemeth wants to survive the encounter, so she uses Hawke to achieve this.
Hawke is given a locket and asked to take it to Mythal's altar in Kirkwall, and there, Flemeth is reborn. It's a pity they didn't do something interesting with the potential of two Flemeths, but Origins was retconned so that Flemeth is always "killed" by the Warden.
I think Carver sums up the situation when he says, "Should we really help her? We don't even know what she is!"
During the time this game was released, all players knew was that Flemeth was an evil, shapeshifting witch dead-set on possessing her daughter's body, and by helping her be reborn, Hawke has enabled her to one day do that. This was actually setting things up nicely for Morrigan to hate Hawke later in Inquisition, as Hawke was supposed to be Inquisitor.
And it would fit Hawke's character perfectly to release something dangerous into the world since she is later responsible for both the red lyrium and Corypheus.
That said, I don't believe Flemeth was telling the truth about her motivations (shocking!). It's my belief that she was flying by and noticed Aveline was in trouble. She swept down to save Aveline, not Hawke.
Aveline's personal quest in Mark of the Assassin heavily, heavily implies that she is a descendant of Andraste and that her family was chased from Orlais to Ferelden and hunted down because of this.
Characters in the game who don't know Aveline's story even comment on how odd it is that Aveline has an Orlesian name but is Fereldan.
Andraste was believed to have red hair and only gave birth to daughters, so all her direct descendants were female. (I wonder if her children were Maferath's or Shartan's?) If you were to compare Aveline to images of Andraste, the likeness is striking.
Varric writes a book series called Hard in Hightown that is based on Aveline and her husband, Donnic. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, we get to actually see a physical copy of one of the books. Aveline is on the cover, but if you weren't paying attention, you would think that was Andraste.
I highly doubt the developers did this on accident. And more fun trivia: Flemeth and Andraste wear the same headpiece.
So Aveline being one of the descendants of a former host of Mythal would interest Flemeth, who is currently hosting Mythal. Because of Mythal, she might even have enough affection for Andraste and her line that she would protect it.
So she swoops down, saves Aveline, notices that Aveline will likely survive with Hawke to protect her and is about to leave when Hawke asks for help.
Also, notice how kind Flemeth is to Aveline. She is very soft-spoken and motherly toward her. She treats no one else like that in the entire franchise, not even Morrigan. The only other person who has that soft voice directed at them is Solas.
After Aveline kills her dying husband, Flemeth says gently to her, "Without an end, there can be no peace."
Everything Flemeth says in that scene is so . . . poignant in hindsight. Now that we know Flemeth is hosting Mythal, we know that line was likely coming from Mythal. After all, who would understand the misery of an endless existence better than a murdered goddess?
Another favorite Flemeth line of mine,
"There is always a catch. Life is a catch! I suggest you catch it while you can!"
Returning to Flemeth's portrayal, she is still played up as pretty evil in Dragon Age 2. Merrill will talk about both Flemeth and Mythal like some ancient and terrible monsters to be feared but never really makes a connection between the two.
Flemeth: Do you know who I am beyond that title?
Merrill: I know a little.
As I mentioned above, Merrill tells Hawke when she first meets her on Sundermount that she's lucky to have walked away from an encounter with Asha'bellanar (Flemeth) alive, since people who meet her usually wind up in tiny pieces in the trees.
And later, during Merrill's quest in Act 3, she stops to pray at Mythal's altar. When Hawke asks about the prayer, Merrill explains that it's very dangerous to ignore Mythal's altar when passing it.
Merrill talks as if the elven gods still have an impact on the world, even from their prisons. She and the Dalish seem to believe this to be true, that even if the gods are locked away, they can still do harm.
This is expanded upon in Inquisition, where the Inquisitor can respect the altars of the Dread Wolf that are found in Orlais. I think Solas even gains approval if you do so (been years, I can't remember).
So Mythal/Flemeth are still played up as evil and scary forces to be feared in Dragon Age 2. You can hardly blame Morrigan for misinterpreting her mother's intentions.
Flemeth in "Inquisition"
I did a playthrough where Morrigan had an Old God baby with Alistair and my Dalish Inqusitior drank from the Well. So instead of meeting Flemeth at Mythal's altar and watching Morrigan become a dragon, I got the scene where Flemeth lures Kieran into the Fade and takes the dragon soul from him.
Morrigan begs and pleads for the life of her son, who she believes Flemeth wishes to possess. Flemeth reveals that Morrigan was never in danger from her, that she simply intended to pass on the spirit of Mythal.
This is further referenced by the Silent Grove comics, which were released after Dragon Age 2. In the comics, Alistair meets Morrigan's sister, Yavana, who reveals that she and Flemeth want the return of the dragons and also, being possessed by Mythal is "a gift."
Thanks to having spent a lot of time on Tumblr among the Dragon Age community back in the years 2015-2017, I learned that Flemeth actually was telling the truth back in Origins.
And recently playing Dragon Age: Origins again and romancing Morrigan (again) only further led me to believe that Flemeth always meant Morrigan no harm. What convinced me was a line Flemeth has when you come to kill her after Morrigan gets the grimoire.
During the confrontation, Flemeth will try to convince the Warden that Morrigan is manipulating them. She also seems sincere.
If the Warden says "We know how you extend your life" or something of that effect, Flemeth will say, "That [Morrigan] does. But do you?" ("That she does. But do you?") Implying that Morrigan is not telling the truh and is, in fact, manipulating the Warden.
The Warden even has a line during the quest where they can say to Morrigan, "You're just trying to get someone to do your dirty work." And when the Warden comes back from Flemeth's hut, they can say, "I did your dirty work for you." I think those lines are there for a reason.
If the Warden says to Flemeth that she needs to shut up and die, Flemeth expresses disappointment. She then explains to the Warden that Morrigan has attempted to kill her many times before and that the Warden isn't the first "righteous" fool full of "bluster" to come to her with accusations.
This "righteous fool" line was the line that convinced me that Morrigan was lying. Flemeth even goes on to say, "I expected better from you." Meaning, she expected the Warden not to fall for Morrigan's crap without any real evidence that Flemeth was evil.
And think about it. Morrigan provides zero evidence. The Warden can't read the grimoire. They have to trust in Morrigan's word alone. Morrigan, the openly proud liar and manipulator.
If you install the Morrigan Restoration Patch, a mod which restores Morrigan's cut content, you will get a scene after Flemeth's "death" showing a sad and frightened Morrigan becoming relieved when the Warden marches up to her at camp. This implies that Morrigan believed very much that she was in danger. She even goes on to say that she didn't believe you would come back alive!
So Morrigan truly believed she was in danger, but she lied about not knowing about her mother's body-hopping?
I can't see why Flemeth would lie. She is very powerful and is not threatened by the Warden. And indeed, Flemeth's dragon form is one of the most powerful bosses in the entire game! It's easier to kill the Archdemon. If Flemeth really wanted Morrigan, she could take her. But she never does for three games (ten years).
No. I think Morrigan knew about Flemeth's body-hopping all along but misinterpreted what it was, then used the grimoire as an excuse to manipulate the Warden into "killing" her mother so that she could have time to escape. The lie was in the fact that she already knew and had already sent others to die for her cause.
The Morrigan Restoration Patch also restores a hidden scene that only triggers if you bring Morrigan back to the hut after agreeing to kill Flemeth. The scene shows Morrigan complaining that you would bring her there when she asked you not to. It also shows a raven (Flemeth?) lurking nearby and watching the scene.
In other words, Flemeth will refuse to show herself if you try to bring Morrigan to the hut after the grimoire quest has been activated. She will only talk to the Warden without Morrigan because it's the only way she can reason with the Warden. If Morrigan is there, getting the Warden to see the truth would be harder.
So was Flemeth meant to be an evil witch who wants to possess her daughter? It feels like the developers set us up to think so but subverted our expectations later down the line.
If anything, Dragon Age: Inquisition makes it clear that Morrigan is a fool and a child (as I said in my Alistair article) who thinks she knows everything but in reality, knows nothing. The fact that she craps on Solas and the Dalish for these qualities in Inquisition only makes it more hilarious.
I also really hate the fact that the decision to fight Flemeth or let her go was retconned in Dragon Age 2 so that the Warden always kills Flemeth no matter what. I've always liked Flemeth so much that nine times out ten, I will let her go. So getting to Dragon Age 2 and discovering that Flemeth was killed no matter what was really annoying back in the day.
After that, I just started to imagine that maybe Morrigan tried getting someone else to kill Flemeth if the Warden didn't.
I wouldn't put it past her.
Is Flemeth Dead?
So the Warden couldn't kill Flemeth. Could the Dread Wolf?
At the end of Inquisition, Solas walks up to Flemeth looking very sad. Flemeth has just sent a wisp of light through a mirror. She turns to Solas and calls him Dread Wolf. They embrace, and then Solas appears to suck the life from Flemeth, leaving her for dead.
Their embrace resembles the red lyrium idol from Dragon Age 2, which depicts one person dying in the other's arms. It's my belief that the idol depicts the death of Mythal and her original killer. This makes sense given that the Deep Roads expedition is likely beneath Sundermount, near Mythal's altar. The idol depicts what the ancient elves would have viewed as a crime.
So thanks in part to the developer's notes, I think we can guess that Flemeth isn't actually dead. The notes say that Flemeth gives her power to Solas but sends the wisp of Mythal through the mirror to Morrigan.
So Flemeth as we know her is dead and gone, but Mythal the elven goddess is still well and alive . . . About as well as a wisp can be.
I wouldn't be surprised if Morrigan appeared in the next installment with Mythal looking out from her eyes.