This is a friendly warning. If you haven’t played the mission “In Hushed Whispers” in Dragon Age Inquisition and you plan to, you should know that this post contains massive spoilers. Also, it does refer to events later in the game, so read with care. Or rather, don’t read.
Ever since my first meeting with Alexius in Redcliffe’s tavern, I’ve been of two minds about this particular villain. One – he is a Tevinter magister, intent on delivering the Inquisitor to the Elder One, or if that should fail, to kill you. He is prepared to use any means to reach that goal. Two – he loves his son so dearly that he is literally prepared to end the world to save him.
This, to me, is the motivation of a brilliant villain. He doesn’t even want the power for himself. In that, he is utterly selfless. This is a man prepared to do anything for the love of his son. Once he has lost, all will to fight leaves him. He gives up the mages he has captured, he hands himself over.
“How many times have I tried? The past cannot be undone. All that I fought for, all that I betrayed… What have I wrought? Ruin and death, there is nothing else.”
– Gereon Alexius
This is part of what makes “In Hushed Whispers” such a wonderful mission. The other reasons being the time travelling aspect and the chilling look into Leliana’s mind.
Not only does Alexius care so much for his son’s well being, that he is prepared to interrupt negotiations with the Inquisitor (a person he wants to lay his hands on pretty badly – in a completely non-sexual sense!) , but he also willingly plunges the world into darkness in the hope of keeping his son alive. And all the while, both Dorian and Alexius’ son Felix talk about Alexius as a mentor and a learned man. Dorian even says Alexius was the man he used to compare all other men to, and that is high praise, in particular from someone like Dorian.
Alexius could have been defined by his less than charitable attitude toward his fellow mages (he is prepared to more or less enslave them), but he isn’t. Instead, I as a player is given insight into the inner workings of this man, and what drove him toward extremism. Just as Anders in Dragon Age: Awakening and Dragon Age II, he has a reason, if misguided, to act the way he does. When his wife and son were attacked by Darkspawn, his wife died and his son was condemned to a slow death, corrupted as he was by the taint.
In his desperation to find a cure for his son, Alexius started moving in extremist circles, he fell in with the Venatori. The Venatori are a cult of nationalist supremacists (and religious madmen) who think that they will rule Thedas next to the Elder One, once he has usurped the Golden City.
To me it is obvious that Alexius has been seduced by promises of the power to heal his son, and that is the only reason why he joined the Venatori.
There are other Tevinter villains waiting in the wings, Livius Erimond who has the more villainy trait of wanting power for himself. When meeting him in the Ritual Tower in the Western Approach, Erimond states this quite clearly. He also shares a trait that many villains do – he just can not understand any other motivation than power for himself. He accuses Clarel at Adamant to be grasping for it, when her motivations have been driven by fear and the Calling – to make the world a better place, to end the Blights.
There is also Crassius Servuis, who was simply in it for the money and temporary gain, as the player will find out when sitting in judgement at Skyhold. This makes for a lovely and wide range of motivations for the villains, although I believe Gereon Alexius is the one I like best. He is motivated not by his own gain, but by love. A nice testament to the corrupting power of the Elder One. Even love is tainted by the blight.
Or perhaps, a testament to the power of love. Sometimes it is strong enough to end the world.