So I’ve been digging around in the Codex Entries on “The Enigma of Kirkwall” as research for “We Were Once More Than We Are”. Once again, just when I think i can’t wig out anymore over this universe, I take three hours of my life that I could have spent building a boat or doing my taxes or learning how to swear in Portuguese or doing any number of productive things and instead apply them toward geeking out over mysterious rogue archaeologists.
So who the hell were the Band of Three?
Short answer? Fuck if I know.
The 12 codexes give us very little information to go on. We don’t even know for sure that the Band only contained three knowledge seekers, although obviously the name suggests it. But in the Codexes, at least four major players, and one possibly minor or major player, are expressly identified:
1) The writer of the diary entries, who may or may not be the same person throughout; he or she doesn’t exactly sign a John Hancock at the bottom of each entry. For the purposes of this post, however, I’ll assume that he or she is just one person.
2) The intended reader of the diary entries, who the Writer is leaving these messages for. We know next to nothing about the Reader, although judging by the instructive tone the Writer takes (“should we fail, search for the markings of the Band of Three.”), it seems unlikely that the messages were intended for an anonymous or random audience.
3) Brother Mikhel, the only person named by name, which in and of itself suggests that he is not associated directly with the Band of Three’s activities, since the other members’ anonymity is so closely guarded.
The only Mikhel in the game universe that I can scrounge up is Mikhel Dryden, the grumpy brother of Levi Dryden, better known as the scion of Warden-Commander Sophia Dryden of Soldier’s Peak. If this is the same Mikhel — which would be remarkable, if so — that would further constrain the time frame of the Band of Three’s activities to within the Dragon Age and Mikhel’s lifetime. I doubt, however, that this is the same guy; especially since the “Brother” appellation implies a member of the chantry, which Mr. Sour-Face McGrumpyPants most certainly was not.
4) V. We know little about V. other than that he or she is fatally wounded when the Band of Three is attacked by maleficarum. Judging by the final Codex, V. does not survive his or her wounds.
Who is V? We know several V names already in the DA universe: Velanna, Vael, Velasco, and my personal favorite (for the sheer romance of it all), Lord Remi Vascal, a.k.a The Black Fox, who by 9:11 Dragon had been missing for some time. (If he were still alive as of 9:31, he would’ve been 68 years old.) But it is also possible that V is someone we don’t know, or that V. refers to a title (like Viscount or Knight-Vigilant) or a name in a different language.
5) F. All we know about F is that he or she dies after the Band of Three discover the Forgotten One (presumably Xebenkeck; the Codex mentions that the Band of Three have gone to “the center of it all”, and Xebenkeck’s Fell Grimoire is located in a former archon’s chambers in Darktown known as “the Forgotten Lair”).
Who is F? There are fewer F names, but the ones that do exist are intriguing: Fenris (it’s probably not him!). Flemeth. Fiona. That last one, Fiona, is intriguing indeed, considering that this elven Gray Warden mage disappeared after revealing…
***BIG HUGE FUCKING SPOILERS FOR THE CALLING AND DA:O***
NO REALLY U GUYS THIS IS BIG
OK THIS SPOILER’S ALL YOU THEN
… after revealing to Maric that she was his baby momma, and making him promise that their son would be told his mother was a human and had died. She also made her bff Duncan promise to watch over him.
Yeah. You read that right. Alistair’s a fucking half-elf.
Anyway, after Fiona drops this bombshell, she runs off into the hills, and hasn’t been seen since. So you have to wonder: Where would an elven Grey Warden mage with a propensity for trouble most likely find herself?
Kirkwall. Or I’ll eat my chicken hat.
We also know a few other things about the Band of Three:
— They come to Kirkwall for the express purpose of answering an unnamed question concerning the Tevinter Imperium, something that can’t be answered by going to Imperium cities. They know a fuckload of Tevinter lore — can even recognize ancient Tevinter relics on sight — which means they likely fall into one or more of a few categories:
They also know a metric shit ton about demons, demon lore, blood magic, and the books that discuss all three. This suggests the Band were mages, and not just any mages, either: They would’ve needed to be Super High Level Mages, who would’ve had access to the Other Naughty Section of the Circle Tower Libraries — the section on blood magic and demons. So, Senior Enchanters, at least, possibly higher.
So what were they doing outside the Tower? Apostates, perhaps? That would explain why they’re so secretive and so afraid of being caught.
(This is neither here nor there, and it’s totally whackadoo and not supported by pretty much ANYTHING, but…well, we know of at least one scholarly-minded Enchanter with a taste for danger, who was also a recent transport to Kirkwall: Karl Thekla. Karl Thekla secretly in the Band of Three? Damn. I mean, I know the Writer probably doesn’t survive, but man, that’s fun headcanon. Like I needed more reasons to imagine Karl Thekla as a BAMF. :D)
— By the time of writing, the Imperium magisters have been “centuries dead”, suggesting that the Band of Three lived and died relatively recently. They would have to have lived at least after 7:56 Storm (just under 200 yrs ago) when the Qunari first invaded Kirkwall and laid siege to the city. In their four year sacking, the Qunari presumably would’ve burned any remaining Tevinter records, whatever the slaves themselves didn’t burn when they revolted (as mentioned in Codex 2)
Now, the fact that the codexes are still laying about in good enough condition for Hawke to find suggests that they might have been running around very recently — at least in the Dragon Age, maybe even close to 9:31 (when the game starts), especially if Brother Mikhel is the same as Mikhel Dryden.
If so, that would place the Band of Three active during the Threnhold years, either in Chivalry or Perrin’s reign. (The mention of the Band needing to bribe the Viscount’s guards in Codex 2 also suggests the corrupt Threnhold reign.)
Both Threnholds are remembered in Kirkwall as terrible tyrants who opposed the Templars (but since the Templars led by Meredith, ousted Perrin in 9:21, is this just a case of history being written by the victors?), and as such, both would have kept a close watch on the comings and goings of any visiting Knights. So this, combined with the fact that The Writer apparently steals a Templar uniform at one point, suggests that the Band is not associated with the Templar Order or the Chantry (else, why would they need the disguise?)
— And yet, the Band “renews their vows” on the shores of the Gallows. A curious turn of phrase, that. Exactly how did they renew their vows, and why on the shores of the Gallows?
Again, are the Band of Three mages—or maybe even former slaves? Both mages and slaves would be innately familiar with the conflict between freedom and obligation, and so vows would mean more to both groups; plus, a landing site of the Gallows carries more weight for mages and slaves than it would, say, a noble or a mercenary.
So tl;dr? The Band of Three are:
One final thought before I collapse into bed—
The Band of Three Codex ends on this cheerful note:
“And Maker help us if someone does answer what we could not.”
Not “Maker help us if nobody finds out the answer”. But “Maker help us if someone DOES find out the answer”.
Clearly, the Writer realized a little too late that some things are best left forgotten.