A series of handwritten notes found tucked in a copy of an ancient, well-respected book on military matters, late in the campaign against Corypheus.
Upon review of this treatise, I am undecided as to the best course of action to take. My first impulse is to turn it over to Sister Leliana as seditious material. Among the recommendations given by the author I find the following:
* Lie to everyone, all the time. (Truly!)
* Spies are the most important part of any war effort and should be given the best of everything. (Leliana might like this part enough to spare the author's life)
* Corrupt your enemy with presents, bribes and flattery - "beautiful women" being especially mentioned as gifts dangerous to their recipient's moral integrity. (I'm not sure which part of this is most insulting. I'll settle for "all of it" and move on.)
* Cheat, steal, sneak, feint, hide, undermine, deceive (When I get home I'm keeping a much closer eye on you!)
* The best way to win a battle is to purposely place your army in desperate straits by cutting off any avenue of retreat and removing all hope of surviving the day. (Do our men know about this part of the book?)
* Be aware that the rank and file are continuously awaiting any opportunity either to desert to the enemy or make a dash for home; they must be practically tied down to keep them in the field. (Apparently yes, they have read that first bit. This therefore seems like wise strategy on their part, I must say.)
* Unconventional tactics are highly recommended, mostly those involving cruelty to innocent animals (Tying burning brands to creatures' tails and then sending them at the enemy? Cole would never forgive us.)
* Generals should completely disregard the orders of their sovereigns.
* Disregard of orders should be punished by immediate and summary beheading. (These last two taken together would seem to quickly result in a shortage of generals. Perhaps the author thought that a good thing?)
In short, it recommends breaking every rule of honorable and civilized warfare laid out with such conviction – and at such length, Maker's mercy – by that respected Orlesian general and dear ally of ours whose name I will not mention lest I accidentally conjure him up to deliver an encore. Having such a book in your office raises more than a few questions. Before I do anything, however, I find it only right to give you a chance to justify its presence.
That is all, dearest.
Allow me to defend the author of the work you mentioned, and therefore myself.
Contrary to the long-winded opinion of that Orlesian, war has only one rule: defeat your enemy. All other rules come either from men, and those are made and changed and broken, or from the Maker, and those it is possible to ignore, though at your peril. As to your specific concerns:
* Better that animals die than our people. Cole will have to live - if Fade-creatures can be called alive - with that. Besides, it would've been an incredible sight. Admit it. All those torches lighting up the night - and the druffalo painted to look like dragons!
* Yes, warfare is primarily about deception. Don't tell Leliana. Also don't tell her what that book says about spies. She'd never let me hear the end of it. And she'd try to make off with half my resources.
* Our soldiers are not going to desert us at the drop of a hat. I don't know who that man was dealing with, but our men are loyal, dedicated, and committed to this cause. I'd trust any one of them with my life. More importantly, love, I trust them with yours.
* Making your men desperate may be the best way to win a battle, but it's a trick that really only works once. Best not to try it unless you have to - and hope your victory is glorious enough that the men forgive you. Though if they don't, I suppose I can always tell them it was your idea.
* Corrupting the enemy is an... interesting strategy. Josephine can tell you a great deal more about it than I can, I'm sure. I have no comment on the special effectiveness of attractive women, except that you can be sure that I, at least, am immune to their effects - I already have the only one I'll ever need.
* Disobeying orders is a very serious offense and merits severe disciplinary measures. Fortunately I've managed to keep the beheadings to a minimum. Only a few a week now.
* As for disobeying your orders, my lady Inquisitor - to my knowledge, I have never done so, but if I have to - due to military considerations - I will. Forgive me. If you must execute me afterward, at least stay the executioner's hand long enough to grant me a last kiss.
Come home soon, love.
For the most part I find your explanations satisfactory. I concede your point on the matter of druffalo-dragons; if you ever decide to employ that tactic in the field, let me know. I'll come watch - and leave Cole at Skyhold. As for blaming unpopular policies on me, do try to give me a little warning first. The title of "Herald" will only protect me so far, I think; I may have to arrange for a quick escape. And finally, if you ever decide to disobey an order of mine... just don't tell me about it. All things considered, I would prefer not to execute you. I find my husbands much more pleasant when their heads - and hearts - are in the right place.
Take care of yourself, dearest. I'll be back before you know it.
Husbands? Where did the others come from? Scout Harding seems to be leaving some important details out of her reports. I'll have to have a long talk with that dwarf when you return. Which I hope will be any day now.
Ah, yes. Husbands. Let me see.
There's the general, the ex-Templar, the Fereldan, the chess-master, the bird lover, the Andrastian, the shortbread terrorizer, the hero of Kirkwall and the scourge of hapless recruits everywhere... in other words, just the one, and I intend to keep him very, very close.
I can see the mountains.
I'm almost home.