So there was a new development for us fans in the form of David Gaider quotes. Specifically the issue I’m going to address is about the information on Fenris and the lyrium markings. Quote by Skyelinepigeon: “What effects the lyrium would have on Fenris is completely up in the air. Fenris was a test case by Danarius, the first of his kind, so anything can happen (lots of jokes about how fanfiction could go crazy on this, haha). It may make him crazy, may give him added powers, we don’t know. Also, since Danarius isn’t around anymore to “maintain” the lyrium (Gaider’s word), it could become unstable. Gaider imagines lyrium like mercury.” The following is an essay compiled of my previous notes and theory brainstorming I did a while ago when I wrote my short story “The Ritual.” It’s funny because this has been a part of my headcanon for a long time now.
The original Ritual I believe is much more akin to the ancient Tevinter mage rituals that drew on a lyrium well and created Golems. From what we know of Shale the Golems also had similar lyrium veined markings on them that could be “maintained” and “augmented” with crystals. Likewise, Fenris’ markings probably could be maintained and augmented by Danarius with either certain items or spells. I always believed Fenris was the first of his kind, and the only “lyrium warrior” out there. I also doubt the process could be repeated easily, and was probably something that died with Danarius.
The ritual Fenris endured had to have been with the use of the most potent and powerful form of raw lyrium. It is my belief that the ritual pretty much attached Fenris to the fade. This is also what caused the memory wipe. Since the fade is a place of emotion and I’m thinking Danarius had to allow a specific access point and catalyst to physically attach Fenris to the fade. This would most likely be at the point of his brain where emotions are stored. Whether the memory wipe was intentional or not is debated frequently, but I’m thinking Danarius knew and meant for the memory wipe to occur. Now, he can wipe the memories again presumably without the ritual repeating and does so if you give Fenris back to him. However, I still believe that while the memory wipe can be done separately it was indeed done intentionally the first time in conjunction with the ritual. This is because attaching Fenris to the fade through his emotions would be easier if the slate was wiped clean. It would be easier to isolate a point to ground Fenris to the markings if he didn’t have personal emotions and memories floating around interfering with the specific bind point.
The markings themselves allow Fenris to “phase” in and out by using the lyrium as a direct catalyst to shift through different levels of the fade, and then solidify - shifting back out of the fade. He obviously doesn’t realize he is drawing on the fade or maybe he assumes but doesn’t want to think about it that way. It is logical that he can shift through different levels. Much like the lyrium wells allowed for the magisters to bring people’s consciousness and being into Golems. Yet, even Shale loses her memories due to time and magical interference. It is likely she lost her memories when she became a Golem or when she was being experimented on with “augmentations.” This only further proving that the memory wipe can be done separately from the ritual, and Danarius’ research likely originated with the Golem research. The difference here being that Fenris is an organic, living - non-mage host, and not a Golem.
It says that any mage who comes in contact with raw lyrium pretty much dies. It is more dangerous and poisonous to a mage. So it would have to be a non-mage host, and more than that a strong individual who could take so much punishment and still potentially live.
Now, I see the designs as rather “elven” looking but I’m not sure of the influence specifically other than some ancient magic that might be learned in Tevinter from the elves. I’m more inclined to think the lyrium was branded or burned and infused into Fenris’ blood and nervous system because the markings also sort of mirror the circulatory and nervous system. Especially the ones on his neck which mirror the carotid arteries, and the ones on his throat mirror some of the spinal cord and clavicle nerves. Likewise, the ones on the arms look like brachial and peripheral veins/arteries.
This is where my theory comes from that the lyrium was actually fused and branded not so much into the skin, but into the actual nerves and arteries. The markings on the skin are scar tissues resulting from this. Of course the lyrium being infused into these systems is what allows Fenris to isolate say, a fist, from the rest of himself. Calling on those specific muscles and nerves and allowing an isolated part of his body to “phase” without his whole body phasing.
The markings glow because of the “flow” of the lyrium in the circulatory system, used as a catalyst to join with the fade. Yet, I’m not saying that he has lyrium floating around in his circulatory system or bloodstream per say, but he has lyrium infused into him, a part of him, cauterized to him, and that is what allows him to manipulate it specifically in each limb and what allows it to glow in general.
The infusion to the nervous system also explains the pain of the markings themselves. An aversion to touch because he is likely very sensitive to it, but not so much that it would be excruciating or something. I imagine it as little electrical impulses like a small static charge or tingling. Enough for him to not actively seek out touch, but to not dwell on it when he is with Hawke.
Alright, so then the question becomes if he has all this lyrium fused to his system and so ingrained in him then won’t it become unstable? Kill him? This is perhaps a truth. The raw lyrium can be unpredictable. It can be unstable and volatile, poisonous and deadly. That being said there is also the possibility that long term exposure to lyrium is what made the dwarves more resilient to magic and also what made them the only ones capable of mining raw lyrium. Fenris has been exposed to lyrium for a long time even in the game. We don’t know how long he was with Danarius, but even with that he is on the run for 3 years before Hawke and 9 years at least after Hawke with no symptoms of poisoning. I am inclined to think that such a long time of exposure coupled with the fact that he actually survived the ritual means that he is actually naturally resilient to the lyrium instead of poisoned by it. In rather the same way Templars can use distilled Lyrium and dust to augment themselves and become “resistant” to magic I think Fenris in time because of living with the lyrium and being exposed to so much will actually have an immunity to its effects. Perhaps even make him much more immune to magic. Much like the dwarves did after being exposed for so long to such powerful and potent raw lyrium.
Now, the argument comes up about the lyrium having an expiration or time limit. Losing its potency and power over time. It might be that the lyrium deteriorates over time, but I’m actually inclined to think because of the way it is used and because of the markings themselves and how they are infused that the effects won’t deteriorate. I think Danarius meant for the lyrium ritual and markings to be done once and to last for a lifetime. However, since Fenris was an experiment he may have thought that a re-infusion of lyrium would have to be done later on if the effects lessened. Yet I don’t think this is the case because to reattempt the ritual would be to risk killing Fenris even more so than the first time because he already has so much lyrium infused into him. I think that because Fenris can use the markings as a catalyst and not draw on the lyrium itself that it will not deteriorate. He isn’t really using a supply of lyrium when he accesses his powers, but drawing on the lyrium as a bridge with the fade.
I am inclined to believe that Fenris’ could learn how to manipulate the phasing aspect even more with time, and that he could learn to do different things by isolating phasing on certain parts, certain time intervals and to actually become more skilled and powerful with his markings in time. I actually believe this is more likely because there isn’t a limited supply of lyrium in him per say, but a bridge and catalyst that can be accessed without using up the lyrium he has branded into him.
It’s funny that David Gaider actually said that he thought of lyrium as he would mercury. I actually thought of it as Dimethylmercury specifically, and always have. Dimethylmercury is one of the most toxic forms of organic mercury. While synthesized mercury (that which is found in thermometers and such) is also toxic it has nothing on its organic, “raw” counterpart. Dimethylmercury is fatal in even 0.1ml dose. It is liquid, crosses the blood-brain barrier, and is absorbed even through latex, butane, and neoprene protection. Also, it apparently has a faintly sweet smell, but to actually smell it is toxic and fatal. It also has a bioaccumulation period where it can take months to actually show any signs of poisoning at all. So, yeah, that is what I thought of when I thought of Fenris’ lyrium. It’s funny because in my headcanon and in my fics I describe Fenris as having a slightly sweet taste and smell.
So, all that being said I conclude that it is possible for Fenris to be poisoned by this raw lyrium one day. It might be that the lyrium in him becomes unstable and the catalyst or bridge breaks down after a while because of the unpredictable nature of lyrium. It is also doubtful that it would not leave a permanent dent on his physical system. Perhaps his metabolism, his reproductive system, his circulatory, musculoskeletal, nervous system is irreversibly changed. Even his mind is subject to the effects of this “poison.” However, it is more likely that since the initial exposure did not kill him it means he has an already proven tolerance to the lyrium. However long the ritual took, and whatever Danarius did to “maintain” the lyrium it probably does not necessarily need to be something that Danarius has to be there to do.It might have even been something Danarius did to protect himself from Fenris becoming resistant to magic.
This maintenance also may be something Fenris can either learn to do himself or have a mage Hawke or another mage help him with. I am also hesitant to say he actually needs a mage to “maintain” the markings. I’m thinking Danarius’ maintenance was more for him than for Fenris. Perhaps something along the lines of drawing some of the power out of the lyrium for himself, re-stabalizing the lyrium itself and reinforcing the bond with the fade. I’m sure Fenris has actually been using his powers on his own for so long now that he might be doing this maintenance without knowing it.
I doubt Danarius would have relied on re-inserting the lyrium onto Fenris to maintain it. It is more likely that he had some kind of maintaining spell on Fenris to keep the connection with the fade stable and accessible without it breaking down. Fenris could potentially pick up on this stabilization process in a sort of subconscious, self-preservation, involuntary system type of way. Especially if the lyrium is attached to his nervous/circulatory system the body would attempt to rid itself of toxins or harmful effects perhaps discharging them in the blue “mist” that surrounds him when he phases.
This is how one burns off the toxins on dimethylmercury. One burns the element, and the vapors, while toxic, also allow the element to be manipulated and stabilized. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is toxic to be around Fenris when he does his phasing thing. I see it more as he produces some kind of lyrium byproduct maybe akin to lyrium dust or sand. It would be felt by a mage, like his markings, but not lethal or anything.
This of course leads me again to the branding and burning theory that infused the liquid lyrium into the host’s body while the brain stem and brain were the anchors to the fade. The mist is more than likely part of the bridge with the fade and also a result of activating the lyrium. It doesn’t necessarily have to deplete the lyrium’s potency, and since it is the most potent lyrium it is more than likely not going to run out.
If the lyrium does become unstable or begin to poison Fenris then I doubt there would be anything to really help him other than trying to remove the lyrium. Trying to reinfuse the lyrium would most likely guarantee death. It doesn’t make sense to add poison to cure poison. I doubt there would be any possible cure and this may very well be how Fenris dies especially if his body can no longer maintain the connection because the lyrium becomes unstable to the point where Fenris cannot maintain it himself.
In summary, I believe that the lyrium, while potential to have devastating effects on Fenris is more likely to be something he can live with and manipulate and use his whole life. Surviving the ritual itself and the fact that he has endured for so long with the lyrium makes me think that he might be resilient to its effects. More akin to dwarves who can be around raw lyrium with little to no effect of poisoning due in part to their long term exposure and evolution. The maintenance Danarius did on Fenris would likely not have included a repeat process of the ritual in any form because that would most likely mean death for the host. A host might survive one branding, but two would be impossible. Likely the maintenance was about maintaining the stability of the connection to the fade and the lyrium itself. Something that Fenris could learn in time to do himself and may already be doing without conscious thought. As stated his anatomy and physiology would have been permanently changed and the body likes to keep itself alive. If he has adapted to the lyrium there doesn’t seem to be a reason that the actual repeated use of his powers wouldn’t produce some kind of self preservation process to keep the lyrium from becoming unstable. Even without Danarius there to do whatever maintenance I think it is possible to maintain that bridge and keep the lyrium in check. Instead of immediately going the tragic direction that ends in madness and death I think it is possible for Fenris to benefit from the markings, learning new skills with them and growing more powerful.