Quest Objectives: Enter the Winter Palace, explore the Palace Gardens and earn court approval
You will need to reequip your weapons and armor during the upcoming quest, so if you don’t have a good memory, make note of the weapons and armor your party is equipped with before you begin the mission.
Head to the war council room and select the Orlais region, then the Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts point on the right side of the map. After a brief cut-scene with some dialogue, you need to gain court approval. In addition, anytime you speak to non-Inquisition members in this area, do not ask direct questions or you will lose court approval. Be as indirect and mysterious as possible with your responses and questions.
Speak with the noblewoman to the south and agree to find her ring, then scan the area to find it in the fountain to the south. Deliver it to the noblewoman to earn five points of court approval. Make your way up the stairs to the north, then up the next set of stairs to the west. Speak with the nobles on the west side of the balcony and they’ll move away. Eavesdrop on their conversation by standing near the flower bed just to the north. After a short cut-scene, go down the narrow hallway north of where the nobles are now standing. Scan the far east side of the hallway to find a storage key.
Head back down the stairs and continue up the stairs on the east side of the area, directly ahead. When you reach the top, search near the south east corner to find a Halla Statuette. You now have access to both storage rooms below the east and west balcony.
Pick up the loot at the end of the narrow balcony to the north, then head back down the stairs. Open the door under the eastern balcony (marked by a diamond on the map), and loot the items inside. Head to the west side and open the door below the balcony to find more loot inside, including a secret building permit near the door and a caprice coin near the large barrel.
Open the main gate in the middle of the area to partake in another cut-scene. Head up the stairs directly ahead, then speak with the Grand Duke Gaspard at the southern end of the room to initiate another cut-scene. Head down the stairs and make your way across the ballroom to see another cut-scene. Keep the conversation formal and do not mention the pending attack.
Quest Objectives: Speak with Leliana, investigate Briala’s agents and explore the Grand Library for information on the empress’s occult advisor
Head north to find a scroll to read in the far right corner, then head through the door in the middle that leads to the Vestibule (marked by a waypoint in the map). After a brief cut-scene, head due east to find two nobles (one a whispering elf) conversing near the corner. When you attempt to speak with them, they walk away. Move to the stairs just left of their final position to eavesdrop on the conversation.
Make your way through the doorway on the east side, then down the first hallway to the left. Hug the right side of the balcony to find another eavesdropping point. Eavesdrop on the conversation, then continue down the hallway toward the stairs at the end. To the south of the staircase is another eavesdropping point.
Head back to the Hall of Heroes where you encountered the whispering elf and go through the doorway to the west, then move to the statue just left of the door to eavesdrop on a conversation. Head into the next room on the left to find another eavesdropping point to the right of the entry way. Speak to Duke Germain in the corner of the room.
Continue to the south and into the room at the end of the hallway. Head through the doorway on the south side of the room, then scan the southeast corner of the balcony to find a cylinder seal. Go back into the previous hallway and through the door on the west side, near the middle of the hallway to initiate another cut-scene.
Make your way down the hallway on the east side of this outdoor area to find another eavesdropping point near the end. Move into the hallway on the west side to find loot on the north end and an eavesdropping location on the south end. You can use this eavesdropping point twice, so don’t leave after the first conversation.
Climb the terrace on the north side of this area, then head through the door directly ahead to enter the grand library. Scan the northwest corner to find a book that can be pulled. Pull the book to reveal a doorway on the north side of the room. Head through the doorway, pick up the letter on the desk and the rest of the loot within, including the torch on the east wall.
Go back into the previous room and light the six urns in a specific order. Start with the urns on the east side and light them from south to north. Move to the west side urns and light them from south to north. If you did this in the correct order, a staircase opens in the center of the room. Head down the stairs and grab all of the loot in the room below.
Head back up to the floor above and out toward the balcony where you entered. Go down the narrow hallway on the east side to find a Halla Statue in the middle of the hallway and scandalous papers at the end. Use the statue to open the door on the far west side, then pick up the negotiations on the floor inside. Loot the room, then make your way back to the Grand Ballroom (the main waypoint on your map) to initiate another cut-scene.
After the cut-scene, do not enter the Grand Ballroom. Instead head west to go back to the Hall of Heroes (where the whispering elf is located), and head down the stairs on the far side of the room. Enter the servants’ quarters through the door at the bottom of the stairs.
It’s now time to reequip your weapons and armor. Your time is limited in this area so do not take your time, and pause the game anytime you’re not actively doing something. Examine the corpse ahead and then loot the rooms to the north and east. Be careful not to miss the Halla Statue in the rafters of the room to the north. You need to jump on the table, then jump and collect the statue in mid-air.
Head through the doorway to the west and into the gardens ahead to initiate another cut-scene. Take out the small numbers of enemies that attack. You’ll encounter enemies frequently throughout this area. How much approval you’ve gained from the court will determine how much time you have to explore and find more loot. If you have an approval of at least 20, head northeast up the stairs and loot the second floor to find numerous items before returning to the lower level again.
Make your way south through the garden, then head west when you get to the next open area. Head into the door on the north side near the end of the path, and into the room to the northeast. Take out the enemies inside, then quickly loot the room and head up the stairs in the corner.
Continue to the south and into the room to the east. Take out the enemies inside, then head back out and through the doorway to the north. Head through the room, making your way east until you encounter the next group of enemies. Defeat them and move forward slightly to initiate another cut-scene.
Quest Objective: Return to the ballroom to confront Gaspard
After the cut-scene, pick up the Halla Statue nearby, then make your way through the area as you move toward the waypoint back at the stairs you used to reach the upper floor. If you have time, pick up any loot along the way. When you get back to the lower level, take out the enemies waiting in the next room, then head toward the waypoint to the south, looting as you go if you have the time to spare.
Open the gate at the waypoint to enter the main castle again. Head back up the stairs and speak with the guards by the trophy room to the north. Convince them to leave by telling them to speak with Cullen, then head inside the trophy room and scan to find more hidden loot.
Head back to the Grand Ballroom (the main waypoint on the map) to initiate another cut-scene. Choose to dance if you wish to improve your court approval. As a reminder, be as mysterious and indirect as possible during your conversation on the dance floor. This will improve your court approval considerably. After the dance, you must speak with your comrades. Once again, do not provide any direct answers. Tell them you need more information and continue with that conversation path.
Quest Objective: Find material in the royal wing to blackmail Gaspard and Briala
Go back through the main door to the Vestibule again. Head down the left side of the hall and up the stairs at the end to find another eavesdropping point. Eavesdrop on the conversation, then open the door in this small area. You will need to reequip your weapon and armor, but the rest of your party will still be geared up from before.
Search the table to the left for more secrets, then head up the stairs and into the next room. Move east until you hear a woman scream, then head into the door directly to the east. After a very short cut-scene with dialogue, loot the room to find another Halla Statue.
Continue through the doorway to the south and around the corner into the next room. Head into the east door on the far side of the room to initiate a cut-scene. Once again, play coy with the dialogue. Immediately following the cut-scene, you face off against a number of enemies as a rift is present in the room. Defeat the enemies and close the rift, then play coy one more time during the conversation that follows.
Head through the door to the south, take out the enemies in the next room, loot the room, then proceed through the western doorway. Go down the stairs to the lower level, then take out the enemies in the hallway to the north. Loot the hallway and the room on the east side of the hall, then go back to the previous room and continue through the western door.
In the courtyard ahead, make your way through the door to the south, then through the next door to the west to enter the Grand Ballroom. During the dialogue that follows, choose to detain the duchess. After another short cut-scene you face the Grand Duchess in a boss battle.
Boss Battle: Grand Duchess
- Immunity: All disabling effects, poisoned, slowed, knocked down
At the beginning of the battle, the Grand Duchess is perched on top of the fountain. This makes it difficult for melee classes to attack her. If you have good ranged attackers in your party, stay on the balcony and attack until she moves. If you do not, head down the stairs to force her onto the ground as well.
The Grand Duchess has a lot of immunities and she teleports around a lot. Don’t worry about attacks that paralyze or slow as they won’t be very effective. The Grand Duchess can be weakened though, so take that into account when attacking. This battle is more difficult for melee damage classes compared to ranged damage classes, so if you have any ranged weaponry, this fight is a great time to use it.
Every time the boss teleports, your party will stop attacking until you have spotted her and initiated the attack again. If you’re a ranged damage dealer, this is relatively easy, as you simply have to move the camera around until you see a targeting site on her, then lock in and begin your attack. If you’re not a rogue or mage, switch to one in your party to make this battle easier. If you do not have any ranged damage dealers in your party, this will be a slightly longer fight, as you’ll have to move across the garden multiple times when the boss teleports.
Additional enemies spawn multiple times throughout the battle. If you have area attacks that will hit more than one enemy, use those on the boss and ignore the additional enemies. Any members of your party that do not have area attacks should focus their single target attacks on the additional enemies. You want to remove the enemies, but your priority is to defeat the boss. Attacking both at the same time with area spells and attacks is the best way to do this. However, if you can’t attack multiple targets at once, get rid of the additional enemies first to ensure they don’t chip away at your party’s health.
With the boss down, collect any loot left on the battlefield, then head back up the stairs and through the two gates directly ahead. During the dialogue that follows, you must determine who is to blame for the attack. Once that has been decided, you return to Skyhold.
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