I stood before Duncan in a room of the Grey Warden compound in Denerim. The room was almost bare, save for a fireplace, a table, and a few bookshelves. Another Grey Warden was there. His name was Riordan.
Duncan held in his hand a silver chalice, filled with the blood I had collected from the ogre. It was time.
“Step forth, Vralen,” he said. Riordan had a blank look on his face, like he would be completely unaffected if I died right before him. He must have seen many other recruits die in the Joining.
Duncan handed me the chalice. I took it with both my hands, and looked at my reflection in the blood.
“Bottoms up,” I thought to myself. I raised the chalice to my lips, tipped my head back, and drank the blood. It burned going down, like the foulest kind of whiskey, and when I was done I nearly gagged. But it wasn’t over yet.
My hearing became hollow, my vision dampened slightly, I started gagging and dropped to my hands and knees. My eyes went blank white, and in my head I could see the faces of the darkspawn, laughing and growling, swarming as if to rip me apart. But I managed to resist the pain that I felt inside, and, with difficulty, got back up to my feet. The burning in my throat stopped, and my hearing and vision returned to normal. I had survived.
“From this moment forward,” said Duncan, “you are a Grey Warden.”
“Remember our motto,” said Riordan. “In war, victory. In peace, vigilance. In death, sacrifice.”