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Helping the Thief
Warning: Be Careful Before You Start This One
This is probably going to be the final quest that you’ll get in Act 2, before the grand finale. You won't be completely rail roaded, but you should really be ready before you start it. Also note that you should do whatever you can to get your friendship with Isabela up before you do the quest. If you want to keep her around, then you'll need to secure the romance or friendship before the quest starts.
If you go back to meet Aveline and discuss the growing Qunari problems, you’ll find that Isabela may have her own role to play in this crisis. There’s no real fault with agreeing to help Isabela. This makes the story make a lot more sense and Aveline’s quest doesn’t suffer while you finish this one. She shouldn't even really mind it, since she's partially interested in what Isabela did.
To start it, just go to Lowtown with Isabela in tow at night.
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Stopping the Deal
Walk up to the foundry to find a small group of Qunari, lead by a sten, who will engage you as soon as you approach. Have your tank jump into the fray and then have Isabela backstab everyone to finish them off quickly. This should actually be a fairly small and simple battle, considering our usual engagements with the Qunari.
If you go into the Foundry, you’ll trigger the next scene. Note that there are two very important aspects of this battle. The first is that you’ll be down a man, since Isabela will always leave to chase after her contact. On the bright side, the Tevinter mages will fight with the Qunari. I suggest that you set your party to hold, and then wait at the entrance until the two groups soften one another up. If you approach, they’ll probably attack you together. There’s no reason to make the battle harder though, so just let the two groups take each other out and enjoy the particle effects.
The mages usually do fairly well, so just watch and wait, then rush the mages with your party and take them down with a few strong hits. It actually shouldn’t be that hard, unless you draw their attention at the start. Even then, just make sure that you make anyoen you trigger you to you. The rest should stay back and keep up their own fight while you pick off the stragglers.
Loot the bodies and walk back out to find Isabela’s note on the dead man. If she was a good friend or romantic partner, she’ll be back, so don't worry. Otherwise, she’s gone for the rest of the game.
After this is done, just get your affairs in order and go see the Arishok.
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All screenshots from "Dragon Age 2."
All information is based on a "hard" difficulty playthrough of Dragon Age 2.