Jormag – Frigid Shadow of the North
The Elder Ice Dragon is one of the world-shattering, draconic entities. Jormag commands over the domains of ice and mind, and uses it all too often to twist and corrupt his victims. The start of the Ice Serpent’s machinations reaches all the way back into the 11th century, when heroes from all around Tyria battled and defeated the Great Destroyer. Primordus, the Elder Fire Dragon, wasn’t the only one who made his influence felt and foreshadowed the dark days that were to come. Jormag, frozen and entombed somewhere in the farthest reaches of the north, harnessed power to bring forth his awakening, using a mysterious champion as a vanguard of his will.
The Far Shiverpeaks were always a place of ancient mysteries and wonders. Countless breathtaking and intricate ruins of now forgotten civilizations lay among its steep valleys or deep below, near the roots of the mountains. Even the then dominant race of the wild mountains, the stalwart norn, were mostly unknown to the rest of Tyria. Unfortunately, the catastrophes that reshaped its landscape 150 years ago probably destroyed many of those extraordinary sites. However, the cracking of mountains and the immense flooding of nearly the whole region were not caused by forces of nature. A gigantic dragon erupted into the world of living somewhere in the northernmost and least explored areas of the Shiverpeaks. His earth shattering return ripped even the strongest mountains apart, which in turn allowed the northern seas to flood the now-crushed peaks and vales. But Jormag had been preparing for this for centuries, and the signs had always been there, whispering of his coming. Let us delve back into an age when our ancestors walked the lands that have since been twisted by Jormag’s icy power.
250 years ago, the norn encountered a familiar foe that – sometimes literally – froze the blood in the veins of even the strongest and boldest norn. Some might not have thought much upon seeing the Nornbear; a norn called Svanir trapped in his bear form. Deformed by icy spikes that jutted out of its flesh, this shapeshifted being committed horrible massacres that proclaimed to the north the extent of his primal strength. The unfortunate norn Svanir, who was the brother of the legendary norness, Jora, became corrupted when the two of them were chasing prey near Drakkar Lake; a place that was shunned by the norn. Svanir felt an ancient and powerful presence somewhere in the vicinity and decided to investigate it. The simple spell with which he wanted to reveal the nature of the power sealed his fate. The malign energy interacted with the norn and made him the Nornbear. Svanir’s mind was affected as well; he became mad and rampaged throughout the norn areas until he met final release at the end of his sister’s blade. Although Svanir’s tale and life ended there, it is worth noting that he might have been the only havroun of Jormag. A havroun is a special shaman of a Spirit of the Wild who acts as a vigilant defender of the spirit and its interests both in this world and the next. While most scholars deny that the Dragon ever had a havroun, Svanir was able to do an eerily similar feat to what the havrouns of the Spirits of the Wild do: they can cross the Mists and reach the Hall of Spirits. According to some witnesses, the Nornbear could vanish in the blink of an eye. What is more, others say that the reason why the Spirits of the Wild so strongly urged Jora to kill Svanir was because the corrupted norn could enter their realm and wreak havoc there.
The source of Svanir’s corruption indeed resided under Drakkar Lake. A great champion of Jormag, frozen in the water, began working on a way to accelerate the awakening of its master. The lieutenant entrapped creatures that passed over its cursed tomb, twisted them, and began draining their mental energies that it then added to Jormag’s growing power through a shared mental bond. As to what happened to this creature after Jormag had risen is still a mystery. It could have emerged shortly before the Elder Dragon awoke – or arrived at norn territories –, only to be slain by norn heroes. Or it could be still lurking in the arctic waters, waiting for the day to rise to defend its master or to wreak havoc on Tyria.
I have mentioned Jormag’s awakening a lot so far, but I have not yet written of a legendary tale that left a supposedly immortal and invincible Elder Dragon ashamed and scarred. When Jormag unleashed his wrath on the north, the norn defiantly remained and faced the impossible adversary. But even they couldn’t hope to defeat an Elder Dragon. Every hero that challenged Jormag returned as an icy monster, stripped of all emotions and memories and mercilessly butchering their former friends, relatives and lovers. On the brink of certain annihilation, the Spirits of the Wild joined the norn. Many, like Dolyak, Eagle, and Owl stood behind to hold off Jormag, while four of them, Bear, Snow Leopard, Wolf, and Raven, led the norn southwards. But not before Aesgir fought Jormag and managed to cut out one of his fangs – a tooth about five times the height of a male norn. Even more, Aesgir survived the epic encounter and joined his fleeing people, leading them south where they could recuperate and establish a new domain.
However, Jormag’s revenge followed the norn south – and his minions threatened them from both outside and inside. Some foolish male norn came to the conclusion that Jormag is the ultimate Spirit of the Wild, the apex predator of the world and that he should not only be revered like the rest of the spirits, but outright worshipped. They named themselves the Sons of Svanir, after their spiritual ancestor, and began their plot to overthrow the other spirits and convert other norn to the worship of Jormag. While the Sons begin their journey into frigid darkness and depravity hale and hearty, the more blessings they receive from Svanir “shamans,” the more twisted they get – until they become icebrood themselves.
The external enemy arrived in the form of icebrood led by an incredibly powerful champion of Jormag: the Dragonspawn. The Dragonspawn corrupted many norn until its demise at the hands of Destiny’s Edge – the legendary band of heroes responsible for the renewed hope in the fight against the dragons -, and its death allegedly weakened Jormag. Although the icebrood still roam the lands of the norn they are not as focused and cunning as before… but this will not last long, as Jormag is possibly intending already to send another champion to take command of his disorganized forces.
The norn were not the only race Jormag forced south. The kodan, a race of polar bear warriors and philosophers had to sail from the arctic seas to escape the Elder Dragon. However, during their flight Jormag still managed to capsize some of their homes, the Sanctuaries – cities and forts built atop large icebergs. Despite the casualties and the destruction, overturning entire icebergs is still a remarkable feat. Now the kodan Sanctuaries find haven in the harbors of Frostgorge Sound. Hopefully, the kodan will put away their ideological differences with the norn and join the fight against Jormag.
Every Elder Dragon’s way of corruption is different, Jormag is no exception. Although the Serpent also favors deforming his victims bodily – just like his kin – and imbues them with icy magic, the way he turns them into fanatical servants is rather unique. Jormag and his champions are connected to each other via a mind link, thus he can assume control over them whenever he wants to. In addition, this allows his generals to dominate the minds of free and living beings and turn them into mindless tools. It is my own speculation, but I believe that Jormag can still drain the energies of his minions. This could also mean that if a mere icebrood soldier is exposed to Jormag’s siphon for too long, the very consciousness of its previous, uncorrupted life will be killed. This theory could also explain why the Sons of Svanir shamans descend into insanity: Jormag’s blessings give them strength and cunning, but they also increase their exposure to Jormag’s influence, which leads to the deterioration of the self.
The nature of the Elder Ice Dragon is also an interesting one. Upon facing the Dragonspawn for the first time, it invoked Jormag’s power, which – according to Eir Stegalkin of Destiny’s Edge – did not only contain the ability to freeze life, but the will to do so; to shiver everything to stillness.
Jormag is not only one of the most powerful of its kind, but probably one of the most intelligent as well – if intelligence can be measured at raw, near infinite magic that took on the shape of an enormous dragon, mind you. His true motives are also shrouded in mystery, but it possibly involves the eradication of life as we know it. So far, Jormag’s frigid shadow is cast over the arctic seas and the Far Shiverpeaks ”only.” The Elder Ice Dragon is biding its time, and when he finally decides to pull the strings of his commanders, the free races of Tyria will have a brutal, cold war on their hands.