Tyria’s Decay – The Elder Dragon of Orr

Zhaitan… a name that was written in the legends of the dwarves. A name that has not been uttered on the world of Tyria for several millennia. However, it is not the name, but the untamable, destructive force behind the word ‘Zhaitan’ that strikes despair and horror into the hearts of free Tyrian beings. The very power that may bring an end to life as humans, norn, charr, sylvari, asura, hylek, ogre, grawl, kodan, quaggan, skritt, or even centaurs and krait know it. But what is the true story of Zhaitan? What can we learn of this nigh indomitable foe?

The deathless Dragon of Orr hibernated for thousands of years below the area where the gods of humanity built their divine city, Arah. It is currently unknown when and why Zhaitan fell asleep there, but upon his reemergence it became the heart of his decaying domain. Had the Cataclysm in 1071 AE not happened, Zhaitan’s awakening in 1219 AE could have easily become the most catastrophic Dragonrise to date – possibly even more horrible than Kralkatorrik’s branding flight. Imagine, as a gigantic, primordial beast erupts into a densely populated (we can assume that the population of Orr would have only increased in that one and a half centuries), bustling capitol and seaport, corrupting, devouring, and destroying everyone and everything in his path. Maybe the death toll would have been smaller, and Lion’s Arch would be still standing in its bygone form; however, Zhaitan’s initial forces would have been far larger compared to what he created and commandeered on the day of his rise. Without the Cataclysm he would have had the might of whole kingdom at his disposal, with all its military prowess that an undead lich had used to invade Kryta 150 years before. In addition to that, the demoralization and the ensuing chaos and despair originating from the absolute massacre, the violent reanimation of the dead and the desecration of the majestic city would have shook the free and living Tyria even stronger than the carving of the Dragonbrand. After all, it is the lesser evil to see the corrupted ruins that lay underwater for years than to see the same ruins after more than a millennium of being the cultural and holy center of humanity.

Still, it is no use crying over what is lost. If we are to ever rout the dragon and reclaim Arah, we must understand what we are fighting.

It has been lately speculated by scholars that the human gods harnessed the power of the dragon when they were building Arah – maybe even after the completion of the construction. The hypothesis was ignited when a historian met and conversed with a mysterious oracle who spoke about the nature of the power the gods had tapped and what is now reflected in their draconic facets. We can only speculate on what might have been the reason, for the true nature of the gods eludes us. Could it have been a method to drain the dragon of the power necessary to rise? Or were they simply empowering themselves? Or using Zhaitan as an energy source for Arah?

Zhaitan’s actual state is also a mystery as of yet. Is he living? Is he undead like the hordes he surrounded himself with? Or is he neither? An insatiable, almighty hurricane that took on the form of an enormous dragon? We cannot know it until we examine its carcass, but there is an interesting train of thought that is worth elaborating. Could he be a living turned undead creature? Now, it is possible that he had died and returned to undeath prior to entering hibernation, but if we think of ‘recent’ events, we might reach a startling conclusion.

The Cataclysm, unleashed by Vizier Khilbron, advisor to King Reza, on the fateful day when the charr reached the capitol, came from the forbidden catacombs deep below the holy streets of the city… a place dangerously close to the sleeping Elder Dragon. There are numerous theories regarding the detonation that sank an entire peninsula, but I will not list all of them, just the one closely related to Zhaitan. The ‘official’ explanation was that the Vizier, tricked then led to the worship of the fallen god, Abaddon, read the incantation of the powerful and forbidden Lost Scrolls, which resulted in the Cataclysm and his following return as a lich. However, what if the Lost Scrolls described the process of tapping into the Elder Dragon’s power, but being obviously inferior to the gods, Khilbron could not maintain his focus and hold the destructive energy at bay, which in turn overpowered him and set itself loose in the area. In addition to that, the residual energy of Zhaitan left in Khilbron’s corpse – or being exposed to the leaking “essence