In the previous article of this series, we looked back at what we knew about the Forgotten prior to the release of the Point of No Return. Now, we run our analysis over the new information that was illuminated during our quest to seek the means of entry into the cave where the final memory seed needed to be planted.
Divine Fire and the Forgotten
The first such revelation comes in the form of the reintroduction of “divine fire”. We first see this way back in the Augury Rock mission of Prophecies – if you have completed the first three trials of Ascension, you can step through a beam focused from the Vision Crystal and be wreathed in flames. These flames are harmless (to the candidate for Ascension) but can be used to activate runes to gain access to Augury Rock and the final challenge.
However, little else is done with this in the original game. Now, however, we have been given a little more information about its nature:
“The humans’ benefactors enchanted their favorite humans with their magic, perhaps even their own essence. No one knows for sure. It allowed the humans access to hidden places.”
– Ogden Stonehealer, Arcana Obscura
Of course, given the context of appearing in the middle of the trials of Ascension, and its purpose in granting access to Augury Rock and then on to Glint’s domain, this is nothing that could not already have been surmised. Still, it is nice to see some confirmation.Bathing in the light focused from the Vision Crystal causes a candidate for Ascension to be wreathed in divine fire.
The really interesting revelation is the implication of a link between divine fire and the magic of the Forgotten. This raises a number of interesting questions. One comes from noting that, previously, the salient feature of Forgotten magic is that it has the capability to resist and even reverse dragon corruption – while correlation does not imply causality, it’s possible that divine fire is the ‘secret ingredient’ to this cleansing quality, a possibility I shall go into more detail on in the final part.
The second question this raises is that if the Forgotten are able to wield the power of divine fire to work their magic, what does this say about the relationship between the Forgotten and the gods? Are the Forgotten able to naturally wield divine fire in the same manner as the mursaat use Spectral Agony? If so, could the Forgotten have been responsible for creating the gods in the first place in some manner, through the concentration of a massive amount of divine fire? Or could it simply be that the Forgotten have been undergoing rituals of Ascension themselves, and their long individual lifespans allows them to learn how to wield it, with skill and precision beyond that which can be attained by Ascended human heroes?
The key plot purpose of divine fire in Point of No Return, however, is as a means to bypass the Forgotten seal over the mystery cave. Some have compared this to picking a lock for which the seal is the key… however, Ogden does not use this analogy, and I think it may be a bit off myself.
Regardless of the exact nature of the relationship between the Forgotten and the gods, the Forgotten do appear to regard the gods, if not as their superiors, then certainly as close collaborators with an open invitation to visit. Thus, far from being a weakness in their security, the ability of divine fire to trigger their door mechanisms may be a deliberate feature: any who have earned the use of divine fire have proven their right to access those places. The seals, then, are actually the backup mechanism, allowing passage to mortals, whether Forgotten or other races, who lack the gift of divine fire.No physical key is needed for those who have earned the gift of divine fire.
Using a seal is like rocking up to the ArenaNet offices with a pass. Using divine fire is like being waved on through after giving a cheesy grin and swinging your sword three times because you’re Colin Johanson.
The Trials of Fake Ascension
After concluding our discussion with Ogden, the next stage of our journey was to initiate a facsimile of the trials faced by the Prophecies heroes to earn the gift of divine fire – a process that many in the community have been referring to as “Fake Ascension”.
The method of doing so is interesting – through the use of an enchanted book (apparently, although not necessarily, of Forgotten origin) which contains the magic that forms the facsimile… and which eventually grants a torch of divine fire when completed. The catch is that the enchantment is released by breaking the seal, so that seekers of the flame cannot know what will be asked of them until they have already commenced.
Two aspects of this trial are particularly interesting. The first is that, despite being invoked by artifacts from his lifetime, it is stressed that the “Ghostly Hero” summoned as part of this ritual is not the spirit of Turai Ossa himself, but simply an echo of it. Similarly, the magic of the book generates echoes of the guardians that tested the candidates to Ascension, although most of these appear not as their full selves, but as floating, glowing weapons, similar to the spirit weapons summoned by guardians. The appearance of more of these “echoes” in the golden cave suggests that these echoes are a construct of the Forgotten, used for security purposes in general, rather than simply being a product of the book’s magic.Only an echo, not the true spirit of Turai Ossa.
The second is in how closely the events during Fake Ascension match the real thing. This is notable in that the way we Ascend during Prophecies is probably not the way that Ascension was originally meant to be carried out. The trials appear to be tests of both might and knowledge, requiring not just the might to reach and hold the sacred locations, but the scholarship to have discovered the correct rituals to perform at (and to gain access to) these locations. The assistance of Turai’s ghost, however, allowed the Prophecirs to bypass the research component and focus on the military aspects, as the “Ghostly Hero” could perform the rituals for them. However, it seems likely that the rites of Ascension were originally intended to be researched and performed by living candidates, and not the ghost of a past failure.
This suggests that the book’s programming was set some time after the events occurred. Perhaps this is because the book taps into a fractal, producing an imperfect reflection of the last time that Ascension was successfully performed at Augury Rock. If this is not the case, though, this implies that the book was created sometime after 1072 AE: which indicates in turn that somebody predicted that at some point there would be a need for someone to be able to wield divine fire without needing to go through the full rites of Ascension.
If the latter is true, it is interesting to note that one of the biggest discrepancies is that in the Thirsty River mission in Prophecies, there are no spirits to fight, and that in fact to get the bonus, we defend the spirit of a Margonite king. By contrast, many of the enemies from that component of Fake Ascension are echoes of the tainted spirits of failed Ascendants. Could this have been intended by the creators of the book as a subtle rebuke for this act of mercy?The Forgotten do not approve of mercy for this man.
This concludes the second part of this study. In the third and final part, we will look at what new evidence was found upon reaching the mystery cave at the end of Point of No Return, and consider the possibility of whether the Forgotten are likely to appear in the upcoming expansion.