In the first part of this series, we reviewed what we knew (or believed we knew) about the Forgotten before the start of Point of No Return. Then, the second part examined the new revelations from the first instance of the final Season 2 installment. Now, we focus our attention on the very end of Season 2 and on what may yet come:
Divine Fire, Dragons and Gods
In the second part, I speculated about a possible connection between divine fire and the anti-corruption properties of Forgotten magic.
In the final instance of Point of No Return, we begin to see evidence of divine fire’s efficacy against the Mordrem. The first hint comes when the torch of divine fire acquired during the Ritual of Fake Ascension opens the way into the cave… and the horde of attacking Mordrem mysteriously flees, the biconics speculating that the divine fire had warded them off.
The most convincing evidence, however, comes in the role that divine fire plays in the defeat of the Shadow of the Dragon – by (apparently) setting alight the ring of vines that the Shadow uses to isolate the hero from the biconics, a second ring is formed that traps the Shadow of the Dragon in a vulnerable position. Later, when the Shadow of the Dragon has been wounded too gravely to fight on, the lingering divine fire on the hero is what delivers the coup de grâce.
Of course, the divine fire doesn’t have it entirely its own way, as the Shadow of the Dragon is able to summon Smothering Shadows which, true to their name, can douse the divine fire, releasing the dragon until a new ring is established. It is, however, noteworthy that we appear to have found a form of magic that may be particularly effective against dragon minions (or at least Mordrem). Could use of divine fire in their enchantments be what makes Forgotten artifacts unpalatable to the dragons, and even be a component of the ritual to break a dragon minion’s link to their dragon at the Altar of Glaust?
To extrapolate this, if divine fire is truly the source of this resistance, would this mean that the resistance is ultimately coming from the power of the gods, and thus the gods could be equally resistant?
The flaw in this line of thinking is that we have cases of the power of the gods being twisted by Zhaitan in the cathedrals and shrines of Orr… however, this may not be as clear as it first appears. Many of the descriptions of places of power relating to the cathedrals and shrines of the gods within Orr make note of how something within the location has resisted Zhaitan’s corruption. But if the power of the gods is off limits to the dragons, what is generating the fell auras over the shrines in Orr?
A possible answer is that it is in fact mortal magic that is being corrupted by Zhaitan. Orr has been repeatedly described as both the most magical and the most pious of the human kingdoms – it’s likely that the priests and magi of Orr would have layered additional enchantments and protective magic over the statues. It may be this power that Zhaitan twisted to his will, not that of the gods. In fact, it is possible that Zhaitan was afraid that the Pact might be able to tap into divine power within the statues as a weapon against it, and the auras around the statues were made primarily to discourage them from investigating the statues too closely. The ‘twisted mortal magic’ hypothesis would also explain how the statues can be shut down through seizing the cathedrals. Our experience in Guild Wars 1 indicates any shrine can be a conduit of the power of the relevant god as long as the gods are watching, while mortal magic might require a central control point; the cathedrals serve as those network hubs.
This thinking, however, does potentially bring the charge of cowardice back upon the gods that brought humans to this dragon-haunted world and then abandoned them… despite possibly being best suited to fight them. The usual justification among the community given for this behaviour is that the gods fear the additional power the dragons would have were they to consume one of the gods, but if their power is proof against the dragons, this would appear to be impossible. However, the answer may be that while divine fire is more resistant to dragon corruption than most magic, it is not completely immune, as shown by the ability of the Smothering Shadows to douse it. While up till now there may have been no concentration of divine fire powerful enough to tempt the dragons to figure out how to consume it, a god arriving on Tyria in their full power may simply be too big a meal to pass up. Even if it does give them a nasty case of heartburn.
Nevertheless, if divine fire does have some special qualities to fighting the dragons, this raises the question: why? Do the gods have their own place in the All as a counterbalance to the dragons, albeit one that seems disinclined to fighting them directly? Or is it simply a happy coincidence?
A second connection between Point of No Return and magic that is effective against the dragons comes from one of the first things that is noticed by both the hero and the biconics on entering the cave – the lush vegetation on the walls of the cave have been transformed to have a golden appearance.
This is not the first time we’ve seen this effect. A mysterious orb in the aptly named Pyrite Peninsula is apparently responsible for a similar effect in Malchor’s Leap, transforming the forest around it. Of interest to both the Inquest and the Pact, the area appears to be avoided by the Risen, and one of the Pact researchers mentions that “It can convert even corrupted materials into a gold-like substance.” This suggests another case of an effect that can prevent or remove dragon corruption that is connected to the Forgotten. It would make sense for the two to be linked, as many Forgotten artifacts happen to be gold in colour, including the seals and many of the Forgotten weapons in Nightfall.
However, this is immediately followed by the appearance in trailers of another group that appears to be associated with such alchemy: the glowing figures that many believe to be mursaat. While the protection on the entrance suggests that the location belongs to the Forgotten, it is possible that this cave once served as a refuge for both the Forgotten and the mursaat in some period before the alliance between the two fell apart. Alternatively, it might have been sealed by the Forgotten as a form of retribution after the mursaat fled.
A third possibility is that the magic behind this transformation is one that is shared by both the floating figures (mursaat or otherwise) and the Forgotten, rather than being unique to either.
Close Encounters of the Serpentine Kind
Having considered all of the above, what are the chances that we will see the Forgotten appearing in Heart of Thorns?
We haven’t seen any indication of them in the trailers thus far, but that may be due to ArenaNet’s effort to maintain some surprises for the final release. The use of floating weapons for the “Echoes” instead of ghostly Forgotten may also be seen as an indication that ArenaNet is not planning to introduce them in the flesh, but again, this could be a deliberate effort to hide their intentions.
Up to now, we have no indication that the Forgotten have dwelled in the Maguuma at any time in recent history – however, as has been observed by many, the Zephyrites seemed to have a specific destination in mind before Aerin brought them crashing into Dry Top. If there is a surviving Forgotten redoubt hidden in the jungle, then it would be a logical place for the hatching of Glint’s egg. There’s also the matter of the ‘facets’ that remained hidden in the Tarnished Coast until Eye of the North.
Certainly, it would seem strange to make the Forgotten such a big deal at the end of Point of No Return, including having a power that is connected to them play such a large role in defeating a major dragon champion, without the Forgotten continuing to play a role in the story. However, it is possible that this role will continue to be one of having left behind artifacts and magic that can be exploited by the heroes, rather than ever appearing in the flesh once more upon Tyria. Even if ArenaNet does plan for the Forgotten to return, this may be something that they intend to continue building up towards for some later release – possibly when the time does come to return to the Crystal Desert and perhaps undergo true Ascension – rather than putting all of their eggs into a single expansion.
Whether we see the Forgotten themselves or just continue to interact with the relics they left behind, however, there may be one thing to look forward to. With the new Mastery system including languages and cultures of the races as an option to be explored, it is possible that we may finally learn what it is that the Forgotten call themselves.
Because as attention is returned to these elder serpents, the title by which they have been known will become increasingly less accurate.