Yesterday, we discussed the rise of the White Mantle, and the chaos that they may bring to Kryta. Today, we return to the central plot of the story of Tyria: Elder Dragons, magic, and the question of how we can manage one without being destroyed by the other….
Dragons and Overloading Leylines: Finding Balance
Our first introduction to the relationship between dragons and magic was the revelation that the Elder Dragons consume magic. To defeat Zhaitan, we first starved him of magic, and then we discovered that the original purpose of the Bloodstones was to serve as a repository of magic to hide it from the Elder Dragons. Later, we discovered that sleeping or dead dragons release magic back into the world.
The first hint that this may be dangerous came in the form of a fable from the hylek hermit Nochtli, who spoke of a monster that had been drinking all the water from a river until it was slain by a mighty warrior… but the result of this was that the waters burst forth all at once, destroying what the warrior had attempted to save. People quickly picked up the possible analogy with the Elder Dragons. Later, after our visit to the remains of Glint’s Lair, Ogden spelled it out: too much magic or too little would spell disaster for Tyria. Killing all of the Elder Dragons would risk Tyria’s destruction, but allowing them to eat their fill without keeping some magic outside their grasp would lead to a dead world.
We got lucky when we slew Zhaitan – because we’d starved him of magic before we did so, the quantity of magic released when he died was relatively small. For Mordremoth, however, this was not the case, and his energy has been resonating through Tyria’s ley line network ever since.
In this context, the apparent failure of the elder races to destroy the dragons might not be due to lack of capability, but an exercise in prudence. Instead of slaying the dragons, the Seers created Bloodstones to contain magic and hide it from the dragons, causing the dragons to go into hibernation while there was still enough magic to sustain the rest of the ecosystem. There are hints that this cycle may have occurred multiple times… but in the last cycle, something went wrong. The mursaat and the Seers made war on one another, rendering the Seers virtually extinct. While the Bloodstone had been completed and served its purpose, time would not be kind to any of the elder races – by the time of Guild Wars 2, it appears that each of their civilisations has collapsed, been destroyed, or otherwise removed from the face of Tyria.
Now, we are the ones in the position of finding a way to strike this balance. From the speech of the Last Forgotten, recorded in various parts of Tarir, this appears to be the purpose of Glint’s legacy, in which the egg performs an important role. Exactly how this is to work has not been fully explained, but a common theory is that Glint’s intention is for the egg to become an Elder Dragon who is an ally of the sapient races, a living Bloodstone that will keep magic regulated at a suitable level without the rampages and cycles of drought and flood caused by the Elder Dragons we have now.
But will this come to pass? We’ve been teased that the influx of magic from Mordremoth may have corrupted the egg, but if the egg’s purpose is to absorb magic, it seems unlikely that Glint hasn’t planned for this. Furthermore, the egg seems to have formed a bond with the PC, and possibly Caithe as well given Taimi’s musings about Caithe’s Wyld Hunt. Between them, it should be possible to ward off any tendency the hatchling has towards becoming another omnicidal Elder Dragon. (That said, ArenaNet does have a fondness for Nice Job Breaking It Hero plotlines…)
However, this may depend on the other parts of Glint’s legacy, which still remain a mystery. Properly raising the hatchling may require the collection and use of other artifacts, and efforts to do so may be hindered by various other parties – Inquest, remnants of Scarlet’s armies, the White Mantle – to use for their own purposes. It’s worth remembering that Lazarus was last seen swearing that he would cause the suffering of countless generations in revenge for his poisoning: Lazarus may see the unravelling of Glint’s plans as his means of achieving this. As the mursaat have fled Tyria once before, he may think nothing of seeking to engineer events to ensure Tyria’s destruction before leaving to float over greener pastures elsewhere. It’s also possible that the other Elder Dragons will take an interest… particularly Kralkatorrik, who has been bearing a particular grudge against Glint.
On the other hand, we may also see new allies coming to the fore. Who are the parties that Ogden comments have taken an interest in the PC in Echoes of the Past? Who is the mysterious voice that commanded the Master of Peace to defend the egg with his life? What has happened to Glint’s other eggs, at least one of which we know hatched prior to Eye of the North? As the egg’s story develops, some of these may emerge from hiding to take a more direct role in events.
Whatever role the hatchling(s) may play in containing magic in the future, however, it is clear that magic is out of control at the moment. In the Blazeridge Steppes, the Inquest has been collecting ley line coalescences: while it’s not known what they might be doing with them, it’s likely that the heroes won’t like it much when they find out. Furthermore, other antagonistic factions with an interest in collecting magic might well follow suit: just about every hostile faction that isn’t loyal to a dragon has some ties to the Inquest (White Mantle and Nightmare Court through the Sinister Triad, dredge, and any of Scarlet’s stooges that are still around), and the Inquest might be all too happy to sell their collectors.
Possibly even more interesting, however, are the ‘anomalies’ that have started appearing across the world. People have observed similarities between these anomalies and certain varieties of djinn. We know that elementals are formed in places of strong magical energy, and that while magic is important for all life, sapience requires a greater deal of magical energy to sustain. So it would stand to reason that a particularly strong magical field might give birth to djinn, which are essentially sapient and (generally) more magically powerful elementals, with presently existing djinn possibly having been born during past ages when magic was powerful.
If the anomalies are in fact nascent djinn, this could have a lot of potential ramifications going forward. What will happen when one of the anomalies, which up to now we’ve been destroying ruthlessly to prevent them from exploding, learns to communicate? How will other djinn (including Zommoros) react when they learn of these events? Will they assist in guiding the anomalies to reach adulthood without exploding… or will they blame the organic races for their deaths and seek revenge?
However, Guild Wars 2 is a story not just of the world as a whole, but of the individuals within that world. In the final installment tomorrow, we’ll look at what the future might have in store for the Pact Commander and his or her allies – and in particular, those of a leafy persuasion.