Over the last couple of days, we’ve looked at some of the plot threads that have been developing over the past couple of years with the potential to overthrow governments and shake the foundations of Tyria. Today, we look at the more personal touch. What will happen to the sylvari in the wake of Mordremoth’s death? And what might fate have in store for Destiny’s Edge, the B-iconics, and the Pact Commander?
Stop treating us like monsters! We are not the enemy!
In Heart of Thorns, we saw plenty of cases of sylvari being discriminated against and even persecuted on a local level by suspicious Pact soldiers. As yet, however, we haven’t seen anything resembling that one scene in the teaser at the end of Season 2, where Canach is being backed up a set of stairs by a group of soldiers. Taimi’s notes in Rata Novus, however, indicate that even with the dragon’s death, anti-sylvari prejudice remains strong.
Mordremoth’s death may have freed the sylvari, but it has left a multitude of loose ends. The report of new sylvari being born suggests that the Pale Tree’s ability to bear new pods has not been destroyed… however, is she actually on the road to recovery, or will this be one last generation of the sylvari?
Furthermore, what will happen to those sylvari that succumbed to Mordremoth? Will they regain their freedom, or are they too far gone? If there are any Blighting Trees left standing after the Pact’s campaign, can they too be redeemed? It’s been said that Malyck had been intended to be brought back in Heart of Thorns, but they didn’t have time to do that (side-) story justice – will that omission be made good in Season 3?
Either way, it seems that word of the betrayal has filtered back to central Tyria. Furthermore, despite the expectation that those sylvari that did not succumb should be safe after Mordremoth’s death, this prejudice has not died with the Elder Dragon. Perhaps this is simply people continuing to blame all sylvari for Scarlet’s actions, but could someone be deliberately adding fuel to the proverbial fire? There may be several factions for whom drumming up fear and hysteria against sylvari would be beneficial. The Inquest, for instance, might encourage others to disregard sylvari as sapient beings worthy of protection, so that they can be experimented on freely. The White Mantle, on the other hand, might see Jennah’s good relations with the sylvari as a weapon to be used against her.
The wild card in all this is the Nightmare Court. Faolain’s death has left an apparent heir in Duchess Chrysanthea, who assisted the Pact in Dragon’s Stand and who expresses an interest in fighting other Elder Dragons. With Cadeyrn long dead, a change in leadership may lead to a change in direction for the Nightmare Court. Might their new leader seek to rehabilitate the Nightmare Court, transforming them into more of an anti-heroic faction than the sadistic villains they have been? Will the Nightmare Court break into factions? Or is it simply an Enemy Mine scenario where Chrysanthea has teamed up against the common enemy, and it will be back to business-as-normal for the Nightmare Court afterwards?
Even if the Nightmare Court maintains its founding policies, the rise in anti-sylvari prejudice will likely result in changes for the Nightmare Court. If sylvari face an increase in attacks from bigots of other races, more may come to see Ventari’s tenets as a failed philosophy, pushing them into the Nightmare Court’s camp – especially if the Pale Tree remains incapacitated and unable to counter this drift. This could lead to a vicious spiral, with increased attacks by the Nightmare Court on other races driving anti-sylvari sentiment even higher.
What could be particularly interesting is the reaction of the Nightmare Court if it does turn out that anti-sylvari sentiment is being driven by the White Mantle and/or the Inquest. Historically, the Nightmare Court has had alliances with both organisations, as shown in the Sinister Triad in Vandal’s Claim. However, part of the reason that the Nightmare Court was formed was that its founders believed that a greater degree of ruthlessness was needed in fighting the enemies of the sylvari. Thus, actions to increase anti-sylvari sentiment would make the inciter their enemy: when the Nightmare Court tortures and kills sylvari, they regard it as “tough love” that will make the race stronger in the long run, but they may see it as something else entirely when someone else wages war against their kind. If it turns out that the White Mantle and/or the Inquest are encouraging attacks on sylvari, might this cause the Nightmare Court to turn on their former allies? Or will they tolerate or even encourage it, on the principle that the sylvari will only be strong once the Nightmare Court has taken over, and, thus, that anything that pushes more sylvari into the arms of the Court is justified in the long run?
Bringing the Personal Touch
While the events that have come to pass and that appear to be brewing in the future are epic in scope, Guild Wars 2 is as much a story of individuals. So what could be in store for those who have become close allies of the Pact Commander?
Season 3 is slated to start with a celebration of Mordremoth’s death and a memorial of those who have fallen, which may be an opportunity to tie up some loose ends with Destiny’s Edge. Pretty much every member has unanswered questions to resolve. Will Zojja and Logan recover from their experience, or will there be some lasting corruption? What is Caithe’s new Wyld Hunt, and how will she go about rebuilding trust after her actions in Season 2? What did Rytlock do in the Mists, and will there be another attempt at dispelling the Foefire? Some of these questions may well be answered as the season progresses. For instance, could the new fractal be a reflection of one of Rytlock’s experiences?
Even Eir has a loose end in the form of her legacy being passed on to Braham. Eir’s death and Braham taking up her bow to become a dragonhunter has been predicted since we had the first indication that a longbow guardian might be in the works, and it’s likely that in Season 3 we’ll see this happen… and perhaps get some dragonhunter lore filled in along the way. (And perhaps we’ll even find out what happened to Garm…)
For most of the other B-iconics, their fates are tied up with Kryta. It’s been teased that Kasmeer may be able to have her title reinstated by the Queen… however, for this to occur would require Queen Jennah to retain the power to bestow (or reinstate) patents of nobility. In the process, we may investigate further the circumstances of her family’s downfall, and possibly learn more about the Mesmer Collective (might a mesmer PC finally receive an invite?). As a former Ministry Guard member, we may see Marjory’s history, too, coming to the fore… possibly with the long-awaited appearance of the mysterious Mister E, or some further development of Belinda’s spirit possessing the family sword, a thread that was left untouched in Heart of Thorns. Finally, Canach has announced his intention to seek a release of his billet from Anise… however, Anise will likely require concessions in order to approve this, particularly if the throne of Kryta is under renewed threat from the Shining Blade’s ancient enemies. Canach might find himself released from bonded servitude… but formally sworn in as an agent of the Shining Blade.
Rox may well turn out to be the wildcard in the story. Hints have been dropped that when Rox is not with the PC, she is being assigned duties by the charr leadership… duties that she seems unwilling to discuss with the PC. Is this because she knows the PC would not approve if the PC knew about her orders? If so, is this simply because the things that Rox is being asked to do are demeaning, dangerous, or unsavoury in nature, or might Rox once again be put in the position of having to choose between her friends and her orders?
At least to begin with, Taimi is likely to be the lynchpin of the group’s operations. The “Notes from Rata Novus” stories indicate that Rata Novus has its own ley line map, and the Out of the Shadows trailer has Taimi talking about “activity up north”. This map will likely be used as a means of directing the PC to areas of interest.
Speaking of which, the asura ‘invasion’ of Rata Novus is an interesting development. How did a gate connection to Rata Novus get formed in the first place? The Order of Whispers knows about the site (through Agent Zildi, the Whispers agent who presides over the Rata Novus lane of the Tangled Depths meta), and it is possible that the rest of the Pact does as well. Thus far, however, the Pact’s policy (as shown in Orr) has been to thoroughly investigate new discoveries themselves rather than turning them over to the race which has a historical claim. Perhaps this time the orders have taken a different approach (possibly due to a change in leadership after Trahearne’s death?), but perhaps the Rata Sum asura arriving at Rata Novus might be a sign of something more sinister…
Finally, the future of the First Commander of the Pact needs to be considered. With Trahearne’s death, the Pact will need new leadership. The “Interview with Queen Jennah” article, released on Thursday, indicates that Almorra Soulkeeper is currently leading the Pact. On consideration, this makes sense. Of the orders, the Vigil is the only one whose mandate is subsumed entirely (or nearly entirely) by that of the Pact. As a fundamentally military organisation comprising the Vigil and the military assets of the other two orders and their allies, it makes sense for the overall operations of the Pact to be taken over by the leader of the Vigil, with advice from the representatives of the other orders. However, whether this is an interim or permanent position remains unclear.
It has been observed previously that the PC would likely be unsuitable to act in Trahearne’s role because the PC needs freedom to operate rather than being stuck behind a desk running a large-scale military operation. It’s possible that the position of Marshal will be redefined into more of a combat role so that the PC can become the figurehead of the Pact, while the administrative duties undertaken by Trahearne will be taken over by a deputy such as General Soulkeeper. However, this could raise a headache for ArenaNet, in that such a position would in principle allow the PC to deploy Pact troops to deal with whatever the current problem is at will. Perhaps the writers can pull this off by making it clear that the PC is forced to deploy what remains of the Pact’s forces elsewhere while taking part in the story. Alternatively, we might see the PC’s status as a semi-free agent confirmed, while new leadership is chosen for the Pact as a whole – perhaps the PC will be given the authority to take command of Pact forces that are already deployed to an area, but not to reassign troops between deployments.
Whichever directions ArenaNet chooses to go, they have certainly created a lot of threads they might choose to follow. Some may be tied up, others left dangling to be picked up in the future, and yet more may be discovered as Season 3 proceeds. By the end, it’s likely that the story will start building towards Guild Wars 2’s second expansion, and we’ll be preparing to take a shot at another dragon, possibly Kralkatorrik through the connection with Glint. Although with much of the focus of current events appearing to be towards the north of Tyria, perhaps magic used in the new Krytan civil war will draw Jormag’s attention; or, in the resolution of the war, a route will be opened up to attack Jormag from the west. Either way, it’s likely to be an interesting ride, and a significant progression of the story outside of raids will be very welcome after the months of drought since Heart of Thorns.