Elder Dragon

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Spoiler alert: The following text contains spoilers relating to the story of Guild Wars 2.
Concept art of Zhaitan by Kekai Kotaki.
Disambig icon.png This article is about the dragons themselves. For the in-game book detailing the Elder Dragons, see The Elder Dragons.

The Elder Dragons are primordial beings who have throughout history awoken and wrought devastation upon the world, before falling back into slumber. These cycles of awakening, destruction, and hibernation are millennia-long, and are intrinsically tied to the levels of ambient magic in the world. The latest cycle of awakening was triggered by the death of Abaddon in 1075 AE,[1] and continues to this day.

The Elder Dragons may be as old as the world itself,[2] and are a fundamental part of nature's workings. Most of what is known about them comes from a single document written by the first humans to walk Tyria: the Tome of the Five True Gods.[2]

Nature and physiology[edit]

Or should I say the "Dragons of Nature"? Yes. Dragons have long been thought to be as much a part of Tyria as the sun, moon, land, and seas.

No one, not even the dwarves, know how long they've been here. The jotun and the norn both have lingering stories passed down through the generations about the last rise of the dragons.

Most scholars give these tales little credit, unfortunately, as so much time has passed. It was over ten thousand years ago that the dragons last returned to their slumber.

The very existence of these tales, however, indicates that the dragons have awakened at least twice in history.

Ancient documents, found now in the Durmand Priory's collection, reveal accounts passed down by other races such as the powerful Seers and even the human gods themselves.

— "The Nature of Dragons" by Ogden Stonehealer

'Defeated Dragon' by Daniel Dociu was an early concept of what the Elder Dragons would look like as a "primordial force".

The first thing to know about the Elder Dragons is that they consume magic. They violently draw the magic of the world into themselves until the world is at a low level of magic, and then as they rest it slowly bleeds back out into the world. Unfortunately for the races of Tyria, this process is extremely violent, and has in the past brought civilisations to their knees. Only a few other creatures naturally have this ability; these include chak, imps, and the Six.

From the point of view of Tyrians, the dragons are primordial forces of nature, and are as just as unstoppable as a blizzard or earthquake. Each dragon embodies a concept of nature, and has two spheres of influence,[3] for example fire, ice, death, or crystal.[4] These spheres are reflected both in their appearance and the appearance of their minions. The Elder Dragons represent a force much larger than their material form would suggest, and the constellations themselves are altered by their awakening.[5]

Perhaps as a consequence of these spheres of influence, not all Elder Dragons and their champions have the same general powers.[6] Jormag has definite mind-affecting powers—the others may not. Primordus does not seem to corrupt living creatures as opposed to create mockeries out of stone and magma, while Kralkatorrik definitely does. Each Elder Dragon is a unique form of destruction.

While awake, dragons exude unique draconic energies, which have a corruptive effect on the magic near them. These energies twist landscapes and turn living creatures into minions that also consume magic and act on the dragons' behalf. Dragon minions that have absorbed more magic are observed to be more powerful,[7] leading to speculation that that as more powerful minions hold a larger quantity of magic, they may also hold more of the Elder Dragons' will, and that creatures infused with more energy by Elder Dragons act with more self-will.[8] The dragons themselves rarely directly intervene with the Tyrians, preferring to send their minions to do the work for them. It is possible to protect from this corruption, as the Forgotten did so during the last cycle of awakening.[9]

The most powerful dragon minions are known as "champions", or lieutenants. The will of the dragons is realized by these champions, who maintain their territories and command their lesser minions. Champions are also known as "heralds" in the context of preparing for the awakening of their respective masters by gathering magic. This has been observed in the case of the Great Destroyer for Primordus, and the creature beneath Drakkar Lake for Jormag.[6]

One of the dragons, Kralkatorrik, had at least one scion, Glaust. This scion was also a champion of Kralkatorrik, but was freed from his influence by Forgotten magic. She remained in crystalline form, but regained her free will and identity,[9] and eventually turned against him. Glaust (better known as Glint) was an oracle who could hear the thoughts of others and predict the future. The dwarven Brotherhood of the Dragon believed that she was well on her way to becoming an Elder Dragon herself,[2] indicating that the primary distinctions between Elder Dragons and lesser dragons are the amount of magical energy that they possess and the amount of time that they have lived.

Each Elder Dragon has a unique respective weakness.[10] Being so intrinsically tied to the world, the death of an Elder Dragon could have major consequences that have yet to be fully explored. Like dormant dragons, dead dragons release the magical energy contained in their body back into the world via the ley lines criss-crossing the globe. After Zhaitan's death, Mordremoth may have absorbed his ability to create minions from corpses.[11] After Mordremoth's death, magic surged out across the ley lines. Some of it was absorbed by Glint's Egg in Tarir, and not long after, Primordus and Jormag both became active, with their minions exhibiting death and plant magic. Interestingly, one such abomination was immune to most normal damage, but could be harmed by bursts of plant or death magic from the explosive deaths of plant or death-infused larvae in close proximity. Similarly, larvae infused with Zhaitan's magic were vulnerable to Mordremoth's magic, and vice-versa. Kralkatorrik, too, exhibits the newfound ability to bring dead creatures back to life before branding them.[12] The recent unexpected elimination of two Elder Dragons from the cycle may have created a void, causing the collapse of the world's natural systems to begin.[13]

List of Elder Dragons[edit]

Name Domain(s) Date of awakening Weakness Territory Minions
Primordus fire[4] 1120 AE Jormag[14] Depths of Tyria Destroyers
S...? Unknown Unknown Unknown Unending Ocean Unknown
Jormag ice[4] 1165 AE Primordus[14] Far Shiverpeaks Icebrood
Zhaitan death and shadow[3] 1219 AE [research requested] Ruins of Orr Risen
Kralkatorrik crystal[4] 1320 AE Its own blood Crystal Desert Branded
Mordremoth mind and plants[3] 1327 AE Dream of Dreams Heart of Maguuma Mordrem

History[edit]

Pre-awakening[edit]

The fact that the last rise of the Elder Dragons is considered pre-history can attributed to the dragons themselves—few records exist of the last cycle of awakening (believed by the Durmand Priory to be over 11,000 years ago, to coincide with the disappearance of the giganticus lupicus), and most of what is known comes from dwarven legends and jotun stelae.

The Tome of the Rubicon speaks of the dwarves fighting the dragon's champions.[15] We have since learned of other races fighting the dragons long ago—mursaat, jotun, Forgotten, and Seers. The mursaat used their own magic to flee the world of Tyria, while Kralkatorrik's champion Glint betrayed her master and hid the remaining races.

Dragons of all shapes, sizes, and origin have called Cantha home for thousands of years, since long before the tribes of old joined to form the human empire that took them as its symbol.[16] In 1325 AE, Historian Angelina (who was apparently one of the first scholars to conclude that the awakening of the Elder Dragons is cyclic) says when interrupted, "Early pre-imperial era? What? That can't...oh, I'm sorry. Did you need something?". In the Canthan calendar, the early pre-imperial era corresponds to around 10,000 BE, a period which was not long after theorized by Varra Skylark to be the time of the last dragonrise.

As the dragons slept, the surviving races re-emerged, built civilisations, warred, and in some cases, died out. New civilisations also emerged, including the human nations. The Six first stepped out into the world at the Artesian Waters, drawn to that site by the amount of ambient magic there. They built Arah, City of the Gods there, not realizing that Zhaitan slept deep below. Similarly, the asura built their Central Transfer Chamber near Primordus, believing his sleeping form to be a magical statue and using the magic radiated by him to power their asura gate network.[17]

In 872 AE, most of the saltspray dragons were corrupted by the Jade Wind.

In 1072 AE, the human Ronan discovered a cavern guarded by terrible plant creatures (possibly Mordrem) containing strange seed-pods. These seeds were destined to grow into Blighting Trees, minion factories for Mordremoth. The seed taken by Ronan, however, eventually became the Pale Tree. At least one other tree (which birthed Malyck) is out there, and the sylvari that came from that were also non-hostile (at least as of 1325 AE, two years before Mordremoth's awakening).

At some point before 1078 AE, Vlast, first of Glint's scions, was born. He was intended to play a large role in Glint's legacy, her plan to preserve Tyria's magical balance by replacing Elder Dragons with equally powerful but less predatory entities. Destroyers came for him during Primordus' first rise, but he was protected by the Brotherhood of the Dragon inside a fortress, a tiny shard of sand within the massive Crystal Desert. He was raised in the city of Kesho by the Forgotten and their Exalted servants, and was never able to bond with the mortal races of the world as his mother had done.

Current dragonrise[edit]

The death of Abaddon and consequent surge of magic in 1075 AE is what triggered the latest cycle of destruction.[1] In 1078 AE, the first of the Elder Dragons to awaken, Primordus, began to stir. Its herald, the Great Destroyer, and its destroyer army swarmed the Depths of Tyria, driving the asura to the surface and destroying multiple underground civilizations. The asura refugees united with the dwarves, as well as the norn and Ebon Vanguard, to strike at the heart of the destroyer army, defeating the Great Destroyer and delaying the awakening of Primordus until 1120 AE. This victory came with a cost—the dwarven race were forced to undergo the Rite of the Great Dwarf in order to suppress the destroyer forces. To this day, the transformed dwarves fight them in the depths so that the surface may be spared, although in recent years small groups of destroyers have made it to the surface world. It was this year that Svanir was corrupted by Jormag's herald, a dormant dragon champion frozen in Drakkar Lake.

Although the exact year is unknown, it appears very likely that sometime between 1120 and 1165 AE, the still-unnamed Elder Dragon of the deep seas woke up. However, it wasn't until approximately 1275 AE that Tyrians felt the first influence from the deep sea dragon. This came in the form of the krait being forced out of their home, the Unending Ocean's deepest trenches, and in turn forcing the southern quaggans out of their own homes in the ocean depths - both races arriving on the shores of Tyria as refugees. The deep sea dragon is said to be able to twist the waters around it into tentacled horrors, and is implied to have forced out the karka and be assaulting the largos homeland currently as well.

In 1165 AE, Jormag rose from the northern reaches of the Far Shiverpeaks, where it toppled kodan sanctuaries and shattered the mountains, creating inland seas that the kodan and quaggan of the north took refuge in. The norn of the Far Shiverpeaks thought to challenge the ice dragon and its icebrood minions, but they were outmatched and forced south, guided by the Spirits of the Wild. In 1219 AE, Zhaitan's awakening caused the sunken nation of Orr to rise from the ocean, flooding the coastlines of Tyria and drowning thousands. Zhaitan conscripted those killed into its risen army alongside the ancient dead of Orr, creating a fleet spanning the Strait of Malchor, and blocking access to and from Cantha while also invading north towards Kryta and southeast towards the Elonian border. In 1320 AE, Kralkatorrik rose from the Blood Legion Homelands, flying south over Ascalon and corrupting everything in its path with its breath, forming the Dragonbrand. The Vigil was formed in response. Kralkatorrik landed in the Crystal Desert, where it sought Glint for her betrayal. It fought her and Destiny's Edge there, a battle in which it was injured but ultimately victorious and Glint slain.

Recent developments[edit]

In 1325 AE, Zhaitan launched an attack on Claw Island and prepared to strike on Lion's Arch. In desperation, the Vigil, the Order of Whispers, and the Durmand Priory pooled their resources to form a Pact led by Marshal Trahearne, and the combined magic and technology of the charr, humans, norn, asura and newly-awakened sylvari was enough to push into Orr and defeat Zhaitan itself, above the skies of Arah. This marked the first known time an Elder Dragon has been defeated, and proved that they can be killed. Zhaitan's death magic was absorbed by the remaining dragons, giving them the ability to bring corpses back to life before corrupting them.[11][12]

In 1327 AE, Mordremoth stirred when Scarlet Briar drilled into the ley line network with her airship, The Breachmaker, underneath Lion's Arch. The disrupting of the ley line caused a magical chain reaction, causing the Elder Dragon to awaken with a roar deep within the Heart of Maguuma. Some months later, the Pact began focusing its resources to west in an attempt to put down Mordremoth before it can truly rise. However, the effort resulted in failure when the Pact airship fleet was destroyed by Mordrem vines surging from the jungle as well as by the sylvari saboteurs taken over by their original master's influence. Mordremoth was ultimately killed by the nascent Dragon's Watch, although to fully destroy it it was necessary to kill Marshal Trahearne, who had become part of the dragon. Its magic surged out across the world, and some of it was absorbed by Glint's Egg in nearby Tarir. Trahearne was succeeded as Pact Marshal by Logan Thackeray, formerly of Destiny's Edge.

In 1329 AE, Glint's egg hatched into Aurene, who chose the Pact Commander (also the leader of Dragon's Watch) as her champion. Around this time, Primordus and Jormag became active, with their minions exhibiting signs of having absorbed death and plant magic. These signs were more prevalent in Primordus' minions than in Jormag's, leading to speculation that proximity may have played a role.[18] The progeny Taimi built a machine to access the Eternal Alchemy and turn Jormag and Primordus' energies against one another, killing both. She soon discovered that doing so would have potentially catastrophic consequences, but the machine was stolen by Balthazar, who traveled to the Ring of Fire (where Primordus had recently relocated) and attempted to use it to kill both Primordus and Jormag and steal their magic. Meanwhile, in the Far Shiverpeaks, Braham Eirsson and his norn companions (calling themselves Destiny's Edge), had hunted down Jormag and had him surrounded.[19] Although Balthazar was stopped and the machine destroyed, the dragons were wounded and Balthazar managed to absorb a significant portion of their magic. Their energy subsided to pre-awakening levels,[20] and they went dormant.[19][20]

Around this time, Kralkatorrik became active, moving southeast from Prophet's Fall in the Desert Highlands to the Domain of Vabbi. It was pursued by Balthazar and his Forged army, who killed Vlast as part of their campaign against Kralkatorrik. Kralkatorrik was brought close to death by Balthazar's Forged Warbeast, which used a captured Aurene to exploit Kralkatorrik's weakness. Balthazar was killed by Aurene and the Pact Commander, however, and his magic was absorbed by both Kralkatorrik and Aurene, who both flew off. As Kralkatorrik flew south,[12] the colour of its crystals had changed and it brought a dead devourer back to life to brand it, indicating that it had acquired new powers from absorbing the magic of the other dragons. Aurene, too, appeared to have grown significantly after absorbing the magic.

Gallery[edit]

Screenshots[edit]

Renders[edit]

Concept art[edit]

Primordus[edit]

Zhaitan[edit]

Jormag[edit]

Deep sea dragon[edit]

Kralkatorrik[edit]

Mordremoth[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • Only Zhaitan, Mordremoth, Primordus and Kralkatorrik can currently be physically encountered in Guild Wars 2.
  • Although the gender of the dragons is unknown (and perhaps unknowable), they are sometimes referred to as males in-game, such as in the description of the Fight the ice dragon's corruption Renown Heart.
  • In the vision seen in Omadd's machine, the colored orbs 'activate' in an order that corresponds to the known wakening of Primordus, Jormag, Zhaitan, Kralkatorrik and Mordremoth, with the deep sea dragon's orb activating second. Additionally, within the City of Hope story instance in Heart of Thorns, the trial of strength requires fighting dragon minions in the same order; though there is no minion of the deep sea dragon encountered, salt water spouts begin forming between fighting a destroyer and an icebrood. These two situations suggest that the deep sea dragon awoke after Primordus but before Jormag.
  • Other draconic creatures, such as drakes, wyverns, and in Cantha, saltspray dragons have been observed throughout the world. What relation they have to the Elder Dragons and their scions (if any) is unknown, but they certainly do not share their power.
  • Although the world of Tyria is quite large, for reasons unknown the Elder Dragons are only ever observed to be active in one small corner of it.

Trivia[edit]

  • Dragons were not always the main antagonists of Guild Wars 2. According to The Making of Guild Wars 2 book, original drafts for story included demons and angelic beings descending to the world to judge it.

References[edit]

Gwwlogo.png The Guild Wars Wiki has an article on Elder Dragon.
  1. ^ a b Dialogue with Kormir during Facing the Truth
  2. ^ a b c Dialogue with Ogden Stonehealer during Hidden Arcana
  3. ^ a b c Dialogue with Magister Ela Makkay during Hidden Arcana
  4. ^ a b c d The Elder Dragons
  5. ^ Rising Stars
  6. ^ a b Stéphane Lo Presti and Jeff Grubb, Guild Wars 2 Guru; links broke - image of posts: [1] [2] [3] [4]
  7. ^ Dialogue with Professor Gorr in Test Subject
  8. ^ Dialogue with Trahearne during Magic Sucks.
  9. ^ a b Dialogue with Warden Illyra during The Ruined City of Arah
  10. ^ Dialogue with Taimi during Buried Insight
  11. ^ a b Dialogue with Taimi during Taimi's Game
  12. ^ a b c ANet_Chelsey comments on “Path of Fire” devs here – ask us anything!
  13. ^ Dialogue with Sadizi during The Way Forward
  14. ^ a b Dialogue with Taimi during Taimi's Pet Project
  15. ^ Dialogue with Ogden Stonehealer during The Ruined City of Arah (explorable)
  16. ^ The Guild Wars Factions Manuscripts
  17. ^ The Final Vision cinematic in Guild Wars: Eye of the North
  18. ^ Dialogue with Taimi during Elixir Cookin'
  19. ^ a b Dialogue with Taimi during The Flow of Magic
  20. ^ a b Dialogue with Scanner during Heart of the Volcano