- This article is about the Elder Dragons. For the in-game book, see The Elder Dragons. For other dragons, see Dragon.
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 the fallen god Abaddon in 1075 AE, and continues to this day.
The Elder Dragons may be as old as the world itself, 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.
Nature and physiology
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.
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.
— "The Nature of Dragons" by Ogden Stonehealer
The Elder Dragons are the apex lifeform on Tyria, and feed upon its magic in a cycle of feast and famine. They violently draw the magic of the world into themselves until the world is near depleted, and then as they slumber it slowly bleeds back out into the world, causing them to awaken again. As all life is to some extent magic-bearing and the dragons not picky in their meals or servants, each dragonrise is a dangerous period, resulting in the shattering of civilizations and even extinctions in the past. 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, for example fire, ice, death, or crystal. 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.
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, 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. The dragons themselves rarely directly intervene with Tyrians, preferring to send their minions to do the work for them. It is possible to protect oneself from this corruption, as the Forgotten did so during the last cycle of awakening.
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.
One of the dragons, Kralkatorrik, had at least one scion, Glint. This scion was also made a champion of Kralkatorrik, enslaved to its will, but was freed from its influence by Forgotten magic. She remained in crystalline form, but regained her free will and identity, but not her memories, and eventually turned against Kralkatorrik. Glaust (better known as Glint) was an oracle who could hear the thoughts of others and predict the future with some limitations. The dwarven Brotherhood of the Dragon believed that she was well on her way to becoming an Elder Dragon herself, 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, and each have shown different behaviors and powers. Jormag and its champions have shown mind-affecting powers, while only Zhaitan could utilize corpses in its corruption. Similarly, the Elder Dragons have both limitations and preferences for what and how they corrupt. Primordus, while capable of corrupting the living, will usually corrupt rock and lava into new minions. Zhaitan, though capable of corrupting the living, will usually corrupt corpses.
Being so intrinsically tied to the world, the death of an Elder Dragon has major consequences to the natural order of the world. 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. In addition to this, their sphere of magic becomes divided among the other Elder Dragons, with the closest gaining more power from these fallen Elder Dragons. The Elder Dragons who absorb this magic gain some control over the spheres of the fallen Elder Dragons. After Zhaitan's death, Mordremoth gained the ability to use corpses in Blighting Trees, while Kralkatorrik gained the ability to corrupt corpses.
With the deaths of both Zhaitan and Mordremoth, their magic spread across the ley lines. Primordus, Jormag, and Kralkatorrik all created minions exhibiting death, shadow, plant, and mind 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. The recent unexpected elimination of two Elder Dragons from the cycle has created a void, causing the collapse of the world's natural systems to begin. Based on simulations that Taimi had run, the death of one more Elder Dragon would irrevocably damage Tyria and send it to destruction.
List of Elder Dragons
|Name||Domain(s)||Date of awakening||Weakness||Territory||Minions|
|Primordus||Fire||1120 AE||Jormag||Depths of Tyria||Destroyers|
|Jormag||Ice||1165 AE||Primordus||Far Shiverpeaks||Icebrood|
|Zhaitan||Death and Shadow||1219 AE||Over reliance on specialized minions||Ruins of Orr||Risen|
|Kralkatorrik||Crystal||1320 AE||Its own blood and resonance with its minions||Crystal Desert||Branded|
|Mordremoth||Mind and Plants||1327 AE||Attacking its mind||Heart of Maguuma||Mordrem|
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. Tyrians 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. 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 the Elder Dragon to power their asura gate network.
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 Vlast during Primordus's 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.
The death of Abaddon and consequent surge of magic in 1075 AE is what triggered the latest cycle of destruction. 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.
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 utilize corpses with their corruption.
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. The progeny Taimi built a machine to access the Eternal Alchemy and turn Jormag and Primordus's 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 it surrounded. Although Balthazar was stopped and the machine destroyed, the Elder Dragons were wounded and Balthazar managed to absorb a significant portion of their magic. Their energy subsided to pre-awakening levels, and they went dormant.
Kralkatorrik, who had become active after absorbing a portion of the magic released by Mordremoth's demise, moved southeast from Prophet's Fall in the Desert Highlands to the Domain of Vabbi in 1328 AE. By 1330 AE it was pursued by Balthazar and his Forged army, who killed Vlast as part of their campaign against Kralkatorrik. The Elder Dragon 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 , the color 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 Elder Dragons. Aurene, too, grew significantly after absorbing the magic. Kralkatorrik began experimenting on its new powers, sending Brandstorms throughout the Crystal Desert region, and began roosting on mountains west of the Domain of Kourna.
- Concept art
Size comparison of all Elder Dragon and dragon champion models as of All or Nothing.
Size comparison of Zhaitan to dragon lieutenants, The Glory of Tyria, and Zhaitan's original incomplete model.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- ^ a b Facing the Truth
- Kormir: Abaddon remained a fallen god, imprisoned for a thousand years, until he rose to threaten Tyria one last time...
- Kormir: A mortal hero led a mission to stop him, and against all odds, succeeded. But then... [...]
- Kormir: I was there to contain the damage, but by then it was too late.
- Kormir: The surge of power upended the balance of magic in Tyria, and stirred Primordus from his slumber—triggering this latest cycle of destruction.
- ^ a b c d e Hidden Arcana
- Magister Ela Makkay: Each dragon has two spheres of influence. For Mordremoth, that's mind and plants. Zhaitan ruled shadow and death. [...]
- Ogden Stonehealer: The Elder Dragons may be as old as the world itself. They're more than creatures.
- Ogden Stonehealer: They're part of nature's workings. They rise and fall on a cycle that spans millennia.
- Ogden Stonehealer: Much of what we know about them comes from a document written by the first humans to walk the face of Tyria: the Scroll of the Five True Gods. [...]
- Ogden Stonehealer: Glint foretold the future in the Flameseeker Prophecies over a thousand years ago.
- Ogden Stonehealer: The brotherhood believed that she would one day become an Elder Dragon. She was old and wise, well on her way.
- ^ a b c d The Elder Dragons
- ^ Rising Stars
- ^ Test Subject
- Scholar Krasso: Sorry, Professor. I should have anticipated that such a high dose of concentrated magic would only strengthen the minion.
- Scholar Krasso: This test proved that we are all imperiled, particularly those of us possessing large magical stockpiles.
- Professor Gorr: Unquestionably. On the bright side, this is the breakthrough I've been looking for: proof positive that my theory is valid.
- Professor Gorr: These readings are conclusive: the more magic we gave it, the more was absorbed. The Arcane Council can't possibly deny the correlation.
- ^ Magic Sucks
- Trahearne: These seem to be more powerful. They also hold a larger quantity of magic. More of Zhaitan's will, perhaps? [...]
- Trahearne: Indeed, these creatures are acting with more self-will! Zhaitan's infused them with tremendous energy. See how the weapon affects them!
- ^ a b The Ruined City of Arah (explorable) Forgotten path
- Warden Illyra: The Forgotten discovered a great spell that granted Glint a will free from control by the Elder Dragon. She then concealed many of the elder races from the dragons.
- Warden Illyra: This artifact once belonged to the Forgotten. The golden seal matches those from the Crystal Desert.
- Warden Illyra: More importantly, it has remained uncorrupted either by Orr's long immersion or by Zhaitan.
- Warden Illyra: This is important. It means that some sort of protection is possible!
- ^ Post by Stéphane Lo Presti, GuildWars2Guru.com (Archived)
- ^ "Chapter 26: Seeking the Sanctum", Edge of Destiny by J. Robert King:
- The dragon’s great eyes went gray. "I can hear the thoughts of creatures. I am an oracle. I heard their plots against my master, stopped them before they reached him, killed them in their tracks. But I also felt their agony, their loss. It grieved me."
- ^ Crystalline Memories
- Glint: I remember only fragments from the days before the Forgotten performed their ritual on me. [...]
- Glint: Prophecy is not always a gift. Often I see things I wish I hadn't. But when the vision is clouded, I am most uneasy.
- ^ Buried Insight
- Taimi: Based on their extensive research on Primordus, the Rata Novans determined that each Elder Dragon had a weakness.
- Taimi: A unique respective weakness.
- ^ a b c d The Way Forward
- Josso Essher: The most important lesson an Exalted must learn is: though Elder Dragons are unimaginably powerful, they can be killed.
- Josso Essher: Each has a distinct flaw.
- Josso Essher: Mordremoth, for example, dominates thought. But its most powerful asset—its mind—is also its greatest liability.
- Josso Essher: Kralkatorrik's unique strength—its power to crystalize objects—is also its singular weakness.
- Josso Essher: Its creations share a fundamental resonance that connects them back to the crystal dragon and makes them vulnerable to each other. [...]
- Sadizi: The millennia-long Elder Dragon cycle is one of feast and famine. Ravenous, they rise. Sated, they sleep.
- Sadizi: Glint and the Forgotten set out to break this cycle of extremes and to restore true balance.
- Sadizi: But when two Elder Dragons were unexpectedly eliminated from the cycle at one time, we believe it created a void.
- Sadizi: A void that caused the system to break down and the collapse to begin.
- ^ "Chapter: Lair of the Dragonspawn", Edge of Destiny by J. Robert King:
- The Dragonspawn’s elongated head turned toward his foes. Eyes glowed bright blue. The beams splashed across Eir, Garm, Snaff, and Zojja. They shielded their eyes, but the monster was seeping into their minds.
- ^ a b c Post by Andrew Gray in "Elder Dragons Zhaitan and Mordremoth", Guild Wars 2 Forums
- ^ Interview with Jeff Grubb, Ree Soesbee and Scott McGough, GuildMag.com
- ^ Crucible of Eternity (story)
- ^ Necromancer Rissa
- ^ Corporal Kellach
- ^ a b c Taimi's Game
- Taimi: The ones who came from the blighting pods! Mordremoth had its minions, the sylvari, right? But it was able to create more, new ones from the dead! That power came from Zhaitan!
- Taimi: Killing Zhaitan caused the other dragons to absorb the death spectrum, but we only saw it in Mordremoth because it was active.
- Taimi: Then we killed Mordremoth, and now Primordus has absorbed some of the death and planty-ness! I think...
- ^ Researcher Raizza
- ^ a b Elixir Cookin'
- Taimi: If I were a supposing kind of genius—which I am—I'd suppose Primordus must have soaked up more Mordremoth energy.
- Taimi: Maybe proximity matters, and since Jormag's so far away, it didn't receive as much Mordy juice.
- ^ Cinematic during Elder Druid Protection
- ^ a b Taimi's Pet Project
- Taimi: Ah. Okay, it runs off the heart of Omadd's Machine.
- Taimi: That, combined with my spectrum research, aided by my assistant, Spencer...
- Taimi: Will let me manipulate the Eternal Alchemy to smash Primordus and Jormag's unique signatures together.
- Taimi: Thus, cancelling them out. I.E. dragons go (death sound).
- ^ Post by Andrew Gray in "Zhaitan's Weakness", Guild Wars 2 Forums
- ^ The Ruined City of Arah (explorable)
- Ogden Stonehealer: The Tome of the Rubicon speaks of the dwarves fighting the dragon's champions. [...]
- Warden Illyra: The Forgotten discovered a great spell that granted Glint a will free from control by the Elder Dragon. She then concealed many of the elder races from the dragons.
- ^ The Guild Wars Factions Manuscripts
- ^ Cathedral of Silence
- The Seventh Reaper: So shall it be. You seek the heart of Orr? Then you must go to the very beginning. The rock where the gods first set foot upon this world.
- The Seventh Reaper: There is an artesian well hidden in the mountains behind the temple of Melandru. There, you will find the place where Orr began.
- ^ The Final Vision Vekk: I've been to the Central Transfer Chamber. That cavern is adjacent to it. The big statue practically bleeds magic. It's why we built the chamber there in the first place.
- ^ Consular Brand Oakencask
- ^ a b Comment by Chelsey Shuder, Reddit.com
- ^ a b The Flow of Magic
- Taimi: You won't believe what just happened, Commander. Guess. No, never mind, can't wait. Braham sent me a letter.
- Taimi: Would you like me to read it? Of course you would. He says, "Taimi. What did the commander do to Jormag?"
- Taimi: "Destiny's Edge—my guild—had it surrounded, and then... Suddenly, an anguished roar, and it returned to the ice." [...]
- Taimi: But since Jormag's all snoozy, he doesn't have a chance of killing it now, does he?
- ^ Heart of the Volcano
- Scanner: Elder—Dragon—spectrum: Primordus, energy—subsiding—to—pre-awakening—level.
- Taimi: Night, night, sweet dragon! Guessing the same thing happened to Jormag too.
- ^ Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire—Road to the Desert