Spirits of the Wild
The Norn do not know gods, at least not in the way humans do. But we do revere the spirits of the animals upon whom we depend for food and shelter. There are many such spirits. Bear is the mightiest of course, but Raven, Owl, Wolf, Wurm, and Ox all have their place in the world and in our hearts. While we hunt and slay these creatures, we also praise their spirit, and thank them for their sacrifice. The animals are our brethren; their spirits guide us as we live and hunt.
There are more hostile, even malicious, spirits in the world...spirits of the mountains, seasons, fire, and darkness. The animal spirits are our allies against these foes, and we thank them for their aid, singing the praises of all beasts as we hunt. This is the Norn way.
The Spirits of the Wild are the norn's spirit guides. Unlike the Six Human Gods, the Spirits do not represent broad-minded concepts like "war" or "nature," but instead embody all the complex virtues and vices of the animals they represent. Likewise, the Spirits are not worshiped in the traditional sense of the word, but rather revered. The Spirits of the Wild have always been around to guide the norn, and though they do not always offer their aid directly, they always aim to help—if they do nothing after being asked for help, then their help was not necessary. The Spirits also keep the norn in check, teaching them not to despoil the land and effectively become a balance to the norn's direct, quick-tempered natures.
The Spirits of the Wild are regarded as the embodiments of the creatures and natural forces which they represent. Each creature on Tyria is said to have had a Spirit associated with it although some norn believe that a few of these Spirits have died since then. Kodan tales claim that Koda is the primal spirit who formed the world and supposedly lorded over the Spirits of the Wild. In these tales the Spirits are depicted as wild and destructive and in need of the kodan to guide and protect them with Koda's blessing.
In the ancient past, the Spirits of the Wild first appeared to the norn in a secluded location that came to be known as the Sanctum of the Wild deep within Drizzlewood Coast. This magically potent temple would serve as a site for norn pilgrimages for centuries. It was protected by a stone door which was enchanted with runes; the door leading into the sanctum could only be opened by invoking the powers of several collaborating Spirits of the Wild. The Spirits taught the norn not to despoil the land, and they effectively became a balance to the norn's direct, quick-tempered natures. The norn viewed the animal Spirits as allies and guides against the more malicious Spirits of the world such as Fire, Darkness, Mountain, and Seasons.
When the Elder Dragon Jormag first awoke in the Far Shiverpeaks and pushed south since 1165 AE, the norn initially fought it and would have risked their own extinction, but the Spirits of the Wild prevented them from doing so after Asgeir Dragonrender, who had been empowered by the Spirits and slain Jormag's champion Frostfang, had failed to defeat Jormag despite severing one of the Elder Dragon's fangs. The most highly regarded Spirits, oft called the "Great Spirits"—Bear, Raven, Snow Leopard and Wolf—led the norn exodus, guiding the norn south from the Far Shiverpeaks to the place now known as Hoelbrak in the Shiverpeak Mountains. Asgeir himself claimed that he had received a vision from the Spirits to lead the norn south although he left a journal behind which detailed what exactly had transpired during his encounter with Jormag.
Four other Spirits—Owl, Ox, Eagle, and Wolverine—battled Jormag in order to give the norn time to move south. Owl was confirmed dead by her havroun who could no longer sense her presence after Owl had sacrificed herself to stall Jormag's advance. However, because the other three Spirits did not have a havroun to communicate with them for generations, their fates remained unknown. Other lesser Spirits of the Wild existed as well such as Minotaur and Hare. Some of these Spirits were rarely mentioned, however, such as Frog, Gorilla, Griffon, Mink, Otter, and Wurm.
At some point in the past, Bear, Raven and Snow Leopard gave their respective blessings to Wolf's map which was in Captain Romke's possession. When the Spirits were invoked, the map could display everything between the traveler's current position and the destination they wanted to reach. However, the boastful norn crew's voyage came to a sudden end due to the Rising of Orr which was caused by the Elder Dragon Zhaitan's awakening in 1219 AE. The map was lost in the crew's battle against the Risen, and the slain crew members' ghosts were cursed to haunt the shores of Orr until the map was retrieved and the Spirits had forgiven the crew's pride.
By 1332 AE, many Spirits of the Wild became more active in opposing Jormag's spreading influence. Raven helped guide the Pact Commander's party to rescue Jhavi Jorasdottir in Bjora Marches and helped Havroun Weibe cast a protection spell on Jora's Keep to drive away the unnatural storm raised by the Fraenir of Jormag. According to Jhavi, Raven may have also ensured that Jhavi and General Almorra Soulkeeper discovered the ancient Raven lenses in Darkrime Delves so they could gain access to the Raven Sanctum and stop the fraenir's plans.
Sons of Svanir and the enigmatic Aberrant and Fallen found throughout Bjora Marches showed signs of being infused with the essences of Resilience, Valor, and Vigilance which appeared to correspond with Ox, Wolverine, and Eagle, respectively. The Lost Spirits' abandoned shrines were covered in shadow throughout the region, and the local kodan of Still Waters Speaking revealed to the Vigil forces in the region that the Spirits themselves had been seduced by Jormag's whispers which Drakkar, champion of the Ice Dragon, was relaying throughout Drakkar Lake to influence the other races.
In 1333 AE, Wolf called Garm to Bjora Marches and sent him to assist Braham Eirsson in his mission before guiding the Pact Commander to the pair with visions. Wolf eventually contacted Garm yet again, using him to lead Braham and the Commander to a Wolf shrine at Sifhalla Ruins where the Great Spirit appeared before the trio. Wolf explained that the Spirits had taken note of Braham after the norn youth had fulfilled one of the conditions of a prophecy by breaking the Fang of the Serpent: Braham, as the chosen one, would be destined to either slay Jormag, or fall to the Ice Dragon. Wolf urged Braham to seek out the three Lost Spirits, confirming the kodan tales that the Spirits had been swayed by Jormag, and to convince the Spirits to lend their power against the nigh unkillable Drakkar who had been leeching magic from the Spirits. If Braham succeeded in the task, Wolf would grant him the power of a true norn: to transform into his totem form.
Braham enlisted the help of the Commander and norn shamans to temporarily cleanse the affected Spirits' shrines from Jormag's corruption via rituals while he would summon the Lost Spirits and prove his worth to them. Despite their corrupted state, Ox, Eagle, and Wolverine recognized Braham as the chosen one and appeared to him during the shamans' rites. They questioned Braham's resolve and wisdom, but Braham was able to convince them to grant their power to him so he could face Drakkar. With help from the Commander and the charr Crecia Stoneglow and Rytlock Brimstone, Braham was able to confront Drakkar whom Jhavi's Vigil soldiers and the kodan had cornered into a remote corner in Drakkar Lake. He defeated the dragon champion by blasting it with the three Lost Spirits' combined magic, thus fulfilling Wolf's request.
The Whisper of Jormag, avatar of the Ice Dragon, emerged from Drakkar's corpse and revealed itself as the true source of the whispers. The avatar's persuasive whispers nearly overcame the weary party until the timely arrival of Imperator Bangar Ruinbringer and Ryland Steelcatcher allowed the party to defeat it. Bangar stated his ambitions to subjugate Jormag and convince the High Legions of his worth as Jormag's new champion via the defeat of Drakkar, and shot the Commander with an enchanted bow stolen from Braham. Seeing his friend being in mortal danger, Braham grew angry and embraced Wolf's power via Becoming the Wolf, driving the attacking charr away. Upon learning what had happened in the cave, Jhavi suggested that Braham had simply needed sufficient motivation—seeing his friend in mortal danger—to transform upon being granted Wolf's blessing.
Months later, Braham had discovered the entrance to the Sanctum of the Wild which would allow his party to enter the Frost Citadel to confront Bangar who was planning to awaken Jormag. He was unable to invoke the four Great Spirits to open the enchanted door due to their silence, however, so he resorted to calling the lesser Spirits and convince them that he was worthy of being the norn of prophecy. The totems of Ox, Eagle and Wolverine were missing for the ritual to work, however, so Braham asked the Commander to retrieve the totems. The Lost Spirits were not willing to give away the totems without trials, however: Ox made the Commander collect orbs while avoiding obstacles, Eagle transformed the Commander into an eagle for a chase in the skies, and Wolverine tested the Commander in combat.
Braham was able to convince the other lesser Spirits to lend their aid by the time the Commander returned with the totems. Invoking the Spirits, Braham entered into a trance and spoke out the Spirits' riddle from the Mists. Once he had solved the riddle and channeled the totems' magic in the right order with help from the Commander, Crecia and Rytlock, Braham was able to use the totems' magic to open the door.
However, when Owl's totem lit up with her full power rather than just a remnant of it, Braham realized the horrific truth: Owl had not perished in battle after all but had been corrupted by Jormag in the past alongside the three other Lost Spirits. To prevent herself from being used by the Ice Dragon, she had cut herself off from the Mists and the norn, thus explaining why her havroun had not been able to sense her anymore and had assumed her to have perished. Owl had then fled to the Sanctum of the Wild and had effectively gone into hiding for centuries. Because Braham had reawakened Owl via the ritual, the corrupted magic within her would finally be accessible to Jormag. The party theorized that the Elder Dragon might have enough power to awaken with Owl's magic thanks to the ritual.
On the way to the heart of the sanctum, Braham finally heard the four Great Spirits' voices and realized that they had not answered him before because they had been trapped in the keep. By the time they reached their destination, they met with Bangar who revealed that he had been working with the Sons of Svanir to trap the four Great Spirits' energy into totems and intended to absorb their magic into himself to corrupt the Spirits and use their power as a lure to make Jormag wake up and fall under his control. The party battled Bangar and were soon joined by Ryland who reprimanded Bangar for going against his word and using the Spirits as leverage against Jormag. Ryland began channeling the Spirits' power instead, redirecting their magic straight to Jormag despite Bangar's protests. The Commander was able to free the Great Spirits from the totem before they could be corrupted, but the party was too late to stop the charr from awakening the rejuvenated Jormag who entered the Mists soon after.
Following the harrowing encounter with Jormag, the Commander traveled to the Eye of the North and met with Owl Shaman Garon whom Braham had summoned there to seek the shaman's guidance regarding Owl's reawakening. Garon's faith had diminished upon learning about Owl's corruption, and he worried if all Spirits of the Wild were destined to fall to Jormag. Thanks to receiving inspirational words of encouragement from the Commander, however, the shaman decided to go on a pilgrimage to rekindle his and other norn's faith in Owl.
With the Commander's assistance, Garon visited several sites sacred to Owl and helped out the Spirit's faithful with both inspiring words and deeds. The pilgrimage made the shaman recognize similarities between Owl's and the Commander's resolve. Once Garon had gone through a ritual of subjecting himself to Owl's pain at the Sanctum of the Wild, he found his faith renewed and believed that he had gained enough insight to guide Braham on his quest.
Norn who choose to become shamans devote themselves to a Spirit's sacred area: a shrine, lodge, or hunting ground dedicated to their patron Spirit of the Wild. The shamans serve their people as guardians and teachers, protecting their territory and instructing others in the lessons of the Spirit they revere. Four of the most powerful and dedicated shamans are known as the Speakers of Hoelbrak. They tend the four lodges that flank Hoelbrak's main hall, which were raised in honor of the four Great Spirits that led the norn to safety during the norn exodus. Special norn shamans called havrouns tend to the Spirits' needs and are capable of crossing over to the Mists at will without the use of portals (a technique known as spirit walk) to join their respective Spirit. Any norn can become a shaman of a certain Spirit, but there is only one havroun per Spirit.
Although the four Great Spirits worked together to help the norn survive Jormag's attacks, they—or their followers—are not always on the best of terms. Followers of Wolf scorn Snow Leopard's stealth as "cowardice," and the shamans of Bear have been known to mistrust Raven's adherents, calling their deceptions dishonorable and weak. Tales of epic battles between heroes of each lodge are told at moots, immortalizing in legend both the virtues and vices embodied by their patron Spirits. Although some animosity exists between some of the Spirits' followers (e.g. Bear's Havroun Grechen and Raven's Havroun Weibe who cannot stand one another), some shamans and havrouns of different Spirits get along well (e.g. Grechen or Weibe's interactions with Havroun Svena). Some Spirits are less known or less respected than others; for example, a few norn ridicule certain Spirits such as Frog, Hare and Mink as being useless, weak, or stupid.
Some shamans embrace the darker teachings and aspects of their patron Spirit, pursuing goals which can end up harming others on purpose such as the Raven witch Vilnia Shadowsong capturing and sacrificing children in macabre blood rituals to gain more power and wisdom. However, these wayward shamans are often reviled in norn society for their crimes.
Some spirits exist which the norn consider unworthy of reverence; these naturalistic forces include Mountain, Seasons, Fire and Darkness. These spirits are not seen as sentient and are depicted as challenges for the norn to overcome rather than friends or guides like the Spirits of the Wild.
The Sons of Svanir regard Jormag as the greatest Spirit of the Wild, referring to it as "Dragon", and view it as the embodiment of all the Elder Dragons. However, most norn and scholars do not regard Jormag as a true Spirit because it lacks traits and powers commonly associated with the Spirits of the Wild.
The norn have the totem ability to shapeshift, adopting the form of the animal after the Spirits they revere. While transformed via this totem ability, the norn become closer to the spirit of the form they take and understand the power of the wild. The Spirits of the Wild can grant and revoke blessings on the norn based the norn's deeds. It is debated among the norn and scholars whether Jora's inability to Become the Bear after Svanir's acceptance of Jormag's power was caused by Jormag punishing her for rejecting its power or by Bear punishing her for doing nothing to stop Svanir initially. However, Jora did ultimately regain her ability after honoring Bear's wishes to restore her bloodline's honor by washing the blood of killing her brother with the blood of killing a charr warband who had taken over Jora's homestead.
The Spirits have the power to physically transform beings into creatures which the Spirits themselves represent either for testing said individuals or empowering them for a quest. Their shamans also possess such magic. While transformed, the affected beings are usually unable to communicate in their native language and instead have to rely on the vocal utterances of the creatures they have been turned into for the duration of the transformation; however, they can communicate with the types of creatures they have been transformed into.
The Spirits of the Wild are the embodiments of the beings associated with them with both virtues and vices. As patron Spirits, their existence or demise can thus have a great effect on the beings linked to them via this bond. For example, Owl's apparent death reportedly made all owls weaker and more confused. The Spirits are said to be infinite wells of power, making them desirable sources of magic for Elder Dragons and their champions.
The Spirits of the Wild are very invested in the norn. A Spirit feels a kinship with those norn who have embraced that particular Spirit. When a person bonded with the Spirit dies, the Spirit knows and feels it. When an entire swath of any Spirit's shamans are wiped out, that Spirit feels that pain in a very keen sense like its children are dying.
- Great Spirits
- Lesser Spirits
- Hare (also known as Bunny and Snowshoe Hare)
- Ox (also known as Dolyak)
- Other Spirits
- Some of the masteries of The Icebrood Saga are focused on learning about the history of the Spirits of the Wild. The first mastery track to be introduced, Raven Attunement, is inspired by Raven.
- The Spirits of the Wild have two leitmotifs associated with them in The Icebrood Saga: the "Spirits of the Wild Theme" composed by Maclaine Diemer for the Spirits' mysticism in general, and the "Spirit Trials Theme" composed by Brendon Williams for the trials associated with the Lost Spirits of Ox, Eagle, and Wolverine.
- If Skuld's claim about each creature on Tyria having its respective associated Spirit of the Wild is true, theoretically a Dragon Spirit should exist (or has once existed) as a natural embodiment of all Tyrian dragons. Although the Sons of Svanir view Jormag as a Spirit of the Wild called Dragon, they initially lacked the ability to enter the Mists on Jormag's behalf without using loopholes, unlike the havrouns who have the native Mists-traveling ability granted by the Spirits. This implies that Jormag and the Dragon Spirit may not be the same entity.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i A Spirit of Legend
- ^ a b c Skuld
- ^ Flamebearer
- ^ Kodan Snowcaller
- ^ Watchful Moon
- ^ The Wisdom and Power of the Kodan
- ^ Wrench in the Works
- <Character name>: I feel something. The Spirits of the Wild. There's a power here, it's—unimaginable. What is this place?
- Braham Eirsson: This is where the Spirits first revealed themselves to the norn.
- Braham Eirsson: I can feel them. All of them. Like the charge in the air before a storm. I've never felt anything like it.
- ^ a b Pantheon of the Wild
- Braham Eirsson: This place was built to honor all the Spirits. The door can only open if enough of them are working together.
- Braham Eirsson: The Great Spirits aren't talking, so we need the other Spirits to help. I can feel them. Hare, Otter, Griffon... [...]
- Braham Eirsson: A shaman came from Hoelbrak. Took the totems for Ox, Eagle, and Wolverine. Then he hid them. Shame, I guess.
- Braham Eirsson: What you saw were the resting places of the three totems. Commander, I need you to find them and bring them back here.
- <Character name>: And what will you be doing?
- Braham Eirsson: The Lesser Spirits don't know me. I need to prove I'm worthy, like I did to the others.
- Braham Eirsson: Speaking of which, they might test you. You know, before they let you pick up their totems.
- ^ a b Egil Fireteller
- ^ Thyrie Bylund
- ^ Gamal
- ^ Skaald Stjarna
- ^ Romke's Final Voyage
- Captain Romke: The map you seek is a sacred thing, blessed by all four Spirits of the Wild. Even in death, we could not leave it in this wretched place. [...]
- Captain Romke: I swore the magical map could take us to Cantha. Bet against Wolf himself that we'd succeed.
- Captain Romke: It was my stubbornness that brought us here. Curse the dragon of Orr, and curse my pride! [...]
- Captain Romke: If we return Wolf's map...the Spirits of the Wild will finally forgive my foolish pride. [...]
- Trahearne: As expected. My research indicates the true map will remain dormant until the traveler opens it and speaks their destination aloud.
- Trahearne: The map will then displays the target location, everything around it, and everything between it and the traveler's current position. [...]
- Trahearne: Indeed. But you must show us how to use the map to find the Source of Orr.
- Captain Romke: I shall. It starts by calling upon the Spirits of the Wild. Their power makes the map function.
- ^ Research Notes: Ancient Raven Lens
- ^ Cleanse the corrupted Eagle shrine
- ^ Cleanse the corrupted Wolverine Spirit shrine
- ^ Prove your strength to the Ox Spirit
- ^ Pantheon of the Wild
- Braham Eirsson: That magic... It wasn't a remnant of Owl. It WAS Owl. Jormag corrupted her, so she cut herself off from the Mists.
- Braham Eirsson: She came here—locked herself away. And I just brought her back.
- Braham Eirsson: Jormag needed more magic to wake up. Now they have Owl again.
- ^ One Charr, One Dragon, One Champion
- Braham Eirsson: What are you doing to the Spirits of the Wild?
- Bangar Ruinbringer: What Jormag did to Drakkar. Use its power to control the uncontrollable.
- Bangar Ruinbringer: Elder Dragons want only magic. And the Spirits are nothing but. So I'll convince them to share it wi— [...]
- Braham Eirsson: He's absorbing power from the Spirits! [...]
- Ryland Steelcatcher: Now you want to corrupt the norn Spirits, to wield their power against Jormag. Seems you need a lot of leverage.
- Bangar Ruinbringer: Stand down.
- Ryland Steelcatcher: No, you're right. Sir. These Spirits do have a use.
- ^ Through the Veil Eir Stegalkin: Then we need a more experienced havroun. I suggest either Weibe of Raven or Grechen of Bear. They do not get along at all, so we should approach only one of them.
- ^ Floodwater Causeway ambient dialogue
- ^ One Good Drink Deserves Another Son of Svanir: Because you're weak and stupid. You're not fit to serve Dragon. Go worship Mink. Or Bunny!
- ^ A Trap Foiled
- Linnea: Snowshoe Hare! She's one of the lesser spirits, but she's smart as Raven, loyal as Wolf, strong as Bear...well, at least in the legs. Kind of.
- <Character name>: Hare? Is that a Spirit of the Wild?
- Linnea: Yes, Snowshoe Hare! Well, she's not one of the greater spirits, but a spirit nonetheless. She's swift, and soft, and clever...big on root vegetables, too.
- <Character name>: Interesting. I'll pay my respects if I ever pass her shrine.
- ^ Linnea
- ^ Gryna the Tenacious
- ^ Blane the Insane
- ^ Nikolas Haraldsson
- ^ Sjorn Morheim
- ^ Veteran Relief Crew Scout
- ^ Prove your strength to the Ox Spirit
- ^ Shaman Sigarr
- ^ The Last of the Giant-Kings
- Eir Stegalkin: Wolf's blessing surrounds you like a moonlit cloud. I can see it, and so will Korag. [...]
- <Character name>: Wait a second—Garm? You can talk?
- Garm: Only to other wolves, young one. Now watch your tail, and prepare to fight!
- ^ Shape of the Spirit
- <Character name>: By Raven's beak, I'm a minotaur! Thank you, Spirit. I'll put your blessing to good use. [...]
- <Character name>: Easy. We're busting out of here and we're trampling our captors on the way. Interested?
- Alpine Minotaur: The minotaur snorts loudly and paws the ground. It eyes you expectantly.
- ^ Pantheon of the Wild
- Rytlock Brimstone: Commander, you got a second?
- Crecia Stoneglow: We could use your perspective on something.
- <Character name>: (annoyed eagle screech)
- Crecia Stoneglow: ...Uh.
- Rytlock Brimstone: Yeah, y'know what? You sound pretty busy. We got this. Just keep doing whatever it is you're doing. [...]
- Braham Eirsson: Spirits give you any trouble?
- <Character name>: I got turned into an eagle.
- Rytlock Brimstone: You get turned into a lot of stuff.
- <Character name>: Just... Let's get on with it.
- ^ Chasing Ghosts
- Braham Eirsson: Impossible... Ox, Eagle, Wolverine?
- Braham Eirsson: The lost Spirits of the Wild! I thought Jormag killed them. We all did.
- Cloudseeker: Not killed. Taken. Now Drakkar feeds on them—an infinite well of power.
- ^ Guild Wars Insider Interview with Ree Soesbee, GuildWarsInsider.com (Archived)
- ^ The Icebrood Saga announcement, Twitch.tv
- ^ Guild Chat - Episode 103