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 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, were relaying throughout Drakkar Lake to influence the other races.
Wolf called Garm to Bjora Marches and sent him to assist Braham Eirsson in his mission before guiding the Pact Commander to them with visions. Wolf eventually contacted Garm yet again, using him to lead Braham and the Commander to a Wolf shrine at Sifhalla Ruins where he 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 while he would summon the 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 him their power to 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, and defeated the 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 tranform upon being granted Wolf's blessing.
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. Every norn can become a shaman of a certain Spirit, but only one norn can become havroun of one 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. 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 ability to shapeshift, adopting the form of the animal after the Spirit 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 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 "Trial of the Lost Spirits 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 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.
- ^ 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... [...]
- ^ 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
- ^ 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
- ^ 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)
- ^ Egil Fireteller
- ^ The Icebrood Saga announcement, Twitch.tv
- ^ Guild Chat - Episode 103