Story Journal/The Icebrood Saga
I received an invitation from Blood Legion Imperator Bangar Ruinbringer for a celebration in honor of Kralkatorrik's demise. Rytlock, Braham, and Gorrik also accepted the invitation to the Blood Legion homelands, and we were delighted when Kas and Jory decided to join as well. Tribune Crecia Stoneglow, Bangar's head of security and clearly an old friend of Rytlock's, escorted us to Bangar's opening ceremony. Rytlock and Crecia's history got a little clearer when an impressive young centurion taking part in the ceremony turned out to be their son, Ryland. The ceremony went awry, however, when Aurene made an unexpected appearance, shocking the charr in attendance and clearly angering Bangar. Crecia asked that we spend some time mingling with the attendees and check in with the other imperators to try and ease any anxieties.
Revels & Rivals
Braham and Ryland seemed to really hit it off and left to roam the celebration together. I heard from them over comms—sometimes deliberately, sometimes not—about how much fun they were having at the All-Legion Rally. Meanwhile I made my own tour and checked in with the other imperators: Ash's Malice Swordshadow, Iron's Smodur the Unflinching, and Flame's Efram Greetsglory. My apologies for Aurene's disruption seemed to go over well, and I got a hint of some of the intrigues among the highest-ranking charr, but by the time I returned to Crecia, there were new problems to deal with. Braham had managed to land himself in the brig for enjoying the festivities a little too much. With Crecia's go-ahead, I went to bail him out.
I got Braham released from the brig, but things quickly went south. We discovered he'd somehow lost his bow. Then Rytlock called in to report disturbing signs of racial tensions and violence among his fellow charr. With Braham heading off to track down his bow, Rytlock and I met with Bangar and Crecia about the undercurrent of racial hostility among some of the charr at the celebration. Violence had already broken out in some quarters, and Rytlock worried that an escalation could endanger the treaty between the charr and the other races. Bangar's reaction quickly got personal—he and Rytlock seem to have some very old, very bad blood between them. Their confrontation came to blows, but in the end Rytlock had the good sense to walk away. When we left Bangar's office, Crecia suggested that Rytlock and I find solid evidence of a threat so she could help argue our case. Before we could begin, however, Kasmeer called in and asked me to meet with her and the Flame "imperator," Efram Greetsglory, right away.
Deeper and Deeper
I learned from Kasmeer and Efram that the Renegades have been quietly trying to recruit young charr into their ranks. On top of the other signs of violence and hate, the idea of the Renegades expanding the reach of their xenophobic extremism was disturbing. With Kasmeer's help to disguise me as Ryland—a reputable charr with the freedom to move around and ask questions—I set out to investigate. The trail led me through the fahrar through the Blood Keep, and then the urgency ramped up. I learned the Renegades had kidnapped Gorrik and were searching his datapad for useful information about Aurene. I was able to get Gorrik to safety, but I made a terrible discovery in the process: Ryland was working with the Renegades, and they were helping Bangar gather forces for a questionable mission.
A Race to Arms
Marjory reported that Bangar, Ryland, and several dozen warbands of armed charr had begun slipping away from the celebration and into the mountains west of the Blood Keep. I met up with Crecia and Rytlock. I saw that Rytlock was obviously worried about Ryland's involvement in whatever Bangar was planning, and the three of us set out after them. When we caught up to Bangar, he was addressing a horde of fervent followers with Ryland beside him and Braham's stolen bow in hand. With grand promises to secure a dominant future for the charr, he described his intention to "even the odds" with the rest of the world by securing an Elder Dragon of his own. Then, blowing a bridge behind them, he led his band of mixed legions and renegades[sic] deeper into the Shiverpeaks. The sudden appearance of a vicious icebrood construct and the strength of an unnatural blizzard prevented us from following. In the aftermath, we tried to absorb Bangar's intentions. It was clear what he was after: Jormag. How to stop him was less clear. At the very least, we'd have to wait out that blizzard...
Almorra reached out with news: the blizzard blocking our way to Bangar has cleared, and she needs our help at Jora's Keep. I'm to meet Rytlock, Crecia, Marjory, and Braham, and together we'll fly to Jora's Keep.
I met with Marjory, and together with Rytlock, Crecia, Braham, and a Vigil relief crew, we're headed north to Jora's Keep in Bjora Marches.
We arrived at the Keep only to find the Vigil slaughtered by the Sons of Svanir—but Almorra and Jhavi are missing. The general and her warmaster could've been captured, so Braham and I will head into the wilds and attempt to pick up their trail.
What's Left Behind
After following Raven's clues through Bjora Marches, Braham and I found Jhavi and her Svanir captors.
The Wind and Nothing More
After searching the area, we found a coded message from Almorra, urging us to meet her at Darkrime Delves.
Following the instructions in the coded message, I went to Darkrime Delves only to discover we were too late. Almorra was already dead.
We entered the Raven Sanctum to defeat the fraenir, but we had to complete Raven's riddle-like trials along the way. We eventually defeated the fraenir, but Jormag reanimated his corpse and used it to attempt to sway us, claiming to be a friend and only wanting to help. The macabre encounter left everyone uncertain.
Still Waters Speaking
I offered to help the kodan of Still Waters Speaking and found plenty in need throughout the valley. Then Braham got in touch. Turns out the Wolf Spirit has a plan of his own: find the three lost Spirits of the Wild and use their power to destroy Drakkar. I'm on my way to meet Braham at the first shrine now.
Lost Spirits Found
Braham traveled to each of the three shrines devoted to the lost Spirits of the Wild, demanding their power and proving his worth to them. We're almost ready to go after Drakkar. Cloudseeker had some ideas, so I'm on my way back to Still Waters Speaking.
The Hunt Begins
Together, we were able to force Drakkar away from the lake and into the mountains to the south. Now that it's trapped and can't feed off the magic in the valley, we need to get Braham close enough to destroy it with the power of the lost Spirits of the Wild.
Voice in the Deep
I regrouped with my allies in the caves to the south. Somewhere deeper inside, Drakkar was waiting for us. We knew this wouldn't be an easy battle, but already I worry about Jormag's influence. The whispers are louder here. Closer than ever.
Despite the continued attempts by Jormag to influence us, we pressed forward through the caves. Crecia was able to use her flame magic to open a path straight to Drakkar.
Jormag's whispers finally took Rytlock and Crecia, but fortunately I was able to incapacitate them before they did any serious harm. They'll be fine, I think. I hope. Drakkar ran out of hiding places, and Braham finally blasted it with the lost Spirits' power, destroying the beast.
Immediately after defeating Drakkar, the true source of the whispers emerged: a piece of Jormag. It nearly broke us, but Bangar appeared at the last possible moment and helped destroy it. I thought there might have been a chance of an alliance...until Bangar shot me with the bow.
I awoke under Aurene's watchful eye, high in the Shiverpeaks. Unfortunately, much has changed since Bangar's betrayal. He's taken credit for Drakkar's death, positioning himself as the only one capable of subjugating Jormag. And now the charr have begun to split apart. War is coming.
To aid in my understanding of the current conflict, Aurene asked me to share in a vision she had seen of the recent past. I focused on the Scrying Pool and found myself reliving a memory of Ryland's warband as they fought to establish a supply line for Bangar's forces.
As I went deeper into the vision, I saw Bangar's movements firsthand through the eyes of Ryland Steelcatcher. Bangar and Ryland attempted to find a shortcut through the Darkrime Delves, but encounter resistance—and Almorra Soulkeeper—along the way.
It was Bangar who had killed General Soulkeeper in a moment's fury. Seeing his plans and ambitions firsthand has reinforced my resolve. Ruinbringer must be stopped.
Rytlock and I took a chopper to the Drizzlewood Coast and we saw firsthand what the war had devolved into. Smodur was executing defectors on the front lines, a brutal punishment. But Smodur isn't one to extend mercy in warfare.
As a Dominion general, Ryland has proven formidable. Defectors are willing to sacrifice their lives just for the chance to join him. I fear that scores of charr will be lost in the conflict. Efram escorted us to a council meeting with Ryland, Smodur, Crecia, and Malice. Negotiations were interrupted by the arrival of Kasmeer and Logan, which drove Ryland from the table.
Tensions were high as the imperators debated how best to win the war. But it the end, Crecia, backed by Efram, suggested a combination approach. Even Smodur conceded to the plan, despite his grumbling.
Shoulder to Shoulder
After the council disbanded, I met up with Snarl Backdraft and Galina Edgecrusher. Two strong personalities to say the least. They showed me firsthand just how desperate things are for our troops on the front line. Retaking territory held by Ryland's Steel warband isn't easy because it's not just the Dominion we're up against. The environment is hostile, morale is low, and there's a chance soldiers just might find one of their warband mates firing at them from the other side of the battlefield. How long can we expect the troops to live under these conditions? Hopefully we won't have to find out. While executing missions for Crecia, Rytlock and I recovered intel on a secret Steel command base somewhere in Breakroot Basin.
I met Rytlock while searching for the location of the secret Steel warband hideout. Rytlock and Crecia discussed Ryland's fate; I hope he'll come around, but I have doubts.
Once we revealed the location of the base, Smodur argued for breaking down the doors. Crecia disagreed. Malice Swordshadow took the lead, and together we infiltrated the base in secret. That is, until Smodur got tired of tiptoeing around and tripped the alarm.
Ryland wasn't even there. Luckily, Cinder Steeltemper was. Smodur was ready to kill Ryland's second-in-command to send a message, but Crecia argued for using her as a bargaining chip. Once again, Crecia's compromise won out, and Cinder was spared, much to Smodur's angry protests.
Distract, Destroy, Distrust
Smodur the Unflinching gave us our next "orders," as well as a good dose of posturing. He tasked us with creating a diversion while Malice Swordshadow got word to Ryland that Cinder had been captured.
After a mission, Smodur gave us a crystal, which we infused with a Flame Core. Later, when Rytlock and I got to a Dominion supply bunker, Smodur urged us to drop it down the vent. As soon as I heard the explosion, I knew it was a mistake—one Rytlock and I will live with forever. Smodur, on the other hand, didn't even flinch at the loss of life. In the wreckage we found an Ash agent with orders to defect. Orders from Malice Swordshadow.
Smodur's war crime drove Efram to the edge. But there wasn't time for our band to collapse into infighting, especially after we finally got Ryland to the table. So I intervened. Ryland's commitment to his mission was steadfast, but so was his loyalty to Cinder. Just when Crecia was making Ryland see reason, about to force another compromise through her sheer force of will, Smodur executed Cinder.
Any chance we had to bring Ryland in was lost along with Cinder's lifeblood. Ryland fled, and we gave chase...directly into Bangar's Frost Legion forces.
Once charr, but not any longer. Now they're proof Bangar's close to waking Jormag. They set upon us with overwhelming firepower. In the end, we were forced back across the river, our spirits even more battered than our bodies.
Malice revealed that her Ash Legion "defectors" were double agents sent to find a way across enemy lines. But for now, all we can do is wait.
Behind Enemy Lines
I received a message from Malice, imperator of the Ash Legion, suggesting that the situation in Drizzlewood Coast has changed. We returned to the war-torn Woodland Cascades to hear what Malice had learned.
Malice and her Ash Legion agents had the usual mix of good and bad news: the ice blocking our way into Bangar's territory to the north was gone, revealing a path through some caves that would grant us passage behind the line.
The bad news was that the ice didn't just disappear on its own: Jormag is getting closer to waking, and with every Dominion charr that Bangar converts into Frost Legion, the closer we get. Jormag is amassing power, and once they have enough, there won't be any way to stop the inevitable.
We've established our camp behind enemy lines and await the arrival of Smodur's heavy artillery. In the meantime, there is a strange norn ruin nearby that Braham wants to investigate. It's right beneath the keep of ice and stone that Jormag calls home, so it could be our way inside...
Wrench in the Works
With the United Legions' camp established, it was time to explore the area and seek out the best way into Jormag's imposing northern keep. Smodur was keen on a direct frontal assault with his artillery paving the path toward victory, but Braham had another idea: investigate the norn ruins directly underneath the keep.
Turns out the ruins were built to honor the Spirits of the Wild, marking their first interactions with the norn race. A large stone door would get us in, if only Braham could find a way to open it.
While Braham investigated ways to open the door, I pitched in to help the United Legions sabotage Bangar's army in the region, destroying a series of communication towers that were helping the Dominion plot artillery strikes against us.
With the towers destroyed and the Dominion weakened, I assumed that the time had come to launch an attack against the northern keep. However, a comm call informed me that Smodur and Braham had come to a disagreement over which strategy we should embrace.
At Crecia and Rytlock's urging, I decided to return to the United Legions camp to see what I could do to help.
A Simple Negotiation
The moment I returned to our hidden camp, I heard Braham and Smodur arguing strategy. Neither plan was a bad one, but they were mutually exclusive. Everyone was in disagreement, and I would need to break the logjam.
I listened to both Braham's and Smodur's plans. Braham was certain he could find a way to convince the Spirits of the Wild to open the stone door by the norn ruins. Smodur, on the other hand, was more than convinced it would be a waste of time and we should put all our resources into a single frontal assault.
But before I could make a decision, a bang echoed through the caverns. Smodur went down. Standing high above us: Ryland Steelcatcher, carrying the rifle that had done the deed.
Portals opened around us, enemies pouring out.
We repelled the attack and drove Ryland's forces back, but he'd accomplished what he wanted: Smodur was dead.
There was little time for mourning, unfortunately: if Ryland knew where our camp was, we had no choice but to move up our timetable.
Efram and Malice stepped up to lead Iron in the assault on the front gate, while Braham resolved to open the door in the ruins. If we could get that door open, we'd have a straight shot right to Bangar. It was as good a plan as any.
Pantheon of the Wild
To open the door in the norn ruins, Braham would need the help of the Spirits of the Wild. Since Wolf, Raven, Snow Leopard, and Bear don't seem to be talking to him right now, he's decided that the other Spirits will need to come together in their stead...including the corrupted Ox, Eagle, and Wolverine.
We've dealt with these three in the Bjora Marches, and I have to say I wasn't looking forward to getting permission to carry their lost totems back to the ruins.
Each of the three corrupted Spirits of the Wild forced me to complete a challenge before allowing me to take their totems, but now I'm ready to return to Braham.
The Spirits of the Wild spoke through Braham, offering one final trial before they would help us enter the door leading into the keep. I had expected trouble from Ox, Eagle, and Wolverine before, but none of us could have anticipated what would come next.
As the power of the Spirits filled their totems, we knew that one would never come: Owl, for the norn had said time and again that she sacrificed herself to save her people when Jormag threatened them. Imagine our surprise when Owl's totem lit up with her power—a power that simply should not have been there.
Braham looked stricken. He realized the truth then: that Owl was not dead, but had instead cut herself off from the Mists and the norn when she was corrupted by Jormag long ago. She returned to this temple, this sacred place where the Spirits and the norn first truly came together, and effectively went into hiding.
Now Braham has brought her back, and thanks to the corruption within her, it is possible that Jormag now has more than enough power to awaken.
Knowing that time was not on our side, we hurried through the door into the keep.
One Charr, One Dragon, One Champion
We didn't make it in time.
And even if we had, there was no way for us to have foreseen what would happen.
The former Blood imperator had used the Svanir to help him capture the totems of Wolf, Bear, Snow Leopard, and Raven, positioning them before Jormag in a kind of twisted ritual. Bangar was planning to corrupt the Spirits of the Wild and use them as a carrot to control Jormag, the same way Jormag used the powers of Ox, Eagle, and Wolverine to control Drakkar in the Bjora Marches.
We managed to stop Bangar, but only for a moment; Ryland made his presence known before long, chastising his imperator for trying to manipulate the Elder Dragon using the norn Spirits. Ryland surrounded each of the four totems with powerful magic, trapping them for Jormag and guaranteeing their corruption if we did not intervene.
With Braham, Rytlock, and Crecia's help, we managed to free all four Great Spirits from their fate, but not in time to prevent Jormag from waking.
We could never have guessed what would happen next: Jormag did not choose Bangar as their champion. Instead, Jormag turned Bangar into their "Voice," leaving him with us as a kind of twisted gift.
Ryland sensed an opportunity, and he took it. Jormag clearly saw something in the young charr, something they appreciated, and turned Ryland into a monstrous creature of ice and frost. Ryland was Jormag's champion.
They escaped almost immediately after, leaving us with Bangar and a thousand questions.
Aurene did not mince words. The situation is bad. Worse than we could possibly know.
She said that when Jormag woke, there was a kind of tremor throughout Tyria. She said it felt like the world was calling out in pain.
Jormag is gone. Ryland, too. And we don't know where they are, or what their plans are.
All we can do is wait. Fortunately—though I use the term loosely—Jormag left us with Bangar, shackled by ice and strange magic, and capable of communicating with us on Jormag's behalf. When the ice dragon wishes to speak with us, it will be through Bangar.
So we've decided to keep the former imperator imprisoned in the Eye of the North under Aurene's watchful eye. Now that Jormag is freely roaming the world, nobody is safe. We must be ever-vigilant, and prepare for the inevitable war we had all hoped to prevent.
Rytlock and I visited Bangar's cell at the Eye of the North. But Ruinbringer wasn't just our prisoner, he was also the ice dragon's. The defeated charr is now the Voice of Jormag. In his prime, Bangar could talk his way out of anything. Now, he's lucky if he gets to speak. Aurene listened to Jormag boast about Ryland, their champion, and of the army he had prepared. And Jormag spoke of the looming threat of their brother, Primordus.
Our enemies are powerful and numerous. All I know is, we can't do this alone. If we're going to solve the Elder Dragon problem, we'll need to learn more about their weaknesses.
Taimi reported from Rata Sum with an update on her research. She'd been monitoring Mist rifts and ley lines in an attempt to track Jormag. While the ice dragon remained elusive, another discovery presented itself. At Taimi and Aurene's urging, I headed to the asura home city. I met Gorrik at the gates. He was arguing over some logistical headache regarding his freight (likely more research equipment—where does he get his funding?). He directed me to the city center to meet with the Arcane Council. To my surprise, Ryland Steelcatcher—Jormag's new champion—had been invited by the council members. He was every bit as arrogant and sure of himself as his master, but we were running out of options, and Primordus was only gaining more power. He—and Jormag—needed asuran expertise to find a way to neutralize Primordus. So an uneasy truce was formed since we had similar goals of stopping the fire dragon.
None of us were happy about the turn of events, and all of us were suspicious of Ryland's motivations. I sent Braham down to the docks to help Gorrik with his shipping issue in hopes of letting him blow off some steam. There's a growing resentment between Braham and Ryland ever since the charr stole the norn's bow. And something tells me it won't be resolved amicably when all is said and done. We met Taimi at the Advanced Metamystics Lab to discuss her findings. There was palpable tension between Rytlock and his estranged son, and neither were interested in hiding it.
Taimi shared a more detailed update on her findings. While trying to track Jormag, she picked up a series of quakes that were growing in number and intensity. The largest movement was detected under Rata Sum itself.
Before we could discuss the data in depth, powerful destroyers emerged just outside the lab. They were stronger than ever, and relentless in their quest to annihilate us. We dispatched them as fast as we could, only to hear Braham's distress call from down at the docks. Taimi reconfigured the gate to take us directly there.
The fighting at the port was fierce, and almost got worse when Ryland and his Frost Legion showed up. But they weren't looking to spar with us—instead they turned their sights on the destroyers. Together, we cleared every last wave that erupted around us. We then headed to assist the Council in their time of need.
After the carnage, Gorrik, Taimi, and the Council set out to study these newly evolved destroyers in the hopes that they could track their subterranean movements. Ryland offered to station some of his Frost Legion in the city for protection, though his offer was declined.
Tidings and Misgivings
Back at the Eye of the North, Aurene continued to verbally spar with Jormag, who insisted that there was no way out of this situation without killing Primordus. The ice dragon also conveyed that they can see and hear everything their champion witnesses. We need to be even more careful what we say around Ryland.
Aurene shared her concern with me. Problems around Tyria were about to get much worse with two raging Elder Dragons competing for magic. With Primordus on the rise, Jormag is doing everything they can to get the upper hand. I urged Aurene to join the fight, but she declined. In her view, having a third Elder Dragon meddling with volatile magic could destabilize everything further. Instead, she vowed to assist us from the Eye. I hope it's enough.
At Taimi's urging, I headed to Metrica Province to fend off the destroyer threat. With Braham's help, we evacuated those we could and did our best to control the devastation. Taimi then enlisted our help to collect dragon research data from deeper in the caves, all in an attempt to arm Ryland and Jormag with information to help them neutralize the fire dragon threat. The whole "uneasy alliance" had me worried. Neither of those two are to be trusted. That my friend would so easily overlook the obvious gave me pause.
Taimi assured me that this was in everyone's best interest. Enemy of my enemy and whatnot. But it was clear that she and Braham were at odds here. Simply put, asura want Primordus dead, and the norn want Jormag gone. I just want to fix this whole mess. I learned that Jormag and Primordus are siblings, which would explain why we need to somehow turn them against each other. But first we'd need to learn more about them to exploit their weakness.
We followed the destroyer energy signature until we confronted its source—a large and ornery critter that didn't take kindly to our pursuit. It was a drawn-out fight, but we eventually defeated it. The feeling of elation was short lived, however, as tensions between Braham and Taimi boiled over. They both admitted their fears of the Elder Dragon threat that jeopardized their homes, their people. Taimi can only hide her emotions inside a lab for so long before she cracks. And Braham is...changing. The weight of prophecy. The death of his mother. The plight of his homeland. It's all aging him.
And now he's able to sense Primordus's minions. Almost like a skilled hunter would. He doesn't quite understand the changes he's going through. I just hope he's able to keep it together. Watchful Source, a sylvari settlement in Brisban Wildlands, was the next destroyer target. I headed there and joined up with Caithe, who helped fend off the attackers and protect the innocents. Ryland made a surprise appearance, extending his hand in aid. There wasn't time to debate my discomfort, so I put my reservations aside and observed his actions throughout the encounter.
Caithe and Ryland conversed along our route, sparring with words. The young charr had learned persuasiveness from Bangar, but with Jormag influencing him he was even more convincing. He compared himself to her, using their closeness to Elder Dragons as a common reference point. The difference is that Aurene lets us be who we are—and inspires us to be more. Jormag just takes what they want and lies to you to surrender it willingly.
They debated their respective Elder Dragons' roles in the balance of magic. Control versus order. Defense versus offense. I could tell he was fishing for information so that his master could use it against their sibling. By the end of the fighting, it was clear that Aurene was choosing to let me—and the rest of Tyria—determine the outcome rather than get directly involved.
Caithe and the Crystal Bloom would certainly use the gifts bestowed on them by Aurene to heal the world's wounds, but Ryland and his Frost Legion would use any advantage they could get to leverage it against Primordus. This little "alliance" of his will only last for as long as it suits him. It wasn't long before we received a call from Marjory. She and Jhavi from the Vigil were fending off increasing numbers of destroyers outside Lion's Arch, and the situation was getting worse by the minute. I agreed to meet them in Gendarran Fields, where we held the line outside the city.
Ascalon Settlement was soon under siege, so we headed there with urgency. The town was overrun with destroyers of all types. With help from some allies, we eventually defeated them all and reclaimed the town. Marjory and Jhavi exchanged heated words—the battle had tested their patience and they fundamentally disagreed about what was more important: concentrating on the mission or saving the needy. Were we ready to let innocents die if it meant ultimately winning the war?
I received information that Ebonhawke was in danger, so I put the word out to my guildmates to see if anyone was available. Kasmeer agreed to muster help. Crecia was already in the area dealing with Renegades, so she offered assistance. This made Kas uneasy due to the long-standing tension between humans and charr, treaty or not. That a newly minted imperator would be marching into the city gates would no doubt exacerbate feelings of distrust.
I feared that things would spiral out of control, but Crecia and her soldiers proved through their actions that they weren't here to capitalize on battlefield confusion. Kas softened her stance, and the two worked out their differences. By the time the conflict was over, hundreds of destroyer husks lay smoldering on the ground. We're still a ways away from winning this war, but every victory counts.
Caithe alerted us to a situation that was brewing at Thunderhead Peaks. Braham offered to pitch in against the destroyers, so we met at the designated location where the battle was already underway. We met up with Myrun Skialkin, a member of Caithe's Crystal Bloom, who was tending to the injured and trying to control the situation as best they could.
Throughout the fight, Braham and Myrun talked about Jormag and Primordus being twins. It seemed far-fetched at first, but the more they discussed, the more it made sense. It still doesn't explain how Braham is potentially involved in all this, how him being prophesized as the key to killing Jormag. What does that mean for Primordus, then?
The battle moved to the Forge, seemingly implying that the intense heat may have attracted Primordus' minions. We don't really know why they picked this spot to emerge. It's true that wherever there is a waypoint, a ley line runs through it. Perhaps the magic concentration was especially strong here? Hard to say.
Before we could overthink it, an especially nasty destroyer emerged on the scene. Its shell was especially tough and seemingly impervious to our attacks. A dwarf suggested using spears against it, similar to the way that Kralkitorrik was bested. Braham seemed unconvinced, but Myrun theorized that I could alter the weapons using Aurene's gift, thus exploiting their weakness.
In the ebb and flow of the fight, we could see Braham's awareness and connection to them growing stronger. It was as if his ability to sense them was also attracting them. He used this to his advantage to swing the fight in our favor, but ended up just as confused as when we started. Seems his path to fulfilling his destiny as the "Norn of Prophecy" is rife with unexpected turns.
I met Taimi back at Rata Sum, where Ryland and members of the Arcane Council were reviewing the latest dragon data. Oddly enough, with each passing conversation it feels like they view me as working on behalf of Primordus, whereas Ryland represents the interests of Jormag. Has everyone forgotten that both dragons need to be dealt with?
They freely share this information with both parties, though it's clear they are really only concerned with Primordus being taken off the table. Jormag has never really bothered asuran interests enough to shift their efforts. At this point, the fire dragon hasn't woken up. The "feedback loop" of magic between the Elder Dragon and its destroyers is creating a vicious cycle, all started with Kralkatorrik's death and the subsequent absorption of its magic. In Gorrik's words, "Destroyers burn more, Primordus gets stronger, destroyers get more rabid. The effect is exponential."
The two Elder Dragons are polar opposites, and right now the power balance favors Primordus from its magical source or possibly reverse it back to its destroyers. We need to starve the fire dragon or perhaps redirect its magic to the ice dragon. How we accomplish this is anybody's guess, but we're getting closer to understanding how all this fits together.
I returned to the Eye to chat with Aurene. We need answers, and Bangar's holding them back. Before I could finish my thought, we received a distress call from Crecia at Doric's Landing. She and Rytlock were assisting Logan when icebrood invaded, throwing the entire area into chaos. I need to help them.
We arrived to a terrifying scene. Icebrood had overrun the area outside Divinity's Reach, turning it into a frozen tundra. Refugees and soldiers were scattered about and needing assistance, so we did our best to round them up and get them to safety while thinning the enemy ranks.
The situation soon became clear: Svanir were rounding people up and encasing them in ice using a ritual. Not killing people outright, but instead "preserving" them for later. Turning them into Frozen—hardy warriors impervious to attacks from the opposite Elder Dragon.
We set about liberating two villages from ice dragon forces before it became crystal clear that Ryland had no interest in any sort of meaningful cease-fire. He just wanted to build Jormag's army and eliminate Primordus, thus creating a new world in Jormag's vision. Ryland would lead on behalf of his Elder Dragon. It seems obvious, and I called it from the very beginning, but I can't believe the Council chose to turn their backs and let something like this happen. I'm disgusted.
Braham contacted us, giving us intel on more ice dragon activity near kodan settlements. We headed there to assist. Kasmeer had beaten us by a few minutes, even going as far as rounding up reinforcements from our growing list of allies.
The kodan sanctuary was under siege by Ryland's Frost Legion. They'd just scored a tenuous victory at Lake Doric, converting innocents into Frozen soldiers. What they were doing there was anybody's guess. All we knew was that it wouldn't be good.
After helping evacuate the locals, we joined the kodan and headed toward Owl's shrine. Braham sensed immense pain from this Spirit of the Wild, and we needed to investigate. The entire area had been ravaged by Frost Legion, and the longer we waited, the more powerful Jormag would become.
At the shrine, Ryland was syphoning the magic from Owl, who had previously hid from Jormag's gaze. Ever since her reawakening at Braham's hand, she was now a target of the Elder Dragon and completely exposed. Rather than succumb to the ice dragon's advances, Owl chose to sacrifice herself to prevent a shifting of the balance. The other Spirits are still at risk of being corrupted, so we'll have to figure out a way to shield them from the dragon's might.
After we dealt with his subordinates, Ryland slinked off the battlefield, claiming that this was a temporary setback. He taunted Braham and the rest of us by telling us to "take the win" because the next time we wouldn't be so lucky.
This barely feels like a win at all. Jormag, with Ryland's help, is gaining the upper hand and building a powerful army. We lost Owl, and now the remaining Spirits are at risk. And Braham is as confused as ever. His connection to both the Spirits and to Primordus's destroyers has him caught between two opposing sides. Perhaps he's the final piece of the puzzle, though. The one to help us clean up this mess.
I returned to the Eye and told Aurene and Taimi of Jormag's atrocities. The Arcane Council's commitment to "helping" with Primordus research had just given the ice dragon the upper hand, and it was costing lives. They had been trapping innocents in ice, preserving them for a future fight against the fire dragon. Aurene reached out to Jormag through their Voice—still caged nearby—in an attempt to stop the fighting.
Aurene's pleas were met with indifference as the ice dragon deflected all blame directly back. "You refuse to help me stop the existential threat my brother poses. What choice, then, do I have but to shift the balance of power by whatever means I can?"
The two Elder Dragons verbally sparred, each trying to convince the other of their position. Aurene was determined to stay out of Jormag's fight with their brother, Primordus. Jormag twisted Aurene's words against her in an attempt to guilt her into tipping the balance in Jormag's favor. It was an exhausting exchange that went nowhere, though I could tell both Aurene and Jormag weren't giving up.
According to the prophecy, Jormag can only be defeated by their sibling. And Aurene was refusing to get involved for fear of creating collateral damage in upsetting the balance between the two. If we're going to take both Elder Dragons off the table, we'd need to find another way.
Afterward, Marjory contracted me with news of an icebrood and Frost Legion attack on Cathal, a sylvari village in Caledon Forest. To my surprise, Canach interrupted our comms with an offer to assist.
I've arrived at the scene and met up with Canach, whom I hadn't spoken with in quite some time. We exchanged some small talk but quickly turned our attention to the situation at hand. Icebrood were harassing the locals, so we set about shoring up defenses and protecting those we could.
To my surprise, a tengu rushed over to seek our help. Frost creatures had turned their attention to the Dominion of Winds, their walled city in the distance (sometimes referred to as the "Aerie"). Canach was suspicious of the request, as the tengu were notoriously isolationist and had never offered to help anyone outside their compound. They verbally sparred throughout our journey toward the city gates, with Canach testing Kalidris's motivations with mild suspicion.
The battle culminated on a bridge outside the Aerie, where we faced a particularly nasty ice creature. It was a fierce battle, but we ultimately prevailed. Afterwards, Kalidris expressed gratitude for the support. She then offered to reciprocate in the future should we need aid. I'm looking forward to learning more about her people.
I traveled to the Eye to consult with Aurene, but before I reached her, Taimi radioed me in a panic. She'd detected a huge spike in fire dragon activity and was very concerned about the implications. Aurene then showed me a vision that alluded to the reason.
Braham had conferred with her previously. His connection to the Spirits of the Wild—and also his sensitivity to the Elder Dragons—had been growing. Owl's final words, "...the Wild together can direct the fall," brought him to an epiphany. He would be the harness to influence the flow of magic to and from the fire dragon.
The whole idea sounded preposterous—and suicidal—but he'd made up his mind, citing the Spirits who could insulate him from becoming fully corrupted as Primordus's champion. With that proclamation, he sought to confront the Elder Dragon in its lair. Aurene offered to let me see it firsthand via the scrying pool.
I witnessed Braham's transformation with my own eyes; he conferred with Raven, Bear, Wolf, and Snow Leopard, who instructed him to make his way into the heart of the volcano. Had he not been protected with their magic, he would have burst into flames instantly. They placed their trust and confidence in the young norn, who was now ready to truly become the Norn of Prophecy as had been foretold. It would take their combined strength to not only keep him shielded from physical harm, but also protect him from the mental assault that only an Elder Dragon could mount against a mortal.
He journeyed downward into the hottest part of the volcano, conferring with the Spirits as he went. At the bottom, he faced a gigantic destroyer that threatened to end his journey then and there. But he prevailed, then turning to the Spirits for final guidance. They shared their intentions with him: Wolf would unite them, Snow Leopard would direct the dragon's hunger toward its sibling, Raven would provide clarity in Primordus's judgement to recognize its true enemy (as Jormag already was), and Bear would provide ferocity and fortitude to protect the Spirits from being consumed by the dragon's rage.
With that, Braham offered himself as the fire dragon's new champion. One of intellect, fortitude, and ferocity. It would take all of his will—and that of the Spirits—to retain even a shred of his self such that he could complete his mission, even if it meant his untimely death.
I don't know if his plan will work, or if my friend is lost forever. If we lose him to the fire dragon—to this war—it can't be in vain.
Crecia contacted me via comms to update me on the war effort. She and Malice had reached out to the Olmakhan to spearhead a longterm alliance. This seemed a bit odd as the Olmakhan voluntarily had secluded their society for generations. Why would they want to get themselves involved in the conflict now?
Turns out that with the Flame Legion having a change of leadership—and heart—they were open to exploring the idea of a united charr. Rox would be sent as their emissary to hear Crecia's plan. I agreed to meet them at Bloodtide Coast to help as a neutral mediator.
Upon arriving at the scene, it was clear that the negotiations would be put on hold. The icebrood were ravaging the coast in their quest for domination. We evacuated whoever we could and fended them off before heading to the lighthouse.
Crecia apologized for the unexpected turn of events. Rox took it in stride, reminding everyone that my presence usually resulted in plans going to hell, so this was actually to be expected. (Thanks, Rox.) It felt like old times, though, and my old friend agreed to rejoin the fight. The cause was greater than any single faction's needs, so we could count on her Olmakhan siblings now and into the future.
We shored up the lighthouse's defenses and fended off waves of icebrood until a nasty one appeared on the frozen bay. We tried to attack it, but it surrounded itself with nearly impenetrable walls of thick ice. We utilized cannon fire to shatter them, and then we turned our sights on the creature itself and its reinforcements.
After our hard-earned victory, Crecia, Malice, Rox, and I spoke briefly before parting ways, as our enemies were still at large.
Flame vs. Frost
Rytlock contacted me while on a diplomatic mission with Efram to save the remaining Flame Legion in Fireheart Rise. Predictably, destroyers burst from the ground and threatened to murder every living thing in their path. Brimstone wasn't sympathetic to the Flame Legion—after battling the twisted faction for so many years, he'd written them off as irredeemable fanatics. Efram and I disagreed. They just needed strong leadership to turn them from their misguided ways and rejoin the rest of charr society.
Rytlock grudgingly agreed to help us fight the destroyer invasion. While he had no love for the Flame Legion, his hate for Primordus was stronger. Besides, who could refuse an opportunity to skewer dragon minions with a flaming sword?
We set about saving souldiers and setting up defenses. Once we controlled the battlefield, we assisted Efram with his recruitment effort.
The fight culminated on the bridge (what is it with dragon minions and bridges?) where the forces of ice and fire collided and threatened to take us down. Out of nowhere, Braham entered the fray. He had been transformed into a dragon champion of Primordus, single-minded in his mission to destroy anything remotely related to Jormag. We had to get creative with to create an opening to attack our icy enemy, while also being careful not to harm Braham in the process.
We emerged victorious, though just barely. Braham escaped with his life. I had no doubt that we'd face him again on the battlefield, and I feared that eventuality. Would he remember us? Would he try to kill us? Would he fall to Primordus in the process? Every outcome seemed dire.
Afterward we conferred with Efram, who told us of his unification plans. I don't know if he'll be able to convince the more radical Flame Legion members. Old habits die hard, and there may be no saving them. But if he could turn most of them to his side, the future of the charr looked promising.
Aurene called me to the Eye. She had visitors, and I knew this was important.
I walked in to find members of the Arcane Council bickering over the current situation, trying to deflect the blame for their Elder Dragon research resulting in Jormag getting the upper hand. They framed it as all in service of protecting themselves from the fire dragon threat, but anyone who was paying attention knew that their plan would cause collateral damage. Both Ryland and Braham had been wreaking havoc around Tyria. The loss of life was incalculable.
Regardless, we needed to end the current conflict as quickly as possible. Since the two Elder Dragons, Jormag and Primordus, are siblings (two faces of the same coin, some have said) we need them to focus their might against each other. Neither would naturally face the other in combat, so we'd have to lure them to the same spot and force them to fight somehow.
Ley lines course throughout Tyria like veins and arteries. Elder Dragons feed off ley-line magic, so the key would be to find a nexus where ley lines intersect and lure them to that spot. Then we'd use their champions—Ryland and Braham—to redirect the flow of magic away from the dragons and somehow use it against them, using prismaticite to change it. We cut the dragons off from their magic "food" supply, and they'd be forced to clash with each other for sustenance. This plan was crazy enough that it might work, but we had little time to ponder it before heading to the battlefield.
After the dust settled, it was clear that the dragons were gone. They'd collided in a huge spectacle of light and magic, leveling anything in range. We set out to find Braham, expecting to find his corpse but instead finding him very much alive underneath a pile of rubble. He was hurt—badly—but still breathing. I was ready to extract him to safety when Rytlock found Ryland at the far end of the valley. I made sure Braham was safe and then headed over to the commotion.
Ryland, angry from his loss and realizing that his ascent to greatness had ended in a fiery crash, had some harsh words for his parents. He refused to concede, and he let out all his pent-up anger with venomous rage. We tried to get him to surrender. When that didn't work, we tried to beat him into submission. We wanted to save what little was left of him, but he couldn't be saved. He lunged at Crecia, knife in hand, ready to end her life. Rytlock sprang into action, plunging Sohothin deep into his son's chest. He died almost instantly.
His father laid him on the hard ground, muttering to his son that it was over. My heart ached for them, but no other outcome was possible.
The rest of us let them grieve. Primordus and Jormag were both gone, and at least for now the magical imbalance was stabilizing. We'd figured that Aurene had absorbed their magic, but we were wrong. The shock wave radiated outward, coursing through ley lines and permeating the air. But it didn't strike the Eye or the prismatic dragon. It went elsewhere, but to where?