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Guild Wars 2: End of the Beginning

By Robin Baird on June 01, 2019 | Columns | Comments

Guild Wars 2: End of the Beginning

Quick disclaimer, this is all about the story and lore of Guild Wars 2 starting with the books before the game came up. So, if you are not up on the story, both past and present, there will be spoilers.

The final episode of Living Story season 5 has come and gone, and at this point, it’s worth looking back at where we are and how everything has unfolded. But, as the trailer pointed out, this episode is just the end of the beginning in the story ArenaNet has been telling in Guild Wars 2 for ten years. Yep, I know GW2 has only been out since 2012, and we are just a few months shy of it being seven years since then. However, the first tendrils of the GW2 story came with the release of Ghosts of Ascalon in 2009 and then continued in earnest with Edge of Destiny in 2010. There’s also some threads and questions which have only gotten the answers to recently, while others we sort of have an answer to? Let’s take a closer look at the long winding story of GW2 so far.

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Taking place just one year before the start of the game, the primary purpose of Ghosts of Ascalon was to explain how there was peace between humans and the Charr. In the original Guild Wars game, everything was from the Human perspective, and the Charr were often portrayed as if they were mindless monsters. However, in Guild Wars 2, one of the central and reoccurring themes has been the importance of the various races to work together to save the world. Although there are mentions of members of Destiny’s Edge, the focus of Ghosts of Ascalon was to explain how the Charr and Humans laid down their spears. Otherwise going directly from GW to GW2 would have been incredibly jarring.

Having already established Destiny’s Edge as a renowned group which existed, Edge of Destiny was able to pick up the reigns and make some significant revelations. One of the major revelations of Edge of Destiny, aside from revealing Queen Jenna is terrible because she put a compulsion on Logan and it’s her fault Snaff and Glint died, was the fact not only could Elder Dragon Champions be killed but also the Elder Dragons themselves might be killable as well. Until Destiny’s Edge killed the Dragonspawn no one, as far as the world at large knew, had killed a dragon champion before. In a way, this knowledge changed everything for Tyria.

Of course, the failure of Destiny’s Edge when it came to Kralkatorrik not only severely fractured the group, but it also played into people’s feelings of helplessness when it came to fighting the Elder Dragons. This despair, not only from Destiny’s Edge but the rest of the world, is what the (eventual) Commander found themselves against when Guild Wars 2 launched in 2012. The Personal Story might have started small and focused on whatever race the player had chosen, but by the end, we were rallying an army to take on Zhaitan. Along the way, we also reconciled what was left of Destiny’s Edge.

Zhaitan became our main focus after his champion made a surprise attack on Claw Island and established himself as the most urgent threat. From that point forward, the Personal Story takes on a much broader scope than it had previously. Until the attack on Claw Island, we had been concerned with issues of our own races, and then had expanded a bit more to the problems facing each of the Orders. The attack on Claw island made it very clear what we were facing was a threat to everyone, and only by banding together could we hope to defeat it. It took some time to get everyone willing to fight together, but we managed it and killed Zhaitan.

This first enormous victory was also a big step into trouble. At this point, we didn’t know when an Elder Dragon dies it releases its magic/energy back into the world. For us, it was more about “hey, we killed this thing which has been plaguing everyone for so long.” There was even a huge party afterward. The relief didn’t last long. The other dragons seemed to have gained strength somehow, and even though at this point we didn’t know about the ley lines and how they carried magic in a web around Tyria, we knew something was going on. That knowledge would come later, after dealing with Scarlet.

She came at us from the side initially. There were hints something was going wrong, but it was a while before we even had a face or a name to put with the strange things which had been happening. We encountered the Molten Alliance, then the Toxic Alliance, and finally, the Aetherblades, but most of our thoughts were, “why would any of these people ever work together?!” After Scarlet revealed herself at the Queen’s Jubilee, we finally knew who was being the scenes pulling strings. Though, even at that point, she seemed fairly unhinged.

The short story “What Scarlet Saw” was our first real hint about what was going on with her. While in Omadd’s Machine, the Pale Tree said to her, “Please: go no further. In seeking to comprehend the forces that shape us, you will unleash them. Society cannot withstand that.” Then after emerging Scarlet also said, “An insurmountable challenge is rising, and my people have been called to meet. We are compelled by our creator to do so. But I reject that call.” The Pale Tree wanted her to stop, and when she pushed on, she felt the call of her Creator… at that time all we knew about the origins of the Sylvari was the seed was stolen from some dark and foreboding place. This was the big question, who or what created the Sylvari?

It’s also interesting to consider she wasn’t completely crazy at this point. She was still thinking clearly, and she wasn’t being controlled by Morderemoth because she rejected his call. Her initial plan was apparently to pit him against everyone else. However, we also know from reading her journals, during Season 2, sometime after emerging from the machine she started dreaming about him, and his call was driving her insane. She may have resisted him at first, but he did get to her and as season 1 progressed she seemed to be more and more insane. Though her plan appears to have been to wake him up and pit us against him. So, mission accomplished, I guess.

One thing I’m still curious about though is on the spinal blade blueprint there’s an inscription of “Caithe, one day you’ll see Tyria needed me.” I’m still not sure what she meant by this. Assuming she wrote this sometime after going into the machine because she doesn’t seem to have had plans of changing the world until after that event, I think it would have been before she entirely lost her mind. So there had to be some at least partially coherent meaning behind it. It’s also interesting she directs this at Caithe who was charged with protecting Aurene’s egg.

One theory I have is if Scarlet hadn’t awoken Mordremoth when she did, maybe he would have just stayed there gathering extra power until he was too strong to do anything about because we weren’t at all aware of his existence. Aurene may never have been hatched either. Who knows if we would have ever figured out the Elder Dragons needed to be replaced not killed? But is any of this what Scarlet intended? There’s just no way to know for sure, but I like to think she wasn’t totally evil… at least at first.

This is only the first glance at Scarlet though, everything she did reverberated across Tyria and even into the realms of the gods. So next time I’ll pick back up there and look more deeply at how everything progressed from this point forward.

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