Lore behind the raid: Forsaken Thicket, Spirit Vale

Raid_Lore

One of the things that came after the release of Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns, was new hardcore content, in the form of raids. Forsaken Thicket is the first raid and last week I finally got a chance to take a good look at the first raid wing, Spirit Vale, and I have to say I like the direction the story seems to go to. At first glance it doesn’t look like there is a lot of lore inserted in this raid, it actually seems pretty flat story wise. We are searching for this lost group of Pact Scouts, when we find out they were taken north by some Bandits. On our journey there we have to fight two big bosses, hear these strange voices, see this river of souls and in the end we fight the final Bandit boss and rescue the remaining scouts, but still need to get find the squad leader in the next raid wing. Simple story, right?

Maybe not.

There is actually a lot of information hidden, even information that at first seems to be something totally different than it turns out to be. I will first go through the things found in this raid wing, before I reach out and show how things are connected.

My first impression, when looking around, was that the structures I saw resembled human structures, those massive weathered walls could easily be found somewhere near Divinity’s Reach or Ascalon even. It’s pretty strange to find those here, because we’re not exactly close to Kryta, we are in Maguuma.

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Some nice evidence is found in the cemetery, evidence that, without any doubt, shows that these structures are indeed human constructs. So what is the evidence that makes it absolutely clear to me that it’s human? If you look at those three statues of Angels, you might recognize these. The three of them can also be found in Shaemoor Cemetery. The two guardians at the entry and the lady with the bowl are exactly the same as the ones in Queensdale. Not that this makes any sense, because having a human city around here is strange, having the exact same statues is even weirder.

Another strange thing about this cemetery are the dates written on the tombstones themselves. There are two years of death we can find, 1328 AE and 1079 AE, and both of them actually are rather special. First of all, 1328 AE is the year the events from Heart of Thorns started, so these are present day graves. This year absolutely makes no sense to find in an ancient graveyard, but I’m even more stunned by the other date mentioned, 1079 AE, I will explain soonish why.

Something any decent cemetery has is it’s own private ghost, but I don’t think that the cemetery is related to these spirits. In the raid dialogue we hear some interesting things about the spirits.

Mysterious voice: Who released us?

Enraged Spirit: You. You did this to us!

<Character Name>: You’re confused. We did nothing to you. Let us through!

Mysterious Voice: Who’s there? Answer me!

<Character Name>: There spirits weren’t soldiers. They were ordinary people.

<Character Name>: These people died horribly. They’re confused. Angry

<Character Name>: Did Sabetha murder these villagers and bind their spirits here?

Mysterious Voice: Kept us from our homes. Our families. Trapped us here! And now… this!

<Character Name>: These spirits are old. These people died a long time ago – well before the war.

These spirits are not nice spirits for sure. Most of the ghosts we see in game are actually not that aggressive. They are usually stuck in time, restless, in need of help. The only real exception are the Foefire ghosts, they do behave that aggressive as well. But these ones are really dangerous for sure. The player character mentions it: “They’re confused. Angry.” as wel as “These spirits are old. These people died a long time ago – well before the war.”, “Did Sabetha murder these villagers and bind their spirits here?”

Old spirits, from well before the war, released all of a sudden, angry, kept away from their homes and families, trapped. This brings up so many questions for sure. And how about that river of Souls? What is it doing here?

How about the Bandits? We do see plenty of bandits in game but why are they here? One thing these Bandits did right was dropping some notes we have to gather for the achievement Piecing it Together and these notes give away a lot of information if you read them right.

Journal Entry

There is so much information hidden behind these lines, it’s just amazing. When we finally beat Mordremoth it’s ley-line energy did not just touch the egg in Tarir, but it also went here and managed to somehow wake up these ghosts. But why? How?

I think it’s wise to start focusing a bit more on this note “a few more came over from Fort Vandal. We’ll put them to work.”

Fort Vandal? Really? It has been one of my favorite Guild Wars 2 theories for sure, the White Mantle in GW2. The White Mantle were our enemies during the events of Guild Wars Prophecies, they worshipped the Mursaat, sacrificed humans on the Maguuma Bloodstone, and ruled Kryta, really bad enemies for sure. After the end of the Krytin Civil War they were defeated and the remaining White Mantle either fled to the Maguuma Jungle or joined the newly formed Seraph.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the White Mantle still exist in Tyria, and they´re not just rumours. If you choose the Human “Unknown Parents” background you would found out that that particular part of the Personal Story is all about the White Mantle. There is this White Mantle cell in the Bear Lodge in Queensdale and in the end you find out that your own parents were murdered by the White Mantle. They are around for sure.

In Fort Vandal there is something interesting going on. If you talk to Gate Supervisor Karrog Duelfang in the Silverwastes you learn some pretty nice information. The bandits fled from Fort Vandal, they didn’t stay to fight. When you ask him who they were it becomes absolutely interesting.

“They call themselves the Sinister Triad, but I think that’s a cover. The things they left behind – journals, old weapons, tattered white robes – don’t sit right. For an alliance of crooks they operate to smoothly.”

That was what I thought as well. Those notes he mentions frequently talk about an headquarter, but why would thugs actually need an headquarter? It’s not what I would think thugs would do. And look at that mentioning of those tattered white robes, the White Mantle wore white robes. What also makes less sense to me is the fact that the bandits fled towards the Silverwastes. They are supposed to be enemies in Kryta and the fact that they were so common in Brisbane Wildlands is something I have wondered about a lot. Could it be that Fort Vandal was some sort of transit fort between the White Mantle in Kryta and a place behind that massive door in Fort Vandal (the one behind the portal to the Silverwastes)?

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Now it actually starts to piece together. Remember that date on that tombstone? 1079 AE? That’s the year the Krytan civil war ended. The war between the Shining Blade and the White Mantle. So these structures we see have something to do with that war.

Remember what the player character says about these spirits? That they were from well before the war? Makes sense that war being the same civil war.

There is one thing in the Maguuma Jungle that was of a massive importance during the events of Guild Wars 1, and that was the Maguuma Bloodstone.

Let’s take another look at some of the lines from the journal entries.

The pylons have been imbued with energy ever since the windstorm. I have my theories. It came from the south and radiated north. That can only mean one thing.

Dumped more bodies in the woods, but ever since the “event” it’s getting more dangerous out here. I vote we burn them.

I can hear them at night. They sometimes talk like everything is normal. Then they start acting crazy-confused.

Got word from the south. Mordremoth is dead. That might explain the shock wave we felt and the ensuing windstorm that riled everything up with magic.

According to these lines the bandits/White Mantle were already here before the spirits appeared, but when did they come here? During the reign of the White Mantle over Kryta this could have been their headquearter, the place they used to hold the Chosen they wanted to sacrifice on the bloodstone captured. It would make sense for them to have a fortress somewhere around the bloodstone for sure.

Those gravestones in the cemetery tell a tale of their own. We only find two dates there, 1079 AE and 1328 AE, almost 250 years between them. If these structures were still used by the White Mantle then there surely would have been at least some gravestones with dates between these. So it would make sense that the White Mantle abandoned their headquarters after they were defeated. They never stopped being around though, they were still hiding somewhere, but I don’t think it was here. Like I said, there would have been a lot more gravestones found in that cemetery if they had been staying here. But something triggered them to go back to their old headquarters. What was it?

It had nothing to do with these ghosts, they appeared just a while ago, you can read it in these notes.

Another thing we read in these journal entries is that when we defeated Mordremoth and it’s energy passed through the leylines, touching the egg in Tarir, it also went into this direction. These spirits appearing after this event can mean just one thing I think. That energy reacted with the Maguuma bloodstone, releasing the spirits trapped inside.

The spirits say it in in the raid dialogue as well: “Who released us?” “Kept us from our homes. Our families. Trapped us here! And now…. this!” They were trapped in the Bloodstone and now all of a sudden released.

The next line will make a lot of sense if my theory is true. If those spirits knew that the ones responsible for their suffering, the White Mantle, were living so close to them, they surely would have focused on slaughtering them.

They attack anything that walks through those woods. Good thing they don’t remember the truth, otherwise our little tree fort would be a pile of sticks by now.

But what triggered them to go back? This is going to be over speculation for sure. What I’m focusing on right now are these lines from the journal:

Ever since that windstorm riled up the ghosts, we can’t patrol the jungle floor. It’s infested with those damn things. Got a hunch they came from inside the compound. I know what they did.

One of the others told me about the incident in town. He can’t control it. If they’re not careful, this little experiment of theirs will back fire.

These few lines point out there is something going on not to far from here. Look at “inside the compound”, that surely sounds like there is something not far from here that is dangerous. The other one “He can’t control it.” sounds like there is someone special around, someone that can do things other people can’t.

So what if the White Mantle were triggered to go back to the Bloodstone, maybe with the help of special people (Mursaat, Isgarren?) because of the rise of the Dragons?

I’m looking forward to the lore behind the next raid wing for sure, can’t wait to see if some of my questions get answered in there :).

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Extra Info 1: What would it imply if these bandits really are the White Mantle? Actually a lot. If you look at the politics of Kryta you will notice that there is a lot of unrest in and around Divinity’s Reach. The people are divided between Queen Jenna and Minister Caudecus. And the White Mantle are clearly on Caudecus side, doing everything they can to put the Queen in a bad spot reputation wise. It makes sense, if Caudecus actually is a White Mantle himself (and keep in mind that Minister Julius Zamon was a member of a group of bandits) this could all be set up to throw Queen Jenna off her throne and have the White Mantle rule Kryta once again.

Extra Info 2: Another thing that really deserves some attention is the fact that the bandits have formed an alliance with the Nightmare Court and the Inquest, that Sinister Triad. It shows at fort Vandal, inside that bandit fort was a broken Inquest asura gate. This is going to be interesting for sure. The White Mantle and the Inquest and the Nightmare Court in an alliance, three of the five playable races. Now we only need some Norn and Charr enemies that jump to help the White Mantle. The Flame Legion is a logical choice, they have every reason to hate Queen Jenna. As for the Norn enemies it’s less clear, the Norn racial enemies are the Sons of Svanir, but they are so much related and devoted to Jormag that I find it dificult to place them in there. If we find another asura gate in one of the next raid wings, we can be sure that both the Inquest as well as the Nightmare Court are involved as well.

Extra Info 3: What’s up with that cemetery? Why does it resemble the one in Shaemoor so much? This is to me really a mystery. I haven’t found these statues at any burial site, not in Divinity’s Reach, Ebonhawke and some other places I know have cemetery’s, but maybe I missed something here. What is intriguing, is the question if the Spirit Vale cemetery is based upon the Queensdale one or the other way around. Because if the Shaemoor cemetery is based upon the Spirit Vale cemetery it would imply that it was designed by the White Mantle. That the White Mantle had their Krytan headquarter in Shaemoor. We know there is this bandit hideout not far from there and bandits roam all around, so it could be, right?

Fun Fact 1: With Guild Wars Beyond, War in Kryta, a new set of weapons appeared in the game, the Opressor weapons. These Golden Weapons with a large red gem, are remarkably similar to some of the new weapon that appeared with HoT, the Golden Fractal weapons.

Fun Fact 2: That river of souls instantly reminded me off the river Styx. In Greek mythology, the river Styx is known as the river that souls had to pass to go the underworld. According to mythology deities were bound by the Styx and swore oaths upon Styx, the reason behind it was that the godess Styxx sided with Zeus during the Titan War. Titans? The creatures that were supposed to be kept away by sacrificing the Chosen on the Maguuma bloodstone? Interesting.

4 thoughts on “Lore behind the raid: Forsaken Thicket, Spirit Vale

  1. According to map overlays people have done between GW1 and GW2, Bloodstone Fen sits just above Verdant Brink, with the Bloodstone itself being close enough that I’d actually be more surprised if it doesn’t show up in one of the wings.

    It’s entirely possible that the White Mantle did have a base nearby that we couldn’t access in GW1. The lie the White Mantle told the Chosen was that they had an academy hidden in the jungle – that lie might be more believable if they did actually have a base nearby, and such a base would also be useful to, at the very least, act as a collection point before the final step of the journey. A graveyard seems a bit weird at first glance, since you’d expect the White Mantle to only bother giving proper burials to their own dead – but it’s possible that’s exactly what happened, and then the ghosts of the Chosen were drawn to the graveyard due to, well, the tendency of ghosts and other undead to gather in places of death.

    It’s worth noting, too, that humans do have a track record of setting up tombs and graveyards well outside their normal borders. Majesty’s Rest and the Tomb of the Primeval Kings were a long way away from Kryta and Elona respectively. Given the tendency in GW1 for graveyards and tombs and crypts to be infested by undead, this was probably intended to protect the living.

    Regarding some of the individual observations:

    We can visit Shaemoor in GW1, and I don’t recall there being statues there. However, I wouldn’t draw any conclusions about them being exactly identical: angels are a common motif in the religion of the Six, and ArenaNet does tend to reuse resources when in reality you’d expect there to be differences on the common theme. This possibly does suggest that the angels weren’t originally put there by the White Mantle – however, there are a lot of sites associated with the Six in the Maguuma (the Temple of Balthazar in what is now Auric Basin, for instance). Alternatively, the White Mantle might have continued to use the angelic motif as a way of implying, to those not in the know, that this is what the mursaat actually look like (only the most ‘worthy’ White Mantle were allowed to see the mursaat and live).

    Regarding rivers of souls – there is precedent for such things in Guild Wars 1: a river of souls also forms in the Domain of Pain in the Realm of Torment. Which is also where the Titans were created, formed from forcing together tormented souls if I recall correctly – there’s a theory floating around that Gorseval is actually the result of a similar process. (Titans would first form as an amalgamation of souls, and then create a physical body from whatever was available in the surrounding environment.)

    1. Thanks for your reply, and I have to agree with you, if the Bloodstone isn’t in some way related to this raid I would be surprised, too much pointing in that direction.

      There is just something weird about that cemetery, specifically the dates and those statues. You are right about the reuse of textures by ArenaNet (the other textures can be found in both Ebonhawke and Divinity’s Reach for sure), but the positioning and the fact that I haven’t seen any statues like that related to any cemetery besides the one in Shaemoor just triggers my interest.

      As for the River of Souls (thanks for pointing that out) it really could turn out to be a direction the game is going in to. The bloodstone is not just related to the White Mantle, although it’s the most obvious one, but it is also tied to the Domain of Anguish, the Titan especially, because it was used to prevent the Door of Komalie to open (yes, some good intentions the Mursaat had).

      If you look at the Flameseeker Prophecies, especially Glint’s last vision, it does say that the world is not safe from the Titans yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if Glint did not just foresee the rise of the Elder Dragons, but also the shift in the way the magic flows in Tyria, and through that the threat the Titans will remain. It also will lead to an even larger reason for the Flame Legion to join the Sinister Triad, with the help of their (former) gods they could rule the Charr once more and the world.

      But this is just real over-speculation for sure and I think we don’t have enough in-game proof to expect that this will happen. I, myself, think it would be an amazing way the Living Story would develop and I won’t be surprised if it did for sure, but we can only wait to see where the LS will bring us.

      Fearan

  2. Welcome Aboard Fearan !!!
    Excellent article and some interesting speculations there.
    As a Greek guy I shall give some extra bonus points for the River Styx trivia. Keep it up :)

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