Northerner Lore: Exploring the Heart of Thorns

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The secrets of the Maguuma Jungle awaits as we seek the mystery of the Heart of Thorns. Our preamble is the offensive on Mordremoth, the newly awakened Elder Jungle Dragon, and our group of heroes are standing in the wreckage of the Pact fleet that was demolished by Mordremoth’s vines and the corrupted Sylvari. Trahearne and Destiny’s Edge have gone down with the Glory of Tyria, the flagship of the Pact Fleet. The Maguuma jungle looms in front of us, dark and frightening and thick with Mordremoth’s corruption, or is it teeming with life and mysteries of ancient civilizations? To prepare for this expansion, I went back to the original Guild Wars game and dug into various lore archives to explore the region in its various representations, to get a feel what we might encounter and to learn more about the region and its surrounding lore.

The Location

The first time Guild Wars players explored the Maguuma region was in the first campaign Guild Wars: Prophecies. Maguuma is located farthest west on the main continent of Tyria, a great canyon of several layers encompassing a thriving jungle deep down in its depths, and as you gradually reached the surface, particularly in areas towards the north, the environment was devoid of life and consisted more of open and arid desert regions. To current Guild Wars 2 players these arid desert areas were very familiar to what we have lately seen in Guild Wars 2 with both Dry Top and The Silverwastes. These areas were generally referred to as the Maguuma Wastes. One interesting detail was the early theory for this region drying up attributed to the influence of Primordius in the vicinity. Back then, it was the only Elder Dragon we were aware of with its champion, The Great Destroyer, at the heart of the story told in Eye of the North. However now we know that Mordremoth resides in the Maguuma Jungle, what about the old theory? Is it still Primordius’ presence that has caused the highest tiers of the Maguuma Jungle to dry out while Mordremoth retained control of its depths? Or does Primordius predate Mordremoth so the Maguuma Wastes dried out due to its presence before Mordremoth came into existence, or due to the size of the area, Mordremoth controlled the depths of Maguuma while the surface towards the north was tainted by Primordius’ corruption? The Six Gods of Tyria came into existence at different times, could the Elder Dragons follow the same pattern in order of appearance?

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The final campaign, Eye of the North, also brought with it another area of the Maguuma Jungle; the Tarnished Coast. Again we encountered thick and lush green jungles which traced the southern coastline of Tyria bordering the Unending Ocean. This area had a dangerous population of Krait and Simian – a shamanistic humanoid-like race of beasts, and of course otherwise the rich fauna of dinosaur creatures, riders and insects and plants. Add to that the Destroyer minions of Primordius and you had the worst possible conditions and lethal region where the exiled Asura might choose to surface, driven above ground by Primordius. However, despite their unwelcoming new habitat and tiny size, the Asura made up for it with their ingenuity and technological prowess and came to gain foothold and dominance over the Tarnished Coast region. So the Maguuma Jungle is a vast area, not all of it jungle biotope in the typical sense of the word but comprising many environments and a vast flora and fauna. Guild Wars 2 even stretches the Maguuma Explorer achievements to the Steamspur Mountains with the coastal zone of Sparkfly Fen and Mount Maelstrom, but it’s doubtful Heart of Thorns will return to these areas. Those may possibly remain candidates for areas affected with an eventual rise of Primordius.

The Creatures

Thus as we seek to enter the Heart of Maguuma, we will naturally face Mordremoth’s minions, the Mordrem. But they are not the sole occupants of the jungle , the Maguuma also being home to a plethora of other creatures ranging from civilized Hylek and Centaur tribes to more primitive and unfriendly clans of trolls and ettins, riders, reptiles and a variety of insects and plants, as one would expect.

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If we are to look back in time, a mysterious tribe of human (or human-like) people known as the Druids used to live in the Maguuma. Though no longer alive, we will surely see remains of their ancient civilization, as we have already encountered ruins with inscriptions in Old Krytan, a language known only by humans. This group of formerly Krytans sometime long ago chose to abandon their ways of life and move to the Maguuma Jungle in order to live with nature. This possibly explains how the Ranger profession is about to discover the lost specialization of the Druid, and if the stories of old are true, maybe some of its powers will be related to Melandru – seeing as the human Goddess of nature, earth and growth allegedly was revered by the druids of old. The druids however, are no longer with us in the Maguuma, their disappearance to date is still a mystery untold, but 250 years ago they could be encountered in spirit form, appearing as a ghostly oakhearts to players venturing into the Maguuma. Whether this was simply an avatar form or the Druids themselves having finally attained unity with nature and shedding their physical boundaries to live on forever; this possibly opens for the Druids making a reappearance in Heart of Thorns so we can learn more about their past and their fate.

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Rewinding a bit, the Maguuma will also feature Hyleks; and while the preamble to Heart of Thorns has seen us revisiting the legacy of Ventari’s tribe of peacefully, secluded former Harathi Centaurs and their ultimately tragic demise (ed. damn you, Faolain!), we don’t know yet if the Centaur will still feature once we leave Dry Top behind. The Hylek will however be present with new brethren to their existing counterparts in the core game. The Itzel and the Nuhoch – lean and lanky tree-frogs and huge and heavy bullfrogs respectively – live in their tree villages high up in the biome of the jungle, living in reverence of Ameyalli – the nature Goddess that provides for a rich and rewarding life – but also under adverse conditions, both among the Hylek tribes, but also in fear of the ever encroaching Mordrem armies.

EvilSylvariSpeaking of which; aside from the corrupted forest creatures making up a large part of Mordremoth’s forces, we know that many Sylvari were corrupted as they fell under Mordremoth’s control during the Pact assault. This new Mordrem Court distinguishes itself from the Nightmare Court in an important aspect that the Nightmare Court still seem to be freely thinking individuals choosing to shun the Pale Tree’s protection, while the Mordrem Court so far have been portrayed as wildly aggressive and minion-like as if all controlled by Mordremoth. It will be interesting to see if ArenaNet go back to Kekai Kotaki’s amazing concept art of evil sylvari as inspiration for the Mordrem Court.

The Lore

In terms of important Guild Wars events and lore, Maguuma is also home to one of the five Bloodstones. Enthusiasts will remember that the Gods of Tyria contained all magic in the world in a massive stone – the original Bloodstone – and sealed it with the blood of King Doric. Then the stone was broken into five shards – the Bloodstones – and thrown into the volcano, Abaddon’s Mouth, in the Ring of Fire islands. In a later eruption, four pieces were spread across Tyria while one remained near the caldera of the volcano. The Bloodstone that landed in the Maguuma was later found in Bloodstone Fen; and 250 years ago it was the sacrificial site where the White Mantle, at the behest of their new Mursaat gods, would take the Chosen in order to power the soul batteries that would keep the Door of Komalie shut and the Titans from entering the world to prevent their own prophecied demise.
Mursaat

Lazarus the Dire was the last of the Mursaat kind known to eventually escape after the Battle of Lion’s Arch, and now as we are returning to the Maguuma Jungle, we have been teased with tidbits and screenshots of the Exalted; mystic beings and possibly the legacy of Lazarus and the Mursaat? The trailer for Heart of Thorns teases us with the tagline to ‘seek new allies’; but we know the background of the Mursaat was shady in their dealings with the other ancient races of Tyria, and again misleading the White Mantle to pursue their own agenda and prevent their own destruction. A lot of good that did them… but can they be trusted in upcoming struggle against a much greater, magical force as Mordremoth?

The Bloodstone shards also exuded magical power that caused environmental effects on its surroundings, and its influence on the Maguuma will be interesting as we explore the region, for instance standing in the jungle waters back in Guild Wars had a regenerative effect on health. Leading back to the question on why parts of the Maguuma are devoid of life, while the depths have been preserved, could the Bloodstone’s magic be concentrating life into a smaller area leaving the fringes as dead areas?
Another magical force to be reckoned with are the ley lines deep below the surface of Tyria. Scarlet’s Breachmaker honed in on an intersection deep below Lion’s Arch which sent a powerful surge across the ley lines that ultimately contributed to Mordremoth’s awakening. It is quite possible we will learn more of their role and the nature of the Elder Dragons as we go up against Mordremoth in its own domain.

And what then of the great question affecting the players directly; the origin of the Sylvari and learning of their heritage as belonging to the Elder Dragon. We know that Ronan and Ventari are central to the story of the existence of the Pale Tree and the Sylvari race; but it all began with Ronan – a Shining Blade soldier – being separated from his patrol and stumbling across a guarded cave with mysterious seeds. Ronan made it out with a single seed to show his family, but upon returning to his village east on the Tarnished Coast, he found only ruins and his family killed by the Mursaat. Vowing to never fight again, he put down his weapons and planted the seed by his family’s grave. The tree that grew from the seed became the Pale Tree and thus grew The Grove which later became home to the Sylvari. The whereabouts of this mysterious cave are unknown, but there was more than one seed and Sylvari players encounter Malyck in their personal story; a Sylvari not born of the Pale Tree but alluding to the existence of another tree. It’s likely to expect we will see mysteries unfold concerning the entire story of the Sylvari with the upcoming expansion in the Maguuma Jungle.

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Hopefully by now you will see that the Heart of Thorns holds a lot of mysteries and there is a lot of interesting stories to dig deeper in as we continue our fight against the Elder Dragon Mordremoth. ArenaNet have hopefully grabbed the opportunity to embellish the main story with lots of side stories and adventures to uncover other secrets of the jungle and create a rich and rewarding experience for us players. If nothing else, I hope you liked my modest overview of the Maguuma Jungle and that it will give you a little background on where we are going next. Let me know if you have some rival theories or just whatever is on your mind in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Northerner Lore: Exploring the Heart of Thorns

  1. You kinda stole my spotlight, a little. I’d already half-finished writing a post about the Maguuma Jungle lore when yours came out! I’ve yet to decide if I’m going to finish mine now, after all… No worries, I still have stories to tell 😉

    Your article is amazing, by the way. I truly enjoyed reading it a LOT! Many facts and also some great theory speculation about possible directions… I share your guesses 100%, for the record 🙂

    I hope there’s more to come!!!

    1. Thanks for the kind words; it was good fun to write as well so there might be more of these coming.

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