The Movement of the World
A Guild Wars 2 History Lesson, by Ree Soesbee
"By the Mouvelian calendar, the year when the Goddess Kormir ascended was the year 1075. From that date, we will begin our history lesson, and within that classification of dates we will show you the future—that has become our past. For two hundred and fifty years, the heroes of Tyria have struggled as the world shifted around them. Massive upheavals, cataclysms, and other global-spanning events have changed the world. The humans are in decline. Other races are rising, taking control of large portions of the world and shifting the balance of power. The world has changed."
—Decimus the Historian, Durmand Priory
The world of Tyria has known conflict, chaos, and generations of war. Rarely has there been a time of peace in these troubled lands. The years since the Ascension of Kormir and the defeat of the Great Destroyer have been no different. There have been dangers. There have been adventures. The world is no longer the Tyria it once was—and yet, so many things are the same, beneath her troubled exterior.
Sleeping monsters, aeons old, have awakened. They crawled from beneath the earth, razor claws sinking into stone and ground over a world that has not seen their like in millennia—and where they rose, they dominated the world around them, twisting it to serve their purposes. The first of these, Primordus, gathered minions to replace the Destroyers that once served its cause and began to overrun the caverns beneath the earth, gradually pressing the Asura to the surface. Gunnar's Hold fell to monsters of ice, and the Norn were driven southward into the empty territory that had once been held by the Dwarves. The Charr have a tentative friendship with the Norn, respecting their sense of power and personal strength.
To the south, the peninsula of Orr has risen from the ocean, flooding the coasts with tidal waves. Sanctum Cay, D'Alessio Seaboard, and the Battle Isles sank beneath the waves, and even Lion's Arch was so completely flooded by the cataclysmic upheaval that the great city had to be abandoned, its buildings collapsed in the flood. The corsair ships that once hid among the sunken islands of Orr capsized, and only a few ships made it out of the tidal areas. Those that did settled along the ruined northern coast, steering clear of the black-masted ships that began sailing the Orrian territories. The lost souls of Orr, commanded by a dark power from below the sea, rose to take command of the land freed from the depths of the sea.
Strange races—the Norn, the Asura and the mysterious Sylvari—took over large portions of the continent. Their civilizations pushed the humans north and west, away from their ancestral land. These races have solidified their presence in Tyria and now take an active role in the events around them.
"Never trust the past. There has been too much forgotten, too many things hidden beneath the sand of ages. Even your own memory can lie to you..."
—Decimus the Historian
Over the last 250 years, the races of Tyria have seen a great deal of strife and war. Conflicts between the humans and the Charr, the Norn and any who might challenge them, and among other sentient races have continually threatened the peace of the continent—but these are not the only issues. Although sentient races are one threat, there are, as always, wild creatures and monsters across the countryside; dangers to be faced and troubles to be conquered. But on Tyria, there are even worse things yet to be faced.
The cataclysms that tore apart the land and flooded Lion's Arch were not caused by natural forces, no more than were the earthquakes that freed the Destroyers in the northern Shiverpeaks. These were both caused by the surfacing of ancient powers—true dragons, more dangerous than anything Tyria has ever known before. Glint and Kuunavang were but youths, lesser powers to the ancients that came before. These mystic and terrifying creatures rival the gods themselves.
Primordus was the first of the ancient dragons to awaken, calling his servants from their slumber. With his breath, he twisted earth and stone, shaping creatures and giving them life. Although the death of the Great Destroyer, his most powerful general, set back the dragon's awakening by two generations, Primordus once again rose to create ever more minions far beneath the ground. To this day, he continues to spread his power throughout the deep caverns beneath Tyria.
After Primordus, the other great dragons began to stir one by one. The rise of the dragon beneath Orr caused the entire continent to surface, sparking a tidal wave that swept the coastline and drowned thousands. In the deepest waters of the sea, another dragon breathed, twisting the waters themselves into tentacled horrors that rose from every lake and river of the land. Only a few years ago, yet another dragon erupted from the northern mountains and flew south over the Charr territory of Ascalon. The land directly below the path of the dragon’s flight was corrupted, becoming a crater of horror. The ground blackened from the dragon's presence and any creatures caught within the wind of its breath twisted and changed.
Although these creatures are called dragons, they are as different from Kuunavang and Glint as night to day—more powerful, older, born of different, unfathomable magic, these horrors are controlled by no god nor any other power known to the races of Tyria. What connection they have to these "younger dragons" is unknown, but they certainly do not possess the mercy or familiarity with the sentient races of the world that Kuunavang or Glint portray. The cycle of their awakening reaches back to the time of the giganticus lupicus, and even further, back into prehistory. The only thing known about these monsters is that they have no pity, no curiosity—no concern at all for the other races of the world. Their only goal seems to be to dominate, to control, and to destroy.
The guilds of Tyria have grown and expanded, despite the destruction of the Battle Isles. Balthazar helped raise a new temple in Lion's Arch, stepping on the hearthstone of the construction and opening a gate there to the Mists, so that heroes of each world could compete in contest. But these guilds are not racially aligned as they were in the past—no longer restricted merely to humans, they accept heroes of all societies into their halls.
The Asura easily fit into the guild system, using guilds as they would any other krewe designed for a task. To the Charr, the guilds are like warbands. They do not replace the loyalty the Charr hold to their legion but instead allow them unique opportunities to display the strength of their race and increase their own personal reputations as ferocious combatants. Norn are always eager for a fight, and their loyalty to friends makes them a blessing to any combat force. Sylvari bring unique and unpredictable strengths to a guild, and are eager to enter into any danger simply for the experience of it.
Guilds are a prominent force in Tyria, taking on challenges that individual adventurers fear to face, and braving even the most dangerous opponents. It is said that if there is any hope for the races of Tyria to find peace, it will come from the guilds and their atmosphere of cooperation and unity.
Ascalon, Kryta, and Orr
For centuries, humans dominated the continent of Tyria, but over the last 250 yeras that has changed. Humanity clings by a thread, maintaining its cities only through the absolute dedication of its armies. Ascalon City fell. Rin belongs to the Charr. Lion's Arch, inundated by tidal waves, was rebuilt by the mercenary guilds, and Orr . . . rose into undeath and corruption.
The gods of the humans have been notably distant these past two centuries, withdrawing into silence even as the world beneath them shattered. Although they still answer prayers, they do not intervene—even as Tyria crumbles and the human race calls out desperately for heroes to save them from their darkening struggle.
Having lost their homeland to the Charr, the humans of the Ascalon kingdom have been pushed ever west and south. The Great Northern Wall fell, and Ascalon City lies in ruins. The royal line of Adelbern ended with the death of Prince Rurik. The lone remaining human fortress in Ascalon lies at the far southern tip, where the eastern Blazeridge Mountains merge with the western Shiverpeaks. This last Ascalonian fortress, known as Ebonhawke, stands alone against all the might the Charr legions have to offer.
The continuing conflict between the humans and the Charr along the borders of Ascalon forced the humans ever farther into the Shiverpeaks. Although open war has ended save on a few small fronts, the hatred between the Charr legions and the human kingdoms never abated. If anything, it is worse than ever before. Ebonhawke stands alone in defiance, supplied by an Asura gate from Krytan territories.
The Charr solidified their control over Ascalon from their original lands in the north all the way south to the merging of the two mountain ranges at the edge of the Crystal Desert. Within the main territories of Ascalon, between the broken Great Northern Wall and the fortress of Ebonhawke, the Charr rule—but not unchallenged. In the last battle of Ascalon City, Adelbern used the final power of his enchanted sword, Magdaer, a relic from the age when the True Gods walked Tyria and built the city of Arah.
The stories told by the Charr (and the few, scattered human survivors of the battle) speak of a gout of sword-shaped flame rising from the highest tower in the city. After a white, burning heat swept the city streets, the dead and defeated Ascalonian guard arose once more, their spirits animated by the power of Adelbern's sword. In the face of this spectral resistance, the Charr were forced to abandon the city.
Since that time, the spectral soldiers have guarded the ruins of Ascalon City and the eastern frontier. They resist the Charr, but do not communicate with living soldiers from Ebonhawke. Their spirits are only memories, the lingering presence of a past that cannot let go of the present. Some believe that one day, when the rightful king of Ascalon returns with one of the two flaming swords—either Adelbern’s Magdaer or his son's, named Sohothin—the legion will abandon the city and sink at last into peaceful death. Until then, everyone is the enemy.
Kryta, too, has known its share of conflict and heartache. Once noble Lion's Arch fell to the plundering sea, its coast devastated by storms, rising water, and tidal waves. And yet, the nation of Kryta is the last bastion of humanity—and in that, their last hope. Under siege from other races for centuries, beset by bad luck and misfortune, and perhaps even forgotten by the gods themselves—human civilization is on the verge of collapse. Only Kryta's crown has survived to this modern age.
Although various factions restored the Krytan throne to its rightful ruler, a descendant of Queen Salma, there is no peace in the Talmark Wilderness. The lands of Kryta have known significant upheaval—both in war and internal conflicts. As the sole remaining human kingdom on the continent of Tyria, Ascalonians flocked there in droves with no king and no real leadership. The few humans who claim Orrian descent never proclaim their heritage publicly; being connected to those dark lands is dangerous in these times. Refugees from Elona and Cantha, discovering themselves trapped by the rising wasters of Orr, struggled to maintain a native culture while integrating into Krytan society. This melting pot of humanity provides the one thing they all seek: a home.
Through faith in the gods and the nobility of the Krytan spirit, the queen solidified her hold over Kryta and her people, and did not devolve into tyrannical rule. From the beginning, they were willing to accept Ascalonian refugees. And, as cataclysms across the world displaced other humans, and Canthans and Elonians joined the wave of humanity fleeing to the new city of Divinity's Reach, they found a welcome home in the high bastion created to replace Lion's Arch when the floodwaters of Orr claimed it. Divinity's Reach, a breathtaking monument of white parapets and high, pale towers, was built on the edge of the Divinity coast, far from the rising waters of the southern bays.
In Divinity's Reach, the new queen of Kryta established a system of government designed to give all people—not just native Krytans—a voice. Senators design law, proposing their measures to the queen, who authorizes or rejects their placement into society. These senators come from all human races, representing many voices working in tandem with the queen's will. Initially, this system was designed as a temporary government for the refugee camps, but in the 150 years since the flood of Lion's Arch, it has become a stable system, a respected government, and a cornerstone of Krytan culture.
However, Kryta is not un-assailed—secret agents of the White Mantle still fight for their unseen gods, and the Centaurs, displaced across the continent, are flooding into human territory, fighting over every scrap of land. Kryta is a war zone with a few safe-havens, a land where humans must fight for their security—and their future.
Risen from the ocean by the will of a powerful undead dragon, Orr no longer stands under human control. The beings roaming those lands are twisted, perverted remnants of Orr's once-magnificent culture. Drowned by magic and then raised into service by the will of a monster so terrible there are only whispers of its nature, they now serve a dragon more horrible and more powerful than any other being in Tyria.
The elder dragon of Orr rules this re-emerged continent with an indomitable will, claiming the peninsula for its own. The city of Arah, where once the True Gods walked, rose to the surface to become the creature's home. Its arrival heralded a time of cataclysm and change for the world. Though Arah lies in ruins, conquered by the dragon and its minions, those who venture onto Orrian soil say they have seen her spired towers, bedecked with rotted banners and guarded by twisted, draconian troops.
When the dragon awoke and the peninsula breached the waves, once-ruined buildings and shattered coastal highways rose above the sea as well. In addition to drowning the coastlands of Kryta and flooding Lion's Arch, this cataclysmic event even turned parts of northern Elona green again—for a time. The changes were truly cataclysmic across all of Tyria. Only the greatest of heroes dare venture within the ruined cities of Orr; to adventure there is to face the dragon and its minions directly, and that creature's power is not to be underestimated.
Many of the corsairs who inhabited the island chain before the peninsula rose again were subsumed by the dragon's power, twisted by its breath, and enslaved to its will. Ships with black sails, built from seized corsair vessels, sail along the Strait of Malchor, west of Orr. These vessels surround the Fire Islands, manned by undead minions of the dragon that fear neither fire nor sea.
This undead armada has cut off all human contact with Cantha, and the dragon’s undead army wages war even now along the northern Elonian border, preventing all in Tyria from departing for other lands . . . for now.
Cantha, Elona, and the Free City of Lion's Arch
"What we can know about the lands overseas, we know from the hands of refugees, lost warriors, and desperate sojourners. It is slanted, as all such history must be, against the blade of a sword."
—Decimus the Historian
The history of Cantha and Elona, as we know it, ceases around the time of Orr's liberation from the sea. Little contact with these nations has made its way north to the Tyrian continent; the undead of Orr and the upheaval in the Crystal Desert made news scarce and difficult to acquire.
In the year 1127 AE, Emperor Usoku, successor to Kisu, took a firm hold of his nation. He raised the Canthan military, spending millions in gold to arm his troops, and then swept the countryside. He defeated the Luxons and the Kurzick, incorporating these disparate people back into his nation. Usoku unified Cantha behind a strong national identity and began to drive out all non-humans. His regime was ironclad, tyrannical, and fierce. Those Canthans who did not agree with the emperor's dictates were given no choice but to leave their homeland, seeking refuge and sanctuary in Elona and Tyria.
As a result, Cantha became extremely isolationist. Once Orr rose from the ocean, those tendencies were reinforced by an inability to safely sail the western seas. Any ships venturing near the Strait of Malchor are sunk by the black ships, then dredged from the ocean floor by the Orrian dragon and commandeered into service. Thus, completely cut off from Kryta, Cantha vanished entirely. Travelers, refugees, and even Xunlai agents residing within Tyrian heard nothing more from Cantha.
Sporadic sailors have washed ashore on the southern coast of the Maguuma jungles, but that is the only evidence that Cantha even exists past the cataclysmic event that cut it off from Tyria. It can only be assumed that Usoku's successors continued his dictatorial, isolationist rule, and that Cantha continues beneath the iron fist of the emperor, as ever.
For years after the defeat of Varesh Ossa and the fall of Abaddon, Elona was at peace. The Sunspears spread across all three continents, attempting to fulfill their ancient purposes. But the peace they brought was not to last. In their campaign to end the threat of Varesh Ossa and stop Abaddon's final attempt to free himself from the prison of the gods, the Sunspears also unleashed the architect of their own doom back upon the world—a monster who would bring about the next dark age.
The monster's name was Palawa Joko. Within sixty years of Kormir's rise to godhood, Palawa Joko mustered his former power and marched a new army of mummies, zombies, and other undead out of the Crystal Desert into war with Vabbi. To ensure his dominance, Palawa dammed and diverted the river Elon, causing drought and famine amid the northern provinces of Elona and creating a green and growing area within the Crystal Desert. In this area, Palawa Joko established the seat of his new kingdom.
The horrible famine caused by the diverted river caused widespread rebellion among the people of Vabbi and northern Kourna. Palawa Joko then found it all too easy to break the backs of Elonian resistance. Vabbi bowed to his strength simply to survive, and Kourna and Istan both became vassal states.
Palawa’s price for benevolence was tribute, forced loyalty, and all those who bore the name Ossa delivered unto his care. Periodically, a few more descendants were found hiding in the hills of Elona—and all were delivered unto the undead ruler of Elona. From the descendants of his ancient enemy, Palawa created a living army to match his undead one, reveling in the irony that Ossa's children owed their lives—and their loyalty—to him.
Palawa also took great pride in the destruction of his greatest enemies: the Sunspears. Broken, their strongholds destroyed, their members scattered to the winds, they stood as a force no longer in Elona. Eventually, most of the populace forgot about the Order and their heroic deeds. Those few Sunspears who survived passed on the teachings of the Order over the course of more than a hundred years, holding onto the tenets of a barely-remembered vision. They became wandering mystics, philosophers, and lone warriors in a world that chose to forget their presence.
All but a few. Some Sunspears, taken in by Palawa Joko's offers of power and rank, abandoned their vows. These traitors to the Order were given command of Palawa’s armies or allowed to work alone against those in Elona who once scorned them. Each one, converted personally by Palawa, was given power over death and sent out to hunt down and destroy their fellow Sunspears—or bring them before their lord to be drawn into their unholy cause. These knights, called the Mordant Crescent, became a dark presence in the sunlit southern lands of Tyria.
Order of Whispers
The Order still exists and has moved beyond the borders of Elona. The first to discover the awakening of the dragons—in Orr, and elsewhere—the Order was aware that nobody would believe them. They chose instead to spread their members across Tyria, gaining as many converts as possible and then slowly educating them about the real danger threatening all the races of the world.
They work with the Krytans and Ascalonians, and even maintain a presence in Elona, although crossing the Crystal Desert is currently impossible due to Palawa's stranglehold over the southern reaches and the desert dragon's presence in the northern desert. Still, the Order of Whispers somehow maintains communication with Elona, aiding its military in their fight against Palawa and his minions.
The Order of Whispers also contributed to the continuation of human knowledge when Lion's Arch was flooded, threatening the great library within the city. The Order rescued thousands of ancient scrolls, books, and other historical artifacts, carrying them to a hidden monastery in the nearby Shiverpeaks. Stored far above the rising waters, these antiquities remain the only true records of the ancient age of humanity. The monks of that monastery are part historian and part warrior, studying and protecting their sacred charges.
When the waters that inundated Lion’s Arch after Orr rose from the sea began to recede, the ruins of that once majestic city became a pirate stronghold. Those seagoing vessels driven off the Orrian island chain by the rise of the undead found safe haven in the ruins of Lion’s Arch and created there a neutral town open to all races, ruled in a mercenary fashion.
The Battle Isles flooded at the same time, decimating the temples. The priests of Balthazar scattered for a time, before also finding their way to Lion’s Arch after the tides began to recede. They claim they were called there by Balthazar, and the god did indeed open a massive portal within the city to the Mists where a great battle between worlds wages for his favor. With the fall of the Battle Isles, Lion’s Arch became the Guild Home, a central point for the guilds of the world as well as the conduit to the Hero’s Hall.
"Those few who remain live undying existences, their flesh and hearts encased in stone. The Great Dwarf gave them the power to defeat the Destroyers . . . but that strength came with a heavy price."
—Decimus the Historian
The fight between the Dwarves and the Destroyers consumed the Dwarven race. Few lived to return to the surface and tell the tale of their victory—and those who did had been irrevocably altered. No longer made of flesh and bone, no blood pumped through their veins. Instead, they found their bodies composed entirely of stone surrounding nothing but cold, hard earth.
No longer interested in maintaining their solidarity as a race, these last Dwarves scattered across Tyria, finding battles to fight in the deep caverns or making new homes in far-flung hills, ever-watching the borders where caverns emerge into the surface world. Those few individuals who can rightfully claim to have met a Dwarf in their lifetime are rare, and all speak of the strange, driven passion that consumes these few survivors.
The Legions of the Charr threw off the shackles of religion, casting their Shamans down to the lowest order of Charr society, and elevating the military warbands into a solidified government. Although the legions have no central rule, they work together to maintain their territories in Ascalon, and make plans to one day spread farther—eradicating humans wherever they fester on the face of the world.
The four primary legions of the Charr, the Ash Legion, Blood Legion, Gold Legion, and Iron Legion, each control city-strongholds, spread out across the eastern lands. Charr warbands strike out from these safe havens to defend their territories, battling the shades of Ascalonian warriors, the twisted servants of the desert dragon, and the horrifying beasts that come up from beneath the ground throughout Ascalon and the Shiverpeaks.
While all four legions can claim lineage to the Khan-Ur, the ancient ruler of the Charr, the Gold Legion has been considered outcast since the fall of the Shaman caste during the time of the famous Charr heroine Kalla Scorchrazor. And yet, the Charr alliance remains strong enough that none of the three allied legions bars another from their capital. Even though the lands of the Charr are divided, the legions work together to unify the whole and finish their conquest—to the heart of Ascalon City and beyond.
The fall of the Charr Shamans from their height as leaders effected more than the Gold Legion. While Shaman are still considered useful to the war effort, they are also viewed as dangerous and subversive, and are almost universally scorned. No Charr in the new age would willingly suffer a Shaman to rule them.
Even after more than 200 years, the Charr still bristle at the memories of the time when the Shaman and the Titans held power over them. The Charr of today are fierce in their rejection of all gods and any who serve them. They do not accept any god’s authority and are quick-tempered about any Charr worship or manipulation by godlike beings.
And while no Charr would ever willingly follow the Shamans, it is still the underlying goal of every Charr leader to prove his own superiority, subjugate his fellows, and raise the banner of one legion above the rest. Unity, they say, can only be established beneath a single military leader. Most Charr believe that only under such rule can their race fulfill its destiny to rule all of Tyria. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for the members of the other races), most Charr leaders also believe the only leader capable of unifying their race is themselves.
The Asura are a subterranean race driven to the surface during the time of the Great Destroyer. Incredibly intelligent, they used their skills with magic and crafting to establish their presence on the surface. With the sudden absence of the Dwarves, the Asura became the foremost crafters on Tyria, their abilities and skills instantly invaluable. The Asura acclimated to life aboveground in the wake of the Destroyers, creating cities that spanned territory above and below the surface.
Although the Asura have grown to appreciate the skills and talents of other races, often using them in experiments or on dangerous missions, they still hold fast to their organized society. They have no organized government, preferring to create krewes and follow the most experienced leader for the duration of each individual task.
The short stature of this race has not impeded their confidence, however. In fact, one might even call them condescending, as they are perhaps a touch too confident for the comfort of some other races. The Asura believe they are destined to rule the larger, less intelligent races of the world. They see humans, especially, as quite good for heavy lifting, and in general terms, view other races as merely pawns to be manipulated in Asuran schemes.
As a step in their master plans, the Asura established good relations with every other intelligent race on Tyria, from the militant Charr to the inquisitive Sylvari. They even established Asura Gates in major cities to provide safe passage from city to city and promote trade. However, they control these gates jealously, maintaining their trade routes and their neutrality as carefully as a gem, always keeping themselves on the edges of disputes and wars. Their own cities are far off the main paths of travel, distant even from central Lion's Arch. There they perform experiments, searching for new magics and new power to control.
Although some say the Asura have integrated into society, it would be more accurate to say they're creeping over it like ivy and moss, fingers digging into crevices where their magic can take hold. In some ways, they fear the caverns beneath the earth, still troubled by horrible beasts of fire and scale. The dragon that dwells in the Depths threatens them above all, forcing them to abandon their ancient ways and discover new resources. For now, to keep their place, they must still maintain their neutrality among the powerful races of Tyria, but the Asura fear that sooner or later they will have to take sides—and then their tottering world may crumble back into the dark depths.
Many expected the initial Charr expansion through northern Tyria to become a tide of blood that would crash upon the Shiverpeaks, drowning Charr and Norn alike. The reality proved different. When the Charr reached the foothills, the Norn drove them back with a single crushing blow, completely decimating every warband sent against them.
Although it is certain the Charr could have destroyed the Norn resistance if they but turned their entire army—or even one full legion—to the cause, warbands and smaller raiding parties could not overcome the individual strength of the Norn. These initial skirmishes taught both sides to respect the strength of the other.
From this accord of mutual respect and strength arose a strange pseudo-alliance that has yet to be broken. For nearly two hundred years, the eastern border of the Shiverpeaks has been stable. The Charr are allowed passage through Gunnar's Hold, and the lower canyons where the Norn had spread.
In fact, during the Searing, the Norn allowed the Charr armies passage through the northern pass from Ascalon into Kryta, setting the stage for the Charr invasion of the central human lands. Although this was not a sign of any alliance, it set the stage for the two races to live within a watchful peace.
No peace accord was ever signed; a treaty would have been meaningless to the individualistic Norn and no Charr would even spit upon such a paper. However, the two races allowed one another passage and trade, while keeping their borders secure. Occasionally, a warband (or a Norn hunter) might cross the line into the other's land, only to be cut down without prejudice . . . but these skirmishes do not disrupt the accord reached by mutual consent between these nations.
Over the past one hundred years, more and more Norn have been seen in Kryta and lands beyond. An elder dragon of ice and snow arose in the farthest northern peaks, driving even the most stalwart hunters south into Dwarven lands. There they found abandoned Dwarven forts and a new challenge in the form of the Dredge, the old nemeses of the Dwarves, now almost unrecognizable from the primitive, frightened creatures of the past.
The Dredge, reveling in their new-found freedom after the Dwarves fell to the Destroyers, seized that opportunity to become a real threat in the Shiverpeaks, while the Norn revel in the hunt of new enemies. The Norn and the Dredge fight over control of these lands in a continual war that rages along the highest mountains.
The Norn have also kept ties with their human friends, although those ties are not as close as they once were for the Norn often felt betrayed by their unpredictable human allies. In recent years, that sense of betrayal has deepened, as the Norn do not trust the Krytan queen.
The queen is seen by members of this independent race as being too dependant on her advisors, too unwilling to act on her own as a hero must. Although relations have grown colder, the Norn hold out hope that the Krytan queen will prove herself by dominating her race, or that someone else will rise from among the humans to show them what it means to be strong.
While humans explored the Far Shiverpeaks and the Dwarves fought the Destroyers, a new race began to grow in the southern lands of Tyria. A single seed as big as a man's fist, planted in the ground of a ruined village along the southern tip of the Maguuma Jungle, began a centuries-long gestation—and heralded a new age.
This story began with a human soldier named Ronan whom, while separated from his patrol, discovered a cavern filled with strange seed-pods. This cavern was protected by terrible plant creatures, so he fled, clinging to a single seed to show his daughter when he returned home from war. But, upon his arrival, Ronan discovered the Mursaat had destroyed his village and murdered his family, leaving only ruined houses and mass graves. In agony, he planted the seed on their graves and swore never to return to battle.
Ronan was joined by an aging Centaur named Ventari, who had also begun to lose hope in peace. The human and the Centaur, against all odds, formed a friendship that surpassed the bounds of race. Together, they decided to begin their lives anew and create a refuge for human and Centaur alike. They built their safe haven near the ocean and the budding tree for all those who sought peace and the shelter of friendship.
The pale oak grew under the watchful and gentle eye of Ventari, becoming strong and healthy, and giving the old Centaur great joy. Yet with this bliss came sorrow. The Centaur tribes of the north and west, crushed and driven out by Krytans fleeing from their flooding coastline, grew more and more savage and brutal. As more tribes joined the war, fewer were willing to listen to Ventari’s words, and his new outpost became smaller and smaller.
At last, old and gray, Ventari carved his life's lessons upon a marble tablet, which he placed at the base of the pale tree so that future travelers might read it and, perhaps, learn the ways of peace and harmony. Then, many years after his human companion had passed on, Ventari laid down beside the tree Ronan had planted, and died. The year was 1165 AE.
The tree, white and sparkling, continued to grow. Over a hundred years later, small cocoons appeared among its branches. These cocoons spun out, shifting and eventually ripping open, birthing a new race of people into the world—fully grown, as if they had awakened from some magical dream. They called themselves the Sylvari, and these “Firstborn” were only the beginning of a widespread emergence, all born from the same massive tree.
The marble tablet still bears Ventari's last words, and the Sylvari who emerged from the tree found themselves strangely guided by these ancient lessons. Whether the tree, tended by Ventari, somehow became imprinted with the noble Centaur's morals and ethics, or whether it absorbed both the remains of the Centaur's flesh as well as his compassionate soul upon his death, no one knows for certain. But it is certain that his influence over the Sylvari is strong, even so many decades after his death. Their race venerates the Ventari Tablet as their most sacred artifact and testament.
It is unknown how old a Sylvari can become, as they come forth fully mature and show no signs of aging thereafter. Sylvari have no children, no families as such, but each Sylvari feels a special connection with others through what they call the “Dream of Dreams.” In this dream, they commune with the inner mind of the race, learning how to speak, walk, use simple tools, and interact with the world. Thus, when a Sylvari emerges, she knows a great deal more about the world than one might expect.
But the Dream of Dreams also contains nightmares—hidden whispers behind the voices of their fellow Sylvari. They do not understand what it means—but the Sylvari have yet to experience much of the world around them. They do not know the dangers and troubles of Tyria as intimately the other races do. But they are learning.
Time and Tide
The years have not been kind to Tyria. Even so, as green plants grow over the scorched rocks of Ascalon and the waters recede from Lion's Arch, a new city rises and the shattered coastline gives way to new life. New adventures lurk around every corner, and ancient places beneath the surface push up, their doors opened to reveal lost secrets.
However, the massive power of the dragons has been unleashed, spilling across the land like a disease that twists everything in its wake. Unless they can be stopped, the dragons will change the face of Tyria irrevocably, eradicating the sentient races . . . to what end, we can only guess.
Time and tide have changed the world. The races of Tyria now stand on equal ground, fighting for superiority even as dragons far older than history—truly primal powers—awaken to claim the world in their bloody claws. If there are heroes left in these lands anywhere among the races, it is time for them to step forward, if the world is to be saved.
Someone must rise to seize glory, offer a moment of hope, and perhaps give the world one last chance for peace. If those who would be heroes are listening . . .
. . . Now is your time.