Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2’s Bastion of the Penitent raid lore
As promised, I’m making a return to the lore found within Guild Wars 2‘s newest raid Bastion of the Penitent now that we’ve summarised the raid encounters together and touched on why the introduction and implementation of raiding in GW2 are problematic for many players. Although this raid isn’t as large as its predecessor the Forsaken Thicket, it contains enough welcome dialogue and juicy side-story action to be just as exciting to break down for those who don’t wish to raid. A surprising but nevertheless appreciated update for a rather old story arc occurs in this raid, which will form the backbone of my ramblings when it comes to Bastion lore.
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll take you on a lore-heavy deep dive of the Bastion of the Penitent so you can enjoy a glimpse at its lore without entering the raid yourself. Should you plan on raiding in the future, you might want to skip this one if you’re particularly sensitive to spoilers.
Saul’s backstory for those who missed him in Guild Wars
If you missed this lore the first time around, I highly recommend watching WoodenPotatoes‘ excellent lore video above to fill in the gaps left in my short summary: He does a phenomenal job of making even the oldest and most complex lore threads accessible and explains the backstory in much greater detail than I have space for here. Subscribe while you’re there if you haven’t already and you’ll most definitely thank me later!
Saul D’Alessio was a thief who had fallen from grace: he was a drunken gambler who stole and cheated his way out of trouble until one day his deceptive ways caught up with him. A gambling guild named the Lucky Horseshoe ran the local gambling house and Saul found himself in the unlucky predicament of owing a small fortune to the guild in unpaid debts, so he took to the roads as a brigand and robber to avoid defaulting on this debt and eventually paid the sum off. However, an embittered victim eventually tracked the rogue down and sought his revenge on Saul, who was exiled from Kryta for his crimes. Having been led from Kryta and left to fend for himself, Saul eventually found himself in the presence of the Mursaat and became a changed man, returning to Kryta to spread the word of his new-found faith in the Unseen Ones to the humans of Tyria.
Saul and his new gods gained a small but loyal following in the midst of Krytan war on two fronts, and he offered salvation to those who followed him, offering them white robes set with golden thread and forming the beginnings of the White Mantle. With the beaten down Krytans looking to Saul for salvation, he became a great general who pushed out the Charr and losing his life during a vicious Charr ambush in the process of freeing Kryta… or so we thought. In actuality, the Unseen Ones appeared to Saul and his troops to aid them, but their aid came at a great cost and they culled all but the most loyal and devoted worshippers from among them, seizing Saul in the process and taking him with them to keep his silence about what had transpired.
It turns out that the Bastion of the Penitent is, in fact, Saul D’Alessio’s prison, and our player characters discover this fact only after a bloodstone explosion unearths a portal to the Verdant Cascades and they are tasked with exploring what lies beyond it. Scholar Glenna yet again acts as our guide through this raid, and she shares her thoughts as we explore further into the morbid prison that lies before us. The first encounter is of course Cairn the Indomitable, and we know through experience in the main GW2 story that such jade constructs are Mursaat creations, further building up the thematic link back to Bloodstone Fen and the Living World’s third season. Genna’s dialogue is full of questions when she spies Cairn, and she wonders aloud about how
Glenna’s dialogue is full of questions when she spies Cairn, and she wonders aloud about why such a construct would exist within the portal, who might have placed it there, and what secrets are hidden behind the stone guardian. She muses that the Mursaat must be linked to the location and that they must be responsible for the portal we entered through and she is most curious about the mysterious pyramidal eye floating above Cairn’s head. This is a return to the original game once again: The Eye of Janthir is a magical aptitude detection system with links to the White Mantle and the Mursaat that Glenna is bursting to get closer to, but it zips on through the raid environment the moment Cairn is defeated and urges the raiding party onwards in pursuit. She explains before we move on much further that those Chosen by the Eye were those who were sacrificed on the Bloodstone, but that it has been missing for many years until the raiding party happened across it.
The party enters The Holding and pretty much immediately stumbles across death and destruction: Husks of prisoners remain in the rubble with no indication of who — or what — caused their demise, though Glenna does suggest that the rubble isn’t all caused by the natural fallout seen in ancient chambers and that the prisoners were surely staging a riot before things went wrong. She assumes that the murderer attacked from the roof, perching above the prison and throwing down Eye-shaped spears on the trapped prisoners from a crack in the cavern’s ceiling. Glenna and the player character attempt to guess at the identity of the prisoners and fail to come up with anything solid, though they do note that peoples of all races are located here and that the location is deliberately isolated. The party feels watched, and we eventually find ourselves in a room that resembles a game board.
The Mursaat Overseer puzzle encounter takes place in this strange recreation room, and Glenna comments afterwards that the room was perhaps a location for some sort of sick guard entertainment involving the prisoners. She pieces together clues found in both the puzzle room and the prison cells and muses that finding human, Jotun, and potential Forgotten corpses makes a lot of sense when we seem to have found ourselves inside a twisted Mursaat-created stronghold prison. They Eye of Janthir yet again disappears and we delve deeper into the prison to locate it again. Glenna decides that the Eye perhaps runs this place, and although both she and the player character are disturbed by the prison and its sights and sounds, she feels that we must locate the Eye to learn more.
Encounter three occurs when the party happens across Samarog, who is carrying suspiciously Eye-shaped spears and seems to be the culprit for the mass murders we’ve just stumbled across. He is in control of both a human and Jotun character who seem to be acting against their will in aiding him and they explain through their pain that he used to be a prisoner like them: We kill these minions and eventually Samarog, but again the Eye disappears after our success in killing this prisoner-turned-overseer. Glenna supposes that particular inmates must have been given prison jobs to do and that Samarog was particularly dedicated to his role.
Deimos and Saul D’Alessio
The party eventually comes to the centre of the prison, in which we find a shackled prisoner in solitary confinement who urges us to leave before we make “him” angry. Unsure of who the prisoner is referring to and wanting to help, we of course ignore the dire warning and rush in to rescue the prisoner from his binds. Ghosts of greed and pride advance on the prisoner and the Eye selects a player in the group to teleport them to an alternate dimension, where we see Deimos the demon chained. Deimos’ chains set free our prisoner, so we break each chain in turn, knowing that we are also freeing the demon and that we’ll need to vanquish the foul creature. It transpires that the prisoner is, in fact, a now-ancient Saul D’Alessio, and Deimos tells him he will not leave until he obeys the Mursaat. The Saul story is retold cleverly throughout the encounter for those who have no clue who he is: This is a fabulous touch that means that appreciating this chunk of lore is not reliant on a player’s past experiences.
The party makes a last stand against Deimos in the shadow realm, and the prison is decommissioned upon success. Saul explains that he has been trapped in this prison and terrorised by his own demons and shame at allowing the Mursaat to kill his people. He explains that the Eye kept him alive and attempted to force him to act for the Mursaat but that the raiding party has now freed him from 200 years of torture. He passes away before us as the Eye disappears and no longer maintains Saul’s existence, and the player character remarks about how the White Mantle founder was simply a flawed everyman and wasn’t the monster they had suspected. The issue of how to respectfully handle the burial of Saul on Krytan soil is aired by Glenna and the player character, and it is decided that his existence within the portal should be kept as a Priory secret so that his remains can rest without complications arising from the Krytans or the White Mantle.
All in all, I deeply enjoyed the lore contained in the Bastion of the Penitent, mainly because I’m a sucker for humanising characters that we know as evil in common lore and seeing the full picture as it lies outside of human history books. I haven’t enjoyed such a complete and complex NPC character journey since World of Warcraft‘s Lich King lore. I’m left with so many questions: Where did the Eye go? How does it sustain life and turn people’s fears and regrets against them? There’s plenty to chew on! I remember reading Narrative Lead Bobby Stein’s words in one Bastion of the Penitent developer interview during which he hinted at the dark, macabre nature of the raid storyline and although it piqued my interest I wasn’t totally sold on “gritty” lore being left for raids, but I now stand corrected after enjoying this wing so much.
What do you make of the Bastion lore? Have you explored the prison after a full clear to learn more? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.