I’ve had enough time to fully reflect on my Guild Wars 2 Living World season 3 experience to date and wanted to circle back through what I now understand to be the state of play in order to gather my thoughts on where the final episode might take us. We’ve bounced across Tyria chasing the White Mantle, bonding with Aurene, helping to secure Kryta, navigating the tricky interpersonal relationships behind Dragon’s Watch members, and helping Taimi get answers about the elder dragons. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ll also have noticed that major expansion spoilers have also been leaked across the interwebs, so my mission is to attempt to draw conclusions for what might feature at the end of this season to lead us neatly into the second GW2 expansion.
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m going to briefly recap on the major story threads of the season so far and will then make some loose predictions about what might happen in the final episode. Note that this piece is most definitely spoilerific for those who haven’t finished the last chapter and also potentially for those who have managed to avoid the expansion spoilers. Feel free to bookmark this one for later if that applies to you!
There’s a dizzying amount of ground that has been covered within season 3, but I’ll quickly cover the main threads you should be aware of. Firstly, the pursuit of the elder dragons takes several unexpected turns throughout the season, with our efforts being largely guided by Taimi’s research in Rata Sum. She uses all the complex tools at her disposal to attempt to find some weaknesses that will help the commander deal with the dragon threat once and for all and she must avoid the unwanted attentions of Phlunt as she works in secret with a heavy dose of player help.
Meanwhile, the commander is attempting to make sense of the events that kicked off Heart of Thorns, including the loss and severe injury of key players and the reforging of a new guild that can continue on with the legacy set by the heroes of Tyria. Dragon’s Watch was formed, spearheaded by the commander and including Taimi, Rytlock, Rox, Jory, and Kas. Braham reacted negatively to the formation of a new guild, seeing it as a slight to his late mother Eir, and refused to join, becoming outwardly hostile to the commander while consumed by his grief. Braham wants revenge and takes the fight to Jormag, venturing into the Far Shiverpeaks and eventually cracking the tooth in Hoelbrak, which is a prophesied sign that the time is right to slay the dragon.
White Mantle activity distracts the commander throughout the chapter, and this arc is perhaps the most exciting in terms of its story progression and lore value. What you should have taken away from this particular arc is that the White Mantle is fragmented but is nevertheless powerful: Two main leaders emerged upon investigation, one being Caudecus as the Queen suspected, but the other being Lazarus. Those under Caudecus sought to overthrow Queen Jennah and claim Kryta, while Lazarus claimed to only have an interest in allying with the commander to destroy the remaining dragons and help protect Glint’s hatchling Aurene, even though we followed a trail of bloodstone blasts and magical energy absorption that makes Lazarus very dangerous indeed. A suspicious Marjory decides to accompany Lazarus to his encampments and find out more about his intentions, not satisfied that the Mursaat could truly have turned over a new leaf.
Caudecus is vanquished as a direct result of a White Mantle assault on Divinity’s Reach that was largely diluted by the powerful Queen Jennah and her magical protections. The relationship between Jennah and Logan is cool and practical, with Logan declining an invite to Dragon’s Watch despite the fact that he knows he’s getting nowhere with the Queen. Lazarus is revealed in Caudecus’ Manor, however, to be an imposter, which begins an unsettling period of worry for both the commander and Kasmeer since Jory is right by the fake Lazarus’ side. A trap is eventually set to catch ‘Lazarus’ in some enchanted mirror beams that will ruin the illusion created by the mirror he holds, and the assembled party of Taimi, Kas, Jory, and the commander are shocked to discover that the Lazarus imposter is actually the god Balthazar.
It transpires that he wishes to take Taimi’s latest creation, a machine that entangles the energies of opposing dragons and pits them against one another to destroy them, and in the battle that ensues Balthazar seriously wounds Jory while Kasmeer freezes in awe. Balthazar makes off with the weapon and Kas, totally torn by the revelation, decides that she cannot possibly accompany the commander and flees, leaving behind the injured Jory. Balthazar takes the device to the Fire Islands, where we discover Primordus deep within Draconis Mons. He uses the machine to channel energies from the dragons and into himself, claiming that his power has been greatly diminished by unnamed adversaries he simply refers to as ‘them’ and that vengeance will come even at the cost of Tyria itself. Taimi has already worked out that Tyria will be destroyed if her creation is used to kill the dragons, so the commander battles to stop a god in his tracks. Taimi overrides her machine and sends the two dragons into a supposed slumber, but Balthazar is nowhere to be found after the resulting blast.
The theme that is most fresh in the narrative’s weave is undoubtedly the identity of the fake Lazarus and the events that occurred after his identity was revealed, so this serves as an excellent starting point for the myriad of questions I have after episode five. I am bursting to know who he believes has dulled his light and what events led to his apparent loss of power. We know the mirror he carried to hide his identity was a creation of Lyssa’s, but why would a god feel the need to hide his true self when walking among mere mortals? Is Lyssa an ally of his still, or how else might he have gained access to the mirror in the first place?
Perhaps the other gods caused Balthazar’s loss of power and disbelief in the honour of war. If one god is back in Tyria, perhaps others have returned too: Why else would Balthazar wish to conceal his identity? If this does transpire to be the case, I highly suspect that Jennah and Anise could be Lyssa, and perhaps Balthazar chose the facade of Lazarus so that he was positioned with a faction that naturally had some interest in opposing the Krytan ruler, because even though Caudecus was the one who was obsessed with the throne, being able to place such a weighty distraction between himself and potential-Lyssa could be invaluable in maintaining distance. I doubt that any answers in terms of this line of thought will be clear at this stage: The theme of the upcoming expansion seems to hint at answers being found at a later stage.
I believe that the main focus of the final chapter will be in the fractured relationships of the Tyrian heroes. With dragons in rest and Balthazar missing, this is the time to regather and find answers, hopefully determining the fate of the other gods and working out Balthazar’s next move. Dragon’s Watch is a fractured mess before it has even truly got off the ground, following much the same pattern as the guilds that came before it. I feel that there are three arcs to further before the expansion rolls in: Our most pressing priority is surely tracking down vengeful Braham before he risks the future of Tyria in his mission to vanquish Jormag. This will be an interesting task considering how embittered the young Norn is due to the formation of Dragon’s Watch, especially since Braham has already cracked Jormag’s tooth and the Norn people expect great victory.
Secondly, Taimi will be in serious trouble now the dragon lab has been exposed and Phlunt uncovers the extent of her dangerous work behind his back. There’s no hiding the fact that Taimi has broken every conceivable rule and endangered everyone in Rata Sum (and beyond) through the fruits of her labour and Phlunt will want to see her punished for her undeclared inventions and the repercussions of her research falling into the wrong hands. Of course, the commander had full knowledge of Taimi’s research and trusted her entirely, which might also bring Phlunt’s wrath and create another difficult relationship for the commander to juggle in the aftermath of Balthazar’s stand.
There are the two lovers to consider too: Kasmeer was so awed that she shielded her eyes and froze in the presence of one of the Six, and then she compounded the hurt caused by her deference by refusing to accompany the commander and fleeing from the wounded Jory’s side. The pair were already bickering before ‘Lazarus’ arrived in Rata Sum, and I fear that the relationship will only get worse from here. Kas saw one of her gods smite down her Jory, and I fear that she is not strong enough to stand with Dragon’s Watch while they oppose one of the Six and Jory is off her feet.
Lastly, there is the small matter of following up with Rytlock after he was escorted to the Back Citadel to account for his powers and the time he spent in the Mists. We have been made aware how serious the charges against Rytlock actually are, despite his personal nonchalance, and I also deeply suspect that he knows far more about the activity of the human gods than he has so far revealed. Questioning him about his journey and uncovering the secrets he found there could be paramount in shaping the story leading into the expansion. I keep coming back to those blindfolds: Although Revenants aren’t actually blind, I do wonder if the custom surrounding their use runs deeper than the supposed inner focus rationale.
I still want to know how the Pale Tree is and I most definitely feel that she has been absent from the narrative for suspiciously long at this point. I know that I should adjust to her being a main focus during the Mordremoth story arc and temper my expectations, but for such an icon to be wiped from an entire season doesn’t work for me. I hope she is able to communicate with the commander before the next expansion hits, though I’m not holding out hope of furthering that particular thread. E is all the more intriguing after discovering that Balthazar is back: I want to find out who E is more than ever due to the accuracy and timeliness of his messages. Could our mysterious advisor be another god who is wanting to direct events through us? While I find it unlikely and believe that the E thread will also remain open for a long time yet, it’s fun to hypothesise. I really miss Zojja and Taimi could use her mind and support against Phluunt if she could manage it, so I hope she is reintroduced soon.
Over to you!
What do you expect in the last episode of Season 3? Is there a particular story arc you’d like to see brought back to the fore before we head into the second expansion? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.