With the death of Kralkatorrik and the ascension of Aurene to replace him, ArenaNet has created a situation which has only happened once before in the history of Guild Wars 2. Previous story arcs each concluded with an impending crisis hanging over the Commander’s head like the sword of Damocles, pulling the Commander into the next emergency, or at least offered a clear hook into the next storyline such as Mordremoth’s death empowering Aurene’s egg. In the past, such circumstances have been resolved by ArenaNet creating a new situation, such as the series of events after Zhaitan’s death that led to Scarlet’s arc, and in truth, there are multiple loose threads that remain hanging that Arenanet could build from, to create a new crisis (to be addressed in a future article). However, I thought it would be worthwhile to examine the question: What if the Commander had the opportunity to be proactive for once and make his or her own choice about what to do next?
The Elonian Power Vacuum
One possible focus for the Commander’s attention could be to assist in resolving the power vacuum that has developed in Elona. We’ve seen some hints as to how that might be developing, through the council at Jahai and the discussion with Spearmarshal Zaiem at the end of Episode 6. However, the entente that was formed at Jahai was likely a temporary affair driven by the clear and present danger of Kralkatorrik – a more permanent arrangement is needed.
The Council of Jahai presented five broad factions – the Sunspears, the Order of Shadows, the Free Awakened, the Loyalists, and the Mordant Crescent. Of these, the first three are likely to be in general alignment with each other (although there have been some hints that the Order of Shadows might not be as benign as it appears on the surface). Meanwhile the Joko loyalists may dissipate and be absorbed into other factions once the news spreads that Aurene has absorbed Joko’s magic and therefore Joko will not be coming back. The Mordant Crescent, however, is a wild card – they’re used to being the top dogs in Elona below Joko himself, and with the common enemy of Kralkatorrik removed, they may attempt another coup to seize control over Elona.
However, historically, ArenaNet has generally shied away from focusing on the political fallout in the aftermath of the Commander’s actions. We’ve seen little on the aftermath of Sylvari society since Mordremoth’s fall, or of the Krytan political situation in the wake of the fall of the White Mantle (and Balthazar). Broadly speaking, such matters are the role of the political leaders (in this case, Zaiem, Sienna, and Kossan) rather than a military leader and one-person-wrecking-ball like the Commander. While the Commander might be brought in for advice or to help resolve any military crisis that does come up, it would seem out of character for the Commander to become deeply involved in the political process.
A Cure For Taimi
A more personal area of interest for the Commander might be in pursuing a cure for Taimi’s condition, or at least a means of putting it back into remission.
This may, however, be a controversial move on ArenaNet’s part. Opinions on Taimi in the community vary – it is likely that not all players would approve of her becoming the focus of Season 5. Furthermore, since Taimi’s illness is based on a real-world medical condition, making it go away through a magical cure might not be seen as an appropriate treatment of a sensitive topic. Finally, it must be remembered that the Commander’s main area of expertise is in hitting things until they fall down, not in medical science (magical or otherwise). Any progress in this direction is likely to be worked on in the background by Taimi and Gorrik, with any involvement by the Commander likely to come in the form of collecting macguffins from dangerous locations (likely Inquest facilities) as required.
One possible solution has been foreshadowed since the end of Episode 2, with Taimi’s fascination with Blish and his freedom “from life’s frailties”. While Blish was proven to have no immunity to being eaten by an Elder Dragon, Taimi transferring her consciousness to a golem would resolve her condition, in addition to removing the vulnerability she has historically experienced when Scruffy has been disabled or subverted (as demonstrated at the end of Episode 1). This would also allow the potential for a throwback for commanders from the College of Dynamics, as the first story step for these commanders involved such technology.
While on the topic of sick asura, it’s possible that the Commander might finally take the opportunity to check on Zojja’s condition, which has been left ambiguous since Heart of Thorns. These could even blend together, since if Zojja has recovered enough to return to active research, she might put her expertise into finding a resolution to Taimi’s condition… possibly including her expertise in golemancy.
Expanding Glint’s Legacy
Finally, we come to what is arguably the Commander’s global, overarching concern: finding a means to resolve the twin threats of Elder Dragon aggression and magic overload.
At present, the first seems to have become a relatively minor threat. Primordus and Jormag have returned to hibernation (although as long as magic concentrations remain high, they could reawaken at any time) while the Deep Sea Dragon has had little direct impact on the known regions of Tyria. However, the second presents a problem. Aurene’s absorption of Kralkatorrik’s magic allowed Kralkatorrik to be removed without making the magic overload problem worse, but the magic that was released by the deaths of Zhaitan and Mordremoth, and not absorbed by another dragon, remains loose and in a position to cause further havoc. Meanwhile, there are no remaining scions of Glint that could pick up the slack. Skyscales are unlikely to represent a solution to the problem, since according to Aurene, they are on the same level as drakes and wyverns, and thus do not seem to have the potential to become an Elder Dragon.
One thing which could possibly make this easier is the response of the Branded, particularly the Branded Forgotten, to Aurene’s replacement of Kralkatorrik. Since Aurene appears to have absorbed the entirety of Kralkatorrik’s magic, with the blessing of at least part of Kralkatorrik’s psyche, it’s possible that the allegiance of the Branded might have shifted to Aurene, rather than going rogue as seen with the Risen. As a result, it might be possible to confer with the Forgotten about any contingency plans they might have had for this situation. With Jormag and Primordus asleep, it might even be possible to attempt to perform the cleansing ritual on them as they sleep – although, presumably, there’s a reason why the Forgotten have not attempted to perform the ritual on a sleeping Elder Dragon before.
At the bottom line, we need more dragons that have the potential to become Elder Dragons, or at least, comparable entities that can absorb that level of magic. One possibility is that, like Glint before her, Aurene could produce scions of her own. From a narrative perspective, however, this seems like such a resolution would be too easy. The precedent seems to be that Glint’s eggs take centuries or more to hatch, so while Aurene might be able to bring forth new scions more easily with her greater power, this might not represent a solution that is practical within the Commander’s lifetime.
If Aurene cannot create new dragons, the answer might be to find them elsewhere. Beyond Glint and her scions, there are three other known dragons with the capacity and inclination to speak to mortals: Kuunavang, Albax, and Shiny. Of these, Shiny was last seen in the Hidden City of Ahdashim, but was not seen in the recent Key of Ahdashim raid. Accordingly, his whereabouts – and even survival – are unknown.
The other two, meanwhile, are both to be found in Cantha. As a result, this could create an impetus for the Commander to mount an expedition to Cantha, possibly providing the setup for a third expansion in the Empire of the Dragon.