In anticipation of Chapter 2 of Episode 5 of The Icebrood Saga, we released an analysis of Jormag’s manipulative behaviour towards Aurene. Now that The Icebrood Saga has concluded (with some controversy and clear signs of a longer story being stripped to the bare essentials), it’s a good time to look back and complete the picture of Jormag.
We started Chapter 2: Power with another discussion between Aurene and Jormag. Predictably, it started with empty flattery, but quickly turned into a dominance move:
Jormag through Bangar: Millennia with no one to talk to; I finally find a worthy interlocutor, and now you won’t answer? You wound me, Aurene.
Jormag through Bangar: Surely you, too, crave more stimulating conversation than mortals can provide. Unless…
Jormag through Bangar: Oh, Dragon of Crystal and Light—do I intimidate you?
Aurene: I promise you, that’s not it.
However, this seemed to backfire. Later in the discussion, Aurene established her boundaries and called Jormag out:
Jormag through Bangar: You break, you refract, you reshape. The beauty is the irrelevance. You are altogether new!
Aurene: I decide my purpose. And it isn’t to destroy.
Jormag through Bangar: You’d let the beast inflict wounds just so you can heal them?
Aurene: Don’t twist my words. I’m not a child; I will not be manipulated.
Jormag through Bangar: Well. Even when you are determined to be contrary, Aurene, it’s lovely to speak with you.
And as with past interactions, when the conversation went in a direction that Jormag didn’t like, Jormag turned the blame on Aurene – by accusing her of contrariness – before breaking the connection.
Of course, shortly afterwards (sooner than I expected, in fact) we reached the moment of betrayal, where Jormag’s troops arrived at Doric’s Landing and were welcomed as allies until they turned on the nearby villages. However, it took until the next chapter until Aurene’s opportunity to confront Jormag over the matter came. When she did, in Chapter 3: Balance, Jormag turned to another page in the abuser’s handbook:
Aurene: Physically, maybe. But mentally? Emotionally? You don’t know, you don’t care. You need to care.
Jormag: My dear, I do care. Of course I care. But you’ve left me no option.
Aurene: Me? What do y—
Jormag: You refuse to help me stop the existential threat my brother poses.
Jormag: What choice, then, do I have but to shift the balance of power by whatever means I can?
This is a classic “If I hurt you, it’s only because you made me do it” move. Strictly speaking, Jormag was hurting innocents that Aurene cared about rather than hurting Aurene directly, but the end result was the same.
Ultimately, this was the end of the “Jormag as a persuasive psychological abuser” arc. Aurene upheld her boundaries and refused to do Jormag’s bidding. In response, Jormag grew angrier and angrier until they finally snapped.
Perhaps more interesting is what Jormag said shortly afterwards:
Jormag: Your balance that chains me to an animal. No thought! No reason! Imagine MY MIND, bound for all eternity to THAT!
Until this point, Jormag had tried to present their motivations as altruistic, but every so often they let slip that they had a personal goal – Jormag and Primordus were somehow bound together, and Primordus’ death would free Jormag. The assumption had been that this simply represented freedom from the threat posed by Primordus (who was, after all, Jormag’s weakness). This line, spoken in anger, shows that Jormag’s motivations went deeper than simply removing a threat.
Jormag was genuinely suffering from their bond with Primordus.
Furthermore, this suffering was mental, not physical, and stemmed from Primordus’ lack of intellect. This implies that there was a psychic component to their link – it’s not just that their magic was opposed, their minds were somehow linked together.
So why is this so significant?
In the Wildfire instance, which culminated in Braham offering himself up as a trojan Champion to implant the Spirits of the Wild into Primordus’ mind without being consumed, we saw that Aurene and the Spirits of the Wild concurred with Jormag’s assessment of Primordus as a rabid animal. Specifically, Raven states that Primordus lacked “the clarity and reason to recognise his enemy”; while Primordus did regard Jormag as a rival, he lacked the focus to identify Jormag and their minions and concentrate his attention on them specifically. Instead, what little characterisation we have of Primordus (all secondhand) suggests that Primordus’ psyche was dominated by ravenous hunger and animalistic aggression. Whether he was always like this or this was simply Primordus’ brand of excess-magic-induced insanity, all the information we have suggests that this was the limit of Primordus’ mental capacity.
This establishes a major contrast with Jormag, who was perhaps the most intellectual of the Elder Dragons we have fought thus far. Jormag’s conversations with Aurene suggest that, however much Jormag was trying to manipulate and coerce Aurene, they genuinely did enjoy speaking with an entity they considered to be an equal, and thus Jormag might have similarly enjoyed having a psychic link with such a mind. We see hints to this in Jormag’s comments regarding Ryland (specifically, referring to Ryland as “surprisingly easy to talk to – and an excellent strategist” during the Confer with Bangar achievement, albeit still in a ‘most mortals are inconsequential but this one’s an exception’ context), even if Ryland was clearly the subordinate in this relationship.
Primordus was far from that. If Jormag was constantly hearing Primordus’ thoughts, then what Jormag was receiving was likely an incoherent jumble and an endless hunger, intruding on Jormag’s own thoughts and disrupting their concentration. This is probably what Jormag meant by their mind being chained to an animal that they wished to be free from. And it’s certainly understandable. Imagine living in an apartment block where your inconsiderate neighbour’s Screaming Meemie of a toddler is going off at one in the morning. Now expand that to something that’s happening 24/7, when you’re trying to sleep, trying to study, trying to read, just trying to think in general… except that it’s happening inside your mind and there’s nothing you can do to escape it.
And I think this is something that explains why, after having tried so hard to get someone else to take the risks of fighting, Jormag was finally willing to take Primordus on directly. Essentially, Jormag had reached the point where they had had enough of having Primordus’ animalistic thoughts constantly intrude on their own, and decided that death was better than having this state of affairs continue. Jormag would have preferred to survive Primordus, naturally – hence why Jormag tried so hard to get Aurene to kill Primordus for them, and when that failed, to gain as much power as possible so that Jormag would have the best chance they could. In the end, however, part of Jormag’s willingness to fight to the death at the end might be because Jormag saw both victory and death to be better outcomes than the continuation of the status quo, especially if withdrawing would have allowed Primordus to gain enough power that Jormag would have been unlikely to get another shot.
This does raise the question of… why is it now that Jormag has finally had enough? Here we have no solid clues, but I think there are a couple of factors that might have contributed to this. One may be that the deaths of other Elder Dragons and the rise of Aurene might have given Jormag hope. When that hope was dashed by Aurene’s refusal to cooperate, that was enough to tip Jormag over the edge. Another, possibly stronger, possibility is that the strength of the psychic link is proportional to the magical strengths of the two dragons. With the destruction of three Elder Dragons, a Bloodstone, and a god releasing magic into the world, and the actions taken by both Jormag and Primordus to empower themselves in The Icebrood Saga, it’s possible that at the time of their deaths the two opposing Elder Dragons were more powerful than they had ever been before. This may have intensified Primordus’ presence in Jormag’s mind to the point where Jormag simply couldn’t bear it any more. It’s even possible that at this point Primordus’ fury had intruded on Jormag’s mind so strongly that Jormag also lost the ability to think clearly and went berserk.
We’ll probably never know, and the analysis above is unfortunately one that’s been drawn purely from a single line and a smattering of other hints building up to that line. Unfortunately, the shortening of The Icebrood Saga to make room for Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons means that what was intended to be a much longer saga was compressed into a single four-chapter episode, and thus it’s likely that a lot of details which would have given us greater insight into Jormag’s motivations were cut. But if this is what was planned all along, Jormag’s willingness to commit everything – even their own life – to ending Primordus makes sense. For all of Jormag’s character flaws, they were probably the sanest of the established Elder Dragons… but where the insanity of other Elder Dragons came from within, Jormag’s flowed through a psychic bond with Primordus that they never wanted.
And perhaps, if Jormag had been more upfront about what they wanted rather than trying to manipulate Aurene into doing their bidding, we might have found a way to help after all.