I hope it goes without saying that there are lore spoilers ahead, as well as Eye of the North, Guild Wars Beyond, and companion novel (Ghosts of Ascalon and Edge of Destiny) spoilers. You have been warned.
Eye of the North (Spoilers ahead!)
A mere six years after saving Tyria for the first time, player characters are at it again! The year 1078 AE marks the beginning of Eye of the North and a whole lot of action. Let's look at some of the highlights.
The Norn and Asura are introduced as NPC races. The Norn inhabit the frosty reaches of the Northern Shiverpeaks, while the Asura are spilling out into the Tarnished Coast and a few other areas. Jora, the first Norn whom players meet, has a crazy brother named Svanir who embraces a corrupted Spirit. Players also meet the Dwarves of Deldrimor and work in close alliance with all three races.
Meeting the Asura means getting cool Asura tech! Travel in Guild Wars 2 is greatly augmented by the technomagical Asura gates, which are able to connect very distant places and eventually bring about greater cooperation between the races.
Players find the sapling that will one day grow into the Pale Tree, the mother of the Sylvari. This tree is nestled deep in the jungle and protected by a very wise, very old centaur by the name of Ventari. Ventari carves a tablet of tenets that describe his ethics and morals, and he leaves the tablet with the tree when he dies. When the Firstborn of the Sylvari eventually awaken years later, they will embrace this as their most sacred artifact and (with the exception of the Nightmare Court) attempt to understand and follow its teachings.
Since players killed off the Charr's previous gods, the Titans, in Prophecies, most of the Charr have been scratching at the collar of the Flame Legion's domination. Desperate for new gods with whom to oppress the masses, the Flame Legion turns to the Destroyers, creatures of fire and lava that have been coming up out of the earth. Pyre Fierceshot, a brave Charr and an eventual ally of players, begin to sow the seeds of rebellion along with his warband. About 40 years after those seeds are planted, they will bloom into a beautiful rebellion flower when Kalla Scorchrazor and a whole bunch of secretly trained female Charr tell the Flame Legion quite violently that they're sick of the Flame Legion's crap. The Flame Legion will become outcasts, Charr will almost universally reject any notion of gods, and shamans and magic-users will be regarded with general suspicion.
The Ebon Vanguard, a human Ascalonian fighting force, is introduced. Players help the Vanguard out as part of the effort against the Destroyers and meet Gwen the Goremonger.
The Destroyers themselves are significant on a bunch of levels. Destroyers are effectively the big bad of Eye of the North, driving the Asura out of their underground civilization, giving the Norn something to hunt, instigating all that Flame Legion junk, and generally making a mess of things. It is in an attempt to gain victory against the Destroyers that the Deldrimor Dwarves turn themselves to living stone. After defeating the Great Destroyer (aided by the sacrifice of the Dwarves), players are shown a vision of the Elder Dragon Primordus. The defeat of Primordus' general (the Great Destroyer) delays the dragon's awakening until 1120 AE, which is good because there's a lot to get to before we bring dragons into this business.
Guild Wars Beyond
Welcome to Guild Wars Beyond! This series of content patches to the original campaigns helps establish some of the storylines that take place between Eye of the North and Guild Wars 2.
By the time Guild Wars 2 comes around, the White Mantle are recognized as little more than a cult. The Shining Blade, on the other hand, become the protectors of the royal family and are recognized as one of the three official military orders of Kryta. Now a Queen, Salma also institutes another of the military orders, the Seraph.
Meanwhile, Hearts of the North is following a romantic storyline between Charr-hating Gwen and elite soldier Keiran Thackeray. While there's also some self-actualization for Keiran, the upshot of the whole experience is that Keiran and Gwen fall in love so that two and a half centuries later their descendant, Logan Thackeray, will exist.
The final stretch
This brings us up to 1080 AE. King Adelbern calls the Ebon Vanguard back from the North, at which point they fortify the city of Ebonhawke.
Ten years later, the Charr mount an assault on the city of Ascalon. Pushing in past the city walls, the Charr are on the brink of victory when King Adelbern unleashes a spell called the Foefire. According to human legends, the Foefire was brought about when Adelbern's flaming sword struck that of the Flame Legion Imperator. The Charr tell a different story, based on the words of the king's own courtier, who escaped the city just before the Foefire was unleashed. They say that the old king went mad, and when he saw his people abandoning their posts as the Charr forces approached, he unleashed the Foefire in a final attempt to keep Ascalon from the claws of the Charr forever.
The Durmand Priory is established in 1105 AE; literacy spreads like wildfire.
"We know not when these Elder Dragons came to be, only when we came to be aware of their awakening."
In 1120 AE, Primordus wakes up for keeps. Jormag the Ice Dragon joins the awakened Elder Dragon party about 45 years later, driving the Norn out of the Northern Shiverpeaks. Zhaitan, the Elder Undead Dragon, awakes in 1219 AE. As a part of Zhaitan's awakening, Orr rises from the sea. This causes massive shifts in the land. While Orr is risen, Lion's Arch floods (later to be rebuilt as a collaboration between the races) and the inland waters in northern Kryta shrink. About 50 years later the Deep Sea Dragon (affectionately dubbed Bubbles until we get an actual name) also stirs, and its presence, combined with Zhaitan's power in Orr, effectively cuts off travel by open sea.
The group Destiny's Edge, composed of Guild Wars 2 iconics representing each of the races of Tyria, is brought together in 1319 AE as Eir Stegalkin, Norn sculptor extraordinaire, gathers allies in her attempt to defeat one of Jormag's lieutenants. They are successful in taking down the lieutenant and some of the minions of other dragons.
One year later, the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik awakens in the northern Charr territories and flies to the Crystal Desert. The lands that Kralkatorrik flew over were corrupted by its passing, creating the Dragonbrand.
In the same year, the Vigil is founded. All three of the cross-racial orders are now in existence, fighting against the dragons in their own way.
The year 1324 AE sees the events of Ghosts of Ascalon unfold. The book is most notable for introducing us to the horror of what happened in Ascalon and the beginnings of truce negotiations between humans and Charr.
The present day at the start of Guild Wars 2 is 1325 AE.
The humans are fighting off centaur attacks in their home territories around Divinity's Reach (built in 1220 AE), stamping out banditry and the White Mantle, and trying to establish a truce with the Charr. The Charr and Norn live close to each other with mutual respect. The Charr are hunting down the Flame Legion and are ever on their guard against the ghosts of Ascalon. Norn hunters deal with the corruption of Jormag and the Sons of Svanir, a cult that follows in Svanir's footsteps by embracing the Spirit of Dragon. The Asura live above the surface now, having rebuilt Rata Sum, and deal with the corrupted rising from Orr and all the dangers of the surface world. Barely 25 years in existence, the Sylvari are awakening from their Dream within the Pale Tree and feel themselves called to fight the corruption.
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.