This is going to be a tricky one to open a dialogue about due to the issues of perspective bias—the thinking is that a dragon is a monster, it isn't a person, and thus selective empathy is applied. It means that the way we think about the dragons of Guild Wars 2 is in the terms of how something alien to us might act, which automatically has negative connotations within inherent biases of foreignness itself. The truth is, humans will often have biases like this that enable selective empathy—the billionnaire couldn't be at fault, the immigrant is as one is familiar and the other is not.
So this will require a perspective shift—to consider a dragon as a person and what that might imply in the greater sense of the Guild Wars 2 narrative. So, let's begin.
The first time I noticed this shift was with Kralkatorrik and the end of LWS4, it wasn't merely the discovery of the torment but what the torment represented symbolically—Kralkatorrik was neurotic, a dragon of anxieties and invasive thoughts. Yes, these were represented as an abstract brain parasite named The Torment, but they were representative of the struggles that anyone with those issues would understand. It was a strange moment where I realised that someone on the writing team had a voice, they had something to say and it wasn't the usual messaging found in mainstream narratives.
A dragon with invasive thoughts is an incredibly novel, exciting concept to someone like myself. I've suffered with similar all my life—as a plural system, the way I've coped with them best is working with my headmates to fight them. These words may be alien to you but I'd prefer for you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions rather than leading you with whatever biases I might impose. This was... an experience. I cannot articulate how profound it was for me as nowhere had I ever encountered a story that had me combating invasive thoughts.
Symbolically—Aurene and I were being someone's headmates and we were fighting tooth and nail against these toxic incursions. We stood to return Kralkatorrik to sanity so that he might rest in peace. I've never... It really is difficult to articulate as I feel that one could only tell this story if they'd had very specific experiences that would allow them to offer such, and to me it is succor. It's recognition. I rarely see these struggles presented in such a light, one where the presence of headmates is considered a positive thing as much of this is still unbroken ground to the sciences of the mind.
I cannot say whether Aurene suffers with invasive thoughts but I can say for certain that she does have a considerable dose of neuroses. Their voice actors are par excellence as I can often hear it in her voice, her words, though the writing conveys it excellently as well. Aurene is afraid and her fear is debilitating, it isn't a fear of dying—but rather it's an obsessive fear of making things worse. I'm attempting to illustrate here her low self-esteem, as she has more love for her champion than she has for herself and this is profoundly evident in all she says and does.
As such, in crystal dragons I can see the potent presence of anxiety as a common factor and this intrigues me. It might not be indicative of the state of a crystal dragon, it might simply be rather that Aurene's family has a history of anxiety, but regardless of however it plays out it is a common factor. I don't think that Glint helped as much as she would've hoped as her wisdoms seem to have only doubled-down on Aurene's anxieties and fears.
Now, let's look at what Aurene has experienced thus far—the poor lass has been forced to Old Yeller her grandfather, witness the lifeless body of her mother, and live through the death of her brother. Every one of these events furhter eroded her self-esteem, this is problematic for a growing and youthful mind as it can leave scars. Traumas. Aurene being so young and inexperienced would be more poorly equipped to handle htis than even her grandfather was, thankfully the processes involved in her growth have left her largely immune to The Torment, though not to the struggles of heart and mind.
Aurene's champion is incredibly important to her as they're a part of her support system—and anyone who's experienced as much pathos as Aurene would absolutely need one. She's now faced with the possibility of expanding her support system, yet with all of the negative mythos revolving around dragons, her fear and her anxiety leaves her uncertain as to how to proceed.
In the Gendarran Fields we learned that Primordus isn't simply destructive—he's vindictive and sadistic, his emotion is anger and it is apparent. I get the feeling that Primordus lacks a sense of empathy, and being an ancient and powerful dragon he's likely never seen the need for one. From what I can glean, he has something of an antisocial, dark triad personality where he's given to lashing out and he cares little for the outcome of his actions. To his mind, to have the power is to have the right—so if others must be flayed and burned alive to feed his power then that is how it must be, how it should be.
I cannot say for certain but I feel that this is indicative of Primordus having also been stricken with The Torment—especially since the ultimate goal of The Torment appears to be entropy. It said as much through Kralkatorrik, it seeks the end of all things... A goal that Primordus appears to share.
Jormag is traumatised AF.
I'll back up here. A part of the problem is that the Spirits of the Wild aren't as benevolent as the norn believe them to be. Even if we were only to consider how they've conditioned the norn to seek legends, one can see how problematic their influence is. How many of you recall the story of how GameStop had their employees engage in a dance competition to earn overtime? This is a similar situation—yet by far even more malignant, of course.
A norn has to amuse the spirits by heading out into the icy North and murdering their way to glory. If they die or fail to appease the spirits then they have no means to earn their spiritform, which they have been taught since time immemorial to feel incomplete without.
On top of this, we've learned a number of things about the spirits that cast an even shadier light upon them. They weren't responsible for guiding the norn to safety in the Southern mountains. Yes, they claimed credit for it but the action was Asgeir's at the behest of Jormag. The spirits had no moral difficulty in using this to bolster their stead, standing, and status with the norn, however. Oh and they eat children—we know that canonically too. I'd see them as every bit as malevolent as Primordus, markedly more insidious and clever however.
I would even go so far as to posit that the attack on the Vigil Keep was the actions of the spirits with the intent to frame Jormag to instigate hostilities—they've made their intent clear, their wish is to replace Jormag. Now, I cannot say this for certain as it's simply a feeling but it's one I wanted to raise.
Consider, if you would, that every time you rose from slumber you were to be chased by a vindictive, sadistic bully who had little care for the life of you, your children, your branded, or anyone else. If each and every time you awoke you would have to run, hide, and hope to live another day. What if, then, to compound that the actions of other dragons and the lies of the spirits had left you in a place where mortals had little to no trust for you. Afraid, on the run, the world is against you.
Narrative lead Tom Abernathy has revealed a number of interesting things about Jormag: They aren't a liar, they have no interest in misleading anyone; Their power has no capacity for manipulation or mind control, it's more akin to a compelling argument; They genuinely do care about Tyria. I think that given the source we can assume that all of these statements are true. Ergo, they are the opposite of their twin in more ways than one. Where Primordus seeks to destroy, Jormag wishes to preserve.
Indeed—from what I've been able to gather Jormag seems deeply bothered by the loss of life. Yes, they have made their own mistakes but they aren't out of malice. Their mistakes were founded upon both their fear and their trauma. Two titbits I find intriguing are that Jormag seems especially focused upon cycles, and that they're unable to separate the death of Primordus from their freedom. There's more we're being told here than we realise—Jormag is extolling their need to break the cycle of abuse.
If this supposition is correct then it explains many of Jormag's unusual behaviours. Why were they so skittish when initially trying to communicate with us? In part, it was out of fear that they might offend Aurene. I would say that it's also because traumas are difficult to speak of. I feel that we've seen a fair amount of evidence of both of these points whenever Aurene tries to speak to Jormag of their twin. So why then is Jormag so invested in Aurene? Why does Jormag have such a clear friend-crush? I admit, there's a coup de grâce incoming.
Jormag sees Aurene as a dragon of lesser power who was able to overcome one above her—more than that though, they see Aurene as one who was able to defeat her abuser and defeat the cycle of abuse. Jormag likely doesn't know about The Torment, so to their mind Aurene was able to kill their abuser. They don't understand Aurene's hesitation to help them—they're confused about it, that if indeed Aurene did slay her abuser, why then does she falter with helping Jormag with Primordus? What happened there that damaged her so? Perhaps, Jormag thinks, if they can build up her self-esteem, she might help Jormag attain freedom from the pathos of abuse too.
Now, I've unfortunately had to deal with my fair share of predators so I'm used to the methods they're likely to use to predate—they will build you up with shallow compliments meant to boost your ego, only to break you down later. This is how they control you. However, what Jormag is doing isn't merely platitudes without merit, their intent is to bolster Aurene's confidence and have them believe in themself more. They wish for Aurene to think more highly of herself, but why?
Debra Wilson is an incredible voice actor too and in her voice when speaking of Primordus I can hear shame. This was another piece of the puzzle—it's most audible when Jormag asks Aurene how she would feel about being chained to a monster. It isn't just that they have to burden Aurene but how it hurts their pride aswell, they would much rather be able to impress her by standing against their aggressor alone. Aurene's refusal to help implies that this is what they're bieng asked to do.
If ever one experiences trauma it leaves them vulnerable—the desire is there to seek out a support network. This is something that both Jormag and Aurene desire, as they could find emotional strength in one another that they would not have alone. This is also why Aurene is awakening to Jormag's truth, thus why she reciprocates them. Aurene has stated that they enjoy speaking with Jormag as she feels that their presence strengthens and bolsters her. Jormag understands something no one else does. Aurene's champion is a valid source of support though they fail to relate to her traumas and anxiety. I mean, they're not a dragon so how could they? It's an unfair expectation. Aurene knows that too.
What transpired at Lake Doric wasn't Jormag "showing their true colours" as the Commander had unfairly assumed, but rather Jormag doing what they believe they had been asked to do by Aurene—to show the strength to overcome their abuser unaided. If Jormag hadn't taken Lake Doric then Primordus would've. We know this because the asura said so immediately prior to us heading there, and if it had been him then most of the people there would've died to his fire. Just as so many have already.
Jormag is terrified of Primordus but they're also tired—they're so very tired of all of the death he causes. In earlier content they had said that were there no other option, they would freeze the world itself to stop Primordus from taking any more life. Aurene presented them with a new opportunity, a way to confront their abuser with the support of another dragon who'd already defeated hers. They desperately wanted this—they sought it so carefully, so cautiously, though in the end they were left feeling the way they always had. They stood alone against him.
Consider, if you will, the differential in power between the minions of Jormag and those of Primordus. It's entirely reasonable to understand why Jormag would be terrified out of their freaking gourd by just how violent, deadly, and powerful he is. All they want is to be free from his unending abuse, they want to break that cycle of abuse. The problem is is that they can't see a way of doing that—a way of being free from his abuse—without him dying. This is why, as I think I stated, they cannot extricate teh death of Primordus from their own freedom. This is true of the majority of those who're trapped in a cycle of abuse—they feel the only way they'll ever be free is if their abuser dies.
Those who're abused—due to their trauma—see their abuser as omnipresent and omnipotent, as though there would be nowhere they could go to escape from it. They feel as though their abuser would always somehow find them. I speak from experience, as this is something that I had to deal with myself and I see much of the same in Jormag. I relate to them.
The dragons of Tyria are being used to explore states of pathos within the mind. Anxiety, invasive thoughts, low self-essteem, crippling fear, trauma, anger management issues, lacking empathy, and so on. I've observed this since LWS4. It takes the shift of not seeing the dragons as monsters, you have to see them instead as persons to understand the conclusions I've come to. If you can shift your perspective to think of them in this way, I think you'll find that there's much to explore and consider.
I spoke of support networks prior and the reason for that? For those who've known such suffering, it can heal to have anoother who understands. In much the same way as it can to be wanted, even needed. A potent feeling that resonates loudly from both Jormag and Aurene alike.
One could ask even why Jormag took Ryland as their champion—in part an appeal to Aurene, an effort to do as they do to foster friendship, though I believe that isn't the only reason. Ryland has known much pain—through his broken parents, the loss of both his warband and his love. A traumatised champion for a traumatised dragon.
In regards to the point I raised about invasive thoughts? That really was a profound experience for me—it isn't my intent to exaggerate or hyperbolise, for a moment—within this fiction—it felt like paying it forward and sharing the kindness my headmates had shown me in my most desperate moments. It was a strange experience to say the least, yet one that I valued immensely.
I see the pathos of these dragons and I can only hope that they're allowed to heal aswell.
As my mind is hardly what it used to be there was a point I wished to raise regarding Jormag that eluded me. I will try not to have a list of addenda with this—hopefully I haven't forgotten much. Now then...
I found the way that Jormag ended the charr war to be quite curious. It is worth asking yourself how you might've done so and why vis-a-vis Jormag's chosen path. If all life has worth thanks to its potential and the possibility of rehabilitation, perhaps you might've chosen then to keep Bangar alive? If you'd simply made him a prisoner, however, you're ultimately now a target.
I suppose you could end his life but then you have another problem on your hands as you've created a martyr—there are many who could take up the fight where Bangar left off and realise his wish for a charr conquered world. Bangar—like Smodur—surrounded himself with like-minds, or at least those pretending to be so, so there's more ambition there that might continue to be a problem in his absence, that might even be worse than he was.
The act of collaring Bangar is two-fold: Primarily it takes his voice. The reason a leader is so is due to their charisma, in human politics the majority vote not for policies but for whomever they like hte best. Words can kill. Bangar's most potent weapon is his voice—so if Jormag can both humiliate him and take his voice, they're both taking the wind out of the sails of the Dominion's momentum and ensuring that Bangar cannot use his voice to kill. If anyone does, Jormag understands the power of a voice. They know what words can do.
Of course, they also hope that this will help to win over Aurene. It's absolutely my opinion that Jormag is friend-crushing on them pretty hard out of unsatisfied emotional needs—deep ones that go far beyond the appreciation of a talented interlocutor.
The act of collaring Bangar is meant to illustrate to Aurene that Jormag can be an asset, I believe they want to be valuable to Aurene, valued by her. They admire her as she broke her own cycle of abuse, in many ways I believe Jormag wishes to be more like Aurene—which is one of the rasons they took a champion. To me, Jormag wears their emotions on their sleeve, it's all very apparent and they hide nothing.
Speaking personally—the best outcome for me would be one where Primordus is freed from the ichorous grip of The Torment and enters into a relationship of balance with Aurene and Jormag. Is this what Balance and Judgemnet portend? I can only hope.