Sorry, it was just the only title that came to mind and I couldn't think of what else to call it.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ICEBROOD SAGA (And Path of Fire/Heart of Thorns if you haven't played that far)
So, I've been going through the lore, the video clips, and various people's opinions. I'm no WoodenPotatoes, but I do have some thoughts on where the story might be going, and where it currently stands. First, let's take stock of a few things:
1. Each time we kill an Elder Dragon, its magic is disseminated to the other dragons.
2. The Elder Dragons are themselves each bound to a particular type of magic. They can absorb other magics, but like foreign bodies it hurts them, as seen in Kralkatorrik.
3. Kralkatorrik was split into two personalities: a 'benevolent' grandfather who actually desired to pass his magic on to Aurene as "the first of her kind" who could unify and maintain multiple types of magic without being destroyed by them. The second personality was the tormented rage that drove him to violence.
4. We did not kill Mordremoth. Mordremoth deliberately killed himself by impaling his head. I found this odd the first time I saw it, and odd every time after.
5. There is this related nugget an entire expansion later: https://i.gyazo.com/5d8536a2f301b6f4538aec9fd98481fe.mp4
6. The Forgotten had tried to purify Kralk and failed, but succeeded with Glint, Aurene's and Glast's mother.
7. The Forgotten's plan didn't entail having only one Elder Dragon replacement, but several, each balancing and sharing magic benevolently in a non-destructive way. While Aurene can handle multiple magics, we don't yet know that killing another Elder Dragon won't make the world explode. We don't know what balance the world needs to maintain.
8. Taimi discovered that Jormag and Primordous were each other's weaknesses due to their form of magic.
9. When fighting Zhaitan, a mysterious Blue orb of unknown origin but great power was used to protect Fort Trinity as it innately negated Zhaitan's power. It is speculated that this is related to the Deep Sea dragon, Bubbles who was Zhaitan's antithesis/weakness.
10. In the most recent Icebrood Saga, Ep. 2, we discover that the Spirits of the Wild did not lead them south from Jormag, but Jormag himself made that arrangement. More on that later.
Let's revisit Mordremoth. Mordremoth was the dragon of Mind and Plants, with a dash of death and shadow from Zhaitan. It was later revealed that the different magics were giving Kralk a stomach ache, essentially, tearing him apart from the inside. It was a deterioration that probably started even before Zhaitan and Mordremoth were killed, but when they died the explosion of those magic types accelerated that process. On the surface we see Mordremoth as being domineering and violent, seeking to control everything, but destruction was all we saw of Kralkatorrik until we reached his heart and he actually entreated the Commander to end him in benevolent Grandfatherly fashion.
At the end of the Mordremoth fight of consuming ley islands and Mordy snoot-boops, he finally coils up his tree and- slam spikes himself through the head, sending a shockwave of his magic through Tyria and specifically sparking the hatching of Aurene's egg. As I linked above in my list, his deliberate end is punctuated by a student questioning why someone would ever spike themselves through the head. And honestly, I had the same thought even the first time I saw that cinematic. Why would he so deliberately kill himself? No one I knew seemed to find it out of place, so I had shrugged it off until recently.
From what we have learned of Kralk, I suspect that Mordremoth may have had similar internal struggles. We saw his violence and domineering nature, but he was very aware of Aurene's egg. Much of the story revolves around protecting the egg from him. Kralk also sought to destroy Aurene, even though in the end his ultimate desire was for her to ascend. In the last moments when Mordremoth had been weakened, I suspect that Mordy's "better side" took over, and in effect he sacrificed himself to spark the hatching of the egg.
That isn't the only parallel we see, though. Mordremoth via his 'converted' Faolain both antagonizes and entreats the Commander on their path to killing him in a way not entirely dissimilar to Jormag's offers and methods. Very likely up until Zhaitan's death, the dragons may have viewed themselves as the 'organs' of Tyria, and the leylines its circulatory system. In truth, that isn't totally incorrect in how they had operated in an objective view. They are corners of a web support structure that we have been systematically disconnecting so it collapses a bit more each time. To the dragons, the mortal races might even be considered at best, parasites.
So let's think about how the dragons seem to view mortals thusfar. In general the dragons heretofore have viewed mortals as pests as mentioned, maybe sources of food or minions, and generally inconsequential. We never got to speak with Zhaitan directly, but he definitely did not seem on the benevolent side other than mortals dying providing him with even more minions. Glint was the first hint at a more benevolent side, but as we learned from Kralk, his 'hidden good side' also saw value in mortals, and despite Glint's assumption, he did not actually fear a world with peace between mortals and dragons. Mordremoth was domineering and wanted to conquer mortals, but the Pale Tree is the herbaceous equivalent to a purified Glint, one of Mordremoth's lieutenants broken free, which shows an equally benevolent side. This is where things get interesting with Jormag.
Thusfar it had been believed that the Spirits of the Wild had led Aesgir, who in turn led the Norn to safety south of Jormag. Aesgir had actually made a deal with Jormag himself as is elaborated in "A Burden," Aesgir's journal. Jormag is described as having a soft, benevolent, even kind voice. Jormag says that his violence to the Norn incursions had been in self-defense, and that Jormag now saw the Norn as a race worth preserving. As such, Jormag gave Aesgir a choice: Bring more norn and watch them die as Jormag continued to defend himself, or take Jormag's tooth and use it to convince the Norn to move further south where they could live in peace, with the promise that Jormag would not follow and torment them. Aesgir, however, also mentions in his journal that he can't shake the feeling he may have given up a possible victory in the deal, even though at the time he felt he had no other option.
You might assume that it's just as Aesgir said, that he had given up an opportunity for victory and that he had taken the coward's way out, but the entire "Invitation" instance sets itself against that assumption. Before you ever get to actually speak with Jormag, you need to go through the Raven's trials, a series of situations you need to make decisions on. The underlying message that is even voiced by Jhavi during the trials is:
[Character name]: I feel like I didn't make the right choice.
Warmaster Jhavi Jorasdottir: There isn't a right choice, Commander. That's what the Raven Spirit is about. That's why we choose to follow it.
There are no right answers, only consequences, it instructs you. No matter what choice you choose, there will always be consequences one way or another. The trial scene wasn't just fluff to make things interesting, it's the framework for the final scene where you receive Jormag's offer through Fraenir's broken corpse. Like Aesgir, Jormag identifies you as someone worthy of speaking to, and Jormag entreats the Commander in much the same way:
Listen to Jormag's invitation, allying with him at the possible risk of the dragon taking things in a direction you do not want, or forge ahead opposed to Jormag, and forgoing any possible protection the Elder dragon might have provided, facing the nameless calamity alone. Add into this that we're not necessarily free to attack Jormag yet anyway - that whole magic balancing act which has already been thrown askew with the death of Zhaitan and Mordremoth is still a factor. While Aurene is helping to stabilize things, the Elder Dragons aren't Open Season yet, so succeeding to kill Jormag has more possible consequences than simply not getting a buff. Allying with Jormag might mean letting Bangarang (Sorry, I just can't not call him that) and his cohorts follow their chosen path of essentially becoming minions of Jormag, which in turn might be enlightening as to the effect of conversion. It might also put you at odds with Bangarang and the charr separatists if Jormag allies with the Commander instead.
So where does that leave us as far as Jormag's intentions and our possible options? At the end of "The Invitation" the dialog between Braham and the commander is purposefully crafted to leave a sense of doubtfulness and uncertainty as to whether or not we'll actually consider Jormag's offer. The commander says, "Right," in response to Braham's query, but in a tone that sounds more like they're convincing themselves as much as anyone else.
From a story writing perspective, we know that we as the players aren't actually going to make a world-altering choice; the choice will be written into the story. I suspect we may court the idea of an alliance with Jormag once the actual threat that Jormag did not deign to extrapolate on is revealed, perhaps even try it for a time, but sooner or later we'll likely end up fighting Jormag in some fashion. Still, it is purposefully being presented as a difficult choice to make, where we may lose people to one side or the other, and have to be ready for the consequences whichever path is chosen. That's the obvious part, of course.
But that being said, we can still learn from how things are presented. Jormag is the dragon of ice and persuasion, so by nature he is not as directly aggressive. Lack of aggressiveness does not mean lack of hostility, though. It just makes him the politician of the Elder Dragons, and his supposed desire to 'help' Aurene is definitely most likely a political move more than anything else. The svanir are notoriously misogynistic and cruel (ironic that Bangarang would seek to ally himself with them after having just arranged a treaty with the Flame Legion that required instatement of status to females), but Kralk's minions (though by appearances more mindless) were also cruel, and so too were Mordremoth's. Their vicious sides were resonating through their minions just as Aurene's benevolence resonates through hers. Jormag is older, however, and more calculating, and only needs to quell the mortals to survive. 10,000 years is a passing day to an Elder Dragon.
We do not know what the 'terrible threat' is that Jormag mentions, but we know that it's in Jormag's best interest to present himself as our best option for survival regardless of what the reality of the situation is. Like Raven's trials, Jormag is presenting a binary option. In his position, he presents the choice as binary because it allows him to limit options to those that best serve him regardless of what we choose. You'll also note that Jormag does not present destroying him as an option, only that "You can either join me and I help you in this coming threat, or you can stand alone." He will not proactively suggest or confirm the possibility of his own defeat, but rather frames the offer in terms of what mortals face without his proposed support.
Jormag may indeed be offering a sort of compromise, but it's a more passive means of self-defense than the aggressive approaches of other dragons. It doesn't fix the inherent problem that the way Jormag feeds is destructive, and that Jormag - for all his borrowing of Almora's voice and sweet talking - doesn't have the best interest of mortals at heart outside of a bargianing chip. While in a sense he 'shares' power, he doesn't do so in the way that Aurene does. He is controlling and manipulative, and prefers to put threats off their guard, or better yet lead them to believe they are helping themselves by joining him.
You've probably guessed by now that I don't believe our choice is all that binary. So what are the alternatives that Jormag isn't mentioning? In my list I mentioned the Forgotten and how they had attempted to purify Kralk unsuccessfully. Sooner or later, I believe this ritual will come into play with one of the Elder Dragons. Our third option is that we purify Jormag or one of his lieutenants the way that the Forgotten attempted to purify Kralk. We can't necessarily go through the whole process that took place the first time to produce Aurene, but if a purification of Jormag succeeded, we wouldn't necessarily have to. Jormag in his current state wouldn't want that to be an option, so he wouldn't present it as one. He'd far prefer mortals feel forced into doing things "his way," complacently if possible.
If we destroy Jormag, we have to rely on the remaining dragons to be able to support that magic, or hope that Aurene can balance the magic all on her own, which seems an unlikely situation. Frankly, while Aurene might be able to cycle magic with the Pale Tree, the idea of Aurene replacing all of the other dragons is also the most boring option to me personally, and I sincerely hope that a more creative solution is part of the twists and turns Tyria takes. The Forgotten had always planned replacements for each of the dragons, not having just one take all the pressure. We might end up purifying one or more of the other dragons, but there would still be consequences to destroying Jormag beyond simply 'facing the nameless threat alone.'
Allying with Jormag is not a pretty option either. Still, as far as we know Jormag is the first and only dragon outside of Aurene herself to recruit minions and (from what we understand) only convert the willing. I've seen others say Jormag's minions retain their free will, but I largely disagree. They have intelligence, but Mordremoth minions displayed all the same characteristics of intelligence and 'free will' confined by the bounds of their master's, and I believe it's the same for the Svanirr. There is one ex-svanir Rojan the Penitent who claims that Jormag is a folly and not to be trusted. There were several 'interesting' conversations happening among the NPCs at the Dragon Bash, as well. Instead of quoting them all, I'll link you, and point you to the discussion of the preaching norn and the conversation between the human and the sylvari: https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Dragon_Bash_2019/dialogue
A purified Jormag offers some interesting benefits. Trying to find a way to purify an Elder Dragon while not being destroyed by it would be quite the feat. As you may have already thought, a purified elder dragon wouldn't necessarily have the 'connection' to mortals that Aurene has. Building that in a being that's been alive for unknown amounts of time would be a task in itself. Here, Jormag's willingness to interact with Mortals and natural propensity for persuasion might in a purified state translate into an actual benevolence and connection. If Jormag has an internal dichotomy going on such as Kralk (and possibly Mordremoth) did, that connection may on some level already exist.
Ultimately, all of this comes down to (A) Which dragons are capable of feeding without destroying the world, (B) which dragons can support the remaining magics without being driven mad by them, and (C) How many dragons it takes to screw in a lightbu- err... keep the world from falling apart.
Kralkatorrik identifies Aurene as "the first of her kind." Kralkatorrik is prophetic, as he was the first one to see a world where there was peace between dragons and mortals in the first place. While we can't say for certain that this was a prophecy, Kralk still said it with conviction and certainty. This suggests that she won't be the "only one" of her kind, but that she was simply the beginning. It also suggests that none of the other elder dragons - known or unknown - currently are capable of doing what Aurene does (supporting the flow of multiple magics without being destroyed by them).
With or without Jormag, Primordous neither seems the sharing type nor the peaceful type. He likes to watch the world burn, more or less literally, from all indication. Then there's Bubbles, the dragon no one knows much of anything about. Depsite being apparently awake, they have kept to themselves and remained undetected. While there are rumors of 'horrors' in the deeps from the Largos, the only direct influence we know of is that (possibly) its power protected us from Zhaitan in the form of the blue orb, and that it drove out the (arguably evil) Krait from the depths, so either Bubbles is so evil that even the Krait couldn't join them, or Bubbles is good or neutral. For all we know, the Largos themselves might actually be minions of Bubbles, similar to how the Sylvari were minions of Mordremoth without even realizing it. If Jormag and Primordous die, their power will get divided between Bubbles and Aurene. As with everything else about Bubbles, the spheres of influence of Bubbles is unknown. With Bubbles being such an unknown there is a definite 'best for last' flavor to his/her continued and increasingly obvious absence. It can't fail to be noted though that if Bubbles is the antithesis to Zhaitan the same way Primordous is the opposite of Jormag, that Bubbles is possibly a dragon of life.
So, unless we go the route of "Aurene is everything we need," purifying/converting of someone somewhere is almost inevitable, if not Jormag, I would expect us to try it with one of the two other remaining dragons. These are my thoughts and theories. I'm curious to see what other people think! ...and how many people actually manage to read all of this.
Random extra (and largely unrelated) thoughts:
If Jormag was the one who urged them south and not the Spirits of the Wild, just what role have the Spirits of the Wild been playing in the Norn culture? They've definitely been 'benefiting' from Norn devotion considering they are viewed as saviors, something which the Kodan have a thing or two to say about. Various Norn NPCs will commonly attest, "I pray to the spirits of the wild, but they rarely answer." Jormag and the Raven spirit appear to be at odds with one another, though Jormag's followers also successfully subvert Raven's magic during the map meta event.
The six gods and six dragons are often paralleled with each other. The quaggan worship Mellaggan, a god they believe is dead. Mellaggan is believed to be Melandru, the human god of life/growth, though Quaggan do insist that Mellaggan is not Melandru, it's interesting that Mellaggan represents something similar (bounty/growth/wealth of the ocean). They believe she died when the Krait invaded after Bubbles drove the Krait out of its own domain. In the Elder Dragons so far, we have death/shadow, crystal/fury, fire/conflagration, Ice/persuasion, plant/mind covered. Mordremoth could be argued to be the closest comparison to Melandru in association. If there are any parallels in which dragon is what, it'd be interesting to deduce what remains for Bubbles after the dragons we've seen.