Guild Wars 2

[Further Rambles] What Does Ice Do?

I'm going to make another run at why I think that Jormag isn't the villain they're perceived to be. In a way, it's an attempt to help others understand what it means to be in a situation of abuse. It can really define how you see the world—it turns you into a survivor, and you'll do whatever is necessary to survive.

The experience of Jormag's existence—as I had mentioned prior—is defined by Primordus's abuse. They awake first, they prepare for Primordus to chase and hunt them, they're not as powerful as their abuser is so they have to be more clever than them. This constant cycle of abuse colours how Jormag sees the world—they understand that people can be fearful, distrustful, and their best effort is made by making an effort to cooperate. They want to preserve because they understand the pain of abuse, they'd not want others to know it, and that's why ice protects. Primordus can't burn Jormag's Frozen.

It's true that Jormag has made mistakes with their generosity but the idea has always been to encourage cooperation, to persuade, to try to either bring the vulnerable under their wing or do away with them. At some point in the past, the Spirits broke their vow to Jormag and now they appear to be hellbeng on replacing the dragon fo ice and persuasion. This can be seen in how they've manipulated norn culture—which I've brought up prior here too, at least I think I did here. They've turned the norn into a race of suicidal kamikaze extremists who believe that if they don't try to throw their life away in the attempt to claim a legend in the frozen North, they aren't and never will be a true norn. I'm not given to trust the Spirits for that reason, oh—and because they eat kids. I don't like that either.

Jormag's had to up their game with both the Spirits and Primordus after them—they've had to work harder to protect both themself and their kids from abuse, or worse, death. They see Aurene as an ally, the Crystal Bulwark, the eternal dragon that can never be brought low. Jormag is fixated upon both protection and preservation, Aurene has a unique means to offer both whilst also aiding in taking the fight to Primordus and freeing Jormag once and for all.

There are hints all over the story. The way that Jormag talks of Primordus as "being bound to a monster" is the way that those who've lived with abuse tend to see their only option for freedom. The death of your abuser can become almost inextricably linked with your freedom. I think that the perception the asura have of Jormag and Primordus being opposites is a little more literal than most might might expect. Jormag desires cooperation and wishes to protect against abuse wherever they can. This is why ice protects, it's the perspective of a traumatised person who's lived with abuse for far too long. Primordus is vindictive, he wishes to destroy but he wants to cause pain in the process.

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Something Ryland said at Lake Doric stuck with me. "Primordus can't burn Jormag's Frozen." That's the way Jormag would see it, too. I remember in early lore Jormag said they'd freeze the world to halt the rampage of Primordus if they had to. Aurene has given them a second option, but if that falls through then their only plan is to freeze the world to stop Primordus from burning it.

After Jormag woke, they spent time in the Mists without consuming, corrupting, or destroying. They've never once hinted that their goal is domination, control, or anything of the sort. In fact, they've been very clear that their goal is to be free from abuse. I found it interesting early on that Jormag spoke of cycles and I kept wondering whether that was a hint toward cycles of abuse—now I'm convinced that it is. The cycle they wish to break is the cycle of abuse. Primordus abuses Jormag and the world alike for what seems to be mostly his own entertainment—even Marjory noticed how vindictive he is.

Another aspect of abuse is that you can often see it as a hopeless position where you have to stand against abuse yourself, like the world is against you as no one will listen to you. Any psychologist will tell you that this is true, one of the most difficult things for an abused person to do is talk about their abuse as they're convinced that no one's really going to believe them. That no one is listening to Jormag is… poignantly on point for this kind of experience. It can make you feel as though everyone is out to get you, so you really do have to act yourself to stay alive and keep those you care about alive.

There's a story here of a toxic family relationship. That Primordus is defined as Jormag's twin is equally as important, I feel. They're intertwined with one another and it's not unlike a marital situation with an abusive husband and an abused, overprotective wife who'll do whatever she needs to to protect her kids. I've been seeing this in the story for quite some time.

What really punches me in the gut though is that—perhaps to no one's surprise—in cases of abuse the abused is often seen as a liar, a manipulator, a sociopath, because no one's paying attention to what the abuser is doing and thus if they haven't seen evidence of it the abuser must be innocent. It's too on point and, for me, it hits too close to home. It's only when the abuser shows their hand that anyone would begin to ask uncomfortable questions. I still recall that the tagline of the Icebrood Saga is having to learn an uncomfortable truth about them. I think that truth is that they aren't as unfamiliar, alien, strange, and inherently evil as most wanted to believe they are.

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Ice protects because Jormag has only ever known abuse—it's what Jormag wants to do and what Jormag wants. It's what they want from Aurene. I mean, quoth the dragon, "it's what we all want." There are so many hints all over the place, all just waiting to be pieced together about what's going on here.

The thing is is that I think Primordus isn't inherently evil, either—I think he has anger management issues and he's being driven by the Torment. A lot of abusers do have anger management issues, and when their rage boils, it boils over and they can't stop themselves. I think that the Torment is fuelling his anger and that's what turned him into an abuser. What I get from this story is that it's a bizarre, abstract representation of marital abuse.

Ice protects because that's what any mother would want to do or have done for them if they're stuck in a cycle of abuse with no hope of being freed from it. Jormag is asking Aurene to protect them, to free them, to finally give them respite from all of this abuse so that they can know what life is like wihtout it. As an abused person, Jormag is a survivor, they've endured so much pain and trauma. It's left them feeling very jaded, cynical, and if they feel that the world still hasn't realised how dangerous their abuser is? If no one is listening, that can leave them feeling hurt and scared, which is outwardly realised in very cynical, very sarcastic ways. I have some personal experiences with this and some from a body of knowledge in psychology.

One thing that really stuck with me is the way Jormag asked Aurene if she's intimidated by them. The tone of that was exceptionally well handled. "Really, you fear me? The abused? After everything you've seen? Oh of course. It's always the same."

There are many in the community who see Jormag as a sociopath, a manipulator, and so on without actually trying to see what's happening from Jormag's perspective. The lack of empathy is surprising to me… I mean, do consider that Jormag even called the invading forces in Bjora Marches monsters for trying to attack and kill a baby—Drakkar—who'd done nothing wrong. In the way that Drakkar acts, it absolutely is a young pup. Lots of pup body language.

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Even the Claw of Jormag was showing fear in his body language. You don't cower behind a pillar unless you're scared. The reason he was there is because he wanted to protect his parent just as Jormag wanted to protect him. He wanted to spare them from being put through more pain, he was willing to die for that. That's telling in and of itself.

To top off everything though? I think I've mentioned this but it behooves me to bring it up again—often abused victims are seen as being manipulative, sociopathic, and so on. Western culture has a habit of blaming the victim. I'm not surprised to see Jormag blamed in the same way.

I'd ask that anyone who's curious about my take look into the experiences of those who've had to live in abusive households. Everything about the story of Primordus and Jormag relates to that. Tyria is their house, there's no escape for Jormag, Primordus will just chase them to abuse them and there's not a whole lot they can do about it other than ask for help and beg that someone will listen.

"Maybe you should listen."

There's just so much about it that's obvious to me and it makes me feel really bad for Jormag.


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