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"If you are bold enough, your legend will live forever."

The norn are a race of valiant, shape-changing barbarians. Boisterous, strong-willed, and passionate, the norn are an independent people that swear fealty to no single being. They thrive in their mountain stronghold by the sharpness of their senses, the quickness of their wits, and the strength of their massive forearms. They are guided in this world by their Spirits of the Wild, who embody the virtues of the mightiest beasts. As a people, they are quick to anger, even quicker to smile, and treat each new day as a personal challenge. They drink and feast and hunt with equal gusto, and fear few things. They are steadfast allies and implacable foes.

History

The norn hail from the frozen mountains of the Far Shiverpeaks, leagues to the north of the human kingdoms. Their history is one of heroes, spirits, and impossible deeds. A norn warrior remains immortal only as long as she is remembered by descendents and only as long as her songs are sung by skaalds around the lodge fires. So it has been for times uncounted.

This changed with the arrival of Jormag, the Elder Ice Dragon. Stirring from its frozen sleep, the dragon erupted into the living world. The norn first fought it in the manner that they had always fought--as valiant heroes seeking to defeat the beast in single combat. Hundreds were slain, and the norn themselves forced from their homelands.

The Spirits of the Wild aided the norn in their flight. Some died protecting them; some remained behind to fight Jormag and were lost. Others, the greatest of their spirits--Wolf, Bear, Raven, and Snow Leopard--guided the norn to safety in lands once belonging to the dwarves.

Hoelbrak

The norn are not a people of cities--they prefer simple steadings carved out of the wilderness, where survival depends upon one's own power and ability. Yet Hoelbrak acts as a focal point of norn civilization, for it is here that the Spirits of the Wild led the great hero Aesgir and the fleeing norn to safety. In the years since its founding, norn from all over the Shiverpeaks have come here to trade, to meet, to brag, and to drink, but only a few have made it their year-round home.

Knut Whitebear, Aesgir's grandson, now oversees Hoelbrak, but any attempt to call him their ruler would be met with derision. Knut's title is Master of the Lodge. He keeps Hoelbrak safe, as his father and grandfather did before him. He tests the young and celebrates their achievements with great moots. The Wolfborn, led by his two sons, keep the peace among these brawling, argumentative people.

Five great structures dominate Hoelbrak. The Great Lodge is Knut's domain, and in its high galleries and balconies one can find the greatest heroes of this people. Each of the other four lodges is dedicated to one of the four Spirits of the Wild--Wolf, Bear, Raven, and Snow Leopard. Here work the shamans that keep alive the faith and the skaalds that tell the old tales of those who have gone before. Here is where the wisdom of the norn survives.

The Spirits of the Wild

The norn have no gods in the human sense of the word. Instead, they venerate the Spirits of the Wild: totemic powers, the great spirits of the wild creatures. Each totem has virtues and lessons to teach the norn: Bear has her strength; Wolf teaches unity in numbers; Raven is wisdom; Snow Leopard speaks of cunning and stealth. There are other spirits, too, some unworthy of veneration, some dead, some merely missing.

The norn have the ability to shape-change into forms beloved by the Spirits. While transformed, they become closer to those spirits and to understanding the power of the wild. Norn enjoy the bounty of the land, but they do not despoil it, for the wisdom of the Spirits brings them an understanding that tempers their direct, quick-tempered natures.

New Challenges, Ancient Enemies

The norn have spread through the Shiverpeaks, and their distinctive homes can be found near the best hunting grounds and the clearest streams. They are not alone in these new lands, however, and must fight for their homes--which is just as the norn want it.

Long ago, the dwarves ruled these deep valleys and cavern-riddled mountains. These diminutive warriors descended into the depths, transformed by ancient magic to fight the minions of a different Elder Dragon. Now their ruined homes have been usurped by their former slaves and servants, the dredge, who claim all the lands below the surface as their own and vie with the norn for the lands above.

The mountaintops are home to another fallen race, the jotun. These giants were once wise and powerful, and their fall has been long and hard. Now little more than savages surviving in the wreckage of their ancestors' citadels, they challenge the norn for domination.

Yet the greatest danger to the norn has followed them from the north. Jormag's champions and minions are abroad in the land, corrupting the pure snows and powerful creatures with its icy breath. Worst of all, there are those among the norn themselves who recognize Jormag's power. They revere Dragon as if it were another Spirit and seek to learn from it and master its abilities. Only too late do they discover their error: Dragon teaches only corruption and death.

The Power of the Norn

Jormag drove them from their original homeland, but the norn are no refugees, battered and seeking aid. Rather, they see the Elder Dragon as merely another challenge to be bested. If not today, then soon. Until that day comes, until the hero who will shatter the tooth of Jormag arises and shows the norn the way back to their northern homes, the norn will live each day as if it were their last. The living world is a wondrous place for them, filled with challenges, struggles, and the potential for great stories.

Blog

Read the ArenaNet Blog for more information about Norn!

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