The reveal of Gabor Sziksai’s ode to Keith Parkinson’s original EverQuest art, added to the fact that it is one of the few morsels of information that Sony Online Entertainment has given us before the advent of SOE Live, has created an opportunity for us to speculate a bit on what exactly is going to be passed on to EverQuest Next from its predecessors. One thing in particular that is worth some conjecture is the inclusion of the dragon Nagafen in the art piece. For those of you who are new to the EverQuest franchise, you might be thinking: Who’s Nagafen? Well, I’m glad you asked!
While there are many foes to face in the imaginative world of Norrath, none are as fierce and ferocious as the dragons. Dragons have been featured heavily in the EverQuest franchise since its inception. You need only take a look at the lore surrounding the creation of Norrath, and the Crystalline Dragon Veeshan’s role in it, to see their importance. But this article is not about the mother of all dragons, it is about one particularly interesting dragon: Nagafen. Nagafen’s lore is strange because it is, to some, debatable. There is no doubt that, during the original EverQuest’s story, Nagafen resided deep within the Lavastorm Mountains in northern Antonica. To the end game raiders of the era, he was one of EverQuest’s first raid bosses and brave guilds that sought Nagafen’s riches went under the mountain ranges to face him. But how did he get there? There are two stories that are commonly told.
The first is tale is one of imprisonment. It is known that the Ring of Scale, a faction of dragons that revered Veeshan, decreed that mating with a dragon of a different color/element was prohibited. This was done to prevent the creation of a prismatic dragon, which is said to be extremely dangerous because of their powerful and uncontrollable nature. Nagafen, along with Lady Vox (a white/ice dragon and member of the Ring of Scale), defied the Ring and attempted to create a prismatic dragon. This angered the Ring of Scale, and they promptly banished the two dragons to their respective prisons. Lady Vox was sent to Permafrost, while Nagafen was sent to Lavastorm. This is backed up by lore in EverQuest 2, but we also know that the EverQuest franchise is a multiverse - no two timelines are the same.
The second is a classic dragon-terrorizing-man story taken from EverQuest Atlas: The Maps of Myrist. In this version Lavastorm is less of a prison and more of a lair. It's said that once a year, Nagafen demanded the city of Qeynos to provide a young woman for him to devour. However, when a young woman named Erolette is chosen to be his sacrifice, she prayed to the goddess of love, Erollisi Marr, for help. Responding to Erolette’s prayers, Erollisi Marr sewn Nagafen’s heart to his stomach. This made Nagafen confuse his hunger for love, thus preventing him from eating Erolette. As Nagafen grew hungrier, so did his heart; so much so that he too grew until he was too large to leave his lair. When Erolette realized this, she escaped, which angered Nagafen. The players are then left to dispose the dragon if they want his riches.
Both stories have proof to back them up, and in reality, it is possible that both are true - Nagafen’s banishment may have prompted him to demand a sacrifice every year from Qeynos. It seems to me that the developers meant for this story to be interpreted in different ways depending on who told it, and who it is being told to.
Nagafen in EverQuest Next
This type of ambiguity is what makes Nagafen one of the more interesting characters in EverQuest lore. While he is a well-known boss, his history is not as clear cut. It is one of the reasons why his inclusion in Sziksai’s piece prompts me to believe that he will be in EverQuest Next. Now some of you might be disposed to note that since Nagafen was present in the original art, why should he not be in this one? It doesn’t outright say that he is going to be in EverQuest Next.
Well, I believe that his story is not finished being told; that there are still some mysteries to be revealed. Besides, the fact that Sziksai’s art features different characters, not to mention a very different Firiona Vie, confirms that the piece was not meant to simply be a recreation of the original art, but rather a reinterpretation, as the official site puts it. If SOE did not want Nagafen in the art they could have done what they did with the Erudite Al’Kabor: replace him. Why does the dragon have to be red and named Nagafen? One can make his/her own conclusions on Nagafen’s presence, but I am inclined to believe that there is a method to the madness, and that he will be featured in EverQuest Next in some way, shape, or form. One things for sure, if SOE’s purpose was to trigger nostalgia into its fanbase: mission accomplished.