The Guiding Lands are a mysterious place discovered at the end of Iceborne, and the mystery is left whole, so, what are they ?
The first thing to note is that it is (as of yet) comprised of roughly 6 small biomes :
A forested region not unlike the Ancient Forest.
A desert sandy region not unlike the Wildspire Wastes.
A mountainous coral region not unlike the Coral Highlands.
A vale region covered in rotting carcasses an a thick miasma of effluvium, not unlike the Rotten Vale.
A volcanic region not unlike parts of the Elder's Recess.
And finally, a central rocky an lush biome surrounded by all these regions which connects them all, with a large monolithic mountain on top of it.
It's pretty much the New World on a smaller scale.
The other thing to note is that it is just beyond the Elder's Recess, very close to it.
And finally, Ruiner Nergigante headed to The Guiding Lands immediately after dealing with Shara Ishvalda.
A lot of things can be inferred from these main three points.
First of all, the elephant in the room, how does a miniature New World even come to be in the first place ?
Considering the closest thing related to it is, well, the New World continent, our best guess at how The Guiding Lands formed will be to take a look at how the New World itself formed, its five main biomes in particular.
The most crucial biome to the New World is the Rotten Vale, which is formed from being the place where Elder Dragons go to die, it is directly related to the Elder Crossing.
These Elder Dragon carcasses will sink to the bottom of the vale and decompose there, the energy from this is then transferred to the Everstream which then redirects this energy all across the continent's crust, though a large amount of this energy is actually leaked into the Elder's Recess, where it crystallizes into very large streamstone crystalline structures.
And in a more direct way the heat generated from the effluvium metabolising the carcasses of the Rotten Vale creates ascending wind currents which allow the Coral Highlands above it to thrive by allowing the coral eggs to flow in the air.
In other words the New World continent relies on the Rotten Vale and Everstream to exist, and the Rotten Vale relies on the Elder Crossing to exist.
We know from item description that the Everstream actually plays an important role in The Guiding Lands, so this offers two possibilities for how all of the biomes of The Guiding Lands get their energy, either they are just an extension of the New World and get the energy from the Rotten Vale through the Everstream all the same, either they are fed by the rotten vale region of The Guiding Lands.
Either way, the fact is that The Guiding Lands have a rotten vale region, and it can't exist without a constant supply of Elder Dragon carcasses, which is only possible with the Elder Crossing.
Not to mention the Coral Highlands aren't fed by the Everstream but directly from the Rotten Vale below, and the coral region of The Guiding Lands are also on top of the rotten region, so it's likely the coral region exists from the same mechanism.
This begs a lot of questions especially surrounding the Elder Crossing itself, are The Guiding Lands an alternate destination for the Elder Crossing, if at all ?
Another thing to note is that the volcanic region of The Guiding Lands lack those gigantic streamstone pillars, characteristic of the Rotten Vale effluvium metabolising Elder Dragon carcasses and causing those structures to form in the Elder's Recess.
In fact the volcanic region seems to be formed by the body of a dead Zorah Magdaros (with part of its carcass seen in the rotten vale region, its head notably).
One could say that perhaps this Zorah Magdaros is what formed the volcanic and rotten regions of The Guiding Lands, which then led to the formation of the other biomes, but that Zorah Magdaros isn't the only colossal Elder Dragon carcass in the rotten region, so several colossal Elder Dragons already died there and it is unlikely that the rotten region was formed by a single one of them, though everything points to the volcanic region being formed by a Zorah Magdaros.
There exists only one other way Elder Dragons can be drawn to a specific location in large number beside the Elder Crossing, and that is Xeno'jiiva.
This leads to the third main point, why was Ruiner Nergigante drawn to The Guiding Lands ?
Nergigante only follows whichever most powerful Elder Dragon is around, first Zorah Magdaros, then Xeno'jiiva, and finally Shara Ishvalda.
The only time it wasn't tracking one of those three was after Xeno'jiiva was defeated and before Shara Ishvalda became active, at which point it was hunting down a Teostra (during the Lunastra questline).
This means either there are no large Elder Dragons around and Ruiner Nergigante is looking for a quick snack in The Guiding Lands, either it sensed a large Elder Dragon there.
After all it's in the name, The Guiding Lands are a place that seemingly guide monsters there, there are only two known guiding forces, the Elder Crossing and Xeno'jiiva, and in this case Xeno'jiiva seems to be the only plausible one of the two.
So Xeno'jiiva could have survived its encounter with the hunter and went to The Guiding Lands, attracting Elder Dragons there to feed on their energy after their bodies decompose in the vale region, and Ruiner Nergigante sensed its presence and went there to hunt it down.
Though this doesn't make complete sense, for instance Xeno'jiiva doesn't just nest anywhere, it nested in the Elder's Recess because that's where the Everstream leaked energy into the most.
But two things could help explain this, first off The Guiding Lands seem to have a strong link to the Everstream despite not forming large streamstone structures (which Xeno'jiiva is particularly fond of), and second off, they are just next to the Elder's Recess, so perhaps that was just the nearest place Xeno'jiiva could relocate to considering the Elder's Recess wasn't safe for it anymore, in other words it fled there.
A few other things to note is that there seems to be some importance given to Zorah Magdaros.
It might be that the Zorah Magdaros in the rotten and volcanic regions are two different individuals, which isn't unlikely as it is completely rotten in the vale region, but still highly active in the volcanic region (enough to supposedly fuel the volcanic activity of said region), suggesting that the Zorah Magdaros in the volcanic region is a fresh carcass.
This Zorah Magdaros would be the Zorah Magdaros that died during the story of MHW, since the carcass would only be 6 months old, it makes sense for it to still be releasing large amounts of energy, enough to scorch an entire region of The Guiding Lands and fuel them with a lot of energy.
This offers two possibilities, either Zorah Magdaros came to The Guiding Lands first, died, released large amounts of energy, which then attracted Xeno'jiiva there, either Xeno'jiiva came to The Guiding Lands first, which then caused Zorah Magdaros to head there to die, though the timing of the events of MHW doesn't really work out in the latter case's favour.
Another thing this isn't taking into account is that there are several colossal Elder Dragon carcasses in the Guiding Lands, yet there hasn't been another Elder Crossing since the events of MHW, meaning that these colossal Elder Dragons originate from previous Elder Crossings, in other words the rotten region of The Guiding Lands is at least decades old, unless new colossal Elder Dragons somehow managed to sneak past the Research Commission without being noticed, which I find highly unlikely.
This is a crucial point as this means that Xeno'jiiva couldn't have been involved (unless there is another Xeno'jiiva). This leaves the good old Elder Crossing as the primary source of Elder Dragons in The Guiding Lands.
I suppose we could start asking ourselves why the Rotten Vale is the destination of the Elder Crossing in the first place, it could have been anywhere else.
I mean, yes, they go there to die, but why do they choose to go there out of all places ?
Perhaps there is a reason behind it, and perhaps this could help us explain why The Guiding Lands are seemingly a secondary destination of the Elder Crossing.
I don't have answers there, but hopefully I gave a sufficiently good outlook of the situation so others can form their own educated guesses on the matter.
I personally strongly suspect that Xeno'jiiva will end up playing an important role, but I'm not sure how.
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