The Crystal Desert is, as the name implies, a desert located south of Ascalon and east of Orr which acts as a land bridge between the continents of Tyria and Elona. It is said that every grain of sand in the desert was in fact a tiny crystal, giving the region its name. The dragon Glint made her home in the northern lands of the Crystal Desert, legend saying her lair existed within a single grain of these crystals and that she only allowed those who had Ascended to enter her home. One of the few portals to the Mists resides in the Tomb of the Primeval Kings, in the northern Crystal Desert.
The Crystal Desert has a long history. Long ago it was known as the Crystal Sea. After humans arrived in Tyria, the Forgotten eventually retreated to the waters to live in solitude. Prior to their rebellion against the gods, the Margonites sailed into the sea and constructed great towers in hopes of Ascending to stand alongside their god. However their efforts were in vain and they often found themselves at odds with the Forgotten fleets.
In time the Margonites traveled to the Temple of the Six Gods, erected on the shores of the sea, and defaced the statues of the Five Gods, spurring on the conflict that would lead to the Exodus. When Abaddon was cast down, he crashed into the southern half of the sea, poisoning the land and transforming it into the Desolation. When he was banished into the Realm of Torment, the temple was taken with him while the waters receded from the northern half of the sea, leaving it a desert.
Over the following centuries many made pilgrimages to this region, trying to follow in the footsteps of the Margonites in Ascending. The most notable of these pilgrimages was that led by Turai Ossa, who claimed the Desert as part of the Elonian empire. Though they created great monuments in an attempt to draw the gods' interest, in the end they fell to internal strife, the dangers of the desert, and retaliatory attacks by the forgotten.
It was in the year 1072 AE that heroes of Ascalon, driven from Kryta by the White Mantle, found their way to the desert. With the aid of the restless spirits of Turai's fallen pilgrimage, they succeeded in Ascending, gaining the ability to combat the mursaat.
The Crystal Desert has changed drastically in the 250 years since the heroes saw these lands. After the Ascension of Kormir, Palawa Joko took his time rebuilding his forces and developing a new plan for conquering Elona. Rather than taking each province by force, he diverted the river Elon from Vabbi. The ensuing drought forced the Princes of Vabbi into submission and drastically weakened Kourna. This also had the unforeseen consequence of creating a green and growing area within the Crystal Desert, which borders the redirected Elon.
After the Elder Undead Dragon, Zhaitan, rose from underneath Orr, the desert became a warzone between the risen and Joko's forces. Furthermore, when the Elder Crystal Dragon Kralkatorrik awoke and flew south in 1320 AE, it corrupted parts of the northern desert, and recently there has been mentions of 'dark forces' in the areas south of Ebonhawke. Joko has maintained control of the Desolation and a southern portion of Crystal Desert despite the two threats. The presence of Joko, Kralkatorrik and Zhaitan has cut off the land route from Tyria to Elona, except for the members of the Order of Whispers who have somehow bypassed this obstacle.
- The Desert Gate in Ebonhawke leads to the Crystal Desert, but access is blocked on the orders of Queen Jennah.