The Crystal Desert is the land that lies between the nations of Ascalon, Orr, 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 southern reaches of the Crystal Desert is full of sulfurous wastes, called the Desolation, once so toxic from Abaddon's influence that only the dead and demonic could pass. The Crystal Desert is famous for many legendary landmarks, including Glint's lair in the north and Augury Rock where Ascension was possible. At least two portals into The Mists were formed in the desert: one in the Tomb of the Primeval Kings leading to the Hall of Heroes, and another at the Mouth of Torment leading to the Realm of Torment.
Over the past millennia, many nations had tried to settle these lands, each one eventually succumbing to the sands. In modern day, Palawa Joko has extended the borders of Elona to the southern reaches of the Crystal Desert while the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik has branded the eastern portions. To the northern of the desert, defectors from Joko's empire had established new homes along the Bay of Elon and the highlands connected to the Shiverpeak Mountains.
Over a thousand years ago, much of the desert was known as the Crystal Sea, though there are mentions of a desert in those times. Back then, what is now the Desolation was once a verdant coastline, and its only inhabitants were the Forgotten who served Glint. When humanity was still new to Tyria, the sea-faring humans known as Margonites thrived in these waters and in the Unending Ocean. 250 years ago, discoveries were made that some historians believed pointed to a Luxon presence in the Crystal Desert more than a thousand years ago, but just as many believed this to be a misinterpretation of the evidence. It's worth noting that the existence of Margonites was also doubted by some historians of the time, who viewed them as mythological.
When the magic gifted by their patron god Abaddon was revoked by the other five gods, the Margonites defaced statues of the five gods in the Temple of the Six and turned their boats into towers attempting to physically reach Ascension to join their god, but all this did was incite a conflict between them and the Forgotten faithful to the Six Gods. This sparked into a war between Abaddon and the five gods themselves, eventually leading to Abaddon's defeat, the creation of the Desolation, and the drying of the sea and turning the lands inhospitable to most races. Following this, the gods left in an event now called the Exodus of the Gods.
Over the following millennia, many groups made pilgrimages to the region, following the footsteps of the Margonites in attempting Ascension or other knowledge and hopes. Among them were the Primeval Kings who established many tombs in the region during their reign, Lord Kree who commanded an army of beasts, mysterious Seekers who searched for a new home, the colony established by Turai Ossa, and Ascalonians who built towering statues of themselves.
Turai's colony fell to internal strife sparked by the three priests who held the Vision Crystal created to gather the gaze of the gods to them. During this civil war, the Elonians created a powerful weapon that wiped out at least one of the few cities they established, and also warred against the local Forgotten, who they had mistaken as mindless beasts of the desert like the local hydras or scarabs. How the Seekers and Ascalonians perished is unknown; all that is known is that they were there and they died. The only group to have managed to "survive" the desert in this millennia was the Awakened undead of Palawa Joko who took their home in the Desolation, but he too fell when he warred against Elona and fell to Turai Ossa in the Battle of Jahai.
Conflicts in the desert
In the year 1072 AE, the Chosen foretold in Glint's Flameseeker Prophecies arrived in the desert, driven from Kryta by the White Mantle. With the aid of the restless spirits of Turai Ossa's fallen pilgrimage, they were the first to succeed in Ascending, and gained the Gift of True Sight that would allow them to fight the mursaat. With this act, the souls of the Elonians were finally able to move on to the afterlife, and Turai took his place in the Hall of Heroes. Three years later, Nightfall came, and Abaddon's return began to twist the southern reaches of the desert into a nightmarish land, worse than it was before, and saw the return of Palawa Joko to regain control of his former lands. Abaddon was ultimately defeated at the end of the conflict, and peace returned to the Crystal Desert for a time.
Around 1135 AE, Palawa Joko launched a new invasion into Elona, which was victorious. During this invasion, he dammed and redirected the Elon River from north of Vabbi to make it flow into the Sea of Sorrows. This flooded the desert just north of the sulfurous Desolation, turning its nearby area into a green and growing verdant oasis. Joko's victory over Elona, and spreading further north, prompted Tyrians to lock down travel into the desert though they still took the refugees that fled Joko's empire until they stopped coming nearly 150 years later. Despite this lockdown, the Order of Whispers remained in contact with Elona, and the Durmand Priory have made a few expeditions into the desert.
After the Elder Death Dragon Zhaitan rose from underneath Orr, the northern edge of Elona's borders in 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, spreading its Branded among the northern highlands of the desert.
Palawa Joko continued strengthening his rule and either exterminated the few remaining Sunspears or persuaded them to join his forces as living or undead thralls. Some Sunspears persisted, however, despite being constantly hunted by their turned brethren, the Mordant Crescent. A few of the spirits who had originally moved on, such as Turai Ossa, reappeared in the Crystal Desert. Increased levels of ambient magic through ley lines and deaths of the Elder Dragons Zhaitan and Mordremoth caused some inhabitants of the desert to absorb too much of the magic and turn insane and violent, leading to the Order of Shadows to place bounties on them to protect settlements and travelers.
In 1330 AE, one of the Six Gods had returned. Balthazar, the God of Fire and War, made his way into the Crystal Desert to kill Kralkatorrik and take the Elder Dragon's magic for himself. Balthazar's temporary alliance with Palawa Joko led to the creation of the Forged which the rogue god would use in his campaign. However, Balthazar later betraying and imprisoning Joko in the Domain of the Lost left the Awakened and the Mordant Crescent without their leader, forcing the viziers and clanmarshals to make do and rule the best they could while dealing with the invading Forged and waiting for the return of their missing king.
Kralkatorrik's flight further south to Vabbi extended the Dragonbrand and decimated much of the Vabbian countryside. A crucial battle was fought at Kodash Bazaar between the Awakened, Branded and Forged. The battle ended with the death of Balthazar and the empowering of Glint's scion Aurene and Kralkatorrik, leaving the future of the Crystal Desert and Elona uncertain. A small glimmer of hope came with the revitalization of the Sunspears whose surviving members joined forces with the griffons of the Sunspear Sanctuary with the support of Tahlkora and the Pact Commander in an effort to resist Joko's tyranny.
- Explorable Zones
- Guild Halls
- Concept art
Concept art of Destiny's Edge in the Crystal Desert.
- Mechanically, the Crystal Desert region contains all of Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire and most Living World Season 4 maps regardless of their lore region.
- Internally at ArenaNet, this area was known as "Desert."