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, the lich king 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 have 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 the dragon 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When the magic gifted by their patron god Abaddon was revoked by the other five gods, the Margonites defaced statues of the five gods in the Temple of the Six and turned their boats into towers attempting to physically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 and imprisonment in the Realm of Torment, 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 centuries, 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 were the Awakened undead of Palawa Joko who took their home in the Desolation, but he too fell when he warred against Elona and was defeated by 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. Nightfall came in 1075 AE, 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 made a few expeditions into the desert although they did not produce any updated maps on the region.
After the Elder Death Dragon Zhaitan rose from underneath Orr and made the sunken nation rise as well, the northern edge of Elona's borders in the desert became a warzone between the Risen and Joko's forces while the resulting tsunami flooded the coastline reaching all the way down to Atholma in Dajkah.
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 to guide their fellow spirits and adventurers.
In 1320 AE, the guild Destiny's Edge sought out Glint's Lair in the Desert Highlands so they could battle Glint as they believed her to be a champion preparing for her master Kralkatorrik's awakening. After locating the lair and battling Glint, they came to realize that they were not enemies as Glint, just like Destiny's Edge, had sworn to oppose the Elder Dragons.
Deciding to pool their resources together, they fought Kralkatorrik together by the time the Crystal Dragon had flown to Glint's lair to punish her for her betrayal. Although Glint and the asura Snaff were able to force Kralkatorrik on the ground, the rest of the guild were unable to injure the Elder Dragon in time with the Dragonsblood Spear before Kralkatorrik took off. Both Glint and Snaff perished in the attempt while a large area around the lair was corrupted into the Dragonbrand as a result, and Destiny's Edge fell apart soon after as the grieving guild members blamed one another for the failure.
Glint's Zephyrite allies traveled to the location of her demise some time in late 1320 AE in an attempt to prevent her corpse and the magic within from falling into the wrong hands. Harnessing Glint's magic, the Zephyrites were able to use the aspects of Lightning, Sun and Wind to improve their movement skills and build an improved version of an airship which they dubbed the Zephyr Sanctum.
The spreading Dragonbrand and the invasion of Kralkatorrik's Branded minions caused the passage between the Desert Highlands and the Stronghold of Ebonhawke to collapse, preventing travel between the two regions. Vlast, Glint's first scion, culled the Branded to honor his fallen mother. Glint's surviving Forgotten allies, led by Josso Essher, attempted a cleansing ritual to purify Kralkatorrik from his corruption, but their attempt was unsuccessful as the Elder Dragon ended up corrupting the remaining Forgotten into Branded instead.
Some time after the Bazaar of the Four Winds in 1326 AE, the Zephyrites used their Zephyr Sanctum to travel to distant locations, including the Desert Highlands. While there, the Master of Peace obtained the last of Glint's eggs from an unknown individual who tasked the Master to guard the egg with his life.
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. The Order of Shadows placed bounties on these threats 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 both 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
- 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."
- ^ Mursaat Lore Tablet
- ^ An Empire Divided: A Selected History of Mysterious Cantha for the Traveling Scholar
- ^ Wayward Guide
- ^ Fan translation of Chinese background of Abaddon, GuildWars2Guru.com (Archived)
- ^ Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire—Road to the Desert
- ^ Facing the Truth
- Kormir: Thirteen hundred years ago, Abaddon and his army of fanatics waged a war ranging across the shores and islands of the Crystal Sea.
- Kormir: The battle was so ferocious that the ocean boiled away, leaving behind the desert you see today.
- Kormir: When the gods finally struck down Abaddon, his fall warped and ravaged these lands, creating the Desolation.
- ^ a b Desert Gate Guard
- ^ a b The Movement of the World
- ^ Scholar Stinn
- ^ Secrets in the Earth
- Iowerth: The Priory does a great deal of research into ancient forms of magic, and this ritual was a real find.
- Iowerth: One of our explorers discovered it while tomb-raiding in the Crystal Desert. I tell you, one learns the most amazing things as part of the Durmand Priory.
- ^ The Heart of Nightmare
- <Character name>: Have you traveled to many places?
- Aife: Oh, yes—Lion's Arch, the Maguuma Wastes, the great desert...the world is wider than you can dream, Valiant.
- ^ Sparking the Flame
- First Mate Fidus Foecrush: Our navigational charts didn't say nothing about gigantic pyramids. Didn't think our info was so out-of-date.
- <Character name>: It's been hard for cartographers to keep up. This entire region has been in lockdown since Palawa Joko took over.
- ^ Of Maelstroms
- ^ Short Story: The Trek of the Zephyrites
- ^ Tigmi
- ^ Book of Vlast
- ^ The Legacy
- ^ The Way Forward
- Sadizi: That was Josso Essher, one of the legacy's main architects. Sadly, he was lost in the attempt to convert Kralkatorrik.
- <Character name>: Wait. "Convert" Kralkatorrik?
- Sadizi: Yes. The Forgotten dared to try, but the hunger of the Elder Dragons is too strong. It proved a tragic failure.
- ^ Hidden Arcana
- Mysterious Voice: You must promise to protect it with your life. Will you? [...]
- <Character name>: I saw the Master of Peace take an egg.
- Ogden Stonehealer: The last one intact. It's been in stasis since her death. The Master of Peace is taking it where it will be safe and allowed to hatch. [...]
- Ogden Stonehealer: Fear not. He did not steal it. He was given custody of it.
- <Character name>: By whom?
- Ogden Stonehealer: You know. You witnessed it, didn't you?
- <Character name>: Not clearly.
- Ogden Stonehealer: Then you're not meant to know just yet. All things in their time.
- ^ In the Festival of the Four Winds 2014 trailer, one of the airships is glowing in the same light emitted by Glint's Egg before the hatches close to conceal the light, and the same glow was present during the festival in game. This light was not present during the preceding Bazaar of the Four Winds, however, suggesting that the Zephyrites obtained the egg during their travel abroad between the two festivals.