Ascension is described as a state of communion with the Old Gods. Among other benefits, those who succeed in attaining it are able to travel through the Mists, and with the right help can unlock hidden reserves of power. As well as being masters of their primary chosen heroic profession, Ascendants are able to grasp, to an extent, elements of all the other professions.
In 272 AE, Glint compiled the Flameseeker Prophecies that foretold a group of Chosen would rise and gain Ascension in the Crystal Desert. Many great human civilizations have traveled to the Crystal Desert to Ascend, seeking the guidance of the gods or believing that the prophesied few were among them, and almost all have failed.
The first known attempt to Ascend was made by the Margonites, whose erasure from history was so extensive that many historians considered them to be entirely mythological and mistakenly attribute their existence to the Luxons. The Margonites traversed the region formerly known as the Crystal Sea, and were different to the other human nations in that they as a nation worshiped primarily one of the Six Gods, Abaddon. During this time, the Margonites deconstructed their many ships and built towers out of them atop the dunes that stuck out of the water's surface in the area now called Thirsty River, misunderstanding the nature of Ascension and believing that if they could build the towers tall enough, they could speak with or plead to Dwayna, Melandru, and Balthazar directly - however, how accurate knowledge on these events is remains unclear given the removed history on Abaddon and the Margonites, including whether this happened before or after Abaddon's fall.
The Great Pilgrimage
In 868 AE, six years after his defeat of Palawa Joko at the Battle of Jahai, the great Warmarshal Turai Ossa, first ruler of a united Elona since the Great Dynasty, abdicated his throne and led a Great Pilgrimage north into the Desolation, believing himself to be a Chosen mentioned in the Flameseeker Prophecies.
The pilgrimage established a colony, Elonia, in the treacherous desert and set about attempting the Tests of Ascension. In the desert they found the Forgotten, and mistakenly believing them to be mere beasts, attacked them. Nevertheless they built a Temple of Ascension, hoping that the gods would notice whomever sat upon the Throne of Pellentia, and attempted to assemble the Vision Crystal, a powerful artifact necessary to focus the gaze of the gods. However, a glimpse of the power offered by Ascension was enough to seed mistrust within the pilgrimage, and it split into multiple groups, three of which with their own piece of the Vision Crystal. Eventually, between their own internal strife and Forgotten attacks, Elonia crumbled and Turai's dream of Ascension with it.
Since the failure of the Great Pilgrimage, there have been at least two more groups who traveled to the desert to attempt to Ascend. Their names, and the details of their failures, are unknown but aside from the Elonians and Margonites, a group called the Seekers as well as some Ascalonians are known to have traversed the desert.
The Hero's Journey
In the early days of the Krytan Civil War in 1072 AE, a group of Ascalonians and Shining Blade rebels fled the wrath of the White Mantle after the Henge of Denravi was destroyed due to Markis' treachery. On the advice of Vizier Khilbron, the group were to travel to the Crystal Desert and Ascend, unlocking the Gift of True Sight and allowing them to face the White Mantle's unseen gods directly. In the desert the group encountered the Ghostly Hero—the spirit of Turai Ossa, still determined to reach the Hall of Heroes. Under his guidance, the heroes retraced the steps of the Elonians, seizing the Throne of Pellentia, cleansing their spirits at the Rune Circle, and reassembled the Vision Crystal.
Having completed the Tests of Ascension, the heroes, blessed with Divine Fire, were able to gain access to Augury Rock itself, and within they faced the last obstacle before Ascension—themselves. After passing this test and became Ascended, the heroes were taken to the Dragon's Lair and allowed to meet Glint face-to-face.
- A similar process to Ascension exists in Cantha, known as Weh no Su.
- Characters created in Guild Wars Nightfall do not need to Ascend in order to access the Realms of the Gods, instead merely having to complete the quest Hunted!.
- The three missions representing the Trials of Ascension (Dunes of Despair, Thirsty River, and Elona Reach) were modeled on PvP game modes and were originally designed to prepare players for the trials of the Tomb of the Primeval Kings (now replaced with Heroes' Ascent).