For your carefully crafted avatar, Ascension is a certainty. It's your destiny and you can't escape it. As you approach level 9 and the inevitable rite that every avatar in Aion undertakes, you begin to meet figures who have an important role to play in your future. Principally, the most important person is a criminal named Munin who is held in the Forgotten Place of Exile, an ex-Daeva and gourmet who has the power to show you where your future lies. Indeed this epic chain of events is not a mystery, we told you all about it last year with the release of NCsoft's Asmodian Ascension quest trailer (which you can see below). However that was just a glimpse, the real thing is so much more impressive.
Munin explained that each of his female disciples had a card that would divine the future and he would need all three to continue. So it was a case of running around and visiting each disciple in turn. However what pleased me the most was how different the quest was to the Elyosian one. From the Elyos perspective, your avatar is an ex-Daeva who fell in battle against the Balaur and lost his or her memories. A similar amount of running must be done in order to gather ingredients needed for a spell to return your lost memories (including nicking the 'essence' of the Forest Lord Daminu). It is this sequence of events which allows your Elyos to reascend. For your Asmodian, this is all new territory.
The cards collected, Munin shows you a dark future which is similar in some respects to the one seen by the Elyos. Your avatar appears in the Abyss of Narsass and takes flight (sadly it's on auto pilot once again). Around you troops bow in respect whilst above Elyos and Asmodians engage in aerial battles, a violent clash of white and black wings against the red of the sky. You have to fight four Guardian Assassins in a sickeningly easy fight (they cannot damage you) and then it's time to face destiny: an Elyos general named Hellion who despite being a level 9 kicks your arse, leaving you lying in the dust.
Whether you survive this encounter is left vague but Munin counsels that the future can be changed, even if your Ascension to Daevahood cannot. You then get to choose your subclass (in Eshte's case this was between Gladiator and Templar). He then transports you to the Asmodian capital of Pandemonium for your ceremony and this is where things get interesting. Less than a minute after arriving and engaging Munin's contact Heimdall in polite conversation, you are nearly arrested by a couple of guards.
Yes, whereas the Elyos are welcoming of any potential Daeva, the Asmodians seem mired in suspicion and distrust, especially when it comes to ex-Raiders. This prejudice remains all too clear, even as you undergo your ceremony and get your wings courtesy of the priest Balder (another Norse myth reference, this time to the god of youth who was killed by a sprig of mistletoe). While Daeva are certainly greater and more important than the frail humans who inhabit the continents below, it's an interesting lore mechanic to have Daeva themselves treated with disdain by their kindred. It's also just a little bit sad.
Pandaemonium is, like Sanctum, a sprawling city of three dimensions and dominated by the bridge Vifrost. As with Sanctum you can teleport from one side of the city to the other and learn new skills or buy weapons. You can even chat with the NPCs or watch the world go by. You can do repeatable quests if you're low on funds, or explore and chat to fellow players. The city is your oyster for as long as you feel like roaming its streets.
Yet as Eshte wandered the city, I was struck by the number of mythological referencesin Asmodian culture and the choice of Norse myth (whereas Elyos society is a touch more fantasy-themed) is perfect for this hardy race and their cold half of the planet. That's not to say their architecture is not impressive in its own unique way and with that I was eager to head to Altgard to see what the rest of Asmodae looks like. For now check out our galleries below.