Ascension is the name given to the ceremony wherein a person is formally accepted into a vampire pack. The ceremony begins with the fledgling approaching an altar in the company of one or two pack members. There, the Alpha Vampire reads a series of vows in Latin, which the fledgling repeats. The ceremony culminates with the Alpha biting the fledgling, usually on the wrist, and drinking some blood. The fledgling is then taken to a private chamber, where transformation takes place over the next 24 hours.
Ascension was set up as a way to formally reward fledglings, those humans who served a variety of functions to the pack. Fledglings paid bills, ran errands, provided shelter and procured victims for the pack. Most fledglings provided these services with the hopes of eventually being invited into the pack, and the Ascension ceremony was a way to formalize the process.
The classic Ascension texts were written in Latin and were taken from the Black Mass and the writings of Quadilla, the 9th Century vampire general who nearly overran Rome. The vows included declarations of fealty to the pack and Satan, along with some aspersions at Jesus. A typical passage (translated into English):
Unholy satan, bringer of enlightenment,
Lend us thy power, now and throughout our lives.
Endless glory shall be given.
Lord of hell, show us thy way.
In the old days, Ascension ceremonies took place in private churches or crypts on the estates of the wealthy. The Marquise de Carnavalet, a courtier to the French King Louis XIV, was turned in a ceremony at Versailles in 1680. However, most packs did not have palaces at their disposal and had to make do with decidedly less glamorous sites, such as sewers, caves and abandoned buildings.
In the modern era, the Ascension ceremony became a luxury many packs could not afford. Vampires looking to build a pack quickly had no time to train fledglings and preferred to transform civilians and force them to learn on the fly.
Still, the rite of Ascension persisted out of a sense of tradition and history. Elite vampire packs kept detailed records of those who had "ascended," and they considered any who hadn't to be second-class citizens.