From Exalted - Unofficial Wiki
This started out as a trade between me and an exchange student. We found that we both enjoyed writing and mythology, and so we decided to exchange texts. However, I realized that the only decent texts I had in English were related to Exalted . They didn’t make much sense without back ground info however, so I decided to compile much of the exalted mythos into a story, so that I wouldn’t have to force her to go through cumbersome books to understand. Luckily, it turned out that my friend also had a love for Fantasy in alls its forms and Wuxia moivies. The document is based mostly on canon material, and I deviate only when A) canon is vague, B) I misremember or C) When canon is unsatisfactory(rare) or non existent. Of course, all credit goes to the writers of Exalted, since I use their material. Now it is complete I thought I should post what I have, since I need to ask Conrad about legal issues of net posting this.
Genesis of the five directions
Greetings, young one. My name is Five Days Darkness and I am the first shadow that ever was. I tread forgotten paths buried beneath centuries of ignorance. I whisper in the shadows of the twilight-calm and the darkness of the midnight hour is my domain. You prayed to me for security and peace during your sleep, and thus, I have come to you in this moment. As a gift, I shall also tell you a story. All secrets left buried are mine to unearth and I know much that many think should stay unknown. So sit, relax and close your eyes and listen to what came before this diminished age, in the time before the Dynasty, before the Scarlet Empire. Indeed, hear the story of what took place in time before time itself.
In the beginning, there was the eternal chaos of the wyld. Here, essence existed in its most primal form. In this swirling madness existed the Primordials,. They were vast, incomprehensible beings with equally vast powers and minds so great that they could not be contained within a single soul. These beings were the first of all shaped things, whether they sprung from the chaos or if they predated it, I do not know. What is known is that they warred with others. These others were the unshaped things that later became known as the Fair Folk. They were antithetical to shape and desired the end of all it was. Out of a desire to escape this conflict, the Primordials Gaia and Cytheria joined their will together, and with the guidance of one of their siblings, they forged the first artefact. This became Creation. Every artefact needs a wielder, and thus, Gaia attuned her self to the Elemental Poles, the five cardinal Nexuses off, creation bestowing upon the nascent world the blessing of life. On this world, the Primordials built Yu-shan, the Heavenly city, and here, they installed their greatest treasure, the Games of Divinity. The Primordials also populated the world with a myriad of other creatures, to be their playthings and servants. These beings were the first Behemoths. Primal and often crude, yet mightier then many things alive today, these came to serve as templates for many further creations, not the least of which was humanity it self. However, the vast Creation soon proved to complicated to maintain it self, and thus the Primordials commissioned the creation of the Celestial Incarna, the first spirits. First and mightiest among these was The Unconquered sun. Through him, the world was blessed with the essence necessary for it to grow, to evolve, to ever progress and to strive for perfection. But evolution requires change and adaptation, and this domain was given to Luna, the ever changing moon-goddess. Luna was also charged with holding off Wyld, for her adaptability was the match of its chaos. Lastly, to over see the different principals of existence; its mysteries, its pleasures, the battles fought for it, the journey it was, and finally, the journey’s end, the Primordials created the Five maidens. The five maidens; Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Saturn, were charged with the duty of managing the Loom of Fate, the very fabric of reality. Their lot was the endless toil of weaving chaos into order, idea into concept and law into reality.
Below the Incarna, the Primordials placed myriads of lesser sprits to manage everything in creation. From abstract things, such as love and war, to simpler things such as river and mountains, all things were given a divine attendant. The Incarna lorded over the spirits and directed their actions as ordered by the Primordials, and thus, the Divine Bureaucracy emerged. This order remained for countless aeons, but eventually, as with all things, it too came to an end.
The reasons for the rebellion remain uncertain to this day. Some say that The Incarna finally grew tiered of their slavery and throw of their shackles of imprisonment. Others claim they rebelled out of greed, that they wanted the Games of Divinity for themselves. Yet others say that it was Mokrelus, the many handed behemoth patron of man-kind, who saw the chaos caused by the whimsical actions of the Primordials and that he, in his want for a more stable world, encouraged man and god alike to rebel against their old masters. What is known is that despite all their reasons the gods could not rebel themselves, for The Primordials had laid a geas on them. This geas prevented them from ever raising a hand against the titan overlords of Creation. Indeed, the slavery of the gods could have continued until this day, had it not been for the fact that the primordial host had a dissenter among its ranks.
The Mountain folk
While Gaia and Cyetheria wrenched Creation from the Wyld, the being called Autochthon was the true inventor among the Primordials. He was known as the Great Maker and his hands were the source of many wonders, including the Games of Divinity, the Loom of Fate and indeed, the gods themselves. His creative power was unrivalled and yet, when the other Primordials retreated to Yu-Shan, he was left behind. The Machine God was sickly, you see, and his body was not strong. Therefore, he was scorned by his kin, treated as nothing but a toymaker, a lowly menial whose work were for their amusement alone. And so it was, that he wandered Creation, always seeking new things to form, lest he grow restless from boredom and loneliness. It was during these journeys that he came across the jade eggs.
In creation’s birth moments, many of the Fair Folk fled the storm of stability brought forth by Gaia and Cytheria. But not all escaped. Many of them were trapped in the shaped reality. Tormented and irritated by a world that was alien to them, the erected shells of jade around them as protection. These jag eggs rested in creations for a long time before The Maker found them. Intrigued, he imposed his will upon them, and from this effort, The First was born. The First found and awakened others like himself, and so, the civilisation of the Mountain Folk was born. These being eventfully became The Makers favoured children, and led by The First, they built a vast underground empire, that they filled with crafted wonders, in honour of their Primordial creator. But it is not the glories of The First and his people that I shall retell here, but rather on of their greatest tragedies.
The First ruled benevolently for many generations and the Mountainfolk prospered. However, after resolving a great issue that threatened his people, he abdicated as emperor, and began to travel the world. Perhaps he sought something he lacked or perhaps he was simply tired of the mantle of the ruler. What ever his motives and wishes might have been is unclear, for he never fulfilled his journey. The other Primordials got to him first. Curious about their brother’s work, they began to take it apart, in an effort to replicate it. The torment and abuse The First had to endure was indescribable. He was picked apart and reassembled and picked apart again, all to satisfy the curiosity of the uncaring titans. Yet, for all his pain, all they could manage was crude copies. When they finally let him go, he was broken, both in body and soul, and yet his existence could not end, for he was a Behemoth as immortal as the being that made him. Thus he lived on, broken as homeless to this day, for he fears returning to his people. That is the tragedy of The First, the favoured son of Autochthon.
What, do you ask, became of the copies? My dear child, you became of the copies. Indeed, from the torments of The First sprung the forefathers of all humanity. To the Primordials, the fledgling mankind was merely a toy project, an interesting, if disappointing, experiment. They turned the new creatures over to the Dragon Kings, a saurian race they had created long before, and that had come to rule a large part of the world. These Sun-worshiping reptiles set out to educate and cultivate human the human race, and soon, the humans had carved out a place for themselves in Creation. Though it was a small and seemingly insignificant place in a world of supernaturals, the willpower and persistency of the human race would in time prove to be instrumental in the downfall of the titans.
Humans were short-lived and unable to channel essence naturally, and they were much weaker than most of the Primordial’s creations. Yet, despite their apparent deficiencies, they persisted and survived. Perhaps it was this primal stubbornness than drew The Machine God’s attention, for he soon came to love them and the raw, untapped potential they represented fascinated him. He also discovered that they had a knack for utilizing his three grates gifts: doctrine, faith and tools. When the world was unkind to them, they made aides to overcome the problems, thus employing the gift of tools. They banded together, forming ordered societies, and thus employed the gift doctrine. Finally, when matters were simply too difficult for them, they requested aid from those above them, employing the gift of faith. Autochton continued his studies of the human physiology and spirituality, and eventually, he developed methods that would enable them to tap into the infinite river of ambient essence that flowed through Creation.
During all this time, The Maker’s kin kept mocking him, and they often broke or stole his creations. Only compassionate Gaia, she who loves all life, had a place in her heart for her sickly brother. She had also grown somewhat discontent with a few of her peers, for they often showed little respect for living thing that were less then they were. Her relation with Cytheria had ended and she had found new love in Luna.
The two dissenters conspired together with the Incarna to overthrow the other Primordials. Since the magical binding on the gods prevented them from fighting the Primordials directly, they sought other ways to oppose their masters. The solution to their problem came from an unexpected source.
While his associates planned and plotted, Autochton returned to his studies of humanity. Perhaps he had seen the seeds of heroes in them, for he delved even deeper in his research, and finally, he found a way to not only awaken their Essence, but to imbue them with a fragment of divine power, elevating them above ordinary mortals. This was the prototype for the process which came to be known as Exaltation.
After refining the process, he shared some of its secrets with the gods, and aided them in making their own champions. The children of the Unconquered Sun were called Solars, and they were the leaders of the Exalted army. As their patron was the foremost and mightiest of the gods, so too were they the pinnacle of Exalted power. To further delegate tasks among his children, he divided them into Castes according to his five stations (Dawn, Zenith, Twilight, Night and Eclipse). Luna made warriors of nature. The Lunars were primal hunters, a perfect balance between the reason of Man and the instincts of Beast. To honor Luna’s bond with Gaia, they were given the ability to take the form of any animal they had hunted. They were divided into Castes according to the phases of the Moon (Waxing, Half, Full, Waning, No Moon). The Maidens were not individually mighty enough to create their own type of Exalt, but decided to each manage one Caste of their champions. Thus the Castes of the Sidereals were those of Journeys, Serenity, Battles, Secrets, and Endings. They were not as mighty warriors as their cousins, but just as their patrons were the eternal planners of reality, so too did they become the strategos and advisors of the coming Primordial War.
These were all children of the Celestial Incarna, and thus came to be known as Celestial Exalts. They were powerful, but limited in number since their power could not be inherited. When one died, the divine fragment within her traveled on to seek out a new, worthy host. However, this was not the case with Gaia’s grandchildren.
Gaia did not make any champions of her own, but instead gave the secret of Exaltation to her sub-souls, the five Elemental Dragons. Their warriors were each aspected to one of the five elements of Air, Earth, Water, Fire and Wood. These Terrestrial Exalts were weaker than their Celestial counterparts, but greater in number, for their power was such that it could be inherited by blood. Due to their heritage, they became known as Dragon-Blooded, and they became the foot-soldiers in the army of the gods.
The gods now had their warriors, but no weapons with which to equip them. Once again, Autochton came to their aid. In addition to the weapons he himself constructed (the greatest of these were in a sense the Exalted themselves), he also offered up the artifact arsenals of the Mountain Folk and commanded them to outfit the Celestial Army.
Thus armed and armored, the Exalted went to war and the era of the Primordial war began.
The Primordial War
The perils of the Primordial War cannot be accurately described in the world of today. Much of Creation was lost, as the wrath of the betrayed Titans scourged the Earth. Mountains shattered from the sheer might of the war’s combatants. Both gods and Exalts lost their lives in the conflict, and stars fell down from the sky as spirits died. The Dragon Kings, who allied themselves with the Incarna in the war, were decimated to near extinction, and many of their immortal souls were shattered, forever put beyond the Wheel of Reincarnation. The war was a gruesome one, but eventually the Exalted prevailed. Many Primordials were slain. Their deaths came to forever change the Essence flows of the world. Before the first Primordial death, any soul that died was dissolved into Lethe, the great flow of rebirth. However, the Titans were too great to fit into Lethe. When they died, they polluted a lot of the Essence in the world, and in doing so, they birthed a bleak shadow realm, that later became the Underworld. They descended into the shadowy tombs of this realm, and they dwell there still, dead but forever undying, dreaming of the day when the rest of the world joins them in death. The dead Primordials became known as the Neverborn, for they were never born into Creation, and thus, not welcome in Lethe.
The Incarna would have killed all the Primordials, hadn’t Gaia stayed their hand. Not wanting to mar the new reign of the gods with unnecessary bloodshed, she implored them instead to imprison her remaining siblings. The gods accepted. The gods took the Primordial general Malfeas, and by slaying his core, remade him into a prison for his own kind. The imprisoned Primordials became the Yozis, and they were forced to swear oaths on their very names that they would never again enter Creation. And so, the last enemies of the Usurpers were imprisoned, the world forever beyond their reach. Yet, not much time passed until the Yozis began to dream of freedom and plot their escape, and not much time passed until ghosts started to appear in the grey underworld, for no longer was Lethe the only route for dead souls.
The First Age
After the Primordial war, the Incarna retreated to Yu-Shan to play the Games of Divinity, leaving the earth in the hands of the Exalted as a reward for their services. Only the Unconquered Sun had much remaining interest in the world. He was fond of his heroes, and often shared his wisdom with the Zenith priests, that they make sound decisions. The Solars were dubbed the Law-Givers, and to them was given dominion over all Creation. The Lunars were their enforcers and commanders, and the Sidereals took the place as their advisors and teachers. The Celestials formed a governing body called the Solar Deliberative, and in time, it’s reach came to extend o all four cardinal directions of Creation.
The first age was age of wonders. The human race was organized, and society evolved rapidly under the guidance of the Law-givers. Mankind populated places that were once uninhabitable. Resplendent cities of marble and crystal dotted Creation. Among the metropolis of that time were cities such as Denandsor, the capital of artifice, a place whose thaumaturgical technology was matched only by the brilliance of its inhabitants, and Luthe, the floating gold city of the west. There were places such as Hollow, the commercial center of the east and Chiarascuro, the great glass city of the south. Built entirely out of volcanic glass, this city once supported a population of more then fifty million people. In The north lay the holy City of Ondar Shambaal, one of the Prime seats of the faith of the Unconqured Sun. Evry stone in the city was carved out by hand and blessed by a Zenith-preist, and the city’s inhabitants were among the most devout in th entire world it is even said that the Sun-God himself graced the city with his presence to adopt the mantle of city-father.
No part of creation was unreachable in this age. Great ships of Orichalcum and jade traversed the seas and the skies, and clockworks steeds carried their riders across the vast lands of Creation The solars used their Charms to push back the wyld and expand creation. Their sorcery could turn the must barren deserts into fertile plains, and the world enjoyed a time of untold luxury and prosperity. The poorest men of that time were like the richest men of today. This was the splendor of the High First age.
The First Age was a glorious time, but such is the world, that even the fairest things deteriorate. As time passed by, the Law-givers began to experience fits of emotional turmoil, leading to compulsive, often irrational and destructive behavior. Some experienced berserker rage, annihilating whole cities at a whim, and some became cruel tyrants, reveling in pain and misery. Some became rash and foolhardy, leading thousands to their deaths in endeavors of madness. Some became ascetic or depressed, and removed themselves from the world. Thus, they were not there when their people needed them the most.
At first, these fits were sporadic, but they grew ever more frequent, until they became a more or less constant state. In essence, the Solars became the very tyrants they had overthrown. The excesses and atrocities of the Solars both angered and saddened the Unconquered Sun. Eventually, he revoked the guidance he had offered to his Chosen, and turned his face away from Creation in disgust. The Solars were left to fend for themselves.
Among other things, the solar madness led to the departure of Autochthon. Fearing the constructive ingenuity of the Mountain Folk, the solars threatened Autochthon to geas his children into Celestial supremacy, lest they be destroyed as the other children of the Primordials had been. Reluctantly, the Maker complied, for he feared for the lives of his children, as well as his own. Shortly there after, he left Creation, never to be seen again.
The Law-givers were not the only ones to fall from grace, however. At the beginning of the First Age, the Lunars were glorious Silver Princes, as at home in a court as in the lush forest wilds. However, over time, they became increasingly animalistic, and thus out of place in the complex society of the First Age. They began to favor the wilds, and many of them spent more time as animal than human. The Moon Children too, had lost their footing in the world.
Sensing dangers to Creation in the actions of the other Celestials, the Children of the Maidens gathered together and drew up a great prophecy, that they might see what was in store for the world. This prophecy revealed three alternate futures. In the first, the Sidereals did nothing, and the world became a downward spiral of ever growing darkness and terror. In the second, they took actions to reform the Solars and the Lunars. Success led to continued progression and development of the Golden Age, failure led to the end of the world, and the chance of success was slim. In the third, the Sidereals orchestrated a great Terrestrial uprising to overthrow the Solars, and hand the reigns of Creation to the Dragon-Blooded. The world would diminish, but at least it would persist.
The Sidereals debated furiously over which path to choose. The arguments were many and intense, and the sound of bickering voices was heard all over Yu-Shan. The Five Score Fellowship, as the Sidereal collective was called, was divided into two factions. Led by Tammis Ushun, a Chosen of Journeys, the Gold Faction wanted to reform the other Celestials and preserve the First Age no matter the risks. The opposing faction, the Bronze Faction, was led by Chejop Kejak, a Chosen of Secrets, and wanted a future under Terrestrial reign, without the gold of the Solars or the Silver of the Lunars. Though Ushun and his followers argued passionately, the majority fell in Kejaks favor. The seeds of the Usurpation had been planted.
During a great banquet, the Usurpation was initiated and many Solars were ambushed by Terrestrial and Sidereal assassins. Though they put up considerable resistance, most of the Solars were eventually outnumbered and slain. Those that escaped the initial ambush continued the fight, mostly in the form of guerilla warfare. It is said that the warriors among the Solars took hundreds of Usurpers with them to the Afterlife before they were finally put to the sword. Many of the glories of Creation were lost, caught in the cross-fire of the weapons of the Exalted warlords. The Solars put up a resistance as only the Chosen of the Sun can, but their cause was a lost one. Eventually, they were all hunted down and executed.
The Solars that had been slain during the initial stages of the Usurpation had their Essence shards sealed up in a great artifact called the Jade Prison, to prevent them from ever reincarnating. When this was done, the Sidereals sank the Jade Prison to the bottom of the Inland Sea. The few Solar-shards that escaped the Jade Prison continued to reincarnate, but the Terrestrials formed special task forces to deal with those individuals who received Solar Exaltation before they could grow in power. The Lunars were driven to the wyld tainted edges of the world, left to survive or die as best they could.
The reign of the Celestials had ended.
The Shogunate and the Contagion
After the Usurpation, the Dragon-Blooded set up a military government and ruled for centuries. Though it was not the First Age, the Dragon-Blooded Shogunate still retained many wonders from that era, though they could not replicate them. The Shogunate was an era of conflict and often suffered from civil wars of various scales. Many relics of the First Age also ceased to function for the spirits that managed them refused to give their aid to the Terrestrials as they had to the Solar Exalted. Though the Shogunate was an era of decline, at least it was a decline that could be managed, and it would likely have persisted for a longer time, had it not been for the Contagion.
The terrible plague came out of nowhere. Unanticipated by Dragon-Blooded savants, and unpredicted by the Sidereals, the Contagion swept over Creation like a black tide of death. Mortal and Dragon-Blooded alike fell to the disease, and humans died in legions. The Contagion killed nine tenths of the world’s population before subsiding. Yet, this was only the start of the nightmare. For aeons, the Fair Folk had been held at bay by the collective force of will of the human race. However, as it diminished, so did the barriers that sealed them off from Creation. Finally, they could assault the hated nexus of fixed shape. Led by the noble Balor, the Fair Folk assaulted Creation and began to devour its substance and inhabitants. Crippled by the Contagion, the Shogunate failed to respond. Much of the world was lost, and the fair Folk would undoubtedly have destroyed, had it not been for the woman who came to be known as the Scarlet Empress.
At the centre of the world lies the Blessed Island and the Imperial Mountain. Before the fall of the Primordials, the island had been the abode of the gods. When the gods retreated to Yu-shan to play the Games of Divinity, the Blessed Island became the seat of the new government, and The Deliberative settled in Meru, a city on Slopes of the imperial Mountain, where the gods had lived before. Around the Island, the Solars built powerful manses , designed for war. By connecting these war manses into a grid, the Solars created a formidable defence system. This system was connected to the Imperial Manse, the mightiest geomantic construct ever built, and it be came the hub of the grid. The reach of the Realm Defence Grid was vast, and fear of its power kept many hostile forces at bay during the First Age. After the Usurpation however, the Grid was rendered inactive. Those that had built it and designed it were gone and the crafted consciousnesses within the Imperial Manse denied access to anyone save their Solar creators. With no one to control it, the grid was useless when the Fair Folk invaded, but for the first time in ages, this was about to change.
The rise of the Empress
When the Balorian Crusade was at its peak, and all seemed lost to the defenders of Creation, a Dragon-Blooded officer of the Shogunate braved the Imperial Manse, accompanied by a few loyal followers. What methods she may have used and what dark deals she might have made remains a mystery even to me, but what is known is that somehow, she obtained control of the Defence Grid. Upon its activation, solar fire rained from the sky and scattered the armies of Balor, driving them back to the chaos beyond the world, and saving Creation from certain doom. Using the Imperial Manse, the officer projected her image and voice to the skies of the Threshold and beyond, crowning herself Empress of the New Realm. She used the power of the Defence Grid and those loyal to her to put down any opposition, and soon most of the civilised world paid tribute to the Blessed Island. Only the strongest managed to resist, such as General Nefvarin of The Seventh Legion of the Shogunate, and the then nascent city of Nexus. They banded together with other nations and formed the Confederation of Rivers in the region that came to be known as the Scavenger Lands. The Confederation would come to be a persisting annoyance to the Scarlett Empress of the Realm.
To solidify her rule, the Empress had children. The children of the Empress and their descendants formed the eleven great houses of the Scarlett Dynasty; the nobility that would become the ruling class of the Realm of the Dragon Blooded. She also founded a number of institutions to manage the society and the administration of the empire. Most notable among these was the Immaculate Order.
Practicing an extreme version of the Immaculate Philosophy, the old religion of the Shogunate, the Order teaches that the Celestials Exalts are Anathema, demonic creatures that thrive on powers stolen from the heavenly entities. It teaches the veneration of the Elemental Dragons and their avatars, and the spiritual superiority of the Dragon-Blooded.
What most don’t know is that the Immaculate Philosophy is a lie, a faux religion fabricated by the Bronze Faction when the Sidereals went into hiding following the Usurpation. What is also unknown is that the Bronze Faction has been the silent guide of the Realm ever since the day Kejak struck a deal of mutual support with the Empress. Using the Immaculate Order as a proxy, the traitors have enforced their will and their visions throughout the Empire’s entire existence. The Immaculate Order also instituted the Wyld Hunt, an organisation dedicated to the elimination of newly chosen Celestials. Guided by Sidereal astrology, the Wyld Hunt was indeed very successful in eliminating the few remaining Solars before they could pose a threat to the Realm.
The Empress ruled the Realm with an iron fist for almost eight centuries. To maintain power, she played the various institutions and the Great Houses against each other, thus ensuring that none of them ever grew powerful enough to challenge her authority. Five years ago, however, all that changed. Five years ago, the Scarlet Empress disappeared.
A Missing Ruler and a new Dawn
It was like any other day in the Realm and many thought that the Empress would soon return, she had disappeared before, after all, only to return a week or a month later. But time passed and she did not return, and soon the institutions of the Realm began to fall into disarray. Though a temporary regent was put in place until either the Empress returned or someone could be properly chosen to replace her, chaos still brewed below the surface. The Great Houses withdrew their troops from the tributaries and satrapies, and funding of the Wyld Hunts was limited. The Realm had no clear rules for succession, for the Empress had never planned to be succeeded, and soon her children and grandchildren were competing for her throne as they had once been competing for her favour. Yet, this upheaval was but a harbinger of what was about to come.
Shortly after the Empress’s disappearance, Creation experienced the first solar eclipse since the Usurpation. Then, it all broke loose. It was as though some ancient gate had been opened. All over the world, humans found themselves touched by the Sun, once again chosen to spread his word and enforce his will across the five directions. The Solars had returned in numbers not seen for over a millennium. All over creation, the status quos of the past were upset, as the kings of old struggled to reclaim their lost glory in a world feared and hated them. That struggle continues in the day of today and it will shake the very foundations of the world.
That is right child, men and women like you are being chosen as we speak. We live in a time of tumult and change, a time in which heroes are born and history written.
The question is, what legends will it tell of your deeds?
There are many more stories to be told, such as those of Black Lotus, a man who personally witnessed much of the First Age, and his associate Red Maya, a woman who fought the Fair Folk during the Contagion and who has not shown her face ever since. But those are stories for another time. Now, go to sleep and know that I will always watch over you.
The end....for now</b>
Well, some <b>major</b> effrot went into this. I hope someone likes it -Azurelight