In the age of sorrows, the general opinion of a well educated Dynast is that the Lunars were the bestial servitors of the Anathama, barely more than demons taking the form of animals, and rutting like them. Today, they are savage creatures, forming barbarian hordes and unleashing nothing but horror and destruction into those areas not under the protection of the realm. They have no civilization, no plan, and no intention of ever coexisting with civilized peoples.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Lunars are probably the mightiest single group of Celestial exalts in Creation, not excepting the Sideral Exalted. They have protected huge swathes of the Creation and are active, on, above, and below creation, to say nothing of outside it’s borders, battling the fae and stabilizing Wyld lands. They also have a long term plan for the rebuilding of civilization—one that will restore the grandur of the first age, as it should have been in the first place.
When the Exalted were first created, they all had roles—the Solars were the mighty generals, leaders, sorcerers and builders. The Siderals were the masters of fate. The Dragon blooded provided the numbers that not even the gods and allied Primordials could grant the celestial and solar exalts.
And the Lunars were the scouts, the assasins, the explorers. When the Primordial forces tried to entrench, it was the Lunars that found ways around their hard points. When they fled into the Wyld, the Lunars followed, made immune to the chaos by their moonsilver tattoos. When their champions stood forth, the Lunars met them, either alone or along with the Solars.
The Lunars were complements to the Solars…but they were *never* merely their mates and sidekicks. (indeed, much of the trouble in modern times is the fact that the Old Realm word for Complement is very close to concubine or Wife/husband, and in fact can mean all three, depending on context. Due to that, it is easy for modern savants to misread the surviving records and the Siderals have no interest in correcting the error).
After the war, the Lunars took on the longer range role—of helping to expand creation. While the solars could terreform, even they were not as capable of exploring as the lunars were, and the lunars ventured far into the wyld, securing redoubts, and throwing up barriers of sorcery and charm to augment and defend the solar terraforming engineers. The Lunars were the first scouts, surveyors, and all too often the conquering army that prepared the ground for the Solar terraforming engineers.
In addition to Lunars, the moon touched, also had numerous mortal and supernatural aides, ranging from dragon blooded to spirits, gods and later, iron blooded and Alchemical Exalted, as well as many mortals. There were also the “beastmen” those offspring of the lunars. Later, they could create their greatest bioengineering feat—the creation of beings like, but less than themselves, the exalted beastmen or terrestrial lunars.
But the lunar terraforming and military teams quickly became known as incredibly tight knit teams. A single lunar might have generations of aides living and dying around her, yet remember the names of the very first engineers that followed her in. The mortals became very proud of “their” Lunars, just as the lunars were proud and protective of their people. Indeed, Exalt, spirit, and mortals alike often looked to the inner borders of the proud and golden realm with a little…if not contempt, disdain. They were the ones who expanded the borders of creation, not the armies that sat behind them, nor really even the solars who came out to do the final terraforming—it was only rarely that they showed up to fight the fae (this opinion ignored the fact that when they did show up, it was to fight some unstoppable behemoth ravening out of the unformed madness). The real work was done by the Silver Pact. As the centuries wore on, many lunar led teams ventured ever further into the Wyld…and some of them established domains a considerable distance from creation, islands of stability in the chaotic world, where research was carried on…or where they simply lived, venturing forth to aid in the expansion of creation. However, it had to be said that as little as three centuries after the end of the primordial war, a split was developing between the lunars and Solars—if not a violent one, certainly an ideological one. The solars valued the powerful, civilized, realm… while the lunars increasingly saw it as a golden cage that prevented the mortals and exalts alike from reaching their full potential.
As the first age continued, this would have major implications for society…and for the Usurpation.
The High First Age, corruption and betrayal
The High First Age was the glory day of the Lunars—they continued to aid in the expansion of creation, but on the fringes, lunar dominated states and cultures rose, much as the Solars dominated the interior. The lunars crafted miracles, but their focus was on the molding of life—what the Solars needed labs and powerful spells to do, the lunars could do with charms and their own innate understanding of biology. In the East, vast living trees, imbued with their own intelligence and small biological “drones” provided living space for Lunar ruled cities, while in the oceanic lands of the West, floating islands, living creaturs and behemoths formed into submersibles prowled the oceans and depths. In the frigid lands of the north, modified iceworms carved cities into the glaciers while biologically transformed trees created oasises in the arid south.
Their servants utilized living tools that grew and repaired themselves, as the Lunars collaborated with, and later surpassed the Dragon Kings, and modified colonists could endure conditions ordinary mortals could not. The Ultimate creation, the Exalted Beastmen, actually terrestrial exalts patterned on their Lunar creators, was the Lunar equivalent of the Solar developed Alchemical Exalted—although Lunars liked to point out they didn’t need the Mountain Folks help.
During this period, however, the lunar domains remained low in population and large. the Lunar way prized individuality, so nearly every Lunar domain incorporated challenges, trials, and ordeals designed to make certain that everyone, mortal and exalt alike was functioning at their highest level—mortals with the ability to wield essence were more common in some Lunar domains than anywhere else but Meru itself.
But the High First Age gradually moved into the dark age the was precursor to the Usurpation and it darkened the fringes as well as the core. The Solars began to demand greater deference from the other celestial exalted, and nowhere was this more obnoxious than the Lunar domains. Restrictions on bioshaping, the demand that Lunars report back to the deliberative, and finally, the order that younger lunars “apprentice” themselves with Solars rather than learn their arts on the Fringe enraged and frightened many elder lunars.
The Final Straw was the creation of the Slave Collars….and their use on Exalted. While proclaimed as “marriages” in some of the documents at the time, their use was nothing less than slavery of the most obnoxious kind…and the Lunars, (and some unfallen solars) made preparation to wage a hopeless war against the Law Givers…until the Siderals approached them.
The usurpation was horrible. No event before or after equaled it in mental and emotional trauma. Every Solar that fell under the Lunars claws had been a friend, boon companion or lover, no matter how far they had fallen. The solars who fought with the Siderals and Lunars, against their mad companions knew that they to would have to die. The solars who fled and survived struck back in hatred (they were among the most powerful—and degraded, of their kind), knowing that there could be no victory in the end.
At the End of the Usurpation, fully 3/4 of the Lunar domains had been destroyed or badly damaged by Solar sorcery, summoned demons or other creatures that had followed the Solars. In addition a similar percentage of elder lunars had also fallen, leaving the newly incarnated lunars to pick up the slack without much of the wisdom their kind normally received. After the usurpation had largely been successful, the Lunars withdrew from the core areas of creation, along with many Alchemicals and Iron Blooded. In part, this was due to the agreement with the Siderals, leaving the core to them and the Shogunate. In part it was due to the fact that the Lunars had always enjoyed the fringes…and in part it was due to pain. Kill the Solars they might have had to do, but it was not a war—it was still a death in the family, and every part of the center of creation reeked of terrible deeds, futile bravery, and agonizing loss. The Lunars turned their back on it, and took up their old duties once again, of march wardens and defenders, while creating their own societies and civilizations, quite untroubled by the Shogunate’s internal conflicts.
Part III—from the Contagion to the Present
The Contagion hit the lunars like a thunderbolt. Their complex biological cities and constructs died in corruption and madness. Their people died—no skill, no brave heroic mortals were equal to the hatred of the Deathlords. The Lunars could cure a few—a very few, but celestial level sorcery was at best equal to protecting a few dozen, and could not render anyone immune to the dreaded plague. Even the second circle demons summoned by the Lunars could do little more than make it more likely individuals would survive. Even their terrestrial servants died, as did the mortals, as did the dragon kings… and as did some of the lunars themselves. The elders, mostly, were able to shake off the effects of the dreaded disease… but some younger lunars succumbed.
And even as they started getting a handle on the contagion (because all those who were vulnerable had died), the first warnings of the fae invasion came, born on spells and charms by lunars in the deep wyld. The invasion nearly destroyed the remaining lunars, and did slay all to many of their followers. Entire nations were wiped away, dissolved into the chaos of the fae, while others survived in bastions of reality, stabilized by magic or artifact. These fortresses survived, but were unable to offer much aid to the rest of creation. The Lunar cordon had, for the first time, been decisively broken. The lunars were able to aid the rest of creation—armored in moonsilver, elder lunars sallied forth, and many behemoths that would have smashed the dragonblooded never made it to creation, but they could not stop the horde.
When the empress unleashed her newly mastered defense grid, the Lunars, no less than the dragonblooded, rejoiced. But after rejoicing, as the slow rebuilding was begun, a greater trouble arose—the siderals, many lunars proclaimed, had failed in their duty. The siderals demanded that the lunars abide by the old pacts, and remain in the fringes…and dared unleash the wyld hunt on those who refused to. This in turn, enraged many younger lunars and brought conflict to the already scarred lands. The Elder lunars and siderals managed to avoid all out war in a meeting in Yu Shan (the only remaining neutral ground where neither group would dare the wrath of the incarna), merely confirmed the already existing situation and affirmed that neither side would unleash first age WMD’s on the other, or engage in such a widespread conflict that creation would be endangered—and that the Siderals would continue to receive aid when the Wyld hunt was needed to go after solars on the borders of creation. This last met with grumbling from younger lunars—were the solars really that bad? Their elders merely shook their heads and ratified the agreement. And it was not only a desire for peace that led to this—the lunars had been terribly damaged and there were many, many newly exalted lunars who needed to be educated into the ways of the Silver pact—and many of them sprang from stock that refused to accept peace with the realm. These engaged in raids and even invasions, but without the full support of their elders were unable to do more than cause damage in raids—and never forced the realm to unleash the power of the defense grid. But this actually agreed with the plan of the Elders. Realizing that they no longer had enough forces to stop Fae incursions, the Lunars had to take a drastic step—while they could protect some areas, they could not protect massive populations.
And those massive populations once conquered by the Fae provided “gossamer banks” that made it easy for the fae to remain in creation, while they worked to undermind it and convert it into “stable” bastions of Wyld chaos. By supporging barbarian raids, and other incursions, the Lunars effectively drove large populations in “away” from the borders of creation, or collected them in easy to defend enclaves—against the barbarians, many thought, but really against the fae, when and if they returned. Meanwhile, the lunars could work on rebuilding their numbers. This required some readjustement—so much had been lost that in many areas, the lunars were forced to return to a nearly barbaric lifestyle, at least among their followers, accepting the low population in return for an ability to live in the new regions. Others fostered “Beastmen” tribes, the better to allow intelligent beings to live in areas without any material support. This was further enhanced by the many young (like most celestial exalted, the lunars really didn’t consider an exalt “old” until his fifth century), lunars springing from barbarian stock who kept their hatred of the realm. The elder lunars policed them with a light hand, while gradually seeking to rebuild their ancient power and learning.
The realm provided (along with Lookshy) a convenient target for those younger and rasher lunars, in addition honing the skills of their followers—those who stuck to simple “scream and leap” tactics lost, while those who adapted, found themselves succeeding. Raids for people and resources became a way of defining face, while the ability to manage those resources defined power. In some places, tribute villages became a fixture—and to many slaves of the guild or peasants in threshold states, being “kidnapped” actually proved to be not such a bad thing, providing social mobility, at least for their children, that existed in few other places in creation. (Neither the lunars nor their servants permitted hereditary slavery).
But with the disappearance of the Empress, the situation started to deteriorate. The elder lunars looked with concern on the chaos in the realm, realizing that a civil war would be disastrous for all creation, given the likely weapons that would be deployed. The younger lunars and the exalted beastmen saw this as a signal to launch the war their elders had never wanted, while the Siderals seemed unable to control the situation. Worse, the rise of the deathlords gave the lunars great pause, and the mightiest Nomoons spoke of rumblings in the hell prison of Malfeas. Even among the Elder Luners there was some concern that the Lunars might have to invade and risk open war with the Siderals, at least to stabilize the realm, and some spoke of going to Lookshy and telling them the truth of the matter, while others wished to try and rally the Jadeborn or even the forces of heaven to their cause.
And lastly, the return of the Solars has both terrified and excited the Lunars. The Solars, if they can be given enough time are mighty enough to drive the other forces away…yet many of the solars may remember that the lunars aided the siderals…and the lunars have no desire to face the kind of vengeance solar circle sorcery may very well meet out. Yet as the age of sorrows draws to a close, it may very well be that against the Yozi’s, the Fae, the Neverborn and the all too human forces of chaos that threaten to pull creation apart, they may have no choice…unless some heroic Lunar can show them a way out of the trap that seems to be closing on them.
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