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Alternate Lunar Affiliations
In the glorious apex of the First Age, the Lunar Exalted held together as one, united in their devotion to their Solar mates and their glorification of the ever-changing Luna. In the cold, unforgiving Age of Sorrows, however, the Lunar Exalted have splintered, driven apart by their exile, their increasing disagreements, and their very natures. A new Lunar has several choices as to the path they walk in Luna's service -- though that choice may be made for them by the No Moon who arrives to fix their caste.
The Silver Pact is by far the largest organization of Lunar Exalted, boasting well upwards of one hundred members. Its origins lie in the years following the Usurpation, as the Lunar Exalted began to find their hold on sanity and form slipping away due to their over-exposure to the Wyld. As their brethren began falling to the Chimerae, the eldest of the Lunars came together to save their kind from extinction. They conducted many experiments to find a way, and many Lunars willingly gave their lives or their sanity to aid their fellows in their search. When finally the art of the tattooing which fixes the Lunar castes was completed, many of the Lunars set out to find others and likewise rescue them from the dangers of the Wyld.
As the reality of their new situation set in and the Lunars came to accept their exile as permanent, many sought out companionship and wisdom amongst their own kind. These Lunars naturally turned to those who had saved them all from the Wyld, and they became the first Elders of the Pact. These Elders communed with Luna through spiritual journeys and vision quests to determine how best to proceed; they set down the laws of Renown and the Silver Way to guide their fellows and keep the Lunars strong. They created the signs and symbols by which Lunars communicate with one another, in order to keep all Luna's Children united. And they spoke of the great wrong committed against the Lunars by the impetuous Terrestrial Exalted, and of the day they would return to crush the usurpers and reinstate the glory of the Deliberative; and many Lunars were glad to hear it.
As the years passed, however, the emphasis of the Pact shifted. The Elders who had founded the Pact began to reach the end of their years, and those who had learned at their feet came to be the new Elders. Many of these Exalts did not remember the Realm at its finest point, but only the dark days before the Usurpation -- with all the horror and tyrrany that led up to it. These Elders held equal measures of contempt for the Dragon-Blooded usurpers and the cruel Solars they had overthrown; under their influence, the Pact came to harbor a dislike for civilization altogether. For some of the Elders, this hatred even overcame their kinship with the other Lunars, and to them the Pact became little more than a tool for their own ambitions.
In the Age of Sorrows, the Pact is both of these things: the brotherhood of noble Lunars brought together for honor and glory, and the cruel instrument of revenge for increasingly inhuman Elders. The Pact continues its mission of aiding new Lunars and teaching them of the power and glory they have come to hold; but it also stands ready to spring forth, unleashing a wave of destruction over all of Creation.
Among the Silver Pact, many Lunars have formed individual packs or groups who strive to achieve specific goals or embody certain virtues. In general, a Lunar's devotion to one of these groups is secondary to their devotion to the Pact, and to Luna; however, within that framework, Lunars typically hold an intense loyalty to those sisters they have sworn themselves to.
Some examples of these groups include:
Crimson Fang Brotherhood
The Crimson Fang Brotherhood is a small group of Lunars, numbering about 10-15 Exalted operating primarily in the Northeast. The Brotherhood have all sworn their loyalty to one another through complex blood oaths and mutual scarring; there is little one can do to bring one Brother to turn against another.
The Crimson Fang Brotherhood represents one of the more extreme factions within the Pact, consisting of Lunars who have come to view humanity as completely beneath them. Crimson Fangs tend to feel that their birth as humans was at best an accident of destiny -- that in being Chosen by Luna, they have transcended or even destroyed the humanity from which they sprang. The members of the Brotherhood tend to claim territory far from any human settlements, and scorn even barbarian worshippers -- most of them have bred tribes of loyal beastmen through mating with animals, who live with them in their outlying lairs. Many of them even refuse to wear human shapes at all, using their hybrid shapes for all dealings with sentient creatures.
In order to join the Brotherhood, an aspiring Lunar must perform a hunt which displays his worthiness as a true Warrior of Luna. Such a Lunar picks a human of great strength -- a masterful hunter or a renowned warrior -- and must hunt them, using only their natural gifts. In pursuit of such a quarry, the Lunar may choose any animal form she wishes, but must otherwise refrain from using her powers as a Chosen of Luna -- only through such a hunt can an aspirant prove that she is truly worthy of her gifts.
Recently, the return of the Solar Exalted has greatly agitated the Crimson Fangs. In general, they consider the Solars to be no better than the rest of humanity, believing that only the Touch of Luna actually transforms a human being into anything other than a dark, sick magnification of their previous self. As such, the Crimson Fangs have been some of the most vocal critics of the Solars at Pact meets -- some have even called for them to be considered mortal enemies, and at least one has sought out and killed new Solars upon first hearing of them.
The Black Owls
The Black Owls are dedicated knowledge-gatherers, tasking themselves with the purpose of keeping the Silver Pact fully informed of all that goes on in Creation. Numbering 10-15 Exalts, the Owls are spread throughout Creation, tending to spend very little time in one place. While many Lunars perform such tasks, the Black Owls have chosen to devote themselves to it, believing that in doing so they serve Luna best.
Black Owls perform numerous different tasks in pursuit of their mission. They commonly find themselves shapechanging into insignificant forms to infiltrate a compound or spy upon an enemy. Because these tasks frequently require dealing with civilization, the Black Owls tend to be amongst the most urbane of Pact members. Several have established themselves in a single city in order to carefully monitor events there, sometimes going so far as to create numerous false identities which they use to circumspectly gather information. One Owl has even ensconced herself in the Imperial City itself, making regular reports to the Pact on the actions of the Dynasty.
A young Exalt who wishes to join the Owls have merely to express her wish at a Pact meeting -- another Owl will take her under his wing. Many Owls come from urban stock, and choose to join up because their knowledge of civilization gives them an edge in information-gathering over barbarian Lunars. Others join simply because they are well-suited to the task -- stealthy, clever, or simply lucky. Those who become Black Owls often have a No Moon inscribe their sigil -- two small black triangles, points together -- upon their bodies, to forever mark the method of service they have chosen.
In many cases, the societies the Black Owls infiltrate have rubbed off on them. The result is that they tend to be a moderating influence among the Pact, typically arguing for restraint and careful consideration in any moves against civilization. They also fall heavily into the pro-Solar camp within the Pact. Many Black Owls, having seen the newly returned Solars act, believe that they would be valuable allies -- and find that their dislike of the Realm is an excellent meeting point to start from.
Outside the Pact
Not all Lunars truck with the Silver Pact, however. Many reject companionship entirely, wishing to live their lives in solitude. Others reject the Pact's goals or methods, seeking to approach the new era in a different way. Finally, others are rejected by the Pact itself, for crimes against the Silver Way or other heresies.
Some sample groups of non-Pact Lunars include:
In the Southwest of Creation, the Trackless pass like shadows through the land, never staying in one place too long or leaving any method to find them. Where they pass, though, humans tremble to step past their doors, for no animal has ever been as vicious a predator as a Trackless One.
The Trackless have stalked the Southwest for hundreds of years now, slaughtering all who fall beneath their claws and seeking to free the land of people. In the beginning, they split from the Silver Pact, driven by a belief that the Pact's concerns were irrelevant to their new lives. To the Trackless, their exile was not due to the corruption of civilization, but rather their own disconnection with the natural world. These Lunars felt that even the wild, brutal lives of the barbarians still reeked of humanity's stink, and that even the slightest taste of civilization was too enough to demean Luna's gift. The Trackless set off into the wilderness, communing directly with nature and shunning all the trappings of civilized living. They quickly became feral, losing all connection to their previous lives. Now, the Trackless are merciless and cruel; any humans they encounter fall beneath their talons, barbarians and "civilized" people alike. As such, they have drawn the anger of many Pact Lunars.
The Trackless rarely recruit new members; they are by and large too far gone from even the basics of human communication to do so. In fact, when the Trackless catch wind of a newly Exalted Lunar nearby, they will tirelessly hunt him down and attempt to slay him -- any Lunar who might turn to help the Pact hunt them down would be unacceptable. However, occasionally one such new Lunar will impress the Trackless with his animalistic strength or savage cunning -- then, a No Moon will tattoo him, and the Trackless will welcome him into their fold.
The Trackless have a close relationship with the Animal Avatars of their native lands, often directly communing with them to discuss the condition of the their represented beasts. The complaints of these Avatars often translate directly into action from the Trackless -- several human settlements have been razed by the Trackless as a direct result of actions which raised the ire of a specific Avatar.
The Scavenger Sons
Operating primarily within the Scavenger Lands and centered in Nexus, the Scavenger Sons are a group of Lunars who have come to find that living amongst the sprawl and detritus of civilization suits them just as well as the wilderness. Lunars who identify themselves as Sons tend to be of urban origin; most of them were Chosen by Luna while they ate scraps from the streets or labored in chains. When they were Exalted, the Sons didn't turn away from the cities they had fought to live in -- they embraced them.
Exaltation has generally done little to dissuade the Sons from living a difficult, painful life, however. Many of them have known nothing else; others have grown proud of their ability to withstand all life has to throw against them. As a result, most of them have thrown themselves whole-heartedly into the most dangerous, difficult situations they could find within the heart of the cities. Some wander the streets as vigilantes, stalking and consuming the evils that walk the street. Many have turned to crime, working as undetectable assassins or carefully building up criminal empires. Some merely live on the streets, content with the thrill of avoiding detection. Few of the Sons have attempted to achieve any measure of typical human success -- for most, the dark, dirty world in the underbelly of the city is the only world they know, and the realms of the wealthy are utterly foreign to them. In general, the Sons don't think too much of their greater place in the world -- most are currently used to their rough and tumble lives as they are, despite the slight nagging sensation that they are destined for greater things.
Nexus is an inviting city for Exalts of any type to live in, due to its permissive atmosphere and varied population; it's easy to get lost in the crowd and stay out of trouble. As such, three of the elder Sons make their home there. Each has insinuated themselves into some part of the city's vast and bloated underbelly, living as a vagabond or a thief or a whore. All three are very protective of the city and have interest in no other life; Nexus is their home, and they will not abandon it. These elders do occasionally travel elsewhere in the Scavenger Lands, however, to visit other Sons and seek out news of newly Exalted Lunars to approach.
The Scavenger Sons are an extremely loose group, at best. At most, they're a loose confederation of Lunars who have developed methods to communicate with one another when events warrant. The most important such event is the appearance of a new Lunar in a Scavenger Lands city -- any Son who learns of such a thing will contact a No Moon as quickly as possible so the new Chosen can be tattooed and helped to establish herself. If some grave threat faced their homes, however, the Sons would almost certainly rise up to defend them; the blood of Luna still runs in their veins, after all. Several of the Sons have begun meeting recently to discuss the matter of Thorns; the Mask of Winters represents a daunting new threat to the Scavenger Lands, and several of the Sons are beginning to wonder if they truly have a higher calling after all.
Deep in the darkest jungles of the Southeast, a pack of outcast Lunars crouch in their forgotten jungle manse, breeding beastmen the likes of which the world was never meant to see and edging dangerously close to madness. The Abraxans are chimerae. Not the Wyld-maddened monstrosities the Silver Pact fears -- not yet -- but Lunars who have given themselves to the lure of expanding beyond the natural in their source for greater power and self-actualization.
The Abraxans originated four hundred years ago with a Lunar named Tarik Sharp-Eyes. Tarik was a crafty hawk-totemed Changing Moon who dedicated himself to fighting off the Wyld and the Fair Folk. However, one raid into the Wyld went awry for Tarik -- he was surprised by a deadly fae noble, who captured him and spirited him into the Wyld. Once it had dragged the Lunar far from his companions, it lashed him to a rock with ropes of glamour and began to flay the skin from his bones. After an endless agony, the fae left Tarik there, letting his helplessness and pain brew into a delectable concoction.
When Tarik tells this story to his fellows, he tells them that he laid there bleeding for two days, wishing for death. Just as he thought the end was coming, he saw something: a tiger, striding toward him out of the mist. It spoke to him: "You know me, oh Chosen One, for I am your Mother. Take this gift from me, that you may work my will in this world." At that time, Tarik felt the power of the Tiger fill his body, and his strength grew ten times. Invigorated, Tarik snapped his bonds with ease, then hunted down his tormentor and delivered swift justice.
When he came to a meet to tell the Pact of his deeds, however, Tarik found himself scorned -- for in adopting the Tiger totem, Tarik had taken the first step down the path of the chimera. Having done so in the depths of the Wyld, he appeared to many others to be irretrievably lost; scorned and infuriated, Tarik fled from his brothers, never to return.
In the years since, Tarik has embraced his newfound status. Tarik fled into the Wyld of the southwest, and began to delve into the forbidden abilities his new state promised. He paid careful attention, however, waiting to hear of other Lunars who developed chimeric traits. Whenever he did, he invited them to join him; at this point, he has accumulated six followers, all rejected by the Pact for switching totems.
Tarik and the other Abraxans have embraced the chimeric state, learning new abilities that have allowed them to move beyond the limitations of mortal animals. Tarik can take on the shapes of Wyld mutants, and interbreeds disparate animals within the Wyld to create new forms for himself. His totem has been altered into what he calls an "archtiger" -- a magnificent silver tiger bearing the wings of a hawk, the horns of a ram, and the tail of a serpent. His acolytes have similarly explored, changing their own totems and developing strange new powers.
All this has come at a severe price, however; the Abraxans must remain near the Wyld for many of their explorations to work, and all of them are in danger of severe Wyld addiction. Tarik believes that he has resisted the lure of the Wyld, harnessing the power of the chimera without falling prey to the chaotic beast within -- but who can say for sure?
Beyond their experimentations with forbidden power, the Abraxans have little interaction with the outside world; their jungle city is far from any human settlements, and the Lunars have honestly thought of little else beyond their own explorations. Tarik is beginning to grow restless, however; he wishes to flex his muscles, but years of isolation have left him with little idea what to do. Soon, he intends to journey back out into the world, and find a task suitable for a glorious Lunar such as himself.
The calm surface of the sea paints a deceptive picture -- for under the waves, the far West is as savage a world as any Eastern jungle. In the depths of the great ocean lurk the Aquarius Argentum, a crew of vicious Lunars who prey upon the foolish humans who dare traverse the waves. Those who know of them fear them almost as much as the Lintha -- but few survive to learn their name.
The Argentum do not need ships or other decadent tools of man -- they are Luna's children. Those who know of them say that often, in the dark of night, when few stir aboard a vessel, the tiniest insects will climb aboard it from the water. In the morning, the crew will awaken and begin the day's sailing -- but little do they realize that some amongst their number have been taken by the devil in the night. One by one, as the moment is right, the devil takes the crew, until only the captain is left, still unknowing that anything is amiss. It is then that the devil reveals herself (and her doppelganger crew) to him -- to let him see the truth of his tragic fate, moments before she holes the hull and drags him and his cargo down to the watery depths of Hell.
The Argentum are led by Arjay the Silent, a manta ray totem Full Moon. Born on a small, sparsely populated island, Arjay lived a quiet, peaceful life -- until the day her island was raided by a vicious band of Coral Pirates. She watched as her home was burned, her husband and children slain, and her life destroyed. She was clapped in chains and dragged aboard the pirates' ship, to be used for the pirates' vile purposes. They kept her aboard their ship, never even allowing her to set foot upon land.
After months of slavery, something inside Arjay snapped. She waited until the vessel's captain came to her, as he did every day. As he approached, she welcomed him with open arms -- and then cut his throat with the fingernail she'd filed to a sharp point over the last two weeks. Taking the blade from his corpse, she made her way up the decks, slaughtering every last crewman until she reached the decks. Slick with blood, she tore down the sails, lit the vessel aflame, and dove off the bow to meet her final end.
At that moment, she was Exalted.
Now, twenty years later, Arjay rules a veritable underwater kingdom of beastmen, along with the six other Lunars who make up the Argentum. Together, they patrol the waters of the western sea, attacking any vessel which dares attack the people of the islands -- or whose cargo has a bounty ripe for the taking.
Once, Arjay would've plied her trade out of a true desire to protect those like she once was. In practice, the Argentum do protect the islands in the region she came from, and few ply their vicious trade there now. The compassionate part of Arjay died on that ship, however; all that is left now is a beast. The Argentum raid not to protect anyone, but simply because no amount of revenge is enough to fill the hole in Arjay's heart. Arjay has a great need for artifacts of any kind, or jade of which to craft them; as such, Realm ships are especially favored targets. She also enjoys attacking Guild ships, simply because she enjoys the sight of silver coins in the ocean water.
Nice. I like Aquarius Argentum, the Abraxams, and the two Silver Pact camps. Good job thinking out of the box, Lunar-wise. hplovescats
Am I correct in understanding that all of your non-Silver Pact camps still fix castes through tattooing, including the Abraxans? Glamourweaver
Yeah, that's the idea. The Trackless and the Abraxans are both Silver Pact outcasts, so the core members at least would've had their castes fixed eariler. I figure the Argentum and the Sons definitely each have No Moons (probably one in the former case, maybe three in the latter) who know the proper Charms to fix a new Lunar's caste. The Trackless probably have one too, so they can indoctrinate new pups who prove themselves. I had originally intended to include a note about how the Abraxans had recently gotten a No Moon and therefore had started to "recruit," but I seem to have left it out. Anyway, I figure these groups tend to clash with the Silver Pact, with solitary No Moons, or with each other when operating in the same place. I figure a lot of them assume that the ideology of the No Moon who fixes a new Lunar's caste will have a great deal of influence on their future behavior, and so they compete rather strongly to reach potential new recruits first. -- Charlequin
Cool stuff. I love the various groups you made which I might use at some point though probably not your alternate view on the Silver Pact. -BogMod
This is simply wonderful, keep up the good work. Jamez