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Exalted – An Abridged History, Part Three

May 18, 2010

After the Primordial War, Creation entered what came to be known as the First Age. The Exalted ruled, the gods served in the Celestial Bureaucracy, and mortals lived more or less in harmony. The world was watched over by the Solar Deliberative, and the Solars ruled the Exalted.

As time passed, however, the Solars grew more decadent and inhuman. Perhaps it was the Great Curse. Perhaps it was merely power corrupting as power is wont to do. Whatever the reason, the Lunars became enslaved and abused spouses, the Sidereals became irritants and overworked, and the Terrestrials became fodder for war games or ignored entirely.

The Sidereals, worried, drew together and worked their astrology to determine the course of the future. They saw three courses: in the first, they aided and guided the Solars, and while the path would be hard and not guaranteed, if they succeeded, Creation would thrive. In the second, they did nothing, and Creation was destroyed by the Solars. In the third, they slew the Solars and Creation was diminished, but it survived.

They chose the third. In what came to be called the Usurpation, the Sidereals led the Terrestrials to overthrow and murder the Solars, trapping their Exaltations forever to ensure they would never return. They harried the Lunars to the edges of Creation, to the edges of the Wyld, where they remained. Then, the Sidereals gave Creation to the Terrestrials and retreated to Yu-Shan. Soon, everyone forgot about them entirely.

The Terrestrials led Creation through war and destitution, as the First Age crumbled around them. They had barely stabilized the world when a terrible plague, the Great Contagion, swept across the land, killing nine of every ten people. At the same time, the Wyld boiled over with Fair Folk, marching in a wave of destruction toward the heart of Creation.

All hope seemed lost, until one brave Terrestrial lieutenant led her small troop into the heart of the Imperial Manse and re-activated a defense system from the high First Age. The Fair Folk were driven back by fire and lightning from the skies, earthquakes and boiling oceans. In their wake, Creation was smaller, but still there. She named herself the Scarlet Empress and claimed command of all Creation. Very few resisted. Even fewer resisted successfully.

For seven hundred years, Creation has existed under the reign of the Scarlet Empire. The Immaculate Order, the state religion of the Empire, has dealt with threats from ghosts, demons, rogue elementals, and Fair Folk, and the Wyld Hunt has slain any Anathema – Lunar or Solar Exalted who escaped the Usurpation – keeping the populace safe and sedate.

However, things have suddenly and dramatically changed. Five years ago, the Scarlet Empress vanished without a word. Holes have appeared between Creation and the Underworld, and from these holes beings called Deathlords have appeared, powerful ghosts, some of whom have even conquered living nations through military might. Fair Folk are more populous, and the Lunar Exalted have been leading barbarian hordes inward into Creation instead of out into the Wyld.

Perhaps worst of all, the Solar Exalted have begun to return in alarming numbers. During the reign of the Empire, they appeared one or two a year. Now dozens are appearing all around Creation, and the Empire, without the Empress to lead them, is falling into civil war, too self-absorbed to worry about the Exalted. This is the Time of Tumult, and the end of the Second Age. The returning Solars must find their place in this new Creation, and they must do their part to defend it from the ravening Underworld and the everpresent Fair Folk, lest all Creation be ripped asunder.

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