Exalted – Terrestrials (Overview)May 18, 2010
So, with Solars (as the default PCs) out of the way, let’s move on to the current movers and shakers of Creation: The Dragon-Blooded. In the Primordial War, the Terrestrial Exalted were the Chosen of Gaia, one of the two rogue Primordials. She, through her sub-souls the Elemental Dragons, empowered masses of humanity with the Terrestrial Exaltation, a weaker but more numerous type of Exaltation that allowed the Dragon-Blooded to serve as aides, generals, and forces of the Celestials.
Unlike Celestial (meaning Solar, Lunar, or Sidereal) Exaltation, Terrestrial Exaltations are weak enough to be spread through heredity. Thus, there is no upper limit to the number of Dragon-Blooded in Creation, though currently they number roughly 10,000. They are the weakest of the Exalted individually, but their elementally aspected power shines when combined. Instead of Castes, the Dragon-Blooded have Aspects, one for each of the five elements (which correspond loosely to classical Asian elements), and also one for each direction. The center of Creation is Earth-aspected, while the North is air, the East is Wood, the South is Fire, and the West is Water.
The Dragon-Blooded, by and large, do not remember their heritage. They are shorter-lived than Celestials, and so none remain alive who remember the Primordial War, or even the First Age. What they know, they have learned from the Sidereals, who have created a false religion for them to follow. This Immaculate Order preaches the supremacy of the Exalted (meaning them), the heresy of the Anathema (meaning all other kinds of Exalted), and the purity of the Dragon-Blooded heritage. Most people in Creation know only this “truth.”
Most of the Dragon-Blooded in Creation live in the center of Creation on the Blessed Isle as part of the Scarlet Empire. During the Contagion, when the Fair Folk were swarming Creation, one Dragon-Blooded general took over the Imperial Manse and used the Sword of Creation, an ancient First Age defense mechanism, to obliterate the rampaging Fair Folk. She named herself the Scarlet Empress, and her Realm has ruled since that day.
There are, however, other centers of Terrestrial Exalted. Lookshy, in the East, is the last holdover from the Shogunate, the time between the Usurpation and the Contagion. They refused to bow to the Empress, and have managed to maintain their independence. There are also scattered groups of Dragon-Blooded in the Northeast and Southwest, and, since the Exaltation can be passed genetically, individual Dragon-Blooded (which the Realm deems “lost eggs”) can pop up technically anywhere.
When most people in Creation think of Exalted, during the Second Age, they think of the Dragon-Blooded. They are the literal rulers of Creation, though with the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress, their Empire is beginning to turn against itself. Decadence and corruption are everywhere, and civil war looms. The Threshold (those nations not a part of the Empire) are left more and more to their own devices, and the Wyld Hunt (the martial arm of the Immaculate Order dedicated to hunting Anathema) is being pulled back little by little to the Blessed Isle.
In this Time of Tumult, the Dragon-Blooded face a dangerous series of choices. The Scarlet Empire itself may well be up for grabs, and backing the right contender could mean life or death. As if that weren’t enough, in their greatest time of need, the Terrestrials are beset by returning Anathema in unheard-of numbers. Deathlords walk Creation, and with most of the Scarlet Empire turned inward, they may rampage unchecked. Each Dragon-Blood has to ask himself: how do I best serve Creation?