Exalted: The Sun Also Rises
In the beginning was the Void, in which nothing existed and nothing could exist. From the Void was born the Wyld, the chaos of possibility and form, in which anything and everything was possible. After a time without time, the Wyld birthed the beings called the Primordials. These primal beings of power and might represented the basic concepts of the universe they would build and create. And so the Primordials pushed back the Wyld and in its wake was left Creation.
Though beings of great power and might, the Primordials were less interested in running Creation than in possessing it, and so they created many beings to serve them. These smaller, but still mighty, beings were the gods, who were to embody objects, places and lesser concepts. The Primordials bound the gods so that they could never turn against their makers and then turned their attention inward.
For their part, the gods were the loyal caretakers and keepers of Creation for many long ages. In time, though, they became discontent with forever bearing all the burdens of the world and never receiving any reward for their efforts. And so the gods conspired against their makers. While the gods themselves could not act against the Primordials, nothing bound their smallest creations—mortals—from doing so. The Primordials had considered such beings far too weak to ever threaten them. This would turn out to be their most fatal mistake.
The gods approached the most sympathetic of the Primordials, Gaia the Earth-Mother, and begged for her help. As a being of peace and life, Gaia could not bear to make war against her fellows, but loving the gods and desiring to see them prosper, she agreed to aid them in another way. Gaia summoned forth her divine will and birthed five great dragons corresponding to the five elements of Creation: Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Wood. In turn, these five dragons sought out virtuous men and women and blessed them with dominion over the elements and the power to challenge the Primordials themselves.
The war was long and hard-fought, costing the lives of millions of mortals, but the saviors of the gods won out in the end. In exchange for their aid in defeating the Primordials, the children of the elemental dragons were granting dominion over all the lands of the world. The surviving warriors of the gods would be granted the boon of passing on the dragons’ blessing to their own children as well, and from this gift came the lines of the Dragon-Blooded. Because they are the grandchildren of Gaia and because they are placed above other men, they are sometimes called the Terrestrial Exalted.
The Exalted formed a mighty empire during the First Age, a beautiful and wondrous homage to the gods that might well have stood forever had it not been for betrayal from within. Some mortals, jealous of the power borne by the Dragon-Blooded, sought to gain that power for themselves. Using dire sorcery and unspeakable magics, these misguided fools stole power from the gods—from the sun, moon, and stars. Though they called themselves Exalted like the Children of the Dragons, in truth they were the Anathema, the antithesis of all that is good and right in the world. By stealing power from the gods, they had damned their mortal souls and become trapped in an endless cycle of reincarnation.
Maddened by their unearned power, the Anathema ran roughshod over all of Creation, murdering and despoiling at will. Though the Dragon-Blooded were mighty and numerous, the dark sorcery of the Anathema proved too powerful for them, and the First Age ended in fire and blood. Before the Anathema could destroy all that was, the mightiest of the Dragon-Blooded managed to gather them all together in one place and wage one last battle against them. Many lives were lost, but the Children of the Dragons were triumphant, chaining the damned souls of the Anathema for all time, save for a tiny few that managed to hide away in dark corners of the spirit world.
With their victory coming at such a high price, the Dragon-Blooded rebuilt civilization as best they could. Led by the Dragon Shogun, the Exalted created a vast and encompassing shogunate to rule the lands of the world with fairness and justice. This shogunate ruled for many centuries, though none can truly say how long because of what came next.
Beyond the borders of Creation still lurked the Wyld, and within it dwelt the Fair Folk. Birthed of chaos and despising law, the Fair Folk sought to unmake all that was. When they entered Creation, they assumed forms of great beauty and terrible ugliness to tempt or terrify mortals, and to survive away from the Wyld they devoured human souls. A great army of the Fair Folk marched against Creation, an army that would have easily been repulsed had it not been for the
Contagion. Whether another ploy of the Fair Folk or simply a dreadful coincidence, none know, but the Contagion was a plague so deadly that it killed nine out of every ten inhabitants of Creation. It spread across the world like wildfire, leaving humanity nearly defenseless before the onslaught of the Wyld.
In this time of desperation, a single woman found the courage and power to save the world. A mighty warrior from the Dragon-Blooded armies of the shogun, she traveled to the Blessed Isle at the center of Creation and sought out the mightiest war fortress of the First Age, a wonder that none had ever before breached. She entered the structure… and the world held its breath in anticipation.
Pale streamers of fire swept from the skies onto the armies of the Fair Folk, and great winds swept away the remnants of the Contagion. The seas rose up to destroy threatening naval forces, and the earth itself swallowed the enemies of Creation. Holding in her hands the reigns of the world she had just saved, the Dragon-Blooded soldier declared herself the Scarlet Empress, new ruler of the world—a claim that none could refute. Competent in rule as well as war, the empress established the Realm, a great empire that encompasses the Blessed Isle and names hundreds of lesser kingdoms as tributaries, vassals, and allies.
It has been seven hundred and sixty-eight years since the founding of the Realm, and the Scarlet Empress still rules, granted greater life even than the long-lived Dragon-Blooded by virtue of her power and devotion. Under her are the Great Houses of the Realm, Dragon-Blooded noble houses that pay court to the empress and aid in the day-to-day running of the Realm. They are truly the masters of Creation, princes of the Earth.
All hail the Realm! All hail the Scarlet Empress!
Ten thousand dragons rule the Earth!