Exalted: The Sun Also Rises
The Blessed Isle
The Heart of Creation
At the center of the world lies the Blessed Isle, the most fertile and bounteous region of Creation. Before the Primordial War, the Blessed Isle was the home of the gods themselves, and afterwards it was the home of the Solar Exalted. The Usurpation killed many and destroyed much, but the Blessed Isle weathered it far better than any other part of the world, and the Contagion killed fewer here than elsewhere.
In the ruins of the Contagion, the Dragon-Blooded hero who would become known as the Scarlet Empress set up new governmental ministries, reorganized and rebuilt the military legions, established a new Deliberative to occupy the more fractious nobles, took consorts, bore children who founded the Great Houses and maintained the Wyld Hunt to strike down any reborn Anathema.
The Realm she created was merely a pale shadow of the Shogunate that had come before it, but it maintained the peace and enforced her will on a world far too shattered to resist. Over the course of several tumultuous centuries, she came to rule virtually all of Creation. Through it all, despite barbarian invasions, Fair Folk incursions and endless peasant rebellions, the Realm endured. For almost 800 years, the Scarlet Empress ruled her barbaric Dragon-Blooded empire amid the twilit ruins of a miraculous past.
Today, the Realm is the single greatest power in the whole world. Secure in its core lands on the Blessed Isle and nearly invulnerable to attack, the Realm has set policy for the rest of Creation for nearly a millennium. For most of the last 800 years, the decisions of the Scarlet Empress have raised up kings and brought them down, they have sent armies across deserts and seas and made gods and Exalts tremble. Enforced by the Dragon-Blooded and the martial prowess of her legions, her decisions seemed to march the whole of Creation along a path of her choosing. Even now in her absence, the Realm still acts while other nations only react. The policies and philosophies of the Realm’s princes, bureaucrats and satraps affect the day-to-day lives of millions of beings.
Indeed, there is a close connection between the growing confusion within the Realm and the reappearance of the Solar Exalted. The Wyld Hunt no longer pursues its Anathema with the vigor it did during the days of the Empress. Instead, like all the resources of the Realm, the Wyld Hunt is increasingly turned to the purposes of various rival powers within the Realm, rather than against the Realm’s external enemies. Without the clear and firm guidance of the Scarlet Empress, the various factions she encouraged and played against each other to support her rule are now dueling for control of her empire. In the process, they have forgotten or ignored the responsibilities she assigned to them, and the Realm no longer acts with one mind. Yet, even in its decline, the Realm is a great force in the world, capable of mighty deeds and terrible action in a time of tumult.
The Realm consists of two main regions, which are geographically distinct from one another and governed by two different means. The first region is the Blessed Isle itself, centered around the Imperial Mountain. The Isle is the heartland of the Realm, and the Realm has imposed a high level of discipline and control upon all aspects of life and society there, from the small gods who watch over each forest, beach, and hill to how deeply a peasant genuflects to a Terrestrial Exalt riding by. Each being has a place and purpose on the Blessed Isle, and there is little room for interpretation or variation. The Scarlet Empress was the Isle’s sole lawgiver and benevolent despot—a role now nominally filled by the Regent.
The second region is a series of disparate, fractious and occasionally rebellious territories in the Threshold that owe allegiance and pay tribute to the Realm. These territories are called satrapies. Each satrapy has its own local government and political system, which is watched over and “advised” by an official of the Realm (called a satrap). Each satrap serves as the voice and ears of the Scarlet Empress in the region and speaks her decrees. The satrap’s advice is usually received with a dutiful obedience by the local government. This is not surprising, since the satrap’s personal staff usually consists of a substantial body of elite troops, several monks of the Immaculate Order, and representatives of the Realm’s secret police.
Though wounded and weakened, the Realm is not yet dead. It lurches on, consuming all in its path. Whether the Realm will recover or simply have to be put out of its misery is anyone’s question at this point.