The Rise of the Morning Sun
History of Creation
Our history begins in a very dark place, both in that it was a time of evil and a time from which we know few hard facts. Most of the knowledge of the Old Realm was lost to the Contagion and the years afterward, and we find ourselves relying on folklore to compensate for lacunae in the ancient records. The understanding we arrive at when we look at these two sources is that the world we now inhabit was originally infested with great malevolent spirits or demons and their insidious thralls, whom we have come to call the Anathema.
The Anathema, it is said, used bizarre and unnatural rituals to steal power from the spirits of the sky — sun, moon and stars — as a means of proving their worth to their hideous masters. Once that inversion of the natural order took place, the Five Great Elemental Dragons realized that the loathsome elder gods and their powerful servants must be overcome if any progress or good were to come of this world. They regarded the nascent species called humanity, sought out the noblest warriors among them and breathed into them power over the elements. In that way were the Dragon-Blooded born. The Dragon-Blooded are the first and, despite what you may hear in certain mistranslated old folk-tales, the only true Exalted. While we may take them for granted, it is important to remember that the Dragon-Blooded are our benefactors, our guides and our defenders.
With the powers of the Dragons, the first Exalted met the servants of the old gods in battle. One by one, the Solar Anathema fell before the power of the Dragon-Blooded. Seeing their warriors fall, those Anathema who had stolen power from the moon and the stars scattered and were largely destroyed. Once their servants were vanquished, the demons themselves became the target of the Dragon-Blooded. They, too, soon gave way to the elemental onslaught, and the Terrestrials made the world safe for the creation of the Old Realm.
With the riddance of the demons and the banishment of their servants, the Dragon-Blooded turned their attention to nurturing the young civilization. The Dragon-Blooded established a society that would protect the common man and foster mankind’s higher nature. Farmers thrived when their crops were protected from wild beasts, merchants thrived when their trade routes were patrolled by the soldiers of the Realm, and under the aegis of the Dragon-Blooded, civilization expanded to cover the face of the world.
Sadly, the Realm, led then by the predecessor to the Scarlet Dynasty, was not aggressive enough in its pursuit of the Anathema sorcerers who fled to the Wyld and to the Threshold. The Dynasty was yet young and had little notion of the ramifications that would follow from allowing the Anathema to survive.The weird night-magicians, finding protection in the bizarre Wyld lands, continued to hound the distant colonies of the Realm with sorcerous incursions and guerrilla tactics. This approach gained them nothing. However, their worship of malevolent spirits and constant disturbance of the spirit world eventually called down the rage of Heaven. The Realm was held accountable by Heaven for its lax approach in dealing with the subversive Anathema. Heaven’s punishment took the form of the Great Contagion.
The Great Contagion was a virulent disease that killed over 90 percent of the population of the Realm. Whole cities were wiped out to a man, particularly those in the outlying lands. The Dragon-Blooded suspect that some of the beast sorcerers may have worsened the Contagion by sending vermin to spread it more effectively. At the end of Heaven’s sentence, when all those who would die had done so, the Great Contagion ended. There was to be no peace for the survivors. The maw of the Wyld opened wide and swallowed entire provinces. Swarms of barbarians flooded into the Threshold and the mainland provinces, wiping out many small pockets of humanity that had managed to survive the plague. Great cities of old disappeared, destroyed by sorcerers and monsters, and only the timely intervention of the Empress saved the Realm.
Of those glorious cities, only ruins remain — most are overgrown, covered with woods or jungle, and still infested with the weird creatures of the Wyld. The years that followed the Contagion were spent fortifying the Realm and consolidating the citizens from outlying provinces into the relatively strong bulwarks of civilization on the Blessed Isle.
The Dynasty of the Scarlet Empress grew powerful, both politically and magically, and it was she who prevented the forces of the Wyld from encroaching on the Blessed Isle. With her great elemental magic, the Scarlet Empress was able to defend the island and protect the citizens of the Realm, even as pirates and barbarians tried to launch incursions onto the Realm island itself. From her Manse in the Imperial City, the Scarlet Empress was able to push the Fair Folk back to the madlands where they belonged.
But while civilization on the Blessed Isle grew strong, the magic of the Empress could not reach across the ocean to defend the far provinces, many of which came under the control of barbarians and Wyld savages of all description. Those beyond the reach of the Dynasty developed powerful criminal undergrounds, which used their influence to turn the people against the Dynasty.
Though these Threshold areas were once part of the Realm, most of their cultures are too debased to merit direct imperial rule. Instead, they are governed by their own princes and potentates, who rule with the advice of the Realm and pay tribute to the coffers of the Scarlet Empress. In return, the Realm protects them and allows them to bask in the glory of flying the flag of the Realm higher than their own.
To better manage the growing threats to the Realm, the Scarlet Empress recently placed other members of the Dynasty at the helm of state and entered into a period of reflection, during which she will determine how best to defend the Realm and retake the barbarian provinces. It is expected that the day she emerges from her meditations, she will have discerned how best to deal with the new threat posed by the Anathema. Once they have been dealt with, it is expected that she will instruct the Realm navy to retake the impudent eastern provinces, and the Realm will once again begin to grow.