From Conrad's Wiki
Do not believe what the savants tell you. The Immaculate history we know is a lie, a falsehood sold to us by wicked old men who would make the world a dull jade prison and protect us from the dangers inherent to change. They would have you believe our world to be a lonely raft in a sea of chaos, kept afloat by the Five Elemental Dragons and in need of a stern hand on the rudder.
Close your eyes to their revisions. The time before our time was not a time of Dragon-Blooded shoguns and lunar madness, but a time of rebirth. Some might have called it a silver age, but its story is lost beneath the tarnish of envy and ignorance.
Note: This is an alternate view of the Shogunate period of Exalted history.
A tale my Lunar mentor told me
Sometime around the Old Realm year of 3516, Dragon-Blooded usurpers began to plot a rebellion against the Solar Deliberative. This wasn't the first time such a thing had occurred, but never had so many taken up arms and never with so much forethought and surety. Within a few years, war raged across Creation. Some of my brethren call it the second of the Three Great Wars. The Solars who survived the initial ambush called it the Usurpation. The Immaculates refer to it as the Great Uprising. I would call it a bloody mess.
See, in the Old Realm, the Solars were the top of the hierarchy. Any well-educated person understood that they were the most powerful of the Exalted, and effectively in charge of the world. But they didn't do that stuff alone. Us Lunars, and the Sidereals, shared in their Celestial power, and millions of Dragon-Blooded helped administer the billions of people who lived at that time.
So, these Dragon-Blooded usurpers start a rebellion on the first night of Calibration, and the world turns upside down because they actually manage to kill dozens of Solars in one single attack. Let me put this in perspective. Imagine that all of the top leaders of the Great Houses, and the Scarlet Empress, and the upper echelons of the Immaculate Order are all gathered together for some Imperial feast, and some rebellious force manages to kill a lot of them in a surprise attack. Yes, the idea has occurred to me. Never mind that. The point is, imagine the chaos that would consume the Realm.
Now imagine the fighting just gets worse. Except the Dynasty only claims to have about ten thousand Dragon-Blooded nowadays.
Anyway, you already know the rest. Or at least you think you do. The Dragon-Blooded kill off the Solars, and the Solars disappear from the world. The Dragon-Blooded take over, and the Shogunate is magically formed overnight, and Gaia said, "It is good."
Yeah, that is crap. Have you looked at the Shogunate calendar? Have you ever noticed that every year is named after an animal? These guys couldn't even be bothered to file off the mint marks. Oh, is that just a glimmer of moonlight I am seeing start to glint in your eyes?
For one thing, the Shogunate didn't form overnight. When the bulk of the Solar Deliberative was killed in five days - yes FIVE DAYS - things got ugly. Some of us went down trying to protect them. Some of us felt like they were a bunch of psycho dickheads anyway, so we either got out of the way, or we helped. Yes, helped. Talk to Ingosh someday. Maybe he will let you in on a secret, but it's not my place. Some of us realized it was time for somebody to restore some order. Of course, nobody wanted somebody else to be the new Queen or Hierophant. So some of us started fighting each other. All while the usurpers kept doggedly hunting the surviving Solars.
This went on for years. Seriously, it was decades before things would be what I would call "settled down." In the meantime, lots of stuff got wrecked. I AM (I had to ask what that meant) was busted, much of the Western fleet was destroyed, Manses all over the South were overloading and exploding, and the Sidereals seemed to be missing.
|Where did the Sidereals go?|
The short answer is they went into hiding, supplementing the Dragon-Blooded usurpation with guerrilla tactics, from the beginning of the hostilities against the Solars until the point where they felt like they had "gotten away with it" and could reemerge. By then, they were discovering that the effects of Arcane Fate were not all positive. This didn't stop a few elder Lunars from pursuing matters into Yu-Shan, but the Chosen of the Maidens had prepared to avoid the scrutiny of gods and Exalts alike. Tense encounters in public places didn't yield much that the Lunars couldn't already piece together on their own.
With the Solars dead, and the Sidereals seemingly obsessed with avoiding the spotlight, the Chosen of Luna were the only Celestial powers left to bring order to the Old Realm. In the absence of any more relevant remnant of the old government, the Lunar general Hungry Birds declared herself the new Queen of Creation. They says history repeats itself like the phases of the moon, and sometimes it seems that it is so. She cited her control of the Sword of Creation and also demanded that the Deliberative be reformed with her as its Hierophant.
For a brief time, this even worked. Hungry Birds claimed rulership of Creation while ensconced within the Crane Bay fortress wherein lay the Orichalcum Shrine. The Dragon-Blooded armies largely ceased their fighting. The rebellion came to an end. More than half of the Lunar host at least nominally supported her Deliberative. Her rule was incomplete, however. Admiral Leviathan told her to go fuck herself and went off to start his own undersea empire in the West. Tamuz refused to surrender his Solar mate's lands in the South. A hundred other Lunars started carving out their own territories, but no one challenged Hungry Birds. Ingosh merely asked her to reconsider.
Thirty years later, the Deliberative socialite Ma-Ha-Suchi publicly claimed that Hungry Birds was no longer Hungry Birds. According to his account, she had been replaced by someone else. The Wolf with the Red Roses fled into hiding after making this claim. In less than a month, though, Hungry Birds was assassinated, and the cry of the Wolf was shown true. The queen's death proved that Fair Xiulan, missing since the death of her Solar mate, was posing as Hungry Birds. No one was sure how long this ruse had continued, though. When did Xiulan make the switch? A year ago? A decade ago? Long ago when she first disappeared? How did Ma-Ha-Suchi know? Had she ever controlled the Sword of Creation?
Civil war erupted again, as various Deliberators tried to claim the position of Hierophant or Queen or both. This time, the Dragon-Blooded found themselves on every side of every conflict.
The First Shogun
As the new civil war raged, the Primordial War survivor Bar-Izahd came out of hibernation. Yes, I know Ingosh is said to be the eldest ever of our kind, but that is because the No Moons only count waking years. Anyway, Bar-Izahd was the first Lunar sorcerer. Maybe you have heard a story about him before? It is said that he slew ten thousand devils and could not abide Creation for he knew it was the work of the Yozis. Newly reawakened, Bar-Izahd looked around at the world as it had become, and he was not pleased. Bar-Izahd called together those Lunars who would give him a hearing based upon his reputation, and declared that it was a time for a change. No longer would the Lunars play in the ashes of the Solar empire. They would rise up and fill the sky with the glory of the moon.
Bar-Izahd and his followers waged war upon the rest of their own kind. In time, Bar-Izahd and his brethren had killed any of our elders who would stand against him, and driven the rest to silence, retreat or submission. He declared himself Shogun, and his warlords were his daimyos. Not all of those warlords were Lunars, either. Many of them were Dragon-Blooded generals.
And so began the Jasmine Shogunate. And it would last, in one form or another, until the Great Contagion and the Fair Folk invasion struck it down. But now we are speaking of the third Great War.
The Bronze Faction
The Bronze Faction of Sidereals orchestrated the uprising of the Dragon-Blooded against the Solars. Although Kejak is now the oldest Exalt in the world, at the time he wasn't even the oldest Sidereal in his own faction. Primordial War survivors varied in age, but all of them were older than he. For the Great Prophecy, the Lunars were a bit of a wild card. The prophecy said that one of three things would come to pass, but it did not detail the role to be played by the Lunars. Kejak and his older conspirators could not be sure of the reaction of the Silver Pact as a whole, much less what every individual Lunar would do. However, they cast separate astrology readings for every one of the Lunar host, and it seemed as though it was not their destiny to prevent the Great Uprising.
During the Usurpation, a number of Bronze Faction Sidereals were killed. Some fell even as they fought to silence Gold Faction "traitors" while others perished in the act of directly aiding their Dragon-Blooded rebels. It is possible (although up to the Storyteller), that this is when Kejak first becomes the eldest of his kind. However it is also possible that one or more of the older neutrally or Bronze aligned Sidereals was still alive by the end of the war and that they later died of old age or violence.
The Wyld Hunt
It has been repeatedly suggested that the Bronze Faction originally set up the Wyld Hunt during the Shogunate era. This is true. The fact is that not all Lunars were happy with the Solar rule either. When the Solar Deliberative was removed from the picture, and were slow to reappear in Creation, the Lunars saw their chance to seize control, particularly once they realized that the Sidereals wouldn't. Some of the cannier Lunars may even have started to suspect that the Sidereals couldn't take over, for some reason. Perhaps an edict of the Bureau of Destiny which they served?
When Kejak reminded certain Lunars that the Solars (he didn't admit it was only some of them) were continuing to Exalt, it wasn't hard to remind the Lunars of the danger of the insane golden god-kings. Many of the Lunars had experienced Solar madness far more closely or intimately than anyone else. The Wyld Hunt may have been a Dragon-Blooded institution, but it was directed by Sidereals and occasionally complicit Lunars. Lilith, in particular, may have spent decades venting her suddenly-released hatred for Desus upon newly Exalted Solars. The Jasmine Shogun sure didn't want the Solars to return, and neither did his close allies.
The period after the Usurpation began was certainly "interesting times" for the Sidereals in Yu-Shan. They endured numerous investigations into their activities, and although these were blunted by Arcane Fate the Bronze Faction could not be sure they had covered their tracks sufficiently from divine censors.
When the Sidereals disappeared from view, some elder Lunars wanted to know why. At least one expedition was mounted, with a powerful Lunar using her position and Essence to gain entry to Yu-Shan and to bring a pack of fellow Chosen along. Of course the Ten Thousand Arrow Tomb proved that the Sidereals weren't entirely afraid to engage in open attacks if necessary. The Bronze Faction was concerned, however, that Luna didn't turn her face from her Chosen. Some Lunars were at least as guilty of killing Solars as their Sidereal counterparts, and more than one was silenced with the threat of blackmail. For a while it looked as though the Lunar and Sidereal Exalted might bring the Bureaus of Nature and Destiny to civil war, but the Bureau of Heaven intervened and expelled all Exalts who did not have the personal authority to be there. This theoretically neutral act favored the Chosen of the Maidens, as they enjoyed universal access to Yu-Shan when engaging in the business of Destiny, while many Lunars were forced to return to Creation.
Despite suffering great losses during the Usurpation, the Dragon-Blooded still outnumbered the Celestial Exalted by more than 1000-to-1 (some claims put this as high as 3000-to-1). As such, their impact on Creation cannot be ignored. In a world deprived of Solar greatness, and where Sidereal wisdom was occluded, only the Lunars remained to outshine the Dragon-Blooded. And the Lunars sometimes appeared to be Dragon-Blooded.
The Bronze Faction managed to build the Immaculate faith despite Lunar rule. It certainly concerned the Lunars host when one of their number occasionally disappeared, but they couldn't be sure that their own kind hadn't done the deed. Nevertheless, the early Immaculate faith focused upon the excesses of the Solars and simply didn't mention the Lunars or Sidereals at all. This would prove to make it much easier for the Immaculate Order in the era of the Scarlet Empress.
The Jasmine Shogun could not last forever. Bar-Izahd might occasionally hibernate to extend his life, but every such sabbatical ran the risk of someone else seizing power, perhaps even in his name. He adopted a protege who was a younger Lunar named Mishiko, and declared her his heir. He even proclaimed that she was his daughter. Whether this is true, or whether she took the form of one of his daughters, is disputed by some Lunars to this day. Mishiko was unfortunately slain by one of the Lunar daimyos who tried to unseat Bar-Izahd. Some feel that this is when his spirit died, even if his body lived on to hold the throne for years after. Mishiko's tomb was a work of art and a monument of a father's love.
The Shogun Warlords
Eventually another Lunar daimyo bested Bar-Izahd, and became the new Shogun. In what might seem like a perverse twist to Lunars today, this Lunar took the form of one of Bar-Izahd's sons. The tradition had begun. From this point forward, every Lunar who ascended to the throne of the Shogun took the form of someone with supposedly rightful lineage to hold the throne. As lineage-based rulership was well-established in mercantile and noble dynasties across Creation, this simply became the de facto way of becoming Shogun. In time, the second Shogun was bested by another, and the third Shogun after that.
The Creation of the Shogunate
Insert setting material about the Shogunate here.
An unfortunate portion of the magitech infrastructure of the Old Realm was destroyed in the two centuries of the Usurpation and the pre-Shogunate conflicts. In the absence of Solar craft, some of this infrastructure proved impossible to rebuild. Nevertheless, the Lunars did rebuild some things. The new state of magitech meant that a Lunar had to personally travel into the Wyld to quest for the impossible things which Solars used to just rip from the teeth of chaos. Thus it was that such things still entered the toolkits of Creation's craftsmanship, but in far lesser amounts.
This had many affects upon the magitech of the era. The Incantation of Effective Restoration spell enjoyed a previously unprecedented popularity, although it never superseded the five spells of the Black Treatise.
Section Stub: I feel like First Age Solars spent more time socially beating up spirits than physically, but some of both happened. This probably engenders fewer hard feelings than the Immaculates face in the Second Age. Lunars probably fall somewhere between the two, really. Or at least they did, on their own. I imagine that the Bronze Faction may have eventually employed some poison whispers tactics to try to cut down Lunar access to Yu-Shan.
The End of the Shogunate
After centuries, it seemed as though the world was destined to be ruled by a Lunar Shogun and his Dragon-Blooded armies. Whenever this state of affairs seemed threatened, it was always by another Lunar and her minions. Amongst Lunars, it was sometimes even known that a Shogun had been slain and replaced by another Lunar but that the public was never to know. If the petals of jasmine fall, so shall new petals grow, and what man can tell the difference?
The Last Shogun
The reign of the last Shogun did not come at the claws or moonsilver daiklave of his fellow Lunars. Instead, a furtive plague swept across the land. We know it now as the Great Contagion. Nine in ten people were slain by the hand of the Great Contagion. Nothing the Shogun could do would turn the tide. The factory cathedrals of the Shogunate were turned to medicine, but these remedies merely forestalled death and arguably helped its spread. Few Lunars fell prey to the plague, but the fact that any of their number died from it was enough to spark panic. Dragon-Blooded fared better than mortals, but they still died by the droves.
And then, the Fair Folk invaded creation en masse. The largest armies seen since the early days of the old Deliberative set upon Creation like a host of locusts from every Direction. The Shogun ordered the plague-wrecked remnants of his legions into battle, and the Exalted fought the Third Great War. The Fair Folk fell upon them like raindrops in a hurricane.
In the end, we lost. The Fair Folk were simply too many. The legions gave up hope. Many of our kind were swallowed up by the chaos of the Wyld. Others fell in battle, some of which also probably were swallowed by the Wyld upon their new Exaltation.
A relatively unknown Dragon-Blooded somehow gained control of the Sword of Creation, despite it having defeated the wiles of Hungry Birds and the Shogun Bar-Izahd. We now call her the Scarlet Empress, but no one knew what hand held the rudder of Creation when she first grasped it. The greatest weapon of the Solars and the Primordials now rested in the palm of one of our servants, and our own kind had scarcely survived the Third Great War.
Breaking of the Castes
For those who do not want to throw away the breaking of the Castes idea, this is where it occurs. Here, when the vast majority of the Lunar host has fallen and their Essences lie within the clutches of the chaos of the Wyld.
History and Victors
History is not solely written by the victors, but they have a lot of time to burn whatever anybody has written that they don't like. With the Lunars reduced to a handful of elders and the rest of their number scattered as new Exalts, the Bronze Faction remained as the largest repository of old Celestial Exalted left in Creation. Indeed, now Kejak was the oldest of them all. The Sword of Creation was held by a Dragon-Blooded with whom Kejak swiftly made alliance. The Immaculate faith became the official religion of this new empire, and as the Immaculate Order they could rewrite history to their liking. You have heard the lies...