An Exalted Empire

Hidden View - Prequel
The Story of Hidden View

Hidden View, under his former name Laoshaan, worked in Gem as a city guard, a detective and spy. He was ordered to infiltrate a group of smugglers known as the Kamoro Syndicate. While inside the organization he discovered that local citizens were being abducted to be sold as illegal slaves to a “buyer” of sorts, with heavy evidence pointing to something evil going on, for their destination was to be Blackhall Hollow, a place with an evil reputation.

After bringing this information to his handler’s attention he was reprimanded and ordered back on task by his superiors, for taking out gem-smugglers was considered more worthwhile than saving a few people nobody cared about.

Yet one of the victims was a friend of Hidden View, and the man decided to take matters into his own hands. He called upon acquaintances and allies of his own and made after the abductors with haste.

Infiltrating a place where the abducted people had been stored, he found out that they were already on the move. Following the trail together with his allies, they managed to overtake and ambush a well-guarded caravan that carried part of the victims. Hidden View freed them and sent them back to Gem with prayers to the gods.

Having arrived at Blackhall Hollow, Hidden View quickly found out that the slaves were to be sold to demon worshipers who intended to summon demons unbound into Creation. After a heated argument between the abductors and the demon worshipers which led to the messy deaths of the criminals, preparations were begun for the ritual sacrifices.

Hidden View decided to stop this at all costs, and signaled his allies to engage the demon worshipers. A demon had already been summoned many days before and was guarding the location, and this demon – an Erymanthus (Blood Ape) – came running to the aid of his allies.

Facing the demon in close combat, Hidden View exalted as a Night Caste Solar and struck the demon down with the aid of a Sidereal that had pretended to be an ally of his. This Sidereal, Five Winds of Death, was on assignment to take out the demon worshipers. He did so with the aid of the Solar, and parted ways before the demon was defeated, but not before implanting – via a conjured arrow – a suggestion into Hidden View to journey far to the East.

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Hishiro Kento - Prequel
The Story of Hishiro Kento

Hishiro Kento’s father was murdered.

After two weeks of grieving-time and a closed workshop, Hishiro decided to reopen, but was approached by men that wanted to press a claim on the workshop due to the dead father’s gambling debts. Hishiro refused and was attacked, but three of his friends aided him:

  • Akamoto Jiao-Ning, an old retired soldier that still kept his district safe
  • Kanaro Kakaji, a local strongman said to posess the blood of a Mountain-God
  • Sayuri Hiryo, a one-armed failed mercenary captain that had long been helped by Hishiro and his father

They drove the attackers off, whom swore to return with stronger force the next day. Together the group organized a quick and surprisingly massive defense, aided by about one hundred citizens that felt it right to come to Hishiro’s aid.

They fought the enemy ‘army’ and won in what would later be called the ‘Little War of Juniko-District’. While the combat still raged, Hishiro Kento exalted as a Twilight-Caste Solar, something that scared many of his one-time allies and led to the city signalling alarm. Kanaro Kakaji was a firm believer in the Immaculate Philosophy and decided to attack the young Solar out of rage and grief, thinking his friend’s soul lost. Akamoto Jiao-Ning said his goodbye to Hishiro, but remained an ally, promising help should the Solar ever return. Sayuri Hiryo remained an ally as well and followed Hishiro when he left the city, pursued by two unknown Dragonblooded, one a Fire-Aspect and one a Water-Aspect.

Entering a cave three hours north of the city as refuge, the mortal and Solar alike rested for a bit. Hishiro was then grasped by memories and visions from the past, having been in these caves in an age now long forgotten. He walked in trance through the caves, unerringly moving to a large cave filled with unnatural darkness.

The cave turned out to be guarded by Samu-Avak, a powerful demon that was bound long ago as guardian of his place. As payment for his services the demon demanded the life of Sayuri Hiryo, something that Hishiro Kento denied in full, but could not prevent in the end.

The demon had guarded a magical gateway to a strange temple-fortress in which the remains of Hishiro’s former incarnation rested and many tomes of knowledge were stored. Most of the fortress he was unable to explore, due to the doors not opening, and after a couple days he returned to the cave, finding the gateway closed behind him.

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Atlas - Prequel
The Story of Atlas

Atlas’ family had been killed when he was young, struck down by a strange group of mercenaries. The young man fled and found shelter among a group of travellers, a travelling village of sorts.

He stayed with them until they as well were cut down by mercenaries more than a decade later. Life is dangerous, but this was not coincidence. The leader of the mercenaries had been the same that struck down his family long ago, and it seemed fate that brought them together again.

Once more Atlas survived despite being seemingly consigned to death.

He became a lone wanderer, avoiding to stay anywhere for long. Ten years he kept up this existance, wandering wherever fate took him, paying no heed to where he was going in the end.

He arrived at a small village, Yijou falls, by chance, hidden away in the hilly terrain. The guards near the entry to the village were careful and sent for their leaders, a group of Outcast Dragon-Blooded – the Canemon family. They invited him to stay, as protocol would require. He was given a proper guest-house outside of the family’s compound, and was soon questioned by the matriarch of the family, Canemon Yamah.

Atlas was convinced to stay a few more days by the youngest of the family, the as-yet unexalted Canemon Madaal.

After some days have passed, a new group of people arrived near the village. The scouts found the group and designated them mercenaries or raiders. The Canemon family made ready for combat and met the intruders on the village’s edge. They seemed intent on claiming Atlas for their own, and their leader called him out specifically.

The Canemon family refused to hand over their guest, and within moments the situation turned to bloodshed, as the mercenaries attacked. Only the two leaders, a man and a woman, did not attack on their own.

Once the mortals had been taken down, the two leaders came into action, quickly dropping all pretense and revealing their true nature as Lunars, the Anathema of the Moon. The beasts attacked with terrible ferocity, and at this point Atlas felt the power of the sun come to him, heared the Unconquered Sun speak to him.

He exalted as a Solar of the Zenith Caste, and aided in driving the Lunars off. Curiously enough they only retreated when an enormous owl, a Strix, flew into the clearing. The Full Moon Caste Lunar of the two (the man), seemed fearful of the new arrival, though they all left quickly and without much more words.

After this incident Yamah retreated for a few hours and then broke a long-held silence. She told of her father, whom had once been an honored member of the Dragon-Blooded Host of the Blessed Isle. He had spoken something considered heresy and was nearly killed for it. He fled the realm and settled in the wilds and founded a small family. Years later he would venture out once more, never to be seen again.

He had taught Yamah about his visions: A world in which new heroes and villains would emerge, those with which the Dragon-Blooded could not contend on their own. And so he taught her to be prepared, for one day fate would call her to action.

She had long kept this a secret and now considered that perhaps this new arrival, Atlas, might be one such newborn hero. She ordered her son, Oraka, to join Atlas on his travels and watch him, evaluate him, consider carefully his actions and merits. Should he prove to be a true hero, the whole of the Canemon Household would stand behind Atlas in the future.

Atlas and Oraka left several weeks later, though their desination was yet unknown.

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Seven Swords Saint - Prequel
The Story of the Saint

Seven Swords Saint is a wandering swordsman, something of a living legend even while still being mortal. For seven generations he and his ancestors walked the world from cradle to grave carrying swords and being a force for change in Creation.

He wandered a dark bog filled with fog and within short order came under attack by zombies. Being not new to fighting the living dead, Saint fought them masterfully and dispatched some of them with quickened ease.

Intending to help the traveller beset by the living dead, some people arrived on scene and helped take out the last couple of the walking dead. They quickly explained to Saint the dangers of the area and what had befallen them: Their elder, once honest and caring, had gone mad: He had abducted people into his home and turned them into walking dead, and within a few days had the village running scared. More and more people vanished until the few survivors mounted resistance and were beaten handily.

Those that survived once more retreated into the swamps, where now everlasting fog and darkness were the order of the day. They survived there, although bit by bit they were whittled down.

Saint arrived as their numbers reached a new low, their supplies finally dwindled to near-nothing and despair spread far and wide. He swore to aid the survivors and together with three others made for the village, intent on ending the curse of this village.

With him were a former outcast, now the best among them to survive. He knew the terrain better than any. Next was an apprentice to the shoemaker, adept at sewing, though unknowingly a brilliant leader of men. Last came the last remaining guard of the city, a true fighter.

They stealthily moved into the village and made way into the central compound where the elder would reside. They found him most certainly, though his hut was shrouded in a darkness utterly unnatural, the compound shining on the outside, illuminated by Corpsefires.

The old man wore a mask now, white except for streaks of sludge-like blackness that came from his eyes, like tears. His eyes were replaced by orbs of liquid darkness, and any damage done to him was transferred upon the mask. Once the mask shattered, the man awoke as if from a months-long dream. He saw the destruction and death around him and said “It was not just a dream…” before his life faded away.

The true villain behind this magnum opus of death and darkness turned out to be Seven Iron Eyes, a highly dangerous master of the undead, one of the Abyssals, one of the Death Knights.

Sworn to his oath, Saint engaged this incarnation of death even though he was well aware that he might lose this fight handily and thus also lose his life. And in this moment he exalted as a Solar of the Dawn Caste and brough his furious righteous anger upon the Death Knight.

The two fought for intense moments at speeds the eye could barely perceive until the Abyssal stepped back and bade the people farewell, though not before killing one of their number. He declared his deeds here done and simply vanished into thin air.

The zombies all ceased to exist and became corpses once more. Saint aided the villagers and their wounded best he could before he decided to move on once more, though now with greater power than ever before.

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Arrival in the Three Streams Province
Revolution Inbound

The campaign started many months after the exaltation of the characters. Seven Swords Saint and Hidden View entered the city of Dai’i-Chuy about a few hours off from one another, both having guarded a caravan as a means of earning a wage.

Upon arriving in the city, Hidden View – under his cover identity of Hawkeye – decided to find the warrior that came before him into the city, the fabled Seven Swords Saint, of whom he had heard a few stories before. Eager to make the acquaintance of such a prestigious fellow, he sought him out and met him in a tea house in Tavern Row, a district of Dai’i Chuy, after both had witnessed a procession of the Blackwing Order of Executioners from the nearby fortress-city of Corpsewatch pass through the streets.

After proper introductions, a well-deserved hot meal and a pleasant chat, the two were interrupted by twin servants of the government looking for Saint and – interestingly enough – Hawkeye as well.

Hawkeye spotted someone intently watching the conversation and decided to follow up on that lead, while Saint was already invited to the Patience Hall, the primary government building in the city, situated in the district named like it.

Changing his magical disguise quickly and in secret, Hidden View followed the man that spied on them and quickly found out that his target was a skilled infiltrator himself, being apparently part of an entire spy network in the city. Appearing to be one of their own, the Night Caste Solar identified those he came across in the streets and discovered their hideout in the Bright Lantern District, which was the district of whorehouses and street workers alike, as well as the means required to enter it.

Having found enough information for the time being, Hawkeye followed where Saint had already gone, to Patience Hall, accompanied by one of the servants.

There they were invited into the highest tower, to meet the lord of the city, Enno-Choi Kam. The lord pleaded for the assistance of the two men, for they had proven to be highly capable fighters while escorting the caravans into town. They were introduced in this talk to two others that had promised aid by one way or another: Deva Surata-Kash and Whimsical Auria.

The first one was a mortal sorcerer of renown who was known to Seven Swords Saint in a negative way (Saint’s mother had fought the sorcerer in the past), while the second was a supernatural human of undisclosed origins with amazing musical abilities. In the following discussion about the situation, the local lord pleaded and asked for help, offering great rewards in turn. The situation was, quite simply, that a foreign power (Iyo-Chin) was fomenting rebellion within the city, to weaken it and force them to join the budding realm of the merchant princes. The group accepted and promised aid to the lord.

They were conveyed to a chancellor and spymaster: Loi-Shau Tuan. The old man provided plenty of information, spots to investigate and possible leads, and pleaded with them as well, for the instigators of rebellion had abducted a score of important people that were prominent members of the loyalists, among them his own wife.

After clearing up the possibilities of the leads presented, the group split in two: The first group would weed out the smugglers near the southern city walls and see if the hostages were kept there, something that went down quickly and bloodily, as Saint and Deva made short work of the smugglers indeed, discovering a tunnel that lead outside of the city.

The second group, composed of Hawkeye and Auria, would first distract and remove the enemy spies from the streets by force, depositing them in an abandoned house for the city’s loyal mercenaries to pick up for interrogation, and then move on to secure the entry into the spies’ hideout found earlier in Hawkeye’s investigation, something which would have to wait until the following session.

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