The history that was known by most denizens of Creation is that spoken of in the history books, but the true history is much different....
Before the world of Creation existed, there was a world, "The Jewel of Existence," known as Osa, said to be grand and beautiful. In it lived the people known as the "Ka." After ages of prosperity, a darkness of unknown origin grew at the heart of Osa, and the Ka split into two factions, those wishing to gain power from the darkness (led by one known as Oros), and those wishing to destroy it. In the battle that followed, while Oros merged with the darkness, Osa was torn apart and the faction that opposed the darkness was cast out into the Wyld. Many of them perished, but the fifty who survived found a "seed" and grew it into the world known as Creation, writing their history on to the Elemental Poles. These are the beings who are known now as the Primordials. Their Creation bore with it some sort of grand experiment, though the details and purposes of this experiment are lost to time.
In this new world, the Primordials set to work creating their own life to populate it. Their first works were the creatures known as behemoths, unique beings of strange and powerful varieties. With the knowledge from their creation, each of the fifty Primordials created two sentient races of their own; together they were known as the "Hundredfold," and the Primordials set them about to populate the world. To manage the world they had created, the Primordials made the Gods, patterned on their own component souls; to serve the Hundredfold races, they created humanity. Humans were unique amongst sentient beings because of their inability to channel Essence, a result of their similarly unique split soul -- a trait given to them to ensure their subservience to the Hundredfold races.
For thousands of years, the empires of the Hundredfold warred amongst themselves and made peace, build up great works and tore them down, and spawned a thousand and one stories that could cause the most stoic to weep. But this is not the time for those stories.
The Gods and humans had a key thing in common -- both were enslaved to the Primordial forces with seemingly no hope of escape. Hope came in the form of an unlikely alliance -- Autochthon and Gaia, two of the Primordials, worked with the Incarna (the foremost of the Gods) to turn the humans against their jailers. Using the process of Exaltation, they joined together the souls of select humans and gave them the ability to channel Essence, reaching or even surpassing the abilities of the Hundredfold. With that ability they rose up against those who imprisoned them, freed the Gods from their prison, and conquered the Blessed Isle, where they began to form a new government, with the Solars naturally in charge. From there began the Primordial war, a conflict that stretched over millennia as the young human nation warred against the Hundredfold races they had usurped and the other minions of the Primordials.
The war was long and terrible. Among the foremost foes of humanity were the Trinity Draconis -- three Primordials (Erevel, Auna, and Nyx) who took the form of dragons and whose beings were interwoven into the multiverse itself. After centuries of brutal fighting, though, the Exalted debued their greatest weapon: the Chime of Ages, which could slay a Primordial. After the Trinity Draconis were lured into a trap, Auna was slain and Erevel fled, destroying the trio's power - an event known as the Threefold Breaking.
On that day and in the battles that followed, twenty one of the Primordials were slain utterly, and sank into unliving stasis in the Underworld as the Neverborn (or Malfeans), while twenty three surrendered and were bound into the hellish prison of Malfeas; these were henceforth called the Yozis. Four more fled and were lost from human knowledge, while Gaia and Autochthon (also called Atomnos) retired away from human events. The world suffered many other changes -- its borders shrank, six of the thirteen Incarna perished or were hidden, and the nature of the planes themselves shifted. And in the ruins of the Blessed Isle, the Exalts began to build up a new civilization.
In what is erroneously referred to today as the "First" Age, the Exalts built a grand government that spanned all of Creation and beyond. The Solar Exalts, built to be the ultimate governors, formed the Solar Deliberative, led by a group of five Solars known as the Perfect Circle. These five Exalts held the Seals of the Deliberative, five golden discs that were in actuality component souls of Gaia, and which allowed the crafting of powerful laws that bound Creation. With these, the Solars swore the Terrestrial Gods to not rise up against the humans, and otherwise built the laws of society. Each member of the Perfect Circle also commanded their own organization composed of lesser Exalts and other agents, such as the Dawn's Radiant Sabres or the Night's Shadows Resplendent. Meanwhile, the Sidereals operated on their own, under the aegis of the Knights of the Gold Chrysanthemum; they reported to the Night on the Perfect Circle, and were tasked with matters of fate and protecting the borders of Creation. The Deliberative also maintained an army, and navy and an air force, known as the Brilliant Legions, the Deliberate Navy, and the Armada Ascendant, respectively.
The civilization of the First Age stretched out to great distances, covering areas of Creation which were unknown during the Second Age and have only just returned, as well as extending up into the sky and down far below Creation's surface in the Underways. One of the foremost remnants of the Hundredfold civilizations, a network of teleportation gates that spanned across Creation and all of the other planes, was used frequently by the Exalts to spread far and wide. All of the Solars would draw together to form the Solar Deliberative when necessary for great decisions, but most had their own duties, often serving as the rulers of their own nations or working intently on their own immense projects. For several thousand years, the society persisted like this, and an era of dramatic peace and prosperity was known.
The prosperity first broke with the appearance of the first Deathlord, a being known as the "First and Forsaken Lion." Appearing in deathly garb, he wielded a dark sword known as Daybreaker and led undead monsters in attacks on human settlements. What no one amongst the Solars knew was that the First and Forsaken Lion was secretly Rosada, the Dawn Caste who served on the Perfect Circle. Furthermore, none knew that the Neverborn had created the Daybreaker to steal the shard of the Solar hero Ularis and give it to Rosada, giving them a spy and double agent within the Perfect Circle.
Around the same time, the Night Caste known as Ymir was rising in prominence. She performed a daring rescue of Talmuda -- leading general in the Primordial War, mentor of Ularis, and crafter of the Chime of Ages -- and married him shortly thereafter, becoming a rising star in Solar society. Later she journeyed to Rintoko, the city built at the lowest point of the Underways, to respond to mysterious disappearances that had occured there. She unearthed a Primordial cult that had taken root underneath the city and fought the infernal god that headed it, a being known as Siram, for ten long years before slaying him. Shortly after her return, she was promoted to the Perfect Circle; but the shade of Siram followed her out, and possessed (or merged with) Kiriath, the Zenith of the Perfect Circle.
With two traitors on the Perfect Circle, tragedy was bound to occur eventually, but it began from an unexpected source. Talmuda, in his captivity, had made his own devil's bargain with Erevel, who slept beneath the world and had shaped Siram into what he was. Talmuda had agreed to work with Erevel to find and destroy the Lacuna, a fundamental flaw in the world -- whatever the cost to human society. When she learned of this tragedy, Ymir bitterly struck Talmuda down with the Daybreaker. After consulting the Orrery of Lights, the foremost instrument of Sidereal prophecy, she abandoned the dark sword and fled to the plane of Bi'allah before sealing gate-network access to the plane with Sorcery, taking with her the Night Caste Seal.
The Sidereals, believing Ymir the traitor, waited patiently for her to emerge. Beyond the gates, the only means of travel to and from the plane was something known as the Path of Stars, which aligned between different pairs of planes according to the whim of the stars. But just as the path aligned, the Sidereals' attention was drawn elsewhere: Kiriath, under Siram's control, committed a series of unimaginable atrocities, drawing away their attention. While they sought to stop the mad Zenith, Ymir slipped back one final time into Creation. During the battles that followed, Kiriath slew Rosada -- who, it would appear, had previously been a confederate to his treachery -- and trapped his shard within the Daybreaker; the Solar Alahwi (with Ymir's assistance) finally struck down Kiriath, enabling him to be entombed alive in a soulsteel coffin. In the process, Kiriath's Zenith Seal was recovered, but Rosada's Dawn Seal disappeared, not to re-emerge for many years. Ymir fled in the aftermath back to Bi'allah, where she perished, her work done and her heart broken.
In the aftermath of this destruction, the Sidereals endeavored to hide the remaining Seals throughout the multiverse for their own protection, and the Perfect Circle was disbanded, never to be reformed. Meanwhile, some magic had been worked via the Seals that prevented Solars from being reborn; the shards of those who perished did not return to Creation, and their numbers began to dwindle. With these tragedies, the glories of the First Age began to unravel and break.
(At this time, two members of the Perfect Circle still lived. Askaru, the Eclipse and Admiral of the Armada Ascendant, attempted at first to avoid the destruction of the Deliberative as forseen by his Sidereal spouse, Remembrance of Seven Tears. His quest proved unsuccessful, however, and when he returned to find the Realm in chaos and decay, he mournfully followed the advice of the great Solar strategist Wei Dan: he abandoned his wife and the capital, and began a colony in the uttermost North. Shortly thereafter, the infrastructural failings that came with the end of Solar reign caused the Wyld to consume more of Creation's borderlands, leaving Askaru's colony a tiny island of realit in a sea of chaos, destined to slowly starve to death. Following his last instructions from Wei Dan, the admiral completed the last page of his journal, and ended his life. Of the fate of Black Iris, the last Twilight of the Perfect Circle, nothing is known.)
In the aftermath, society degenerated into increasingly worse states. A shogunate of Dragon-Bloods held sway in Creation for some time. Eventually a contagion swept across Creation and in its aftermath hordes of raksha from the Wyld began to pour into Creation. The invasion was stopped by a Dragon-Blooded leutenant named Surkha, who entered the Imperial Manse and activated the powerful weapons it controlled, using them to drive back the faeries. When she emerged, the newly-crowned Scarlet Empress was seen to be wearing about her neck an unambiguous item: the Dawn Seal.
From there, history proceeded with the Dragon-Blooded ruling the Realm centered upon the Blessed Isle and the outskirts of Creation under the control of a variety of unusual and petty rulerships. Then, one day, after centuries of rule, the Scarlet Empress disappeared. This action began a downward spiral that would drag the Realm into civil war, but it did more than that: when she vanished, she took the Dawn Seal (the last Seal remaining in Meru) into another plane, thus breaking all laws the Seals had held in place. One result was to send the shards of remaining Solars back into the world to be reborn; another was to undo the geas that held the Terrestrial Gods from rebelling against humanity's yoke.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a conspiracy to conquer all of Creation was taking shape. It began with an ancient Infernal Sidereal known as the Thousand-Faced Man, in the employ of Nyx -- now known as the Ebon Dragon. He approached three young individuals -- foremost among them a man named Lai Misuna, a simple farmer with a great destiny: to conquer all of creation. Giving them the secret of Exaltation -- a secret his Yozi master had wrested learned from Autochthon -- he bid them to incite the Terrestrial Gods to revolution, having them Exalt a vast army that would overthrow the Dragon-Blooded host and install an entirely new world order. The three gathered the ingredients necessary and brought together the Gods, then began to test the Exaltation process in small batches before beginning to prepare their army in full. They also gathered numerous resources that were otherwise believed lost to history: several species of Hundredfold, ancient and powerful crystalline weapons from before the First Age, and the use of the teleportation gates.
Once their army was fully gathered, the Red Lily began its assault on the world. With strategic alliances with several amenable nations and careful use of their resources, the Red Lily was able to conquer large portions of Creation: though their claims in the South were largely lost after their southern base in Gem was obliterated, they conquered all of Halta and Linowan, seized significant holdings in the west, and were behind the Haslanti's vast conquests in the north. Then, they prepared to begin an assault on the Realm itself.
At the start of Calibration, Realm Year 769, the sun became eclipsed, and the three stars that represented the Trinity Draconis appeared in the sky surrounding the blotted sun. The Red Lily launched their offensive, while forces of evil and destruction took advantage of the darkness to wreak their own havoc. All the while, the Nightblossom -- the Ebon Dragon's true champions, powerful Infernals under Surkha's command -- prepared for the moment their master would escape Malfeas and enter Creation, at the height of the Eclipse.
The Circle of the Sunlands, bloodied from many setbacks and losses of life, put into action a last-ditch plan to save Creation from the depredations of the Red Lily. They set upon the Imperial Manse (once called the Auric Temple), the central manse of the old Realm defense and intelligence networks, at roughly the same time as Lai Misuna, Realm scion Mnemon, and a few other straggler factions penetrated its defenses.
Inside, the Solars witnessed many wonders, uncovered several secrets, and fought powerful enemies. The results of the conflicts in the manse were far-reaching. A series of events, written long ago into prophecy, led to Creation's borders expanding once again to their greatest extent -- and with it, the return of five lost Incarna and the Elemental Exalts they championed. The actions of the Nightblossom destroyed an entire Realm city, killing everyone within and enabling the First and Forsaken Lion to march his army out of the resulting Shadowland. And the Solars reassembled five pieces of the Chime of Ages, previously thought lost to history.
After a pitched battle with Lai Misuna and his allies, the Solars were victorious: they claimed the five Seals back from Lai, used the reassembled Chime to slay the Ebon Dragon as he emerged into the world, and then (with the aid of the Elemental Dragons) defeated the Nightblossom. In Creation's darkest hour, the brilliant sun-champions of the past had arisen once moree to protect the world -- and their ascent onto the world stage marked the beginning of the Third Age.
Tepet Ejava has claimed the Imperial thrown of the Blessed Isle, though much of her territory still lies in the hands of the First and Forsaken Lion, and the remnants of the Red Lily's forces. The rest of the Red Lily alliance has splintered, though one of their generals, Akuna Ravdash, has carved out a massive kingdom for himself from the spoils of war. The Circle of the Sunlands, meanwhile, have sought to unite the scattered nations of humanity by declaring a new body for the governance and protection of Creation: the Exalted Deliberative. Membership, of both Exalted and nations led or protected by them, is still growing. At present, the mobile First Age air-fortress called Crystal is being refitted to serve as a meeting place for the Exalted Deliberative, in position over the Imperial City.
The Sunlands is a nation in the southeast of Creation, founded by three Solars: Markuran the Bear, Birds-of-Trinity, and Zahara Zhan. Originally centering around the Grey River and the lands surrounding it and populated mostly of refugees and barbarians, but it has grown significantly. The most important growth occurred when the Mask of Winters (the Deathlord tyrant of Thorns) tricked all the mortal lands South of the Yanaze River corridor to the Sunlands into swearing to his banner; the Solars utilized a loophole to cause those nations to join the Sunlands instead. Now it covers a significant amount of land and has many mortal kingdoms sworn under its banner; it also has relationships with a variety of nearby settlements (including Nexus, Lookshy, and Rathess, the last of which the Sunlands Solars directly enabled the rebuilding of.)
The Sunlands' military was led in the field for a time by the now legendary commander, Tepet Ejava, and features a variety of troops, including Dragon-Kings, God-Bloods, and a First Age automaton army called the Hematite Legion. The nation is also protected against invasion by Solar Circle Sorcery and has had several significant military victories now famous internationally.
Zahara Zhan, an Eclipse, was a founder of the Sunlands, and was Talmuda in her previous life. She ruled for years as a harsh empress, having been stripped of her immense compassion by the cruel raksha Tevezst, who also slew her family. She constantly seeks to be safe and her attempts to ensure this have led to conflict with her fellow Solars. She invented a variety of Essence-blocking mechanisms including collars that prevent the wearer from using Essence, which she has used on friend and foe alike. She was recently kidnapped by the Red Lily, fitted with an Essence-blocking collar, and given to Markuran to torment (with extensive and cruel assistance from Akuna Ravdash). As part of her rescue, Cerin fell to Infernalism -- something Zahara learned was the long-delayed price of her acquisition of Solar Circle Sorcery. Broken spiritually and physically, Zahara at first was unable to cope, but eventually rallied, claiming her scars as battle trophies, winning her compassion back from Tevezst, uniting the Chime of Ages, and freeing Cerin from Nyx's grasp. Now, she is learning how to live with compassion once again, leading the reformed Deliberative, and working to make the Sunlands an even more glorious place.
Markuran the Bear, a Zenith, was a founder of the Sunlands, and Kiriath the Deceiver in his previous life. An angry, hotheaded barbarian, Markuran constantly battled with Zahara over proper behavior, though their relationship had a foundation of friendship and he did seek to restore her lost compassion. After discovering the evils of his forebearer and freeing the dark spirit Siram from his tomb, he began to grow brooding and dark, crafting a soulsteel weapon for himself. Eventually he was possessed by Siram and fled the circle, later becoming Zahara's captor. During his infernal period, Cerin slew Markuran in order to prevent him from being captured or redeemed by his Circle. His shard has since returned to exalt a Western woman named Nesula.
Birds-of-Trinity, a Night, was a founder of the Sunlands, and Alahwi in her previous life. A poet-baker by trade, Birds was eccentric and often incomprehensible, but filled with whimsy and enthusiasm. She swore many oaths that separate her from her human life, such as never touching mortals or walking upon the ground. She was consistently fascinated with matters of faith and tinkered with the texts of the Faith Ecliptic, originally concieved of as a new religion that would properly exult Solars, during her entire tenure with the Circle, and even became a priest of the secrets goddess Iallu before insisting on renegotiating the arrangement. Sensing that she had grown too erratic and incomprehensible, Birds decided to destroy/recreate herself, and with the assistance of the Western Circle, was reborn as Phoenix of Ashes. Phoenix retains certain similarities to Birds, but is generally more intelligable, and less concerned with the making of delicious pastries.
Cerin the Wolf, a Night, was Ymir in the First Age. He had his entire village slaughtered by Gods, leading to his Exaltation. He worked for the Red Lily and even joined the Circle to spy on them, but fell in love with Zahara and eventually turned against the Lily when he learned that they employed the Gods who had destroyed his village. Cerin has an extensive interest in the workings of Essence and has discovered many principles of its working that were previously lost in the Second Age. During Zahara's kidnapping, Cerin was forced to choose between letting her die, and giving himself over to the Yozis. He chose the later, and worked tirelessly in their service until Zahara was able to free him with the Chime of Ages. Cerin has reformed the Shadows Resplendant with the assistance of his ninja-lieutenant, Ahina.
Kai Buckthorn, a Dawn, was both Rosada and Ularis. A young shopgirl in Nexus, Kai exalted when Lai Misuna and his companions slew her father in an attempt to steal the Daybreaker; the dawn shard entered her body and transformed her instantly into a powerful Solar. Thanks to her quick transition to power, Kai is among the most human of the circle and often forms a contrast to the unusual machinations of the others. During a Red Lily attack, Kai wound up being kidnapped to Malfeas, where Daybreaker was taken from her, but a mysterious figure provided her with the Eventide, the sword Ularis had borne in the Primordial War, instead. She took several of the Circle's allies and formed them into the new Radiant Sabres, the first of the First Age banners to be reawakened in the Second Age. Kai slew Lai's two companions, helping slake her thirst for justice, but then left the Circle to pursue a mysterious goal with her mysterious benefactor. During the eclipse, Kai revealed that her mysterious benefactor was the secretive Sidereal Seven Leaping Herons, and returned from her quest with a key piece of the Chime of Ages.
Thirteen Blooming Flowers, a Twilight, was Wei Dan in a previous life. Thirteen grew up in Wasirru, and was Exalted by the Wasirranu, which had held Wei Dan's shard since the First Age. A stubborn but brilliant tactician with few people skills (and no eyes), Thirteen promised to free his people from the Bone Dagger Kings and wandered the planes on the Path of Stars for ten years before coming to Meru and meeting with the Circle. Now, he has returned to his home, discovered his true heritage, and freed his people by transporting the Bone Dagger King population to Xara. He recently gained a set of eyes when Zahara forged a pair for him out of soulsteel and pieces of Xara's once-ruling Hundredfold race.
Lucent Copper Haze, a childlike Zenith from the south, was introduced to the Circle by Ssithumi, the Dragon-King leader of Rathess. He has his own army of nomads and great faith in the Sun, but is often confused at the way his Solar brethren behave and the ways the world differs from the First Age tales written in his manse. Like Markuran, Luc frequently butts heads with the rest of the Circle over issues of morality and faith. After discovering that the Sun had turned his face from his children, Luc had a crisis of faith and fled the Circle, returning only after a visit to the Underworld, having struck a limited arrangement of mutual support with the Neverborn Glimpse of Night. During the eclipse, it was revealed that Lucent was over 1,000 years old, having been saved from a brief experience of Infernalism by a time-travelling Zahara and several other members of the circle in the last days of Solar rule. He had waited for centuries to join their fellowship, all to ensure that he could send them back at the right time -- enabling them to save both the world, and himself. During the First Age, Luc was a close friend of Larquen Quen's (who, after death, would go on to become the Mask of Winters).
Imrama Stormfound, an Eclipse, was Askaru in the First Age, and was raised as a foundling by Vanileth, the Shogun of Artificial Flight (a once powerful god turned into a mad hermit by the dramatic decline of his portfolio from the First Age to the Second). Imrama grew up reading First Age adventure novels and practicing with ancient flight technologies. After his exaltation, he spent several years searching the Northern Wyld for the ruins of Askaru's lost colony, which he ultimately found, reclaiming the relics of his predecessor. having internalized the nobile vlaues of his favorite books, Imrama sought out the circle both out of an altruistic sense of heroic responsibility, and a thrill-seeking love of adventure. Imrama has taken on the bulk of the new Deliberative's diplomatic responsibilities, and has also recently initiated a justice-seeking religious revival in the nation of Harborhead, the country he may or may not originally be from.
(A further short-lived member of the circle, Rannath of the Spear, joined in the early days after Zahara, Markuran and Birds had created the Sunlands. A mercenary Dawn, he never quite clicked with the rest of the party, and eventually left under somewhat antagonistic circumstances. Recently, the circle discovered that Rannath was a false identity crafted by the Sidereal Fierce Red Star, a mercenary who believed only in power, and who had continued to live within the Solars' home in other identities after discarding the Rannath persona; he is currently immobilized in Zahara's prison.)
The Dragon-Bloods make up the nobility of the Blessed Isle. For centuries their society prospered, but in the absence of the Scarlet Empress? it fell apart. Civil war broke out, with one of the major factions supported by the Red Lily. The Realm General Tepet Ejava, known as the Roseblack, was trained her army in the southern Threshold for an attempt to return and conquer the Realm, but then threw in her lot with the Sunlands. During the eclipse, she managed to best the Red Lily forces, rally most of the remaining Realm factions to her side, and emerge as the new Empress, having re-Exalted as an Elementalist.
The other Terrestrial Exalts are weaker types of Exalted that breed true, each of which corresponds to a type of Celestial Exalted as the Dragon-Blooded correspond to the Elementalists. Of the four remaining types, two -- the Shadow-Kissed and the Star-Crossed -- have not been seen since the First Age, but the Beast-Borne still live in the communities of the Lunars, and the existence of a secret family of Golden Ones has just been revealed.
The Lunars still remain fairly mysterious. A group who refer to themselves as the Silver Pact hold court in an abandoned First Age city in the southeast known as Lachu Atapis; they decry contact with humans and claim that the Lunar Exaltation removes all memories of their previous existence. They claim to hold tightly to a system of honor and bind people to swear mutual oaths of loyalty. The Circle of the Sunlands has one major Lunar ally: Serenal, a member of the Radiant Sabres, and one major Lunar enemy: Akuna Ravdash, potentate of the new nation of Arcadia in the North East.
The Sidereals were barred from Yu-Shan after the end of the First Age, but continued to operate from one of the Isles of Glass. Their exact role in history remains unclear, though they alone of the original Exalts retained use of the gate network and they maintained barriers around Creation that prevented its invasion by outside forces. Qian Mian, The 1,000-Faced Man, helped arrange an attack near the end of the Second Age that slew more than half of the Sidereals, during which the Orrery of Lights -- the Sidereals' most powerful device of prophecy -- was stolen. The Solars have also discovered the existence of a subset of Sidereals called the "Five Who Are Fallen" -- Exalts who have fallen out of the normal reincarnation cycle, and who retain every one of their memories into each new incarnation. Among their number are Fierce Red Star and Remembrance of Seven Tears, the First Age wife of Askaru. Other notable Sidereals known to the the circle include Seven Leaping Herons (ancient rival and couterweight to Qian Mian) and Ikara Ji'thala (who was, for a period, installed by Zahara as the governor of Xara)
The God-Exalts were created by the Red Lily through a brand-new process that has never been seen before in Creation. Where Celestial Exalts have their souls joined by the recurring shards and Dragon-Bloods through their very blood, God-Exalts are built using "channelcages" to create a pattern of Essence that links their two souls, which neither breeds true nor joins another human after the Exalt's death. The God-Exalts are known to perish if the God who has Exalted them is killed; it is unknown whether this principle also applies to Terrestrial and Celestial Exalts. The circle has eventually killed most of the God-Exalts it has met, but they do have one in their employ: Bertrand, a Forest-Exalt.
The Abyssal exalted were made by the Neverborn by corrupting stolen Solar shards with the Essence of death. As a group, they seem to be on loan to various of the Malfeans' liutenants: the Deathlords. In both form and function, the Abyssals appear as the dark mirror of Solars. Two Abyssals currently reside with the Sunlands Circle as "Cultural Emissaries" from the Mask of Winters: Crow Devours Flame and Ember of Glory. A third Abyssal, Ebon Dagger of Vengeance, presently serves in Zahara's employ, with the understanding that she will do all she can to destroy the Deathlord who "owns" him.
The Alchemicals are exalted of Autochthon, their abilities focused on internal alchemy and the transformation of one substance into another. For centuries, they were known only in Atomnos, but with the Locust Crusade the Alchemicals now have a presence in Meru. The circle recently met two Alchemicals among the colonial force: a soldier named Ezekiel, and the War Cardinal, Caleb.
The Elementalists were an Exalted type thought lost in the First Age. Their Incarna are the spirits of five vast elemental spheres that float around the perifery of Creation, which were swallowed by the Wyld long ago. With the borders of Creation newly restored, the Elementalists have also returned; rather than exalting new mortals, the Elementalist exaltations have reappeared by re-exalting Dragon-Blooded, including Tepet Ejava, Mnemon (former Realm scion and current Empress of Xara), Karal Linwei (the exiled leader of Lookshy) and two close allies of the Sunlands Cirlce: Peleps Ahina and Cathak Relovia.
The Shadeborn were another Exalt type lost during the First Age. Their Incarna, Pluto, perished when the first Primordial to die becaame the first Malfean, shattering the nature of Netheos, the Underworld. (Pluto's remnant has, however, recently been rediscovered.) The Shadeborn were Exalted ghosts rather than living humans and diminished over the course of the First Age until their eventual disappreance. It has recently come to light that the mighty Deathlords are, in fact, Shadeborn (of ancient and bitter former Solar ghosts), the secret of that exaltation having been acquired by the Neverborn.
The "world" is divided into eleven distinct planes, surrounded on all sides by the medium of the Wyld. In the center is Meru, what is typically known as "Creation." Surrounding it are the other planes (a map of which is here):
Yu-Shan: The spiritual plane of Heaven, home to the Celestial Gods, and location of the Jade Pleasure Dome, where the Incarna are sequestered. Yu-Shan is a heavily restricted realm; normally, only the Celestial Gods are permitted within, and Exalts have been banned from Heaven ever since the end of the First Age. The Terrestrial Gods (and anyone else who can) journey to Yu-Shan each Calibration for the Carnival of Meeting, where they conduct a year's worth of politics and business, all while protected by an unbreakable magic that prevents all violence. Surrounding the central city are the Isles of Glass, seven minor spiritual realms that are suffused with Celestial essence, and one of which houses the Gold Chrysanthemum, up until recently the operating base of the Sidereal Exalted.
Malfeas: The spiritual plane of Hell, the prison of the Yozis, and the home of demons. It is surrounded by seven minor spiritual realms, the Isles of Ash, one of which holds the tower where the demon Sarifen conducted Exaltation experiments. Believed impregnable, at the end of the Second Age the Ebon Dragon burst through and was able to re-enter Creation; but the route he took was sealed, and it is unlikely a conflux of events such as the one he took advantage of will occur again for many years.
Letheon: The spiritual plane of rebirth, home of the Soulfont, where the Essence patterns of individuals who have died are broken down and reassembled into new souls.
Netheos: The spiritual plane of death, the Underworld. Netheos is home to the Neverborn and their servants, the Deathlords, and is perhaps the easiest plane to access from Meru. Once, in the past, it was a grand museum and a place where souls could complete unfinished business so that they might enter Lethe; when the Neverborn crashed into it after their deaths (thereby killing Pluto, the Incarna of death and rebirth) it was twisted and warped, becoming a cruel, desolate place filled with purposeless ghosts and eaten away from below by the creeping, insidious evil of Oblivion.
Elysion: A plane of vigorous life and pleasant atmosphere. The portion seen so far resembles a savannah as painted by an Impressionist master, with every experience viscerally heightened: the wind stronger on one's face, the sun redder in one's eyes, and so on. This plane is the current home of the Haalime, the ascendant Hundredfold of Gaia, and the Okai, a race of avian beings whom they created to live on the savannah.
Xara: A plane of elaborate, clockwork order. Xara consists of crystalline spheres of varying properties, which orbit around one another in elaborate and intersecting fractal orbits. Until recently, its society was just as ordered; four lineages (God-blooded humans, plus three other races) participated in an elaborate political dance, jockeying for position and status within the boundaries carefully maintained by the secretive Fifth Lineage, an ascendant Hundredfold race who had manipulated the plane's history for millennia using the power of the Twilight Seal. With the theft of the Seal by the Circle, the ordered society collapsed, and the other Lineages rose up in revolution against the Fifth Lineage, who were eventually driven from the plane. In the aftermath, a new, less rigid society has arisen (first under Ikara's guidance, and now under Mnemon's), in which all four lineages, plus the Bone Dagger King refugees from Wasirru, are learning to live together.
Atomnos: In this plane, a vast cavern filled by a quicksilver sea known as the Qlippan holds the Enclaves, continent-sized floating rocks that contain within them the nations of Atomnos. Each nation is ruled by a majeure, a human with the blood of the Primordial Autochthon, and these nations bicker incessantly. They are also beset on the outside by creatures from the Qlippan, natural life forms who have been tainted with Infernal Essence and who relentlessly attack the Enclaves, causing entire regions to become uninhabitable. The "glue" of society is the Pentarchal Order, a priesthood that preaches principles of alchemical transmutation (which when properly internalized lead to Alchemical Exaltation) and communes directly with the Crystalline Host, the component souls of the Primordial. However, the Order has been secretly manipulating the nations to war with one another in order to help Autochthon conduct an "experiment," possibly related to the one for which Creation was birthed. Autochthon held the Eclipse Seal until recently; in the aftermath, the world has fallen largely into ruin, and many of the Atomnosi joined together to form a colonization effort towards Meru, who have now established themselves in that plane's southern reaches as the Locust Crusade.
Wasirru: The inhabited portion of this plane consists entirely of the Wasirranu, a vast, sentient tree hundreds of miles tall; what, if anything, lies at its base is unknown. Because of the immensity of the tree, entire civilizations live within its branches. For thousands of years, it has been the site of a vicious war fought between the Heartwood Spearfolk, a God-Blooded tribe of humans living within the tree's trunk and lower portion, and the Bone Dagger Kings, a resplendent Hundredfold race dwelling in the Highbranches. Recently, Thirteen Blooming Flowers resolved this conflict by moving the Bone Dagger Kings to the plane of Xara, and taking his rightful place as the leader of the Heartwood Spearfolk.
Bi'allah: The satellite realm of solitude. A barren realm of purple rocks and orange oceans, dust and twilight, Bi'allah is a plane where anyone can come to be alone. Those who come together are viciously hunted by strange, almost imperceptible beings known as the Starlit. Ymir fled here after killing Talmuda, and left the Night Seal here for her future incarnation to recover.
Tesearah: Nothing is known of this Realm.
The planes are normally connected through abnormal mystical means, such as the connection between Meru and Netheos that appears in shadowlands. The Gate network built during the age of the Hundredfold also connects all the planes to one another. Finally, a mechanism known as the "Path of Stars" runs between the planes, aligning semi-unpredictably between different planes of existence and allowing anyone with the knowledge of how to enter it to walk on foot to another plane.