Turning the Wheel

Infernal Infiltration

After talking to Raksi, Shrike intents to speak to Ma-Ha-Suchi. Arianna tries to explain who that is to Rais and Zanavterix. Mnemon still seeks to contact the Sidereal Exalted and so heads off on her own for the Heptagram. Conjuring up a Stormwind Rider, they depart.

Still stuck in the northern Imperial Isle, the Chef flees toward the nearest gate to Yu-Shan, hounded by at least 3 Infernals representing traits of rage, shadow, and speed. Losing his pursuers in Wyld tainted water, he makes it through the gate and finds Yu-Shan in disarray, apparently having suffered an attack a break in by demons itself. Heaven itself has fallen into almost absolute chaos as 98 of 100 Sidereal Shards have passed into the cycle of redistribution, leaving Chef and only one other Sidereal alive. Chef identifies Magdalena as the other remaining Sidereal but she is not within the purview of Creation… With almost all of his contemporaries dead, The Chef is left with a bureaucratic nightmare to clean up to keep the basic functions of heaven and earth in order and cannot in good unconscious abandon his post at such a time. He finds a chance to save the scenes he just witnessed on the Recorder of Everlasting Glories that he received from Silk the last time they spoke and transfer as much as he could into several dreamstones which he bid be sent to the other Exalted.

Back in the wastes that were once a city, Silk meets with Mask of Winters and completes transformation of Lookshy into the largest Shadowland in Creation. Satisfied with his work, he has little time to collect his results as he receives a message from Meticulous Owl (strangely not from The First and Forsaken Lion, himself) summoning him back to the Thousands. Before Silk can step back outside of Creation, he receives The Chef’s magical messenger falcon carrying a dreamstone containing some of the details recorded in the fight with the Empress and her Infernals. Examining the evidence and listening to the Whispers of his fallen gods, Silk hears only, “The second age is over. Our age has begun.” Bidding the Mask of Winters farewell and prosperity with his new patch of death, Silk leaves a few of his nemesaries behind to finish his documentation and dives into the Labyrinth once more, heading south.

Entering the lair of Ma-Ha-Suchi, Shrike chooses to slip on ahead of her Solar companions and engages the ancient Lunar privately before fur or feathers can be ruffled by her… less social associates. They exchange news of the Empress the her “unusual” assassins Shrike recently had to dispatch and both share concerns of the Silver Pact tucking tail and hiding. In short order, as they pproach the Nameless Lair of Ma-Ha-Suchi, avoiding his wolf/goat/beastmen, Rais, Zanavtarix, and Arianna are greeted by a silver falcon carrying another dreamstone. Rais meditates on the stone on the spot and shares the troubling information with his companions.
Upon meeting the Lunar and explaining their concerns and even the new information about the Empress, Ma-Ha-Suchi is unconvinced of their urgency over the constantly teetering fate of the world, claiming it is always on the brink of destruction. Rais performs a show of martial prowess displaying some of the amazing feats he just witnessed, gaining Ma-Ha-Suchi’s interest, if not his agreement.

The Lunar disagrees with their plan to make the Empress try to target her enemies in Nexus. He claims she’d be more likely to target a weapon on equal to her own. He tells them of Ikerre, the last holder of the Eye of Autocthon and of the Five Metal Shrike. He also them that another group which might be able to perceive fate from a different perspective than the Sidereals, particularly with most of them out of the picture, would be the Dragon Kings of Rathess.

Chef’s work starts to clear up as Yu-Shan gets back into order and they are sure that all demons have been dealt with or evicted. Being the last remaining Sidereal within range of Fate, he realizes he might have access to previously unknown functions and clearances with the Loom of Fate. Noting the goal Rais, Shrike, and Zanavtarix have set for Rathess, he locates the nearest gateway to their destination and plots his time to meet up with them before tidying up a few more tasks in Yu-Shan.

Upon reentering The Thousands, Silk finds The First and Forsaken Lion has gathered his army and claims he has an advantage and a plan to hand Creation over to the Neverborn all at once.
He requires Silk to speak with the Empress, an agent of the Yozi, and to find means of dealing with the most powerful Exalts left in creation, specifically the strange party of Celestial Exalted with whom he conquered Paragon. Noting Meticulous Owl’s presence in an otherwise private meeting, Silk confers briefly with him and accepts his master’s commands before setting off to make preparations for another extended journey. Making his way to the First and Forsaken’s libraries, of which Silk has nearly doubled their volume since his Exaltation, he researches demon and Yozi lore in the Lion’s resources and, almost as if expected, is confronted by The Princess Magnificent. She confirms his suspicions that Meticulous Owl is almost certainly a traitor and they try to figure out what to do about First’s plan, or even how to confront him without inciting his formidable temper, and she gives him a means of contacting her when he decides what must be done. He finally sets out for Gem, shows the dreamstone to Tensha and Valis, and sends word to the rest of the party on where to meet up. Arianna and Valis’s sorcerous means of communication making the process much easier before he disappears back into the Underworld.

From three very different worlds, the most powerful Exalts in Creation begin converging on Rathess to seek information from the Dragon King descendents.

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Underestimated

Quick Summary
- Most of the party visits Mahalanka in order to research The Sword of Creation.
- Handful of the most powerful Sidereals attempt to overthrow The Empress only to be overwhelmed by The Empress herself, demons, Infernal Exalted, and Dragon Blooded allies.

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Unlikely Allies

Quick Summary
- Mnemon reveals what The Empress is allied with The Ebon Dragon
– Her “Righteous Orphan Rebellion” is going to attempt to stop her and wishes the party to join

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First Strike

Quick summary
- Sword of Creation used to blow up Lookshy

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The End of the Civil War

The families gathering their forces in the Realm had finally reached a tipping point and a botched assassination finally set the Blessed Isle into a state of civil war, all vying for influence, if not outright control of the Scarlet Throne. Unable to sit idly by and watch her country tear itself apart, Tepet Ejava finally gathered her forces and began the long trek home. The time her personal army had spent in the deep south, halfway between Gem and Outer Sun had nod been idle, and her men had grown strong, if self righteous, learning the unusual ways of war and training with a number of the celestial level exalts that had gathered there. Returning home to restore glory to the dynasty and help stake their commander’s claim to the throne was going to be an honor and a much anticipated challenge.

Without stake or any real welcome on the Blessed Isle most of the mighty exalted gathered in the south simply bid the refugee army fare well, though a few mighty Dragon Blooded outcasts were welcomed into her legion over the course of their exile. As weeks wore on and the terrestrial exalted families committed more and more of their forces to open conflict of wiping out their “less worthy” relatives, a strange kind of reconstruction was taking place. The conflict across the sea could not help but keep the interest of the southern super powers, nor could the the re-envisioned shadowland city that was once Paragon and was now being called “Lucubratory.” Spies from a number of nations were sent to investigate both.

The conflict on the Blessed Isle was potent and bloody, but ultimately would be short lived. After almost a month of open war an event that happened once before during a time of great strife in the realm occurred once more…

The horizon darkened, thunder roared, and a grand royal figure that had not been seen in years appeared in the sky overshadowing even the Imperial Mountain. In a booming voice of absolute authority, the Scarlet Empress announced her return and demanded a cease fire of all forces in the Realm, delivering the ultimatum that should she be ignored, her wrath would be instant. True to her word, the few factions that failed to heed her were struck down with explosions of essence and lightning that fell from the sky and found them, where ever they dared to defy her. Within days the Realm was at peace once again, and the Empress, if it truly was her back on the throne, was holding audience, summoning the leaders of her children’s armies to her one by one. Most received new stations, some local, some considerably diminished. Some simply never returned from their appointed meetings…

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The Fall of Paragon
The conflict begins

With the Empress gone and their empire slowly eroding, the Houses of the Scarlet Dynasty knew that it was only a matter of time before the Realm was plunged into civil war. The only way the conflict could be settled would be with the crowning of a new empress, and the only two serious contenders for the throne were Mnemon — old, powerful, cunning, and exceptionally ruthless — and Tepet Ejava — young, idealistic, inspiring, and a symbol of hope for the common folk. To improve her chances of taking the throne, Mnemon arranged for the Roseblack to be removed from the picture, but Ejava understood what she was up against and petitioned for aid from Tensha — the new regent of Gem and one of the newly returned Solar Exalted.

Tensha realized it was inevitable that Mnemon would seek to eliminate the Roseblack by finally lending Paragon the support it needed to siege Gem. It was known that the Perfect of Paragon desired Gem’s riches and needed only the forces to marshal against the city and a means to bring it across the vast and unforgiving Southern desert — means that someone like Mnemon could provide. To protect his city, Tensha decided to bring together a force that even the combined strength of the Realm and Paragon could not hope to defeat.

Rais — the lord and spiritual leader of Outer Sun — was the first to ally with Tensha. As a fellow Solar Exalt, Rais was immensely powerful and as a warrior of the Dawn Caste, he was an unmatched combatant and trained his people to be formidable as well. He relished the opportunity to take on the seasoned soldiers of the Realm in mass numbers. Of all the allies that Gem could have found, Rais himself was surely the one that the Realm feared most. Even in just a few years of activity, his legend as a titan beyond any other in Creation has spread far beyond the South and the rate at which he gathered worshipers was alarming to the Dynasty.

Meanwhile, even in the Underworld it was clear that war was brewing in Creation and the Deathlord known as The First And Forsaken Lion saw in it an opportunity to advance his own plans. He sent his deathknight servant, Silk Smooth Fingers Of Death, into the lands of the living to do whatever he could to ensure that the conflict occurred and was as bloody as possible. More deaths meant the possibility of more shadowlands, and an increased presence in the South might convince his Neverborn masters to loosen his leash, allowing him to finally march his undead armies against Creation. Silk offered his aid to Tensha, though he left out a number of details as to precisely how (and certainly as to whom he truly served).

With Gem and Outer Sun so close to the bordermarches of the Wyld, the Silver Pact — the loose society of Lunar Exalted based at the edges of Creation — saw that the war with Gem might serve to bring the Realm’s attention closer to their territories than they would like. They had remained patient through a thousand years of Dragon-Blooded rule over Creation and they did not want to tip their hand too soon, not when their grand social experiments were finally starting to come to fruition. Hoping to find a way to keep the war as far away from the Wyld as possible without revealing their involvement, the Silver Pact elected to send a stealth agent to subtly manipulate events in their favor. For this task, they chose Shrike — the deadliest assassin in the Southern threshold. She proceeded to blend in with the local population and kept watch over Tensha and his plans, eventually offering her aid through Rais.

But Tensha had his own agent behind the scenes; a Sidereal Chosen of Endings whose name few know, masquerading as the head chef, had revealed a small bit of his true nature to Gem’s leader and offered his assistance in dealing with Paragon. In truth, he had been assigned to watch Tensha and discern why the Loom of Fate seemed to think that he might have some hand in ending the Scarlet Dynasty. With a battle brewing that could be the spark that ignites a civil war on the Blessed Isle, The Chef certainly had his suspicions now, but his lack of allegiance to the Five Score Fellowship prompted him to act outside of his orders and pull enough strings to ensure that Gem was victorious.

Though his allies were strong, Tensha soon discovered that many of them were less concerned with preventing conflict and in fact more interested in ensuring that it happened sooner. Not wanting to plunge his city into war at the behest of his bloodthirsty allies, Tensha followed The Chef’s suggestion to bring the conflict directly to Paragon instead and twist the situation to reduce confidence in Mnemon.

A meeting was held and a plan was formed. The Chef secretly manipulated communication and paperwork within the Thousand Scales, preventing supplies and funds from reaching the Realm forces amassing in Paragon under Mnemon’s orders. Shrike traveled alone to Paragon, for she could reach it herself in a few days. Shortly thereafter, Rais led an army of Outer Sun and Gem soldiers through the Labyrinth in the Underworld, guided by Silk and his own undead army, reaching a point outside Paragon in a day’s time. At the appointed time, Shrike assassinated the commander of the Legion’s siege division while Chef took out the head of the Immaculate and Wyld Hunt contingent in Paragon. With the Realm forces in an uproar, Rais’s armies marched on Paragon at dawn with the element of surprise and obliterated the city’s defenses with an immense show of power. The combined forces of Outer Sun and Gem swept through the city and hammered at the Legions mercilessly.

Unbeknownst to the allies of Gem, a Solar of the Eclipse Caste named Zanavterix had spent the last few weeks in Paragon outside the Perfect’s notice, secretly fomenting dissent among the Realm soldiers by encouraging the belief that their presence in Paragon was a pointless waste of their manpower that would see many of them slain in the name of filling the Perfect’s treasury while their own country crumbled back home. Combined with the frustrating lack of supplies and funds, the Legions were already lacking in enough enthusiasm for a battle and proved exceedingly easy for Rais’s armies to rout. By sundown, most of the Realm’s forces had retreated.

Paragon’s forces, however, we not so easily demoralized. Their loyalty to the Perfect was absolute and every citizen would die to protect him — an offer that Silk was certainly happy to accept. When the light of the sun faded beyond the horizon, Silk opened a rift from the Underworld in the middle of Paragon and his undead and necrotech army flooded the city in a murderous rampage. While his legion of the dead occupied Paragon’s forces in the city proper, Silk himself entered the Perfect’s palace for a more personal meeting. After eviscerating anyone who rushed to protect their lord, Silk confronted the Perfect with the intention of taking him quietly. The Perfect, though fearful, was not without his own defenses and put up quite a resistance, surprising Silk with power perhaps equal to that of a Solar. Though somewhat impressed, Silk was more annoyed with the Perfect’s insolence and unleashed a terrible multi-limbed assault on him, relieving him of his staff of power and ripping him apart but not killing him. Suddenly free of the Perfect’s influence, the people of Paragon merely watched in terror as the deathknight carried their former master away — still alive and in pain. Still, despite their newfound ability to surrender, Silk’s armies continued to carry out their mass-slaughter.

Glad for the removal of the Realm’s forces but concerned for the well-being of the oppressed people of Paragon, Zanavterix joined the fray and repelled as many of the dead as he could to allow the living to flee the city.

Over the course of a day, Paragon had gone from one of the greatest powers in the Southern threshold to the merely the largest shadowland in the South.

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