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.