In ancient times, before the world was bent, the gods were slaves, and from the Heavenly City of Yu-Shan, the Primordials ruled Creation. In time, the gods tired of their slavery, but were oath-sworn never to move against the Primordials directly, so they granted human champions the power to oppose the masters of the world. These were the first Exalted.
The Primordial War shook Creation, and many things were lost forever, but in the end, the Exalted were triumphant. They delivered Heaven unto the gods and, in payment, were granted rulership of Creation, and thus began the First Age. The greatest of the gods was the Unconquered Sun, and the greatest of the Exalted were his Chosen, the Solar Exalted. For more than two millennia, the Solars ruled Creation with justice and forethought, but a curse ate at their hearts, slowly driving them toward excess and depravity. In time, their advisors, the Sidereal Exalted, and their soldiers, the Terrestrial Exalted, conspired to overthrow them, and in the Solars’ hour of need, their mates, the Lunar Exalted, abandoned them. The Solars were betrayed and slaughtered.
Whenever a Solar dies, his Essence finds another mortal of promise and Exalts her. It is reincarnation of a sort. The Sidereals broke this cycle, trapping perhaps 300 of the divine Essences of the betrayed Solars in a great prison sunk beneath the Inland Sea, and a lesser Second Age fell upon the world.
For over 1,000 years, the Dragon-Blooded ruled over
Creation, systematically hunting down and destroying over
and over again those few Solar Essences that escaped imprisonment
and remained in the cycle of reincarnation, while
around them the world diminished and decayed.
But no more.
The Scarlet Empress, the ruler of the Dragon-Blooded Dynasty, has vanished, and her 11 Great Houses have fallen to infighting over her throne. Into this Time of Tumult, the Solar Exalted are at last reborn in great numbers, their prison shattered by an encroaching shadow.
Will they save Creation, or destroy it? (Excerpt from Return to the Tomb of Five Corners)