Campaign of the Month: July 2011
Sins of the First Age
For more on Nexus in general, see the entry on the Official Exalted Wiki. The section below covers the information relevant to this campaign in particular. A great map of the city can be found here. A map of Cor Ignus, the newly renovated heart of the Firewander District, may be found here.
As one of the final stages in his circle’s quest to cure Nexus of what ailed it, the savant and sorcerer Kadon Cind used immense Solar magics of wyld shaping to remake the wyld zone that had sat at the heart of the Firewander district for more than fifteen hundred years. He dubbed what he created “Cor Ignus”, the heard of the flame, and gifted it to the city of Nexus for their own betterment, with himself as their patron.
As is the custom in Lookshy, where Kadon originated, he sees it as his duty to create public works and be a patron to those less fortunate. According to tradition, the magnitude of one’s patronage must reflect one’s own resources, and as a Solar Exalt Kadon commands more power and raw wealth than any family of Lookshy. Consequently, he has applied his patronage not to a vassal town of Lookshy, but to one of the great cities of the Scavenger Lands.
In addition to its mundane features – immense tracts of ready to use commercial, residential, and industrial property, and all the public services that go with them – Cor Ignus features three powerful manses. Two (the Schola Celestia, and the Capital Fortress) are public, solar manses designed to enhance life and security for everyone in Nexus. The third, The Constellation of Downcast Eyes, is an even more potent Sidereal manse that conceals the prison below.
Nexus Manse Network
The city of Nexus contains a number of lesser and greater manses constructed during the first age. Upon investigation, it has been discovered that these manses were built for Zuko Kota, and that most of them are interconnected in a network of shared essence. Specifically, the Tomb of Red-Hot Iron is in effect nothing more than a power plant, feeding additional energy to the following locations:
- The Tomb of the Singing Blades
- The Tomb of Ice
- The Tomb of Candle Eyed Skulls
- The Parko Llana
- The Old Capitol Building
Among those locations, the three tombs listed are known manses. The Tomb of Singing Blades is a cloning facility producing a number of blank bodies on an ongoing basis. The Tomb of Ice is a mortuary, where the clones created in the Tomb of Singing Blades are entombed after they die. The function of the Tomb of Candle Eyed Skulls is as yet unknown, but it is known to be part of a functional group with the other two tombs listed, as they share a transportation ring system.
The other two locations are more of a mystery. The Parko Llana location has not even been pinned down exactly, and the only thing known about the power feed into the Old Capitol Building (and thus the center of the Wyld Zone) is that it is a recent diversion from the original network, established no more than a few months ago.
Also potentially noteworthy are the two manse-tombs in the city which are not part of this power distribution network, the Tomb of Keening Spirits, and the Tomb of Night. Neither appears to be part of the transportation system linking the other tombs, and they may not be anything special, but given the nature of the finds at the other locations they demand investigation.
Much as been learned about the manses of Nexus during the circle’s adventures there. It would seem that the Tome of Candle Eyed Skulls protects the entrance to the shadow prison that lies below the city, and that the other network manses each provide key elements for its maintenance: cooling form the tomb of ice, processing power from the systems in the Tomb of Singing Blades, and of course energy, from the flow being channeled into the earth below Parko Llana.
In addition to these manses, the restoration of the Firewander district has seen the installation of three new manses, one of which – The Constellation of Downcast Eyes – contributes to the protection and security of the prison. The other two new manses, the Schola Celestia and the Capital Fortress beneath the old capital building, are independent of the network, and designed to provide for the public welfare of the district, among other services.
Events in Nexus have shed a disturbing light on the origins of the entity known as the Emissary. It appears that, like so much else in Nexus, the Emissary was created near the end of the first age to administer the city on Zuko Kota’s behalf. The creation process used a powerful artifact – the Emissary’s mask – to bind a third circle demon to the soul and body of a young girl, thereby creating being of vast and specific powers, and binding it to a particular code.
When the current crime syndicate came to power in Nexus more than a year ago, one of their partners used powerful sorcery to banish the demon bound into the Emissary, leaving the mask and the girl in the event’s wake. The girl was still a girl, even nearly two thousand years later, and had little or no memory of her time as the Emissary. This left Nexus without its guardian, and many people wondering just what in the world had happened.
The particular girl involved is part of the mystery as well however. While not an essence user as such apparently, she possess extraordinary levels of Sidereal essence, and her nature itself is a matter of significant speculation. It also raises the question of weather and in what way her nature is important to the nature of the Emissary itself. The goal is to restore the Emissary, but the girl wants no part of that, and other candidates are being considered.
An additional item of note with regard to the Emissary is the Emissary’s ready room, a chamber at the entrance to the Tomb of Singing Blades which contained a number of pairs of artifact slippers. These slippers, generally worn by the Emissary, but usable by anyone, allow the wearer to bypass certain defenses and security locks in some or all of the city’s manses.
The Emissary has been remade, from the third circle demon who originally escaped from the workshop at The Eastern Grove. Unwilling to inflict a further lifetime as of service upon the little girl that had been the Emissary before, a bargain was struck with the demon, where in he would agree to be bound by the rules and powers of the Emissary’s position, in return for being allowed to remain in creation. Since then, he has been an effective force within the city, although there are some subtle differences in personality between the fiend and his predecessor.
Nexus Council of Entities
Another interesting wrinkle in the current situation in Nexus lies in the Council of Entities which governs the city. In most respects they are a typical governing body, unusual only in that they are rather more effective than might be expected, but many of the council members bear striking physical resemblance to the circle members first age incarnations.
Investigation of the manse network has revealed that the majority of the council are clones or engineered hybrids produced by the manse system in the city, and furthermore that all of their predecessors have been as well. Apparently, the circles first age counterparts arranged it so that their genetic duplicates would continue to rule the city, possibly with the expectation of being able to exalt into the cloned bodies time and time again.
For the most part, this arrangement seems fairly benign, as each of the council members is an individual with his or her own history and personality, but in the case of Ephiselle, it seems likely that the memories, and possibly the mortal soul, of Zuko’s mad first age incarnation have been passed down through the generations intact. Needless to say, this presents a serious risk, as such things are literally what the Deathlords are made of.
Also suspect among this group are those individuals who do not resemble the circles predecessors. While it’s possible that they are innocently filling positions that have opened over the centuries, it’s also possible that they are infiltrators of some kind, sent by the death lords or acting in their own interests. The mysterious Kratz, and Udelph both fall in to this category, and demand further investigation.
It has been revealed that Kratz is in fact an ancient Sidereal, bound to the city of Nexus, and Hallow before it, in the service of Kharum, Kadon’s first age incarnation, whom she once advised. Over the centuries, she has remained in Nexus to watch over the shadow prison Kharum created there, and insure it remains intact. She has done this by populating the council with easily controlled clones of the circle’s first age incarnations, and continues to rule Nexus from the shadows even to this day.
Master Gen, publicly a member of the Council of Entities, is also the god of the Hollows, the ancient first age city upon which Nexus is built. This fact is a closely held secret however, as the presence of a god amongst a body which rules mortals flies in the face of the Creation Ruling Mandate. If the powers in Yu-Shan learned of this, the results could be severe. This risk, along with a variety of other aberrant behavior, indicate that Gen has begun to loose his faculties, which does not bode well for the city.
The current theory is that the presence of the Wyld Zone in the middle of Nexus over the past two two thousand years has slowly driven the god of the city mad, and that in order to resolve this issue it will be necessary to eliminate the source of the zone – and there must be one, or it would have collapsed under the weight of the surrounding creation long ago – and repair the gaping wound left in fabric of creation where it was.
With the wyld zone now removed, and the heart of the city only recently restored, it is not yet clear how Gen will fare. It is likely he will recover himself somewhat, but this may have dire ramifications for him in the long run, as his madness may no longer be seen as an excuse for his unlawful involvement in mortal affairs. This is a tail that will surely play out on a longer time scale, but the circle will do what it can to insure his well being.
Shadows Under Nexus
Somewhere deep under the city of Nexus is a prison constructed in the first age to contain a threat that could not be destroyed. Shadow creatures, mirroring the number and variety of exalts in the modern age, appeared near the end of the first age, and even the power of the solars was unable to touch them. They did not attack as such – it was almost as if they were trying to get the exalts’ attention – but they were unknown, and therefore terrifying.
Though they were more a nuisance than a danger at the time, the fact that they lay outside the power of the lawgivers constituted a significant threat, and so the solars contrived to imprison what they could not destroy. This prison was built under the Hollows – present day Nexus – and has sat there undisturbed ever sense. It is speculated that the power channel passing into the Parko Llana from the Tomb of Red-Hot Iron goes to powering their prison.
With the revelation of Kratz’s identity, a little more was learned about who imprisoned the shadow beings under Nexus, and how that prison is maintained. Little enough of this was substantial, but all agreed that it is critical that the prison remain secure. With this in mind, the reconstruction of the Firewander district around the former wyld zone included the creation of a powerful Sidereal manse, which now projects an obscuring cloak over the device.