The Exaltations of Celestial Exalted are too potent to pass to their descendants. Instead, there are a finite number of Solar, Lunar, and Sidereal Exaltations available. These Essences perpetually cycle; when a Celestial Exalted dies, their Exaltation is pared by the Gods and then bestowed upon a worthy successor.
The Sidereals are the only Exalted who have deep knowledge of this phenomenon, and have used this information to predict and track Exaltations since the First Age. The Sidereals do not only monitor their own Exaltations however, and have interfered in the progress of Solar Essences since the Usurpation.
After the Usurpation, when the Terrestrial Exalted killed their Solar masters, the Sidereals captured the Essences of the majority of dead Solars and stored them in the Jade Prison, which removed those Essences from the cycle of reincarnation. The Jade Prison was sealed shortly after the Usurpation, then sunk into the deepest sea. The vast majority (approximately 300) of Solar Essences were shut in the prison, the remainder (about 50) consisting of those Solars who had not yet been killed at the time of sealing. The remaining Essences could still reincarnate, and were the Solars that were subsequently tracked by the Sidereals and killed by the Wyld Hunt over the next several centuries.
Approximately five years before the main Exalted plotline begins, the Deathlords learn the secret of creating Exalted from the Yozis, but require Essences to create them. To acquire these Essences, the Deathlords steal the Jade Prison, using a massive zombie servant created for this purpose. Chance intervenes, however, and the Prison breaks open in transit. As a result, half of Solar Essences escape from the Jade Prison, leaving the Deathlords with the remaining half of the Essences stored in the prison, and the other half incarnating in mortals throughout Creation. The Deathlords then pay a third of the Essences they have acquired to the Yozis, leaving them with approximately a hundred for their Abyssals.
Gameplay and Plot Notes
- The Essences held by the Jade Prison are not the psyches or identities of the Solars, as the Deathlords are all the ghosts of Solars. However, Essences do contain some memories.
- The Essences of Solars killed after the Jade Prison was sealed were not added to the Jade Prison, otherwise the Wyld Hunt would have terminated pretty quickly.
- Assuming that Essences never entered the prison, then the Mask of Winters' (who was killed some time after the Usurpation ended) Essence was one of the viable Solar Essences that remained free to reincarnate.
- According to canon sources, there are between 100-300 Solars, 100 Abyssals, and 300-400 Lunars. A reasonable estimate for the First Age Exalted population might be ca. 300 solars and 300 lunars, leaving a deficit of 50 essences taken by the Yozis.