Last time, Wren and Ratcatcher’s plot arcs wrapped up for the book, in so much as a cliffhanger and a fakeout count as wrapping up. This time, we’ll get the same for Yuyu and Holok.
First, Holok. He’s attempting to remove the “knife tip” which apparently comprises three inches of it. That’s a pretty big knife for that to be just the top. So it’s, what, at least nine inches total? Otherwise it’d be called the upper half, not the tip.
The pain was blinding, or would have been had he not been taught to mask it and hide it away. Such were the benefits of the discipline of the Order
The Order didn’t exist until the Scarlet Empress, and Holok supposedly predates her. Rather like Ratcatcher the semibyssal, Holok appears to be Dragonblood with celestial lifespan and politics, as well as celestial appearance (Dragonblooded slowly begin to look less human and more elemental as they get up in age and essence). But I think the issue is actually a simpler one – the author doesn’t know the fact in the first sentence and has made the general error of assuming the Order is in any way a legitimate religion instead of something with no basis whatsoever in reality.
Since it doesn’t really matter, Holok can be somewhat wrong now.
So much more made sense now. The boy’s power was immense. Clearly, Ratcatcher and then Shamblemerry had been sent to bring him to the Prince of Shadows and thus under the spell of the Abyss.
A reasonable assumption, though realizing it’s wrong means remembering they didn’t actually know the kid’s exalted, which in turn reminds that it’s a plot hole that Holok was so sure Yuyu was. It doesn’t change the conclusion, which is that Holok figures he needs to make sure the Abyssals don’t find him first.
He’s worried that Yuyu will be impossible to find now because he’ll be hiding, despite the fact that Sidereals can just find you on the Loom of Fate and send out a hit squad. Not only does removing that make Sidereals pathetic, but it breaks the setting because the only thing keeping Creation halfway in the hands of the Sidereal is that they’ve spent more than a thousand years sending those hit squads after every Lunar who poked their head out of the Wyld too long, which in turn is why the Lunar castes broke and why they’re restricted to the edges of the empire. (Lunars being what they are, it’s also why current Lunars are hellishly hard to find on the Loom – they’re not actually outside of fate, but they’re so full of Wyld energy the Loom can’t handle them properly.) If the Sidereals couldn’t send killsquads after the surviving Lunars when they first tried to return from the Wyld, the Lunars would probably have been able to take out either the Shogunate or the Sidereals in short order, because Lunars are shapeshifters, you’re not going to be able to keep track of them by any non-magic means.
The deaths of the Huntsmen, while regrettable, were of little consequence. The Dragon-Blooded were like grains of sand on a beach, innumerable. Such had been the logic when Kejak and his brothers in the Bronze Faction had raised the banner of rebellion against the Solar Exalted, and such was the logic now.
To decimate is to kill one out of every ten. The black death killed one out of every three. The Great Contagion and the Balorian crusade combined killed ninety-nine out of every hundred.
No one who lived through that would think anything, even mortals, were innumerable.
And even on a practical level, the current Dragonblooded are a shadow of what they were, and not just in numbers. They’re mostly mortal themselves these days, because of how dilute the bloodline’s become. While once every child of a Dragonblooded exalted, even when the other parent was a mortal, now when two Dragonblooded have a child, exaltation is the exception rather than the rule. And those individuals that do exalt are weaker than they once were. In the current setting, the only high-breeding Dragonblooded remaining alive is the Empress herself.
He manages to stumble back to the horses, figuring he’ll get to civilization and call for help.
He’d bring the matter to Kejak and the Mouth of Peace, and give neither of them any peace until they granted him an audience.
Holok, she’s a figurehead and you know this. And it’s not that hard to get an audience with Kejak when you’re a Sidereal.
He spares a moment to wonder if maybe he should try to find the kid, but the mysterious sense that told him the kid was there is now just as inexplicably saying Yuyu’s gone, because screw consistent rules.
Home was the best option, Holok decided. And with luck, it might remain his home even after he reported his failure.
Now, at first glance it’s odd Holok would be expecting to be punished harshly when it doesn’t seem like he’s particularly to blame for what happened. But the information the author didn’t know actually makes this work. Sidereal normally live in Heaven, so the fact he’s identifying anywhere on Creation as his home suggests that this is not his first failure. He must have fucked up epically prior to this, such that any further errors will get him canned.
So yeah, that’s the resolution for Holok’s storyline – he goes to a place to find out about a thing, learns he has to find a kid to find out about the thing instead, then loses the kid and heads back.
Yuyu’s is only marginally better, and that’s mostly because his nonending is the standard version.
He wakes up slung across a horse, but this isn’t a kidnapping, or at least, it’s a well-intentioned one. Dace, one of the signature Solars (Dawn, boring) has shown up, and tells Yuyu to stop flipping out before he falls off the horse.
Dace explains a friend of his can also read the stars – the book is absolutely stuffed with astrologers – and she told him to go get Yuyu.
Yuyu asks about his quiver, and is told that there’s still an arrow in it. I’m sure Dace could handle Wolfy, so actually it might be better to release it and let it show up now.
We’re going to someplace safe, where you can be taught what you are and how to use what you’ve been given. Until then, you’re always going to be at risk, and you’ll be a danger to those around you.
Unless Dace has suddenly ended up with the Cult of the Illuminated and intends for Yuyu to enjoy Sidereal indoctrination that’s about as accurate as the Order’s version of things, this is nonsense.
It’s not like “what you are” takes all that long. You’re an exalt but you exalt via random act of shard instead of parentage having anything to do with it like Dragonblooded. Your exalt type used to rule but then got murdered and usurped by the Sids and Dragonblooded, and they’re going to try to remurder you to keep the status quo. You can use your power by, well, using it, it kind of comes naturally.
Learning those two things won’t do anything about the fact you’re at risk. That’s true until you actually retake Creation and Heaven, and probably nuke the Underworld as well. And the Sidereal/Dragonblooded tend to focus on the biggest threats first, so learning more means painting a bigger target on yourself. If you’re lucky, that target scales with your ability to defend yourself. If you’re not, you automatically go splat instead of just probably go splat. You’re always a risk to those around you over the Sidereal thing – if anything, the stronger you are the more likely they’ll focus on others instead of fighting you directly, as Sidereal don’t fight fair – and thanks to the Great Curse, you’re also always a direct risk to others because you’re going to flip out sooner or later. And no amount of teaching does jack for that because no one’s figured out the problem. Most attempts make things worse – either they try to get you to learn self-control, which will have you constantly eating limit and inevitably flipping out, or they go the raiton route of encouraging you to do whatever you feel like, which just means you’ll be acting unbalanced constantly instead of storing up all your crazy for big bursts. Left to their own devices, Solars also will try out just avoiding anything that triggers limit, but since limit gain is tied to Virtues and bad things that happen, means you have to ignore increasingly large chunks of reality. One pre-Usurpation character with a compassion-based limit dealt with it by deciding everyone was happy and then making sure to never check up on that again.
And that’s just the baseline. Given the Cult’s attempt at beating Lunars into obedient servants has accomplished it at the cost of making them automatically take double limit every time they hit a situation that potentially could cause limit, the implication is any serious attempt to control Solar limit at present is going to lead to something even worse.
This is why Exalted is a fun setting! Just making them golden sues who everyone unjustly hates is missing the point. It’s important that actually, there was a very good reason people killed you and want you to stay dead, just as it’s important to the setting that the killing wasn’t a good solution. And there’s no point in saying that maybe there used to be a good reason for it, but it’s okay because it’s no longer an issue.
But Yuyu doesn’t know that this is going to go disastrously, so he’s thinking it sounds good. And the book ends there, in the fine tradition of fantasy assuming that since it’s going to involve more than one book, the individual books don’t need to resolve anything.
In conclusion, Exalted! It’s a fun setting if you actually use the setting.