Modern Exalted: Bring back the Light
THE BLESSED REALM
The island nation of Meruvia is the center of the world in every way that counts—or so its inhabitants believe. Rich and populous, isolated from foreign threats by unbridgeable oceans, Meruvia conveys a sense of invincibility. It claims to have never lost a major war, and no invader has set foot upon its shores for centuries. Officially at peace with its neighbors across the Inland Sea, it meddles in foreign affairs and supports proxy wars against UES and Tengese client states with impunity, knowing its citizens will turn a blind eye as long as their quality of life remains unchanged.
For millennia the ancient avians called alaun thwarted human efforts to colonize the Blessed Isle, permitting only a handful of coastal settlements. But 600 years ago, their guardianship failed in the face of flintlock-wielding pioneers. Within three centuries, all alaun were killed or driven onto the slopes of Meru. Mortal peoples under their rule were hemmed into tribal enclaves or absorbed into Meruvian society. Wars among parent nations spilled out into their
colonies. Finding more common ground with one another than with their motherlands, the colonies rebelled, won their independence and united under one monarch. Since then, Meruvia has been at peace—aside from civil wars over Haltan chattel slavery, royal succession and parliamentary
supremacy—and leveraged a large populace, fertile fields and mineral wealth to become an industrial and technological powerhouse.
Many islands south and west of the Blessed Isle were never absorbed into the Meruvian body politic. They remain sovereign states. Most are Meruvian protectorates, but a handful remain associated with Threshold powers—most notably Tongma Island to the northwest, a protectorate of An-Teng.
Meruvia maintains a hegemonic grip on world culture. Its romantic comedies and buddy cop movies are viewed on movie screens and televisions across the developed world; people from An-Teng to the Haslanti Confederation listen to Meruvian classic rock and hip-hop on their radios and their digital media players. Meruvian dollars are accepted worldwide and serve as an unofficial currency in several minor nations. Meruvia’s society started with the Northern and Eastern cultures that founded its early colonies—primarily Calin, Cherak and Fellara. But other immigrants added their own cultural elements, especially Haltans and Linowans brought as chattel slaves. The resulting multicultural crucible produces a range of vibrant arts—music, dance, cuisine, etc.—as well as volatile and discriminatory relations between ethnic groups.Though Meruvia is religiously pluralistic, a majority identifies with the Immaculate Church, a monotheistic religion born of a Southern desert cult. Doctrine claims an omnipotent God shaped Creation from Chaos millennia ago, then redeemed humanity with the death and resurrection of the wisest of his seven sons—emerald-eyed Lucien, the Phoenix Angel, Prince of the House of Journeys. Many denominations focus on the Last Age: an apocalyptic war wherein all evil spirits will be destroyed and the Church’s followers—living and dead—earn
Meruvia comprises a federal union of thirteen dominions, each with its own capital city and local government. A figure-head Empress serves as head of state for a weak constitutional monarchy. Its legislature, the Meruvian Deliberative, consists of three elected representatives from each dominion, along with several non-voting representatives—one from each of the nation’s overseas protectorates, plus three Church legates. Executive power is held by a cabinet of Deliberative members from the dominant political party—currently the National Unity Party—and led by a Prime Minister. In practice, lobbying by wealthy corporations and other interest groups dominates Meruvian politics.
The throne is unoccupied since the recent deaths of the widowed Empress Charlotte I and her eldest son in one of the freak Essence storms afflicting eastern Meruvia. Charlotte II, the late Empress’s eldest daughter and heiress to the throne, is only 14—too young to be crowned. Prime Minister Thibaud Fouquet serves as regent, but he’s grown unstable since becoming acting head of state. While the media minimizes coverage of his paranoid ramblings, his popularity has cratered and it won’t be long before he suffers a vote of no confidence.
The Office of Meruvian Intelligence (OMI), or “All-Seeing Eye,” handles national security issues, both foreign and domestic—including intelligence gathering, analysis and field operations. The Dominion Oversight Bureau (DOB) covers federal criminal investigations, domestic security and counterintelligence. The two bureaus lock horns where their jurisdictions overlap. Other overlapping directorates include Strike Force Zero (SF0), a paramilitary body that investigates and neutralizes supernatural threats. SF0 agents employ high-tech equipment normally available only to Exalts and other military elites.
Meruvia’s all-volunteer army is the best-equipped in the world. Wealthy corporations maintain government contracts to manufacture advanced firearms, body armor, armored vehicles, stealth fighters, helicopter gunships, aircraft carriers, submarines and so forth.
Though officially at peace with its neighbors, Meruvia is always warring somewhere—defending or overthrowing oil-producing regimes in the South, sending “military advi-sors” to intervene in the deep Southeast’s drug-producing jungle nations, or meddling in secessionist conflicts in the war-torn Northeast.
Most importantly, elite Meruvian forces contain super-natural forces at the edges of the world. Strike teams descend on the Bordermarches in iron-plated helicopters, their guns loaded with iron-jacketed bullets. Air strikes reduce spirit-ruled settlements to rubble.
Meruvia’s Dragon-Blooded are as much propaganda tools as soldiers. When not on active duty, they’re covered by cameras and pursued by paparazzi. Their public personas vary widely, from dilettante playboys such as Lionel Kes to political players like Catherine Cainan.