Exalted: Tales of the Dreaming Sea
Four colossal inhuman statues, their features long since weathered away, hold a stony, edifice-encrusted landmass far above the sea—titans lifting an island from the waves. Webs of pier and quay stretch out from their feet through mats of merchant ships, fishing junks, and houseboats inhabited by the poor and by excommunicates seeking re-entry into the city above. Switchback roads and stairs climb past inns, shrines, and entire neighborhoods carved into the bodies of the statues or clinging to cantilevered platforms. Atop these states rests the city of Palanquin.
But this is merely a prelude to the city itself. Palanquin is a city of towering pagodas and vibrant shrines; the air is filled with chanting, singing, and the ringing of temple bells. Palanquin’s folk are deeply religious, seeing themselves closer to Heaven than lesser peoples trapped below. This attitude is reinforced by the elemental cloudfolk of the windborne City of Blue Gauze, who visit Palanquin to trade with mortals. The city’s noble families carry cloudfolk blood, giving them an otherworldly beauty and a capricious nature. They form the priesthoods of Palanquin’s many temples, and grow rich from offerings given by congregants. But their power is not what it once was—Ysyr conquered Palanquin a century ago.
At Palanquin’s heart stands the source of the people’s piety, a defunct magical gateway said to lead to Heaven itself. But sealed beyond the portal is no place ever visited by the Sidereals. Instead, it leads to the ruins of a Heaven older by far than Yu-Shan—the celestial capital of fallen Zen-Mu, where the ancients dwelt in majesty before they ever dreamed of Creation. The original home of the gods, it is now a place of nightmare horrors and awful powers, and woe betide those who behold the gods that dwell there now.