In the twilight of a long life, the man named Admiral Sand had much for which to be thankful. As a youth, he had made good money aboard a merchant dunerunner traversing the sandy trade routes of the Sun’s Sea. As an adult, he had become a respected captain of his own trusty dunerunner, claiming his own trade routes and forging strong relationships in the desert communities they connected. By early middle age, he had made himself an admiral, organizing the comings and goings of a fleet—though from a desk rather than the deck of a far-traveling vessel. When he finally reached retirement age and could settle down in comfort, he did so with a light heart.
Never once had he mortgaged his honor, neither out of fear nor for the rush of easy jade. Of his many accomplishments, the one of which he was most proud was helping to engineer the gradual transformation of the loose community of likeminded traders at Oasis, the aptly named desert community where he lived, into a strong mercantile confederation of good-natured commercial pioneers.
Yet, when a man is blessed by a long, good life and faces no more challenges, he becomes complacent. That curse afflicted Sand, and he almost lost everything he’d worked so hard to build. While he concerned himself with the simple pleasures of a retired life of leisure, his young confederation began to wither. As its elder dons grew old and retired, their vain and greedy sons took over for them. Unlike Sand and their fathers, the younger dons looked out for only their own interests to the exclusion of all others. Unlike those before them, the young dons cheated and betrayed each other, cannibalizing their economy for personal gain rather than feeding it for the community’s welfare.
Sand could not say now when he realized that things were out of control. He simply looked around one day and saw that his bright, peaceful Oasis was now shabby, its people petty, its fountains dribbling dirty water.
And it wasn’t just Oasis that was in decline. The news from outside showed that the rest of the South was headed the same way. Perhaps all of Creation was slowly coming undone.
It had to be stopped, Sand realized, and in a moment of clarity, he saw how that could be accomplished. Starting at Oasis, he could set the world on a path to righteousness.
First, he would have to confront those who had let his home come to its current deplorable state. He burst in on a raucous meeting of the young dons, demanding that they answer for their sins and sloth. They wanted to dismiss him as a raving old man past his prime, but his fury was undeniable. So too was the white-gold ring-and-circle mark upon his forehead and the gleaming saber of sunlight that had appeared in his hand. Minutes later, more than two-thirds of the dons lay dead. The rest were too terrified to flee. With his newfound power, he bound them in oaths of obligation, taking control of the confederation he had helped to found. In no time at all, he had cleaned up and restored Oasis and reinvigorated its commercial pioneers once more.
It was a good first step, like irrigating a wound to keep out infection, but now comes the hard part. It means establishing trade supremacy over the Guild. It means building a network of trade routes and lines of communication throughout the South before the Realm’s legions and the Wyld Hunt get any ideas about interfering. It means growing that network out into the rest of the world and eventually onto the Blessed Isle. That last will mean connecting the power of the scattered Solar and Lunar Exalted (no small task in itself) and somehow proving to the Dragon-Blooded of the Scarlet Empire that their ways of ruthless self-gratification are moreharmful than beneficial to Creation in the long run. (That they don’t already see this baffles and frustrates him.) He doesn’t necessarily think the other Exalted need to band together to crush the Terrestrials’ armies on the field of battle.
What’s more important is to convince the Dragon-Blooded to change their ways and work together with their betters for the greater good.
Admiral Sand can see clearly every step of his grand design from cleaning up Oasis to cleaning up the Blessed Isle, and he knows it will be the challenging, bloody work of many mortal lifetimes. All the same, he’s eager to see it done.
Never again will he allow himself to grow complacent.
Motivation: To connect and improve the lives of Creation’s people through a network of upright and virtuous free trade