The Exaltant, or “Once Kings,” is a blanket term used to describe an illusive and reportedly powerful group of entities present in the myths and legends of diverse and geographically separated peoples across the known world since near the beginning of recorded history. While the mentions and descriptions of them vary widely in many respects, and their names change depending on the culture, the striking similarities in many accounts between peoples who reside on opposing ends of the world have brought many scholars to accept that a unifying presence must be responsible.
While the character and significance of Exaltants often conflict, there are several key features to an Exaltant that are almost unanimously consistent. The foremost is their affinity with the moons. Nearly all mention of them occurs during times of significant lunar arrangement. While they are often depicted as assuming many forms, they are usually described as “glowing like small moons.” The Bermarans believed that they rode their crooknas on beams of moonlight, and in the Sinderlands it is believed that the craters there were formed when the Exaltant fell bodily from the moons.
Their lesser associations also include a heatless blue flame that is either conjured by them, or follows in little lines at their heals. In the Artic Corridor it was believed that Exaltants lit the first moon curtains with them, and in the Gyrn Ranges the flames were believed to be the souls of unborn children. The Exaltant are also said to bring with them either great luck, or terrible misfortune in their encounters, though which they bring and why tends to be unclear. The phrase “exaltant fortune” derives from this, referring to unlikely events of either great luck, or ill fortune.
The position that the Exaltant hold in a given belief system varies greatly. In some places they are seen as they would fey, residing in uncivilized places and interacting with us for their own reasons. There they take the forms of stunningly beautiful men and women, and toy with mortals for pleasure. In the Shadowlands they were commonly portrayed as having the shapes of great beasts, and roamed the surface eating demons, though only where a moon could be seen. The legends from the Sinderlands describe them as being made of silver, and bringing red-moon ash storms in their wake. Folk traditions such as these tend to present the Exaltant as fickle creatures, as prone to help as they are to hurt, but still worth homage, to encourage, or prevent, their action.
Most major religions have worked them into their dogma in one way or another, save for Casnodu, which makes no official mention of them at all. The Hrutgal vilify them as beings who hate the sun, being blinded by it's brilliance during creation during an attempt to steal it, and so can only dwell in moonlight for fear of scalding their eyes. There they believe that an Exaltant can become mist and pass through walls, but cannot enter a house who's doorway is smeared with blood, and can only be restrained by chains still white hot from the forging.
The ancient Gan Vahlnians, on the other hand venerated them as saints or deities, and cultures and religions descending from them tend to view them similarly. The Gan Vahlians also recorded one of the earliest credible mentions of Exaltants reading:
“… and so then did the once kings and queens of the moons, shrouded in cloths of stars, descend to the lower lands to share their wisdom and kindness, and with open arms was pored from a great bowl the silver waters of the river Lune, which splits the Great Moon in twain in it's flow, and with it the eyes of the men became clear, and on their tongues birthed words ...” -The Balliforth Scrolls
Also written was the belief that the Exaltants would take mortal guise and walk among the nations every 37 years during the lunar alignment, when they are at their most power. Today though, Duskflow Theory proposes that this may instead have to do with the increased psychic activity present during those times.
It is only in modern times that the word “Exaltant” has come into use as a way to refer to the myriad of beings now described as one. The name was coined because, besides the Hrutgal, the beings then known by many different names were either revered or exalted in some fashion or another consistently across cultures. It is that which brings most modern scholars to believe that Exaltant entities must have existed in some form, unless it is that that he idea for them was conceived independently among multiple peoples across the world. Their exact character though, is hard to confirm, as while they seem to have been quite active during antiquity, the rate of their appearances seems to have diminished gradually throughout time, with explanations for this being as varied as the peoples who tell them. While sightings and even meetings are still reported, there has not been a single confirmed case of an Exaltant in recent memory. This has also brought about the belief that Exaltants may have ceased to exist, or left to some unknown place, if they even existed to begin with.
New Phantoms: Lunar Alignment