Last Breath of Winter:Characters:Mask:Notes

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Let me tell you what it means to be Sidereal. There is no life harder than that of a Sidereal. To be Sidereal is to be chosen, from birth, although you neither knew nor asked for it. To be Sidereal is to Exalt and be told that now you must train to be the finest-edged weapon in Creation, that you will spend the rest of your incredibly long life protecting Creation, and that there is no time for weakness, for doubt, or for failure. You will do what is required of you, or you will die and another will be chosen who is of a finer mettle than you. And most every Sidereal you will ever meet was given that choice, nodded their head, and devoted their existence to keeping Creation from the abyss. You may sneer that Sidereals control the world. That is true, but it is nothing to be rejoiced about. Controlling the world is a literal thing for Sidereals, not figurative. They must espy every aspect of it. They must figure out when anything is going wrong. And then they must stop it. Ninety-nine Sidereals, to our knowledge, do this. Ninety-nine men and women work day in and day out for Creation, and their only reward is another assignment and knowing that Creation has gone on another day. They have given up friends. They can love, but will never be loved for themselves. They erased their very existences from Creation to better serve it; if their judgement on how to best serve Creation was wrong, it does not erase the sacrifices they have made in pursuit of the noblest goal there is. They don't have vacations, because there is no time and nobody to take their place. They can amass staggering wealth and power but will never be able to enjoy it. Some guide the Solars, some guide the Dragonblooded: in either case, they see young heroes who have their whole lives ahead of them and can do whatever they want with it, who have the ability, the sheer luxury of saying on any given day "screw this, I'm going to go do something else". That's the freedom the Sidereal will never have, can never have, but they will do their job nonetheless and try their damndest to help the Solars or Dragonblooded to save Creation. That is their reward - that Creation lives another day. Not adulation. Not even a thank you. Just a satisfactory result. And they die. Oh yes, they die. Sidereals are the longest-lived of all the Exalted. And yet barely any survive from before the Usurpation. Why? Because they are out, every day, doing what they think must be done to save the world. And many times they die doing it. And death might be a relief, except it's an abject failure which has taken out a key piece of the network that keeps Creation safe. You may not agree with the decisions they make, but only an ingrate or someone suffused with hatred could fail to be in awe at the sacrifices the Sidereals make for what they believe they have to do. Their lives are only the first step. Only a Sidereal could, and does, wield a weapon which is immensely more effective against someone they love. Not pretend to love. Not have convinced that he loves. Not said he loves. Loves. Truly. Deeply. That weapon was built because it would be used. Because to be a Sidereal is to put nothing above your task of defending Creation. Not yourself. Not the one your love. Not your desires. Not anything. You don't matter. You chose not to matter. You chose figuratively (and quite literally in the oldest cases) not to even exist, all in the desire, the drive, the duty to make sure that Creation does exist. The Sidereals are heroes.