Before the sunrise
Decima was donning her woolen dressing gown as she came quickly down the spiral stairs that ran along the inside of the tower's ground floor.
"No I don't think so it's... you better see for yourself." Maximillian was crouched down by the shallow woolen basket near the fire. It contained half a dozen balls of fur. The noise was coming from them. From the cats. Azimuth, Vertex, and the kittens. All mewling, yowling, twitching in their sleep.
"I think... I think they're dreaming." He looked worried.
"Is it the... the place at Screed do you think?"
Maximillian stood up, and made a series of quick, precise gestures, stretching and crooking his fingers as he invoked the Spider. His pupils widened and for a moment Decima fancied she could see a faint tracery of lines across them. He peered around, moving his hand as if feeling for something in the air.
"Oh dear." He said. "Night magic. A curse. It's in the air - no wait."
He stepped closer to the window, still feeling the air.
"It's in the moonlight. The moonlight is giving the cats nightmares."
The two magicians stared at each other for a few long moments.
"I want to go back to Redoubt," said Decima without preamble. "I've just had enough of this place."
Maximillian looked relieved.
"Oh thank the paragons. Me too. I'm glad one of us finally said it.""We'll start making preparations at first light," said Decima decisively. "But for now I think we'd better see if there's anything we can do for these poor creatures."
The Waters of Therunin
- A powerful Spring curse has settled over the territory of Therunin
Therunin is a marshy forest with plenty of streams and pools of standing water. Rain is common, and the climate alternates between warm and moist, and cold and damp, depending on the time of year. A handful of weeks before the Spring Equinox, however, all the waters of Therunin become infused with supernatural vitality. Dewdrops glisten like diamonds, rain is refreshing and fills those exposed to it with energy and vigour, and every cup drawn from every stream brims with healing power. The Rivers of Life have settled over the Navarr territory; any wound that is less than fatal heals quickly and completely without leaving a scar. The Empire is familiar with this ritual and a simple detect magic seems to confirm it is simply the exercise of Spring magic (a magnitude fifty curse from the Spring Realm).
The ritual works by indiscriminately infusing all the water in the territory with Spring magic. And this is Therunin... where there is a vallorn.
For the most part, the Navarr avoid using rituals such as Rivers of Life and its counterpart Rivers Run Red on territories with vallorn in them because the results can be very unpredictable. When the Jotun came into Liathaven thirty years ago, the Warmage at the time cautioned against using Rivers of Life to resist their advance, and was supported by the Archmage of Spring and several prominent Navarr vates.
There are already stories of the miasma thickening in Greenheart and Sweetglades. The giant insects of Therunin are becoming restive - and reports of attacks on some of the more isolated steadings are beginning to circulate. For now, the situation appears to be manageable but it is impossible to predict what might happen if the curse is allowed to run its full course over the next three months - especially with all the questions still hanging over the vallorn of Liathaven's currently active status.
One major fly in the ointment is that if this is Rivers of Life, then the best-known tool for countering it is beyond the reach of Imperial magicians - Rivers Run Red is interdicted by the Imperial Conclave, and casting it is a serious criminal offense.
The Krampus Incident
- The pair who assaulted the Krampus are available for Inquisition should a priest raise the judgement.
During the Winter Solstice, the peculiar Krampus-beast associated with both the Wintermark egregores and the Imperial Orc territory of Skarsind was apparently attacked and slain. It is not certain that the creature has remained dead however - there are scattered reports that the spirit of the mysterious being was banished to the Krampushall in Pakanaan's Pass and was able to reform there, much as a ghost or a spectre will sometimes do. It remains to be seen if it will ever be able to return to full strength.
Regardless, many Winterfolk are concerned about this assault on such a prominent symbol of their traditions. The perpetrators of the attack have been identified as the Suaq Qimmiq Swiftblade and Nukilik Adamantine. They have made no attempt to deny their actions, but have thus far refused to explain the motivation for doing so. The venerable stormcrow Baena Stormsdottir publicly challenged the pair, and announced that she would be traveling to Anvil explicitly to bring them to Inquisition. Unfortunately, a fortnight before the Spring Equinox she suffered an unfortunate fall leaving her with two broken hips and unable to travel. As far as anyone has been able to discover there was no foul play or curse... but still the timing was a little unsettling.
Baena has sent several messengers to respected priests and stormcrows in Wintermark, urging them to complete the task she is unable to discharge. She has, she says, agreed with Qimmiq and Nukilik that they will be present at Anvil between six and seven on Saturday evening, should she have been successful at passing the judgement of inquisition. They are expecting to be inquisited by Beana but any priest might raise the judgement and challenge the pair to explain their actions
The legal situation with the two perpetrators is uncertain - given that nobody is entirely sure what the Krampus actually is, and given that it does not appear to have been killed so much as badly inconvenienced, there is more than a little confusion as to whether a crime has taken place or not. No doubt the magistrates may be able to shed some light on this situation should any Winterfolk wish to consult with them.
(OOC Note: Any stormcrow attending Anvil is free to roleplay they have recieved a letter from Baena Stormsdottir urging them to raise an inquisition against Qimmiq and Nukilik if they wish).
The Spiral Sword
- The runeforge beingbuilt in Redoubt is now complete.
Work has finally been completed on the Spiral Sword - the first runeforge successfully constructed in the Empire since its foundation. It was commissioned by the Senate during the Spring Equinox 381YE, and paid for by a quartet of wealthy benefactors - Edmundo, Achillies of Damakan's forge, Thomas of Upwold, and Asael of Cantiarch's Hold. Construction has been overseen by the Asavean architect Almodin Oktístis, meaning that it has much of his trademark style about it - mosaics of divine smiths and weavers, statues of badgers and six-armed magicians, and the like.
The Seer of the Spiral Sword is a new Imperial title that bestows custodianship of the runeforge for a year, and is appointed through open auction via the Imperial Bourse. Any Imperial citizen may hold the title, although only an artisan will gain the ability to create brand new magic items or unique schema. The auction is predicted to be hotly contested, given the singular abilities the custodian of the runeforge will gain access to.
The runeforge stands on the road between Cargo in Redoubt and the Highborn trading-port of Hedra. Ironically, this puts it dangerously close to the Druj occupied territory of Zenith - if the orcs were to move in force against Redoubt it may well prove to be quite a short-lived structure. Perhaps the rumours that the Empire is cursed, and any runeforge will bring disaster, are not so far-fetched.
Thorn of the Ancestors
- The eternal Irra Harah has placed a bounty on Imperial citizens
Three weeks before the Spring Equinox, a briar child brings a message to the civil servants associated with the Imperial Conclave. The Spring eternal Irra Harah has placed a bounty on the head - or rather the heart - of the Dawnish naga Zadkiel de Coeurdefer. If he is killed, and his heart cut out, Irra Harah will grant a boon to anyone who brings him the heart. Likewise, he will offer boons for the hearts of Chiara i Zayden i Riqueza of the Brass Coast and Henry Ward of Upwold. During the Spring Equinox, anyone who brings one of these hearts to the Imperial Regio and opens the portal there can cast the heart through and it will be received by the eternal.
The eternal also offers a lesser boon to anyone who lays the Curse of Gangrenous Flesh or the Curse of Decrepitude on one of these three will receive a lesser boon, to be agreed with an agent of the herald once the curse is placed.
If all three are dead by the end of the Spring Equinox, Irra Harah will meet with the Spring archmage to discuss a boon to be granted to the Imperial Conclave.
The Unwoven Stars
- The stars are missing in Semmerholm, the Barrens, and Zenith
- The penumbral veil has been drawn over Otkodov, and over the Imperial territories of Necropolis and Redoubt
For most of 381, the stars were absent from the night skies over most of the Empire, and over Liathaven and the Barrens. They returned - for the most part - shortly before the Winter Solstice 381YE. They are still absent however over the Barrens and Semmerholm, and shortly before the Spring Equinox, the stars over Zenith likewise disappear from the night sky.
Rituals such as Eyes of the Sun and Moon, Eye of the High Places, and Dreams in the Witch House performed on one of these territories are impeded. A detect magic incantation in Semmerholm confirms that the shroud there is a Night effect of magnitude fifty, meaning any attempt to scry the territory must at least equal that magnitude or no information can be discovered. The strength of the shroud over the Barrens, and the new shroud over Zenith, are assumed to be comparable, but there is no widespread information about whether that is the case.
Magical scholars suggest that if these shrouds are similar to those that cloaked the entire Empire, and to those created by Drawing the Penumbral Veil the first two will last until shortly before the Winter Solstice 382YE, and the third over Zenith until the start of the Spring Equinox 382YE, unless they are removed prematurely - or replaced, or reinforced, by whatever created them.
As is expected by now, any naga who has spent significant time in any of the three territories where the stars are still hidden experiences the following roleplaying effect; your natural urge toward subtlety and secretiveness is greatly strengthened. Naga in general relish being mysterious and secretive, but while experiencing this potent roleplaying effect you may need to make a significant effort of will to answer direct questions or be honest about your intentions.
The roleplaying effect is significantly lessened at Anvil - indeed the longer one stays out of a territory where it applies the less pressing the urge to secrecy and subtlety becomes - but a naga with a strong lineage who has spent time in the Barrens, Zenith, or Semmerholm will still experience the roleplaying effect at least until Saturday morning.
The Stars are Wrong
A more traditional magic appears to have been drawn over Urdur in Otkodov. Merchants visiting the Thule trading posts in the territory report that at night the sky is full of peculiar phenomena, and while the constellations are familiar they are in peculiar positions. The moon seems to shift its phase at random, and eerie lights or clouds of colour are commonplace. Magical scholars believe that this means the Thule have drawn the penumbral veil over the territory to discourage observation. It is not clear at this time if the same veil lies over Nithoggir, Sküld, or Verthandi and difficult to determine without using scrying magic to examine the territories in question.
Likewise, it appears that ritual shrouds have been drawn over Necropolis and Redoubt, warping their stars and protecting these territories from magical scrying for the coming year. These shrouds have a particular resonance to them that means both territories are also prone to heavy, dark fog, and the altered stars are often hidden behind inky black clouds.
The Citadel of Fog
- A dripping castle of mist and mud rises again in the Morass
A magical fortification appears in Holberg again this season. The dripping edifice of mud, woven reeds, and crooked roots is wreathed in ephemeral mists that none-the-less reduce visibility to a scant dozen yards wherever they drift. The enchanted fortification rises from the muddy waters of the Morass, again at the behest of the Sussivari Frost Coven. The mists that settle across the Morass stretch into all parts of the territory, emerging without warning between the trees and across the marshes. Where they appear, they are sometimes accompanied by mysterious figures - masked humanoids in dark blue leather, shrouded in hooded cloaks of multicoloured feathers. Several hunters and travelers in the dark woods of the north speak of encountering them - and on occasion being aided by them against orc ambushes, or when lost. Shortly before the Spring Equinox, the fogs dissipate and take the eerie strangers with them.
The Cats of Spiral
Over the last three months, every cat in Spiral has been subject to a potent Night magic curse that has given them terrifying nightmares. They sleep poorly and awaken ill-tempered and unhappy. This peculiar curse seems unconnected to the thing in Screed. Those few residents of the devastated territory who keep cats report that many of their pets have unaccountably gone missing - they assume the animals to have fled the territory.