Challenge the Iron Duke
Summer Magnitude 30
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 10 minutes of roleplaying. During the ritual the casters must be in a strong Summer regio. The target character must be present throughout.
As part of the performance, the ritualists must create a written challenge detailing exactly who the target is. The proclamation is destroyed as part of the ritual (OOC Note: The proclamation, or a copy, should be given to the referee.)
This ritual challenges the eternal Barien, binding him to provide a challenge to the target. If the challenge is overcome, Barien offers a reward to the target commensurate with the difficulty and nature of the challenge.
The ritual binds Barien to provide a challenge to a given character only once. Characters who cheat during a challenge arranged by the Iron Duke are likely to make the eternal angry, and he is capable of cursing those who transgress the rules of a challenge he has set down.
Whatever the outcome, the result of the challenge becomes known among all the eternals of Summer.
Additional characters can be targeted be effected by the ritual, as long as they are members of the same band. Each additional target increases the magnitude of the ritual by 5. The challenge Barien delivers, and the reward he provides, will assume that all characters targeted by one casting of the ritual will face it together. All targets must be present throughout the performance of the ritual.
The proclamation created and used during the ritual is given to a referee, and used to target the ritual.
It may take some time for Barien to arrange a challenge, but a herald is likely to be dispatched on his behalf to accept the challenge within a day or so. The Iron Duke selects challenges that are difficult, but never impossible - it is his nature to test targets, not to trick or destroy them. Challenges often involve fighting, but this is not a requirement. Barien's heralds will often seek out other player characters to serve as the adversaries for characters involved in this ritual challenge.
Barien is known as the Iron Duke, and the arbiter of worth. It is his nature to identify and recognise those who have overcome challenges. He possesses many treasures that he can loan or give to challengers who answer his challenge, and other boons that may be even more valuable. Further, once someone undergoes the challenge to Barien, other Summer eternals are soon made aware of the outcome and this may permanently influence how they react to the characters involved,
The ritual binds Barien to provide a challenge to a given challenger only once. After someone has challenged him through this ritual, he may decline to offer a challenge if it is performed a second time, although in such a case the eternal usually sends a herald to tell the challenger or the ritualists his decision. Indeed, Barien does much of his work in preparing the challenge through his heralds, and prefers to get other mortals to provide obstacles for the challengers rather than to rely on purely supernatural sources of opposition. It is not unknown for two mortals or bands of mortals who have both been targeted by the ritual to find themselves pitched against each other, or against a slightly stronger force of mortals with whom they have a connection - Barien often uses his heralds and discussions with magicians to determine ironic or obviously suitable challenges based on what he can learn about the challengers.
On several occasions a Dawnish enchanter who has been approached to provide a Test of Mettle or Test of Ardour has instead made meeting and defeating the challenge of the Iron Duke the heart of the Test. This is often seen as a sign of respect for the petitioner, and Barien takes such challenges extremely seriously. It is one of the few circumstances where the Duke might become involved personally with the challenger.
An Urizen stagazer by the name of Caellia of Clearwater made a close study of this ritual and several others like it. She argued convincingly that it is actually no different to Missive for Sadogua - it simply creates a conduit between the ritualists and the eternal, and allows for a transfer of information. It could theoretically be cast for a single crystal of mana. However, the ritual has been intentionally designed to be much higher magnitude, and she theorised that this was partly to bind the eternal to an agreed-on pact, and partly to provide power that Barien could then use to create a challenge.
While the ritual is popular in Dawn, it also has obvious appeal to many Winterfolk, adventurous Freeborn and legions of Imperial Orcs looking for an opportunity to 'prove' themselves. Some Highborn who understand the ritual are torn between a general suspicion of the eternals and the Highborn love of competition; after all, this ritual is tailor-made to allow a clever mortal to pit their wits against an eternal and show what humans are truly made of.
The proclamation of challenge is a vital element in this ritual. It is often prepared on a scroll and read by the challenger at the end of the ritual. Other common elements involve stories and songs of glorious or heroic deeds, girding the challenger with arms and armour, or anointing the target with oil, blood or wine. Banners and flags are often used, as are heraldic themes, the sounding of horns, and on some occasions, the ritual is used at the beginning of a tourney in the hope that Barien will deliver some sign of the challenge by the end of the tourney.
Any or all of the Summer runes might be evoked, depending entirely on the nature of the targets.
The second time was a matter of pride. I'd taken a bad wound campaigning up around Skoura (no, you won't find it in the history books, "never happened" so they say), and I'd been laid up for weeks afterwards, and limping a bit beyond that. Anyway, word was out that I wasn't fit for duty no more, so I spent all my savings challenging old Barien again. I guess he remembered me from last time, because he sent out some ... thing ... Not rightly sure what it was, but it was damn tough. Luckily I'd got a good few years of free company work under my belt by this point, and though my sword snapped off in it, I got me this better one in return, aye, and all the work I could ask for as well.
The third time, that was just plain foolishness. "Top of my game", I thought, "I can handle anything old Iron Britches throws at me, no problem". Think of it, beating old Barien three times in a row! Course, this time the challenge was to steal a hat from every Imperial general. As you can plainly see, Magistrate, that one didn't go so well..."
- Testimony of Ilsa Van Der Holberg, two time victor of the Iron Duke's challenge