Rules

Winter Magnitude 20

Performing the Ritual

Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. This ritual targets a military unit. The character who controls the target personal resource must be present throughout.

This spell is an enchantment. A target may only be under one enchantment effect at a time.

Effects

This ritual summons a contingent of around a dozen undying warriors from the grim legion of the eternal Kaela and binds them to fight alongside a mortal military unit.

The military unit gains a significant bonus to its effectiveness when it is assigned to support a campaign army. This temporary bonus increases the effective fighting force of the unit by 100, the equivalent of 5 normal upgrades.

The character who controls the military unit experiences a short-lived roleplaying effect: they are suddenly reminded of every time in the past that they, or someone they care about, has been close to death (or actually died), and receive a premonition of their eventual demise.

The effect lasts until the start of the next Profound Decisions Empire event.

Additional Targets

This ritual can affect additional military units controlled by members of the same banner. Each additional military unit increases the magnitude by 15. The character who controls each unit must be present throughout the ritual.

Description

The grim legion of the eternal Kaela is made up of mortal warriors who have accepted her boon of endless existence. This ritual conjures perhaps a dozen of her troops, often an experienced unit of soldiers who have fought together before - often for centuries. They are armed and usually heavily armoured, and they fight with implacable, hopeless determination. More importantly, perhaps, they cannot be killed. They shrug off wounds that would kill a mortal, quickly recovering from their injuries. It is common to see one of these terrifying, silent soldiers fighting with the broken remains of arrows protruding from chest or belly.

The undying warriors do not socialise with the other soldiers in the military unit. They require neither food nor drink, and minimal sleep. They have little conversation, and efforts to strike up friendships are coldly rebuffed. At the end of the season, the grim legionary knows they will be returning to the Realm of Winter. By the time they are sent forth again, it is likely that every soldier they fight alongside will have been dead for decades. Furthermore, many of those warriors who took Kaela's gift were already embittered by decades of war and death. They take little joy in life, because transitory pleasures are nothing compared to life's assured continuance.

At the end of the season, or if one of the warriors is injured so badly that they can no longer continue to fight, they simply march away. Nobody has successfully followed the departing warriors, but it is believed they pass through or into a regio of Winter and return to the domain of their mistress.

This ritual is not popular in the Empire, but its practical application means that it sees some use. Few Dawnish nobles are prepared to fight along the grim legion for long - they are a reminder that ultimately war is a grim business and that there are many for whom glory is fleeting. Likewise, the Highborn champions find the undying soldier distasteful - and more than a few priests claim that they are not, cannot be, mortal warriors but rather are eternal spirits in the guise of human warriors. The ritual sees the most use in The Marches, Varushka, and among the Navarr, simply because the folk of these nations need little reminder that war is a dark, bloody, muddy, and often ultimately thankless business.

This ritual is also sometimes called Raise the Tattered Banner, a reference to the Summer ritual Raise the Standard of War - and to the torn and battered pennants some of the undying warriors fly...

Common Elements

This ritual issues a summons to beings from the Realm of Winter. They do not appear immediately, but arrive to fight alongside the target military unit within a few days. The ritual usually involves an invocation to Kaela, who commands the grim legion. Common elements include the naming of dead or legendary warriors, especially any who are known to serve in the grim legion. The trappings of death and war are often intermingled - a Freeborn captain might be wrapped in a black robe, while any target might wear a shroud or other funeral mantle, over their armour. Other elements may include girding the military leader; crowning them symbolically, often with ivory or bone; the sound of martial horns or drums, and the presence of warriors from the same nation as the target as silent witnesses. Like many Winter rituals, music is often brooding and unsettling. In many rituals, the leader of the target legion offers a symbolic payment to Kaela and her warriors, often in the form of spilt wine or blood, or the scattering of coins which are left in the mud where they fall. Tattered or torn banners are often raised, especially those which have seen a great deal of use on a battlefield.

The Rune of Ending is often evoked with this ritual. The rune Tykonus is never used with this ritual; the ritual will apparently fail outright if this rune is visible on the person of any of the ritualists or their target.