Rules

Night Magnitude 20

Performing the Ritual

Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. This ritual can only be performed between 9pm and 11pm

Effects

This ritual allows the casters to seek aid from the Night Eternal known as Sung in solving a mystery that eludes them. During the ritual, the casters must clearly voice a question that they seek help in answering - for example, "What is the source of the Vallorn?"; "What is the purpose of this artifact recovered from Skarsind?"; "What do the Jotun hope to gain from this war?" and so forth.

Sung will endeavour to appear at the nearest regio one hour after this ritual is performed. A suitable casting of operate portal by a magician in the regio will allow Sung to approach. If this happens, then Sung will return an answer at the regio. If this does not happen then Sung will await another opportunity to provide the answer.

Simarghl, a Varushkan magician termed "the Empty One", managed to create a text for this ritual despite having lost his position as Dean of the Lyceum several months previously. He refused to provide any explanation as to how he did it.
This ritual lends itself well to performance using veils
or masks - rendering the identity a mystery.

Description

Codified by Simargl, the Empty One, in early Spring 379YE, and added to Imperial lore at the equinox, this ritual was created with the assistance of the eternal Sung. The Rainbow Serpent possesses a well known fascination for mysteries of all kinds. It bears some startling similarities to the commonly known ritual Swim Leviathan's Depth – although as a ritual of the Realm of Night the magic involved in its actual performance differs greatly from that ritual of the Realm of Day.

The Counsel works by creating a loose connection to Sung, the Night eternal, and solicits her insight into a specific question. It is clear that Sung will never simply provide the answer to the question, even if she knows it – unlike the straightforward nature of Leviathan, it is not in the nature of this winged serpent to deny a petitioner the pleasure of unravelling a mystery themselves.

Rather, she might provide hints or cryptic advice as to how to approach the mystery; she might send one of her heralds to actively assist the ritualists in their explorations; she might point them in the direction of someone or something who can help them make progress; she might deliver an enciphered clue, or a riddle whose solution points to the next step in uncovering the truth. In some cases, she might even provide assistance to help the ritualists uncover the true question – the question she thinks they should be asking.

The ritual is almost useless when it comes to determining simple facts; using it to ask a simple question whose answer is easily uncovered and known to many such as “Who is the Jarmish ambassador?” is likely to result in a sharp and unhelpful response. Ideally, the ritual is used to gain assistance with investigating something genuinely baffling, confusing or puzzling.

Sung appears to have placed no restriction on this ritual. There appears to be no clause in the agreement that allowed the ritual to be created that allows Sung to withdraw her approval at a later date. It appears to be a genuine attempt to offer mortal magicians the ability to treat with her without limitations – apart from those imposed by the nature of the ritual itself.

The second part of the ritual must be performed at a strong Night regio – the regio at Anvil is quite sufficient – an hour after the ritual is completed. The operate portal spell is employed to create a connection between the mortal realm and the realm of Night, allowing the eternal to speak to the ritualists. Her primary concern will be to deliver her counsel to those who performed the ritual, but she might linger for a few moments to discuss other matters. This is very unlikely to result in a physical manifestation – and even when it does, it will be a projection or shadowy seeming of Sung rather than her actual presence. Occasionally, the result might be a herald of Sung especially if the eternal does not know the answer to the question raised, and is intrigued by the mystery it poses.

If for some reasons the ritualists are unable to contact Sung at a regio, she may choose to respond in a different manner but this is impossible to predict. Such responses are likely to take the form of visitations by heralds; however, it is likely she will want an explanation as to why the ritualists failed to complete their magic and a poor answer may sour relations between the coven and the Rainbow Serpent.

Sung rarely lies, but she never tells the entire truth as she knows it. She enjoys misleading and obfuscating, hiding the "facts" in layers of doubt designed to allow people to come to their own conclusions. Speaking about direct facts or trying to cut through to the heart of a situation is a surefire way to annoy this subtle Eternal. "It is the mystery which endures." says Sung. "The light of truth kills the mystery, and leaves the seeker desolate."

Like all divinations that solicit the aid of an eternal, Sung is bound to offer assistance but that assistance is limited both by the bounds of her knowledge, and by her essential nature (an aspect of the Law of Essential Nature, of course). As with similar magic, the true power of the ritual is to provide a group of practitioners with the ability to communicate with the eternal in a certain way, with the expectation of a response that – while it might not be immediately helpful – will be at least as useful as an audience with that eternal might have been.

Common Elements

This is a divination in two parts. The first part of the ritual can be performed anywhere and is reasonably straightforward. As a ritual of the Realm of Night that petitions Sung, elements that obscure the identity of the practitioners – or the performance itself – are strongly resonant. Masks, veils, hoods and cloaks are all appropriate to the ritualists (as is the dramaturgical Instrument of the Cloak, obviously) – especially if they are brightly coloured to match the wings of the eternal evoked.

Performing the ritual in darkness – or most especially by the light of the stars, moon or a single candle is also strongly resonant with the magic. The ritual might be performed in whispers, and a suggestion from the Nameless One was that the ideal way to perform this ritual is to do it in front of an audience who, while they know a ritual is being performed, are left baffled as to the precise nature of that ritual.

The props used in divination are also appropriate – gazing into a bowl of water or a piece of smoked glass is an obvious element, as is burning a feather and observing the smoke. Runes or cards might be repeatedly cast or consulted, and patterns identified – indeed, doing so might provide unexpected, intuitive insight into the mystery in question even before Sung becomes involved.

The question itself, ideally, is written down so that it is clear what it is the ritualists wish to ask Sung. The performers might meditate on the question, or burn the parchment as part of the ritual.

The rune Wyr resonates well with this ritual, as does the persona of the Witch or the Mountebank. A Dawnish magician might evoke images of sphinxes or owls (a beast also appropriate to both Varushkan and Wintermark performances, of course). The astronomancer might point to the constellations of the Key, the Spider or the Web.

On the Nature of Mysteries and Secrets

Sung is the Lord of Mysteries and the Lady of Illusions; she is only minimally interested in “secrets”- something she leaves to the eternals of the Whisper Gallery. The difference is often difficult to explain.

A secret is something that is known only to a few. For example, the special combination needed to open the vault of a League banker is a secret. The banker knows it; her wife might also know it; the artisan who created the vault might know it. The nature of the combination is a simple fact – a string of numbers – a secret rather than a mystery.

A mystery is something baffling, something to which there is no straightforward answer, or something that nobody knows the answer to. The difference can be surprisingly subjective. Imagine that the League banker's vault were discovered in an empty house. For those who found the vault, stripped of context, it becomes a mystery. “Whose vault is this?” they might ask. “What might it contain? How might we open it? Why is it here in this empty house?” While the answers to those questions might appear straightforward, for the people asking the questions they represent a mystery – one full of potential and delicious intrigue. Sung might enjoy helping those people uncover the answers in a way she might not if they simply asked her if she knew the combination.

From the original text