Come and look at this Getti!
"What is it? I'm busy - mum says I've got to get this hauberk stitched by nightfall." Getterson sighed to himself wishing that he didn't have chores to do. It was not fair - Ani never got any chores and she was only four years younger than him. He tried to concentrate on what he was doing, but she kept pestering him and in the end he moved over to the tree stump where her toy rune set were scattered.
"Watch this Getti - see this one is Lanny and this one is Hirmuckle. Watch this". His sister scooped the two runes up and cast them on the stump. They rolled round a few times and fell over, face-up next to each other.
"Amazing. Well done. That's really good - it's really impressive - why don't you show mum? I think mum will want you to show her." Sometimes it worked - sometimes it didn't. Today it didn't work.
"No look - watch." This time she scooped up all the runes, tossed them over in her cupped hands twice and flung the whole set at the tree stump. Runes went everywhere, scattering like a flock of birds taking flight. When the mess had settled it was the same two runes, face up, dead centre, side by side. "I've been doing that every morning - it's always the same Lanny and Humuckle - every time. What do you think it means?"
Getterson stared at the stump and pondered. Mum was a runesmith but he'd never had the knack of the things, but mum said Ani might. "You need to show mum" he said finally - and this time he meant it.
The winds of magic blow, and change comes to the world of Empire. Some magicians read the winds in the movement of the stars - some claim the stars cause the winds. Sometimes the winds can be read from the runes. Whatever the cause, they bring changes to magic for as long as they continue to blow.
This time the change is easiest to see when casting runes. Hirmok and Lann appear time and time again - much more often than either of them should. Often they are found with Jotra, or with Aesh. Hirmok is the rune of dominion; an essential concept of magic. Lann is the rune of bargains, which also has a strong resonance with the Imperial virtue of Loyalty.
The Stalker has recently played havoc, with a conjunction of the Fountain, but this is nothing to do with that malignant red star. Rather, an astronomancer would say that this betokens a conjunction of the Web and the Chain. The dramaturgist looks to the Prince and the Bishop and sees that these roles seem especially appropriate to include in their magical narratives. For once, even the practitioners of blood magic can feel the tug of primal magic - blood calls to blood after all. The blood of those who share powerful bonds feels more powerful when spilled as part of their sanguine rites - and often seems to form the shape of runes when spilt on the ground.
All these shifts and influences speak of a magical strengthening of the connections between individuals, and perhaps even the laws of one of the ways in which magic can be used to affect things. It is clear that this will profoundly affect the bonds of those who are part of magical bands, as well as the bonds between citizens of the same nation.
This shifting in the nature of bonds has three subtle but far-reaching effects.
Bonds of Identity
This conjunction is focused around connections between people. It is at its most profound in relation to bonds of loyalty, and to bonds that help define an individual. Specifically, it affects the bonds used to create a band, and the bonds that bespeak national identity.
The most immediate effect is on items and rituals that might allow a character to break bonds of loyalty. Specifically, the magical standard known as a Mercenary Banner cannot be used during this event. The item retains its magic, but it will not allow anyone to travel to a battle with a nation other than their own.
At the same time, the ritual Braying Horns of War is significantly harder to cast during the Equinox. The ritual remains magnitude 20 but rather than allowing an entire band to participate in a battle other than that their nation is commited to, it will allow only the specific target it is performed on to change where they are going. It does however gain an "additional targets" option. It can be cast on additional characters from the same banner, but each such character raises the magnitude of the ritual by 15.
Bonds of Loyalty
At the same time, certain rituals and items that strengthen bonds of loyalty between people are somewhat more powerful. This effects one specific item and three magical rituals.
The bond created by a Bondring is significantly strengthened. During the Autumn Equinox, the special power of the ring may be used twice each day during the event rather than once.
The rituals Circle of Trust, Traitor's Fate, and Scrivener's Bloodmark each strengthen bonds of trust between willing individuals. To the surprise of many students of thaumaturgy, it has been discovered that for the duration of the Autumn Equinox, each of these rituals can be made permanent at the cost of a single ring of ilium!
The Height of the Conjunction
The conjunction reaches its height on Saturday and the bonds between individuals become even stronger.
From time-in Saturday until time-out at 1am Sunday morning, bonds between groups cannot be severed with the create bond spell. Anyone who wishes to leave a coven, sect, or banner must employ more powerful magic - the most obvious being Black Iron Blade.
At the same time, the strengthening of the bonds provides a powerful advantage. On saturday, any coven can use their coven bond to perform an additional ritual. This means that rather than two rituals, they can perform a third (plus any extra rituals provided by magical items or enchantments, of course).
Many players will not even notice there the winds of magic are blowing. Others may choose to embrace the roleplaying effects associated with the winds.
Characters who are aware of the effect will feel a sense of the importance of clear loyalties, especially any loyalty that you have publicly declared. This may be a loyalty to another character, group, to your nation or Empire. These effects are not great - and many people will not be conscious of them - but people who contemplate it will be aware that they feel this effect also. The thought of breaking an oath you have sworn to another person brings on a queasiness, a sense that there are unknown dangers to such a course of action.
Likewise, feelings of national identity are strengthened. Any character who pauses to think about it will be aware of a profound sense of belonging when they think about their nation, an urge to embrace the things that make their specific nation unique and powerful.
Finally, any character can draw on this sensation of strong loyalties to respond in any way that is appropriate for their characterisation when exposed to a roleplaying effect that would force them to abandon or betray a member of their banner, coven, or sect. This effect acts as a source of supernatural strength for any character that is aware of it - in the precise circumstances where the roleplaying effect would make them breath a sworn oath. This is similar to the source of supernatural strength all orcs enjoy.
Any character who casts runes this event should consider roleplaying the unnatural preponderance of the runes Hirmok, Lann, Jotra, and Aesh throughout the summit.
Characters who break oaths - for example by breaking a bond to a group or to a nation - may find they suffer unusual consequences. If you believe your character has broken an oath, you may speak to a referee about the circumstances and may receive a magical traumatic wound as a consequence. Magical traumatic wounds are rarely fatal - but they can be dangerous - so be aware of the risk you are taking doing this.