"What is going on here?" Papiria demanded, furious. The representative of the Imperial School of Medicine bobbed in her wake, a disapproving frown creasing his features.

The patient continued to writhe on the floor, despite the best efforts of the two sentinels attempting to restrain her. Cella of Imperus had been slight even before her sojourn at the Spire of Twisting Shadows, yet the two muscular orderlies struggled to keep hold of her. She arched her back, spit, tried to sink her teeth into the hand of the woman desperately trying to keep her from tearing her own eyes out. Cella's face was a mask of blood - Papiria could not tell if the damage to her cheek indicated she had succeeded in destroying the left one.

"I don't know, ma'am," Healer Escius wrung his hands, hovering on the other side of the struggle, pale and obviously beside himself with worry. Splashed dropelts of fresh, crimson blood cut across the front of his pastel yellow robe.

"Please," he implored the orderlies. "Be careful. She is very weak."

Belying his words, Cella of Imperus managed to tear free from one of the two sentinels, and ranked her fingernails across the face of the man holding her right arm. To his credit, he kept his grip, turning his face away from her to protect his eyes. Fresh bark began to knit across the gouges in his cheek as a third warden dashed past Papiria and grabbed Cella's flailing legs. With the three orderlies working together they finally managed to restrain Cella. Healer Escius immediately knelt beside her, laying his hand on her damaged face and speaking healing words with a confidence that did not match his wretched expression.

As naga woman ushered her guest back down the corridor, she could hear Escius attempting to soothe his patient.

"I'm very sorry," said Papiria turning back to the visitor from Anvil. "But you must understand that some of our patients have been badly damaged by their experiences, and the risk of violence is unfortunately not one we are unfamiliar with."

The chirurgeon nodded, but his gaze lingered on the confused jumble of bodies behind them. The Anvil Hospital and Imperial School of Magic was grateful to the Spire of Twisting Shadows for the regular donation of herbs that Speaker Origen had helped arrange ... but it was clear he did not approve of the treatment of their patients.

Overview

New Star

Towards the end of last year, astronomancers from several observatories in Urizen, Varushka, and the Brass Coast reported sighting a new star. It is a tiny speck of light, too small to be seen with the naked eye, that drifts behind the Wanderer as that baleful star traces its unpredictable pattern across the night sky. The Conclave has yet to reach a consensus as to what the new star should be called. While a suggestion from the Urizen merrow Kyra Halcyon that it be called "the Pilgrim" was discussed, it was ultimately discarded. This has lead some mystics to suggest that this new star might in some way resonate with the unnamed - the esoteric twenty-seventh rune.

The number of people who require treatment for psychological ailments has continued to noticably climb. From Bregasland comes a story of a fendweller imprisoning two of her neighbours in a lightless pit as part of an incomprehensible study of fear. In Temeschwar, a production of "The Swords of Absalom" ends in tragedy when it is discovered that the entire cast has been slain by the troupe master; as he is carried away he rants and raves about the ghosts of dead actors possessing the living and plotting terrible destruction. A circle of Kallavesi mystics poison themselves in the marshes of Kallavesa, leaving behind only a hastily scrawled note to explain their intention to "merge with the cosmos." No part of the Empire remains untouched by this outbreak of mania, and ship captains returning from far off lands and Faraden merchants alike confirm that while the Empire is not unique in experiencing this unsettling phenomenon it seems to be far less prevalent outside their borders.

Blazing Mirror

With the assistance of Camillius of Endsmeet, a group of respected scholars from the Observatory of the Blazing Mirror in Iteri have constructed a device they are confident will allow them to get a closer look at the star. In recognition of their generous benefactor, the new tower constructed to hold the device has been named the "Camillius Steeple". Furthermore, Arbiter Horace has invited their patron to give the keynote speech at the unveiling ceremony during the Spring Equinox.

In addition to Camillius, it is expected that the archmagi, the grandmasters, and several other prominent guests will be in attendance. The stargazers of the Blazing Mirror are confident that an event of such fateful magnitude will guarantee a conjunction on the Sentinel Gate - after all, is that potent device not crowned with an image of the Wanderer?

Absent Phoenix

The new star is not the only disturbance in the heavens. The astronomantic constellation of the Phoenix appears to be fading.

While it is one of the most easily recognisable arrangements of stars in the night sky, scholars all across the Empire have reported a growing uncertainty as to precisely which stars make up its form, and whether there are nine, ten, or eleven of them. When actually looking at it, the answer is clear ... but the more time elapses from actually seeing it, the more they begin to doubt. The phenomenon is especially pronounced among the mundane population - those who cannot work magic are finding it increasingly difficult to trace the stars that form the constellation, and even some astronomancers are finding it harder and harder to explain what the Phoenix represents.

Dark Skies

While the apparent fading of the phoenix is worrying, and the appearance of a new star appears full of portent, it is as nothing to the concern that faces the inhabitants of both Skarsind and Holberg. The night skies over the new homeland of the Imperial Orcs and over the recently liberated League city are entirely absent. By day, nothing is different. By night, however, the skies are empty - save or the moon. That pale satellite drifts serenely in a lake of inky blackness that stretches from horizon to horizon, broken only by clouds.

The Empire is familiar with the Penumbral Veil of course - but that ritual warps the skies, it does not empty them.

Significance

The Phoenix

The constellation of the Phoenix continues to wane. It is becoming increasingly difficult to use the Phoenix in ritual magic - while it still performs its function, and the law "things learn" is still powerful and apparent, it requires considerable extra effort to evoke the power of this constellation. Anyone who feels a strong attachment to, or identification with, this constellation will find themselves prone to periods of listlessness and uncharacteristic introspection. How you wish to roleplay these elements is entirely up to you.

In addition, the creation of an arcane projection has become a little more difficult. This does not change the mechanical details of how an arcane projection is prepared or used, but anyone who creates one during the Spring Equniox experiences a roleplaying effect: they are tired and drained, as if they have spent several hours performing strenuous physical and mental exercise. This condition persists for at least an hour unless removed in some fashion (such as by the boundless energy of the briar lineage).

The exception to this roleplaying effect are the people of Wintermark. For some reason - nobody has yet ascertained why - Winterfolk magicians seem to be able to create arcane projections without any additional effort.

The Nameless Star

The New Star remains unnamed. As before, the Imperial Conclave might choose to formally name it with a Declaration of Concord.

It remains invisible to the naked eye, but anyone with an astronomantic background is free to roleplay that they have seen it themselves - a tiny spark of light that clearly follows in the wake of the Wanderer. Imperial telescopes are unable to make out much more than this - even its crimson hue may merely be a consequence of its proximity to the Wanderer. As with all other stars, the new star is outside the reach of mortal magic - it cannot be scried upon, and it cannot be directly effected with known ritual magic.

Hopefully, the Observatory of the Blazing Mirror will be able to uncover more about the provenance and meaning of this unsettling visitor to the night skies.

Unsettled Nights

If your character suffers from any sort of mental or emotional ailment, they may choose to have that condition intensify during the coming event. Any lineaged character may also wish to review the section on the wiki regarding roleplaying their lineage, with particular regard to the final bullet point on "descent into madness".

If you do choose to explore this opportunity, however, you should remain mindful of Profound Decisions' rules on equality and diversity.

The Hooded Eyes of the Naga

Beyond even the effect of these unsettled nights, any character of the naga lineage who has spent extensive time in either Holberg or Skarsind will find that their natural urge towards subtlety and secretiveness is greatly strengthened. Naga in general relish being mysterious and secretive, but those who have spent an extended period beneath the inky black skies of the League city or the new homelands of the Imperial Orcs may actually need to make a significant effort of will to answer direct questions or be honest about their intentions.