Distill the Serpent's Stone
Night Magnitude 70
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. Performing this ritual requires a single ring of ilium.
During this ritual the ring of ilium is transformed into an egg-sized mass of dark material known as a shadow egg.
The material is stable and permanent once created. A magician can consume the shadow egg to temporarily boost a single Realm Lore skill by 6 effective ranks for purposes of performing a single ritual, provided they already possess at least one innate skill rank of that Lore. These additional ranks do not grant any additional mastered rituals, and a character's total effective rank can never be more than three times their innate skill (the number of ranks of the appropriate Realm Lore they have gained by spending experience points).
This ritual is an example of alchemical transformation, and uses similar principles to those employed in The Eight-Spoked Wheel or The Retrograde Wheel. Those rituals alter the nature of materials such as orichalcum or Dragonbone - no minor feat given the magical properties of those precious substances. This ritual by contrast works on the incredibly rare, incredibly powerful star metal to create an entirely new substance. There are reports of similar rituals here and there around the known world - alchemical transformations that produce unique materials that do not exist naturally.
As with many such rituals, Distil the Serpent's Stone attempts to create a perfected material, a substance of higher nature than the dross of the mundane world around it. To a degree it succeeds - the shadow stone is able to greatly enhance the magical capabilities of the one who consumes it, far beyond the aspirations of potions such as Black Star or Radiant Transcendence. Indeed, it offers power to a ritual magician regardless of the realm they are employing - as if it transforms the one who consumes it in some profound way.
This ritual can be ruinously expensive, and there are covens who have beggared themselves trying to discover the secret of the stone's transformative power. Many such covens claim that the ritual hints at the possibility of true transformation - the ability to move beyond The Eight-spoked Wheel and The Retrograde Wheel to master the physical world - an perhaps more.
Prior to the rebirth of the eternal, some alchemists already referred to the stone created by this ritual as "the azoth". This term is used occasionally in alchemy to refer to any theoretical or legendary material that provokes unexpected and miraculous changes in materials and individuals. Azoth - often described as a liquid - may be entirely conceptual, but the eternals Soghter and Murit were often associated with it. Indeed, the concept either derives, or gives its name to, the eternal produced by their union. Some alchemists believe that this ritual is the first step towards uncovering the nature of this awesome substance, should it exist. These alchemists believe that mastery of the azoth would allow an alchemist complete mastery of the material world.
This is an alchemical mystery, and almost always includes elements such as fire; beakers, bowls and other pieces of alchemical equipment; water and other liquids, including blood (some ritualists use a little blood from one each of a human, a changeling, a briar, a naga, a cambion, a draughir, and a merrow); charts and diagrams; and the other trappings of this ancient magical lore. The ritual requires the ritualists to combine eight ingots of special material and an ingot of ilium, and consequently a vessel such as a crucible or cauldron is often the central focus of the magic.
Many ritualists wear masks or veils when they perform this ritual - not least because there are occasionally noxious byproducts of the transformation. This ritual is often performed in private; the serpent's stone is powerful, and can be a highly coveted treasure.
The forces of the heavens are often referenced in alchemical rituals. If the theory that the stars represent in some way the tools of the Creator are true, then evoking the power of astronomancy seems entirely appropriate to the practice of enacting permanent transformation. The constellation of The Great Wyrm in particular is likely to be evoked. The names of the eternals Murit and Soghter are sometimes used, especially in their aspects as the Azoth, a theoretical compound that provokes miraculous transformation.
The rune Xun which represents transformation is usually evoked with this magic, although it is common to include Wyr, Diras and even Zorech to show that this ritual is near the pinnacle of the study of Night magic; it is also a mystery, and the material it creates comes as much from secrets as the passion for alchemical mastery. Some alchemists also include Aesh for the power of the mind, or Cavul to represent the idea of purifying materials into higher forms.