Autumn Magnitude 4
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. It targets an opaque container.
When the ritual is performed, the ritualists put any amount of unliving material inside an opaque container up to 8" by 8" by 8" maximum volume. After casting the container is left closed; the contents have been conveyed elsewhere.
It will take at least an hour for anything to happen, potentially longer. Ritualists may receive a prompt when the box is no longer empty; when the box is opened, there is something new there.
The ritualists at this point have two choices; remove and keep the items, or refuse the trade and close the box again. The ritualists have a short time to examine and evaluate the offered trade before making a decision, but they cannot keep only some of the goods - it is an all-or-nothing proposition. If the box is closed, the contents will be swapped back for the original item(s) over a short period.
This ritual allows magicians to engage in measured trade with the Realm of Autumn, specifically with the eternal Ephisis. Ephisis greatly desires goods and items from the mortal realm. Ephisis is known to be scrupulous in her commitment to fair trades - wherever possible, the goods she offers in return she (or her factotums) consider to have roughly equal value to the goods she has been offered. Sometimes her assessment is unbalanced, either due to a misconception about the mortal Realm or because the ritualists have inadvertently sent her something that has unexpected value to the Autumn eternals.
Common goods offered for past trades using this ritual have included examples of all the special materials known on the Mortal realm, as well as herbs, potions and other preparations (even liao on a few occasions), coins both Imperial and otherwise and crafted or enchanted items (especially jewelry). More exotic items reported over the years have included unique herbs or materials; consumable items like the ashes of Shikal but occasionally connected to another realm; unfamiliar potions and narcotics; unique gemstones unknown in the mortal Realm; scrolls of unknown ritual magic; deeds of ownership, sometimes Imperial sometimes otherwise; a miraculous mechanical golden bird that whispered prophecies to its owner for seven years before slowly winding down; a copper-and-agate beetle with the ability to diagnose and treat illnesses; and a pair of rings that allowed instantaneous communication with no apparent limitation of distance.
Some ritualists attempt to influence Ephisis' counter-offer by including a scroll or letter with the submitted goods. This generally seems to have no effect, although one scholar suggested that Ephisis and her factotums may treat the paper and ink as additional offered trade goods, rather than viewing them as an attempt at communication.
It is common practice for ritualists who master this ritual, and plan to engage in it often, to place a gong, bell or chime next to or on top of the container in which their trade goods were offered. The magic of the ritual causes the gong, bell or chime to ring when the transaction progresses to the next stage. Some ritualists have reported odd sounds, smells or bursts of light accompanying the transition; all apparently designed to discreetly draw attention to the fact that there are goods to be considered, or that the transaction is over.
Some ritualists have bargained with Ephisis for larger containers in which to place goods. For example, the Marcher mage-smith Alan of Cotter's Barn was known to possess a weirwood case 6' long and 2' wide and deep with which he traded the fruits of his crafting with Ephisis. It is also possible to arrange special agreements with Ephisis or her factotums. The League apothecary Helena Jung von Holberg apparently possessed an oak-and-brass potion case, for example, that ensured that any trade with Ephisis that trades offered for potions would always involve herbs or other, more exotic, potions.
As with Missive for Sadogua and similar eternal-themed rituals, 'Ephisis' Scale' uses a small amount of mana to open a conduit to the eternal in question, allowing a small amount of material to be transferred. The additional magnitudes reinforce or recognise the nature of an agreed pact - in this case that Ephisis or her factotums will consider an object or objects offered in trade and offer something of equal value in return. The Freeborn scholar Serval i Riqueza of the Unfettered Mind, who made a study of several of these rituals, posited that the additional magnitude served as a 'handling fee' for Ephisis, to ensure that the eternal always made a slight profit even when the suggested trade was not accepted.
A box or sack, often of rare woods. fine silk or velvet, is the obvious focus used with this ritual, A coven or ritualist often has a specific container that they favour for use with this ritual, of the standard dimensions. The container is often inscribed with the rune Lann, or with symbols of weights and scales. Ink and parchment may be used to write down the exact contents of the box; it is common to draw attention to any special provenance or properties of the offered goods that might otherwise be overlooked. Placing a gong, bell or chime near the box may cause it to be rung as the ritual completes.