Find the Best Path
Autumn Magnitude 135
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 10 minutes of roleplaying. During the ritual the casters must be in a strong Autumn regio. This ritual targets an Imperial army. The general responsible for the army (or the egregore if the general is not at Anvil) must be present throughout.
This spell is an enchantment. A target may only be under one enchantment effect at a time.
While under the effect of this enchantment, the general of the target campaign army can issue the forced march or desperate reinforcement order. However, while the magic persists they lose any existing army quality - they cannot use any special orders or passive abilities granted by those qualities.
While the enchantment persists, the general responsible for the army experiences a roleplaying effect: you feel a strong affinity for maps, feeling driven to collect them and to spend your spare moments studying and memorizing them.
The effect lasts until the start of the next Profound Decisions Empire event.
Any caster who has mastered the ritual may choose to substitute weltsilver for crystal mana when contributing to it. Every 2 ingots of weltsilver spent counts as 1 crystal mana when contributing to the ritual.
We spent the better part of a year and a half beating our heads against this ritual. We studied the trods in detail, wasted nearly six months with the vates trying to find a way to separate the energy the trods granted from the trods themselves. It was Lydia of Cantiarch's Hold who spotted the most obvious flaw – that while the under- and over-growth caused by the trods was easy enough for the sole traveller to circumvent it played havoc with the ability of a large body of people to travel.
In the end we realised our error – this was not about making the army “faster” or giving them more energy to march – it was about finding the best route to travel. As soon as we made that realisation we knew it must fall within the purview of Autumn – although Ramis i Ezmara I Erigo claimed it would be much more suited to the Realm of Night. I disagreed – perhaps it was my upbringing but I disliked the idea of guiding five thousand soldiers through dangerous terrain using “intuition” rather than solid intelligence.
It was a Marcher landskeeper, Julia Whitestaff, a merrow, who solved the logical problems presented by the ritual – rather than try to make decisions, the magic presented the scouts and officers of the army each morning with a series of projections from which they were able to pick the route offering the best time to their next camping spot. The ritual was not infallible – no prognostication is – but over the course of several weeks we achieved a quite satisfactory level of success.I was a little disappointed with the reception we received – we had created an elegant and potent ritual and all those arses in the Golden Pyramid did was whine that it was “too expensive.” I was a little surprised, but heartened, but the outrage this caused in the Shuttered Lantern who actually shouted the grandmaster down when he was expressing his “disappointment.” Trust the spies to realise the value of moving an army to a place the enemy believes it cannot reach ...Callus Strategos, from Meditations
This ritual was entered into Imperial lore during the Autumn Equinox 382YE by Marcus of Endsmeet, the Autumn archmage. The text that provided the ritual was part of the book Meditations, penned by a former Dean of the Lyceum from the reign of Empress Brannan. Callus Strategos, the author of the book, was known to be a particularly cynical critic of the Imperial Conclave during his life, and made it a point of principle not to allow many of the rituals he codified during his tenure as Dean to be added to Imperial lore.
The ritual enchants an army so that it is able to move quickly over long distances. This is not just a quality of speed - moving thousands of soldiers overland is a daunting logistical prospect. The ritual draws heavily on the autumn resonance of travel and communication. It helps to smooth the obstacles to easy travel through the power of serendipity and synchronicity, as well as granting the scouts and pathfinders of an army a supernatural ability to evaluate the relative benefits of potential routes through difficult terrain. Under the influence of this ritual, a captain can stand at a fork in the road and know with cool certainty whether one road will get them to their destination faster than the others. Any circumstantial problem that might delay or impede the armies progress to its destination is revealed, at least in general terms.
Beyond the power of travel, however, the ritual also enhances communication. Captains are quickly able to pass instructions to their soldiers, but the ritual also allows scouts and guides to share some of their expertise with the warriors they are guiding. Further, the resonance of bands makes it easier for individual soldiers to obey these orders or take advantage of this added expertise. Even when traveling out of sight of each other, soldiers in the army have a subconscious awareness of the rough location of the main body of the army, the direction and speed of travel, and the distance to any specific objective toward which the soldiers are moving.
Some magicians argue that rituals such as these - and there have been several through the history of the Empire that have been proposed and even codified - are of limited usefulness because the enchantment "swamps" any existing special quality of the target army. While the enchantment is in effect, the army loses the benefit of any unique training they may already have, in favour of the magically provided quality. While the soldiers of an army known for its resilience may still have all the armour, shields, and weapons that help them endure enemy attacks, they lose the capacity to make use of them for the duration. While these rituals enhance the versatility of the Empire as a whole, these magicians may argue, they run the risk of doing so at the expense of subverting the unique natures of the individual armies and the nations they represent.
Perhaps more to the point, an army can only benefit from a single enchantment at a time. By granting the ability to move quickly, at the expense of the existing strategic advantage the army enjoys, the magic also prevents them benefiting from the added benefits of rituals such as Knights of Glory or Clarity of the Master Strategist - potentially making them weaker than other armies.
I have only performed this ritual once – it is no easy matter to perform, but it allowed the Citadel Guard to cross the Empire from east to west in three months. I draw on the Door predominantly – this is a ritual provisionally about positioning and the four stars are an excellent metaphor for a unit of soldiers. I use the Chain to bind the army together and make help the soldiers work out where their brothers and sisters at arms are even when they cannot quite see them; the Key to reveal the best route; and break down the Mountain to disprove “things are hard” which is the riskiest part.I have seen it performed once, by Ricolla de Tassato, who used twenty tiny soldiers made from bars of weltsilver; he melted them down and poured them like a river across a map of the Empire. It was very effective – and, obviously, expensive! Callus Strategos, from Meditations
This ritual enhances a campaign army, and the general of the target army serves as a vital focus for delivering the magic. It is common to include a banner or standard that will be used by the target force as a focus for the ritual. Other common elements include the invocation of Paragons and Exemplars of Wisdom and Loyalty, the Dawnish girding or crowning the military leader, and the rhythmic beat of military drums maintaining a marching rhythm. The ritualists themselves may remain in motion throughout the ritual performance, circling the general - or the general themselves may march, perhaps carrying the army standard, while the magicians weave threads of confidence, certainty, and awareness around them.
The ritual was initially formulated by a League magician, and designed to express dramaturgical synergies. It has obvious resonance with the Captain - especially as Scorrero. Magicians are urged however not to overlook the Witch, in her Gancio aspect; guiding and divining the best route can easily fall within her purview. The Lantern is an obvious instrument to use - it literally illuminates a path through the wilderness - especially in conjunction with The Garden, which is usually cast in the role of a wild forest or dangerous journey.
Other elements resonant with the casting of this ritual include maps of the Empire, especially where the army is being enchanted with the intention of making a specific journey from one part to another; the feathers or evocations of migratory birds or birds of prey; hounds, in the aspect of creatures that lead hunters; and the Rune of Discovery.