Fit and proper
Krasimir gripped his staff firmly keeping it between him and the creature as he pushed the wide brim of his hat back. The twisted upyr grinned at him, revealing a mouth filled with pointed teeth. It was a short, ugly creature, and not particularly dangerous... provided he didn't take his eyes off it.
"Begone from here creature - or I will shatter the bones in your feeble body". In legends Volhov usually tricked or defeated a rusalka or a sovereign though a mix of cunning and clever magic. The reality for a working volhov travelling the roads was that most of the work he took on involved malicious boggarts - where one or two stout blows to the head with an iron-shod cudgel was the quickest and safest answer. This upyr was a lot more dangerous than a boggart but he was confident all the same. As the wise one used to say - "there's nothing in this world that isn't hurt by a stout cudgel blow to the head".
The upyr grinned again and then attempted to look obsequious which was even more disturbing. "Great and powerful Volhov, we mean you no harm. I am sent to fetch you is all - my master, The Whisperer, simply wishes to converse."
Clearly there was more going on here than meets the eye. It ought not be possible for a servant of the Whisperer to be abroad in Livardz like this. Somebody must have called this creature into the world. "I have no business with your master. Now tell me who called you here - it is forbidden to deal with your kind." He tried to make it sound like an order, hoping that the hearth magic of a commanding voice might compel the spirit.
The upyr only grinned again, its voice dropping to a low rasp so that he had to focus to make out the words. "Surely a mighty magician such as yourself, so powerful and wise, is not chained by such laws? Who gave them the power to tell you what to do? How can the weak have dominion over the strong?" The creature's long clawed fingers spread out in a gesture that perhaps it thought was inviting and friendly. "If you are bold enough to put aside such feeble restrictions then my master has a proposal for you - something that could be greatly to your advantage..."
Interdiction is the power of the Imperial Conclave to censor specific rituals, items, or materials that represent a significant magical danger to the Empire. It has always been a crude tool, but in theory it is does forbid the casting of a ritual anywhere in the Empire - provided that people take notice of what the Conclave has said and observe the prohibition.
Sadly, in recent years, interdictions have been more notable for the number of times they were ignored rather than the times anyone observed them. Shortly after the death of Britta the Conclave voted to interdict the harvesting or use of Vallorn seeds. Perhaps it was the failure of the Conclave to be specific about what such seeds looked like but in the years that followed a number of Imperial magicians - and even mundane farmers - harvested and used seeds from Vallorn areas infused with Spring magic, and did so utterly without consequence.
Nor is this the only example of mixed messages. In the Winter of 380YE, no less a figure than the grandmaster of the Celestial Arch Catalina raised a declaration to encourage then sorcerer Ancel Watcher to collaborate with the Whisper Gallery under the auspices of the archmage of Night - despite all the prohibitions against sorcerers interacting with any eternals at all, never mind a group currently under enmity of the Conclave. "The Conclave understands that this is neither treason nor sorcery," the declaration said... despite the act being seen by many magicians as clearly both treason and sorcery.
This gradual erosion of the Conclave's authority turned into a rout at the recent Spring Equinox. There was a perceived need to perform the interdicted ritual Rivers Run Red, so a request was made to reconcile the ritual at the Friday Conclave session. The request was rejected - the Conclave clearly decided to keep the interdiction in place, and instead to take a different approach. At the following session - on the Saturday the Conclave passed two highly significant declarations.
Conclave re-affirms the right of virtuous magicians to use curses as they see fit.Alejandra i Erigo, Spring Equinox 382YE, Declaration of Concord, Passed
The seems innocuous enough at first, thought it could easily be read as a subtle nod of support for the use of the Rivers Run Red curse by the Navarr magicians in Therunin - in open defiance of the Conclave. But such is the way of things in Anvil where clever politicians hide their true meaning to pass what measures they can. But immediately following that, the Conclave then passed an explicit instruction to ignore their own ruling.
That the Voice of the Quiet Forest should cast Rivers Run Red on Therunin this season.Saeros Splitroot, Spring Equinox 382YE, Declaration of Concord, Passed
It is not unknown for individual magicians to act in ways that undermine the authority of the Conclave - at such times they usually face the punishment of the magistrates for their crimes. It is much rarer for the Conclave to openly instruct members to risk execution by violating the edicts it has imposed. Clearly the members of the Conclave's orders were satisfied with the outcome, but the actions have frustrated many of the countless magicians who do not attend Anvil regularly but are never-the-less forced to comply with the Conclave's edicts.
Most magicians assume that these decisions made sense to those who were attending Conclave at the time, and the common interpretation is that the Conclave intended to keep the ritual interdicted but permit this specific casting, despite the fact that such an arrangement is not supported by the law. The problem is that combined with the first declaration that virtuous magicians should use curses as they see fit, the inference that is being taken by many is that magicians should simply ignore interdiction and use ritual magic as they see fit - provided it is virtuous.
Indeed, some priests even support an interpretation arguing that clemency exists because the moral right of a citizen to act virtuously trumps the law. But many magicians, including a number of landskeepers, threshers, vates, magisters, and hakima who view ensuring the appropriate use of magic as part of their responsibilities look aghast at that. In their mind it is the responsibility of the Conclave to ensure the virtuous use of magic - it's not a decision every Tom, Dick, or Harry should be making. All magicians should use magic responsibly and virtuously they argue - the whole point of interdiction is to place a ritual beyond such considerations.
Ultimately their concern is that these actions serve to undermine the moral authority of the Conclave. The Conclave is charged by the Imperial Constitution to ensure the fit and proper use of magic in the service of the Empire. How are people - whose only contact with the Conclave is the news of what declarations have passed - to take interdiction seriously if the Conclave gives the impression that it does not? The recent problems caused by the chaotic and destructive use of magic by the House de Lusignan illustrates the potential risks of what happens if magicians across the Empire take it on themselves to start actively ignoring the Conclave.
The Conclave shall ensure the fit and proper use of magic in the service of the EmpireThe Imperial Constitution
Normally such complaints would soon pass - but Camila i Erigo, an ageing Freeborn magician from the hills of Kahraman has used the recent incident to try to gather support for a proposal to change the law governing interdiction. Her proposal is for the Imperial Senate to create a new declaration - a Declaration of Endorsement - that would grant approval by the Conclave for a magician to perform an interdicted ritual or to use an interdicted item. Had the Conclave had such a power last summit, then the potent curse could have been kept interdicted but the Voice of the Quiet Forest could have had a single casting of the ritual endorsed.
Critics of Camila's idea argue that her proposal achieves nothing other than to formalise what has already happened, but for Camila that is the whole point. At present the common view of interdiction is that the Conclave specify that the ritual can never be used safely. It is their own action - unlawful action - in instructing magicians to counter their own declarations that weakens their moral authority and undermines confidence in the authority of magistrates and the law at the same time. Her view is that the magistrates will find it easier to uphold the decisions of the Conclave once a clear mechanism exists for them to provide legal endorsement of a ritual. She claims that if her proposals were adopted, magicians who continue to flout the Conclave will risk much more serious punishment then they received in this most recent case.
Camila claims that if the law were adopted then the view of interdiction would change. Rather than being seen as placing a ritual beyond the pale such that it cannot be cast - instead it would be seen as simply dangerous and thus requiring the approval of the Conclave. When the Conclave endorsed the use of an interdicted ritual that would bolster their authority rather than undermine it - since it would be clear that they had judiciously considered the matter and given their approval. In Camila's eyes this would better reflect the spirit of the Imperial Constitution - requiring that the Conclave ensure the fit and proper use of magic. At present the Conclave are unable to take account of the specific situations in which a magic might be employed when making that assessment - which seems neither Wise nor Vigilant.
Camila warns that were her proposal adopted, then she anticipates that the number of rituals that were interdicted would be likely to increase significantly - indeed there would be little point to the change if that didn't happen. More of the Conclave's time would thus be taken up having to consider Declarations of Endorsement for each circumstance where a magician felt it was warranted. While it is possible that every curse might be interdicted - to prevent any possibility of abuse - Camila's supporters claim that eventually the Conclave will find the right balance.
Camila has written to the Constitutional Court to request scrutiny of her proposal. Their response makes clear that they cannot give a definite answer unless they have a clearly worded Senate motion to consider. However in principle they see no reason why it would be unconstitutional to change the law in such a way provided it were done as part of a well written motion.
They advise that if any senator does wish to take up the matter, then they must consider a number of key points. Would the Declaration of Endorsement require a named target for the interdicted ritual? Would it require the ritual to be performed at a set time? Will a single named coven or magician be endorsed or can anyone benefit from the endorsement? How would this new declaration interact with rituals that are proscribed because they draw power from, or involve communion with, an eternal under enmity?
There are a lot of details which are not covered by Camila's rather general proposal that would ideally be defined so that that magistrates and civil servants could interpret the Senate's will correctly.
They are clear that the constitutional court would not permit a law which simply endorsed one or more individuals to perform interdicted rituals at will. For example it would not be constitutional to interdict Rivers of Gold - and then endorse a single coven in the League to perform the ritual. That would fall foul of the Constitution's goal to provide freedom and prosperity to Imperial citizens.