From the Mouths of Babes
Summer Magnitude 8
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. While performing this ritual the ritualist must write a message on a piece of paper. The message can be up to fifty words long, and must be recited verbally during the performance of the ritual. At the completion of the ritual, the written message is given to the referee.
This ritual does not transfer pictures or items.
The eternal is peripherally aware of who sent the message.
The magnitude of the ritual is reduced by 6 if the ritual is performed using the apprentice rules. In this case, the message must be recited by the apprentice.
The Summer eternal Meraud is also known as the Summer Enchanter. This ritual was apparently designed by (or at the behest of) the Golden Magician. Meraud is a sometime rival of the Night eternal Sadogua, and it is likely this ritual was inspired by the well-known Missive for Sadogua. The inclusion of an apprentice as a component of the ritual reflects Meraud's interest in the Imperial Academy, and in the relationship between magicians and their apprentices in general. Indeed, Meraud is known to occasionally take on mortal children as apprentices for a season or two, showing them some of the wonders of his domain, and generally leaving them with a somewhat haphazard appreciation of the arts of weaving mighty magic.
The ritual itself was entered into Imperial Lore during the Summer Solstice 380YE summit, by the magician Andreaus. The original text itself is believed to have originated with the eternal, and its entry into Imperial Lore was allegedly part of some agreement with the Rod and Shield Conclave order. There was some confusion regarding payment, and the location of the ritual text, and its addition to lore was not finalized until over a year later, shortly after the Winter Solstice 381YE. The Dawnish enchantress Robyn Vandale of House Vandale provided the funds needed to complete the process; during this time she suggested that the ritual should be renamed "Vandale's Apprentice" or possibly even "'Vandale's Missive" in recognition of the source of the money. While the name has caught on in some parts of Dawn, many magicians prefer to refer to it by its original name.
The ritual is very simple; all it does is transfer a spoken message to the ear of the eternal Meraud. There is no requirement that the Golden Archmage acknowledge or answer the message, only that he listens to it. If he does choose to respond, any answer is likely to come in the form of visits from heralds. That said, the message can be used to petition Meraud for favours, or to try and arrange an audience, with mixed success so far.
One key element of the ritual that makes it stand out is the advantage of using one or more apprentices during its performance. If one or more of the contributors are being coached by more experienced magicians, the ritual becomes significantly easier and cheaper to cast. This is believed to be an element specifically included by Meraud to encourage the spread of magic through the citizens of the Empire - or to demonstrate his approval for and tacit patronage of the Imperial Academy.
As with Missive for Sadogua, some number of priests are a little suspicious of this ritual, claiming that it is tantamount to praying, or to making Imperial citizens minions of, a non-human power. There are grumbles about idolatry, and some devout magicians actively discourage the use of rituals such as this.
"Get Out" Clause
As with many such rituals that deal with eternals, there is an element built into the formula that means Meraud may withdraw from the agreement supporting it. While many of these stipulations are not common knowledge, anyone who has studied the text confirms that there is a simple "get out clause" in the ritual, which is: "If the Imperial Conclave ever declares enmity against Meraud, this ritual will cease to function."
Should the Conclave pass a declaration of enmity against Meraud this ritual will immediately stop working. Removing the enmity will not cause the ritual to begin working again - a new ritual would need to be created with the approval of Meraud before communication could be re-established.
A key component of this ritual is a written copy of the message, which must be spoken aloud during the performance. The message is sometimes red verbatim, as from a scroll, with great pomp and ceremony. It might also be destroyed - it is commonly burnt (OOC Note: If you do actually burn the message, it is still important to have an OOC copy to give to the referee).
Another important element of the ritual is the apprentice (most often a child) who may be called upon to speak the message to be delivered to Meraud. Not every ritual uses such a child, but the inclusion means that the ritual is significantly easier and cheaper to cast. The apprentice must be a contributor to the ritual - and indeed some magicians may prefer to ensure all the contributors are apprentices as that is likely even more appealing to Meraud.
Ritualists include other elements appropriate both to the eternal and the Realm of Summer. Marking the parchment with a symbol associated with Meraud such as the lion-and-rod, or a falling star, or with one of the Wintermark runes Verys or Tykonus for example. The ritual itself is intended to be performed in a flashy, dramatic fashion - trumpets or drums are appropriate, as is firebreathing, or invocations of Meraud's many titles in a respectful or bombastic fashion.
If the ritual is performed by an apprentice, the young person who will work the ritual is often painted with runes (potentially including Queros), or with a depiction of the astronomantic constellation of the Chain. It is also not uncommon for everyone performing the ritual to paint their faces as, or wear masks depicting, lions or tigers.
A dramaturgist might cunningly work the requirement for using a child into the ritual by scripting a page or squire who delivers the important message as part of their play - ideally to a Persona representing Meraud. There is some argument among dramaturgists as to which persona most represents the Summer Mage - the Prince, the Witch, and the Bishop are all considered to have resonance depending on how they are depicted.