In brightest day
"Or orc hands," interjected Blackspear Tak.
"Yes or orc hands, in people's hands it's like alchemy. It transmutes the ... the ... the medium and that in turn transforms the spirit of the person who experiences it. Good art does, I mean. Not bad art. Bad art is ... well bad art I guess is ..."
"Shit." provided Blackspear Tak.
"Yes that's it. But I mean, who gets to decide something is bad? But then I suppose you're talking about passion, and whether that can make up for a lack of ... of skill. But anyway."
Abraham of Bastion rolled his eyes, but kept his peace. The conversation - monologue really - had been going on for quite some time now and it was really starting to get on his nerves.
"Empress Richilde was the first person who really understood this, mind. Before her, people made art and they made shrines and temples look good, but they didn't really understand why they were doing it. She's a paragon because she understood it, really understood it. How art can promote a profound sense of ... of ..."
"Pride?" suggested Blackspear Tak, distracted. The wiry orc was only half listening.
"Yes but more than that. Communion. There's a play about her I saw in Tassato that time, there's this beautiful speech it's like ... I was drunk but I remember it it was like ..."
The Freeborn woman struck a pose and declaimed, misty eyed "Beauty is the memory of a past that might have been, and the memory of a future that could be. It burns in the eye and in the ear; in the heart and in the soul. It is one breath, catching, an inhalation before singing, or gasping, or cheering, rising like thunder from the crowd, flowing gently in the darkened room where pen nibs scratch on parchment. It ... it .. dammit!"
She couldn't remember the rest. It had been so powerful in the crowded, sweaty little theatre. So important. For a moment she'd forgotten where she was. The crowd - pretty drunk by this point - fell away and for a moment she felt like she was there, actually there, when Empress Richilde met with the Freeborn Senators. She felt something swell inside her, at the way the playwright had captured the spirit of the Erigo, the Riqueza, and the Guerra - and at how the actor playing the Empress had convinced them all to support her with honest words. That was how it had really happened, she was sure of it. Sure that ...
Abraham of Bastion was trying to get her attention, pulling at her sleeve.
"Mate," he said urgently. "Mate!"
"It was something like 'there is truth in art, it is as honest as a ... was it a fire or a flower I don't remember . But the thing is..."
"MATE!" Abraham gave up, grabbed Sierra around the knees and tackled her to the ground.
An iron javelin sailed through the space where, a moment before, her heart had been. Blackspear Tak caught it on his shield, and was knocked back a step by the force of it. The orc's two human companions lay prone behind the barricade. Several of the other soldiers, crouching low, with their shields up to repel the rain of projectiles falling around them, glanced over briefly.
Abraham glared at Sierra, who looked both winded and a little surprised to find herself on the ground.
"Focus!" he snarled. "For the love of the paragons you daft knife-ear, focus!"Beyond the barricade, the battle raged on.
Following the Autumn Equinox, a powerful Night magic enchantment settled over the entire Empire. The effects were subtle but far-reaching. The magic encourages and inspires artists and performers to seek new heights of artistic expression. It also encourages everyone to take pride in, appreciate, and celebrate the art and artists of their nation. As a side effect, philosophers and scholars are encouraged to expound on topics of national Pride, and the role that art plays in a civilized society.
The effects have been particularly marked in the cities of the Empire - Meade, Siroc, Kalpaheim, the four cities of the League, and even Gildenheim have seen a flourishing of artistic expression and interest in the arts unprecedented since the reign of Empress Richilde.
The full power of the enchantment has largely run its course by the Winter Solstice, but until time-out on Saturday night, everyone in the Empire experiences a roleplaying effect: you feel an urge to create, and appreciate, works of art.
The Inspiration of Art
Any priest who uses the hallow ceremony to create the Hallowing of Richilde will find that the resulting aura is somewhat more powerful than they might normally expect. The aura will automatically have a strength two points higher than normal. This special effect fades at time out on Saturday and any Hallow of Richilde created after that will have the normal strength. This effect is not optional - every Hallowing of Richilde created in the Empire during this time will be significantly more resilient.
The Power to Exalt
As the paragon Empress Richilde proved, art has an incredible capacity to inspire the virtue of Pride in a nation, and in the Empire as a whole. This magical effect has inspired many artists to create works of art that celebrate their identity as members of a nation. It is possible that the lingering effects could be harnessed, should the Imperial Synod be interested in doing so.
The Senate may commission great works to take advantage of this flowering of artistic expression. These great works will take the form of art galleries, museums, and performance spaces appropriate to the nation where they are built. Even after the inspirational magic fades, they will serve as focal points for pilgrims of Pride, as well as places where artists and performers who want to celebrate their cultural traditions can congregate. Some will also be used to store relics connected to individuals who exemplify the history and beliefs of the various nations.
These great works will require commission by the senate as normal. Each will require 15 wains of white granite and 5 wains of weirwood and have a labour cost of 5 Thrones. They will take three months to complete. Once construction is complete, the great work will provide a pool of 30 votes in the Imperial synod and 15 additional liao spread among the congregations in that territory overseen by priests belonging to the Assembly of Pride.
The civil service recommends that any such commission be built in a settlement within the appropriate territory at least the size of a small town. They further predict that the results of the supernatural surge in national pride and artistic appreciation will have returned to normal levels by the start of the Summer solstice, and any commissions not completed by that time will be ineffective at capturing the imagination of the citizenry (that is, they will result in follies rather than being great work). They also remind the Civilian Commissioners that they will not be able to commission one of these great works as it is not legal for them to create anything that provides votes in the Imperial Synod.
For future reference, the magnitude of this ritual was significantly lower than would normally be expected. Anyone creating a future enchantment that targets the entire Empire should anticipate that such a ritual will have a minimum magnitude of at least 160 regardless of what benefits it provides if any.
House of Bourné
One additional flowering of Art in the Empire has had a very specific effect. The House of Bourné is a small, yet extremely wealthy, guild of artisans and artists based in the League city of Sarvos. Formed some forty years ago by a union between a League Merchant Priest and a family of Dawnish Weaver cabal, they specialise in the creation of magical robes for a very select clientele.
In consultation with representatives of The Looking Glass - an influential League broadsheet - the House has recently revealed that they have made a unique breakthrough in the creation of magical raiment of interest to ritual magicians - likely inspired by the powerful enchantment laid over the Empire. Details are sketchy at the moment, but there is a buzz of interesting gossip coming out of Sarvos that suggests the Looking Glass are planning to reveal the existence of a set of new schema to the Imperial Conclave, schema believed to be in the possession of the House of Bourné.
More details are apparently available in issue nine of "The Looking Glass".
House of Bourné Resolution
With the aid of the Empire's leading fashion-and-gossip magazine The Looking Glass, a Sarvosan guild called House Bourné has revealed the existence of six schemata, each providing a pattern for a magic robe that empowers ritual magic from a single realm, through the combined power of dramaturgy and the hearth magic of girding. Each raiment also comes with a potent roleplaying effect tied to the Persona it draws power from.
Following an announcement in the Imperial Conclave on Friday night, the House has thrown open its doors to any Imperial artisan who wishes to visit and study one or more of the schema, to learn how to duplicate their effects. The six ritual raiments are:
- The Bishop's Ensemble, which enhances the practice of Day magic.
- The Captain's Garb, which enhances the practice of Summer magic.
- The Doctor's Attire, which enhances the practice of Winter magic.
- The Mountebank's Guise, which enhances the practice of Spring magic.
- The Prince's Raiment, which enhances the practice of Autumn magic.
- The Semblance of the Witch, which enhances the practice of Night magic.
The schema remain the property of House Bourné - the only way to learn them is to spend some time visiting their estate in Sarvos - but mechanically any character can learn one or more of these recipes in the normal way - when they pick the artisan skill, or when they buy the extra item skill. It is not possible for someone who knows how to make one to simply teach someone else - although House Bourné is not placing any restriction on who can learn the patterns as long as they are Imperial citizens.
With these robes, it is now possible for a ritual magician to be bonded to three magic items, greatly enhancing their ranks of ritual lore (within the limitations of the normal rules for additional ranks).