Lions of Phoenix Reach
Summer Magnitude 24
Performing the Ritual
This spell is an enchantment. A target may only be under one enchantment effect at a time.
This ritual calls a group of burning spirits from the Summer realm, who take on physical forms drawn from the material of a mana site. The magical flows of the mana site are used to bind the spirit and the material together.
The owner of the mana site experiences a roleplaying effect: you feel an urge to destroy small, fragile objects, especially if those objects can be consumed by fire.
The beasts effectively form a powerful military unit under the control of the character who controls the target mana site, and fights under that character's command during the coming season. The target mana site produces no crystal mana during the coming season. At the end of the season, or if they are destroyed, the beasts return to the mana site and explosively discorporate, restoring its production to normal.
The military unit created consists of supernatural troops that can be assigned any of the tasks that a normal military unit can undertake. While they are effective at all these tasks, the warriors are especially well suited to fighting as part of a campaign army and receive a five rank bonus (equivalent to an additional 100 fighting force) when they do so.
The effect lasts until the start of the next Profound Decisions Empire event.
This ritual can affect additional mana sites in the same territory. Each additional mana site increases the magnitude by 18. The character who controls each mana site must be present throughout the ritual, and each receives control of their own military unit.
This ritual was developed at the Halls of Knowledge in Zenith under the direction of Provost Octavius. The initial work on the ritual was performed by Ioseph of Phoenix Reach who created an arcane projection designed to pull spirits from the Summer realm into the mortal world, clothe them in metal and stone armour, and unleash them on his enemies.
In the process of concluding the formulation, some modifications were required to the arcane projection. No prior agreement exists with any eternal or spirits of the Summer realm, so the ritual needed some redesign to allow it to lure the entities who would be armoured in fire and stone to form the supernatural warriors. The work was relatively simple to resolve, adapting some of the formulae involved in forming the shadow warriors and crystal guardians in the similar – yet distinct – rituals of Night and Day.
Calling up actual magma from the earth itself, especially in a controlled fashion, proved to be significantly more difficult than the arcane projection might have suggested. In the end, it proved unnecessary – and might have even been counterproductive – to the final intent of the ritual. Indeed, some of the scholars working on the ritual theorised that toying with volcanic forces might be easier with the Spring realm – but that attempts to do so in a controlled fashion were almost certainly doomed to messy and destructive failure.
This ritual does not draw on the power of an eternal – rather it reaches into the Summer realm and pulls forth spirits of fire, sunlight, and destruction. They naturally take the form of potent war-beasts – lions, rams, drakes, bears, and bulls. It is possible that they could take more humanoid shapes if they wished – but so far they have resisted any attempt to make them do so as this would make them (in their own words) “far too small and heavy”.
The ritual enchants a mana site. In a dramatic and somewhat awe-inspiring display, burning golden columns of fire and light swirl into existence at the points where the flows of mana are most concentrated. Crystals and other materials are torn from the ground into these swirling columns, along with chunks of stone and any nearby metal. These materials fuse with the columns of fire, which collapse and take on the form of great beasts. So far the most common forms identified were great lions, armoured bears, massive oxen, proud rams, and more than a few great draconic shapes similar to wyverns or large drakes.
The bodies of these creatures burn constantly, providing warmth and light in a large radius. They are almost impossible to miss, but they are armoured by shaped plates of metal, crystal, and stone. When they eventually launch their suicidal charge, they flame like comets into the heart of the enemy ranks and burst with a thundering detonation that can be heard for miles around.
The Lions of Phoenix Reach are best suited to assist an army on the battlefield, although their fiery presence means they ideally need to fight by themselves a safe distance from mortal soldiers – especially soldiers who do not want to be caught in the inevitable fireball when they explode.
They can also, in theory, be instructed to engage in paid work. Several of the magicians working on the ritual appeared concerned about this and argued that it should be made impossible to use them in this fashion for the safety of innocent bystanders, but even attempting to do so would have required the magnitude of the ritual to be increased ruinously. In the end, the calmer head of Gerontus of Horizon's Reach prevailed – they pointed out that the Lions were ultimately tied to the will of the one who operated the mana site, and as long as they resisted the Lions' desire to incinerate everything nearby there should be no more danger in them protecting a caravan or guarding a brothel than in assigning them to fight alongside Imperial soldiers.
Spirits of the Summer Realm
The spirits are immaterial in their natural state, the power of the ritual forces them to create physical – albeit powerfully energetic – bodies with which they can interact with the material world. Their exact provenance is unclear – they do not appear to belong to any specific eternal court and they are not especially communicative. As near as can be determined by brief conversations – they appear intelligent if not especially bright in human terms - they variously call themselves Sun Brothers, Burning People, Gildenfire, and Skyborn. They claim to live in the sky and in “the high places where stone dances” - possibly a reference to a Summer realm volcano.
They talk about making themselves “tiny” and “heavy” when they are summoned. Given that one of these entities is several times the size of an ox, their true size must be immense indeed. One of the magicians responsible for working on the ritual suggested that it might be that in their natural form they are composed of some magical substance part-way between cloud stuff and light, and that becoming material limits them in some fashion.
While they fight alongside an Imperial army at the command of the individual whose mana site provided their corpus, they are extremely volatile. It is difficult to prevent them from charging into the thick of the enemy lines and exploding violently in a conflagration of flame that burns everything in their path and sends pieces of their metal armour spearing outwards in a ring.
Like many such spirits, they seem largely unconcerned with the prospect of death. It appears likely that, as with the spirits called up with rituals such as Conclave of Trees and Shadow, Carve the Crystal Guardian, Quickening Cold Meat, Foam and Spittle of the Furious Sea, Thunderous Tread of the Trees, and even Knights of Glory or Clarion Call of Ivory and Dust, the spirits simply return to their realm when their bodies are destroyed.
The ritual may include a map of the mana site to be enchanted. Urizen scholars who worked on the ritual suggest that a map of the entire area may be useful to gather more information about the likely flows of mana that surround the site, allowing that information to be woven into the invocation itself.
Where possible the ritual should be performed using at least some crystals that come from the mana site in question although this is not a requirement. Other common features include minerals or stones from the target area; valuable metals such as orichalcum or weltsilver; symbols of Pride or Courage; or armour (especially pieces of magical armour rich in orichalcum).
As with many Urizen rituals, mirrors, light and careful invocations are common elements. The spirits themselves have a resonance for items such as these that capture or involve fire and light – but they have just as much resonance for weapons of war.
Verys, Rune of Strength, and Mawrig, Rune of Destruction, are both ideal for use with this ritual. One Dawnish witch, Percival of the Crimson Petals of Whispermere, has already suggested it would be an excellent ritual with which to evoke the characteristics of the dragon - irresistable force, majesty, the power to destroy small villages - but admits they have yet to actually attempt the ritual in this fashion but promises to keep the Conclave appraised once his experiments are completed.