The Penumbral Watcher is an Imperial title appointed by the Conclave. It grants custodianship of the sinecure known as the Tower of Light and Shadow, a powerful magical site located in Naris, Redoubt, upon a headland that is rife with potent natural energies called the Tilphussian Reach. It was commissioned in Spring 381YE by Vitore van Temeschwar, the Arcane Architect.
The Penumbral Watcher is expected to keep the tower maintained and oversee the staff of Urizen Stargazers, skilled in Night magic, who perform the day-to-day duties of running the tower; it is the Watcher who receives the Night vis harvested from the pans, and who is expected to provide the magicians with any needed substances to refine the resinous myrrh extracted from the vines. If the tower suffered any significant damage, or the staff encountered significant magical problems - always a risk, given the generally unstable nature of the Tower - it would be up to the Watcher to help resolve matters. However, the Watcher also has responsibility for what is perhaps the tower's most potent magic, directing the energies of the stygian well to aid spies and infiltrators operating covertly in service to the Empire.
Each season the Watcher receives a single piece of Crystal Fire, collected from the tower's mana pools.
Under normal circumstances, it is nearly impossible to create vis in this way, but the unique nature of the energies of the Tilphussian Reach allow for the creation of this substance, normally available only by dealing with the creatures of the Night realm.
Shadow Myrrh Refinery
|Total Money Spent||Pieces of Myrrh Received|
|2 crowns||1 piece of myrrh|
|4 crowns||2 pieces of myrrh|
|6 crowns||3 pieces of myrrh|
The Watcher may extract and refine the sap of the peculiar vines that run through the tower's structure, turning it into arcane incense that can be used to significantly empower specific rituals of the Realm. This works in the same way as purchasing materials through a ministry. The Watcher exchanges money for myrrh during downtime from their character page. Money is removed from, and myrrh placed into, the character's inventory when the downtime is processed.
There are two types of myrrh that the tower can refine - inky black myrrh, which strengthens shrouds cast with Drawing the Penumbral Veil and Vale of Shadows, and bone white myrrh, which apparently strengthens Dreams in the Witch House, letting a casting more easily overcome any interfering shrouds. The Watcher chooses which of these myrrhs they wish to refine when using this option.
Each season the Tower produces a single vial of distilled shadow-tar. By evoking the power of the vial at the Imperial Regio using the operate portal spell, the user can focus the power of the shadow well on a single named territory that contains an allied spy network. This creates a territory enchantment that increases the military strength of any allied military unit assigned to the spy network in the coming season by two ranks. The Penumbral Watcher will receive a copy of the spy network report, assuming enough strength was assigned to generate one, and regardless of who invokes the distilled shadow-tar. Using this item will require the presence of a referee.
The Penumbral Watcher serves until they are replaced by another magician using the Declaration of Candidacy. As a title in the Conclave, they cannot be revoked.
|Summer Solstice 381YE||Highguard||Asenath|
This title is currently held by Asenath; it can be reelected at any summit by a declaration of candidacy. The table to the right shows the citizens who have been elected to hold this title in the years since Empress Britta died.
Tower of Light and Shadow
The Tower stands on a lonely headland, rife with potent natural energies, called the Tilphussian Reach. Built in accordance to eldritch plans that tap into the Reach's magical auras, the Tower of Light and Shadow cuts a striking figure against the gleaming sea - it calls to mind a lighthouse, albeit one build half of pale marble and half of obsidian, the two materials spiraling around one another as the tower rises towards its peak. Within, the tower is split into tier after tier of bubbling pools and pans and flasks and pipes, all filled with liquids of dark blues and blacks and purples, their hue becoming increasingly atramentous the further down the tower they drip and distil. At the very base of the tower, a shimmering well of distilled Night dominates much of the ground floor.
Peculiar vines worm their way up throughout the structure, their roots dipped in the well of Night and their flowers peeling open to emit intense and vivid perfumes. Despite the relatively recent creation of the tower, these vines already possess thick, gnarled stems and have cracked or pushed through areas of masonry as if they had been spreading for a hundred years. Also unusual is the menagerie of bright, exotic birds that clamour and flap through the tower's interior, pestering the magicians who sift the pans for Night vis and watch the surface of the well for visions. The magician tenders tap the vines for the resin that the Night-touched flora exudes, refining it into magically potent substances; the birds, however, seem to have no obviously useful purpose.
Plans to build an arcane structure harnessing the power of the Tilphussian Reach were first mooted in mid-380YE by a group of magical architects and scholars who had spent years working on their designs. The nature of the Reach allowed for the construction of a tower that might draw on the magic of Spring, Autumn or Night; the Conclave soon declared its preference for the Night design to be implemented, selecting the work of the noted architect Hypothesis of Flamespire. The tower was commissioned by and built under the oversight of Vitore van Temeschwar, Arcane Architect of the Conclave.
During construction there was a further complication - the Ribbon of Salt, a powerful Spring regio off the coast of Redoubt, erupted in a potent display of Night magical energies, saturating the southern Redoubt shoreline and causing havoc with the finely-tuned magical artifice of Hypothesis' designs. Quick action by ritualists on-site and careful readjustments by Hypothesis ensured that the damage was contained. The tangled plants that interpenetrate the tower, and the peculiar birds that roost there, were not part of the original designs - but a consequence of the night energies interacting with those of the Tilphussian Reach. Initially seen as pests, a young Seer among the coven working on the tower discovered the hidden properties in the sap produced by the creeping night vines.