"They say the stars are still going missing. The stars! How can anyone steal the stars in the first place, much less do it so often that people think its commonplace?"

"Well I think we all know who's to blame."

"Yes. It's clearly the work of Edric de Gauvain - dammit! I mean the Druj. The damn Druj! Dammit!"

Mortal Magic

Black Velvet Skies

The night skies over the Barrens and Zenith are empty of stars; it is said the Druj have stolen them. This is not a new state of affairs, and it has been quite some time since the familiar constellations were visible above the Mallum. There was some expectation that the stars might return to Zenith at least before the Spring Equinox, but that hope does not bear fruit. Likewise, since the Autumn Equinox, the stars over Holberg have likewise been obscured. There is some concern that this might be a clue to the presence of some hidden Druj coven hiding in the forests of Utterlund or Misericorde but no follow-up attacks have so far taken place. Finally, a week before the Spring Equinox, with the Druj occupying the heart of Screed, the starts there are likewise devoured leaving the night darker, and even more full of terrors.

Rituals such as Eyes of the Sun and Moon, Eye of the High Places, and Dreams in the Witch House performed on one of these territories are impeded. The strength of theses shrouds are not specifically known but from past experience are assumed to be around the fiftieth magnitude.

Naga influence

Any naga who has spent significant time in the Barrens, Zenith, Spiral, or Holberg experiences the following roleplaying effect; your natural urge toward subtlety and secretiveness is greatly strengthened. Naga in general relish being mysterious and secretive, but while experiencing this potent roleplaying effect you may need to make a significant effort of will to answer direct questions or be honest about your intentions.

The roleplaying effect is significantly lessened at Anvil - indeed the longer one stays out of a territory where it applies the less pressing the urge to secrecy and subtlety becomes - but a naga with a strong lineage who has spent time in one of the shrouded territories will still experience the roleplaying effect at least until Saturday morning.

Penumbral Veils

More familiar shrouds - the Penumbral Veils - hang over several places Urdur in Otkodov. It is still not clear at this time if the same veil lies over Nithoggir, Sküld, or Verthandi and difficult to determine without using scrying magic to examine the territories in question.

Within the Empire, Penumbral Veils cover Feroz, Temeschwar, and Morrow are hidden - the magic here will fade shortly before the Summer Solstice. In each of these territories, the stars are warped into a shroud that interferes with magical scrying. Furthermore, in each territory, these shrouds have a particular resonance to them that means they are also prone to heavy, dark fog, and the altered stars are often hidden behind inky black clouds.

The shrouds that previously hung over Madruga and Sarvos have now faded away.

Castle in the Water

  • A magical citadel has been raised in the marshes of Kallavesa

There has been a surprising dearth of enchanted citadels in the Empire since the Winter Solstice. Indeed, only one such has been marked. The Sussavari Frost Coven of Wintermark maintains the castle of fog-and-shadows, deftly woven from subtle Night magic, that protects the damp lowlands of Kallavesa again, as it has for several years almost without interruption. The citadel will fade with the coming of the Spring Equinox but while it stands it protects the homeland of the Kallavesi and provides safe haven for defenders and travelers alike. With the completion of the Wintermark beacons in Kallavesa and Hahnmark it remains to be seen if the fortification continues to be needed.

Edric de Gauvain

  • A peculiar curse has fallen over Weirwater in Dawn

As the Winter Solstice fades, a very strange curse settles over the Dawnish territory of Weirwater. At first, it is barely noticeable but as the weeks draw on it becomes impossible to ignore. It is as subtle as it is insidious; it makes a certain name take unusual prominence in almost every conversation. In taverns all other conversations suffer a lull just as that name is uttered. The winter wind groaning through the trees seems to moan it mournfully. In a crowded place that name is shouted out, yet none admit to being responsible. Words that are similar are easily misread to be some or all of the name. Whenever someone asks a question about something, it is that name that comes first to mind, or that tumbles unexpectedly from the lips.

The most infuriating element is that a large number of people have no idea who this name refers to. Who, by all the paragons and exemplars, is Edric de Gauvain?

Participation : Weirwater

Any character who has spent significant time in Weirwater, or whose personal resource is based in the territory, experiences the following roleplaying effect; When prompted for the name of a person, your first instinct is to answer Edric de Gauvain." It is not important whether the character knows who Edric de Gauvain is, or whether they have ever heard of them before. The effects will have faded by the end of the Spring Equinox but will persist until at least the Saturday morning of the summit.

The Mists of Grimhold

  • A peculiar mist briefly enshrouded the fortification of Grimhold in Miekarova

Following the Winter Solstice, travelers passing near Grimhold Fortress in Strascovia reported a peculiar phenomenon. Starting on the night of the new moon, a peculiar mist gathered aroun the walls of the castle. As the moon waxed towards full, the mist became thicker, and according to at least some reports, odd lights could be seen moving in its depths. On the three nights the moon was brightest, the mist swirled and coiled around the Grimhold like a nest of serpents. As the moon faded, however, so too did the mist until it was entirely gone by the first night of the next new moon. If the Vor'Azi who live in Grimhold know the provenance of the mist, they have not revealed it to any outsider.

In-Between Magic

Kallavesi Mystics and Geese

  • There is an opportunity to engage in a mystic ceremony on Friday evening

The Kallavesi mystics of Wintermark gossip among themselves. It is traditional that when groups of Kallavesi mystics come together, they partake of communion with one another - usually in the form of consuming a large amount of specially prepared narcotic. The Spring Equinox will be no exception - the news is that any Kallavesi mystic is welcome to consume Goosewhisper Infusion with their peers on Friday evening at nine o'clock, and see if any ancestral spirits wish to speak to them.

Eternal Magic

Llofir, The Ender of Empires

  • Llofir has called for a parley with the Archmage of Spring at eight o'clock on Friday evening
  • The region of Tamarbode has been sealed against Imperial citizens

During the Winter Solstice, the Imperial Conclave declared enmity against the Spring eternal Llofir. In response, the eternal Llofir has sent word that it wishes to speak with the Archmage of Spring during the coming Equinox. It intends to send an emissary to the Hall of the Worlds at eight o'clock on Friday evening.

Apart from that message, the only other response to the enmity has been a burst of growth in Tamarbode - the region of Reikos that Llofir claims. In the past the heralds of Llofir and other creatures that dwelt in Tamarbode gently discouraged visitors and went about their own peculiar business in private. One exception was the mana site known as Tamar's Toes. Even after the region was claimed by the eternal, magicians still made regular trips into the tumultuous woodlands to claim the bounty of crystal mana, and were allowed to pass unmolested - although it was clear that they were not especially welcome. The mana site itself seemed to be the only part of Tamarbode not completely swallowed by the unruly forest raised by Llofir's Spring magic.

That has now changed. Following the Winter Solstice, the magicians who sought to gather crystal mana at the site discovered it was being rapidly overgrown by tree-sized fungal growths. As the Spring Equinox approached, the last few visitors were met at the border by some of Llofir's creatures - not the little beasts and eerie mushroom folk commonly seen around the area but by large, bulky humanoids with armoured shells and great living clubs. The heralds were polite, but would allow no mortals to enter Tamarbode. Regretfully, Llofir will not permit those who have declared themselves its enemies to enter Tamarbode any more, meaning that the crystal mana can no longer be gathered. Indeed, it seems next to impossible for anyone to enter Tamarbode without significant military force behind them.

Isolde of the Banner of the Cenotaph has lost control of Tamar's Toes; it has been replaced with a rank one mana site. If desired, they may contact Profound Decisions and change to a different rank one personal resource without the usual cost of 2 crowns transfer fee.

The Gift of Kaela

  • Kaela's Gift is still available to those who fall into the hands of the Druj

The Gift of Kaela is still offered to any Imperial citizen in the hands of the Druj orcs, whether they be within the Empire or without. The gift allows such prisoners to choose to die painlessly. No corpse remains for the Druj to defile, to impale, or to use to taunt the living - the body turns to dust and ashes. This gift extends across the entire eastern Empire, and into the Mallum, Zenith, and the Barrens.

OOC Note: Using the gift requires thirty seconds of appropriate roleplaying. This ability may be used by player characters capture by the Druj during an event; if you do so you should ensure that you mark your character as dead as soon as you can so that your egregore is aware of your death. There is however one drawback to this as Imperial magicians may soon discover; anyone who takes advantage of this ability cannot be contacted with Whispers through the Black Gate.

The Father of Bats

  • Sadogua mourns the death of Richard of Holberg

The Father of Bats has made little effort to communicate with the Empire since his various offers during the Winter Solstice. Heralds visiting the Lyceum, or wintering with respected masters of Night magic bring news that the Brother of Wizards is in mourning. His long time friend and close companion Richard of Holberg has finally succumbed to his long illness and passed beyond the ken of mortal or eternal. Some of his projects can still be completed. The curse-warding dolmens for example can still be built, as can the Loom of the Heavens as the plans were shared with the Empire before Richard's decline became too bad. There will be not further opportunities to work with the League magical architect, however.

This leaves the matter of the Faraden and their iridescent blight very much in the air - but as the Toad King has promised not to pass the grubs that are in his care to their wizards without the approval of the Imperial Conclave, it may well be that no news is good news.

Eleonaris' Friendship

  • Eleonaris requests a sign of the alliance between the Fields of Glory and the Empire

The Queen of the Fields of Glory has not made further direct overture to the Empire, but rather has again sent a single herald to speak to prominent masters of Summer magic. The gruff herald Nezha mentions that during the Winter Solstice the Empire called forth some 24,000 knights devoted to Eleonaris to aid them in their battles. The near equivalent of five entire armies fought alongside Imperial troops. He notes with some concern that he can see no sign of a statue celebrating the alliance between the Empire and his Queen. He plans to return to the Empire after the Spring Equinox to see what progress if any has been made in this regard, on behalf of his mistress.

Meraud's Challenge and the Lions of Fire

  • Meraud has delayed the culmination of his challenge to the magicians of the Empire
  • Research has revealed his involvement in the codification of a certain ritual

During the Autumn Equinox, the eternal Meraud issued a challenge to the Empire. Since the Autumn Equinox, the Summer Mage has been observing the mighty magics worked by the Empire on the battlefield. It was his intention to return during the Spring Equinox to conclude the challenge with the aid of a group of judges. Unfortunately, he is unable to do so this season after all. His heralds delicately explain that there is a matter that has consumed much of the Golden Magicians time of late, and that until it is concluded he cannot leave his tower for any reason.

He still wishes to hear from Imperial magicians of the magic they have woven that has turned the tide of battle, saved the lives of their fellows, slaughtered their enemies, and granted succour to the Empire. Each magical feat will be judged as to its effectiveness, its raw power, its cleverness, its majesty, and its uniqueness. It will simply have to wait until the Summer Solstice.

It is possible that this reticence about visiting the Empire may be connected to a recent revelation coming from the Lyceum. Following on from some interest where the magical defences called by Dripping Echoes of the Fen and Forge the Wooden Fastness originate, some of the researches at the Lyceum turned their attention on the ritual Lions of Phoenix Reach. What they found was a little troubling. It is widely known that it is not possible to summon beings or objects from the realms without the assistance, however fleeting, of an eternal. Yet the Lions of Phoenix Reach appears to call fiery spirits from the Summer Realm without any such intervention. Until, that is, the ritual was carefully examined. It appears that far from simply summoning the spirits, the ability to do so is woven into the ritual with the assistance of Meraud. As near as the researchers can tell, someone at the Halls of Knowledge concealed this fact during the formulation - from both their fellow researchers an from the Provost of the Halls of Knowledge himself.

There's no evidence of any malefaction on behalf of Meraud - but the fact the eternals involvement was concealed may be cause for mild alarm.

Adamant and the Gate

  • The Adamant Gate in Semmerholm is complete.

After a year of work, the koboldi of Adamant have completed the construction of the new fortification in Semmerholm. Dubbed the Adamant Gate, it is a beautiful white granite fortress imbued with majestic power from the Summer Realm. Magicians who have examined the finished fortification are excited to discover that the castle simply cannot be destroyed by normal means. It can be captured, certainly, but it would take exceptionally potent magic to actually destroy it - most likely some dire curse of Winter magic to leech the power from the stones. In campaign terms, this means that damage to the Adamant Gate cannot reduce it to below 1,000 military strength. It can be captured, but it cannot be destroyed.

Furthermore, to the apparent pleasure of the koboldi, the problems with the college of engineering and architecture were apparently resolved. While construction has not yet begun, the little heralds are hopeful it will soon be completed.