Seals and stars
She was almost immediately answered by the thunder of heavy feet along the wooden quay as her father, her brother, and her aunt came running.
"Matje! Matje! What is wrong!" asked her aunt, grabbing her by the shoulders. Her father spotted it immediately.
"Ukko!" he shouted, horrified, pointing. Matje buried her face in her aunt's bosom, sobbing.
"I told him not to go so far out! I told him!" she cried.
Caught in the dark current, the little coracle bobbed and twisted among chunks of ice - the teeth of the lake as some of the older fisherfolk called them. They could crush a boat between them - or a little boy.
Her father and her brother were already shucking out of their clothes, kicking off their boots, ready to brave the frozen waters of the Sarda. They were almost certainly doomed to failure - even at the height of summer the waters of the Sarda were icy cold, and hungry.
As brother Artu made ready to dive into the water, her aunt suddenly stiffened and gasped.
"What is that in the water?" She pointed. A bald head had emerged from the frigid lakewater near the coracle. It was quickly joined by another, and then a third. They surrounded the little hide boat, and began to nudge it back towards the shore.
The moment the boat brushed against the dock, her father grabbed Ukko up out of it, into a crushing embrace, tears streaming down his face.As soon as the boy was safely on land, the three seals flipped smoothly in the water, and flashed away through the water, leaving the little family alternately crying and berating little Ukko, and thanking the spirits of the Sarda who had brought him back to them.
- The stars have still not returned to the night sky over much of the Empire.
As with previous seasons, the night skies over most the Empire (and several adjacent territories including Mournwold, Liathaven, and the Barrens) remain empty of stars. Naga living in those territories are subject to the shroud's peculiar influence ... and as Casinea (the location of Anvil) is still affected, any naga attending the summit will still begin to feel their natural urge toward subtlety and secretiveness is greatly strengthened. (OOC note: players are urged to read the Darkest night wind of fortune from the Spring event to refresh themselves as the details of this effect and bear in mind that the skies directly over Anvil also appear normal for some complicated and subtle reason).
The night skies are clear over Morrow, Spiral, Redoubt, Miekarova, and Skarsind. While the "empty sky" phenomenon has been removed from Zenith as well, Urizen inhabitants report that a Penumbral Veil has again settled over the territory - despite an earlier one having been removed during the Summer Solstice. The Druj, no doubt, looking to conceal their activities from Imperial magicians. (OOC Note: Naga living in those territories are free of the odd influence ... but obviously coming to the event means they will slowly start to fall under its sway again for the duration of their stay).
- Imperial citizens still lack the ability to access Spring regio.
Imperial citizens continue to find it impossible to call on the power of Spring regio. As with the Summer Solstice, no Imperial citizen can draw on the power of a regio to enhance their ability to perform Spring rituals. For purposes of performing Spring rituals, the Imperial regio at Anvil is considered to be a Spring regio.
Furthermore, no Imperial citizen can use the Imperial regio to target a Spring ritual at an Imperial territory, nor use a regio in a territory to invoke Spring magic to affect the entire territory. This has a profound impact on the ability of Imperial magicians to use rituals such as Foam and Spittle of the Furious Sea, Forge the Wooden Fastness, Rivers of Life, Rivers Run Red, Thunderous Tread of the Trees, Mountain Remembers Its Youth, Thunderous Deluge, The Dance of Navarr and Thorn, and Hallow of the Green World. In effect, these rituals have become impossible to perform. (OOC Note: Affected players are urged to read last season's Wind of Fortune to remind themselves of the ongoing effects.)
- Imperial magicians have raised castles across the Empire
The power to raise magical citadels in key areas of the Empire continues to be a valuable boon. Two icy citadels are conjured by the Blazing Sun coven of Highguard. One, raised in Clypion provides valuable assistance to the Highborn armies protecting Zenith against the Druj invaders. The other is raised on the slopes of Chalcis Mount, overlooking the slow rebuilding of the territory and standing mute guard against any potential for surprise invasion.
With the Empire still unable to access the full power of Spring magic, it seems that the Sussivari Frost Coven are working hard to take up any slack caused by the inability to perform Forge the Wooden Fastness. The Wintermark coven raises four citadels of coiling mist, shadow, and night magic to protect the Empire. In Ottermire, Grey Fens, in the Morass near Holberg, and amid the marshes of the Upper Tarn Valley, the power of night is invoked to grant protection against the Empire's enemies.
The Empire is familiar with these magical citadels, but a new power is brought to bear in the months since the Summer Solstice. Wielding a hitherto-unknown ritual named The Immaculate Architect, the Urizen Concordium of Pallas bind potent Autumn magic into the construction of the fortification being built in Broken Ride in Reikos. The powerful enchantment allows six months of work to take place in a scant twelve weeks, and sees the completion of the grand fortification there well ahead of schedule.
Blessing of the Hylje
- The hylje have ceased their raids against northern Wintermark
As summer ends, and autumn approaches, there is a change on the shores of Atkonaroq. For nearly a year, the lake shore has been covered in the huts and tents of strange folk.
A few days after the Summer summit, however, they begin to break camp. On an unspoken signal, almost as one, they walk into the lake. There are more than a few curious fisherfolk watching and the sight they see they say they will remember forever. The lakefolk wrap their skins around themselves and, rippling and blurring, transform into the shape of large seals. At the forefront is a singular figure, his skin white with red striations. He leads the transformation, singing an achingly beautiful song of triumph as he leads his people beneath the waters of the lake.
Within a few hours, only a few smouldering fires and abandoned huts show any sign of their presence. There is no doubt in the minds of those that witness it that they have been in the presence of the hylje, ancient cousins of the Suaq people.
For the next three months, sightings of seals in the waters of Sermersuaq increase ten-fold. Fishing boats find their nets unusually full – as if fish were literally being herded into their nets by the seals themselves. In the icy wastes, those who make a living hunting on the land find that the animals they hunt are noticeably plentiful - there are rumours of a strange figure dressed in a white sealskin speaking in an unknown tongue to a herd of mammoths, who duly walk slowly towards their death at the hands of the hunters. More than one sailor has a story of their ship being guided to calm waters and easy passages by the seals themselves. It seems the strange seal-folk of the northern wastes have seen fit to bestow their blessing on the people of Sermersuaq.
The blessing shows no sign of abating as the Autumn equinox draws near. Furthermore, Sesi of the Suaq (one of the current hosts of Sulkavaris, the spirit of the nation) is reported to have received a mysterious delivery in the night from a barefooted young woman wrapped in a dark sealskin. He is being tight-lipped about the nature of the gift - but has said enough to confirm that it relates to the seal-folk, and that he wishes to speak to those who share his tradition at the coming summit about it.
The blessing of the hylje seems set to continue through Winter. Assuming nothing else changes, any Wintermark character who owns a fleet or a farm in Sermersuaq receives a small bonus to their production in the coming downtime. The bonus represents the aid of the magical seal people, the hylje, who are supporting farmers, hunters, and fisherfolk, as well as ships travelling through the cold northern waters.
- Richard of Holberg will design three magical structures for the Conclave in thanks for his rescue
Richard of Holberg is a staunch ally of Sadogua - rumour suggests the two are somewhat more than friends. When the spire of Evenstar in Redoubt fell to the Grendel in Winter 381YE, Richard was being treated by the magician-healers and apothecaries there. Taken as a slave by the Grendel, he was rescued during the Summer Solstice by a band of heroic adventurers with the aid of the concerned Sadogua.
Having recovered from his ordeal, and after some discussion with the Wyrm-King, Richard has made an offer to the Imperial Conclave - to design a trio of magical structures for them. Trained at the University of Holberg, Richard is a competent magician but also a skilled architect, combining a talent for working with the flows of mana with hard-earned skill as a draughtsman and geometrist. Over the last twenty years or so he has designed or helped to design several structures intended to focus magical flows to produce mana. His health is not good, however, and working on new projects tires him.
The offer he makes is reasonably straightforward; during the Autumn Equinox, the Imperial Conclave may name up to three territories. Over the next few months, with the aid of servants of the Father of Bats, and under advisement from the eternal himself, he will create plans for structures to harness the flows of magic in those three territories - one structure per territory - and deliver them at the Winter Solstice. Each will represent a sinecure that may then be built by anyone empowered to do so (by a Senator or Imperial Wayleave, by the announcement of the Crystal Architect of the Spires (if one is in an Urizen territory), or - perhaps ideally - by the Arcane Architect ). In the past, Richard has demonstrated a facility with design that saw him create a living weirwood tower that drew mana from an enchanted pool, a cunningly detailed rune-bound spire of mithril that provided significantly more mana than expected, and a mithril dome over a white granite structure in Segura that provided a small amount of prismatic ink each season rather than crystal mana.
The only restriction he wishes to place is that these structures be appointed by the Imperial Conclave through the Declaration of Candidacy.
The blessing of the Hylje continues to flow through Sermersuaq.