Beyond is a thing that defies easy explanation. A machine whose only moving parts are uncountable numbers of threads, of all the colours of the rainbow. It is in constant slow motion, with threads winding around each other and uncoiling; changing colour; crossing and uncrossing; snapping and twisting together to form new threads. One could spend a lifetime studying its radiant complexity and never learn more than a fraction of it.
Scuttling through and around the loom of the stars are a dozen little creatures that are somewhat like arachnids, and somewhat like entirely different creatures. It is hard to look at them closely. As the golden prince enters, they cease their movement for a heartbeat to watch him enter, and each bobs its body just so in a manner reminiscent of a courtier greeting their lord.
Prospero acknowledges them, and examines the loom for a moment. He moves through it in a certain way, in a direction that is difficult to put into words, and comes to a certain part of it. He reaches out his hand and lays a metallic talon on a single thick cord woven of dark purple and crimson strands. He taps it once, turns his head, and from a different angle the strand and the loom and the room are gone and he is watching a great ball of crimson fire that is also a churning cloud and a coiling mist which gives a great sensation of motion without moving. He watches it in his mind's eye. At first it is single-natured, but then without warning it becomes almost impossible to perceive, splintering into hundreds of ghostly images. Yet each image ends the same way - with an explosive impact - but in each case the location of the impact varies.
He turns his head again, observes the loom once more, traces his finger along the star's thread in a different direction. he barely seems interested in the thread itself, but in all the myriad strands and cords that weave around it. He taps one of his other fingers against his lips as he studies the loom, brow furrowed.
"The red star," he says out loud. One of the little spider-things scuttles up his leg and onto his shoulder, It caresses his ear with its little forelegs. He leans slightly forward, examining other strands. Here a green and blue cord made up of five smaller cords that coil and uncoil around each other crosses the star's thread. There a six-fold rope made up of hundreds of tiny hairs wraps around and around it. He follows along the star thread to where it abruptly ends.
No, not ends. Bursts, uncoils, frays and snaps. At a certain point the red and purple strands break apart and spread out in all directions, coiling around other threads. Almost too many to count, but the Lord of the Loom tracks them all. More or less. He smiles, clearly pleased with what he has seen.
"Let me know if anything significant changes," he whispers to the little spiderling on his shoulder. "If nothing else happens, let me know the moment that it becomes immanent - once it is too late to change where it will fall. I want to take a proper look at the implications of the location and see what opportunities present themselves."The spiderling chitters, and scuttles down Prospero's shoulder. He stands for another timeless moment examining certain other threads of interest and then, satisfied, he left the chamber by a different door, a circular portal that opened with a whirr and closed with a peculiar chuffing, leaving the spiderlings to their work observing the loom, and the loom to its enigmatic business.
As part of our ongoing peace treaty with the Thule
and to accept their gesture of goodwill. We agree to
use the Thule ritual to divert the Stalker comet to the
Thule territory of Sküld
Proposed by Volodmartz, Seconded by Hercynia
The last year has seen the appearance of a celestial phenomena dubbed "the Stalker" by the magicians of the Imperial Conclave. A red star, initially invisible to the naked eye, that has slowly grown larger and larger. The star is not visible in all parts of the Empire; that alone suggests that powerful magic is at work here. It can be seen in the northern sky over Skarsind, Sermersuaq, Hercynia; in Wickmoor and Sandling in Weirwater; in Northspires and Bruckland in Hahnmark; and over the whole of Varushka. Even where the skies are otherwise empty, the star remains visible after sunset.
As the seasons have crept on the star has grown brighter and larger in the sky until it now eclipses the stars it passes. Now, as the Autumn Equinox approaches, the star begins its final descent to the world below.
The growing star itself is not the only thing that falls from the northern skies. As it grows brighter, the skies are lit by showers of shooting stars. While such phenomena are common in Summer, they have not fell in such profusion in living memory. As with most falling stars, they burn brightly and then are gone, occasionally leaving behind strange rocks or other curiosities. Many of these nuggets that fall from the heavens contain small amounts of the precious star metal ilium. Optimistic prospectors head for the northern wilderness in the hopes of making their fortune.
Of particular interest to astronomancers however are three larger star fragments that fell during nights particularly heavy with shooting stars. They burned brighter and longer than the others, leaving shadows of their path burnt into the vision of those who witnessed their fall. One struck the marshes of Kallavesa. The others hit the ground in Bregasland near Rushring, and in the deep forests of West Ranging in Liathaven. These impacts threw columns of smoke and debris into the area, making it difficult to locate exactly where the stars came to rest. This has not stopped prospectors looking, however - even in Jotun-held Liathaven - for these stars may well represent a significant bounty of ilium.
Following a great deal of debate, both the Imperial Conclave and the Senate have expressed their opinion that magic should be used to change the trajectory of the Stalker, and have it strike the earth in the Thule territory of Sküld. Apparently some sort of agreement has been made with the northern orcs. Presumably there has been some agreement as to precisely which region within the territory the star will target, although this is not public knowledge.
... I think it is important that the civil service clarifies with the senators, and the magicians of the Conclave, that their statements of intent are insufficient to actually move the star. Someone will have to actually employ the necessary magic to make that happen. The power of the Senate is great, but there are limits to how far-reaching the words of even this august body can be.Excerpt from recommendation by Magistrate Abraham
This season marks the end of the Stalker's passage through the sky. It will strike the ground during or just after the Autumn Equinox, and for a brief period of time it will be possible or mortal ritual magic to influence where it finally comes to rest.
Observations and divinations have revealed that the falling star will make landfall in Miekarova, some time on Saturday night or Sunday morning during the Autumn Equinox. At present it is not common knowledge what region in Miekarova will suffer.
Whatever region of Miekarova is hit by the comet will be utterly devastated. Most resources that are hit will be destroyed - and if there are any significant settlements in that region then many people will die. However, regardless of where it hits, the comet is likely to rain destruction across a wide area as it breaks up. As a result every resource in the territory that is currently improved beyond level one will permanently lose a level from the destruction caused by the comet.
Magic and the Stalker
As the star draws closer, then it may come within range of ritual magic before it falls to earth. Influencing the movement of the star would fall within the purview of Autumn magic - assuming it is possible to a powerful enough ritual could be accomplished. If it is anything like those stars that fall in the Summer months, falling to earth is a function of its essential nature and no force of magic can gainsay that quality.
Regardless, rituals to divine its path or potentially shift that path do not exist in Imperial Lore. In the absence of a ritual text, Imperial magicians must fall back on more spontaneous magics. Any ritual to affect the star would almost certainly have to be performed in Miekarova - or at the Anvil regio.
The narrow window of opportunity for mortal magic to effect the fall of the Stalker begins on Friday afternoon, and ends at ten o'clock Saturday night. After this point, no power in the Empire will be able to change where the star will come to earth.
A prospector's lot
Short lived as it may be, the scattering of additional stars in the wake of the Stalker has seen an increased amount of ilium being reclaimed by Imperial citizens. By itself, most citizens have little use for a handful of ilium but it is extremely valuable to ritual magicians, artisans, and even some apothecaries. Consequently, a number of these rich finds are finding their way to Anvil for sale to the powerful and influential who attend the summits. This will mean an increased number of lots of star metal offered through public auction during the Autumn Equinox.
The Influence of the Stalker
Previously, the red star has been seen to exert an unnatural influence over those who suffered from certain types of magical ailment, especially those with a mental or emotional component. It also had an odd effect on the behaviour of many lineaged individuals. Roughly a fortnight before the Autumn equinox, however, these effects reach a crescendo - and then abruptly end.
There are a number of theories as to why this might have happened, but it is still a matter for discussion among those interested in such matters.
You can find out more about the constellations here (http://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Astronomancy)