This sturdy rods are often sheathed in gold or decorated with gemstones. They are popular with Dawnish enchanters who take the battlefield alongside the war witches, allowing them to channel their personal mana into magic intended to send their enemies careening away. Some enchanters use them off the battlefield as well, maintaining discipline with a swift swipe of their scepter.
It can also take the form of a stout walking stick, made of a length of springy wood decorated with symbols of travel or runes such as Sular, Rune of Discovery, to help the wearer find the correct path for their journey. These rods are carried by wandering ritualists, such as Icewalkers and Volhov, to give them a swift defense without needing to take time away from their study of the Lores. Icewalker examples are sometimes made of large icicles to encourage their foes to slide away and are known as Sudden Skates, while the Varushkans call these rods Wood-Walker's Wards. Prolonged bonds to such rods can sometimes lead to sullen moods and a desire for solitude. Some strongly affected magicians take to using the rods simply to drive away unwanted company or to end conversations.
- Form: Weapon. Takes the form of a rod. You must be wielding this implement to use its magical properties.
- Requirement: You must have the magician skill to bond to this item.
- Effect: You may cast the repel spell as if you knew it.
- Materials: Crafting a Storm Sceptre requires no special materials. It takes two months to make one of these items.
Still, even under cover of Tassato Regario's gloom-shrouded night, he couldn't afford the attention he might draw with undue haste, so instead he forced himself to walk with affected nonchalance, cloak drawn round to conceal the prize he cradled in his arms. It wouldn't be long before Iolanda's majordomo realised the box and its precious cargo was gone, but by then he'd be in Tassato Mestra and these gems would be in the hands of a dozen trustworthy fences.
Ahead, the street ended in the glimmering surface of the great river; the moon, peeking 'tween clouds, set the ripples alight with silver fire. Even at this time of night he could make out a few ferries gliding this way and that. Eusebio bit down on a laugh at the felicity of the situation; everything was going perfectly.
He hurried down the steps to the water's edge, where the crumbling stone promenade played host to a ferryman's stand. It was a slim little craft, its flanks carved with ornate images and its bed scattered with cushions. Eusebio felt he deserved a little largesse, and made his way to where the river-waves lapped and sloshed against Tassato's flank.
“A journey across the river to Mestra. Take me to the Narcissus dock by the Attano counting house,” he said, carefully stepping onto the ferry.
The ferryman nodded; he could just make out the young man's stubbled chin and cheeks beneath the cloak and hood that he wore to fend off the season's chill.
The young man prepared his river-pole to push off from the dock, but before he did, he glanced at his passenger, and Eusebio was struck by the almost comical length of his dangling whiskers. “Of course, good man,” he said, his voice rasping. “The fee is-”
Eusebio slapped down a handful of coin in the basin of the barge – far more than a simple ferry-ride's price. “There. Now take me across quickly and quietly.”
He noted with satisfaction at how that shut the ferryman up, and soon enough the dock was far behind them, with only the lulling noise of the river waters around them. Some half-way across, and Tassato Mestra was growing large enough that he felt he could reach out and touch it. He could see the dock by the counting house that would signal his return to safety, and so he finally began to relax. The jewel-box was heavy, so he set it down on the ferry floor and leaned back, letting muscles unwind and lose their tension.
Another sound invaded the visions of triumph that held court in his mind. Eusebio frowned. The ferryman was singing – not loudly, but with a rhythmic cadence that still breached his instruction for quiet. Irritatingly, he couldn't quite place the song, nor quite make out the words.
“I said quietly-” he began to say, an undercurrent of anger in his voice, but all thought was washed away to be replaced with shock.
The ferryman wheeled round from where he stood at the ferry's prow, a gleaming rod now gripped in one gloved hand; Eusebio gaped as he saw and felt its gem-encrusted tip come to rest against his chest. In the one moment he had, he looked up at the man's face and saw by the dim light that it was no man at all; the beard and whiskers were clearly false ... it was a woman... and a woman he recognised ...
The mountebank finished her spell-song, and a storm's angry thundercrack broke the quiet upon the river. Eusebio found himself hurled from the ferry as if by a rushing torrent, splashing into the water's icy embrace a good few yards from the fraud's boat.
As he flailed and spluttered and yelled, the woman set her foot atop the jewel-box that still laid in the ferry's belly, and offered him a triumphant smile.
“Set a thief to catch a thief, my dear,” she called, blowing Eusebio a kiss. “You didn't think Lady Iolande was that foolish, did you?”Then, with steady purpose, she started back for the distant silhouette of Tassato Regario, the buildings standing proud over the moonlight waters.