The Freeborn bowed low with a grand flourish of his hand. Somehow his tagelmust stayed on his head, perhaps due to the thick golden horns that emerge from beneath it.

"The Prince of the Argent Tontine, the Sovereign-Lord of the City of Chains, sends his most profitable greetings to the office of the Archmage of the Brazen Planes," his stentorious voice boomed, echoing around the street.

Harry stared at the Freeborn thing. "You what mate?" he asked. Where did they even find these things? And what in the name of ten angry trolls was the Archmage of the Brazen Planes?

The creature looked momentarily confused, but quickly righted itself. "I seek the palace of the Imperial Archmage of the Puissant Arts, Edmundo of Damakan's Forge. I have a message for him from my master, the Lord of the City of Chains." He said the last a little faster, clearly becoming a little impatient.

"Right. Well this is a pub not a palace... so if you want a buy a drink then you can come in... otherwise... piss off?" This was only his third night working as a bouncer. When he'd come to Tassato looking for work he'd assumed it would be just like working the doors at the Vicious Redcap in Sarcombe, just for more money. Clearly he'd assumed wrong.

The creature was starting to look a little desperate now but it gestured towards the sign above their head. "This is Edmundo's Forge is it not? A residence of the Archmage of Autumn, Edmundo of Damakan's Forge?"

"No mate. This is Edmundo's Forge, the best tavern in the quarter. We sell a range of good Marcher ales, and some Dawnish shite. We're open from seven past the hour til Dawn every day with entertainment on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now either buy a drink or piss off."

The creature stood stiffly upright, apparently insulted for some reason. "Hmpf, clearly I shall seek the Autumn Archmage elsewhere - good day to you sir". And with that it turned on its heel and marched off into the night.

Harry just shook his head in disbelief as the thing walked away. "Weird." he said aloud to no-one in particular.

Mortal Magic

A Tale of Shrouds

The night skies over Holberg, Zenith, the Barrens, and Spiral are inky black, just as they were last season. Following the Spring Equinox, the stars over Ossium and Semmerholm likewise flicker out. The change happens gradually, but like the guttering of candles the stars go out leaving the skies absent of any light save the occasional and unpredictable appearance of the moon. The list of targets causes some unease in the Empire - these are all territories occupied by, or of obvious interest to, the Druj orcs. If they can find a way to hide the night skies, and impede divination, in these territories what else might they be capable of?

A more traditional shroud - the Penumbral Veil - is reported by Imperial merchants to still hang over Urdur in Otkodov. Reports are that the same veil lies over Nithoggir, Sküld, and Verthandi. The Thule, it seems, are keen to preserve their secrets from scrying eyes.

Divination rituals such as Eyes of the Sun and Moon, Eye of the High Places, and Dreams in the Witch House performed on any 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.

The shrouds that previously hung over Feroz, Temeschwar, and Morrow have now faded away.

Naga Influence
In addition to the more general influence naga citizens of the Empire are experiencing due to the recent powerful ritual cast over the Empire, any who have spent significant time in the Barrens, Spiral, Zenith, Holberg, Ossium or Semmerholm 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.

Castles of Ice and Shadow

Imperial magicians have raised four magical castles in the Empire. Three of them called from the domain of the Lady of the Frost by Summer Dawning Relentless of Dawn - in the hills of Ankra, Ateri, and Estmure. It seems clear that these enchanted citadels of stone and ice are intended to defend against the Druj... but the Druj do not attack in either Spiral or Semmerholm.

Meanwhile the Sussavari Frost Coven of Wintermark called mist and fog to the North Fens of Bregasland. The citadel will fade with the coming of the Summer Solstice but while it stands it protects the Dour Fens and provides safe haven for defenders and travellers alike.

A Mantle of Night

  • The Sussivari Frost Coven of Wintermark performed Wondrous Forests of the Night

Shortly after the Spring Equinox a great surge of Night magic is felt throughout the Empire, most noticeable around forests. What is clear to any magician is that someone has performed the magnitude 160 ritual Wondrous Forests of the Night which draws a surge of magic from the Night realm. More information about this effect and how it affects the Empire can be found here.

The Three Watchers

  • The great wonder "The Three Watchers" has been created in Morrow

During the Spring Equinox, the Urizen coven Ashen Flame performed the arcane projection "The Three Watchers". Created to allow Furia Severia to call in a boon from the eternal Adamant, it prevailed on the eternal to send a legion of his koboldi to the Urizen illuminate to perform a construction of her choice. The magic unleashed, the koboldi did indeed arrive at Furia Severia's spire. As she had promised, she directed them to carve three immense statues out of the mountains - each nearly two hundred foot tall - of Highborn soldiers guarding the pass from Morrow to Zenith. Towering over the surrounding landscape, they are a permanent tribute memorialising the Highborn sacrifice for all time.

At the base of the central statue is a small shrine created in anticipation that people might travel to gaze upon the work. The shrine was consecrated with true liao by Aurum of the Nightingale Temple, and now bears a powerful aura of Loyalty. The consecration took place very shortly before the Summer Solstice and it remains to be seen what effect it will have. Given the scale of the work, and the importance of the events it is absolutely certain that using a dose of true liao in this way will have significant effects beyond the creation of a permanent aura. At the very least it would quickly become a popular destination for Highborn pilgrims and those who ponder the significance of human destiny, Loyalty, and Courage.

Psychopomp and Circumstance

The new title of Imperial Necromancer was created during the Spring Equinox; the culmination of many months of hard work by members of the Imperial Conclave. It is responsible for overseeing the use of the ritual Whispers Through the Black Gate - and presumably other uses of necromancy. In the Empire, the mysterious arts of talking to the dead are not well understood, but can often prove invaluable. The use of necromancy to investigate crimes is obvious but there is also a common belief that speaking to one who has passed "beyond the Black Gate" may help them to resolve any issues or regrets that might otherwise cause them to become restless shades. As news of the new title - and its impending appointment by the Imperial Conclave - spreads, there is some obvious interest from those fascinated by the nature of death.

Total Money SpentProduction
50 Rings1 Decoction of the Hungry Moon
150 Rings2 Decoction of the Hungry Moon
250 Rings3 Decoction of the Hungry Moon
Total Money SpentProduction
65 Rings1 Barren Watchtower
200 Rings2 Barren Watchtower
325 Rings3 Barren Watchtower
Total Money SpentProduction
350 Rings1 Cowl of Ashes

Psychopomp
The first interest comes from a Necropolis chapter called the Black Tablet. Primarily made up of Stewards of the Dead, they count several magisters adept in the arts of Winter magic as part of their chapter. Their preceptor, Anne places a proposal before the Conclave. If the magicians of the Conclave will raise and pass a Declaration of Concord they are in a position to offer additional support to the Imperial Necromancer.

They request that the Conclave declare that they will hold any coven that performs Whispers Through the Black Gate responsible for whatever spirit is raised, and for its actions. Further, that they ask the Imperial Necromancer to ensure that those who abuse the power of necromancy for frivolous reasons, unleash uncontrolled spirits in an unwise fashion, or who intentionally create ghosts or bind the spirits of humans or orcs, are brought to the attention of the Conclave and charged with sorcery.

Obviously, they would ideally want to see the Senate amend the powers of the Imperial Necromancer to include the ability to raise declarations of sorcery more easily, but they understand that this is not likely to be easy to achieve. They suggest that the Sevenfold Path in particular may wish to consider the use that necromancy is put to in the Empire, and more closely examine the potential danger that the increased interest in Axou necromantia or Sarcophan zweilweven represents.

if the declaration passes, then its wording will amend the responsibilities of the Imperial Necromancer. For as long as the Imperial Necromancer remains committed to preserving the separation between the living and the spirits of the dead, they will help the Imperial Necromancer to acquire tools and supplies that may help them to perform their tasks, in a manner similar to a ministry. Anne of the Black Tablet knows that the Conclave may wish to consider her suggestion, and her chapter will wait until the end of the Autumn equinox to hear their decision - but no longer.

Circumstance
Interest also comes from a slightly unusual source; the eternal Sung. The Feathered Serpent is known to be fascinated by the great mysteries, of which death is one. Perhaps due to the increased interest of the Night eternals following the casting of Wondrous Forests of the Night, she presents a somewhat whimsical proposal to the Imperial Necromancer. She will provide the Necromancer with feather tokens - two each season - that can be used in the place of three mana crystals for anyone performing the Whispers Through the Black Gate ritual. She will also provide the Necromancer with two doses of a rare drug found in Axos - the so-called Blackened Key - that among other effects permits the one who uses it to speak to the recently dead.

In return she asks that the Conclave interdict the practice of using ritual magic to speak to those who have been dead for more than a year. There are certain mysteries, she says, that should be preserved, or that should be uncovered through subtle intuition, not with the ruthless hammer of necromancy. Further, she says, the dangers of speaking to the long departed with ritual magic are all too obvious to those who study necromancy. Her heralds imagine that the choice will be a simple one, and she asks the Conclave to make its decision before the end of the Summer Solstice.

Zephania'sLament.jpg
Zephaniah's Lament

A Curse on Your House

  • The chapter of Zephaniah's Lament has been cursed by someone or some thing.

At the first moment of true darkness after sunset, on the night of the first new moon after the Spring Equinox, a curse descended on the chapterhouse of Zephaniah's Lament. Before the sun had risen again, every plant larger than a human hand withered and died, and the soil became dry and barren. The effect is quite noticeable - it extends to the limits of the land claimed by the chapterhouse and no further. Around Zephaniah's Lament, the chapterhouses are enjoying the approach of Summer, their fields full of blossoming trees, wild flowers, and healthy crops. Around Zephaniah's Lament, however, is a dusty wasteland.

The effect appears to have extended to the inhabitants as well. They are noticeably tired and drawn, and flinch strangely, particularly when they catch a sight of their own reflections.

The chapterhouse has always had a slightly grim reputation - one that leaves most of its neighbours unsurprised that something unpleasant is happening to the place. The source of the curse is unclear, but there is rumour of a beautiful woman in a striking red cloak glimpsed several times standing on the borders of the chapterhouse, gazing with cool intent towards the building. Yet nobody has thus far been able to actually speak to her - she avoids human contact with supernatural acuity. There is some suspicion she may represent a ghost, perhaps that of one of the founders of the chapter, and several of their neighbours have suggested to Zephaniah's Lament that they may wish to reach out to the Stewards of the Dead for aid.

Effects of the curse
Every member of the chapter of Zephaniah's Lament is cursed. They experience a roleplaying effect: "You feel a pair of hands on your throat, as if someone was behind you, watching. Breathing is difficult. Sometimes, when you look in the mirror, you see a hideous figure standing beside you, her talons around your neck."

Eternal Magic

The Gifts of Cathan Canae

During the Spring Equinox, six citizens of the Empire met with the Queen of Ice and Darkness. A little over a month ago she sent her outspoken and boisterous herald Volstann to bring word to the Empire that she was very pleased with the people who came to see her, and with Brother Luke the Archmage of Summer. With that in mind, she wishes to deliver gifts to those who came to see her.

She recognises Osric of Sigehold Hall, Odelia Nelda, and Jag of the Embers of Ashenhall for their cleverness, courage, and insight. In their name, she offers her aid to the people of Wintermark to defend their lands from the Jotun orcs - or any other threat. If the Imperial Conclave will pass a Declaration of Concord recognising the strength of the people of Wintermark in their stand against the Jotun she will send two legions of her ice giants to help guard the Beacons of Wintermark for the next year. They will stand alongside the people of the Mark and help keep the orcs from Kallavesa and Hahnmark.

She recognises the prowess of the people of Dawn and Varushka who fought to take Ossium from the Druj and the strong words of Alexander of House Tallstag. Alexander is a powerful war-witch, and so the Mistress of Blizzards chooses to present him with a draught brewed from the snowmelt of the Summer Realm where the last light of the setting sun turns the white snow the colour of blood.

She recognises the strength of the people of the Marches and the worth of Will Talbot. He brought a gift for her throne, and she in turn brings him a gift for his people; a ritual prepared in the Empire long ago, and given into her hands. It will grant dangerous strength to the halberdiers and pole-axe wielders of the Marches. She will entrust the Marchers with it for a year, at the end of which time she will request its return.

Finally, she calls on Brother Luke to issue the challenge, so that she may start seeking for champions to fight on her behalf in the tourney that is to come.

As the Dawn Guard, the Gates of Adamant stand, so do Dawn also stand in Prosperity and Pride. We wish that those who rose up these gates be remembered - House Devereux, House de Rondell, House Coeurdefer, and Wise Alise. We salute you.

Lady Eve Orzel, Statement of Principle, Dawn National Assembly. Spring 383YE, Upheld (124-0, Greater Majority)

The Disappointment of Adamant

  • Nobody is saying Adamant is upset, angry, or hurt at not being thanked by the troubadours of Dawn.

During the Spring Equinox, the national assembly of Dawn spported a statement of principle thanking various people for raising up the Gates of Adamant - the fortification in Semmerholm built with the aid of the eternal Adamant which is said to be unbreakable. They thanked House Devereux, House de Rondell, House Coeurdefer, and Wise Alise and saluted them. Unfortunately, the one person they did not thank was the eternal Adamant.

There has been no official word from Adamant himself, but several of his wide-eyed koboldi servants have appeared unexpectedly in various places throughout Dawn wanting to have an "informal chat" with enchanters versed in the art of Summer magic. They do not quite come out and say that their master is upset at being left off a list of thanks for the castle he largely made happen... but the implication is very clear. The koboldi are quick to reassure those they speak to that their master is not angry... but he might be a little, tiny bit disappointed. Maybe.

Some of the older enchanters have suggested that the National Assembly of Dawn thank Adamant as quickly as possible for making the new Adamant Gate a reality, and for his aid in making it unbreakable before anyone's feelings get any more hurt, and accusations of idolatry be damned.

Meraud

  • After a short delay Meraud is happy to announce the judging of the contest will occur at the Summer Solstice
  • It is scheduled to take place in the Hall of Worlds, at five o'clock on Saturday
  • The nature of the secret judge has been revealed

The Golden Magician is finally ready to take part in judging the contest he announced at the Autumn Equinox 382YE. He has prepared the gifts ready for the three most spectacular acts of battlefield magic.

The Lord of Summer Stars formally requests the presence of the Archmage of Summer, the Warmage, the Master of Ice and Darkness, and the Grandmaster of the Rod and Shield as part of the judging panel. He makes clear that should one of the judges wish instead to present a demonstration of battlefield magic then that is entirely fine, indeed he looks forward to hearing of it.

Finally the Summer Enchanter requests that the Academy choose one of their own to represent them on the panel of judges. The Fire Mage will send one of his heralds to discuss the matter with the Academy on Friday, and will return to escort them to the Hall of Worlds on Saturday when the judging is ready to occur.

Eleonaris

  • Nezha, herald of Eleonaris, intends to visit the Hall of Worlds to address the magicians of the Empire shortly before the Conclave session on Friday night
  • The Leonine Child will be visiting Anvil to discuss her own matters early on Friday evening

As noted previously Nezha, a herald of Eleonaris, has twice now visited the Empire and suggested the construction of a monument to recognise the contributions of his sovereign, the Lion of Summer to the Empire's recent military successes. The Empire has chosen not to construct such a statue, as is their right. During the Spring Equinox, Summer Dawning Relentless of Dawn called forth six thousand of her Knights of Glory to aid their armies in the attack on the Barrens - a worthy endeavour indeed but one that may yet prove unwise.

Shortly before the Spring Equinox, the gruff Nezha made his third visit to the Empire during which he tried to inform the civil servants attached to the Conclave of his intent to raise an address. It was eventually explained to him that it was impossible to do as his mistress was not considered a friend of the Empire. As a compromise, Nezha will be visiting the Hall of Worlds fifteen minutes before Conclave is due to begin on Friday evening. He has specifically requested the presence of Ceinwen Eternal, the Master of Ice and Darkness.

The Lady of Pennants' official diplomat to the Empire, the Leonine Child, will still be visiting Anvil to discuss their own matters with citizens of the Empire. They, and their court, are due to arrive early on Friday evening.

Callidus

  • Callidus has requested the Imperial Conclave grant him the "Freedom of the City" in a region of Tassato
  • If the Imperial Conclave were to do this then the taxation of the territory would increase by one throne each season

The Prince of the Argent Tontine has made a request of the Imperial Conclave. He wishes his heralds and servants to have the power to come and go as they please and so he requests that the Conclave use a Declaration of Concord to formally grant him the "Freedom of the City", specifically for one region in Tassato, Cascatas to be precise. The presence of Callidus' heralds in the region would contribute to the taxation of the territory, which would increase by one throne each season, cumulative.

The civil servants who have examined the request advise that Callidus appears to be deliberating attempting to twist the power of amity and enmity. Under normal circumstances, the Conclave can use formal declarations of Amity to give an eternal greater freedom to operate in the entire Empire - or Enmity to virtually banish them. It would appear that Callidus is quite deliberately using hearth magic to create something new.

The "Freedom of the City" is an honour bestowed by a municipality upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary. In theory it gives the recipient the right to come and go as they please. In practice the entire concept is entirely honorific, at least as far as mortals are concerned. Of course Callidus can't simply visit Cascatas, so it would appear he is using the implicit invitation granted by the title to circumvent the normal restrictions - albeit only for a single region. The civil service note that heralds and eternals have requested such invitations in the past - from both the Conclave and from Archmages on occasion. Clearly such invitations have actual power as far as the eternals are concerned, especially if conducted properly.

The Sovereign-Lord of the City of Chains has made clear that he is in no great rush to see this deal finalised, seemingly offering it to the Empire in order to gauge their reaction. If the Empire, presumably through the archmage of Autumn, Edmundo of Damakan's Forge, or the senator of Tassato, Cesare Sanguineo Rezia Di Tassato, wished to discuss the terms of the contract then the archmage could issue a plenipoteniary.

Wendigo

  • Wendigo has offered a boon to the Empire
  • If Wendigo has enmity removed for a season they will lift the curse that threatens the militia and the magistrates

The Devourer of the Fallen has made an offer to the Empire. If the Imperial Conclave will grant him neutrality for just a single season he will remove the dreadful curse that has been placed by "something" on the artefact weapon belonging to the magistrates. Agramant is sure that once the Empire has seen what it can do to help Imperials, Conclave will be just guaranteed to grant him amity, but he understands that he needs to prove himself first, to develop trust between the The Hunter in the Wastes and the Casinean Empire.

The Abominable One has made clear that he is busy. If the Empire does want to take him on his most gracious offer, then he will be happy to accept. But if it has not, and the Archmage of Winter, Syn Truth-Walker Returned, has not sent a plenipoteniary by the end of the year then he will have to look elsewhere.

Resolution

During the Summer Solstice 383YE, Zephaniah of Felix's Watch raised a declaration in the Imperial Conclave encouraging the Imperial Necromancer to look into unacceptable and imprudent uses of necromancy. The Conclave agreed, and the declaration passed. Odelia Nelda raised another such declaration - recognising the strength of Wintermark - which the Conclave likewise upheld. As a consequence Cathan Canae has sent two warbands of her followers to support the beacons of Kallavesa and the beacons of Hahnmark.

Also during the Summer Solstice, Mordred of Dawn proposed a statement of principle in the Dawn national assembly thanking Adamant for his aid and apologising for their oversight. It is not clear at this time whether Adamant is aware of the statement, as it did not achieve a greater majority.