The mystic, the willful
"Hey sib, are you in here somewhere?"
The answer came in a parting of steam, and a hand waving from one of the alcoves where the heated stones were surrounded by buckets of crushed shell scrub and rose petal oil. It was followed by an undecorous groan. "Look at this. I'll never get these ink stains out."
"Oh Orrin, but you chose the life of a scribe, no one to blame but yourself."
"It's not the scribing that's the problem. When Jorgen told me I could be involved in more than just the plenipotentiaries working with Eternals I thought he meant I'd get to work with the prognosticators and understand the most unusual effects of rituals, and watch over the Empire for undue influence and and... instead I'm working the printing press making poster for Eternals. Posters!"
Glaucus paused before answering, it wasn't the first time he'd heard this rant since his sibling had been home on leave from the Castle of Thorns.
" You are right at the centre of everything" He said soothingly "As far as I can tell from your accounts, there isn't an agent, messenger or Herald of any Eternal comes to the Empire that you don't get to hear about"
"And I get to shape their messages a little as I pass them on. Yes, I know, I have little to complain about" Orrin ran their hands through their hair, then shook their head vigorously to remove the forgotten shards of shell now clinging to their curls.
"But, do you ever recall a time when so many of the Eternals decided to communicate so publicly? I must have copied enough posters for The Forge, The Hub and ten times the number of taverns and teahouses in each camp in Anvil."
"Better that than the alternative. Aren't you still getting queries about how the Loquacious One got inside people's dreams last summer?" Glaucus waited, knowing he'd brought up yet another topic that was inclined to make Orrin shrill and defensive.
"They call it the Speaker in Dreams for a reason, you know. I've never understood why people were surprised. They seemed to expect us at the Castle to be able to work out exactly why each person was chosen, but the Gibbering just isn't comprehensible in that way. The best I was able to get out of Meliflee, one of its chattering Heralds, was that the dreams touched those who had been deeply touched by love, and had no particular purpose at all - and no one seems to think that's good enough as an answer, but as far as I can tell they were harmless enough."
Glaucus let Orrin chatter on for a while. Not an easy life, being a Highborn representative in the halls of the Castle of Thorns dedicated to working with Eternals, but Orrin's Vigilance could matter to them all one day. When his sibling fell silent, Glaucus plunged under the water and rose up into the steam in a single fluid movement."Keep at it sib. And remember - be glad you didn't work there in the days when folk from the Castle would be charged with postering every road across the Empire with messages, at least you only have Anvil itself to worry about"
- 1 Mortal Magic
- 2 In-Between Magic
- 3 Eternal Magic
- 4 Resolution
Black Velvet Skies
- The stars are missing in the Barrens, Zenith, and Holberg
- The penumbral veil has been drawn over Otkodov, and over the Imperial territories of Sarvos, Madruga, Feroz, Temeschwar, and Morrow
For the past year, the night skies over Semmerholm and the Barrens have been empty - not a single star has been visible. As the Winter Solstice draws near however, the stars over Semmerholm at least become visible again - a handful at first then more and more until the entire night sky is restored. The same cannot be said for the Barrens and Zenith; the night skies are as empty there as it has been for quite some time. and Semmerholm. Shortly before the Spring Equinox, the stars over Zenith likewise disappeared from the night sky.
Shortly after the Autumn Equinox, however, the stars over Holberg began to wink out one at a time. Within a week of the Equinox, the entire night sky was empty save for the moon. Another potent shroud, infused with hungry darkness.
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 the shrouds over the Barrens, and Zenith are assumed to be around the fiftieth magnitude, but there is no widespread information about whether that is the case. Given that magical scholars predict that the shroud over the Barrens should have faded at the same time as that over Semmerholm, it is likely that that one at least has been recast, potentially at a higher magnitude. The shroud over Zenith is expected to fade at the start of the Spring Equinox 383YE, but it seems likely the Druj - if they are indeed the source of this magic - will likewise lay their blanket of shadows over that stolen territory again.
Any naga who has spent significant time in any of the three remaining territories where the stars are still hidden 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 the Barrens, Zenith, or Holberg will still experience the roleplaying effect at least until Saturday morning.
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 still shroud Sarvos, and Madruga - although those are expected to fade shortly before the Spring Equinox. Likewise 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. In each case, these shrouds have a particular resonance to them that means both territories are also prone to heavy, dark fog, and the altered stars are often hidden behind inky black clouds.
Castles in the Mist
- Magical citadels have been raised in the hills of Hahnmark and Kahraman; in the marshes of Kallavesa; and around the Canterspire in Morrow.
There are three potent enchantments known to Imperial magicians that draw magic from the eternal realms to create powerful fortifications in the mortal realm. This season the Imperial Orc coven of the Ancestor's Heralds called forth one of Cathan Canae's frozen castles of stone and ice in the Northspires of Hahnmark. At the same time the Eternal Family of Navarr placed a similar citadel to stand guard over Serra Damata in Kahraman - sentinel against the possible return of the Jotun invaders. Between the two, in the damp lowlands of Kallavesa, the Sussivari Frost Coven raised a castle of fog-and-shadows, deftly woven from subtle Night magic. The citadels fade with the coming of the Winter Solstice, but while they stand they protect the lands where they are summoned and provide safe haven for defenders and travelers alike.
At the same time, the magicians of Urizen, lead by the Spire of the Auric Horizon work a potent ritual of Day magic to bring the power of Phaleron to bear in Morrow, transforming the Canterspire into a shining fortress of crystal guarded by terrible sentinels. Its magic likewise beings to fade as the Winter Solstice approaches, but Phaleron has apparently suggested that it will offer its aid to the Urizen once more - given there are still Druj in the territory.
These enchantments have been a great aid to the Empire in recent years. It is surprising it has taken quite so long for certain questions to be asked, however. While the connection between the Queen of Ice and Darkness and her frigid fortifications are well know, it is not so clear which eternal provides the defences conjured from the dripping fen, or forged from the forest. Some magicians seem keen to find out, others caution that perhaps this information is kept hidden for a reason.
A week before the Winter Solstice, reports begin to emerge fro Altis in Morrow of great wolf-like creatures larger than two oxen stood one atop the other. Pale as driven snow, with eyes darker than the night, they emerge from the Winter regio The Regio of the Hound on the first night of the waxing moon. The wolves are no rampaging beasts; rather they appear to be possessed of human-like intellect. They protect the regio and begin to range out across the entire territory, seemingly able to move at terrible speed once the sun sets.
Their presence has an unexpected effect on draughir across the territory. Their howls drift out of the waking world and echo in the dreams of those who possess the blood of winter, stirring in them a dsire to band together and making them extremely protective of family and friends.
If you have thee draughir lineage and have spent the last season in Morrow you experience a powerful roleplaying effect: your innate pack mentality is greatly strengthened, making you extremely protective and jealously possessive to family and friends, but with a strong tendency to view strangers and acquaintances as immediate threats, rivals, and even enemies. You feel an urge to exert dominance over those you view as “owing fealty” to yourself, and you find it very easy to assume that those you protect will treat you with reverence.
The roleplaying effect is even more pronounced after nightfall, especially if you can see the moon. The effect will fade slowly - the stronger your lineage the more it will linger and the very strongest lineage will find the roleplaying effect lingers at least until the end of the event.
After the Autumn Equinox powerful enchantments settle over two partially-completed fortifications, the Salt Guard in Siroc and the new castle being built at Coursmouth in Necropolis. This powerful Autumn magic - a gift from the Principalities of Jarm - greatly speeds the construction, allowing the labourers to achieve as much in three months as would normally have taken them six months. The enchantment fades, of course, but both castles are now well on their way toward being completed. Both these potent enchantments were placed by the Urizen coven The Concordium of Pallas.
Miracles in Lightsea
During the Grendel invasion of the Brass Coast, after they conquered Atalya and burned the Freeborn Storm, their forces pressed on to the eastern shores of the Brass Coast. They raided the port of Quzar, looting and causing extensive damage. Much of the damage has been repaired by mundane means in the months since, but since the Autumn Equinox is it clear that further steps have been taken to ensure the lingering effects of the Grendel invasion are wiped away. Powerful Autumn magic raised by the Urizeni Concordium of Pallas infuses the area of the port, enhancing every mundane act of repair or maintenance; serendipitous accidents result in just the right tools and materials being available; a low-key urge to repair and fix anything broken overcomes many of the citizens. By the start of the Winter solstice, all signs that the Grendel were ever there are wiped away.
Krampus and Kallavesi
Midwinter approaches, and Krampus stirs from its cold house of bones in western Skarsind. This season, news has reached Anvil that the beast of misfortune will be visiting Anvil on Friday night rather than the more traditional Saturday night. There is no particular explanation given as to why this is the case - unsurprisingly given the nature of Krampus.
It may be something in the air - there has been a little buzz among the mystics of Wintermark that the coming first evening of the summit is an especially propitious time to engage in their traditional visionary gathering. Perhaps nothing will come of it, but several Kallavesi are apparently making plans to imbibe Goosewhisper Infusion on Friday evening rather than Saturday afternoon.
The Gift of Kaela
During the Autumn Equinox, the eternal Kaela was granted amity by the Imperial Conclave. This allowed her to reach out her cold hand to the Empire and offer them her gift - a gift she has also offered to Imperial citizens outside Imperial borders.
Secured through a bargain with the Winter Archmage, the gift allows any Imperial citizen in the hands of the Druj 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 Favour of Eleonaris
The power of the Knights of Glory is one the Empire has made use of in the past, but over the last six months it has called forth more of Elonaris' knights than had been summoned in the entire six years prior. This season alone, they have fought the Jotun in Sermersuaq, and the Druj in both Morrow and Ossium. The power of the glorious elfin knights and their fae yeofolk has surely helped the Empire achieve victories that might otherwise have eluded them. There is only one place the knights will not fight - since they were exposed to the horror that lurks at the heart of Screed they will not fight in Spiral.
Eleonaris has an emissary to the Empire - the Leonine Child - of whom more anon. In the last month, however, she has sent another of her heralds to the Empire - a gruff and bombastic herald in the literal sense - a messenger who speaks with her voice. She is gladdened that the Empire embraces the glory of her knights. This herald, named Nezha, indicates that the Sovereign in Scarlet and Gold would be greatly pleased in the Empire were to show its gratitude for her aid by building her a monument celebrating the shared triumphs of the knights of the Fields of Glory and the heroic warriors of the Empire.
Nezha describes a folly, representing a statue of some sort with an inscription or poem celebrating the alliance between Empire and eternal. He suggests it would ideally be built with at least 25 wains of mithril (and 50 crowns of labour), and placed somewhere prominent and symbolic - perhaps along the shores of the Semmerlak or on a mountain peak overlooking the Canterspire, or somewhere in northern Hahnmark.
Nezha 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.
The Grumblings of Sadogua
The Brother of Wizards has already offered his aid to Imperial magicians, in the form of a magical boon and the offer of some valuable rings. There are other things on his mind at the moment, and he is by all accounts feeling remarkably surly for some reason - beyond his general annoyance at the Druj for destroying the Halls of Knowledge, and in spite of the completion of the recent extension to the Lyceum that he has allegedly sponsored.
His heralds - very unofficially - report that his main concern at the moment seems to be the insistence of the Faraden magician families that he share with them the secret of defeating the iridescent gloaming blight that has devastated their nation. They apparently know that he has some knowledge of how to do so, or access to a cure, and are increasingly concerned that he will not share it with them. The problem is that the cure is not entirely Sadogua's to share - having been achieved as a joint effort between himself and Imperial magicians. If the blight is cured in Faraden, then the western nation will quickly be able to replenish its supplies of the valuable material - meaning more will be available to be offered to Sadogua for his aid obviously - but that will likely have a deleterious effect on the Gloaming Road among other tings.
Never one to exert himself when there is a lazy solution, he has placed responsibility for deciding how to proceed on the Imperial Conclave. Sadogua will not share the grubs he has harvested that will produce a strain of Iridescent butterfly that is immune to the blight unless the Conclave gives him explicit permission to do so via the medium of a Declaration of Concord. He won't even tell the Faraden for sure that the grubs exist and he is waiting on the Empire to give him permission to share them. Not unless the Faraden get really insistent.
(Which, entirely off the record, the heralds suggest won't be until at least the Summer Solstice as the Father of Bats' time is mostly taken up at the moment with the rapidly deteriorating health of his friend Richard of Holberg).
Praise of Tontines
- Callidus is so pleased with the take up of his Tontine at the Autumn Equinox that he has expanded the number of tokens available
- An opportunity that may appeal to those seeking to enhance their prosperity
At the Autumn Equinox, at the Autumn Market in the Hall of Worlds, The Prince of the Argent Tontine sold entries into two Tontine competitions. He has not commented on the High Tontine - rumour has it that numbers of entries were lower than he had hoped - but he has asked the civil service to notify the Empire of his plans in relation to the Low Tontine.
The Low Tontine sold all hundred single crown entries. Callidus commented favourably on the ingenuity of the purchasers who were reportedly selling the tokens on at inflated price outside the Hall of Worlds. The total value of the Low Tontine, including The Argent Prize, at the end of the Autumn Market was two hundred crowns. The Tontine completes at the Autumn Equinox when the prize will be shared between entrants based on the share of tokens held.
Tontine tokens are a small silver fleur de lys and/or a small silver ledger on a loop of ribbon.
The new announcement from the Sovereign Lord of the City of Chains is that between now and the Autumn Equinox he intends to introduce additional tokens into the competition. For each new token released the total value of the Prize will increase by 2 crowns.
He has notified the Civil Service that the tokens being introduced this solstice will enter the Empire by unusual means, his Heralds having taken an unorthodox approach to their distribution. The clerks in the Castle of Thorns seem to believe that this may include placing tokens in the hands of foreigners or even enemies of the Empire.
Aside from those sent far afield, they have some specific notifications. Firstly, a group of League bravos known as the Cuore di Pietra, appear to have been favoured because - the word goes - Callidus feels they have been "unnecessarily punished in recent times for whims of the past". Secondly, a large quantity of the tokens have apparently been sent to "one known across the Empire for their Prosperity" - it seems the Prince is interested in how they will respond.
The message concludes with a reminder that both Noisy Play (competing with others to gain tokens and thus amass wealth) and Quiet Play (hiding ones purchased tokens and hoping for them to appreciate in value over time) are both valid.
There is some minor concern from a handful of priests of Prosperity have expressed concern that whilst the Tontine may be seen by many as an opportunity for wealth, the Prince of the Argent Tontine is well known for attempting to ensnare unsuspecting people into the thralls of greed.
OOC Note: Tokens are not ribboned, but are distinctive IC items. Forgery of these items (eg by OOC purchasing or acquiring duplicates) is cheating.
The Champion of Brianna's Chamber
- Barien announces that the Champion of Brianna's Chamber has awoken and that several Summer Eternals are likely to have keys to their Chamber to distribute to Imperial Citizens
- There is an opportunity for small bands of fighters to take part in a legendary challenge
- An invitation to those captains of Military Units who fought alongside the Knights of Glory in the past season from Eleonaris
The Herald who brought the message wore dark armour, and delivered their words curtly and with small fanfare though loud voice. They told that all the portents have been unfurling across the Summer Realm foretell that a much storied fortress that lies between the Forest of Arden and the mortal realm is opening. Known as the Fort on the Edge of the Forest, it is accessed by unique keys that can be used in conjunction with any Summer regio. These keys have begun surfacing, and it is known that each will open the portal to the fort at one time, and one time only.
The Herald advises all who would win such a Key to seek out Summer eternals, or those who know them well, and to seek also the troubadours and storytellers who can share with them the story of the Fort and its chamber.
The Department of Historical Research has been prevailed upon to investigate some of their records, and report that there are quite a collection of tales relating to the Fort on the Edge of the Forest, stretching back several centuries at least. A few themes seem to thread their way through most of these tales.
- There is riddling involved, to gain the right to fight the Champion
- There are choices to be made, to fight the Champion alone in single combat or in a group
- There is benevolence in the Champion, for all its appearance is sometimes fearsome
The rest of the details vary, and so the busy scholars of the Department advise those seeking further information to approach the Three Refrains and other storytellers of note.
A Key and a Leonine Child
The Iron Duke's messenger was also charged with delivering a message from the Lion of Summer.
The message states that The Leonine Child and favoured courtiers of the Fields of Glory will return to Anvil following their visit during the Autumn Equinox. Between the hours of eight and nine on Friday they will be in The Forge. They will await greeting from those military captains shown on the Roll of Honour to have fought alongside the Knights of Glory with the Citadel Guard, Blood Cloaks, or the Fist of the Mountains. From among these fine folk, one will be chosen to hold a key to the Fort on the Edge of the Forest.
The message also offers some guidance as to how to impress the Leonine Child - suggesting that those who understand the nature of the Fields of Glory and the preferences of the Lady of Pennants are most like to impress, along with those who see truly the alignment between the nobility and civility of the Queen's court and rule and the importance of Pride in forging a path.
Finally the message notes that whilst the stories of Summer turn and twist on clashes and feuds, the Heralds would prefer not to be troubled by the infighting of the warriors and courtiers of Anvil. Where invited military captains represent the same hall or family they are expected to have resolved among themselves who should present their case and forge their path in the eyes of the Queen.
In Darkness, What is Sound
- Kimus has invited a number of Imperial citizens to perform and listen within a special chamber as part of an exploration of how music or speech conveys emotion
- Citizens who claimed their place at the Autumn Equinox should look forward to the opportunity on Saturday afternoon of the Solstice
- Additional places will be made available to further performers and audience, who can sign up just before Conclave on Friday afternoon
It was a human agent who came to the Castle of Thorns to leave a message on behalf of the Thousand Eyes of the Sun and the Moon. They were courteous, but clearly a little displeased - an opportunity offered at the Autumn Equinox was not taken up with perhaps as much enthusiasm as the agents of Kimus might have hoped. They formally asked Civil Servants to note that Kimus believes the Seer Clad in Veils of Light deserves better support from Anvil when offering such a generous opportunity of an experience that could only take place in one of their chambers. They seem disappointed that there seems to be lingering mistrust either as a result of the situation regarding the Lantern of Ophis or that the Unblinking Eye is being blamed for the machinations of the Swan. However the important part of their missive focused on arrangements for the sessions offered on the Saturday of the Solstice.
This exploration of how emotion is conveyed is regarded as an honour offered to the Empire. Participants will be conveyed from the Hall of Worlds to the chamber, and agents of Kimus will arrange payment for performance of the Ambassadorial Gatekeeper where necessary for those who cannot make the journey alone.
There are three times of entry into the Chamber.
The first entry at half past two on the Saturday of the Equinox is complete
- Performers: Xenia of Ephemeris Spire; Lady Claudia Varkulova Remys; Skywise Gralka; Ser Thomas Aurelius
- Audience: Synne; Torunn Volcarona; Tristan Lothbrok; Eomer Theoring
The second entry at half past three of the Saturday of the Equinox has one space for each of performer and audience member.
- Performers: Sieben Alensson, Erasmo di Tassato, Bushka, Odii and Taliesin (group), one place remains
- Audience: Eleri of Bronwen's Rest, Irina Akulinova Kotor, Gancius, one place remains
The third entry at half past four has space for four performers and four audience members.
Those who missed the detailed information offered at the Autumn Equinox may meet with agents of Kimus from around half an hour before Conclave begins on the Friday evening of the Solstice. The important thing to understand is that this is an unusual sensory experience. Performers will be operating in total darkness. Audience members may be exposed to unusual temperatures, textures, lights and scents.
In response to questions raised by a Navarr vate during the Sunday of the Equinox we note the following:
- If any Navarri performing or in the audience is in need of being accompanied by a vate, that vate may travel with them to the outer chamber which is adjacent to the individual performing and listening spaces.
- There is to be no question of payment for the performances. The Seer has no interest in hiring entertainers, but in sharing experience with those who share an interest in how emotion is conveyed.
Revels and Challenges
- There is an opportunity for anyone with an existing Challenge the Iron Duke to check in with the Lord of the Crossroads' Herald, Revel
For a year or so the only Herald the Lord of the Crossroads sent to Anvil in relation to the unusual ritual Challenge the Iron Duke seemed to be the famed Castellan. In recent seasons that has changed, and a new figure is regularly representing the Reeve of the Summer Lands. On the surface, Revel seems to share the calmer demeanor of the Keeper of Challenges. He is polite, he is soberly - though exquisitely - dressed in robes of grey and blue. They are a Herald who very much represents the hosting and hospitality that the Iron Duke is famed for. This may reflect the fact that over the past seasons a number of challenges have been set where the challenger was tasked to provide - or commission - accounts of their deeds over a duration of time to the Keeper of Revels himself.
Whatever the reason, Revel is formal in his use of the civil servants at the Castle of Thorns. He asks them to note that he intends to visit Anvil at around ten on the Friday evening of the Solstice, and return again at around half past one in the afternoon on the Sunday. In both instances, he notes that he intends to seek out hospitality among those who have most recently called for Challenges - The Eternal Family of Navarr. If they are unavailable he will seek shelter at the famed Bitterbark Teahouse of the same nation. Should any who need to to meet with him not be able to seek him there, they could leave messages with the Navarr.
In order not to waste anyone's time, Revel asks the Civil Service to note that he does not have any keys to Brianna's Chamber in his possession, the only key his master held has been sent, in advance, to the Imperial Academy for the use of their Cadets.
The Unicorn Prince Moves
The Lord of the Forest of Arden, after some time to right some wrongs within his noble court, has turned his attention back to the Empire. A message is received by Civil Servants associated with the Conclave that Jaheris is sending one of his heralds, Garrett the Advocate, to the Empire to discuss matters with allies and would-be friends.
Garrett the Advocate, herald of the Moonsilver Prince wishes to make clear their intent to arrive in Anvil at six hours past noon on the first day of the summit. Garrett will wish to speak with the Archmage of Summer before leaving to visit with other attendees of the summit. One matter he is particularly keen to learn more of regards the events recently taking place at the Meeting Place. Jaheris is interested in what happened, and has offered a boon to the one who comes forward to make themselves known as having smashed the stone. Garett the Advocate appreciates the need for discretion, and looks forward to seeing what precautions the perpetrator can take to avoid exposing themselves unnecessarily.
The Imperial Senate chose not to engage with Elonaris' request. The Imperial Conclave discussed the deal offered by Sadogua and declined his offer of magic rings. They also chose not to instruct him to provide a cure for the Iridescent Blight to the Faraden.