The Brother of Wizards lounged back on his cushions, gesturing lazily to the wooden throne. His guest glided across the chamber and settled herself neatly. The young girl looked even smaller in the massive seat. She settled her black skirts neatly around her with assured motions, and then without bothering to wait to be invited selected a deep crimson fruit from the bowl by the throne and popped it in her mouth.

Sadogua finished chewing dragonbone, belched appreciatively, and favoured his protégé with a wide grin.

"So ... how is the world? Still there I assume?" he laughed at his own joke. One of his massive ears twitched as his grim spread even wider.

Neora finished her fruit before answering. Despite her youth she spoke confidently.

"Still there. I went to the places you suggested, and looked at things. It was very interesting."

"Did anyone try to interfere with you?"

"Not at all. I don't think anyone really saw me. They spoke to the guardians you'd given me, I think that most of them thought it was something to do with the Academy. I didn't even have to use your name once."

Sadogua slapped his belly.

"Ha! Good good, good good! And why would anyone question a little naga girl an her two burly armoured tarry minions anyway?"

He laughed at a private joke. Neora ate another fruit, a blue one this time. When he had finished she continued.

"The mists are all still there. I liked them. They are very pretty, especially at night."

Sadogua nodded, pleased.

"Then I went up to Madruga and looked at the sky like you said."

"Did you spot any patterns?" Sadogua leant forward, looking at her from each eye in turn, his expression intent.

Neora thought carefully. "I think so. I think ... I felt like all the stars were there but in different places. Even when they were in the same places, or there were no stars at all. Does that make any sense?"

Sadogua said nothing. He bit open a container of iridescent gloaming, swallowed the contents, and then crunched the bottle speculatively.

"Mmmm. Maybe later we'll talk about that."

"They were powerful."

"Yes they were. Do you have any idea why."

"They really didn't want people to scry on them, I suppose. And because why would you ever bother to not make them powerful if you wanted them to work?" Neora picked up another fruit, looked at it, put it down, and sipped a little cordial from a clay cup. Then she picked up a chocolate amphibian and set to work biting its legs and arms off one at a time. She continued to talk in between bites.

"Then I went to the very west and looked at the marshes. I've never seen a marsh before. They were very wet. I liked them. There were some creatures there who were very pleasant. We spoke to some of the Marchers and the Kallavesi about the enchantments. We visited the mists, and in Kallavesa a giant lizard ate one of the guardians. It was very surprising. Can I ask a question?"

"Always, my dear. You can ask me any question you like. I won't always answer but you can always ask."

"Why have they woven the mists like that?"

"Politics and war, my sweetling. Politics and war. They're worried about the Jotun, who are full of passionate intensity and bellyfulls of injured pride. It's very sad. The humans and the orcs are like lovers, who've never quite gotten around to fu- ..."

He looked at her, his mouth a line, and cocked his head as if listening to an internal monologue.

"Anyway, we can talk about that when you're older. Anything else?"

"I met a Boundery man who was very pleased with the mists. He said he and his friends had hidden behind a stand of birch trees and caught a bunch of cattle rustlers redhanded. He was very proud. I liked him. There was also a lot of talk about farms, and about herbs, and something about famine but it sounded quite dull so I didn't really listen."

Sadogua nodded. "Anything else?"

"Then we went right up north to a very cold flat place I didn't like, but there were mountains. The orcs were unfriendly at first but the guardians put them straight. I did not like the old wizard very much, I felt sorry for him. The younger wizard made me laugh and gave me this."

She touched a beautiful brooch of mithril and tempest jade pinned to her jacket. Sadogua eyed it thoughtfully.

"It's very pretty. I should probably take a look at it later. Then what happened?"

"Then they did a great rite, under the stars, and they invoked the Mountain and the Oak, and there was a great ice ogre there crowned with antlers who was not like an ogre, and then they brought out a hundred rings of starstuff, and then there was a castle. It was made of ice and granite, and it sparkled. They let me look inside. It was cold, but it was very pretty. There were more ice ogres inside."

"Hmmmmmm. So they went ahead. Show offs." Despite his words ,the Brother of Wizards seemed pleased. "Now why do you think they did something so extreme when they could have just piled up a load of white granite over the next year instead?"

Neora considered as she finished her frog. "I think they did it for two reasons. Firstly, they don't trust the Empire and they didn't want to risk them attacking before they had built the castle. The young wizard said as much when he thought I was asleep in the sled."

"Insightful. What was the other reason."

Neora smiled then, and her golden eyes lit up with a fire that was not entirely human. "Because they are wizards and because they could do it!" she exclaimed.

Sadogua laughed uproariously. "Ah child you are a gift, an absolute gift! Literally, in fact. Heh."

Neora laughed along with the great wyrm. He stretched and yawned. "Well, that is enough for now you are tiring me out. We can talk about the rest later. Oh ... hmmm ... one final thing."

He said it in an off-hand way that made the girl immediately suspicious. He reached into the rubbish near his bed of cushions and pulled something out - a little wooden box. He tossed it across to his guest, and she caught it deftly. She flicked the copper catch and opened it up. The contents took her breath away, and light flooded her scaled features.

"What ... what is it?"

"Oh it's just a bauble I happen to have lying around. Some nice Urizen gave it to me." he frowned. "Leant it to me. Whatever. Now I want you to have it. No reason."

Neora looked at her guardian, waiting for him to say something else, but he just watched her solemnly, his eyes heavy and lidded and full of calculation. Then he smiled, and it was as if he had been smiling all along.

"Now shoo, and go climb some trees or chase some deer or what have you. I need to get plenty of sleep."

She snapped the box closed again, and left the chamber back to the tower on the edge of the woods.

Sadogua watched her go, his expression unreadable.


Mysteries, secrets, wonders, and splendour. This is the legacy of magic, and it is scattered liberally across the slumbering Empire this evening. This round-up is hardly exhaustive but it covers a number of significant situations that would be of interest to the Empire.


Castles of the Mist

In Bregasland and Kallavesa, the marshes are behaving peculiarly. Drifting ignis fatuus, ghostly voices, banks of mist that glow gently under the full moon, a rise in the number of marshwalkers spotted slumping around the muddy pools about their inscrutable vegetable business. The quiet folk of the fens and the mystics of the western Wintermark marshes alike tell tales of lost travelers rescued by translucent heroes of elder days - not ghosts, as such, but phantasmal guardians. A band of thieves fleeing with their ill-gotten gains ends up lost for six weeks in the same square mile of ground and when they finally escape are almost grateful to see the militia. The remains of an entire band of orc raiders are found, drowned in three feet of water in southern Bregasland. Patches of quicksand emerge where there was no quicksand before, but seem oddly reticent to consume Marchers or Kallavesi. The effects are subtle, but very real.

In short ... for three months there appears to be a magical protection placed on the marshes of the western Empire. Magicians are able to divine that a night magic enchantment of moderately high magnitude has been placed on both territories to help grant additional defence against the Jotun. They tend to agree that someone has raised the Dripping Echoes of the Fen, and while the effects are short lived, they have certainly curtailed any adventurous Jotun raiders looking to strike into the marshes.

Fog on the Brine

An eerie, glowing fog still clings to the shores of the northern Bay of Catazar. Since its first appearance in autumn, the situation has not changed. The Empire magicians are still at a loss to explain exactly what it is and what it does - an effect of the Night realm, of thirtieth magnitude, which conceals information including information about its own nature and properties. Magicians still agree that the effect could be examined with a suitably powerful performance of a ritual such as The Eye of the High Places, targeting one of the affected territories, but bypassing a potent shroud of this magnitude is no simple matter.

Veils of Night

The skies above Madruga, Zenith, and Tassato continue to appear strange. During the day the effect is barely noticeable apart from a two hour period in mid-Autumn when the sleet and hail falling on Madruga was accompanied by a rain of small green and red frogs. While such unnatural amphibian rains are extremely rare, they are not unknown. The frogs themselves appear to be entirely mundane in every way, even though they are of no species known to be native to the Empire. Zoologists suggest that they are native to the jungles of Sumaah. They are harmless - although they can give someone a nasty little nip if mishandled - and have become popular pets among Freeborn children.

At night the effect is much more pronounced - the night skies over the three territories are not the night skies one sees in the rest of the Empire. Sometimes the changes are subtle - stars in the wrong place, or the moon in the wrong phase. On other nights - especially in Madruga - the sky appears entirely unnatural. There have been sightings of two additional moons; a night when all the stars were red; and on one occasion all the stars vanished entirely except the three stars of the Lock.

Magicians agree that this is caused by Drawing the Penumbral Veil. The shroud over Madruga is the most powerful, its magnitude in the high forties. The shroud on Zenith is also quite potent, in the low thirties, while the shroud over Tassato is the least potent - but still impressive. Any attempts to divine information about or scry these territories must overcome the potence of the shroud or reveal nothing.

Citadel of Silver and Bone

Two weeks before the Winter Solstice, the Thule magicians in the Silver Peaks work a great ritual on the slopes of one of the highest peaks. From sunset to sunrise, the snowy slopes glow with an unnatural effulgence, and at the climax of the ritual a deep cerulean aura coalesces and coils around the height of the mountain the form of a great blue serpent. When it clears, a castle stands on the side of the mountain, a castle of ice and white stone with massive inhuman soldiers patrolling its battlements. The Frozen Citadel of Cathan Canae has been seen before ... but this time there is an exception. Magicians who saw the ritual being performed concur that the magic has been bound permanently in place - the castle is no longer a magical construct but an actual, physical structure of unmelting ice and adamant stone. The icewalkers who have gotten close enough to get a good look are in agreement that the Thule have used ilium to permanently draw the castle and its garrison from the Summer Realm to the world. They report that white granite is already being used to expand and further fortify the castle.

This is a significant event because it almost certainly speaks of collusion between Cathan Canae and the Thule. To use starmetal to bind an enchantment such as this permanently into the world without the permission of the Eternal would be a significant error - that the wily orc magicians have not secured her permission first is extremely unlikely. It is an impressive - if arguably very wasteful - act. The Thule have achieved more or less a year's construction in the Silver Peaks in less than twelve hours.

OOC Note

One note worth raising at this point concerns a slight change to a set of rituals which create shrouds. Previously, some of these rituals have been enchantments, and some have been curses. We've finally given in and changed their classification to shroud - they still work exactly the same way but they are not enchantments, and they are not curses. In Imperial Lore this effects Drawing the Penumbral Veil, Incantation's Mystic Mask, Masque of the Blinded Weaver, and Secrets for the Shadow Courier. It better reflects their intended purpose, makes them harder to remove, makes it clearer what Piercing Light of Revelation is meant to work on, and ends the odd situation where there were curses that appeared to have uniformly beneficial effects.