One handed, Jaffo poured a dozen honey-yellow lumps of ambergelt out onto his workbench. He quickly sorted through them, occasionally taking a bite of his sandwich, before selecting three measures and dropping them into his crucible. He drew a circle of chalk around the stone bowl, finished his sandwich, and poured himself a glass of wine with one hand while deftly drawing the rune Xun, the seventeen stars of the Great Wyrm, and two complex little squiggles that represented Azoth and Sung at the cardinal points around the circle.

"Are you still not done," asked Lydia. She was clearly bored.

Jaffo di Tassato ignored her. He pulled the mask of the witch down from where it rested on the top of his head and began to recite the speech from The Tragedy of Cesaro in which the enchantress creates a deadly poison from various unlikely ingredients. He rested one hand over the crucible and occasionally sipped wine from his glass.

As he completed his ritual, there was a sudden unexpected hissing sound. The ambergelt in the crucible was dissolving, transforming into beggar's lye as intended. Unfortunately, so was the rest of the ambergelt he had left scattered around the workbench.

It poured over his notes, the remains of his dinner, the mask of the captain that he had left to one side, and a copy of the Oathwright he had been meaning to read this afternoon. it also washed over his hand causing him to cry out as the searing liquid ate away at his flesh. He jumped back, staring wide eyed at the ruination of his table - and the waste of quite a few measures of valuable ambergelt.

"Was that meant to happen?" asked Lydia.

"No." replied Jaffo. "No it was not."

Overview

At the Spring Equinox a coven of night magicians used the regio at Anvil to perform the ritual Wondrous Forests of the Night. This is one of the most powerful enchantments in Imperial lore, a magnitude 160 ritual that suffuses the entire Empire with magical energies drawn from the realm of Night Realm. There are a small number of these enchantments (such as Bright Eyes Gleam in the Depths and Hallow of the Green World) known to work at such a level of power, but this is only the third one laid across the Empire since before the reign of Emperor Hugh.

The effects of performing such a momentous ritual are wide and far-reaching - they are also not entirely predictable.

Forest Bounty

The ritual was developed to increase the productivity of forests across the Empire; this is the one effect that is always certain to happen when it is cast.

Every forest in the Empire has produced an additional bounty over the last three months. The bounty is determined by the nature of the forest (an ambergelt forest will have produced additional ambergelt, for example). In addition to the benefits experienced by player-characters, this is also likely to mean an increase in the amount of ambergelt, beggar's lye, dragonbone, and iridescent gloaming available on the public auction.

Creatures of Night

  • Any naga character may choose to use the ritual effects to strengthen their lineage trappings
  • Naga across the Empire experience a powerful roleplaying effect
  • While they experience the roleplaying effect, naga characters with the hero skill have their reserve of hero points increased by one

The influx of Night magic into the Empire can have significant effects on those whose blood is touched by the realm - those of the naga lineage. There are reports of a Kallavesi naga in Hahnmark who went to sleep with a full head of hair and work to find it gone. In it's place was a downy covering of brilliant red and gold feathers. Similar reports, albeit not as extreme, have been reported across the Empire. Any character with the naga lineage may choose to take advantage of the powerful Night magic to strengthen the trappings of their lineage.

The ritual is also likely to mean a notable increase in the number of naga children born to the Empire. Some will be obvious - over the next year or so there will be a small but notable number of babies born who will grow up with a tendency towards sibilant speech or unexpectedly keen senses. Yet there will also be plenty of children born who show no sign of their lineage until they reach maturity. This makes it impossible to determine just how many new naga will appear as a result of the ritual.

In general, every naga in the Empire finds they are much more conscious of the the pull of their magical blood. Any naga is encouraged to roleplay the increased influence of their natural naga instincts for the duration of the Summer Solstice.

In additional, all naga find themselves experiencing a powerful roleplaying effect: you find it easy and satisfying to enjoy personal comfort and luxury to the point of avarice - and at the same time you find it much more difficult to consider the needs of anyone other than yourself. Other peoples' problems are easy to dismiss unless they involve salacious gossip, scandal, secret wrongdoing, or opportunities for you to gain advantage over them.

As with all roleplaying effects, it is possible to overcome this magical influence with a suitably strong will, the aid of a priest, or a carefully chosen magic item.

Finally, until the end of the Summer Solstice, every naga with the hero skill has their reserve of hero points increased by one as long as they experience the roleplaying effect mentioned above. This additional point can be recovered normally by rest, or the use of potions, or use of a Dragonbone Symbol. It will stack with any other source of additional hero points, and fades shortly after the end of the event.

Ritual Power

  • The effects of a number of rituals are more powerful or more effective if performed at the next summit

Although the effects of the powerful ritual on forests in the Empire are beginning to fade by the start of the Summer Solstice, the ritual leaves a number of lesser effects in their wake. Valeria of the Cloistered Eye, a well-regarded stargazer from Urizen compares the effect to throwing a heavy rock into a still pool. The ritual produces a huge impact as the rock hits the surface, but it is followed by ripples of magic that spill out across the surface of the Empire in it's wake. The effects are chaotic and difficult to predict - some rituals are more potent, some are easier to cast. Some are actually harder to cast but in most cases they are more powerful as a result.

The magicians working with Valeria at her spire have been feverishly identifying and cataloguing these ripples, so that Imperial magicians may take advantage of them if they wish. The results of their research were provided to the civil servants who support the Conclave just in time for them to be published before the next summit begins.

The Crucible

The alchemical rituals, The Eight-spoked Wheel, and The Retrograde Wheel, will allow the ritualist to transmute up to six ingots or measures as standard, rather than the normal three. This does not effect the ability to add even more materials to the ritual when using a Mask of Gold and Lead.

The Bounty

Verdant Bounty is normally cast on forests so that the night magic help them find resources more easily. The enchantment cannot normally be cast on a herb garden - but it will be possible at the next summit. If that happens, the herb garden will produce an five random herbs as those who work the garden are helped to find the most productive plants. In addition the ritual will cause a single dose of crystal fire to appear somewhere in the garden.

Valeria advises cautions anyone considering using ilium to attempt to make this enchantment permanent on a herb garden, she is not confident that the benefits of the enchantment on herb gardens will endure beyond the season even if the enchantment does.

MagnitudeMaximum Measures TargetedCrystal Fire Received
10204
224410
346816
469222
And so on...

The Tithe

  • The additional magnitude of the ritual Tithe of Bats has changed from 4 to 12 but the extra effects are much more potent at the Summer Solstice

This useful ritual was only added to Imperial lore last season, but the ritual has been affected in a most peculiar way. The magic provides Iridescent Gloaming and Dragonbone to the Brother of Wizards in return for Night vis - and it can still be performed as normal, without any apparent change.

However if a coven attempts to perform a more powerful variant of the ritual to target more measures - then they will find it is far more challenging than usual. For the duration of the summit, the ritual will target 24 additional measures of gloaming or dragonbone, producing two additional crystal fire per eight full materials used, but increase the magnitude of the ritual by 12.

They have prepared a simple table to summarise the effects and show the progression.

The Deep

As a result of the lingering traces of Night magic, this powerful personal enchantment will be easier to cast at the Summer Solstice. The basic magnitude of the ritual will be reduced to 24 plus 13 for each additional target.

Valeria notes that if ilium is used to make the enchantment permanent during the course of the summit, then it would require significantly less star metal than usual.

The Stone

  • The magnitude of Distill the Serpent's Stone has increased to 100 for the duration of the Summer Solstice, during which time it will produce up to two stones

This mysterious ritual is only rarely performed for it requires a skilled coven and a supply of ilium. The effects of the Wondrous Forests have made the ritual more difficult to cast - increasing the magnitude from 70 to 100 for the duration of the next summit. However during that time the ritual can be used to target up to two rings of ilium rather than one - each ring of ilium will create a shadow-egg as normal.

The Wonder

For reasons that are not yet clear, the ritual itself appears to be more difficult to cast at the Summer Solstice. For the duration of the summit the magnitude needed to perform the ritual will be an astonishing 200. It is completely outside the ability of Valeria's and her coven to perform this ritual so they have no idea what would happen if it were cast, the only way to find that out would be to perform it again. Based on their other work however, they theorise that the known effects of the ritual are likely to be unchanged, but the "ripples" might be even more chaotic and far-reaching.

Valeria is confident that this is simply a lingering ripple caused by the enchantment's far reaching effects and that the magnitude required will return to normal by the time of the Autumn Equinox.

Wyrms and Serpents

  • Several of the Night eternals have offered a "gift" to the Empire following the casting of the Wondrous Forests of the Night
Azoth

Many of the Night eternals seem particularly pleased at the casting of the ritual, their heralds remark in passing how much more vibrant and engaging the Empire now appears. The ritual does not appear to have made it easier for them to reach the Empire, but it does seem to have made it more appealing for them to try.

A Changer of the Ways

  • Azoth offers a boon to magicians who are interested in transmutations

The Castle of Thorns was visited by a number of heralds of the Azoth. These distillations explained to the civil servant lucky enough to greet them that their master, the Rebis, wishes to offer aid with the casting of the alchemical rituals.

Alembic, herald of the Azoth, will be in the Hall of Worlds for thirty minutes on the first night of the summit, leaving at nine o'clock when Conclave starts. Any magician can provide a name and eleven measures of a single material to the herald. Alembic will work feverishly, returning to the Hall of Worlds at eleven o'clock with a talisman - equivalent to a Mask of Gold and Lead - that will aid in the casting of alchemical rituals to be given to the named magician.

Lashonar

The Loquacious One

  • Lashonar would offer a boon to the ambassadors of the Empire, if the Conclave requests it

The Keeper of the Gates of Wisdom has been impressed with the Empire as of late. The signing of the Liberty Pact, and the ceding of the region of Misericorde to the Sand Fishers, has shown the Eater-of-Silence that the Empire is committed to the use of diplomacy. To that end the Conscience-of-Kings has offered a boon to the collected ambassadors of the Empire. If the Conclave request it through an appropriately worded declaration of concord, then Lashonar will provide a set of nine Jarmish quills to the Grandmaster of the Celestial Arch so that they can distribute them to the ambassadors.

The Jarmish Quill is a simple magical talisman first invented by the artisans of that far country. A character who is bonded to a Quill can use it to perform the ritual magic effect Call Winged Messenger once per season.

The Shadowed Fire

  • A herald of Janon wants to speak with the citizens of the Empire
Janon

A herald of the Muse of Fire, Spark, is coming to Anvil. Spark has said he wants to discuss matters of faith with any members of the General Assembly who might wish engage. He would particularly like to have a chance to have a conversation with Astrid Fjellrevening Rezia di Tassato, regarding the destruction of a statue in Temeschwar.

Spark of the Firebrand has also made clear that he has boons that he wishes to offer night ritualists, the kohan and those with stories of passion. The boons are intended to help with any castings of the rituals Embrace the Living Flame or Still Waters, Running Deep. Spark suggests that any who wish to talk to him should perhaps first talk to Elyssiathain, as Archmage of Night, or maybe Kahendrin Wordsmith, as Champion of Janon, or someone who can arrange matters so that everyone gets a chance to speak.

The herald of the Night Sword will be at the Hall of Worlds at 6 o'clock on Saturday and intends to pass into Anvil as early as possible. He will journey first to meet with the Elyssiathain in the Urizen camp, if they are not in the Hall of Worlds, before continuing onwards where the shadows take him.

the Whisper Gallery

The Shadow Courtiers

  • In the spirit of improved cooperation, the Whisper Gallery have offered to remove one of their Declarations of Enmity in return for the return of their ritual text

A note left by a representative of the Arbiters of the Empty Thrones has laid out an offer to the Conclave as follows. The Ministers in Sable earnestly desire the return of the ritual "Quell the Thief of Secrets", the text of which they claim was stolen by the Imperial militia some time ago. They say the text was illegally seized by the militia who are now unable to return it. The Dancers on the Edge of Silence humbly suggest that one or more the corrupt militia may have sold the text for their own personal profit, or perhaps are simply hoping to force their victims to pay for its return.

The ritual was codified by a former Dean of the Lyceum many years ago, and was being carried by Imperial magicians when it was falsely seized. If the Conclave were to pass a strongly worded declaration of concord condemning the actions of the militia and demanding the ritual be returned to its rightful owners then as a gesture of cooperation, the Court of Scandal will remove a single Imperial title from the list of titles with whom they have a declared enmity. The Court suggests that either the Conclave pick one as part of the declaration, or perhaps the Archmage of Night could do so. If this happens, then the Dancers assure the Conclave that they will not restore enmity against that Imperial title until at least thirteen years have passed.

To ensure there are no misunderstandings, the Whisper Gallery include a list of those titles on which they have declared enmity.

The Courtiers of the Seldom Seen do seek the deaths of the following for their crimes.
  • Arch-Offender Livia of the Spire of the Celestial Cascade, of Urizen, who is entitled Seer of the Gateway.
  • Arch-Offender Hywel Summercrow, of the Navarr, who is entitled Cardinal of the Way.
  • Arch-Offender Siân of the Eternal Family, of the Navarr, who is entitled Advisor on the Vallorn.
  • Arch-Offender Caleb of the Cenotaph, of Highguard, who is entitled Minister for Historical Research
Let it be known to the denizens of the Casinean Empire that any who slay these Arch-Offenders and bring their hearts to the Imperial Regio at midnight at the Summer Solstice will be rewarded.

Of course, there has been no suggestion that the Dancers on the Edge of Silence would give up their campaign against the other murderers of secrets, indeed they at pains to make clear that they will continue to offer boons to any who slay the enemies of the Court of Scandal.

Sung

The Whispering Wind

  • Sung presents the Conclave with three motes stolen from the Bronze Idol's Eye

The Rainbow Servant professes to be beguiled by the new beauty of the Empire since the last summit and wishes to offer up a gift to the Conclave in appreciation of the Empire's great achievements. To this effect, she has procured three motes stolen from the Bronze Idol's Eye which she intends as a reward for those chosen to receive them by the Conclave.

According to her herald, a small feathered creature called Haruspex, the Bronze Idol is a great golden statue built from the dreams of children that stands near the ruins of the Tower of Fugue and looks out over the Dreamscape to observe anything that might approach. The herald says that Sung has crept under the gaze of the Idol and taken three motes from the it's eye.

Haruspex indicates that the Conclave may use a Declaration of Concord to nominate three citizens who should reach receive one of the motes. The creature is vague about their powers, but suggests that any Night magician will find the mote to be a great boon to their powers when consumed. They warn however that any human who consumes one of the motes are likely to develop naga heritage.

Resolution

The magical effects caused by the Wondrous Forests of the Night have largely faded.

The Imperial Conclave passed declarations of concord both to accept both Lashonar's boons and the boons of Sung.