Winter Magnitude 8
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. This ritual targets two willing characters. Each character must be present throughout. Both targets must verbally assent to the use of the ritual.
This effect is a curse. A target may be under more than one curse at a time.
The effect of the ritual lasts for a year (until the start of the Profound Decisions Empire event four events from now).
This ritual can affect additional willing characters. Every additional character increases the magnitude by 3. Additional characters must be present throughout, and all must verbally assent to the performance of the ritual.
This ritual can be made permanent much more effectively than similar rituals. It costs only a single ring of ilium for each participant. Sufficient ilium to make the ritual permanent for all targets must be employed, and each target must demonstrate that they know the curse is being made permanent.
Removing the Curse
Removing this curse prematurely is extremely difficult, as all living targets must be present. Should all the targets be present, they can remove the curse from themselves by agreeing to do so in the presence of a referee. If all the living targets are not present, or are not consenting, the curse can sometimes be ended prematurely by a powerful eternal of the Winter realm, but they are loathe to do so without significant inducement.
This powerful binding spell creates a connection between participants, allowing them to exact lethal vengeance on each other. At its core, it creates a sense of obligation by empowering both targets to kill the other. It usually involves an oath or promise, and the understanding that the power of the ritual will be invoked against anyone who breaks the oath. This is Winter magic however and the effect is not quite that straightforward.
The power of the curse allows each participant to inflict crippling, potentially fatal, blows on the other. Using the power of this ritual to kill someone is likely to be treated as murder by Imperial magistrates, but it is entirely legal to use it to capture someone, or to bring them before a magistrate to face charges for any criminal action they have undertaken.
The Thule orcs are believed to make extensive use of this ritual when arranging deals and agreements, while there are stories of the Druj employing it among themselves when members of different clans must spend significant time together. The curse is apparently popular among the magician families of the Faraden, who employ a particular usage of the ritual to allow one of their number to serve as an arbitrator between people who pay well for their services. In this case the ritual is performed twice, each time involving a neutral individual and one of the people whose agreement is to be arbitrated. This allows the third party to determine if the promise or agreement has been broken, and invoke the 'penalty clause' against the target with lethal results. Of course, the arbiter is equally vulnerable to an attack from any of the individuals involved in either ritual, although by custom striking an arbitrator down incurs the full wrath of the magician family and usually results in many more, much more significant, curses being levied against the murderer and their family.
A number of other variants of this ritual exist, that deliver differing levels of punishment. The Bargain of Agramant for example allows two individuals the power to inflict crippling weakness on each other while the Guttering Candle Promise rumoured to be used by certain Temeschwari criminals before that city was purged of their presence caused a traitor to putrefy and rot in great agony while still alive.
One unique element of this ritual is the ability to make the curse permanent with only a single ring of ilium for each participant. Arcane scholars have worked for centuries to try and unravel this property, in the hope of applying it to other rituals. None have succeeded. As near as they have been able to establish, there is something fundamental in this ritual that resonates with universal hearth magic that is impossible to duplicate. The ritual allows a person to choose to make themselves vulnerable by consenting to a curse - and curses tend to be durable anyway at least in the Winter realm. Coupled with the strong hearth magic of oaths and obligations, this creates a seemingly anomalous situation where only a tiny amount of ilium is needed to anchor the curse permanently to the participants.
The most common element of this ritual is a bargain, oath or agreement that lays out how the power is to be used. In the Brass Coast in particular a written contract is often involved, not least because the magic only works if it is clear that both targets are entirely willing and understand what is happening. Blood is often shared or exchanged; in The League a drop of each target's blood is mixed with wine that is then used by each in turn to drink a toast; while a Freeborn coven might use a couple of drops of blood from a cambion ritualist mixed with fruit-juice to serve the same purpose. Some brutal covens, especially in Varushka finish the ritual by having each target strike the other, crippling a limb, as a stark reminder of what will happen if the power of the curse is invoked.
This ritual is often performed at sunset, or at night, and is usually performed in private. Some covens (and targets) like to have an Imperial Magistrate present to ensure that everything is above board.
The runes Yoorn, Lann and Queros each have resonance with this ritual, depending on the purpose for which it is being performed. The eternal Sorin is often evoked as part of the ritual and is said to have a particular interest in its use.
When ilium is used to make the curse permanent, the star metal is often alloyed with precious metal and turned into jewelry - usually a chain or ring. At the completion of the ritual the participants ceremonially don the jewelry to mark the beginning of the circle of trust.
The option to make this ritual permanent for one ring of ilium is a unique quality that you should assume will not be available to any other ritual. It is uniquely thematic to the voluntary curse created by Traitor's Fate creates. We will not approve requests to employ this benefit with any other ritual.