Whispering Shadow Courtiers
Night Magnitude 8
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. During the ritual the contributors must whisper a secret of some sort, preferably one unknown to the other contributors.
During the ritual the ritualists become increasingly aware of whispering voices, and may begin to become aware of shadowy indistinct shapes observing them from nearby.
Anyone who performs this ritual will be left with a scroll - a physical communication from the Whisper Gallery. This scroll also represents a pact with the eternals, allowing the bearer to send a return communication using the operate portal spell at the Imperial Regio. This ability can only be used at night. It needs a written document, and the presence of one of the scrolls received from this ritual. Both are handed to a referee as the operate portal spell is cast.
As of Winter 379YE, it is illegal to perform this ritual in the Empire as the Whisper Gallery - the eternals on whose power it explicitly draws - are under enmity.
In earlier times, this ritual was often seen as a counterpart to Signs and Portents; like that mysterious ritual it seemed to pluck information out of the air, and like that ritual it seemed to ensue that the information was relevant to some degree. It has since become very clear that the ritual in some way created a communion with the eternals known as the Whisper Gallery and it was they who were sending the symbolic visions about secret events.
When open hostilities broke out between the eternals and the Empire, the ritual ceased to work for a short time. Now it is once again functioning, but it no longer does what it used to do. Now, it functions more like a complex version of Missive for Sadogua, allowing limited two-way communication between the Whisper Gallery and mortal magicians.
Every ritualist who has performed Whispering Shadow Courtiers reports the same awareness of whispering voices, and indistinct shadowy shapes. To date, no Imperial magician has conclusively explained this phenomenon although most ritualists believe that these are probably spirits of the Night realm, or possibly emissaries of a Night eternal, most likely agents of the Whisper Gallery. The Axou by contrast claim to believe that these are the spirits of the dead, whispering secret lore they have gained beyond the boundaries of life. This tale is usually dismissed as fanciful rubbish.
This ritual often involves consuming a narcotic of some sort, or the burning of strong incense to produce a form of mist or obscuring fog. It is often performed in secret; invocations are whispered, and identities are concealed with masks, cowls, cloaks and hoods. Runestones may be used, especially if they are concealed in darkness - creating a divination that nobody reads is seen as a clever way to create a secret. It is common for the ritual to start in dim light, and for the ritualists to slowly deepen the darkness by extinguishing candles or lanterns as they weave their magic.
Symbols of Wisdom or Vigilance may be used, and the rune Diras has obvious application here. The ritual is associated with the Whisper Gallery, the Shadow Courtiers of the Realm of Night, who are said to collect all secrets and hoard them as a miser hoards wealth. Their names are often invoked during the performance of the ritual, as is the name of Sadogua, especially if the contributors are hoping to receive magical insights.