The Walls of Al-Qu’afar
A Ritual Report, by the Herald’s own Magrat Sage
It has been said that until foxes have a storyteller the tales shall always favour the hunter and I find myself pondering this upon hearing what has been said of the ritual that Saylen performed at Al Qu’afar.
I am not a lady of politics and much of what I hear is second hand but to my understanding Saylen performed admirably in the face of adversity on the eve of the Gathering battle. I travelled to view at least another ritual to report upon for the Herald and while all did not go to plan I suspect that being an eye witness may have been a gift in itself. Without reaching into matters best not meddled with I cannot say exactly what was planned in the run up to the ritual, only what I saw within the circle.
The walls of Al Qu’afar are ancient and powerful. They contain, by some merit or other, slivers of the pattern of Samael, the archon of Good. Saylen stepped into the circle bringing a small troupe of contributors not entirely unlike those used in Graf’s recent performance. She announced that they were to see a wall taken down and brought back up and proceeded to begin to arrange her contributors. My understanding after observation and information from sources who wished to remain anonymous is that one of the number had a vested interest in seeing the remnants of Sammael’s pattern drawn from the wall and returned unto him, but all seemed willing to follow the lead of Saylen.
It became clear quickly that the audience was agitated, though, and I discovered that there had been efforts to keep out a haughty figure who declared himself the original architect of the wall, and who was rather insistent that the ritual was folly and to pursue their aims would end in their deaths. Despite being ignored before the seals were raised, this creature continued to spread his doomsaying amongst those present, while Saylen and her team continued unabated.
The audience was less settled and some left the area, while others paced frantically and still more were drawn from engaging to showing concern and back again. As Saylen brought over a contributor and had him decorated in order to take on the form of Samael, another figure stepped from the void and into the circle. At first he was assumed to be a circle guardian but he announced himself as an elemental overlord of Good. Saylen held her own in a battle of words, making it clear that within her ritual she held the power. The intruder was insistent that to continue would be doomed, that to remove Good from the wall would result in only Evil remaining and that he foresaw the death of those involved, those viewing proceedings and those without the ritual area. It was somewhere around this point that the Queen and her retinue left the space, the Queen calling for an end to the initial plan. There was some confusion and the information had to be relayed to Saylen directly, at which point she followed the orders of her superiors and righted the wrong she appeared to be in the middle of creating.
She did not skip a beat. She did not show fear. She did not show remorse. Instead, Saylen noted what must be done and called for protection of those within the circle, she removed all decorations and placed all the ritual accoutrements back where they had initially started. She pulled the energies around her to her will and had the contributors aid her. She had timed proceedings well, and despite all disruption and the abrupts about turn she was able to disperse the energy safely and cleanly, dropping the seals somewhere between 12 and 13 minutes in, the overlord having already returned to the void.
The team was dropped by the backlash, it is true, but the damage they took was not disastrous nor ongoing. All were on their feet again within the minute. Saylen moved away from the circle to face her insistent contributor who claimed she had doomed him to death by failing to let him fulfil his oath to Sammael. She continued to hold strong, her voice failing not through fear but through overuse and her assailant was soon subdued and removed from the scene.
If the Harts be hunted for the happenings in that circle, then let me be the storyteller. Where the plan came from, who can say? Whether it was a well advised ritual – well, we can be rather uncertain on that front. And yet, one ritualist held in her hands the life of her team and more and she walked away with those intact and some better understanding of the Al Qu’afar wall. Perhaps not the baubles or personal gain that many would wish from the circle, but Erdreja saw a competent team survive when moments beforehand their gory fate seemed sealed and all nations seemed threatened.
Saylen is an accomplished performer and an admirably level headed ritualist. I hope I shall see her perform again and I shall stand as her advocate should any say she is an unsafe leader in the circle. May her ritual career continue to meet greater successes.