Postfest V, Part II: Sorcerer's Night
Date: Tue, August 09, 2005
Topic: Peoples & Culture
In the last rays of the setting sun, fear closes in. One night each year, the darkness breathes and feeds upon the unwary. Divine power wanes while the arcane waxes. The night of no moons holds a special terror for the Flanaess. Pray for the light.
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Date: 11th Goodmonth
Location: Flanaess Wide
There is night each year when no moon graces the twilight sky of Oerth. That night is the 11th of Goodmonth, when both Luna and Celene are new. It is the darkest night of the year, when no celestial light glimmers between Oerth and the black gulfs of space. This is Sorcerers Night and on this night dark magics are empowered. Deific magics are at low ebb. It is the night when man stands alone before the beyond. He may command the vast atramentous powers of the night or he may be consumed by them. Those that seek power perform great summonings or conjurations at this time and many are the fell creatures that walk abroad in answer to the wizard’s or the warlock’s call. Those who would not fall victim to such sorceries keep close to their homes and within doors. The blood of the foolhardy, who venture forth beneath the wheeling stars of Sorcerers Night, stains strange altars.
Time and space have less meaning when no celestial timekeepers stand watch in the heavens. The laws of man and gods may be unbound and the darkly gifted may more easily work their will. More than their wizardly brethren or witchy sisters, sorcerers and psions, whose powers are inborn and innate, wax mighty, but all who command the unseen forces of the universe grow stronger. Clerics tremble and their faithful more so. No god or goddess may ward the faithful if they are unwary. In cities, the lamps in the temples burn their oils long into the night as many spend the darkened time in fervent prayer that threat may pass them by. In remote areas with fewer temples, where a neighbor may be a mile or more distant, a fear is palpable as early as noon upon the 11th of Goodmonth and such rural dwellers repair to their homes or to a village inn or tavern, where they may fortify their courage from a wineskin and have the comfort of their fellows through the hours of darkness.
After a night where every sound may herald the approach of nightmare, odd tracks and signs that chill the marrow often greet the weary as they return to their homes or first venture forth with the dawn. Beggars and livestock alike frequently go missing, but little or no effort is made to follow the spore of their assailants or abductors, if any there is to be found. Many are the tales of cloaked or shrouded figures abroad in the evening hours and it pays to not be too attentive of details, to not ask too many questions nor to seek too closely after answers or explanations. No stranger is much welcomed on Sorcerers Night, though few public houses or temples will turn away those seeking shelter from the unknown. Sorcerers Night is a time of fear and superstition. Anyone not a friend may be a fiend in disguise and the smallest kindness may be repaid with bloody handed murder or worse.
Attempts to banish the terror of Sorcerers Night, to remove the chill that settles over the land in the midst of the warm summer months, have not been successful. Parties, balls and festivities have all been tried, offering gaiety as an antidote for dread. The darkness, more than any devil, is not mocked. Red death has stalked the gilded halls of the powerful, who thought to make merry and laugh at the supposed ignorance and superstition of the common folk and their stories, striking down dukes, counts and barons without discrimination. While nobles still gather together on Sorcerers Night in places, it is behind locked and carefully warded doors. The laughter is nervous, the smiles forced and the eyes of these revelers hold a hollow fear, betrayed by frequent sidelong glances and quick starts. Strong drink and drunken oblivion are often sought out and offer a means to pass the night away when nerves fray to the point of breaking.
The special terror Sorcerers Night holds is not of the usual sort, although those terrors are abroad in numbers, as well. That special terror of the night lit by no moons is born of the uncanny and the unknown, of things beyond the keen of men, even most wizards. From dark corners of fevered imagining and the inky depths of madness, things emerge on Sorcerers Night that appear at practically no other time of the year. The Abyss and the Nine Hells hold no horrors such as these. The worst terrors of Sorcerers Night are otherwise; they are from the outside or the other side of reality, abominations and aberrations of unclean and foul super nature, nature turned upon itself and driven insane. In lonely places - blasted heaths, dismal fens, forlorn forests and weathered heights - avoided even in the daylight for a sense of wrongness, ancient lights flicker, old stones glow luminescent, and the manifold doors of the multiverse swing wide to admit the unnamable. There is no hope for those caught out near such cursed spots.
Sorcerers Night is once a year, visiting upon the golden time of summer a chill darkness of space and infinite distance. It is enough, and too short is counted the span until the 11th of Goodmonth next belies that hopeful name.