by Julian Kay
As penned by Viriel Pyrolea, formerly an esteemed seer of Lightwood, newly appointed as Imperial Astrologer as penance service for spurring theft and piracy along the Spray.
During my time in Axis, I have seen Thronehold’s glistening mounts, the clouds of Wyrmblessed, the liminal spaces between the palace portals, and more. But for all the wonders of the city, many are blind to the wonders that whirl endlessly overhead. Perhaps the cursed destinies of the Astrologer still haunt the empire, echoed in a wariness of skyborne wisdom. Knowing one’s fate can be a curse, but that fate remains all the same. I leave to the reader to judge how best to deal with knowledge that dwarfs our existence.
The imperial vizier has tasked me to share my knowledge of the stars with readers, for the benefit of your education. This is of particular use to courtiers, as I served as a servant of the Elf Queen for many years. It’s true that I relocated rapidly for personal reasons, and experienced misadventures before my royal appointment. Of course, you may idly muse, as many have, how much that relates to my own awareness of my fate. You can kindly keep musing on that mystery; I will not elucidate further.
Additionally, any suggestions that I’m penning this work to square some grudge against the Queen is a common notion I won’t humor.
And so, we begin with the simplest of matters: the thirteen major constellations. I have shared my knowledge of elven starseeking, melding it with official imperial dictum. We only find the truth of the skies through multiple perspectives.
The Three Significant Registers: To place the skies in perspective, there are currently three registers of constellations that those pondering upon the stars must consider. The first is main subject of today’s essay: the imperial register, consisting of those constellations the empire holds as favorable. You will find this distinction insignificant on the fringes of civilization, but here at the very center of our world you’ll find these constellations used everywhere, including imperial livery. Overuse, however, is a clear and tiresome form of bootlicking.
The second register, which we will consider on a subsequent date, is the capricious register, constellations that are neither loyal to imperial fortunes nor hostile.
The final register, as you no doubt have surmised, is the foreboding register, constellations of hostile stars. We will say no more of them today.
Our Subject, Our Strength: The imperial constellations are important for interpreting conditions favorable to the empire. When they cross Axis or the Road (see the Register of Capricious Constellations, to be penned shortly), times of glory are upon us. However, when they whirl closer to the barbarian lands, one should take precautions.
The Anvil: These seven stars represent the surface on which some dwarves claim the gods forged the world, and the ancient practice of their smiths taking their blades to great heights to be “sharpened by the sky” likely comes from this tale. Many forges seek mountains not only for their ores, but to clearly see the finest times for forging.
Similarly, the pre-battle tradition of raising one’s sword likely comes from the spread of dwarven battle traditions far beyond the mountains. Thankfully, the tradition of some crusading warriors to pile demonic and cultist bodies high to stand upon before brandishing one’s blade is a tradition still restricted to that grim lot.
The Crown: Claimed simultaneously to be an omen for the Dragon Emperor, Dwarf King, and Elf Queen. Though this is astrologically contradictory, I must officially state the Emperor is the crown-bearer. Still, this author makes no attempt to disabuse the King or Queen of their claims. I would also suggest that any reader take up a similar notion of neutrality.
Past records claim the crown once held a thirteenth star, but presently, we only see twelve. Is its disappearance symbolic of the fall of a ruler, like the Terrible Emperor? Or was it somehow stolen from the sky, as some have claimed?
The Dragon: But which one? The Black claim it’s the progenitor of dragonkind, a shadowy ur-drake born of the stars. Holy warriors see its proximity to the White Star to be symbolic of the Gold Wyrm, sealing the pale void in the sky just as it seals the abyss in the earth. Of course, likening a silver dragon’s shine to the stars is a traditional compliment for the Emperor’s winged allies. As with the Crown, I would advise neutrality in such debates, as there are as many tales across the world as scales in a dragon’s hide.
The Gauntlet: Sealing, protecting, crushing—the gauntlet is a symbol of divinely inspired warriors regardless of the god they cleave to. Having it point in the direction of one’s quest or crusade is a good omen for the endeavor, if not always for its participants. The gods never fail to appreciate an effective self-sacrifice.