In the lands of the Bisclavret, along the banks of the Skirfane River dwell a minor
house known as the Repense -- a diminishing bat nobility reigning from their observatory
towers over a domain populated primarily by mice. Among the Repense nobility, it is a
long-standing tradition to study the heavens, looking for guidance in the stars. The
sheer complexity of the Repense system of interpreting portents in the heavens is beyond
the hope of most commoners to comprehend. Nonetheless, a major feature of this system
has become well-known beyond the Skirfane: the twelve constellations of the Zodiac.
The Repense Zodiac consists of twelve constellations of stars lying on the Plane of the
Ecliptic -- the path that the sun traverses during its yearly trek through
the heavens. If one has sufficient imagination, one can envision these groupings of stars
to describe twelve images: six treasures placed in the heavens, and six mythic creatures
to guard them. Through the year, the sun passes through the twelve constellations in turn,
and thus each constellation is associated with a different time of the year.
The particular constellation that the sun passes through when you are born is considered to
be your "sign," and it figures heavily into horoscopes. Furthermore, the wandering bodies of
the heavens (that is, the visible planets) also lie on the Plane of the Ecliptic; therefore,
they pass through the constellations as well, and their presence is believed to have an added
influence on anyone born under the sign that they pass through.
Here are the twelve constellations of the Repense Zodiac:
Yule 21 to Snow 18
The three primary stars that comprise the bow are bright in the night sky, and make it one of the more
readily found constellations. It is a popular conceit that the "arrow" of the bow points at the North Star,
though in truth its aim in this regard is not quite perfect. (Some astrologers explain this in their belief
that the stars gradually change their positions in the sky over the ages, and that long ago the arrow once
did point directly at the North Star. When it should line up perfectly again, they warn, a great
cataclysm will befall the world.)
Snow 19 to Sap 20
The exact creature depicted by this constellation is open to some interpretation.
Some charts depicting the Repense Zodiac show a generic sort of freshwater fish,
such as might be found in the River Skirfane. Others depict a more marvelous creature
-- sometimes a whale -- believed to dwell in the depths of the ocean. In legend, the
Great Fish guards the Bow.
Sap 21 to Grass 19
This is alternately referred to as "The Dagger," given the stubby proportion of the
blade compared to the cross guard. The exact name used is often dependent upon what
part this constellation is believed to play in any particular prediction. As the Sword,
it figures highly into portents of war; as the Dagger, it is associated with assassination
and subterfuge. In either case, horoscopes for those born under this sign almost always
lean toward predictions of conflict.
Grass 20 to Flower 19
This sign is associated with strength and power, and it is desireable for a Repense
lord's heir to be born under this sign. (More than a few truths have been stretched
over the centuries concerning birthdays, to try to claim the Destrier as one's
personal sign.) In legend, the Destrier guards the Sword. The Destrier is sometimes
shown as being carried by the monstrous Giant. Some charts label this constellation as
the "Burindent" instead.
Flower 20 to Strawberry 20
This sign is associated with abundance and plenty, and it is depicted as a cup flowing
over. The chalice described by this constellation, indeed, seems to pour out into the
hazy expanse known as the "Spilled Wine." This constellation is popular to invoke in
favorable fortunes, and is invoked so often by shysters that the mere mention of the
Chalice is enough to invite mockery from more cynical listeners.
Strawberry 21 to Thunder 21
In art, this constellation is depicted as one of any number of varieties of flying
feathered lizards. The sky lizards are associated with grace and beauty, thanks to
their bright plumage and scale patterns, and many varieties are known for their
pleasing songs as well. This sign is especially favorable for women, or for men
with poetic or artistic aspirations. In legend, a magical Natheireun guards the
Chalice; its song is able to lull people to sleep, and its powers of regeneration let
it quickly heal even the most grievous of wounds.
Thunder 22 to Green 21
The Coffer is even more fortuitous a sign to be born under than the Chalice. It is
associated with material wealth, and consequently its invocation in favorable-sounding
forecasts is just as suspect to cynics as those involving the Chalice. One peculiarity
about the Coffer, as the constellation appears on star charts, is that one of the stars
of the outer box doesn't even exist anymore. (Or, at the least, it's no longer visible.)
Some centuries ago, the star vanished from the heavens, prompting all sorts of dire
predictions amongst stargazers; most star charts still shown the "phantom star" in its
Green 22 to Harvest 21
This constellation consists of eight stars spread out, and what appear at first glance to
be two stars in the center. Commonly, the two stars in the center are treated as the body
of the spider, and the other stars the eight legs; sometimes, the eight outer stars are depicted
as a web; one star in the center is the spider, and the dimmer star its prey.
For those with keen eyesight, however, it is possible to tell that the brighter "star" is not
one but eight pinpricks of light clustered together. Being able to count them is
considered a popular test of eyesight among the Repense.
In Repense lands, this sign is of importance to weavers and seamstresses; sometimes, the making
of special garments is put off until it can be done while this sign is dominant, for good luck.
In legend, the Spider guards the coffer, and it is close to the constellation of the Spinning
Wheel, with which it weaves strands of gold.
Harvest 22 to Hunter 22
The Scepter is similar to the Spider in that the "gem" at its top is not actually a
single star as some suppose, but a tight cluster of six smaller stars ... though they
are not so densely packed together as the cluster to be found in the Spider. This is
another sign considered fortuitous to be born under, particularly for nobility. It
also, however, happens to be located during a time of year when a great many birthdays
cluster anyway, so it's not rare at all that a new lord is born under this sign.
Hunter 23 to Frost 22
Next to the Scepter is the Serpent -- not so favorable a sign to be born under,
for it is believed to predispose one toward craftiness and guile. (One might argue that because of the
strength of belief in this among the Repense, it is a "self-fulfilling prophecy.")
A mother giving birth to a child under the very earliest or latest days of this sign may well lie about the birthdate,
pushing it a few days forward or back into the Scepter or Scythe instead. In legend, the wise and shrewd Serpent
guards the Scepter, and whispers advice into the ear of the King.
Frost 23 to Night 21
This sign, associated with harvest, figures into attempts to predict fortune or failure
in the year's harvest. In more optimistic forecasts, it is associated with omens of
bounty and plenty. It has a darker side, too -- sometimes associated with a "harvest of
souls" in times of war. Nonetheless, it's considered fortuitous for a farmer to have a child
born under this sign.
Night 22 to Yule 20
The name for this sign originally comes from the Phelan. Although it technically can
refer to any number of small lizard-like creatures found there, to the Repense it is
associated with a particular variety of comhach. This creature is at times charming, at
others a pest, and is capable of standing up on its hind legs like a little person. It
is frequently given anthropomorphic characteristics in children's tales popular in
Repense lands, and popularly regarded as being a clever little thief. In legend, the
Comhach guards the Scythe; sometimes, a companion constellation (the Lesser Comhach)
joins it as a pair.
Being born under this sign is a mixed blessing where the superstitious are concerned; it
is associated with good luck, but those born under this sign are believed to be prone