Feast time at Lough Caillte is a lively affair indeed, given that most of the hamlet outside the gates comes in for the meal. Magi, of course, sit at the high table, but the newcomers are at the ends of the table, whereas Mab and Diedre sit in the center, with the visitors near them.
The food served is excellent; the Cook (who is bellowing at her work crew in a mixture of dane and erse) does very good work indeed; the roast chicken (Angus was correct, the chicken for the night's meal is easily the biggest most have ever seen) is perfect, with the right mixture of herbs and spices. The vegetables are prepared just right, and to wash it all down, there is a fine wine for the magi and important consortis, and the local strong, dark ale or cider for those of less importance. What the meal lacks in presentation, it makes up for in taste, and everything is delicious, despite the scarcity of some of the ingredients in the spring.
There is little other festivity beyond the meal itself, but the mood is that of a large, extended family gathering. It gets a little boisterous towards the end of the dinner, but a few of the cooler heads amongst the grog turb keep things peaceful.
By the time the dinner has come to an end, Mab has vanished off someplace, leaving Diedre and the three visitors with you.
"Sodales," she says in latin, rising, "If you would follow me to the council chamber, we'll conduct this evening's business."
The council chamber is off to the west side of the feast hall, in a room perhaps 6 paces by 10. the table is long and narrow, with seats enough for 12 around it. Light is provided by several lamps, which light at a whispered command from Diedre.
"I'm not one for much formality," she states, her latin formal, taking the chair at the head of the table. "Our guests are Quintus Guernicus, Flavius Flambonis, and Sean Dulidh ex Mercere. All are here to make this meeting official, and to register your presence here at the covenant. And I officially welcome you to Lough Caillte." With that, she passes around smallish boxes, each with a name written on it.
"What, lass," says Sean Dulidh, "no present for me?"
Diedre rolls her eyes at this. "Sean, we both know you're a member in good standing at Harco. While Mab may fall for your charms, you rogue, I do not. You wouldn't want to suffer the fate of your predecessor now, would you, should you become a member here?"
Dulidh grimaces, then smiles, putting his hands up, admitting defeat. "It ne'er hurts to try."
Inside the box is a silver ring, set with a misty blue stone. The shades of blue in the stone shift continuously, always changing. and the rings are a perfect fit. When you put them on, a sensation that has been grating on the edge of your senses disappears.
The magus introduced as Quintus stands up, and addresses the group. "The covenant of Lough Caillte is a dedicated covenant, though not for your usual purpose. Joining this covenant means you join with that purpose. It may seem like a small thing, this task, but a simple purpose may hide unseen complications."
"This covenant's purpose is to watch over the maga known as Mab. Her gift, altered by twilight and mysteries, make any magic she uses unpredictable, with unforeseen results... and problems."
Diedre nods. "You remember the sheep this afternoon? She tried to conjure a wool robe. More often than not, her casting goes astray, and she tries again, harder, frustrated by the result. Things can go downhill fast from there, and things get weirder, the more frustrated she gets."
"Irencillia won't have her," continues Quintus, "despite her age, and she hasn't done anything even remotely considered a crime, so she can't be marched. Lough Caillte is her home, and we would prefer she stay here, where she feels at home, and the location is fairly remote."
Sean Dulidh speaks up. "Aye, but not so remote that we'd not have a Mercere house in the village." As Quintus begins to say something, he interrupts. "It's not like they wouldn't find out about it," he says, shrugging. "I'd think they'd catch on with a different redcap every week delivering the news, when most covenants get one or two visits a season." He leans back in his chair. "O'Course, in return for the timely news, we might need a bit o'help on ocassion, which is where you come in. We pay well for the help, and in kind."
Throughout all of this, Flavius has remained silent, sitting at Quintus' left. His gaze comes to rest on each of you, and is quite unsettling. "They should do well. Discipline and Strength they have, though these gifts may need to be trained." His voice is deep, resonant, and clear.
Diedre looks apologetic. "I wish I could've told you this up front, when I invited you here to join. I apologize for the deception. However, I don't know how much longer I'm going to be around, and I'd hate for this place that I've worked hard to build to simply fade away."