[Story] Dinner and a Council Meeting

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."




"Now that IS an interesting purpose."

Stephan shifts his position a bit and looks Deirdre dead in the eye. "I had tried to do a little research before showing up, but it has been remarkably quiet. I'm comforted by the fact that our purpose is an act of charity. I imagine that we'll have plenty of opportunity to learn, otherwise, and that her ... disability ... is not malicious. You may count on my enthusiastic support."

As others state thier positions, Stephan seems to be making a long list of things to get done in short order.

Fabrica seems a touch apprehensive, not just by the news, but also by the sensation and the ring. He examines the ring on his finger for runes and other telltale signs of craftsmanship. Did he pocket something else in the box surreptitiously?

One can easily see he's putting his sharp intellect to work on the new revelation, after pausing several moments, it's obvious he doesn't see the deception as being so innocent.

"While the Covenant's resources are marvellous, and the location ideal, this 'purpose' disturbs me. Now that it is revealed, I have to wonder...how much of this purpose had to do with the death and demise of the previous magi? No more deception. For a handful of Magi to die so suddenly, it begs that question."

Mathius takes his ring off, examines it closely, then puts it on again.
"A good point brother, I will be the first to admit that my speciality does not lie in combat. And whilst I will not run at the sight of danger, I do not actively seek my demise."



"Come now, cousins. We have THE senior Queasitor for the Tribunal here so there is no magical attack or other violations of the Code. I do agree that a full disclosure of the nature and scope of Maga Mab's disability needs to be forthcoming but I would suggest we look at this with an eye of charity than suspicion."

"Ultimately, I'm sure that since no oath has been sworn as yet, if the burden is too great, we are allowed to simply withdraw and move on with our own interests. Is this not true Quintus?"

"You are correct in that assumption," says Quintus, nodding. "As you have not been sworn in, you may stay for as long as you need to make other arrangements as guests, and then move on. There will be some small recompense for your troubles as well should you choose to move on."

Flavius stands, and speaks. "The fate of the previous covenant members had nothing to do with Mab's misadventures with her magic, but rather, the things that strike most magi down in life. Torsten died as the result of his longevity potion failing. Sylphie died of a sudden illness, that while not wholly mundane in it's origin, the cause was not here at the covenant. Glendower's twilight may, or may not be his final twilight, though we suspect it is. He was experimenting in the art of Vim, according to his last lab notes; His body disappeared as well this time. And the destruction of Kallias ship was due to a number of things; Pirates, Storms, wounded crew. His last log book mentions all of the above, and sea monsters. It's common enough on most maps to say 'Here there be dragons.' on the western edge. Perhaps he encountered such a creature. There was enough evidence left of the ship to show such damage... The fight must have been glorious, even for one such as Kallias Jerbitonis."

"Brother," says Quintus, "You dwell too much on Battle."

"Ah," he replies, smiling. "But that is my job. Yours is the details."

"True, all too true." comes back the reply, with a smile.

Deidre looks rather worried as the discussion goes on, but leaves it to the officials of the Tribunal to explain the matters. She looks old, and tired, her eyes weary.

Quintus continues: "We had to approve each of Diedre's selections, not only as someone capable of handling any difficulty that may come from your charge, but also to keeping the covenant viable should something happen to the senior competent maga at the covenant."

Sean Dulidh continues : "You were all checked out as thoroughly as one can without violating the Code. Each of you is more than capable of doing both, whatever you may think. I would say 'Seize the Day!', and make the most of the opportunity presented to you."

Deidre again : "Not all magi who come here pass away through death's door or final twilight; Some here leave when they have had enough, and do well in their new covenants. Performing this service to the Order is often seen as a good thing, and I have enough friends left in the order to make sure that if you do leave, you get a little help wherever you wind up."

Quintus : "Mab's disability is hard to explain, given her fae nature. Glendower made a study of her gift when he arrived, and published his results after 2 years of work. To summarize '...Magic goes weird and out of control in proportion to what she is feeling, and how strongly she is feeling it...' A Happy, Helpful Mab is a good thing, as the results tend to be amusing, and more often than not, innocuous. I heard that this evening's roasted chicken was a result of such an incident. Imagine what could happen if she were angry or distraught..."

Sean Dulidh : "Lady Mab is very old, steeped in the mysteries of her house. She may be more fae than human, in truth, but acts more like a child - I think she prefers it this way. One summer, she performed a secret ritual, which I ken not, and when she came out of twilight, she was like this. Irencillia had her for a while, then she was 'allowed' to return home after heated debate in the Rhine Tribunal. And here she remains, apparently eternal and unchanging."


Seireadan looks towards Quintus, "Are there any copies of Glendowers study?.. it sounds fascinating.. and this whole thing also sounds quite fun, I'll happily stay!"

Deidre answers, in latin : "I have a copy in my study, I'll let you have it. The original is in Glendower's lab, which is sealed, though not for much longer, since there is a member of house Bonisagus here, and another coming to copy his notes for Durenmar's library, though Xerxes isn't due to arrive until summer at the earliest."


Cleaned and with a good appetite for both a meal and some answers, Daggin proceeds to find a seat as near the "head" of the table as possible, which, awkwardly, he finds in the middle of one of the sides that seat five. Rather than sit with his back to the peasants, a sure sign of lack of authority, by habit he chooses to sit facing the lower tables, as close to Dierdre as possible, or immediately next to one of the 'guests of honor' on that side.

At some point, Daggin determines the time is ripe to add to the conversation.

"For a mage so immersed in the maritime life, I am troubled by that demise, and saddened by his loss, tho' perhaps no more than the others. But I am intrigued by Kallias above all, and would read those journals if I may. Where are they now, and would that be a possibility?"

And later-

"And who then is this local Mercere? Are they here as a precaution, and are they then at our disposal for urgent matters regarding Mab?"

As questions arise, Daggin adds his to the list, referring to Quintus' comments but addressing both he and the Mercere equally.

"You say 'Handling difficulties and keeping the covenant'- yet Mab hardly strikes me as cooperative, tho' I would guess that stems more from an innate lack of attention to mundane concerns rather than any contrariness of character. Are we to be a cross between wardens and babysitters, by any other name, and how are we to adequately monitor her activities and wanderings without breeching those same sections of the Code?"

"Sounds like mandatory reading for any who will live here," he remarks as an aside, then speaks more directly. "If our role follows patterns similar to those previous to us, how much of our time is this... duty likely to occupy? And, as this seems to be a service to the Tribunal and Order as a whole, what consideration will be given for that time and effort? Also... well, how to put this delicately?... " He shakes his head in impatience. "Is she getting any worse over the years?"

Fabrica absorbs what is told of the fates of the previous magi, some others at the council seem convinced, Fabrica however does not.

"Forgive me Sodales, I do not wish to impugn, I have an inquisitive, and some might say, suspicious mind. One died of illness, a healing Maga. Perhaps that is carelessness, mixed with selflessness, but it certainly is ironic.

"One died of old age when his Longevity Ritual failed, but rituals do not fail suddenly, when they fail they allow time to possibly recover. How old was he? If he was truly old, then maybe a powerful enough Ritual could not have been made in time. Otherwise, I am not convinced yet.

"One has possibly died or gone into Final Twilight. He has disapeared as those are wont to do, but could Mab's Gift have caused it or contributed to it? Could Mab have forced the Twilight? If she is mingled with the Fae that is certainly possible right?

"Finally one has died through...misadventure. That seems to be the one that Mab may not have had anything to do with. Then again, misadventure might be exactly what Mab's problem is."

Fabrica pauses as he gathers his thoughts some more. He sighs and wets his lips with some wine. "This is obviously a token for the Aegis." he says indicating the ring they were given. "I take it of course Mab is part of the Aegis?" he sighs again. "I bring this up, because of a tradition I am aware of in the Blackthorn Covenant in Stonehenge. Perhaps not a tradition, but maybe a rumor. They have some of the oldest magi in the Tribunal, and when one is given over to the mad fits that Twilight can bring, they are supposedly not allowed to participate in casting the Aegis. They are instead given a token as guests are, that way the power of the Aegis can descend upon them should it become necessary." he pauses again. "This would be done through a vote of course." he adds.

"I ask this because I...we need to know more of this special purpose. I'm not as familiar with special purpose Covenants, and what their responsibilities are. So, I would like to have elaborated the nature of this purpose."

"Are we to chronicle Mab and her antics? Mainly to monitor and record everything?

"Are we to try and solve the mystery she represents? To discover her secrets and perhaps reproduce and improve upon them?

"Are we to watch her and be her keeper? Keep her and her strange Gift isolated from the rest of the Tribunal and Order?

"Are we to try and cure her perhaps? Restore her to normal?

"Are we to watch and wait and see how she progresses, most especially with her relationship to the Fae, and then their relationship with us?" Fabrica pauses again, as if gathering resolve for the next thing he says.

"Are we the dagger at her back? Do we watch and wait, and when she becomes too dangerous, too far gone, too much of a burden, do we then kill her?"

"Now you see why I mentioned the Aegis and Mab's relationship with it and this Covenant. It might be essential. I doubt that only one of the questions I brought up is solely the reason, but is likely some of all the reasons. What say you? Understand, I am not saying that this situation turns me away from desiring to stay here, but I need to know the particulars...we all do."

"And again Sodales, I ask this in earnest and with no desire to impugn on any of you. You have been forthcoming, and obviously this kind of information could not be risked in mere letters but only in strict confidence in person."

"Finally, though...and this might be the most important question of all. Does Mab know and understand the special purpose of this Covenant? If so, how does she feel about it?"



Stephan's face hides little as Fabrica enumerates his concerns. A couple items he seems surprised by, most he nods sagely at. The comment about the 'dagger at her back' elicits a combined look of shock and distaste.

He clears his throat and affects a serious mein. "Before you answer, Deirdre, Quintus, I would like to make a point."

"Fabrica, I can see that you have thought this through. And, I concede that a 'suspicious' turn of mind can be be healthy. I know that my own trusting nature can be abused and has been. However, I would argue that all your questions add weight to the importance of the task at hand."

"Being Mab's caretakers and confidants is a noble purpose. Finding a way to allow a magus to grow truly ancient, safely for both the Order and civilization at large, is a worthy effort. I am, again, even more committed to helping Mab rather than jailing her or killing her or even just holding Damocles sword over her head. Surely, we as a group are smart enough to find that higher path!" Stephan takes a breath after finishing his plea.

"I trust our Queasitors and Hoplites to address code violations, real or imagined. If the Tribunal thought that we needed someone to hold the sword, our cousin from House Flambeau would be resident here to back up his sister, Dierde."

Turning to the guests he just referred to and nodding to Fabrica, "Fabrica's questions DO need to be anwered. The need to. But we should be VERY clear on what the oath of covenant is here, first, I think."

Corvus [Latin]

"To sit here and wait for Mab to turn... dangerous? Aye, that'd be a task indeed, no disrespect or challenge to Mab." Corvus looks around the feast hall ready to give ground to Mab on the matter.

"But whatever the glories or the responsibilities, is this really best said at dinner?"

Daggin listens as Fabrica cuts to the core of the concerns, and nods in approval, impressed to no small degree at the other's acumen. But then a shadow falls over his face, and he lets his gaze drift to the room beyond, or some imaginary point within it as the conversations continue to wend their way, and his attention does not return until half-way through Stephan's comments.

At the next break in the discussion, and before the elders can answer, he interjects with some reined emotion.

"A moment- a healer who dies of a lingering disease of no mundane origin, and in her own hospital? A Bonisagus who succumbs to final Twilight, and while studying the art of Vim? A practiced mariner who loses his ship and drowns, despite all the Arcane arts he might possess? I would almost suspect that the Verditius would have died of wounds inflicted by his own weapons, but, more subtle still, he dies when a potion by his own hand fails... what can you tell us of others, before them, and their fates?"

His voice remains modulated to the point of being overly polite, but is filled with tension, and his fingers droop over his half-tipped goblet, rolling it to and fro on its base as he speaks.

"And another RedCap was mentioned as well", he turns to Dierdre, " 'You wouldn't want to suffer the fate of your predecessor', you said to Dulidh. Pray, what exactly was that fate that made our Mercere grimace in remembrance?"

The regal, deep brilliant blue eyes flash, and do not seem to be sharing the festive mood that the rest of the tables enjoy, and his stare shoots to the senior magi present as the peasants and grogs frolic in a dull ruckus, oblivious, in the sprawl and bustle of the feasting beyond.

His gaze slowly fixes on Quintus, and it looks for a moment as if he might add something, but the words are not formed, and he breaks his eyes away as he waits for a response, splitting his attention between the four magi who are more familiar with the situation than any of the newcomers.

Diedre is the one who answers the questions. "I've known Mab longer than anyone at this table. To wait for her to turn dangerous is going to be a long wait indeed; She was more dangerous before she went mad. Most of the things that happen are from the weirdness that springs up around her when she uses her magic."

"Her gift has the qualities of being persistent, warped, and weird, as classified by the Bonisagi wise in such matters. Such a combination in a normal magus can be annoying enough, but Mab's wierdness seem to take on a life of it's own, because of her faerie nature."

"If she is destructive, it is by happenstance only. The reason Irencillia won't have her is because of the havoc she unknowingly wrecked while trying to douse a fire nearby while they were willing to have her. Those who were there knew what she cast, said the flood should have never happened, but it happened, regardless."

"The flip side is, that like most fae, people fascinate her. She likes people, and her gentle gift makes her a favorite with the townspeople. Yes, don't look so shocked, she ventures into town regularly, perhaps once a month. She tells stories to the children, mainly, and learn new songs. Father Brendan always manages to head off problems before they occur."

"The fate of our previous members has nothing to do with Mab, at least with 2 of them. Torsten was approaching his first century in age, entering the Autumn years of a magi's life. One of his housemate had a vendetta with him, and Torsten made his attempts to out-do him seem foolish. Things got nasty from that point."

Quintus continues : "What I am about to tell you does not leave this room. The magus that has a Vendetta with Torsten got a hold of an amulet made by a Necromancer. This amulet has one purpose, to spread a slow lingering death. It curses the person who found it, then disappears, to reappear someplace else. The person so cursed spreads the plague to those he meets unwittingly, before he can succumb to it."

"This magus found it, and dropped it where he thought it would do the most harm... The maga Sylphie was the one who found it, and the curse had sufficient power to overcome her parma; she hadn't even realized she'd been affected... until she fell ill."

"Torsten's longevity focus losing it's power may have been coincedental, or it may not. Whatever the cause, it's failure left him bedridden for the winter season. Sylphie unwittingly spread the plague to him , and he succumbed quickly in his weakened state. Sylphie soon realized she was the cause of the plague, and quarantined herself and those she had infected, then attempted to cure herself. She was found dead, vis in hand, a week later. A sad end, for one showing much promise."

"We are still investigating this matter. We have the amulet, we are now trying to track down this magus, and question him. He is proving to be most elusive. Should you find anything in Torsten's papers in his lab, let us know."

"One o' the benefits of having a Mercere house here," says Dulidh, smiling. "As to being sent off to summon help, it's not likely to happen. Mab's reputations proceed her, and the only ones likely to come are vultures. Nay, the covenant was here before the Mercere house, which was set up only in the last 50 years, well after Mab took up residence."

Diedre picks up the tale : "Kallias was trying to follow the Journey of St. Brendan, to find the fabled land of Vinland, far to the west. He had prepared well for such a journey, as much as one can. He chose the best season, hired the best crew he could, and had a ship purpose built for the journey - he was years in the preparation for this. And according to his logs, which are in his lab, The first week went well. Then, things began to go wrong. A storm damaged the ship. Provisions were spoiled. He mentions a serpent of some kind, that broke the masts, ate half the crew, and left them adrift on the current. What was left of the crew died after that and the serpent came back to finish the job it had started. It broke the ship apart, but not before Kallias tried to strike it down; The islanders remember hearing thunder and seeing lighting out to sea, without seeing storm clouds. When he was found, he was nearly bitten in twain. His logs had a magical twin in his lab; whatever he wrote in one, it would appear in the other."

"Glendower, though, he was trying to help me." The voice is Mab's. "I know I'm not right," she says, tapping the side of her head, "and I know why Diedre asked you all here. I may not be sane, but I'm not stupid." She sits down to Diedre's right, and the bulk of her familiar settles in behind her. "Quintus and Flavius, it is good to see you again."

"Glendower had been trying to help me since he came here. The mysteries of my house lie on the edge of hermetic magic, and he was most interested in them, hoping to come up with a new way to improve the normal longevity ritual. I... I taught him what I knew, as best as I could, I even let him read my books. And he tried to duplicate it, to find out what I had done wrong..."

Mab's voice grows quiet, like a little girl who was scared. "Even though I let him read my books, and told him what he needed to know, and managed to have him fae touched well before hand..." She shivers. "He lost control of it. I was there, I saw it. The magic, his ritual, meant to help me, it reached out, it changed him, and it tore him apart, into little threads of light, pulled into the dark." She begins to cry. "I wanted to help him, but was afraid that I'd make it worse. I knew what my arts could do, but I wanted to help. By the time I decided to do something, he was gone." Her tears stop after a few moments.

"I don't mean to be a burden. Really, I don't. If I stop and think about it, Sad things are going to happen to everyone here; Good things as well. Like it or not, I'm going to watch each one of you pass into the night. And I'll still be here. But I don't like being sad. Yet, you can't have the happy times without the sad. So I enjoy the things I love, knowing I have to face the shadows" Everyone is minded of a maga just out of apprenticeship, who has managed to pass her gauntlet by luck. Eventually the tears stop. "Diedre needs help with the covenant. I know that much, because I can't help with the important things. Without the covenant, I'd have no home; And this is the only home I've known where I wasn't treated like a leper, or a monster."

Sean Dulidh speaks up. "I'll answer your question about me predecessor at Harco. Simply put, when a Mercere in my position, and I can't tell you what that is, leaves Harco, he is silenced, because he simply knows too much. Even if his office becomes public knowledge, he is silenced. My predecessor retired, and joined another covenant. He was silenced before what he knew could be learned by others. And no, I won't tell you who he was, either. The discretion of Diedre, Mab, Quintus and Flavius is assured, for various reasons. On your oath, you are not to mention this to anyone else."

The silence in the room is deafening.

Daggin forces a grim smile at the tale told.

"And the message carrier died because... he was carrying one too many messages..."

He lowers his eyes and shakes his head slowly, releasing his goblet, his arms going slack by his sides, and remains such as he ponders his own thoughts.



Stephan wipes a tear from his eye. Puts a somewhat shaky grin on his face, looks at Mab, and says, "Caretakers and confidants. I meant what I said."

He turns to Deirdre, "I'm in. Where do I sign?"

Mathius says to Mab in Latin "The world is composed of both light and dark. Only those with the courage to walk through the shadows will find the light. Fear not my good lady, this home appeals to me." He smiles at her, and continues "It would be both a privilege and an honour to stand beside the two of you."

"I accept the offered place in this covenant, knowing of the chaos which will occasionally disturb my researches. Honoured elders, I will keep this secret and I will endeavour to aid Mab in causing less problems."

"I cannot speak for the other magi gathered here, but the courage I have heard described here has humbled me. Lady Deidre, my forge is at your disposal. Lady Mab, I give my oath that I will do my utmost to live a very long life"

Corvus [Irish/Erse... whatever]

"And me, I'd me more earnest if a could but I'm here 'cos a got nowhere else ta go. I mean, I feel for all o'this a'course, and I'll do as what needs doin' but all I need is a lab, three meals a day and somewhere to sleep."

He leans forward and breaks a smile, "Though a'course, a perch ad do us jus' fine instead."

Daggin breaks his reveries with a single silent chuckle to himself, almost a reflexive choke, and allows one side of his mouth to curl up in a semblance of humour as he ponders the blue-stone ring now on his left hand.

"Bien sur - and I too will join, tho' I'm not sure the unspoken implications of declining leave us with much of a viable alternative. Further, holding to the previous agreement of most of the newcomers here," with a nod to Seireadan, the latecomer, "at least one of the existing labs seems acceptable to my magics and habits, that of Kallias, and possibly Glendower's, tho' none of us have as yet had a chance to step within that abode.

"Tho' those arrangements need not be resolved here and now, if there are other matters to discuss... or other secrets to share?"

"Oh, I don't need a lab straight away, why, I haven't even had time to explore the area yet! .. I heard there's an interesting lake and such, and the forests around here are just lovely.. oh.. and you were mentioning that Mab visits the nearby town... is it nice?.. do they accept mages? I just can't -wait-"

"I'm sure everything will turn out fine in the end, you all seem overly suspicious of Mab, when clearly she's just fine and dandy"