[Story] In the beginning...

Waking up in a strange place was always disorienting.

Rhiannon was up, wondering where she was, the dregs of sleep making her a tad slow to remember. Slowly, things began to fall into place; The sunshine, the sounds of a village coming to life after the night, the smell of the morning mist, and of cooking food from the common room downstairs.

She was in an traveller's inn. In a village called Lough Caillte.

She looked around the room; Her son was still asleep, as was his nurse. Quietly, she muttered certain words, familiar to most magi, and began her morning ritual.

Belle was soon up after she was, meaning Eaghn would be up soon as well. "I'll go see what's for breakfast," she said, after pulling on her clothes and tying her hair back, "and I'll bring some water up." Before Rhiannon could agree or disagree, she was out the door.

It wasn't long before they were all down in the common room, eating a meager breakfast (meager because it was spring, and it was the last of the food put away for the winter) of bread and cheese. Belle, as always, was the center of attention, being flirted with by the younger men, stopping in before going out to work in the fields for a pint to wash down breakfast. Eaghn, saints be praised, was still sleepy, and thus, not getting into trouble in a strange place. Thus, Rhiannon's morning was able to pass in relative peace.

Soon, after asking the hostler to bring thier mounts around (A horse for Rhiannon, and a pony for Belle and her son), she was at a loss for what to do. "Mama, what do we do now?" asked Eaghn, impatiently sitting in front of Belle on the pony.

"Didn't they say there would be someone to meet us at the inn?" asked Belle.

"They did. They did indeed..." She could see that there was a gentleman being greeted at the gate by the innkeeper, who was now pointing towards Rhiannon. "And I believe he has arrived."

The younger man walked up. Dressed well, but not too well, so as to not attract too much attention. "You must be Lady Rhiannon?" At her nod, he continues. "I am Seamus O'Connor. My father Angus has asked me to lead you up to the covenant, if you are ready?"

And with that, the little group leaves.

"I'm afraid Diedre will have to explain some of our arrangements to you, but I can at least point out the simple things. There is a church in the village. Before ye start in, Father Brendan is a friend of both Diedre and Mab. He understands you wizards quite well. Brother Patrick does as well. There is a nun as well, she's from someplace called...France? She helps with the kids in the village, and lends a hand where it's needed. There's the mill, things have been kind of slow, but then, things are slow in the spring. The smith is over there, I see Liam's at work already. " Seamus has kept up a steady stream of talk as the group has slowly worked their through town, and are now walking down a well worn road along the north shore of the Lough.

"Over there," he starts, pointing to a rocky outcropping sticking up above the trees to the north, " is the watchtower. Someone is always on watch there, typically one of Mab's 'men'. Now there's a strange one, Lady Mab. She means well, but when she uses her magic, everyone, even Lady Diedre, starts to clear out. Over there," he continues, pointing to the lake south of the road "is Lough Caillte."

"What about the isle in the center of the lake," asks Eaghn. "I can see a stone circle there..."

"That, lad, belongs to the Tuatha de Danaan. No one goes there, without their leave, save Mab. Speaking for myself, they're not a bad sort, the few I've met. Mab's 'men' are usually four of their young warriors. They hold her in high regard, indeed."

The road turns north, from it's westerly course, soon leading up a hill. There is some activity, and definitely the smells of cooking, namely baking bread. A few children are out and about, playing and generally making a ruckus, as children are wont to do. At the top of the hill there is a wall, more decorative than defensive, and set in it is a gatehouse. Sitting just outside the gate...

Is a very large wolf. Still, Seamus is unafraid, as if this happens every day. "Ho, Miach, what brings you out today?"

Unsurprisingly, the wolf responds. "Mistress Mab wishes to go out into the woods today. Where she goes, so do I. Are these the new arrivals?" He gets to his feet. It is disconcerting to see a wolf nearly as large as a horse. Still, as he is not threatening, the horse and the pony do not shy away.

"I am pleased to make your accquintance," says Miach, the wolf, looking at each of you and nodding. "I bid you welcome to the Covenant of Lough Caillte. You may call me Miach..."

"Cuana! Where are you?" a new voice sounds from inside the wall. Soon, a new person appears. Dressed in purple, she sees the new arrivals. "Oh! Guests! Hi, I'm Mab!" and with that, she comes up and embraces everyone, as if they were family returning after a long trip. "I hope your trip wasn't a long one. I hope Cuana hasn't been bothering you..."

It is Belle who speaks next, as Rhiannon is chuckling quietly. "No, he was being very polite, and welcoming. Why do you call him Cuana?"

"That's his name, Cuana. At least, thats what it was when he was young, so I keep calling him that. Anyway, Deidre will be upset if I don't invite you in, so please, come in. Was your trip long? Did you see anything interesting..." And Mab keeps up the stream of chatter as she leads the guests into Lough Caillte proper.

Left alone by the humans, Miach the wolf settles back down in the sun, content to watch the road.


The afflicted craftsman known as Fabrica Diabolica is finishing up his breakfast, cooking up a wheat cake in a pan that required no fire. Once finished he packed his gear into the hand cart that his cantankerous draft horse pulled with great reluctance. The horse itself, long used to his presence still didn't like him at all. Once his possesions were packed and secured, he strapped onto his back a complex leather harness holding 3 beautifully crafted swords. He then takes up his staff again and begins leading the protesting nag the short distance into town. Even towns that were used to Magi often found him unbearable, for that reason he chose to sleep outside town this first night. According to his letter he was to be expected at the inn.

Walking into the small village he saw familiar sights, charming huts, the occasional larger building and defenses, and people scrambling to get out of his way, crossing themselves for protection. He sighed, it was something he was used to since he was a child and a small price to pay for his power. Finally finding the inn he waited outside once one of the innkeeper's daughters saw him and gasped rushing inside. Almost a minute later the burly innkeeper stepped outside clutching his broom for protection.

"I'm looking for Loch Cailte." said the smith, his English butchering the pronunciation. The man stared at him uncomprehending for a moment or two, mopping his forehead with a greasy rag before understanding at least some of what was said.

"Ach...Aye." he nods. "Caleb!" he shouts into the inn, the smith can't be sure what exactly was said. A moment or two later a strapping red haired youth comes bounding out, still adjusting his armor. His freckled face is mostly a big dopey smile as he sees what he was called for. The innkeeper merely points at the stranger. The freckled youth's smile fades almost instantly for several moments, but eventually returns, looking more forced. Finally he nods and steps forward while the innkeeper shuffles inside and closes the door, peeking out the window with the rest of the staff.

"Ho there. M' Caleb, 'm t'show ya' the way." says the young man, approaching within a few paces.

The smith is uncertain of exactly what was said, the youth's English was terrible and he was sure he didn't speak Latin. "Then you're my guide?"

He blinked a few moments and smiled larger. "Aye! You're guide. Should be'able t'show the way."

"Should? Don't you live here?"

"Aye, sure'n I do, but got no head for directions y'see? Come then, we'll find it. Can I carry somethin' for ye?"

"No, the horse does that." said the smith as he made ready to travel again. Actually...you're a Grog then?"

"Aye, that's what they call me, name's Caleb."

"Yes, you said that earlier. Then you can carry this until we reach the Covenant, I'll claim it later." said the smith as he began to undo the straps on the harness and take it off.

"Those are some mighty fine blades y'carry, did'na know wizards could fight." said Caleb.

"I can't, that's why I'm letting you carry this one for me." he said, drawing the sword set in the middle of the harness. "This...is the 'Iron Wall'. It is ideal for one who is my shield Grog. Parry with this first rather than use your shield, hold it tightly, you'll find that it will do the job for you."

"Ach! Beautiful! 'Tis magic then!" Caleb whispered in awe. "Thank you..." he struggled, unsure of what to call him.

"Fabrica Diabolica." offered the smith, and seeing the addled look he offered something a little easier. "Most Grogs call me Fab."

"Ah, Fab! Call you 3 Blade Fab!" exclaimed the Grog as he checked the balance and edge of the sword. "Well then! I'll take you to the Covenant, with luck we'll get there soon." said Caleb buckling the new sword and scabbard to his belt.

Fabrica's eyes rolled, hopefully this scatter brain was a better fighter than guide.

The day begins to slowly pass. People arrive, trickling in one by one, with Caleb and one assumes is another magus to be the last to arrive, shortly after noon, and looking like he's been led through some of the roughest country around the Lough before finally making it to the gate.

After waiting for some time, and no one coming to attend to the new visitors, a passerby is grabbed. "We were invited here. Please inform someone that we are here." Said Rhiannon, looking down at the hapless boy. Mab had said she would tell someone that they were here, but apparently, she had forgotten.

"Yes, Mum!" he stammered before running off.

It didn't take long for results. Soon, a small woman was walking towards them, wearing rather plain clothes. Everything about her screamed "non-descript"; Everything except the collection of jewelry on her fingers, around her neck, and hanging on her ears. She was looking at the assembled group as she approached. She didn't look happy with something, but the scowl was replaced by friendly smile.

It was then that she realize that nearly everyone present was at least a head taller than she was. "Diedre ex Flambeau. Welcome to Lough Caillte, officially. I apologize for the lack of hospitality, a matter I will attend to shortly. ANGUS!"

The yell is loud, perhaps exceedingly so, but completely natural. And a response is almost immediate. "COMING!" Soon, an older man, balding and heavy set, but not fat comes walking up from another direction. He is dressed richly, as the steward of any noble should be. Yet this is also a man, you assume, who would not hesitate to go knock some heads together if he needed to.

"Ah, our new arrivals have arrived! Why did no one tell me?" As the tale unfolds, it is discovered that Angus hasn't been told. However, he has been occupied with other business. "Ah, Lady Mab. That explains a lot, it does. She decided to help out with the chickens..."

Diedre flinches. "How bad is it?"

"Not as bad as the last time," Angus replies, shrugging. Suffice to say, we'll be eating the largest chicken I've seen tonight. That business can wait, though.
I apologize for the delay into seeing about your needs. Tell me your immediate needs for quarters, and I'll do my best to get them met."

"Dinner is at sunset, in the feasthall," says Diedre as she begins to walk away, towards a building that looks somewhat more fortified than the rest.

"You'll have to forgive her," explains Angus. "She does not like to be disturbed, be it important business or no. Now, let's see what we can do about getting you settled in..."


With appropriate solemnity the smith approaches, his hands in front of him. With friendly reverence he leans down to lay a quick brushing kiss on either cheek of Diedre.

"Salvete Sodalis, I am Fabrica Diabolica ex Verditius. I bring unto this Covenant the skill learned at my Master's forge, as well as 5 items that the Covenant may use as they deem fit." says Fabrica in Latin as he takes off the leather harness strapped to his back. He draws forth the first sword.

"This...is The Superlative Blade. With a word and a touch it will inflict a greivous wound on man or beast." he says as he draws it forth to be examined before putting it back in its sheath.

"This..." he pauses as he notices the middle sword is gone. "Caleb! Come here, bring out the sword." he switches to English then back to Latin when Caleb bounds up and holds out the sword he'd been carrying with a slight frown as he has to give it back. "This is the Iron Wall. When held it will parry for the wielder, making him almost untouchable. And finally, this... is The Coup de Grace." he says drawing out the last blade. "This shall score a wound that will end almost any fight with just a word and a touch." he shows it off for a few seconds more and then puts it away, giving the whole harness to Caleb and heading for the handcart, steering clear of the protesting nag.

"Thank you sir!" grunts Caleb as he suddenly gets the heavy load. Fabrica roots through the handcart, carefully moving aside the apparati, books and various tools. He finally comes out with a large copper cooking pot, usually taken into the field as well as a deep frying pan made of copper. Both display fine etchings of strange runes across the handle and bottom of the pan.

"These paltry things can make life somewhat easier on the road, as they can get hot enough to boil water or cook meat in seconds, and require no flame. Observe. Hot!" he says to the pan, holding the bottom of it, the part that would ordinarily be put into the flame. Heat shimmers begin to rise from within the pan almost instantly, but the bottom remains cool, as Fabrica's hand does not burn. He turns to Caleb who obligingly touches a finger to the edge of the pan on the inside, making a searing sound immediately.

"Ow!" he howls, dropping the swords as he shakes his burnt finger and thrusts it into his mouth. Fabrca frowns to see his swords on the ground, and Caleb scrambles to pick them up again.

"Sodalis, I hope these items and their creator might find a home here, that we may work together and grow hale and strong." he intones, finally ending his introduction.

[Before Diedre Leaves]

"Ah, the one they call '3 Blade Fab'," she laughs. It is not a harsh, derisive sound, but simply amused laughter. "It was I who invited you all to this place, to be your home, if you'd have it. No gifts to the covenant, though anything you wish to gift will be most appreciated."

"You sound like a priest a'tithing," comments Angus at the banter.

"Hey, it works for them," returns Diedre, smiling. Then, she continues.

"I know who you are," pointing to each. "I have heard about you from rumor, or your parens or mentors. You are all here because you each have something to add to this covenant, just by your presence." Still chuckling at something, she continues. "It is doubtful, however, that you know each other. So continue with the introductions. Best to get it out of the way now, because you'll be busy getting settled in soon enough."

[After Diedre Leaves]

"I am Rhiannon MacDiarmid, maga Ex Misc. I bring my skills and lore, learned across the known world in my travels. While I have no wondrous items or mighty spells, I bring knowledge with me." She points to a young boy and young woman standing off to one side, scratching and petting the horses there. "The young imp over there is Eaghan (Ian), my son. The rather fetching young lady is his nurse, Belle."

"Let us all work together, so we may grow hale and strong".


"Well, then, it seems that I am next," says a modestly charismatic man.

He steps forward leaning on a walking stick, clearly lame. Grinning, he continues, "My name is Stephan Jerbitonis filus Augustus, formerly of the Stonehenge Tribunal and I have to tell you that I'm very much looking forward to working with you all."

"Old Grumpy Guts, here," indicating an albino donkey standing behind him, "is Anselom, my travelling companion." The donkey looks at a few of you and snorts dismissively. Stephan chuckles and adds, "Please forgive him, he's a bit out of sorts this morning."

Stephan definitely is charismatic. And while his body has been broken soetime in the past and he is no athlete, it is clear that a very sharp mind resides within.

I am Mathius ex Verditius, and I greet my brother Fabrica Diabolica first - I too am a manufacturer of swords and I look forward to discussing our mutual craft at great length.

Greetings to the rest of you, I am a smith of some regard, and a tolerable scholar too. For the covenant I have brought a copy of my recent summae on Intellego and an item to donate to the covenant - a magical lamp which will burn all night without oil.

The man with the horse and wagon is my companion, a master blacksmith who can craft mundane items for the covenant when he is not working for me.

I look forward to facing our upcoming challenges together, let us all increase in fame and wealth!

"Well met Mathius" says Fabrica as he approaches him and kisses him on each cheek. "Salvete Sodales. This covenant is indeed fortunate to have two from the Halls of Verdi, it shall be rich." Fabrica's eyes are hard to read; is he actually pleased that there are two Verditius? "I'm sure there is much we can share of the Mysteries." he then turns to Stephan and approaches him, hands up and empty.

"Salvete Sodales." he murmurs kissing his cheeks. "How is our Brother Jerbiton this day? Let us grow hale and strong. I too am formerly from Stonehenge, the Covenant of Vires Occultes near York."

(Woops, almost forgot one)

"Maga Rhiannon. Murmurs Fabrica." as he approaches with care, children rarely responded well to him. Not taking any chances he stays a few feet back, hoping she took no offense. "Salvete Sodales."

"Salve. Pleased to make your accquaintance, Magus Fabrica," replies Rhiannon, politely. Fab finds he has a slight problem, as he has to look up to speak with her, else he finds himself staring straight into her chest.

Eaghn looks like a hare caught out in the open, with a hawk overhead. He frowns a bit, gets a grim look, and approaches Fab cautiously. "Master Fab, I'm Eaghn." with that, he bows politely, and stands there, looking like he is about to be punished.

Soon, he is joined by Belle, who is quite beautiful. "That's fine, Eaghn, ", she says. "Come, let's find the kitchen, and see of they have some winter fruit," The prospect of getting something to snack on seems much better idea than standing around among these strangers, so he bolts for their horses, and begins rummaging around in one of the pony's packs. "I'm Belle," she says, curtseying gracefully," Lady Rhiannon's maidservant, and Eaghn's nurse. If there is anything I can do to help, just ask." And with that, she's off to take care of her charge.

"A good lad, a stout lad," says his mother. "He is young enough to dream, and believe they can come true. He seeks to be like the heroes of old, and thus, tries to be brave. Perhaps, I have told him too many old stories and myths while we travelled..."


He looks after the maid [in English] "Such a pretty thing...."

"Dreams are a wonderful thing to have at any age, and who knows if he may grow to be a hero or not?" Mathius looks around and sniffs the air "And speaking of food, I hope that whatever it is that I can smell tastes better than that served at the inn. Perhaps we should move inside?"
Mathius looks at Angus "Perhaps once we are inside you could inform us of the laboratory facilities, and how they will be decided."

Angus smiles. "What ye smell is stew, good master, always on the fire, and always fresh. Today would happen to be the last of the venison. It's a matter of tradition." He looks a bit proud at maintaining a centuries old tradition.

"The only scheduled meal is the one at sundown. Tonight's is chicken, and whatever else Cook decides to throw in. Stew is available at any time, in the feast hall. We've got some good, stout ale, and cider for those less adventuresome."

"As to what you magi call 'labs' and I call workrooms, we currently have 4 unoccupied. And yes, I know there are 7 of ye. The shortfall matters little, since Lady Diedre can rectify it in an afternoon. A previous occupant of one was a crafter, and it may suit either of your needs," he replies, looking at Mathius and Fab. "I'm sure Lady Diedre will want to talk to you after supper, about thing you magi talk about."

"Unless you object, I've got room in the guest cots for all of you, a cot for each, until you decide which workroom suits your needs, and I can make any arrangements for special needs..."


"Well then," says Stephan briskly, "lets all head in and continue the introductions there!"

"Angus, if you could point out where I might leave my materials for the time being, I would appreciate it. I've packed a few sensitve items and I would like to see them properly stored until we get the workroom situation resolved. Also, I'd like to see to Anselom, here, so if you could point me to the stbles as well."

"Ladies. Gentlemen. I'll meet you all for the afternoon meal, I hope, and we can continue the conversation at that time."

And Stephan gets ready to move in the indicated direction.

From just outside the door a crow skitters to a halt on the flagstones. It bobs up and down and stretches its wings, craning its neck upward. Its feathers ruffle and shift and its shape changes. A human form unfolds from within the crow, wiry and naked, not very tall and with a deformed left hand that carries only three claw-like digits.

Corvus Lux, magus of Bjornaer, stood before his soon-to-be colleagues, "Aye, well, lab's al be na problem so long as ah have a bed and somewhere to hang ma...", he looked down at his own naked form, "... clothes". corvus smiled a broad inviting smile, "and that's stew, ya say?"

Stephan bursts out laughing. "Greetings, Corvus!"

"I'm sure friend Angus can arrange at least an armoire for you, but given your entrance, I'm thinking a entire stage may be more appropriate..."

Rhiannon look at the new arrival, her eyes glancing up and down before they roll skyward. Then, she put her hands on her hips, and frowns. "For Heaven's sake, man, get some clothes before..."

"EEEEEEK!" This comes from Mab, who has just rounded the corner carrying a basket of eggs, which nearly drops to the ground, but is caught neatly in Miach's jaws before it hits. She speaks three or four words in Latin (Creo Animal are definitely 2 of them), and Corvus finds himself standing amidst 10 sheep, who are bawling their displeasure.

"Well that didn't work..." She says, frowning as she considers what went wrong. Around the periphery, people are beginning to seek shelter.

Rhiannon mutters something in Cymric, and snaps her fingers, and a decent tunic appears, to land draped over one of Corvus' shoulders. The stitching and weaving are very neat and orderly.

Miach, who has set the basket down nudges his mistress. "Look, mistress. Clothes have appeared. It did work!"

Mab, who was frowning in contemplation, suddenly smiles. "That's good, then. It's still spring, you know, and people and catch a chill..." with that, she picks up the basket of eggs, and begins to move off, the small flock of sheep beginning to follow her...

Angus, comes out from behind the corner of a nearby building, where he had taken cover. "Ah, tha's well and good. Lady Mab, while a good and kind soul, is a bit touched, you might say. Humor her, if you would, and be kind."

"Magus Corvus," Angus says, bowing, " We have some clothes here, belongings of those no longer here that they left behind, that might fit you, if you're in need of clothing. Nothing that befits your station, but servicable..."


Corvus picks at the clothes that so unexpectedly draped themselves over him, "Hmm, clever. I should like to learn such a spell. Unless o'course the sheep are part o' it."

The now-covered Bjornaer threaded his way through the sheep, now milling around uncertain at their sudden existence and rather lost for purpose, "Now, where were we away to? Oh, and thank ye, Angus, for the clothes. I'm sure I'll find a use for them."

Fabrica observes the whole scene with a slight smile, life among magi was rarely boring.

"Salvete Sodales. I am Fabrica Diabolica ex Verditius. I'm a newcomer to this Covenant I take it you are as well?"

"Someone had mentioned stew and labs, some of my favorite subjects. Can we go get some stew and talk of labs then perhaps?"

To find the stew, one simply has to follow the smell on the air. This leads to a largish building, perhaps 3 stories, including the peaked roof. The construction is stone and timber, with slate tiles on the roofs. A pair of open double doors leads into the hall.

Inside is enough room to seat a hundred, perhaps more, though it looks like only a fraction of that capacity gets used. In the middle, before the steps leading up to the high table, is a pot simmering away, where the tantalizing smells of venison stew come from. Next to the cauldron is a stack of wooden bowls, cups, some spoons, and a basket of bread. There is also a keg of ale on tap, and a pitcher of cider. Since no one is around to serve you, it is self service, as Angus had indicated.

The hall may have been very richly decorated at some point. Now, the decorations are fewer; a couple of tapestries hang on the wall, and several suits of armor are on stands, along with a collection of shields and weapons. The ceiling here is high enough that it cannot be seen in this light, though one can see the rafters above.

Soon, everyone has a bowl of stew and a cup of ale or cider. The stew is quite good, and definitely filling. Soon, the conversation turns to that of labs...

Rhiannon leans back after finishing her bowl of stew, and takes a long drink from her cup of ale. "I can go without a lab, for now," she says, after some consideration. "For the time being, I just need a place well suited to reading."


Fabrica munches contentedly on the stew and enjoys a pint or two.

"Well...and forgive me if I speak for you Sodales, Mathius and I would require a lab as soon as possible, with a forge in it. As members of Verditius we will likely make an extension to the lab in order to display our wares. It is only proper that our creations are allowed to be seen with some ease."

"I have some ideas I would like to implement when possible, and I would wonder if the nobles around here have two excellent qualities; discretion and wealth."