[Story] In the beginning...

"Ha!" Corvus exclaimed. "Just like the Verditius. Always letting their trinkets speak for 'em. Where's your sense o' adventure, eh?"

The Bjornaer held Fabrica and Mathius with his cold gaze, soaking in their reaction, and then he broke, a smile replacing the straight face he'd barely managed. "Ahh", he laughed, "Pay na mind to me. I'm just playin' wit ya. I'd love to see ya wares when they're a ready".

Perhaps you would be interested in commissioning a device? I once crafted one which allowed the wielder to converse with mundane trees. It was far less demanding than casting a spell for such a purpose. I still have my lab-notes from it, or perhaps you would like one to talk with animals?
And as for nobles, they certainly know how to pay well - though we haven't been told yet how much of our fees the covenant will be desiring. Angus, could you perhaps explain a little of what the covenant expects of us? And how we contact the nobles, as I left my previous agent behind.

Aside from myself and Fabrica, are there anymore who need a lab soon?

Some small commotion at the entryway heralds a new guest, and twin silhouettes are seen framed by the double doors, backlit by the Spring day beyond. They enter a bit, revealing Angus followed by a short figure surrounded by a voluminous cloak. That second entrant pauses, perhaps taking in the room and its occupants, then enters, throwing back the hood, and the change in lighting reveals a man of dusky skin and dark features, whom Angus seems to be directing toward those already present.

The newcomer wears traveling clothes of fine cloth with some rich trim, sleeves over-long for his arms, the cuff hanging down almost to his fingertips, and boots that those sharp-eyed and knowledgeable in such things might recognize as better suited to riding than walking.

He speaks in good Latin that bears a continental accent-

"Salve, to one and all," he greets them, adding a half bow that reflects a practiced ease. "I might add 'sodales', but perhaps that title would best be saved until after that relationship has been formalized. I am Daggin Plantard, filius Rene Chilperic Magus Ex Miscellanea, ab Montesquiou, of the Normandy Tribunal. Who are our hosts, may I ask?..."

Once the formal greeting is over, he moves toward the stew as he engages in less ritual conversation.

"What, or who exactly was that massive wolf outside? It gave my horse quite a start at first, tho' through no fault of its own, and apologized to me for the incident, tho' my horse remained not completely convinced..."

He pauses at the stewpot, hesitating as if debating over the next best action to take, but after a glance at the others with bowls in front of them, takes one of his own and, hesitantly and delicately, as if handling something slightly unknown or distasteful, helps himself. He sits, and tastes with some reflection, then seems satisfied as to his concerns and digs in with restrained relish. As he eats, his long sleeves remain precariously balanced between knuckle and soupbowl, yet somehow avoid becoming stained by the rich stew.

"Mmm, a traditional pastoral stew, more than adequate across the land - my compliments to the cook. What was the topic of discussion before I entered, may I ask?"

"I greet you Daggin Plantard, I am Mathius ex Verditius and we were discussing who among us needs labs now and who can wait a while until some more can be arranged. My brother Fabrica" [polite gesture] "and I have requested labs while the lady Rhiannon" [polite gesture] "has indicated she will be happy in the library for a time.

I had also asked for an indication of what the covenant would expect of us in terms of time and dues, and for some information about how we would craft devices for the local nobility."

Corvus [Latin]

"But," Corvus stands, "that was a conversation between new-found friends. And you're either one o'them new-found friends or ya not. Which is it... Sodalis? See, ya've eaten of the stew and as a guest ya welcome to it, but ya've requested a lab and unless I'm wrong, that'd mek ya one a'us. So again, which is it?"

"Good day, Daggin."

"You're from Normandy Tribunal, then? Seems that this covenant is going pretty far afield to collect us all. I'll warn you that I will pester you for news from the South," he says waggling a friendly finger at Daggin.

"But to continue the conversation, I would like a lab in the reasonably near future, myself," he says more generally. " I might be willing to put it off for a season or two, if I must, but no longer. I'm acu\tually in the middle of a project that I would like to complete fairly soon."

"So, the two Verditii and myself have said that they would ike a lab soon, Rhiannon has opted to wait. Who else wishes to claim a lab?"

(In Latin).
"Salve, Daggin Plantard. As to your questions, let me see if I can answer them," Rhiannon answers, counting off each point on her fingers. "Primus, our hosts are one Mab, filia Babh, maga ex Merinita and Diedre, maga ex Flambeau." She takes a drink from her cup, finishing it off.

"Secundus: That great beast of a wolf is Miach, whom I gather is Mab's familiar. I think the pair of them are well matched."

"Tertius: The topic was of Labs, and who will need what."

Angus interrupts in perfectly good latin. "And I have some answers as to noble patronage for our esteemed crafters, and our scholar. There are several noble families in the area. My cousin, Cathal, is the king of this area, called the Fifth of Connacht. He is more like a duke than a king; While not swearing fealty to those Norman bastards, neither does he openly oppose them." He remains standing as he continues. 'He is wealthier than most, but this section of Eire has been gifted with a great bounty from the earth, in metal and stone, so even the poorest freemen have some wealth. It is with the O'Connors, descendants from the Last High King of Ireland, where you will find sponsorship, and sons seeking tutelage. Connacht, after all, is the province known for scholarship and wisdom."

Angus briefly pauses, taking the cup on his belt, and getting himself a draught of ale, drinking deeply before continuing. "As to contacting the nobles, 'tis a simple enough thing. I believe one of the houses that acts as intermediaries for you magi is in Limerick. Not a bad sort, those Sicilians, but a might too sneaky for my tastes. It is through the port at Limerick we get most of our luxury items, paid for either with tin from our mine, or coin that Diedre parcels out when needed."

"Aye, I hold the purse strings here," chimes in Diedre, taking a seat at the table, a cup of cider in front of her. "It is not a big secret that we have more wealth here than we know what to do with. Spoils of war, and all that. However, spending it all would attract undue attention, and cause all sorts of troubles, so we dole it out in small amounts" She takes a drink out of her cup, seemingly over-large in her hands.

"We have some arrangements, some of which I'll discuss now; Miach is indeed Mab's familiar. He doesn't hunt around here, but in the regiones for the old irish deer. 'Horsemeat,' he's said, 'Is too tough.'"

"Father Brendan is an old friend, and understands Magi all too well. Do not make trouble with him. Even the local fae respect him. He remembers the old Celtic faith, where all come from God. Thus, the dominion in town does not hamper the gift or the fae as you might expect. It is like this around Connacht, and most of western Eire. Brother Padraigh, while newer to the area, likewise holds to that. It's the nun, Priere, I expect problems from, but she hasn't been here all that long. Still, make no trouble for the churchmen."

"The local Fae, the Tuatha de Dannan, hold Mab in high regard. There are 4 of their young warriors here, as her honor gaurd. They'll be in for the evening meal, like everyone else. We are on very good terms with them as well. The isle in the lake is their's, and no human is allowed to set foot on it without their leave, save Mab. More often than not, you'll find yourself back on our side of the lake, instead of dead, or cursed."

"We'll discuss some of the other things that only concern Magi after the evening meal. We have a formal council chamber, off this hall, or we can use my parlor, your choice." With that she leans back. "Any other questions I can answer for you while I'm here?"

(In Erse)
"Angus, I need you to find out when the traders are due, and what Mab is up to." Diedre's accent is not a native one, though she speaks fluently.

"Aye, that I shall. I'll also see where those sheep have gotten to..." With that, Angus leaves, grabbing a couple of lads on the way out.


"Salve, sodalis Mathius... labs, eh? Then am I correct in surmising that Loch Caillte is short on labs, compared to those of us newly arrived? Hmmm... awkward..."

He frowns a bit, brows knitting over his darkest blue eyes, and works his jaw while considering the implications, but interupts his musings to nod and acknowledge Fabrica and Rhiannon as they are introduced.

Daggin raises one eyebrow in mild surprise.

"Amici novi? I am afraid that I hold the term 'amicus' in higher esteem than can be achieved at first meeting, tho' I likewise hold high hopes that time will prove the worth of this gathering to that title. If by 'one of us' you mean of the Order of Hermes, sodales we are, and with time amici we may well become, but for now, perforce of habit, I must withhold that judgement, and expect nothing more of any other in return.

"But well met, sodalis Corvus- I would certainly at the least hope for an alliance of convenience for now, as we are to be under the same roof, until we prove our worth each to the other."

Daggin turns, and an expression of pleasant surprise comes over his features, and his cobalt eyes twinkle with pleasure. His dialect is that of Northern France, but inland, near the Rhine.

[i]"Ah, a good day indeed, certainly! A pleasure and relief to know that there are at least two among us educated in more than Hermetic studies. I look forward to discussing what news has traveled with me. Are you from that area as well, or merely familiar with the more civilized lands of the continent?"[/i]

He pauses, and his eyes dance across all those assembled.

"How many labs are we then short? That seems to be a salient point that we must address before we much proceed."

As Rhiannon accounts for those assembled not yet accounted for, and those not present, Daggin offers and trades the appropriate nods and greetings.

"Praecones, Sodales and one esteemed Custos- excellent! A roster to boast of for any covenant."

Once that last speaks to some additonal issues, Daggin responds to Angus' assessment of the local politics with a wry grin.

"There are some lands where any with a few hydes of land and the mule to plow them can call themselves 'king', if none are near enough to make challenge. But neither are we ourselves in a position to make that opposition, so 'King Cathal' it is, and if he promotes scholarship and the welfare of his every peasaant over strife and war, long life to him!"

To Praeco Diedre he turns more solemn attention, making no comment until she is well done and asks for questions.

"Silver in surplus, regiones, an amicable ear of the church, solid relations with the local fae- my compliments and respect to your efforts and success up to this point, and may we only improve upon it! It seems that our only threat would be from ourselves, should be find excuse in abundance to turn each on each.

"I would ask as to the availability of vis for new members, and likewise what options we have for creating enough labs for all. It seems obvious to me that should we squabble for space, some will win, and others lose, and that results in nothing good for the covenant as a whole. I might suggest that we all agree to create a sufficiency of labs for all, as a group, but I have seen such ill accepted in the past, and so hold only faint hope for such reasonable cooperation.

"But I suppose that can be discussed in our upcoming council."

He looks duly polite but not overly engaged while the native tongue is spoken, and then, once Angus has left, he stands, and raises a cup. As he does so, the long sleeve falls back, and any who had not noticed before see his hands are webbed to the first knuckle.

"A toast, to Loch Caillte, and the collected magi therein- may all prosper here as much as those before have thus far, and all add to their own prestige and knowledge, for the Order of Hermes. Salute!"

"I concur, a toast to new soldale, may we grow to be good friends. Many thanks to our two hosts for inviting us to such a well-cared for covenant."

Mathius toasts then places his cup on the table. He stands and says "I swear that until we are all settled, in our own labs, I will do what I can so that none of us have to struggle. If any other magus has a greater need for a lab than I, I shall certainly step aside."

He sits back down with a little smile and awaits the reactions of the others.


A few of you notice a quiet spit-take and chuckle at what is appearently a private joke that Daggin makes in French. He raises his eyebrow when Mathius volunteers to wait on his lab as necessary but no more comment is made.

He raises his glass with the others and says "Yes, to us and our good fortune. Here, here!"

Fabrica quietly takes in the conversation and the newcomers, smiling at the antics of the Bjornaer, and rising politely for the newcomer.

"I assure you Corvus, I am not afraid to take to the field. One that would be an Arch Wizard must occasionally leave the lab, and trust to himself more than his baubles and trinkets."

When the toast is made he rises as well, lifting his half empty pint.

"May we grow hale and strong." he intones and clinks cups before drinking deeply. Putting the cup down he again listens to the conversation as it returns to labs and vis.

"Brother Mathius, my instincts may prove wrong, but I believe you may have delved further into our Inner Mysteries than I. If that is the case, should it be necessary, I will defer on the lab out of respect, but would ask that you teach me what you know. I know only the Outer Mysteries, and it is time I learn more of what our Founder created."

Diedre(In french)

"Indeed." She raises an eyebrow. "Do not assume that because Lough Caillte is on the edges of civilization, that we don't know more civilized tongues."

(back to Latin)

"That aside, availability of vis to new members is not an issue. I've gone and harvested from our local sources, but it's about all I've done. I've traded for what we don't have, and thus, we've got a fair stockpile on hand."

"The buildings for lab space are not a problem. Terram may not be my specialty, but the ritual to raise a new building is not terribly difficult. An afternoon's work on my part, perhaps a bit longer on your part to determine how you want the rooms laid out. Stocking it with the basics will take time, work and silver."

"The four labs we have that are equipped belonged to members who are no longer with us. One belonged to a Verditius, another to a Jerbiton, the third to the healer, ex Misc., and the last to a Bonisagus. As to what happened to them? Old Torsten died in his sleep last winter, Glendower went into final twilight, Sylphie overextended herself trying heal people, and succumbed to a cough and chill. Kallias Delphinus went on a sea expedition, to the west. The wreckage of his ship, along with his body, washed up in the Aran isles 2 weeks after he left."

"While it may seem like previous members have met gruesome or untimely ends, most had a full life, and were willing to take the risks. Knowing that, however, doesn't make losing friends and sodales any easier." For a moment, Diedre's voice is weary.

"Well, I've bored you enough with my Ramblings. Feel free to wander about, and learn where things are. Most covenfolk here are somewhat used to the gift, so you shouldn't have too many problems."



"Of course I would be willing to aid you, if you visit me this evening we can discuss the matter in more detail."

"Has anyone been into these four labs since they became vacant? It may be easier to construct new ones, than try to disarm the old ones." "Shortly I shall have a little wander around and try to find the library, and check on my wagon. If anyone wishes to join me, you are all welcome."

If Dierdre's words imply she is leaving, Daggin stands as she does so.

"Adieu, Praeco Dierdre. I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say 'thank you', for your time and consideration, for the knowledge you have shared with us, and the more so for this opportunity. Tho' the loss of most any member of the Order is to be mourned, perhaps our works here will shine somewhat in their place."

He remains as he was (standing or sitting), and turns to the pale mage who just spoke, the one with the vambrace. While the man's previous words were generous on their surface, there was something about the delivery that made one question the motive behind them.

"Sodalis... Mathius, was it? Your offer seems gracious, yet, as equals in the Order, none here could claim greater need. And tho' any of us could cede such, to do so might set an... undesired precedent. And the delay do nothing to lessen the effort yet required.

"Rhiannon has offered to delay her need for a lab? Well and good - but there are 8 of us newcomers, all equals in the eyes of the Order, and only (at most) 4 labs at present. Simple math tells us we are each equally liable for the creation of half a lab. When the time comes for her to set up hers, who will help her? And similarly for the remaining 3 that we lack?

"For those who gain labs immediately, will they use them to further their own studies? Improve themselves while others labour for the same, equal opportunity? And what of those without- how will those four 'equals' be repaid for their discomfort and delay?"

He gestures broadly around the assembly, a slow sweep of his arm that encompasses each individually and together.

"The issue of removing possible defenses on existing labs is valid, and possibly mitigates this some if such exist, but not completely. Here, cooperation and pooling of expertise may clearly be the best approach for all.

"I suggest that, whoever takes possession of an extant lab, that for the time being they use it to only improve Loch Caillte - to create items that will benefit all, and equally- perhaps something that will aid all in stocking the new labs, or that improves the covenant as a whole. Thus, no unequal advantage or personal gain is achieved by such, no 'first among equals'. And the rest, in turn, apply themselves to remedy the lacking four labs. Once we eight equals are, in fact, equally enabled, then the issue is moot, and can be remembered only as our first success as a group, not our first obstacle, each having improved the covenant and in equal measure.

"I would be the first to swear to not use one of the existing labs to pursue personal projects until all of us have equally equipped laboratory space to call their own, and further to aid the others in that pursuit, if three more do likewise, and this is acceptable to all."

He pauses, looking into the eyes of each, and then nods to himself, and pushes his bowl toward the center of the table and moves to take a second mug of ale, returning to his seat as he listens to any responses.

(In Latin, to Mathius)

"I've gone inside them, if Only to make sure there was no damage from the winter, and that there were no fires, magic or natural, still burning inside, and to recover the lab texts there, which are now in the library."

"The labs themselves are setup in groups of 3, one group on each end of the covenant, with this hall in between. Angus has his apartments and offices just off the hall to the east, and the library and scriptorium is the next building west. Stables are down by the gate, across from the turb barracks. Guest cottages, for visitors, and new arrivals until they get settled in, are to the east of Angus' quarters."

"Our hostler has a fair hand when dealing with beasts, even the strange ones magi sometime ride. And he won't disturb your belongings, he learned his lesson the hard way. Took him 3 seasons to heal up and go sane." She chuckled a bit at the memories. "Since it was Mab's belongings, and he was a small lad at the time, there was no real harm done. Thought he was a frog for nearly the year after we undid the spell that had actually changed him into one..."

"You all seem to be a peaceable lot, willing to work together, so maybe me saying this has no point. If you're going to fight, do it away from the covenant, unless you like sitting on lily pads in the pond and catching flies." She rolls her eyes a bit. "Tis not my doing, but Mab's. Don't let the child-like manner fool you into thinking she's not capable. You've had a demonstration of what she can do, and the odd things that happen when she casts. Be thankful it was just sheep. Granted, 10 extra sheep for our flocks will be nice, depending on how long they stay around...Mab's magic is rather persistent."

(After Daggin)

"I'll see the lot of ye at dinner, then." With that, she gets up, and walks out the door, whistling a slightly out of tune melody.



"Forgive me for being unclear, I meant that like Rhiannon, I could occupy myself in the library until a lab was available. However, if it is in our best intests for me to work in a lab instead, then I shall do that."

He goes and refills his mug of ale.

"I would suggest that we have a look at the labs before we decide what to do with them. I have some resources of my own which can go towards outfitting my lab, so if I use an existing one, some of its equipment can be donated to the new ones."
He looks around the table, at each magi in turn.
"I too swear that I will not use my lab for personal projects until all 8 labs are usable."
He sits down again.

A servant lad enters quietly and checks on the stewpot, stirring it a bit, and sets some candles on a sideboard for the evening to come before cleaning some bowls away and leaving again...

Daggin adds, as an afterthought-

"If this arrangement is indeed acceptable to all, then it makes most sense that the Verditius among us take the first labs available, as their contribution there is more likely to be greater than others of us, all things being equal - followed closely, perhaps, by House Bonisagus. Unless one of them feels that they can offer more to this short-term goal out of the labs, the covenant will get the most by so doing."


He murmurs, "She could be Tytalus."

< as Daggin finishes >

"If the Verditii agree to working on enchantments for the good of the covenant while the rest of us are waiting for labs, then I credit them thier generousity by granting them thier 'early' labs without contest."

"If two more are willing to make such a pledge, then, again, no contest. Any takers?"

Corvus to Fabrica


"Arch Magus is it?" Corvus smiled, all trace of Daggin banished from his mind, "Then ya have ma admiration. I like a man as thinks big. And as for labs, I'll cede ya mine for ya work. I have things aplenty to keep me out of trouble... others permitting."

Corvus raised his cup to Fabrica, tipped it towards him in salute and then quaffed the dregs. "But if ya'll excuse me, I think I'll explore the covenant further. I have a messenger bringing what possessions I have. He'll be here afore dusk. And aye ladies, he's bringing ma clothes, so ya'll no find ye'sells swooning no more."

At that, there was a sound of bones creaking and reshaping smothered at the end by the sound of feathers ruffling out from skin. Corvus shrank down inside his tunic and his crow form flew up into the rafters above.