[Story] "Once more, into the breach..."

[Morning, Lough Caillte]

After an evening of council, getting to know your new sodales, and sleeping off the local ale (dark and stout - will be called "liquid bread" by some in the present day) or wine, morning actually comes pleasantly. It is somewhat chill, given that it is just barely spring, but the sun is warm, the day looks to be a fine one, and the smell of freshly baked bread wafts up from the hamlet outside the gate.

Breakfast is had at the feast hall, and consists of the ubiquitous stew, along with fresh bread and cheese, some winter fruit, and the local cider. It is soon discovered that Diedre isn't a morning person; she speaks in naught but grunts and monosyllables for nearly the entire meal. It isn't until after her third mug of aromatic (and somewhat bitter) herb tea that she becomes more human.

Rhiannon appears on the scene late, and only indulges in a bit of cider and fruit. "Belle fixed breakfast in the cot," she explains, "out of the last of our travelling supplies." She is still somewhat sleepy, since her native accent can be heard in her latin. "So what does the day hold for us?"

"Seireadan, Mab, and I are going into Glendower's lab." says Diedre, after her next mug of tea. "Even if he is Trianomae, he is still a Bonisagus, and gets first crack at it, whether he wants it or no... After that, Feel free to wander around and look into things. Your rings will allow you to pass the guards at the library, if you wish. Daffys might be a bit busy, and a bit twitchy, so don't expect too much help from our scribe."

"I did say I would introduce you to Mab's custos, but none appear to have come to breakfast. Mab usually eats at her lab, and they are probably with her. This year's lot are Nell, Kell, Carhl and Carhi. Mab will be sure to bring them around soon enough, I s'pose."

As Mathius finishes his drink he turns to Fabrica and says "Well brother, shall we venture into Torsten's lab and spend the day examining it? We can also discuss what we would prefer in the charter."

If Fabrica agrees they go off together, else he leaves on his own.

"Oooh, investigating anothers lab?.. sounds exciting.. but what's this about Mab's custos? .. what happened to last years?"

Seireaden probably seems almost annoyingly chirpy and enthusiastic for the morning, but then, he's like that all the time.

"I'll be sure to prepare some wards for us anyway.. do you expect it to be trapped Lady Diedre?"

[Diedre](Latin is assumed, U.O.S.)

"Mab's custos change every year. One group returns to their trod, another takes their place. These are the young champions of the Tuatha de Dannan, who fight for the prize of being able to come out and experience the world." Diedre shrugs. "They take some getting used to, and often ask the strangest questions, but they do their job, which is to keep Mab from getting hurt, really well."

As the conversation continues, you notice that you are walking towards the Eastern cluster of labs, and Glendower's bunker in particular. "I do not expect it to be trapped. Glendower had several wards around the lab, but they were not of a permanent nature. I've never been inside, beyond the antechamber, though. That privilege belonged to..."

"Me!" chirps Mab, flouncing up from behind Diedre, and giving her a hug. "Good Morning!"

"Gaaaah!" is Diedre's rather undignified response. After a moment, Mab relents. "How many times have I told you not to do that?"

"336, as of this morning." Mab's mischevious grin fades. "Glendower let me in when he was trying to help me. It's a strange place, but it has a beauty all it's own, I guess..." She says, subdued.

Diedre opens the outer door, revealing the inner door, and it's seal. A few curt words, and the lead flows like water, forming into a small ingot. A twist of an intricate key, and the handle, and the door opens...

The antechamber is the first room you enter. While far from spartan in it's appointments, it is not luxurious. Rather, it is comfortable, and neat. A well lit area appears to be a reading room, and there is a chaotic pile of papers and books in the room. On cursory examination, the books appear to be written in gibberish, as are most of the notes. However, a few books are wonderfully illuminated, if a bit wandering in their text

"Uhm," says Mab, nervously, "those are mine, I should be taking them back before I get into more trouble with Handri. I lent them to Glendower, and I never got them back after he vanished..." Before anyone can stop her, she gently speaks a few words in latin, and one of the footstools comes bounding over, like an eager puppy. She places the books on it's back, and whispers something to it, and then it scampers off, presumably to her lab. Once outside the building, spring flowers pop out of the ground and bloom behind it.

Another door leads to a spiral staircase, which leads down...

Daggin had spent the previous evening late with Stephan, examining what had been Kallias' quarters and labs, and his collection of maps and notes.

"...quite intriguing in theory, tho' I cannot fathom what use one could ever find in such wild and distant lands..."

He helps himself to another half of a small loaf, tearing the bread neatly, and as the steam and scent wafts up he concentrates upon a judicious application of amber clover honey and white butter, examining it a moment in final appreciation before giving a nod of self-approval and continuing to break his fast.

Daggin's latest bite slows in his mouth as these words are spoken, and as he washes it down with a controlled sip of cider from behind his mug, the too-deep-blue eyes above it take in both Dierdre and Siereadan, in turn, before returning to his food.

"When you spoke of the labs yesterday, you mentioned them all equally in answer to our questions regarding such, and we took you at your word. Much of the good faith discussion and progress yesterday was based on that understanding," he said, casually, his eyes dropping down to where a knife in his hand was carefully and delicately regulating an errant runnulet of honey.

"No few of us were frustrated at finding more than one of the labs locked last night - I welcome the invitation to more fully inspect our options, before final arrangements are reached, thank you."

He smiles amiably, and rises with Dierdre to accompany them out to the eastern cluster of labs, his cloak clearing behind him as he moves to be in step with the praeco as they exit into the bright, promising morning.


As they approach Glendower's vacated sanctum, Daggin steps toward the front of the procession, and makes as to be one of the first into the abode, behind the senior magi, and steps over to the table of notes, or whatever are left after Mab claims some amount of them.

"Praeco Mab, were you the only project currently engaging Glendower?  What might these other notes be regarding?..."

After Mab addresses that question, Daggin asks, as if opening an unfamiliar topic - "Handri?..."

Stephan [Latin]

Stephan stands back a pace and lets everyone have a good look at what is going on. At Mab's statement he puts hand to forehead and rubs his temples with a smile. When Daggin asks who Handri is, he replies before Mab says anything:

"That would be Primus Handri of House Merenita, I believe."

Even with the goodnatured smile on his face, there is a look about Stephan that suggests that his life got just a bit more complicated.

"Mab's custos change every year. One group returns to their trod, another takes their place. These are the young champions of the Tuatha de Dannan, who fight for the prize of being able to come out and experience the world." Diedre shrugs. "They take some getting used to, and often ask the strangest questions, but they do their job, which is to keep Mab from getting hurt, really well."

"Oooh, she has Tuatha de Danaan for her custos?.. I'll have to talk to them afterwards.. "

Seireadan chuckles as Mab pops up behind Diedre, seeming to enjoy her reaction to it. "Hello Miss Mab" he says after they've finished talking. "Diedre was telling me about your custos.. can we go talk to them afterwards?.. pleeease?"

When the lab is opened, and he's assured of the lack of traps, he happily starts wandering around and peering at the many notes, more than a little curious about the ones Diedre hurried away.

"So... what was this Glendower researching again?"

Stephan [Latin]

Whle everyone is turned towards Seireadan, Stephan limps over to Daggin and with a bemused smile nods his head over towards the Merenitae and murmurs, "Seems we're going to have to learn a lot obout the Fae just to keep up with our charge ... or should I say 'charges?'"

{PER+Awareness} of 3 to notice exchange, 6 to undestand.

At Stephan's explanation of "Handri", Daggin gives a nod of comprehension and thanks, but also a dismissive gesture with one hand.

Mab briefly looks like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar, caught by their parent. "They're the lore of my house. You know, the secrets we're not supposed to share." She looks down at her feet. "In order to figure out what went wrong, he needed to know some things, mainly how to do it right."

"If there is one thing that my house agrees on, it is that these remain secret, even though the entire order could benefit. Handri," Mab says, reluctantly," said he would figure out what my punishment would be later."

Abruptly, she switches subjects. "Those books were mine - I learned to write by drawing each letter like a picture; They look pretty when they're done, but I never seem to be able to make a point, or get my idea across..."

Diedre steps in, hoping to take some pressure off Mab. "There is a copy of Glendower's research on Mab in the library, along with several volumes of his lab notes, still in cipher. Anything learned from the pages here, will be long in coming indeed."

"Glendower had a large amount of correspondence with the usual; His connections within the house, other researchers outside of his house, more than a few mundane scholars and clergy, and a couple from someone named Sigusen..." Diedre shrugs. "I know anything of a more sensitive nature he kept in his lab. This," she says, gesturing about the room," is his study."

Fab returns from his night's rest refreshed and eager it seems. He has more work worthy clothes on than yesterday, his apron and tool belt filled with various foci and magical implements. Caleb follows behind him carrying the harness with three blades in it, struggling to help Fabrica put it on as he walks along, but not trying to slow him down.

He heads for the group and waves cheerily once the harness is on. Turning to Caleb he asks in English.

"Thank you Caleb, go fetch me some breakfast please." and hands him a thin silver coin which he promptly bites before pocketing it in satisfaction.

"Aye suir!" he salutes and heads for the dining hall.

"Good morning Sodales! A fine night it was! I distinctly heard conversations pertaining to labs? Am I correct? I am brimmng with ideas and energy! Give me a lab and put me to use!"

Apparently Fabrica is a bit of a morning person.

The small man looks a bit pleasantly amused at the enthusiasm of his sodalis, and allows his head to dip in a slight bow of welcome.

"Good morning to you, Fabrica. You lab awaits, and if you will hold in claiming it as your sanctum, I will be happy to examine it with an eye to listing the magical enchantments in place. I have a trick or two that may save much time in determining the full scope of such aids as may have been left behind by the former occupant."

His too-blue eyes seem to sparkle in the morning light, with some greater meaning behind them, tho' with what degrees of mirth or mischievousness is hard to fathom.

"In a straw poll, it seems that a mundane work crew, augmented by magical tools, plays a large part in our future labs and covenant expansion. So, with an ear to last night's conversations, I believe...," and here he looks around to see if there are any objections, "...that it is up to you and your Housemate to craft a set of enchantments to aid in the gathering, and if possible the shaping, of raw stone, and perhaps timber. That then leaves the transport and handling of same to be addressed, and we are set. If we take a season to gather a crew together, and to draw up the designs and prepare the foundations, then come Summer the work can begin in earnest. If we are of a single mind?"

And again, he looks about to see if there is any dissent, tho' his manner tells that he assumes this is a mere formality, and the plan is all but implemented.

"Ah then, yes let us go to the labs and investigate them shall we?" he holds out an arm to Daggin.

"Something to expedite the building process eh? Sounds easy enough, we can make a device that a trusted custo could use. Something to shape a source of stone into usable bricks perhaps."

"The problem with devices is that they can't usually intuit our needs. A device could be made to move things, but typically could only assemble the same thing again and again. It needs a wizard's handiwork to shape the intent."

"If wealth is needed, I know a spell that can find the richest veins as well..." he trails off into the minutiae of magically obtained wealth.

Standing at the desk, a leaf or three of stiff cream-colored parchment in his hand, Daggin blinks in a bit of confusion-

"Well, while all are here, I'd prefer to continue an examination of these quarters, with people who have been here before," and he indicates Mab, "but you proceed, and I will be there presently. You have my word that I will not tire myself out here so much that I am useless once I arrive."

He looks to the others, and the stairway inviting the way down.

"Shall we proceed?..."

Diedre nods in assent. "You," she says, pointing at Mab, "don't do anything rash. And you," she says, pointing at Daggin,"keep her from doing such."

With that, Diedre and Sheridan head down the stairs.

Mab looks at the sheaf of parchment in Daggin's hands as he sets himself to his task. "So...whatcha doin'?"

In response to Diedre, Daggin's mouth opens as if to make protest, but he simply cannot find the words, or thinks better of it, and says nothing. But he tosses the notes back down onto the desk where they had been, and looks to any others in the room for their reaction to what has just passed.

In response to Mab, he answers, with a composed smile, and gesturing after the disappearing figures-

"We are taking a guided tour of Glendower's labs, with Diedre. I would be most appreciative if I didn't have to fall behind - would you care to join us? Diedre won't mind, I'm sure, so long as you don't use your magic in here. We're just looking, for the most part."

He moves to the top of the stairs and looks down, but waits for Mab, signifying that she should go first.

Seireadan follows Deidre as they head down the stairs, quite excited by what they might find. He trails his fingers on the stone walls as they go down, seeing if they're damp, but mainly just out of habit.

The descent down the spiral staircase (made of bronze and iron, and most elegant), is a long one. Each section is lit well enough to see by, though not glaringly so. The radius of the staircase is wide, and the stairs easy... but there are a lot of them.

Finally, you arrive at the bottom, and exit into the lab proper...

The chamber, easily 15 paces to a side, and that many high, is softly lift. Walkways line the perimeter, and doorways to other chambers can be seen. The main floor has several tables, all neat and tidy. A large pool of water is in the center of the room, perhaps 3 paces across, and perhaps as many deep.

Cabinets and Shelves hold various glassware and supplies for the lab, including a good supply of excellent parchment, ready for use.

The source of the soft lighting is a crystalline sphere hanging halfway between floor and ceiling; A walkway extends out to it, with a ring around it, but does not support it. It simply floats there. The crystal is a bluish white, and multifaceted.

Various fixtures, including more of the small iron fireplaces and light globes Daggin had spotted earlier, are in here as well, along with several less identifiable ones.

All in all, a most fascinating place.

Then, the water begins acting most strangely. It begins to move around on it's own, shaping itself into a roughly man shaped column, before refining it's shape further. The figure is feminine, and has a wild and dangerous beauty to her. The face is timeless, she could be of nearly any age. The figure looks at Mab, and smiles, gently.

"Great-great-great granddaughter, I have someone who hath passed into my service, and wishes to speak with thee," she says, her Latin archaic, yet flawless. The features of the column shift, and reform into that of a man, somewhat lacking in physique, balding, with the beginnings of a beard, and a suggestion of robes.

"Hello, Mab, Diedre," he says looking about, " and Sodales. I find this method of talking to you certainly odd, but the Lady of the Waters is most gracious, and is allowing me to talk to you one last time. I shall introduce myself for those not familiar; I was Glendower, filius Gotthilf, magus ex Bonisagus. Now, I am simply Glendower, servant of Danu. It is the price I pay for immortality."

"Do not grieve for me, Mab," he says, smiling. "I know what I did wrong, yet in the end, it worked. However, I cannot return to the land of men. I have a good idea that what happened with you may not have been a random mishap. I was allowed to scribe my findings and conclusions about you, and my insights into improving the normal longevity ritual by my gracious lady." A tendril of water forms, becoming the shape of 2 books, then the water slowly solidifies into two tomes, which rest on the side of the pool.

"Diedre, there are 4 tomes, LXLIV, LXLV, LXLVI, and CLI, that should remain secret. They should not be here when the copyist eventually arrives from Durenmar. That way, less trouble for Mab and those unfortunate enough to challenge her to wizard's war over them. I leave them in your care. Of these 2," he says, gesturing with a watery hand, "The one titled "Insights on Improving Longevity Rituals" is the one the copyist should have. The other should remain in the covenant's private collection as well."

Then he looks at Daggin and Seireadan, standing there. "Welcome to Lough Caillte. I see one of you is a magus Trianomae, the other one of Pralix' brood. I imagine you have questions. I'm allowed to answer three from each of you, so ask..."


Seireadan stares when the figures form out of the water, at first imagining they're some kind of interesting spirit bound to the lab. "Ooooh"

He reins in his nature and acts rather politely, merely listening intently to the very interesting conversation until Glendower poses his proposal to them.

"Three questions?.. .. hmmmmmmmm" Seireadan appears for a second to be thinking, but eventually responds fairly quickly, obviously picking things nearly straight off the top of his head.

"Deidre was talking earlier about someone taking over your lab.. who, if anyone, would you like to give it you?... it seems only polite to ask if you're not dead."

"Do you prefer being a faerie or did you prefer things as a human magus?"

"And finally.. .. hmmm.. " he seems to have run out of meaningful questions, but you can almost see a light shine in his eyes as he thinks of something else interesting to ask. "Aha!.. so... Quenadalon... was he reeeeally a magi turned faerie.. or was he a faerie in disguise?!"


Stephan just shakes his head with a bemused look, folds his arms and waits patiently for his newly-fae colleague to answer his other coleague's question.