[Story] The Tocsin of the Soul... The Dinner Bell.

"Very well then. I am convinced." said Fabrica after a few more moments contemplation. "I would like the opportunity to build my lab from the ground up, as others here might. Therefore, since Terram is an Art I am rather versed in I will volunteer my time this Season, and more if needed, to help quarry the stone and bring it to the Covenant grounds. We should hire some quality masons for the construction of these labs."

"Meanwhile, who do we have assembling the laboratory equipment? For the amount of brand new labs we will be making, and old labs re-equipping, we would likely need a great deal of equipment. There are a few ways to do this. With our resident Redcaps we could easily send word to other Covenants to purchase, or even accept as gifts, extra lab equipment."

"If we have an abundance of vis, we could even look for a copy of certain rituals that create the lab equipment. Such equipment is superlative in nature, plucked from the realm of Forms. My Parens claimed that was how he acquired his lab, though such equipment still requires much upkeep."

"This Covenant seems to have no shortage of silver, buying the equipment should be asy in cost, but perhaps difficult in finding it. Do others have suggestions?"

It doesn't take long for Mab to show up; One cannot help but think that she either enjoys every day to the fullest, is completely loopy, or perhaps both by her attitude. She arrives with most of the children in tow, laughing and singing with them. Then, she spots those who have newly arrived.

Before you realize it, She's standing in front of Azaelle. "Yay! A new friend!" And immediately gives the maga a hug. Then she realizes what she has done, and looks somewhat contrite. "I'm sorry, Diedre's said I shouldn't do that without introducing myself. I'm Mab, filia Babh, maga ex Merinita." This is said with a polite curtsey. Mab herself is of average height and build, of indeterminate age, yet she has a natural beauty about her. Black hair falls in waves past her shoulders, and her timeless purple eyes sparkle with laughter. Her dress is a collection of purples and oranges, which would normally give the person looking at her a bad headache, yet for Mab, it somehow seems right. Like always, she's barefoot, and not wearing any other adornment.

Azaelle soon discovers that Mab is also a chatterbox - once started, she's not easily stopped. She continues on about a number of things, some of which has been covered, some of which haven't, until her stomach growls. "Hehe..." Mab says, somewhat embarrassed. "I haven't eaten lunch yet..." And with that, she grabs a bowl and some bread, and gets herself some stew.

Azaelle turns, and finds herself looking face to face with the largest wolf she has ever seen, his face the equivalent of a canine grin. "I am Miach, familiar and companion to Lady Mab," he says, sitting down. "Do not worry, I am not going to give you a hug. She means well, and means no harm."

"A most excellent bowl of stew!" exclaims Mab, "I believe I shall have another!" Mabs's hands are a blur as she gets another bowl, and proceeds to empty it while you watch, in an interesting combination of raw speed and daintiness. "Ah, excellent! Did someone say the redcap arrived? I need to see if I got anything! I'll see you all later!" And with that, she flounces away from the table.

"Too much honey this morning, I'm afraid..." says Miach, carefully picking up Mab's dishes with his jaws, then carefully places them in the scullery tub. "She may not sleep for a couple of days. I will see you all later." He says, as he pads after his mistress.

(To Fabrica)
"I will be happy to help with your lab. I was intending to build on my Terram skills this season anyways. Between the two of us, if not more," she says, looking around, "we can finish much more efficiently. I suggest we find out what lab equipment we can salvage from the old labs and buy or trade for the rest. I may have equipment in my lab that I'm not using right now. At one point I had it set up for Vim and it is currently set up for Terr-"

This is the point where Azaelle is attacked by Mab.

Across the table, Uza stiffens and watches Mab like a lion summing up an elephant.

Azaelle stands with her mouth gaping open while Mab seems to be trying to do her best impression of a tornado. It is not until Miach introduces himself that she regains her equilibrium.

"Wow. <> It's very nice to meet you, Miach."

"OH," (turning back to Fabrica) "I do have one suggestion. If were sending someone out to get lab equipment, send my brother with them."

Fabrica tries unsuccesfully to hide his mirth at the sudden and unexpected onslaught by Mab. His smile comes through during the exchange and then grows somewhat serious again.

"Very well, I believe we should make our intentions known to our Sodales and especially Dierdre. I believe the others can take stock of the available equipment.

"Your brother? Who is he?"

From just outside the hall, there is the sound of approaching footsteps and someone singing in a beautiful voice followed by hushed giggling.
Azaelle's younger brother Asa, who you may have seen briefly earlier, is the source of the commotion. A small crowd af young women follow him into the room.

He sings this lullaby


mon enfant reveur
avec les yeux antiques
et ame claire pure
la vie est longue
et vous et moi etes moitie du monde divise

mon cheri
le ciel tombera
mon animal de compagnie precieux
le terre s'emiettera
l'eternite attend patiemment
mon enfant reveur

As he is sings, he pours a mug of ale for each of his admirers and attempts to pour the last one for himself, but the pitcher is empty. He shrugs and ends his song.

The spell is broken.

The young women have a brief startled expression on their faces, as though, for a moment, they don't know how they got there.

(to Azaelle)
"Thiis is a beautiful place. I've been out looking around."
He hands her a small bag.
"I found this outside and I have no idea what it is."

(taking the bag)
"Fabrica, this is my brother Asa."

She looks inside the bag quizzically.

"Some kind of spice."

Fabrica nods to Asa with a polite smile, but doesn't extend his hand. Most people without a Pama up don't want to be in the same room with Fabrica, let alone touch or be touched by him.

'You're an excellent singer Asa, are you a merchant as well? Is that why your sister wants you to help us acquire lab equipment?"

Asa does not seem ill at ease around Fabrica. He returns the gracious nod with a warm smile.

(in Latin with a thick French accent)
"She wants me to do what?"

He gives Azaelle a puzzled look.

Azaelle hands the bag to Fabrica.

It's saffron, I think. Asa, how did you find this?

Oh. Well, it was in a sealed container sittting by the wall outside by the garden. It's not sealed any more. Actually, it's not a container anymore. It broke when I bumped into it but that was in it and I thought, "Well that's odd. Someone is probably looking for this."

(To Fabrica)
I meant we should send him with the merchant because he finds saffron in pots by walls. You see?

Fabrica raises an eyebrow at the exchange between brother and sister, perhaps seeing the strange logic in what she's saying.

"Well no need to convince me...I'd say you're...qualified."

"Anyway...about us going and getting the stone...I happen to actually know some spells that could help us out. 'The Miner's Keen Eye' and 'Pit of the Gaping Earth' can bothe be very useful without some of the randomness of Spontaneous magic. The question is, where is the quarry? Is there one near here?"

I can make a great big gaping pit in the earth. Not exactly a spell but very effective, none the less. Just dont fall in the hole.
Lets go then.

(taking the bag)
I will take this to the cook.

He walks cheerily off in the direction opposite that of the kitchen.

The typical commotion around the noon day meal begins to quiet down, as people go back to work, before the sun sets. Things get quiet... Too Quiet.

Then, right on cue...


The anguished cry came from the council chamber, just off to the side of the feasthall. Most of the covenfolk look about, shrug, and continue with whatever they're doing, as if this happens every day.

Those of you entering the council chamber find a rather odd sight - Diedre, who has been abrupt and gruff, is rolling on the floor, laughing so hard she's crying. Rhiannon is trying to be polite, and is hiding her chuckling behind her hand. And Mab...

Mab sits in a pile of scrolls, tied with black, and sealed with red wax - declarations of Wizard's war, delivered on the new moon. It was Mab who cried out, but her expression looks less frightened than one who has just had multiple wizard's war declared on her should look. It's more a look of confusion than anything else.

Diedre recovers her composure first. "Oh, come on, it's not like you weren't expecting this..." She gets up, and pulls one from the pile.

"Yes," Mab begins," but I wasn't expecting so many! Who do I choose first?"

"Quite the selection of enemies you have, Mab. I didn't realize you've upset this many people." Diedre begins looking at the seals on the scrolls, one by one. "Just as I thought - no Merinita, Bonisagus, Guernicus, or Flambeau. No one I know, and most are under 30 years. Someone wants you dead, Mab, but not badly. "

Mab looks thoughtful for a moment. "Otherwise, they would have gotten you to do it?"

Diedre's grin is of the blackest humor. "Precisely."

Fabrica rushes into the next room, a small spear tip in his hands, and a spell on his lips when he sees the commotion. With a little embarassment he puts the spell focus away and tries to remember that strange things like this tend to happen at this covenant.

After hearing their discussion Fabrica has to ask.

"So these are actual declarations of Wizard's War, and not simply conjured up by Mab? How could you gather some many like this? Do you travel a lot? It doesn't make sense." as the magi continue to laugh, Fabrica grows serious.

"I'm sorry Sodales, I don't see the humor in this. These are threats of death and destruction upon our covenmate, upon the very special purpose this covenant is founded upon. If any one of those is serious, then we could be endagered..." he looks to Dierdre "or at least inconvenienced. But the defense of the covenant would at least require effort, and could damage it. Someone seeking to attack Mab, might attack through us. And while you laugh at the individual threats, claiming none are very experienced, what if they were to forge an alliance. While one can only fight one Wizard's War at a time, if all of us were targetted by different wizards we could very well be thrust into an actual all out attack on our home."

"Something must be done. What does it say in our Charter about members being targetted in a Wizard's War? What does it say about our members provoking, on purpose or not, a Wizard's War? Have we agreed to mutual protection and retaliation? We shouldn't have to go through this every lunar cycle. I say we make an example of one of these. We either report him to the Tribunal for spurious declarations of War, to interfering with our special purpose, to even depriving us of our magical resources. Or we could take immediate action and inform each of these plaintiffs that they can expect their own invitation to war at the next moon."

"Again, I'm sorry that I don't find this funny, but I take threats upon myself, my home and Covenmates seriously. And I believe that if we don't do something about this we could have real trouble."

(Latin is assumed, UOS)

"Your concerns do you credit," says Diedre, no longer laughing. "It is the unspoken rule that if a Wizard's War waged on these grounds goes beyond the 2 parties involved, they deal with the covenant. Specifically, Me." and the look on her face is a dark one indeed.

"There's a reason I have got so much ... stuff ... that I don't know what half of it is, let alone does; I've been on the receiving end of 3 wizard's wars, and been on Lord knows how many marches. 'To the victor goes the spoils', and all that."

"I can't help but look at it with some humor, because if I don't, I'll cry." she says, sitting down. "Too many magi throw their lives away for the most foolish of reasons, and few for the important things. Nearly a score have met their end at my hands alone, never mind how many mundanes and monsters. More have been soundly thrashed, but left to live, withdrawing their challenge."

"Besides, most of those declarations are invalid; All but one expired at the last new moon, given the dates. This smacks of politics, offering a big favor in return for a big favor. It's the kind of game the Primi play. It's interesting to note that none of the houses that Handri has problems with are present among the challengers; They wouldn't even consider it, not even the Bonisagi at Durenmar."

A quick examination of the still sealed messages reveals this to be true, many should have been delivered last month, and a couple the month before that. "I was just given these," says Gaeth, "by Quintus. Not more than 2 days ago. If there is a reason he delayed them, you'd best find out from him." He begins gathering up the expired challenges from their pile around Mab. "I'd best get these outside before..." right on cue, they all turn into fine, black ash, settling in a cloud on the young Mercere. "Aw, for ****'s sake..." he mutters, as he makes his way out the door, covered in ash.

"That leaves the one," she says, "from this tribunal."

Mathius had been spending the time thoroughly examining his new lab, but he came running at the sounds of trouble. After listening to both Deidre and Fabrica he shrugs and says

"Fabrica, if you remember there is no charter right now, there is only Deidre's absolute word. If she had declared that only Mab would answer the challenge there would be nothing we could do. However, Deidre has stated that as there were so many, it is a matter for the Covenant itself to handle. And only one of them is legitimate, someone nearby. Deidre, is it someone that we could stand against, or is it someone you wish to deal with alone?"


There is a considering look upon Stephan's face as he listens to the others. The look changes to one of confusion as it continues.

"Doesn't our Oath require us to NOT interfere? Certainly preparation is called for, but if the attack may not involve any of us, then we have no basis save defense of ourselves and the covenant as far as it supports us. I suppose retailiatory efforts would be allowed, but I am unfamiliar with this Tribunal's rulings on the matter."

"And, Dierdre, if Handri is behind this, she doesn't seem to be trying very hard if your analysis is correct. I have a hard time seeing her as clumsy or ham-fisted."

This one remaining declaration... Does it pose a serious threat? And, Mab, how did this happen?

"My house is possibly even more erratic than ex. misc," replies Mab, looking at the one remaining scroll. "Trying to get more than 2 Merinita to agree on anything has been likened to herding cats. I suspect Handri has done nothing more than suggest that 'something' needs to be done. Most of the senior members of my house know me, know what I can do, and know my antics all too well to want to risk them." She shrugs. "What we had were a pile of declarations from youngsters who either don't believe what their elders are telling them, or think them exaggerated."

Diedre continues. "The last remaining challenger is Brodvic ex Tytalus. He is a canny opponent, who finds it more challenging to work within the rules than sidestep them. I suspect his reasons for challenging Mab to Wizard's War are more personal than simply punishing her for sharing the secrets of her house. He is a generalist, but shrewd thinker, and a strategist. He has a specific goal in mind with this."

Such matters effect us all in practice even if they do not in theory.
Do you have any idea what his specific goal might be? You say this is personal. Why?

"We might not interfere, but we are not required to. If a magus breaches our Covenant's lands, penetrates our Aegis, attacks our Covenmate in an area that might harm us, we are obliged to defend ourselves. If the wizard were to damage or threaten our person, or clearly marked Covenant propery and folk, I know I would do something to protect it, even avenge it if necessary. I am not a violent magus, but as my Parens would say; 'The good Lord did not give a bear claws to eat berries, nor a wizard magic to act as a sheep.' I will do what I must regarding this.

"But if flippant and frequent declarations of War are made, we should enter into obligations of retaliation. Depending on the circumstances, if I felt properly provoked I might respond with a War of my own. But I think a better course would be that of applying proper economic pressures. There are two Verditius in this Covenant. If we were to inform the declarer our services are not rendered to those that harass our Covenmates, that might change a few minds.

By this time Quintus has arrived in the Council Chamber (for those of you not in the know, He is the senior Quasitore in the tribunal), dressed in less elegant robes than the night previous. "His challenge remains because this is his typical modus operandi; He states his position and what he is willing to do to achieve it on the outset, and then offers to withdraw the challenge in exchange for something, usually what he seeks. And yes, I did deliberately delay nearly a score of declarations - I know what Mab is capable of, when roused to anger, having witnessed what she can do first hand. The last thing I want is to bleed the Order dry of nearly an entire generation of Magi."

"However, what he seeks must be something truly valuable to him, if he is risking his life for it. He has done this once before, and let his opponent live after they yielded to him."

"Maybe, if you unroll me," says a voice from the last remaining scroll, "I can explain it myself."

At Quintus' nod, Mab unrolls the scroll, nearly 7 feet in length. It unfolds and expands, revealing an massive, ugly man, dressed in plain robes. The best word that comes to mind to describe him is "troll-like". "Brodvic ex Tytalus, at your service, sodales."

Dierdre is glaring at Brodvic from where she sits. "State your business, and be quick about it."

"Lady Mab has something I desire. Since I have already stated what I am willing to do at the outset to achieve my goal, I shall tell you what I am seeking. You," he says, indicating Mab, "possess a ring, made of silver, set with a diamond. An heirloom of your family, handed down from ancient times, some say from Danu herself. That is what I seek. I would rather not kill for it, but my need is pressing, and my generous offers have been twice rejected, so now I resort to desperate measures."

"Why?" asks Mab, quietly.

"Simply put, that ring means life for some several hundred people if I have it, or their death if I do not. I do not seek it for myself, but to save them from the folly of my youth, when I lacked wisdom. In hopes of avoiding a bloody end to this, I double my last offer for your ring, Lady Mab."

Dierdre's Eyes bug out. "That's 2 queens of vis!"

"Indeed." Brodvic answers, nodding. "1 Queen as advance payment, and one next spring, on my oath. What say you, Lady Mab?"