"Mab, between his declaration and his offer, surely this represents a deep commitment to correcting, or at least preventing, a great wrong. I'm sure that if a less expensive solution was available he would have taken it."
Stephan shakes his head. "Brodvic, I'm compelled to defend my covenant, as you are well aware I'm sure, but if the lives and well-being of several hundred people are in jeaprody and I can assist, please withdraw your declaration and then I would be happy to help in what manner I may!"
The look on Stephan's is one of shock and honest appeal.
Monsieur Brodvic, I am Azaelle ex Tytalus. It is unfortunate to make your acquaintance under these circumstances and I fear that your tactics, well possibly justifiable, are not to the credit of our house.
Please tell us... How can this ring save so many lives?
Fabrica's jaw drops at the astonishing amount of vis that was offered and turns to Mab in disbelief then drops his eys to the ring.
He interposes himself between Mab and the image of the Tytalus so he can speak with her more privately.
"Sodales...I have no idea what the ring of yours can do, nor how it can save so many lives. In fact, it really doesn't matter. With that much vis you can do just about anything you need or desire!" his eyes light with the thought of such magial wealth.
"However, if the ring is yours, and you don't wish to part with it at any price, then you should say no. This invitation to War is unjust. The Oath we all took declares that we shall not attempt to deprive another magus of his magical power. Obviously that ring qualifies. If the ring is yours, then it is also part of your magical power, and he has no right to it, no matter how just he believes his cause. If you wish to keep the ring, if his offers do not sway you, then present your case to the Quaesitor, and know that I will support you in this." Fabrica turns back to address all that are in the chamber, including the Tytalin image.
"As a Verditius, I know only too well the importance of cherished objects. I know equally well the covetous desires they can bring in others, but no one's claim of need is greater than the owner's claim and desire to use it as he sees fit. Your offer is indeed generous Brodvic, but it is unseemly to press upon Mab your claim in this manner by pleading to her generous nature and guilt, and certainly improper to try and declare War for an item that is not yours and plainly part of her magical power."
Brodvic makes to reply, then stops, halfway. One hand clenches into a fist, mighty knuckles cracking like dry branches in a windblown tree. The grip is so tight he is drawing blood. He looks down at his bleeding hand, and the smile is grim. His other hand flicks the signs for Rego and Mentem, before pointing it at his own skull, growling, in latin, "Get ... OUT ... OF ... MY ... HEAD!!!"
The results are immediate - he collapses to the floor, like a puppet whose strings have been cut, and blood begins to flow from his nose.
"I'm ... not dead ... yet." whispers Brodvic. "Where on God's green earth am I? And what year is it?" His voice gains some strength, but not much.
"Lough Caillte, Hibernia." Answers Diedre. "Spring of 1220."
"Has it been so long?" Answers Brodvic, eyes closed. "15 years." He shakes his head. The blood from his nose has slowed to a trickle.
His eyes open, and focus on Mab. "You may have had an offer for the ancestral ring of your house; Refuse it, no matter how generous - it is a lie. The hundreds they wish to save are Formori, monsters imprisoned by the Tuatha de Danaan. They seek to overthrow the rule of man and God in the isles. Unwittingly, I became their pawn, and was forced to recover many things that could undo their plans, or remove persons who were getting too close to the truth. My talents served them well. I knew what was going on, and could do nothing about it. Something drew their attention any from me for an instant, and that was all I needed."
"And now, I am a dead man. If not now, then soon enough."
Azaelle is still crouched down near the image of Brodvic. Tears have welled up in her eyes.
She looks up at Stephen.
Stephen, my friend, you are very trusting. He is a mage well repected in our house for his shrewd brilliance... and someone out witted him. I feel for him but we cannot invite him in without inviting whoever is in his head.
"Hmm, perhaps if we placed a ward around him, does anyone know the nature of these enemies, and an appropriate ward to use? As for knowing one of our most protected secrets, they must do, or they have faked it's effects for the last 15 years. This matter has become very serious all of a sudden."
Mab looks thoughtful for a moment. "A brief history; The place we call Eire has had a long cycle of invasions, some mythic, and not so mythic. As the Lebor GabÃ¡la Ã‰renn tells, Cessair and her brothers, and their wives were the first to live here, some years before the Great Flood. They prospered for a time, but the flood killed all but one, Fintan, her youngest son, who turned into a Salmon. He told his peoples story to the next settlers of the Isle, the Partholon, descendants of Noah. They prospered until they numbered 4 thousands, then died of a plague in a single week. Nemed of Scythia led the next group to settle the isles. They, in turn, were killed or driven away by the Fir Bolg, fierce half men from the east. The Tuatha de Danaan, the descendants of Nemed's people, re-took the island, bringing with them the knowledge of magic and sorcery. Then, through guile and wit, the last group, the Milesians, from the Galicia in Iberia, claimed the isle as theirs. Amergin, when dividing the land between Tuatha de and Man, gave what as above ground to Man, and what was below ground to the Tuatha de." She stops to take a deep breath before continuing.
"What is not told is the story of the Formorians, the beastmen, halfmen, and giants who have always lived here; Some are friendly to man, like the Daoine Sidhe, if cautious. Some are indifferent, like the remaining Giants, and some downright hostile, like the descendant's of Bres and Balor."
"Many of them were imprisoned, deep in the earth, by the mightiest spells the Tuatha De could weave; The arrival of Christianity to the Isle served to strengthen those spells, for St. Patrick was well versed in the lore of the isle."
"Many minor formorians still walk the isle; The Drow Diedre spoke of earlier, and some of what you call 'trolls' or 'goblins'. Their masters sleep, and be thankful for that, for they have no love of man, and less love for the ones that imprisoned them... My people, the Tuatha De Danaan."
Diedre looks somewhat grim. "I will not extend a token to him. However..." She walks over to where Brodvic lays, resting, and touches him. "No Parma... " She intones a brief rego mentem spell, touching Brodvic. That should keep all but the most persistent spirit away from him... Because I think he was possessed. Which means there is a hostile spirit around here, looking to cause mischief."
"The Formori," says Quintus, "do not need to invade; They are already here. The true horrors, as Mab says, sleep, to be awakened for a final battle at the end of the world. Rather, Mab's ring appears to be some threat to those who seek to awaken the descendants of Bres and Balor, either it what it can do, or something it holds."
"If they did invade, I would say a course of "Defend yourself now, so you can make your case later..." would be a prudent one. However, I doubt this will happen."
Brodvic stirs a bit, offering a weak smile. "Lough Caillte has a reputation as a weirdness magnet, or at least it did 15 years ago. Glad to see some things haven't changed."
Diedre and Mab have been strangely quiet; Mab has been walking around the room, looking out of the corner of her eyes, while Diedre has been quietly chanting something. Mab's exclamation of "Aha! Gotcha!" startles everyone (as does the smell of Rotten Eggs, the side effect of her spontaneous spell), as she reaches out and grabs something, which soon becomes faintly visible. It is not a pretty thing she holds, and soon the egg smell is overpowered by a charnel smell. The image of the spirit is of an emaciated figure, at least from the waist up; from the waist down are entrails. It's thin arms end in hands tipped with long jagged nails. It has no hair, it's eyes small and beady, and it's mouth is filled with needle like teeth. Then, it sees Diedre, and redoubles it's efforts to escape, it's wailing going up and down through no sane range of pitches.
Diedre now holds a 'blade' of utter and complete blackness, carefully keeping it away from everyone and everything until she brings its tip near the 'nose' of the spirit. "Be still in your mischief," she says. "Answer our questions, and be granted a quick release from your contract. Choose to resist, and I'll see how creative our newcomers can be in prolonging your agony..."
"Mercy, MERCY!" the thing shrieks, upon seeing Diedre's spell. "I only did what I was told to do by Dusk! Beyond 'Find this item', or 'do that', or 'kill them', I know nothing! MERCY!" It tries to flinch away from the rod of utter blackness being held in Diedre's hand, but Mab's spell holds it fast; Her binding appears as ghostly brambles, whose thorns draw the 'blood' of the foul spirit everytime it moves.
"Who is this 'Dusk'? Where are they?" Asks Mab, since she can see the effort Diedre is putting forth to maintain her spell.
"Aieeee! She bears a grudge against the Order of Hermes, for her line, from antiquity. I know nothing more! She summoned me, and bound me to this half-troll, to do her bidding!"
Things slow to a crawl; there is a commotion outside, voices shouting. Flavius crashes into the room, gear in hand. Something impacts against a pane of glass in the window, shattering it. Flavius shouts "Testudo!", and plants his shield; A wall of shields spring up, between the windows and the persons inside the room. For a brief moment, it sounds like a hailstorm inside the steel shelter. Then, all is silent.
The spirit's head has a hole in it, from which oozes a foul, greenish substance. It begins to decay; Soon, rotting flesh begins to coalesce, and slough off the creature, until that is all that is left of the thing. The rod of blackness in Diedre's hands has vanished, her concentration broken. Mab ends her spell as well.
Flavius grabs hold of his shield, and the shield wall vanishes.
The wall of the council chamber has been perforated with many, many, many arrows. Their lethality is questionable, since most disappear, quickly, returning to the nothingness they were called from. However, the arrow that 'killed' the spirit is stuck in the wall where it has come to rest.
Out in the courtyard, people begin poking thier heads out of doorways, looking to see if it is safe. A brief headcount by Angus reveals the only damage done is to the wall, and to the spirit; No one else was hurt.
Fabrica looks around in some amazement at the recent activity. His hands began to scramble through the pouches at his belt and the pocket for his apron. He pulls out a ceremonial looking dagge, the spear tip again, and also a small gardening spade, hanging each implement on specially designed hooks on his sleeves as he heads outside.
"Where's Caleb?! Bring my swords!" he roars to the assembled grogs.
Grogs are assembled in short order, buildings shuttered, and the small group of magi go charging out to the area where Conner leads them.
The smell here is sickening, coming from the open cesspit that Corvus and Conner had been mucking out. A certain crow can be seen flapping about the branches, stopping for a few seconds, and then moving around again.
Inside the compound, there is activity as well. Rhiannon is not idle; Within minutes, she has a fair number of stone animates called forth; Every few seconds, each creates a boulder, which it neatly adds to the impromptu wall they are making around the feasthall, leaving an opening for egress and ingress. It does not take long for a substantial fieldstone wall to pile up, even though each animate disappears after creating three stones, requiring Rhiannon to 'summon' a new one.