When Antonio invited Viola to join the covenant at Andorra, she found the library impressive, but what really attracted her was a remarkable discovery she made on the covenant grounds.
Many years ago, in 1050, a lab set up outside the castle walls, in a secluded glade with a faerie aura, by Ihsahn of Flambeau, an elderly and Twilight-addled magus, disappeared into a regio, leaving a swath of bare ground nearly 10 paces across. Ihsahn mentioned the event to a couple of his closest sodales and a handful of covenantfolk, but, while the newly empty space was clearly visible from the castle’s wall and towers, the development had little real impact, since the magus continued to use the lab normally. As time wore on, plants took root in the vacant square, which came to be dominated by a young black pine growing in its center. The square itself was clearly marked by four “walls” of bushes around its perimeter.
When the Flambeau passed into Final Twilight a couple of decades later, the other magi were able to enter the regio easily enough—to do so required an individual using Second Sight or Piercing the Faerie Veil to place a foot in a specific position while crossing the “threshold” (a gap between two bushes at the mundane level, matching the front door of the building in the regio)—but none of the magi at the time had Second Sight, no one wanted to have to cast a spell each day just to enter his own laboratory, and labs were not in short enough supply to make it worthwhile to enchant of an item to do the trick. Thus, the magi scavenged the specialized equipment and ingredients they could make use of, and then abandoned the lab. The magi were reluctant to tamper with the area’s magical nature by casting spells to transform it, not knowing what risks this course of action might hold; the grove became a secluded refuge for solitary poets and sulking children. The lab was not exactly forgotten—the black pine continued to grow, and eventually towered over the walls of the castle, as well as the surrounding trees, a visible reminder that prompted every child born in the covenant to ask her parents for the story of its origins. However, no one had reason to visit the laboratory, apart from the occasional exploring apprentice, and later magi seldom considered the possibility of making use of it; the few who did found the lab’s interior a little too strange for their tastes.
When Viola visited the covenant in the early winter of 1220, at Antonio’s invitation, she became extremely curious about the large pine. She asked to see the pine and its surrounding grove of bushes, and she immediately spotted the entrance to the regio (Faerie aura 5). Stepping inside, she passed through the Ihsahn’s former living quarters to find a well-equipped and fully functional lab…more or less. A stem from an ivy plant growing from the base of the pine had found its way into the regio through a broken floorboard (which makes the lab Deformed)—this is actually a second entrance to the regio, though any human would be hard-pressed to make use of it. The ivy had thrived in the confines of the lab, which, despite its numerous windows, skylight, and unnaturally bright interior lighting (Magical Lighting as Excessive Lighting; unless commanded otherwise, the lighting only functions during daylight hours), was still shady compared with an outdoor area lit by direct sunlight. The plant sent its shoots throughout the room, covering the walls and virtually every other vertical and horizontal surface (Infested). At the center of the building (which was offset a bit from the center of the lab itself), four stems wound around square pillars supporting the roof at the corners of a skylight. The original occupant had enchanted the skylight to exclude rain, wind, and other foul weather, while admitting sunshine and (except during the colder months) fresh air (ReAu 24—Base 5, +1M for precision, +2M & 4L for constant effect). Though the building now formed a regio, light continued to pour in through both the skylight and, once, they had been unshuttered, the windows (through which the glade at the mundane level was still visible, giving the lab Idyllic Surroundings). It was here that Viola made her most interesting discovery.
Stacking a chair on top of two tables, Viola climbed through the skylight, and discovered a second, higher level of the regio (Faerie aura 6). The upper level must have developed later, after the passing of the magus into Final Twilight, because it went unmentioned in the covenant’s lore, though it seems hard to believe that it hadn’t been found by an adventurous apprentice or two. Rather than mimicking the lab on the level below, the upper level represented an idealized version of the grove at the mundane level (further evidence that it must have formed after the lower regio level): a wall of bushes similar to those at the mundane level enclosed a circular space 10 paces across, with the familiar black pine (which existed at both the mundane level and in the regio) at its center. The four stems of the ivy joined to wind around the tree, appearing from nowhere 10 feet up the trunk (the height of the lab’s ceiling), and growing both up and down from that point, and Viola found herself clutching the tree there. Gripping the ivy for support, she descended into a tiny world inhabited by fae versions of the plants and animals living in the mundane grove.
The upper regio experiences essentially the same weather as the world outside, though the enchantment on the skylight seems to have warped it a bit, making its weather always milder than the mundane version. The most important inhabitants are the pine and the ivy, both of which are awakened. A few of the plants can move around freely, though neither they nor the animals visit the lower level of the regio very often—for the most part, the vine has this room to itself. It had wormed a couple of shoots into the living quarters, but Viola had the one that invaded her bedchamber removed. Fortunately, ivy tolerates pruning quite well, both physically, and, in this case, emotionally, meaning that the floor and work surfaces can be cleared relatively easily (or the ivy will simply move itself out of the way).
In those seasons when Viola works in the lab, she is assisted by a Servant, a sharp girl (Int +2) named Anais, who was born in the covenant. At present, the upper level has not been incorporated into the lab, and so the Regio Virtue modifies only the Warping, and not the Size. Spending two seasons to add the Natural Environment Virtue will change this; the extension will also add the Inhabitants Flaw, and, provided the inhabitants cooperate, the Faerie Ingredients Virtue. The change will include building circular staircases up into the skylight (simple plank steps on an open frame), and around the tree (plank steps fastened around the trunk). The addition of the upper level will not add the Exposed Flaw, since half the lab will not be exposed at all—and Exposed isn’t necessarily required for a lab that includes a Natural Environment. Presumably, since it’s normal for a regio laboratory to include two levels, Awkward Shape should not apply, either, perhaps, because a lab in a regio is Well Insulated almost by definition, and the two effects cancel one another out (their net effect would be –1 Safety, but it could be argued that a regio is more insulated than the typical Well Insulated lab).
The future will probably see Viola’s training the flora and fauna to act as a Lesser Horde, as well as improving the outfittings, adding a Lesser Expansion. Eventually, there should be space for a third Minor Virtue, which might consist of adding Pot Plants to the lower level, to provide a little horticultural variety, or of making Viola’s magic wine casks, a Vis Source, part of the lab.
For purposes of lab work, the aura for the lab as a whole should be considered to be 5 (the aura of the lower level). The regio consists of the entire building, including Viola’s living quarters. Since the regio entrance is the most easily defended point in the building, Viola’s sanctum begins here: any individual entering the regio by crossing between the two bushes will find himself opening a door marked as Viola’s sanctum; the opening of the door is the act that by which someone enters the regio. It’s certainly possible for someone to stop before opening the door, and thereby to avoid entering both the regio and the sanctum, but the sight of the sanctum marking is fleeting enough to qualify as a Missing Sanctum Marker. Viola also maintains a room inside the castle for meeting with visitors; she’d rather not advertise the location of her lab, vulnerable as it is outside the covenant’s defenses.
- Size: 0 (0)
- Refinement: 0
- Base Safety: 0
- General Quality: +2
- Upkeep: 0
- Safety: +4
- Warping: +1 (Devious)
- Health: +3
- Aesthetics: +1
+1 Items, +1 Vis Extraction, +1 Mu, +1 An, +1 He, +2 Im
Virtues and Flaws:
- Idyllic Surroundings (+2 Health, +1 Aesthetics, +1 An), Superior Construction (+1 Safety, +1 Aesthetics), Servant (+1 Safety, +1 Aesthetics, +1 Me), Superior Equipment (+1 General Quality, +1 Safety, +1 Vis Extraction), Superior Tools (+1 Safety, +1 Items), Familiar (+1 General Quality, +3 Safety), Magical Heating (as Superior Heating; +1 Health, +1 Aesthetics, +1 Ig), Magical Lighting (as Excessive Lighting; +2 Im), Regio (+1 Warping)
- Deformed (-1 Safety, -1 Aesthetics, +1 Mu), Infested (-1 Safety, -1 Aesthetics, +1 He), Missing Sanctum Marker (-1 Aesthetics)