Defensive walls rising high off the ground were nothing new to Douglas Lynwood. He had seen them many times before around cities and fortresses but most significantly around the Endless Library in Vospia. There were significant differences to be found between the latter and what he was currently seeing. First, the walls in front of him were new and not ancient. Douglas had his doubts about the claims that the walls around the Endless Library were the originals, because they had been entirely too easy to crumble to dust. Then again, the enchantments may have been replaced- the wards were significantly less isolated than those inside the Library, and thus would have failed sooner. Either way, those particular walls no longer existed.
A small group including Douglas, Hagen Reed, and several others were briefly stopped at the gates to present documents they had received. As they passed through the gates in the walls surrounding the Bryrian Grand Library, Douglas noticed several things. First, the walls were thicker. He doubted they were able to be solid at such a thickness, but he noticed something important in correlation with that. The wards were not visible on the inside of the walls. Yet he could sense their presence and the runes had to be somewhere. A sealed door in the wall partially confirmed his suspicions. The wall should have an internal section for the body of the wards. While wards often were less efficient when not placed on the outward facing part of an object, they were much harder to tamper with when placed on the inside. Douglas was fairly certain he could still do it even without going through the door, but then again he might not be able to. Lucy would have known his abilities- it was whether she feared someone with similar skills existed that she would have advised for countermeasures.
Inside the walls was more than just the library itself. There was effectively a small town that had houses and markets as well as a separate but still centrally located structure that appeared to be for administrative purposes. The library itself was a tall and wide central structure, clearly standing out from the area around it. It was clear that its location had been determined first, and everything else was constructed around it. Wide streets on all sides allowed for many times the traffic it was actually receiving and there were still many empty or half-constructed lots inside the walls surrounding the area. Clearly, there were plans for future growth inside the walls and not just in the nearby Thebar.
Out of curiosity he stepped into the library itself, and the others followed. He was somewhat surprised that nobody stopped him, not even the librarian just inside. Douglas thought perhaps he looked like he belonged, and while he felt he belonged in every library he soon discovered something else. The area he had entered did indeed have many books on magic, but as he browsed them he realized they were sorely lacking in actual spells. They were all theoretical or basic, and while those were important they were also not sufficient. In addition to magic he found many books on history and nearly every other topic. The shelves were full in various amounts, but many were still half empty. So much that he realized that the books were intentionally spread out to give a feeling of fullness. He wasn’t surprised. Empty shelves felt awful.
Soon enough he reached a clear dividing line, a break in the library with closed and locked doors. So the section he was in was actually available to the public, without even requiring a deposit. Though he supposed not everyone would be allowed within the outer walls, so it wasn’t necessarily entirely free to view.
He nodded to the librarian on his way out. The others soon made their way back as well.
“I’m impressed,” Hagen admitted. “I hadn’t expected such progress so quickly. Our contributions seem quite small, now.”
Douglas signed a response, “The inner library might be more empty. It could take quite some time to fill. But it’s still very impressive.”
“I agree,” Raymond Tatham said. “It seems the effort of decades more than just a matter of years. Even the construction effort itself must have required the aid of magic.”
Douglas nodded, “Practical magic. Very good.”
The group soon arrived at the administrative building. It was still quite impressive, but relatively minimal in its decorative features. It opted for sturdy simplicity in design both outside and in. Once inside they were met with a number of clerks in formal clothing waiting in the lobby. It was only a few moments of one of the clerks looking them over before he quickly approached. “Greetings,” he bowed his head. “Are you the ones Senior Mage Lynwood is expecting? We heard you should be arriving in the coming days.”
Douglas nodded, and to make things simple handed over his letter. The clerk only scanned the letter before handing it back. “Indeed, Senior Mage Douglas Lynwood. You are as she described. She will want to see all of you right away.”
As they walked, Douglas gestured an aside to the others. “Do you think we should have more varied titles?”
Hagen shook his head, answering also in sign in short snippets as Douglas looked back. Thinking about that too much leads nowhere. Senior Mage is a reasonable enough acknowledgment of experience and merit.”
It didn’t take long to get to Lucy’s office. Though it was at the end of the hall, it was only marginally larger than the rest of the offices leading up to it. The clerk knocked on the door. “Yes? Come in,” came the response, after which he opened the door and gestured inside.
Douglas stepped forward, but instead of crossing into the room stopped in front of the doorway with his arms folded. It took a few moments for Lucy to look up. “Douglas! Come in, please.” He gestured around him, especially at the doorway. Before he could begin an actual explanation, Lucy nodded. “I understand. One moment.” She unlocked a drawer before pulling out what looked to be a plain glass orb, carrying it over to the doorway and placing it in Douglas’ hand. “I’ll attune you to the wards so you don’t have to lower your defenses.”
“The rest of us would not mind lowering our defenses, I’m sure,” Hagen Reed spoke for himself and the rest of the group- Raymond and Sarah, in particular. “I’m certain we are quite safe here.”
“No, it’s fine,” Lucy said. “If you are to regularly come and go, it would be better to deal with this now. And we can trust all of you, I’m certain.” She finished with Douglas and motioned him inside. “The current precautions might seem excessive, but we decided it was best to start with security and loosen the restrictions if it seemed appropriate. With the situation in Vospia…” she shrugged. “It seems likely we should keep up the practices.”
Soon enough everyone was inside the office, and Lucy was back in her chair, the paperwork in front of her set aside. Douglas found the level of comfort to be below that of a noble house- his most relevant example being Countess Irieby’s- yet still quite a bit better than the accommodations in Secure Vantage. They had a wealth of knowledge, but their finances were not much to speak of.
Lucy began the slightly more formal discussion. “I’m glad to have all of you here officially. It has taken the better portion of a year to get to this point, but here we are. All healthy and officially alive.”
Douglas grinned, signing well in front of him to give people a chance to see. “Glad to be officially and actually alive. You mentioned some people weren’t enthusiastic…”
“There were several, including Count Leigh, who tried to blame the war on you- and me. I was able to eventually assuage them by reminding them that Vospia hadn’t sent anyone they considered important to aid against Scoubar, and that the war was intended to reassert their control over local ability to do magic. I also pointed out how much good we’re doing for the country and how much we’re not trying to set ourselves up as the rulers.”
Hagen Reed nodded, “I’m sure it took more than that.”
“I might have non-subtly reminded a few of them how easily the nobility could perish if determined mages actually wanted to remove them from their positions,” Lucy smiled slightly. “It was followed up with a significant increase in those requesting magical wards be installed.”
“I’m glad we came here first,” Raymond admitted. “I haven’t learned as much Dalgarian as I intended.”
“I’m sure they will understand,” Lucy commented, “And sign language will be more practical with many of the mages there. It apparently loses something and translators will still be available, but people will appreciate it. ”
Douglas nodded, signing. “Even the chance to speak directly is good.”
“Well then,” Lucy said. “We should get you settled in, and then introduced to some people. We want people to be well aware of this Mage’s Alliance.”