Before he had bothered to finish the invisibility spell, Douglas looked around the area where he had seen the wizard with the staff go. He later learned his name was Raymond Tatham, but his name didn’t matter much. What mattered was he was doing mysterious things. Douglas looked around the area… and while there wasn’t anything interesting about the books, there was something else. Magic. There was magic everywhere in the Endless Library. It kept the books in good condition, keeping out dust, insects, rats, and even warning if there were any sort of fire. Douglas had spent some time looking over the runes on all of the shelves, and that was what he had determined. It wasn’t like it had been made difficult to see what they did, and Douglas found it elegant in its precision and durability.
This magic was different. This was hidden magic, the magic of illusion, as well as magic of warding. When Douglas had a chance, he started taking books off the shelves… and found runes hidden at the back of the shelves. From there, he spent a few days on and off- since he wasn’t willing to stay there with books all over the floor where he could get caught- determining how to deal with those spells. It took a few tries after he thought he knew what to do, but eventually he traced a few additional runes- temporary and made only of magic. He knew he had done the right thing when suddenly the entire section of shelves started to fade away into nothing… leading into a small, cramped room lined with more books. The light from above didn’t reach them very well, but Douglas didn’t want to risk other people stumbling across him. He knew the bookshelf would return given time, so he waited to see how long that would be. Then he returned later and used light magic to give himself short moments to read in the room. In theory, the bookshelf should have been openable from the inside… but he didn’t want to find out he was wrong.
After a few weeks… Douglas determined that all of the books were worthless… or in a code so devious it didn’t even seem like a code. It wasn’t even anything suspicious like cookbooks or ledgers or something with lots of numbers. There were histories, but cross referencing them with other books… the numbers and dates were all just that- the actual dates of the events referenced. Well, sometimes books disagreed about that but the hidden books didn’t disagree with the majority consensus in most cases- and in the other cases, they at least agreed with a couple others. Maybe there was some secret, but he couldn’t figure it out. Maybe he could see what books in particular the wizard was looking at in this secret area… for that, he needed to finish his invisibility spell.
For his level of practice, Douglas found his new invisibility spell acceptable. Probably. He didn’t really have many opportunities to test it. Margaret hadn’t been able to see him, but her eyes weren’t that good anyway. Still, in theory his spell made him invisible from one direction… with the possible exception of shadows under his feet. It had already taken two weeks of further research just to reach that point, and honestly Douglas didn’t feel like practicing for another month or two before even trying a more thorough invisibility spell. It was difficult magic… and he didn’t want to wait that long.
The wizards with the staves didn’t come through every day… but Douglas kept an eye out for them. A few days after he was confident in his invisibility spell, he saw Raymond Tatham. It might be hard to explain if he messed up, so he just had to do it right… at least his spellcasting would be silent. As for the runes… part of the difficulty of invisibility magic was suppressing them without making the spell stop functioning. Douglas settled for hiding the runes themselves behind the invisibility. There was one more difficulty, which had just been disguising the use of mana. It wasn’t much use to be invisible if any decent wizard could glance over and see there was magic. Douglas’ method wasn’t perfect, but it at least made the mana subtle enough that he had to concentrate to see it- hopefully that applied to more experienced wizards. It was the same sort of thing with the hidden door.
Raymond went deeper into the shelves of books like before. Douglas breathed in and out slowly, keeping his breath quiet as he stepped around the corner. His own vision was slightly obscured from his side of the invisibility- another thing that needed working on- but he could see Raymond look around and then take a book from the shelf. Strangely, it was opposite of the illusory bookshelves. Then Raymond reached behind it. Then a section of the shelf physically swung away from the wall and blocked Raymond from view, before it swung closed again behind him.
Douglas just stared for a few moments. He let his invisibility spell drop so he could precisely figure out which book had been removed- though it had been placed back before it swung open. However, he couldn’t afford to wait around for Raymond to come back out and likely catch him. He would return at some other time.
It wasn’t too hard to find the switch, once Douglas knew where to look. It fit in very well with the back of the shelf, but he found it by touch. With that, a slight tug pulled the bookshelf away from the wall- it wasn’t even opened by magic but by his own muscles. It carried its own weight so it wasn’t that hard… but Douglas was surprised that there was no magic involved as far as he could see. Then again, that would be the trick wouldn’t it? It had gotten him too. He had assumed there was some hidden code in the books, but in fact they were likely all decoys along with that entire little room.
Douglas carefully stepped through the bookshelf, pulling on the convenient handle to close it behind him as he took a step down the steep stairs beyond it. He could just manage to see some other bookshelves at the bottom of the stairs… surely these weren’t also decoys.