Douglas wondered how he had gone so long without learning any real offensive magic… then he remembered. Fighting was awful. Not that he’d been in anything properly called a fight, but he had certainly been injured. The only reason he’d learned some fire magic when younger was it was flashy and easy to recognize. He obviously hadn’t practiced with it enough as his still slightly tender skin could attest.
Fire was out anyway. If he needed it on the lower floors of the library, there were any number of problems it could cause. Even its primary function wasn’t necessarily good. If things were on fire they might not die quickly enough. Among shelves of books, it was a good way to set too many things on fire, and that wasn’t even talking about the smoke… he didn’t want to be in a confined area full of smoke and not air. He hadn’t even considered that fire burned the air until he looked up offensive magic. Electricity was more condensed but still had the potential to set things on fire. Probably still a bad idea.
Water magic wasn’t much good for killing someone unless he could get it into something’s lungs… Douglas put that idea on a back burner. That was also not a fast way to die, which meant they could still potentially do whatever they were going to do with him. It would certainly disrupt wizards though- even if he only got water in their mouth instead of all the way to the lungs. Water magic also required water in the area- apparently there was generally some water in the air, so he would be able to do small scale water magic without trouble… but it wasn’t much good for quickly killing unknown monsters. Ice magic was out as well- it required water or just making things cold enough… and even if he made it as cold as the coldest blizzard, the texts on magic noted that people would take minutes to die even without warm clothing.
Air magic was another weak choice. Unless he could completely remove the air from someone’s lungs- possible, but not at his level of magical ability- it would basically be ineffective. He could cause someone’s clothes to flap in the breeze, but he certainly couldn’t blow someone over. Minor inconvenience was not a good spell result for combat.
Light? That could actually be useful, but not for killing anything. However, everyone knew what happened when you stepped out into the sunlight. Sudden increases in light levels made it impossible to see. If he could direct that just at enemies, it could be quite useful, but only temporarily. Maybe if he maintained the spell an overwhelming amount of light could keep them blind… or if was strong enough it could permanently damage eyes. He wasn’t really interested in long term effects though if it was a life or death fight.
What else could he do? His armor spell would make it so he didn’t have to immediately kill someone, but he couldn’t wear real armor. Regardless of the fact he didn’t have any, metal was heavy. He had a hard enough time with books sometimes. That would only delay the inevitable- potentially useful, but he couldn’t just bash someone over the head with an armor spell. Right?
He supposed it produced force- like a mage hand spell lifting things. Lifting things didn’t sound particularly useful, but he supposed soldiers lifted their swords and spears. Could he lift something heavier than his arms could hold with magic? Potentially, though there was the problem of how long and how he could bring it with him. Still, he liked the idea of stabbing someone with a sword at a distance. The only issue would be control… and he would probably have to know how to use a sword somewhat, beyond the fact that sharp or pointy bits went towards the enemy. That application required something useful to be around, though if he were facing human soldiers- like those from Scoubar- he could potentially use their own weapons. Assuming he was stronger than them… and that they didn’t have magic resistant armor. Then again, he knew that magic resistant armor couldn’t block everything. It had to have some weaknesses, even if it was just total energy it could bring to bear.
Douglas was almost in a panic as he thought about fighting anything. Especially something unknown like whatever was in the lower levels of the library. He had to calm down and think of a real plan. That was all there was to it. First- carry something sharp. Even a needle going into an eye would be a big deal. Everything had eyes, especially horrible monstrosities… right? However, needles were easily breakable. He’d need a number of them… at least he would be able to repair them if the did break. He also wasn’t going to go looking for a fight.
The first thing he needed to do was ask Librarian Reed about what was down there. They could talk about that sort of thing now. He should also ask if he needed to get a staff. Could he afford a staff? He could afford a regular staff, but he hadn’t really looked into wizardly staves. They weren’t exactly on sale in the general market. However, carrying a staff in and out might get suspicious for those who didn’t know he could do magic.
Douglas went to find Librarian Reed. He wouldn’t say that Librarian Reed was always free, but usually whatever he was doing could be interrupted without issue. This time, he was maintaining some of the magical wards on the shelves, so Douglas just waited nearby. While it wasn’t like something would explode if he interrupted the process, it was easy to forget where you were in the inspection.
As he finished up, Librarian Reed nodded to Douglas, “Hello there. I assume you have some questions? Let’s go to my office.”
Douglas momentarily wondered how Librarian Reed knew they were secret sorts of questions… but then realized he didn’t have to ask anything else anymore. He knew where all the books went, and if he didn’t quite know how to place one he could figure it out. He had been shelving books for a few years now, after all. Librarian Reed’s office was secure- when he wanted it to, it could block sound coming in and out. Douglas wanted to set up a place like that for himself… but he didn’t exactly own a place to do it. He was renting a room- not at an inn, but something slightly more long term- but he doubted carving everywhere would make the owners happy or keep his ability to do magic even slightly secret. As the door was closed, Douglas started scribbling down his questions. “What sort of monsters are there down in the lower levels?”
“Monsters?” Librarian Reed raised an eyebrow. “Monsters aren’t the biggest problem down there… though there might be a few. The biggest problem is magic going wrong. Wards that haven’t been maintained for centuries… sometimes act in ways you wouldn’t anticipate. For example, let’s say there are wards that require a magical pass token to protect you from some effect. ‘Attack everyone except those with a magical pass token’ is the general spell there… then it fades to just ‘Attack everyone with a magical pass token’ or just ‘attack everyone’. Now, most of them just fail, but with so many different wards, there are bound to be a few that end up in a functional but incorrect state. That’s what the defenses are for… primarily. Though there are certainly some other things down there eventually.”
Douglas nodded… and realized why he had been learning to repair the wards on the top level. If he was to go to the lower levels- which he seemed to be encouraged to do at some point, or at least was being allowed to- he would need to be able to repair or disassemble wards to go very far, unless he went the same way as the other wizards. He would have to ask about them too. And a staff. They had staves, and theoretically knew what they were doing, so he should at least ask.