Nobody was ready to uproot their lives at a moment’s notice. Usually, it just happened. The New Vospian Librarian had some advance warning, but they weren’t really ready. The name they had chosen for themselves indicated how much they wished for things to remain how they had been.
But none of them wanted to die. If the true Librarians found them, that might actually come to pass. If Scoubar truly came through the depths of the library and then found them… they would just wish they were dead.
The greater number of soldiers in Kheles showed their warnings were taken seriously, at least to some extent. That was good… at least for the city and the wizards residing in it. For those who wanted to remain hidden, it wasn’t so good.
“We should have left immediately,” Kevin said. “Why did we wait around.”
“You know why,” Maynard explained patiently. “We wouldn’t have been able to take much of anything with us.”
Kevin sighed, “I know. I just… thought things would be different when I became an apprentice.”
Errold shook his head, “It turned out they just wanted people who would do all their errands for them. Maybe we should have run to Bryria months ago.”
“Umm…” Rina seemed hesitant to join the conversation. “I don’t really think, um…” she took a moment to stabilize her thoughts. “We’d just stay here, ignorant, if it weren’t for you. Then we’d be carted off to Scoubar…” Rina grimaced.
Mattea spoke up in agreement, “We’re glad you continued to look for others who could do magic even though you had different work to do.”
“Most of that started with Errold,” Maynard admitted. “He was the one who started it all.”
Errold shrugged, “I was inspired by someone else.” He didn’t know what he should say about Douglas in front of others. It probably didn’t matter anymore- nobody would be telling the Librarians anything, on purpose or on accident. “I found myself quite disappointed with how things were done here in Vospia. I wanted to change it… but in the end we just have to run away.”
Maynard rested a hand on his shoulder, “No need to be like that. You’re a young man still, and those who knew magic deliberately made it difficult to learn. I share the sadness that we won’t be able to affect an entire city or country the way we want to, but there are only so many of us. If you don’t like the results, then find a chance to change them. Later, after we survive.”
Errold sighed. Douglas didn’t wait. He couldn’t even do traditional magic, and yet he just strolled into Vospia and broke down the walls around the library. Actually, that was pretty crazy. “I just wish I could do something.”
“You think all of this is nothing?” Maynard asked. “Because the people who run this country would probably be quite upset at what you’ve accomplished. And that’s how you can know it matters.”
From well away from the gates, Maynard watched the twins approach. Even since the time they’d started planning to leave, security had changed. That was probably their own fault. Perhaps they’d been too greedy. Either way, they were paying for the delay now.
They chose the twins to leave first for a good reason. Neither of them had been involved with any crimes, and they also wouldn’t be taking any contraband with them. While they might miss having their notes for a while, they could just go. Nothing good would come from them staying in Kheles, no matter what happened with the Scoubarran situation.
It was a good thing they went separately as well, because the changes were more extensive than they had thought. Everyone was being checked going in and out of Kheles. Not just routine stops, but they also had wizards checking for magic. It might be designed to catch Scoubarran spies, but it would do equally well to cause trouble for the rest of them.
Maynard was glad to see the twins get out without issue. Just in case it had been necessary, they’d been taught to suppress their mana. Without any active magic or any specific reason to look for them, they were just a pair of people moving out of the city. That happened all the time- especially during times of change. Even if most people didn’t know why there were soldiers in the city, it made them nervous.
One hand outstretched to pat the little formation Errold had set up in the warehouse that was the entrance to the Endless Library. They decided it was too risky to keep it open. They probably wouldn’t have a chance to return anyway, so it was better to make sure Scoubar couldn’t discover it and take a secret way into Kheles. None of them liked the current leadership, but that didn’t mean they wanted them to be maimed or abducted. Some they’d like dead, but they still didn’t want anyone to be cruel about it.
They disconnected the door, letting it become merely an open archway. If they had the time, they would have taken the materials away with them- but they wanted to leave the same day. It wasn’t just the twins waiting for them, but everyone felt the sense of dread over the city. It might be a month, a week, or the next day that Scoubar attacked. With extra soldiers and wizards in the city, they could also be found by coincidence at any point.
“Is it safe to just leave it?” Simon asked. “It’s still able to be connected again, right?”
“Not without knowing where both of them are,” Errold answered. “And whoever has both sides will be in control of the Library and Kheles anyway. We’re here in a random warehouse. The Vospians might hear about it when it’s rented to someone else and they find a magic thing, but we’ll be long gone by then- and they can choose if they want other entrances to the Library here or not.” Errold shook his head, “I’d like to have destroyed the inside part still, but it’s not really something we can do and still… leave. It’s hidden, at least.”
They looked around the otherwise almost empty warehouse. They had bookshelves- and random tables and furniture that had served the same purpose. Now it was all empty, everything they owned was already put into dimensional bags to be carried. Some smaller portion was in the accessible part of the bags, things like changes of clothes and spare shoes- Maynard had done his best so they all had extra shoes for their future on the road.
Going out of the city through the gate was basically impossible at the current moment. Too many people watching and searching. Going through at night would be similarly difficult and likely require destructive measures. If that was their only option they wouldn’t mind it, but destroying a gate when Scoubar might attack at any point… didn’t seem right. Though Scoubar would be inside the city anyway so the gate itself would hardly matter.
No, they were using their alternate route. The sewers. It was only vaguely comforting that the sewers were for the most part expertly maintained. A well maintained sewer still smelled, and going through with a large number of people didn’t help.
Errold walked in front. He was the most aware of the layout, and unlike the Endless Library the spatial arrangement of everything made sense. They walked at a brisk pace, and would soon be outside of Kheles.
“Crap!” Errold startled and stopped his light spell. “Lights out! Quiet!”
Everyone complied, though some were quicker than others. They were left in the dark- but up ahead was more light. Moving.
“It was over this way,” came a voice.
“I saw it too,” another agreed. “But shouldn’t it be just another patrol?”
“Nobody else is supposed to be in this section,” the first voice said. Two armored soldiers came around the corner, one holding a lantern. “That way, right?”
“Think so,” said the second, who held the lantern. “Could have been a trick of the light. Or they scarpered off. Don’t know why anyone would come down here though. Stupid.”
“Well if they scarpered off, we have to go after them. Come on.”
The two soldiers quickly started heading towards the group. They weren’t quiet at all- which helped cover up Errold’s call for invisibility.
“What was that?” the first soldier said.
“Didn’t see anything,” said the one carrying the lantern.
“I heard something. Maybe…” he leaned close to the other soldier.
“Yeah yeah, I know how to do this,” said the second soldier. He walked along, shining his lantern into each little alcove and down different paths. “See? Nothing.”
If he had been more careful, he might have noticed that the twisting of the shadows wasn’t quite right. Though all of the New Vospian Librarians knew some form of invisibility, not all of them were equally good at it. There were flaws that could be seen through, especially with enough light.
But nobody had told the soldiers any of that. Even the more responsible one saw there was nothing in any of the spots and hurried them ahead, whispering. “Keep quiet! They have to be hiding somewhere!”
“Long gone by now, if it was even anything,” the second soldier said as their voices faded away.
Simon was the one to make the first light spell, when they were gone. “This way,” Errold’s voice came, guiding him- and the rest followed the light.
Nobody dropped their invisibility or made much of any sound as they continued through the tunnels, going as fast as they could through the oft-slippery tunnels. Then they came to a grate.
It was a grate that was never meant to be opened. Its purpose was to stop the very thing they were doing- moving in and out of the city. Mostly for smugglers trying to avoid taxes, but it also kept curious children from going into the sewers and getting lost. The entrances from the top were locked- but that didn’t stop determined people.
Immediately Julie and Simon set to work. The grate was never meant to open, and it would be quite difficult to break apart- but they already knew they’d run into it, or one of the others if they had to detour. A simple spell ‘cut’ apart the metal without all of the work. It was slow, and only did one section at a time, but Julie had several of the spells memorized and Simon repeatedly re-memorized it from a different section of his mind. After a few minutes, it fell over with a loud crash and a splashing noise- and they hurried their way out. All of them were suddenly wishing they had prepared more spells for cleaning, but at least they were out of the city. The further they got, the less likely they would run into trouble- though they’d still have to keep their identities hidden. The current plan was to meet up with the twins at a small town half a day from Kheles. Hopefully, everything had gone well for the twins outside the city, and the same would happen for the rest of them.