The New Vospian Librarians wanted to maintain their relatively hidden status, and for that they carefully redid some of the wards found throughout the Library. Harry Ellis found himself responsible for monitoring the wards, normally a boring job but boring was much preferred to dangerous.
He slowly walked along the ‘border’ of the area local to their secret entrance, checking the wards one at a time. No change, no change… one along the border with the actual Vospians was triggered, but that was standard. He used just a little bit of mana to reset it. It was important to know if people passed this way every day or not. Usually it was just every few days so far, but that might change.
There weren’t yet any responses from where they thought the Scoubarrans would be coming from. Hopefully that was good news, and not signs that the wards had been bypassed. If the wards did anything more than detect someone passing they would have been more obvious, but as they were they kept the power extremely low and the wards well hidden. As long as the wards didn’t do anything to make people notice them, they would hopefully remain unknown.
There was some possibility of the wards being set off by something besides a person traveling through- they didn’t have the luxury of checking for a particular size, simply that something entered the area. Harry had all sorts of ideas for better wards if they didn’t have to use the bare minimum amount of materials and mana.
Even if they only considered sensing people and not what a ward could do to try to stop them, there were many possible varieties. Like what they were using- checking for something moving into the space. That could basically be anything larger than a particle of dust. It wasn’t that it was impossible to detect smaller things, but sensing anything smaller or raising the floor on size required additional complexity in the ward. That meant more materials and mana, which would make it physically and magically more obvious.
Second was detecting active mana. It wasn’t terribly difficult to do since the primary thing any sort of magical formation interacted with was mana giving it power, but it did require making it not react to the natural mana in the area. Harry had ideas that it could be used to sense mages by the mana they carried inside of them. That might be a way to find mages in general, though it would require someone to get very close to something, basically touching it. Nobody knew if the Scoubarrans used that to find mages or not, but it would be more difficult to sense if there wasn’t anything active and especially if the mage tried to hide their mana.
They’d seen both of the first two types in Scoubarran territory and generally around the Library, but Harry kept thinking about other types. Detecting sound seemed useful, but it wouldn’t give a very precise location. Either it would pick up sounds from far away- potentially several rooms- or a skilled person could sneak past. Or just use silence magic. That also assumed an environment like the Endless Library that didn’t have much in the way of outside noise. Maybe combined with magic sensing it would be useful.
When thinking of a way to detect humans and not the various creatures of the Endless Library, Harry thought of a pretty good one. Light. Humans needed to use light- there were some spells to ‘see in the dark’ that relied on actually having some light, since anything except an enclosed inner room would have a modicum of light available. The Endless Library had no light except where runes glowed, either intentionally or unintentionally. For their current purposes it was useless- because to check if the ward had been set off they would have to get to it. To get to it, they’d have to see- and to see they needed light. Maybe with a lot of fine-tuning, but the best way would to just be connecting it to something else. A longer distance warning system of some kind.
That delved into the territory of ‘more obvious’. If you stepped a toe through a door and a bolt of magic shot off in one direction, you knew you set off some sort of alarm. It could be hidden to be less obvious, but every little piece of complexity and power made a ward more detectable. Since it was more important not to be noticed, they only had wards that checked if they had been tripped instead of sending information back to a different location. But if they ever had a place where they could afford to be known, Harry had ideas.
The offer to train the twins was genuine, but the fact that they were sorceresses made it… difficult. The New Vospian Librarians didn’t have much information on natural spellcasters, but they made it available to Rina and Mattea. The main thing that could be done was provide a place for them to practice magic safely.
Though they were twins, they didn’t have the same magic. Mattea only knew about her ability to magically convince people. It didn’t provide control of someone, but instead just subtly influenced them. With more power it could create a stronger compulsion- but they had learned quite quickly that people weren’t keen on the idea of magic being used on them. Even if they didn’t know how it worked, if they knew there was magic happening it could be resisted. Mattea covered it up with the distracting sounds of her harp and the fact that most people couldn’t sense magic.
Rina had control over telekinetic force. The amount and application of it could vary, but she had enough power to shove someone off their feet. On the other end, she could also manage fine control instead of raw power. It could make effects quite similar to what she could do with her own hand. Those two abilities were quite similar in nature, but as a spell for a wizard they would have been almost completely different entities. Priscia was working with them as they trained and found that it was actually several different spells. As sorceresses, the words of magic came to them to speak as they tried to do magic- and then the words were gone from their mind, just the same as normal wizards. Neither of the twins had the background to study the words of magic she spoke, just noticing there were more words when the spell was more powerful. They had thought of it as a ‘short version’ and a ‘long version’ which wasn’t entirely inaccurate.
Priscia did her best to help the two of them. She had the best grasp of the verbal part of the language of magic of any of the New Vospian Librarians, and had been able to copy down the different variations of Rina’s magic. Mattea really only seemed to have the one spell, it simply varied with the image of what she wanted and the amount of power she used.
“So you just think about what you want them to do?” Priscia confirmed.
“That’s right,” Mattea said. “It’s hard to get anyone to do anything specific. Lately it’s just been ‘go inside and shop’. I’m pretty sure I used to just send people into whatever store they liked most nearby, but now I can get people to go into Joffin’s Music. Finding people who are already curious makes it easier, or those with the money so they’re more willing to just spend on a whim.”
“It’s good that you’ve been careful. People would not like knowing they’ve been controlled with magic, even in a minor way.” Priscia pondered for a moment, “It might not have more effect than manipulating someone with words, but they would certainly react differently.”
“Rina hated when I used it on her,” Mattea said. “I probably couldn’t do it now, and she’d know after.”
“I’ll never get back that slice of pie,” Rina shook her head sadly. “We knew it could be dangerous to use openly, and we wanted to try to learn. The wizards wouldn’t even entertain the thought that we might be able to use magic without paying them.”
Priscia shook her head, “You wouldn’t have learned much anyway. Instead, you would have been pressured into a marriage. Your financial needs would have been taken care of, but that’s not… enough. Did they really not believe you?”
Mattea shook her head, “I didn’t want to try to demonstrate my own abilities. Rina…”
“I didn’t have the ability to use magic yet,” she stated. “We got the job at Joffin’s, and it paid well enough. We thought about saving up to try to convince someone… but there has been so much happening with the wizards. Their wall collapse, the war… we didn’t want to get into that sort of danger, even if we could learn.”
Priscia sighed. “It’s unfortunate that things turned out that way. Speaking of danger… remember how we told you it wasn’t safe to stay in Kheles for long?” They both nodded. “It’s a bit complicated to explain how we know this but Scoubar has soldiers nearby, and they might attack soon.”
“Is that why there have been more Vospian soldiers in the streets?” Rina asked.
“Maybe. We’re not sure what they know.” They hadn’t left a way for Gabriel to get in contact with them in return, but either way it seemed they had some idea of what was going on. The activity in the library had changed, and there were defenses being built down below. Hopefully it would be enough. “They might be able to repel them. But… it’s not safe for us here either way. That included the two of you. I’m sure both of you have heard what Scoubar does…”
They nodded. “I’m surprised you haven’t fled already,” Mattea said inquisitively.
“We had a lot we needed to bring with us,” Priscia said. “We needed preparations for the road. We also wanted to find more people, but we’ve had little success here. There are a few outside of Kheles but… we have to be able to get there. We’d like the two of you to come with us, but we won’t force you. You can stay, but we’d really recommend you go somewhere.”
The twins exchanged some thoughts silently, then answered together. “We’ll go with you.”
“I’m glad,” Priscia said. “I’m sorry we can’t help you with your magic quite as much as we’d like, but honestly you wouldn’t have gotten much in a week or two. It’s a whole, complicated language to learn. Just improving your mana control and capacity is also useful.” Priscia softly bit her lip, “You should keep some bags packed. There’s only so much we can take, but you’ll want spare clothes and the like. We can help you get specific things you need.” She wondered if Maynard had the time to make them some good traveling shoes. If not, hopefully he would have some that were good enough. They didn’t have the money to just ride a carriage around, and even if they could afford a cart not everyone could ride all the time. She tried not to think too much about the fact that she might be camping in the wilderness soon instead of nicely tucked away in a soft bed with down pillows. At least she was getting to learn magic and make some choices, even if the options were terrible.