The very last of the ‘Students’ to collapse into bed was Errold Filby, as he had to make sure Priscia was able to return home without issue. He sighed. It was a lot of mentally and magically exhausting to temporarily make one door go to another door- and the real door wasn’t even very far. That was just for one person too. He would have preferred to set up doors for every individual to walk through that would come out in their little abandoned basement, but that just wasn’t feasible. He was probably still behind on where his magical power should be, due to lack of proper training from his master.
In the morning, Errold returned to the Endless Library. He walked in with his bag, in which was a single book to return. A Metzger, being returned for his master this time. However, having an excuse to go to the Library was good enough.
Working with dimensional magic himself made Errold appreciate the Endless Library so much more. Permanent egress from one place to another was a complicated process, especially if the second ‘place’ was space that was in another dimension inaccessible without magic. The initial setup would be much more difficult, though after that point the burden of energy on the user would be less. Assuming they connected it to another power source, otherwise they would probably just die or it would fall apart. Douglas had explained the basics of ley lines, though not any details in the relatively short time he’d been around. Errold found it disappointing that his master had made it back from the war, but at least it kept anyone from realizing he existed. He’d been cultivating an image as an apprentice who took forever to get anything done, so him spending a long time in the Library after he was just supposed to drop off a book and get another would hopefully not be noticed too much.
The Librarians wouldn’t notice Errold regardless. He was the student of an unimportant wizard, why would they pay note to him if he wasn’t late with any returns? Of course, that was their own outdated stupidity at work. He was quite happy to take advantage of it. Sneaking books out past them was a bit of a problem.
Errold wandered off into the Library, just the top level that everyone was supposed to have equal access to. In actuality, Errold wasn’t allowed to check out quite a number of the books for no reason except that he wasn’t important enough. Of course, they would say the magic was ‘too dangerous’ but what they really meant was ‘too likely to teach someone poor how to deal with old fogeys’. He didn’t need those books anyway. There were much better things down below, lost in the true Endless Library. Books written by people who actually knew what they were doing. Though, to be fair, a good ninety percent of the books on the top level were quality goods. The Metzger books were probably included to throw off those who weren’t critical enough in their thinking. Errold really hoped they weren’t being kept because someone thought they had merit. He could write a Metzger, with less than a decade of experience- and much less proper experience.
It was never clear why the rows of the library twisted and turned so much. Maybe to allow the Librarians to slip down to the lower levels unseen, because otherwise nice and proper straight rows of shelves would be much better. Errold didn’t mind either way. He very carefully prepared his sneaking spells. They were half invisibility and silence and the other half simply not being where he was. It wasn’t quite what Douglas could get up to, but he could at least toss the signatures of his magic into another dimension so that wizards couldn’t easily sense him. It was less work than trying to hide it properly. It could be as obvious as it wanted to be… and just somewhere else.
Errold looked around. Nobody nearby. He pulled open the door to the lower Library… and nearly got hit in the face by it. He found himself staring face to face with Jacob Hunniset’s scarred face. Errold was too afraid to even breathe… but fortunately his body dodged out of the way as Jacob stomped past, slipping into the stairway behind him as he slammed the swinging bookcase closed.
That guy was always angry lately. Probably because of the burns on his face. Everyone pretended they didn’t see them even when his illusions were so bad… or maybe they really couldn’t see through it? Either way, Jacob didn’t seem to be able to keep it up while down in the Library proper.
Nobody liked to talk about what happened in the war with Bryria. They had declared victory, but the number of people who didn’t come back was quite a bit high for that… and the fact that they lost the final battle in a way that nobody was even able to explain was relevant as well. Then, of course, the thing with the Library wall and Douglas had happened which sent people scurrying back. They had to protect their precious knowledge that they had no ability to use properly. It would be terrible if some peasants got their hands on a good book.
Errold hurried through the library. Nothing near the front mattered. Even if there were books shelved there, he’d already looked at them. Not in depth, but he at least skimmed every title and some of the pages. That was his current occupation. Skimming books looking for dimensional magic and ley lines and wishing he had some way to take out at least a dozen wizards who could kill him with their pinky. Because for all his ability to hide from them, he was still much weaker than people with five or six decades of growing their magical power.
The Library trembled. An aftershock from the section being removed, or just something ‘natural’? It really didn’t matter. The structure of wizards in Vospia was going to fall apart like the library given time. It might be a decade or another century, but it was coming. Soon, there would be no wizards. Of course, the number of wizards was steadily going up, with all of the focus on marrying women from magical bloodlines. If only they considered marrying someone smart.
Except that wasn’t fair. Priscia seemed quite smart. It was the men that were the problem. They’d set up a system of breeding for magical ability into the mage-nobility and not a system for training anyone with magical ability to actually use it. So they would get what they asked for, a bunch of people capable of using magic. Just like Errold was technically capable of killing someone with a sword because he had hands.
All he had to do was wait for some sort of cosmic justice to take place, but there were a thousand problems with that. First, he might be dead before the system collapsed- and more importantly, most of those insufferable wizards would also die happily of old age. If the Library collapsed first… then the following generations wouldn’t have access to the knowledge, and would have to start from scratch. That included Errold, because despite all his notes he still had to pull out books when he needed to know something specific. He just knew what book to look in. Of course, there was also the chance that if the Endless Library finally fully collapsed that Kheles would go with it. That was… a smaller chance, but at least the physical library might suffer damage due to its connection to the extradimensional library.
Errold’s eyes moved past books. ‘Practical Fire Magic’ ‘A Thousand Uses for Light Magic’ ‘Fotharian History Volume IX’ ‘Impractical Fire Magic’… Errold almost stopped to take that one. No. He didn’t have enough room. His bag wasn’t that big. He could only take a few books. ‘Advanced Memorization Techniques’ seemed worth bringing to the Students. ‘How to Speak Like a Wizard’ was… intriguing. Errold was about to put it back on the shelves but it was apparently authored by Narain Vexon. That was a good name. Might as well. Eventually, Errold found nothing else and grabbed ‘Impractical Fire Magic’ on the way out.
He hesitated upon going back up the stairs to the Library proper, but realized that he couldn’t avoid coincidental timing by waiting. He carefully swung open the shelves, and looked around to make sure there was nobody. Then he traced a finger on his bag as he moved through the shelves, grabbing ‘Simple Spellcasting’ and tossing it in his bag. He reached the front of the library and found the duty librarian. It wasn’t one of the Librarian librarians. They were all too ‘important’ to do such menial work. Without Reed being there, Errold probably could have smuggled books out easily.
He opened his bag in an exaggerated fashion and pulled out Simple Spellcasting. “Librarian Roberto, I’d like to borrow this.” Addressing him so formally was an easy habit to get into, and good for Roberto’s ego.
“Of course.” He wrote down the title. “Errold Filby, correct? Don’t forget that book you have due next week.”
“I won’t, sir.” Errold took the book and put it in his empty bag, walking out of the library. He didn’t trace his fingers on the bag until he was back in his little apartment and had pulled out the decoy book.
Smuggling books was theoretically difficult, but seeing Douglas’ bag had been the key. It appeared quite normal on the outside, and inside… it was bigger. It apparently didn’t take that much magic to remain active- and in fact there was something especially important about its functionality. The bag could be inactive and seemingly unmagical while still keeping the contents safe. After all, they were merely in another dimension it had access to, not something that required magic to maintain. The difference was small but important. Errold wasn’t even really sure if it was possible to create a space with magic. Theoretically that would make it even harder for others to ever access… but if they didn’t know where to look it really didn’t matter anyway.
The amount of extradimensional space Errold had access to was actually not particularly bigger than his bag. The rigidity of the space meant he could only fit a few books… but it was good enough. And he wouldn’t have to return the books. He’d still have to sneak them into their abandoned little basement at some point, but first he wanted to give some of them a read. Even ‘Impractical Fire Magic’, which had to be some sort of joke.