Everything was quiet by the time Douglas regained consciousness due to the dull aching of his right hand. He pushed himself up with his left hand, trying to remember what had happened. He regretted those memories as soon as they surfaced. He thought of himself as a smart young man, but when it came down to it he was just an idiot. What was he going to do, fight a dozen soldiers on his own? He didn’t even know how to fight- besides just swinging something at someone before they could react, he hadn’t actually been in a real fight. Instead, he’d done nothing to help his father, and only caused his sister to get captured.
The soldiers must have been from Scoubar. Douglas had heard about them, but not paid as much attention as he should have. Now, it was too late. They’d taken his sister and killed his father, and it was his fault things had gone so wrong. As he looked around, he saw the blood where his father had been.
He found himself wandering inside the tower. He didn’t know what he was looking for, just anything. Inside, everything looked normal at first. The chairs and tables were where they belonged. On the second floor with the library, however, it was gone. Well, anything that made it worth being called a library- namely books. All that was left were ink pots,quills, a few scattered blank pieces of paper, and the furniture including bookshelves and desks.
In his room, he found everything in dresser had been thrown out onto the floor, and his bed was overturned. Douglas halfheartedly grabbed and old shirt and went down to the kitchen, where he cut the shirt into strips and started using it to bind his hand. He’d seen something like that done a few times, but he didn’t really know what he was doing and it hurt so much that he ended up just wrapping many layers around his whole hand so it wouldn’t feel so much when he bumped into anything.
He didn’t really have a plan, but he found himself back in the library. He wanted to be practicing spells or studying new ones… but there were no books left to study, and he only had a couple spells left in his head after his outside practice. His personal spellbook was gone with everything else. Absentmindedly, he sat down to write the spells remaining in his head on the papers… only to remember that his right hand wouldn’t work. He awkwardly set up to write with his left hand, ending up with a smeared page and ink-stained hands. Douglas took a few deep breaths. He knew how to write. Just because he hadn’t done it with his left hand didn’t mean he couldn’t do it.
Douglas got a new piece of paper and started writing slowly and methodically, his pen pointed straight down at the paper. It was just like stacking things, really. He just had to think about how he wanted it to go, and then do it. It was slow and took some wiggling, but he finally managed to start writing. Then he started to draw. As runes went, they were sloppy and bad… but he could figure them out well enough. He looked around the library for the red ink to use for the background, but he couldn’t find it- except one completely spilled ink well.
Scribing magical spells was soothing. He didn’t have to think about what had happened. All he had to do was pen one stroke at a time. Slowly. Carefully. Methodically. Nothing else existed. He didn’t have to think about his father or sister. He didn’t have to think about his broken hand or his maybe-broken rib or about his inability to cry.
Douglas copied down the few spells he still had memorized. The simple repair spell, the light spell, and a simple spell he’d concocted that just made a sound to draw his father or sister’s attention without him having to stomp on the floor or clap his hands- and frankly it was less efficient than doing either of those. He didn’t know what else to do, so he copied the spells over and over until he fell asleep at the desk.
The sound of someone running up the stairs woke Douglas. He’d been having the most horrible dream, so Lucy’s footsteps were a comforting thing to wake up to. Then he woke up, and he was still in the empty library.
“Douglas!” Anna called out from the doorway, “You’re still here?”
Douglas slowly turned to her and nodded his head.
“You can’t… you can’t stay here. My parents… they were so upset about what happened to Theo… when they heard you were still alive they told the soldiers you could do magic. I was outside and ran here but they’re coming! They’ll come cut out your tongue like they did with Theo, or kill you!”
Exhaling air was the best Douglas could do for a sigh. He shrugged. Maybe it was better if they killed him. What was the point of going on anyway? He didn’t have any real magic or even his family.
Then Anna slapped him in the face. “Wake up! You need to get out of here! They’re coming back to kill you! They already have Lucy and they hurt Theo. You have a chance and you need to go!”
Lucy’s name stirred Douglas from his stupor. She’d been caught because of him. It would be a waste of her effort if he just let himself die. He grabbed his papers from the desk and set out to pack- not much, but only what could fit in a single bag. One change of clothes- not that he had many sets of clothes- and whatever food he could fit. He didn’t know where he would go but… somewhere.
“Don’t just stand there!” Anna pushed Douglas out the door, “Go! Away from the soldiers!” Anna pushed him again, and started herding him towards the forest.
Douglas looked to the west. What was that way? He hadn’t paid much attention to geography. Other places hadn’t mattered. There was just one thing he remembered in that direction. Vospia had the Endless Library. He had to go there. Anna split off from him once they were in the woods, to head back to town. He barely noticed. He didn’t look back. He couldn’t. If he thought about his father and sister, his head would just explode. One of them it was too late to save, the other he just wasn’t good enough to do anything to help. It turned out even though he could do magic, he couldn’t do anything else.