After the fiasco with the library, Errold Filby had no master. He had kindly neglected to mention that to anyone, seeing no point in bothering anyone by reminding them he existed. His studies in the library were more focused and useful when he didn’t have to run errands for someone, and nobody thought it was strange when he came and went. He liked it that way.
He’d also surreptitiously removed Extradimensional Spaces from the library to study in a more private area. Errold knew where his master kept the money, and the landlord didn’t care who paid him as long as the payments appeared regularly. Someone also seemed to have forgotten that Errold’s master was dead, because a small stipend kept showing up regularly. He was glad he didn’t have to go ask for it, because that might bring notice to the situation. If he was more important or paid better Errold’s plan would have probably fallen apart already, but for the moments things were fine.
As for the book… it was difficult. Reasonably so, because it concerned the very thing that made the Endless Library so special. Errold couldn’t perform any of the magic described in the book, but he understood how much it meant that a part of the library had been… removed. He’d snuck over to the edge once, finding a strange cutoff at the end of a hallway where space just ended in nothing instead of a wall. A small rock he had carried with him just… stopped when it hit the wall. It didn’t bounce off or make a sound until it hit the floor. Quite something indeed. And someone had done it on purpose.
Sometimes Errold stayed late at the library. It was eventually closed, but that ended up with him walking home in the dark. As he was walking along the road that led back towards the rest of Kheles, he nearly bumped into someone. “Oh, sorry.”
The man waved, smiling slightly, and continued towards the library. Errold continued onwards… then suddenly whipped his head around. Was that Douglas Lynwood? It was dark, so maybe he was wrong. They hadn’t really spoken or anything, but he’d seen him in dim light a lot. A few years could change a young man’s face, but Douglas had come up recently, vaguely tied to the controversy over Librarian Reed. What was he doing?
Errold had to know. He kept his distance, crouching behind things as he followed Douglas back towards the library. Then Douglas disappeared as they got close. An invisibility spell. Errold wondered if he had been spotted. He held his breath, remaining still. Then he saw over beyond the side of the road a number of magical runes. They just appeared in the air, with no sound but certainly a strong feeling of magical power. They flew towards the wall, sticking to it… and then the wall trembled. Over the next five minutes they shook and cracked and then suddenly fell apart into piles, like the stone turned to sand. Errold held his breath, not even thinking that maybe he should make himself invisible. Then a suddenly visible Douglas collapsed on the ground next to him.
After his experience reaching high shelves without a ladder, Errold Filby had researched a little spell that could lift something small, but people weren’t small. As far as magic was concerned, they were large and heavy. As far as wizards themselves were concerned… he had to say they didn’t do a lot of lifting heavy objects with their own body. At least Douglas wasn’t big. He managed to half carry and half drag him into the city proper. Errold was surprised that no guards came running after them… but then again, who would attack the Endless Library? Nobody was prepared for the walls to just… collapse.
Anyone who belonged in the library would know the consequences, and anyone else wouldn’t have been able to study the enchantments. Except maybe this guy. Wasn’t he a mute? Could he use magic without speaking? Errold wasn’t going to doubt his own eyes. Douglas had used magic… and he had no reason to believe he wasn’t mute. Unless Librarian Reed had lied about that, and Douglas had managed to keep up the facade. It just didn’t seem possible.
Errold’s mind flicked back to an incident in the library. Zachary Hunnisett and some others had been bullying Douglas. They’d used fire magic in the library and gotten in huge trouble for that… but they were smarter than that. The only book that had burned had been a Metzger. Librarian Reed knew they were junk. Douglas probably knew they were junk. And if he could do magic… that explained why Librarian Reed had angrily pulled Douglas aside afterward. Hah. Nobody could get past favoritism. Zachary deserved every little bit of what came to him, though.
As he dragged Douglas’ unconscious form through the streets, Errold thought about what he knew of the situation given his new information. First, Douglas wasn’t just a mute library assistant. He must have been Librarian Reed’s apprentice. A secret one, but then again Librarian Reed had refused so many people that it basically had to be a secret anyway. Especially since Douglas was a mute Bryrian kid. Had Librarian Reed taught him how to do silent magic? No, that seemed backwards. He had high standards. Douglas must have already known how to do it. That sort of fit, anyway.
Eventually he arrived at his home. He hoped he didn’t wake anyone up with the grunting exertions of getting Douglas inside. He was already risking a lot assuming nobody was invisibly following him. But if they were… it was already too late.
Errold dumped Douglas into his own bed. He could probably sneak into his master’s place and sleep there… but he had something he wanted to do more. Douglas was carrying a rucksack… and inside were books. Not just any books. Spellbooks. It wasn’t right to look through other people’s personal stuff, but he had to look. Besides, he probably saved his life.
The very first spell was a crazy unreadable mess of jumbled and misshapen runes. He thought maybe it was just a failed attempt, but when all of them looked like that he began to realize what it was. The runes weren’t misshapen. They were just seen from a different perspective. When he looked at the spell just right, he could see what the spell would be- what actual shape it had- just from the arrangement of the runes on the page. Somewhere in that was the key to silent magic.
Then Errold noticed a number of runes that were recently important to him. He had to check to be sure, but he pulled out Extradimensional Spaces and compared. Indeed, they were spatial runes. Formed into actual spells, not just for magical formations but practical and useful things. Probably. There was still a slight problem. He couldn’t puzzle through the exact details and he also didn’t know how to pronounce any of them.
When Douglas awoke in the morning, he found himself in a strange place. The bed definitely wasn’t his, and he didn’t recognize the room. Not in specifics, anyway. It reminded him of living in Vospia from the aesthetic. Vospia.
He shot up. He had been outside the Endless Library. Collapsing the wall. He had… slightly underestimated how much magical power it would take. Maybe he misremembered the runes on the inside, or just miscalculated. Maybe he hadn’t made an efficient enough use of the power locked within the formation protecting the walls. Or maybe it was just the fact that he’d never disintegrated a wall before and thought he could just do it without fully preparing himself.
But… he had done it. So he wasn’t exactly wrong. Just kind of stupid. He knew that the Vospian army was pushing closer and closer to Bryria’s library. His sister worked hard on that, and while she might not die defending it… having it destroyed would upset her. And, frankly, it would be disastrous for the developing magical community in Bryria. He had come to send a message to them that something could happen to their precious library if they went out warmongering. Whether or not they would understand the message was a different thing. He’d considered leaving a literal note, but hadn’t had the magic left… and now he was concerned about returning to the library.
He was somewhat less concerned about the unconscious man sitting at a desk. Douglas searched deep in his memory for that face. He’d passed him leaving the library last night. He was… an apprentice of some no-name wizard. Unimportant. Except… just because his master hadn’t been important didn’t mean he was worthless. Had he picked Douglas up and saved his life? He certainly wouldn’t have been in a good position lying unconscious nearby.
When Douglas’ feet hit the floor as he began to stand, the young man’s head shot up from the desk. He quickly looked around, his mouth moving before his head worked. “I wasn’t reading your spellbook! I swear!”
Said spellbook was open on the desk next to him, betraying him. Douglas couldn’t say anything that wouldn’t be hypocritical. Who could resist the temptation of a good spellbook? He stood up and took a step over to look at it. It wasn’t damaged, so he couldn’t really be upset. His head still hurt from using so much magic, or he might have considered memorizing some spells. He finally looked around for his bag, then pulled out his slate and chalk. “Where are we?”
“Uh…” the young man hesitated for a moment. “Just my apartment.”
“I see.” Douglas wrote. “I’ll be leaving now.” Douglas stood, watching for any movement. He didn’t think he was being kept prisoner or anything. He picked up his spellbook and put it in his bag, then stepped towards the door.
“Wait!” Douglas turned around. There was a moment of confusion before the man finally scrabbled for a book he had nearby. Extradimensional Spaces. “You know space magic. Can you teach me how to pronounce the runes?” Douglas looked at him, and he looked back… then held his head in his hands. “Oh… right. I’m sorry.”
Douglas stepped back toward him and lifted his head up. “Like this.” Douglas held up his slate with one of the runes. “This one is most important. Say it. Project it into the air.”