Having responsibilities made one very busy. Handing everything off to others wasn’t practical for several reasons, first of which was that Lucy didn’t trust enough people to do things right. Thus, instead of making up an excuse to go to a remote village, she found an actual reason to go and do something that needed to be done. One of the larger tributaries of the Brentgar river had flooded. The damage had been done and the embankments fixed by workers months before. She was merely going to determine if magic could or should be used to help with the situation.
A proper survey of the area might inform their decisions on similar areas as well. Strengthening embankments with magic was certainly possible, but the question was if it was worth the expense… and would it cause other problems down the line. Unbreakable embankments sounded all fine unless the river level rose over time- not just in flooding situations, but constantly. Then it would need more room. Digging a new path or making a current one shallower or deeper with magic might work as well, but things got quite complicated when dealing with so much power. It was really quite easy to cause destruction- as had been shown in Agrila. The real problem had been limiting the effects to the area they wanted.
When an arrow appeared to Lucy in the night, she knew Douglas was close. Probably. There was some possibility that he had modified that particular spell to work at a long range, but that would be rather unhelpful. As she followed along behind it the arrow soon found its way outside, heading towards the river. She walked along the same shores she had surveyed in the day, ending on a hill overlooking some scenery nearby. The arrow brought her to under a tree, where it disappeared.
There were no signs of Douglas, but the arrow felt so strongly of his magic she had no doubt in its authenticity. If he wasn’t visible… was he hiding? She looked around, sensing for magic. Something was certainly strange in one particular area. A simple dispel to probe the area actually revealed a small encampment. A tent and horse hidden. No signs of Douglas himself. “You can show yourself, you know. I don’t think either of us want to really contest my dispels versus whatever you have going.”
There was a small sound behind her and she turned. Douglas waved. He certainly hadn’t been standing there a moment before… though she felt the remnants of magic that indicated he’d been there for some time. It had been some time since she’d had to follow his sign language, but it wasn’t so hard once she created some proper lighting. “I rarely get a chance to try concealing myself from people who have different perspectives,” Douglas signed, “I wanted to make sure there weren’t any simple flaws.”
“I’m sure you would have discovered anything simple by now.”
Douglas shrugged, “You’d think that, but you usually find things that should have been clear. Quite fast.”
“Not this time, it seems. Though perhaps your arrow disappeared into you or your… concealment.”
Douglas held up a finger. “It certainly might have. I distorted space, but my own magic had to be able to get through…” Douglas frowned, clearly thinking about that.
“You said we had to meet? About those captives? Some sort of… Scoubarrans, probably.”
Douglas’ mind returned to the present time and place. He nodded. “A prince.”
“Didn’t you say there were two prisoners?”
Douglas held up his other hand for a moment, though he couldn’t sign and keep the second finger raised. “One prince… and one princess.”
Lucy narrowed her eyes. “Scoubar doesn’t have… princesses.”
Douglas nodded and began to explain, including Faron’s past as a mage-hunter. “She killed a lot of people. But… she has connections to a society of women in Scoubar who want to kill the Mage-King.”
“How can you trust her? Someone who would do such things?”
Douglas pointed to his eyes. “Determination. Her feelings were quite real. Really can’t trust her though.”
“You should just kill her.”
Douglas shook his head, “She might die helping us anyway. And she had a plan, even if it was… not good. Might as well make sure she takes down as many Scoubarrans as possible with her.”
“And the prince?”
“He probably killed fewer people we care about.” Douglas shrugged, “I’m pretty sure Scoubar has part of the Endless Library.”
“That’s a lot of knowledge and…” Lucy frowned, “The ability to travel long distances quickly. In theory.”
“If you can stabilize the area,” Douglas nodded. “I think their ultimate goal was Vospia, so they could work on that from different directions.”
“Your section… is completely cut off, right?”
Douglas nodded again, “They might have to go around another way. I think it was like a big ring? But it’s hard to say. It might not even have real shape inside. At least some entrances to Vospia are gone.”
“Too bad,” Lucy said. “It would be great to sneak into Vospia that way. For this whole revenge thing.”
“Terrible idea, bringing many people through. The library was already in a bad state before I- before things changed with it.”
Lucy smiled, “You’re worried you accelerated the collapse of a structure full of knowledge? It’s been happening for a long time, right? It wouldn’t last that much longer anyway.”
Douglas shook his head sadly. “We can’t afford to lose all that knowledge. But Scoubar already has too much.” Douglas began to explain about the bloodline magic on the Scoubarran ‘princes’. “We’re not quite sure what the full extent is, but it’s worrying as a whole. The Mage-King is… more dangerous than we even thought before.”
“Are you seriously thinking about fighting against Scoubar still?” Lucy asked.
“Do you think they’ll stop if we don’t?” Douglas responded.
Lucy shook her head. “No. I’m just not sure if going to them is a wise idea.” She sighed, “I can’t believe we’ve gotten to this point. It seems like there’s so much more war than I knew, but comparing the histories… it’s not all that strange. I just don’t know if we can do it. Even this thing with Vospia…”
“I took a look at their gates when I went through,” Douglas signed. He walked over to a bag and pulled something out. He waited for her to take it so he could continue. “This has the border gates, the patterns for the old walls around the library… and some wards on the building itself. But also… Hagen contributed information on the council chambers.” He paused. “They’ll hate it. Not sure if it will accomplish what you want. But you can raid the upper library and maybe seal the passage down below for a while. Or there are vaults of magical materials elsewhere, but they might have been moved.”
Lucy looked through the copious amount of notes. “This is a lot to handle.”
“I wouldn’t try it all yourself.” Douglas flipped to a map. “Hagen made a personal request to destroy this house if you could. It might also be… safer than trying for the library.”
“One of the librarians?” Lucy nodded. “Still quite dangerous, but… this isn’t even in Kheles. A second house?”
Douglas nodded. “An estate. Don’t forget the most powerful wizards are also basically the nobles in Vospia. If Bryria just wants to cause damage and get loot, individual estates might be the best option.”
“I was dreading the thought of fighting all the way to Kheles. The statement might not be so grand as reaching the library… but perhaps that was an optimistic dream anyway.” Lucy looked up from the papers. “So, I expect you’re running off on a dangerous expedition soon?”
Douglas pointed to himself and raised an eyebrow.
“Yes you. Don’t tell me that you weren’t thinking about contacting a secret society and trying to take down the Mage-King. I saw it all over your face.”
Douglas felt his face, trying to determine how it had betrayed his thoughts. Then he shrugged. “I don’t like waiting for people to come to me. I can’t destroy our own structures to take them out. Or… I won’t.”
“It’s not going to be so easy. They have more armies, they just hadn’t brought them out west yet.” Lucy shook her head. “It might be best to just make things too expensive for them. Eventually the Mage-King will die…”
Douglas clicked his tongue, one of the few sounds he could make. “Then they get a new Mage-King? If we don’t get destroyed in the decades before then.”
“If I know anything about empires, there would be a huge squabble for power after his death. But you’re right. I just can’t afford to think about how to convince Bryria to fight Scoubar again right now.”
Douglas waved his hand. “Then don’t. There are more of us who can do it. We both know one person who is going to fight them anyway.”
“You… or father? Because I seriously don’t see either of you leaving them alone.”
Douglas just shrugged. Then the conversation moved onto lighter topics… like in-depth analysis of magical defenses in Vospia and how they might be annihilated by a powerful mage.