Four people waited tensely as one more worked on the door of the vault. If the information they’d obtained about the lock was good, he shouldn’t have to do much improvising. Even so, it was clear as they watched that it was a slow process. He carefully checked his spellbooks as he inscribed temporary runes in the area, runes written to ease the burden on his mind from a difficult spell. Errold wished he had time to learn the same thing, but he had been quite busy on the other end of things- preparing what they would do after they had the materials. He wasn’t even certain that would all work now, with the state things were in. Not that he’d ever been completely sure it would work.
It was by design that the vault door was not in a high traffic area. Having more people moving by regularly could be a security risk. Thus, when nobody appeared for a full half hour it wasn’t exactly surprising… but it just made everyone wonder what else would go wrong instead. Fifth finished his spell. The magic he set up wrapped around his lockpicks as he used them in the large door. It didn’t seem like it could possibly be the correct method… but after an eventual click, Fifth pulled open the door. It was still quite warded- but as far as it was concerned, the door was opened properly.
“Time to get moving,” he said as he stepped into the room. Inside, there were more wards- but only on the walls around the area.
Errold had half been expecting a pile of gold and silver on the floor, but while there was some mundane currency, everything was organized onto shelves. There were many different types of metals of different purities, gemstones, rare woods, some stone, and some dried herbs. Not everything would be useful for them, but it all had some value. “Okay,” Errold said, “Everyone move as planned. The more volatile materials will be packed individually. Everything else can go in this bag.”
Errold had been hoping for more of certain materials, especially some of the heavier metals that were good for anchoring spatial magic. Still, they would have to work with what they got. If they could get it out. He started grabbing anything and putting it in his bag. He would have liked to put in whole shelves, but not only were they bolted to the wall his bag had a limited size for its mouth. The inside could easily fit everything in the room… but some of the things should be treated more carefully than shoving in a bag. Some of those were wrapped in cloth they had prepared. It didn’t take long to clear out the place.
“Okay,” Fifth said, “We got everything?” They took one last look around the room, but there was nothing left. “Everyone out, then.” Fifth closed the door behind them. “Oh… I uh… don’t know if I can lock it.”
“That’s alright,” Errold said. “Hopefully they won’t check right away. We need to get out of here.” Errold consulted the map in his head. “The closest exit should be this way. We’ll have to use my prepared magic, since we can’t just… walk out. Especially not with things like this.”
Their group of five started walking down the corridors. There were only a few turns to make. Errold was confident they would be out within a minute. Then they would be safe.
Of course, the moment that thought crossed his mind Librarian Oswald rounded a corner in front of them. For an instant, Errold thought about trying to explain their presence… but they had two people who weren’t supposed to be around at all and bags stuffed to the brim with things any wizards could feel magic on.
Second acted first, throwing out a quick spell- very quick, but without much power. It carried enough force to knock someone off their feet, but Librarian Oswald’s shields stabilized him. He merely staggered half a step back as he started casting his own spell.
“Run! This way!” Errold yanked the nearest person with him as he ran down a side corridor. That exit was no good. Where was the next closest one? Not too far. A couple turns. A loud explosion rang out behind them, and the sound of running feet.
“Intruders! Thieves!” Oswald’s voice rang out behind them.
Fifth was not much of a runner. As he began to lag behind, Errold threw a spell over his shoulder. Something from Impractical Fire Magic, actually. While most of the things were simply useless, the reasons were different. Some required far too large of a scale for any individual or most groups to pull off. This one simply didn’t do anything… but it didn’t need to. It just had to look like it was doing something. A wall of flame appeared behind them… if one could call it that. It wasn’t illusion magic, but the flames weren’t hot. Not even enough to combust paper, usually. It was complicated but not terribly heavy in power requirements. Hopefully it would slow Librarian Oswald down for a moment.
“Just around there!” Errold pointed to a corner, trying not to be too loud, but wanting to be heard by the others. They dashed ahead. Looking back was a terrible idea, so it wasn’t clear if they were being caught up to. Oswald’s shields were well concealed, or they would have noticed him before he rounded a corner.
Errold turned the corner to the dead-end hallway where one of his three portals out could go… and in front of them stood Peter Wheeler. He had clearly heard what was going on, and was halfway through a spell as they rounded the corner. Priscia stood behind him… and as the group rounded the corner she picked up a pot from a nearby desk and hit him over the back of the head. It knocked him forward onto the ground but his shields held up.
Second was in the head of the group, and he kicked Peter in the side as he ran past. Their shields both protected them from damage, but Peter was tossed about. Errold also did the same as he ran past, because there was no time for magic they couldn’t afford to waste. He had a spell to cast immediately. Fifth was a bit behind, and his bulk came to some benefit as he stepped on Peter’s outstretched hand. Apparently the shield didn’t prevent the twisting of fingers.
Errold began his spell to turn the door in front of him into a portal out. And his brain came up with… Nothing. Just empty space. He kept running. Come on, what was wrong with it? He had three of those spells memorized, but they were specific to the location. The other two came to mind just fine. And then this one… “Dammit. This is where I came in.” At that point, Errold was already pulling open the door. “Get inside!” Librarian Oswald was coming around the corner and Peter Wheeler was just standing up as he slammed the door behind the six of them.
They were in a storage room. “Simon! Kevin! Help me move that desk in front of the door!”
Second and Third began to do as he said, ignoring Errold’s use of their names. Things couldn’t really get much worse.
Fifth looked around, “I thought we were taking a portal out…?”
“I used this one!” Errold said as they shoved the desk in front of the door- after locking it. “I had to come in this way.”
“There’s a window!” Seventh pointed to the back. “It’s hard to get to, though.”
There were piles of desks and chairs and large slate boards in the way. Second took a moment to use one of his movement spells to grab the largest offender in their path and fling it in front of the door. “That was my second one. Now I can’t rememorize it.”
There was a banging on the door and yelling from outside. Then the sound of chanting magic.
Priscia had wiggled her way through to the window. It rattled as she tried to open it. “It’s stuck!”
Fifth pushed past. “No reason to be gentle.” He slammed his elbow into the glass window that nobody had seen out of in years. It was high quality glass. Expensive. But that meant it was clear… not sturdy. Glass shattered everywhere- including around Fifth’s shields. He started pushing his portly frame through, where he flipped over onto the ground outside. “Ouch.”
The rest hurried out after him. As Sixth slid over the window- which was fortunately basically at ground level- the door exploded behind them. “Run!” Errold said. “That way!” The Library was the only way out now. At the very least, Oswald should be less likely to wantonly fling magic at them there. The gates were shut, and would take far too long to open even if they could deal with the guards..
Soldiers on the walls watched them sprinting across the courtyard. Simon flung the guards standing by the library door away. By the time they heard Oswald shouting from the window, the group had already flung open the doors to the Library. Oswald might have been a powerful wizard, but he was old… and not quick on his feet or good at shoving his way through rubble, it seemed. But now they were running into what was either a dead end or a maze of unstable about to collapse space. The very thing they wanted to fix… but may never get a chance to.