The group of renegade mages quickly threw down the inside bar on the library doors . Errold took a quick glance at the librarian’s door. “Closed, good,” he kept his voice down as he spoke to the others, “Let’s hurry before Roberto notices the noise. Though I’m not sure if that will keep them out anyway.” It would certainly be easy to open the library doors from the inside. There were also many wards involved with the doors being properly closed that would slow those on the outside. The only question at hand was whether there was a secret way that Librarian Oswald or others knew to quickly disable them, or if they could catch Roberto’s attention quickly.
Though they might have preferred to keep running, most of them couldn’t keep up the pace. They headed into the shelves at a quick walk, keeping together and watching out for anyone else. Fortunately, nobody was really studying in the library during the lockdown. They saw a few wizards among the shelves but Errold rerouted them to go around.
When they finally got close to the entrance to the true Endless Library, voices could be heard. They were talking back and forth, muffled but not particularly quiet. Errold held a finger up to his lips and peeked around the corner. The secret door to the decoy area was still open. The voices were coming from there. And, just out across the hallway browsing the shelves there was Fourth. It took a moment for Errold to get her attention by waving his arms quietly. Eventually the motion caught her eye and she turned to look. Errold gestured, trying to get her to close the door. At first he didn’t get his point across. On the second try she gestured towards the door and folded her hands together. She seemed to have the idea, but looked concerned.
Errold looked over his shoulder. He once again put his finger to his lips, then gestured for everyone to step out around the corner. He did so as well. Once Fourth saw everyone else was gathered together, she made her decision. She slammed the door closed on the two talking inside. “Come on! Hurry!” she called out to the group as she ran towards the entrance to the lower library. “Dammit, which one is it?”
Third was the first to reach the right area. “This one. It’s easy to pick out once you see it enough…” he looked back, “Though perhaps this might be our last chance.”
“What the hell happened?” Fourth- Julie- demanded as everyone started pouring down the steps. Several of them conjured light spells so they could see.
“The good news,” Errold started, “Is that we got the materials from the vault.” His feet didn’t slow one bit as he explained. He didn’t quite randomly pick passages to lead them away from the stairs, but he also didn’t know where he wanted to lead them. Perhaps back out to the other end where their warehouse hideout was… but it seemed some of the doorways had changed again. “Everything else is messed up. Librarian Oswald spotted us just after, and started throwing magic around everywhere.”
“I hit Peter over the head with a pot,” Priscia explained. “So I can’t exactly return home now.”
“That’s true for many of us,” Errold said. “Second and Sixth should never have been here, so they might be fine. Nobody knows who the two of you are… but the rest of us can be recognized easily enough.” Errold stopped where his exit from the library should have been. It now led down another hallway. Perhaps he’d synced it up with the true library a bit too well. “Dammit. There goes our exit. But we can’t go back out through the front…” He bit his lip, a little bit too hard.
“Then we should get started with what we came here for,” Kevin said. “Stabilize the library.”
Errold nodded, taking a deep breath. “You’re right. We’re ready for this.” He poured out his bag, which included a large amount of books and materials. He sorted out a few books from there, spellbooks with the information they all needed. He hadn’t thought they’d be trapped, but some people couldn’t just carry spellbooks around with them. Specifically, Priscia and Julie. These mostly had backup spells and the spatial magic for the library, but they would do for the moment. “Okay, we might as well get started.” He took another deep breath, in then out. “We already did the drift calculations. We just have to find the points on the map here and start stabilizing everything.” Errold hoped those points were still in a relative position that they would be useful for keeping the library together. “This might take a while…”
Fifth- Harry Ellis- reached into his bag. Errold could tell he’d enchanted it with spatial magic. “Here,” he started pulling out dried meats, bread, and other things from the kitchen. “I took these from the kitchens so we wouldn’t have to go to market… and because I had to pay so many schooling fees for very little and I didn’t get to order meals from the kitchens.” He shook his head, “No drinks, though. We might have to conjure some water.”
Errold thought he’d only gotten the snacks from earlier, but he was quite wrong. Now, it was possible that without his delay they wouldn’t have needed to run in here… but it was better not to think about what could have been at the moment. “Thanks,” Errold took a small loaf and stuffed it in his pocket. “Okay. I saw a few of the points on the way, and there’s also this one. Fourth- no, can I just call you Julie now? We’re far beyond keeping ourselves safe with code names.”
“Fine,” she nodded. “We might need to reintroduce everyone later.”
“A fine idea. Regardless, you should start here. Just-” Errold ducked meaninglessly as the ceiling distorted down towards him. It probably wasn’t technically any close, but it gave him a fright. “Just see if you can start reconnecting to the ley lines. You’ll need…” Errold started separating a portion of the materials, “All of this, probably.”
“My section is just over there,” Simon said. “I can just take my book and go.”
“Right. I spotted a couple more,” Errold said. “I’ll try to bring people to places, but we should stay close to someone else in case we’re discovered. I’m beginning to get a picture of how this place is… twisting. But if nothing else we can stumble about blindly as a group.”
As they moved through the Endless Library, corners were distorted or worse missing entirely. Some doorways were so distorted it wasn’t possible to tell what was behind them, and some simply didn’t go anywhere.
Beyond one area, a swirling mass of magic rushed towards them. A ‘ghost’, as they were called. Errold and Kevin both used dispelling magic at the same time, each of their spells twisting and tearing at the unrestrained magic until it turned into nothing. Harry stepped forward and found himself suddenly entangled in a web. There weren’t normally any of the large spiders in the more used sections, but it was honestly difficult to tell which sections were what. As Errold looked above Harry’s head to see a spider the size of his head crawling down the web, his brain failed to register any magic that would help. Perhaps he had something memorized, but he couldn’t think what. The portly man just got himself more tangled up as he saw the spider above himself.
Priscia was the one to act. With some precise intonation and just a few words, she launched a small bolt of fire at the spider. She repeated nearly the same thing again afterwards. It merely scorched the spider, but it fled back towards the ceiling. Priscia shook her head, “I wanted those to be stronger, but I focused too much on getting out words.”
“That’s alright,” Harry said. “I didn’t get a single word out.” Once he calmed down, it was simple enough to extricate himself by snapping strands one at a time instead of twisting around. They were tough, but not that tough. It was merely the whole web at once that could restrain a person. “I hope we don’t run into any more of the creatures that live here.”
“Agreed,” Priscia said. “I know they mostly can grow that large because of magic… but it’s quite disturbing to think about what they must feed on here.”
After passing through another two rooms, Errold breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m not sure if we got lucky, but that’s two adjacent places. Priscia and Harry can work on these two. We might just have Kevin and Maynard remain together at the next point we find. After that, I’m going to be going around trying to keep the library stable. I would like to put it back to the configuration I remember… but it might be to our advantage to keep it a bit jumbled up. We don’t want any screaming librarians running after us. And finding our way back to each other like this might be… good enough.”
They really hoped that the wizards up above had given up the chase… but it seemed extremely unlikely. But they couldn’t just sit around and hope the library fixed itself. Then they would die for sure… whereas the wizards just might kill them. How did things even get to the point they were at? It was depressing to think about. But maybe… they could make things a bit better.