As months passed, Douglas noticed fewer and fewer dresses and other clothing was sent to him for repair. It was likely that what he had repaired had been kept around because it was a waste to throw it out even if normal methods wouldn’t be up to standards. Douglas didn’t know that much about nobles except that they liked fancy clothing and good food and things like that. The villagers of pendle had been fine with patches or bad stitching in their clothing but nobles certainly wouldn’t accept that. Given that they would pay actual golds to have their clothing restored they must have cost much more than that. Even they couldn’t afford to just throw them away… even if they refused to wear the same dress to a ball twice. They could resell them to someone less important… merchants maybe?
Douglas was quick at picking up Vospian, and he could say he was proficient, though not fluent. It had some similar roots to Bryrian so it wasn’t that hard to learn. It still wasn’t as hard as magic, and he’d been learning magic for half his life. There were still some words he didn’t know… but that was what his dictionary was for. It had been quite expensive… but he was also paid generously for his work, so he still had enough money to stay at decent inns for months while traveling. Now all he had to do was continue on his journey.
First, though, he had to speak with the countess. They had a deal that he would stay to work for her while learning Vospian, and she had paid for the lessons. She was particular about certain details… and she might not take to kindly to him just sneaking off. He was allowed to do what he wanted, but the polite thing to do was to meet with her. If she actually had problems with him leaving… well, he had some ideas for that. Maybe he was just being paranoid but it had become more difficult to trust people after having to flee his hometown.
He went over one of his newly constructed spells in his head. He thought it worked, but if he asked anyone to let him know it would be quite troublesome whether it did or not. That was how secrets worked, after all. He knocked on the countess’ office door.
“Yes? Come in.”
Douglas stepped into the countess’ office. He had only been there a few times in several months… though he did recognize one of the chairs because it had been brought to him for repair. He wasn’t sure how a leather chair had gotten such a large scar in the fabric sitting in her office, but he wasn’t going to complain with how much he was paid. He wrote on his slate, using some of the new chalk he had bought. “I have finished learning Vospian, and wish to continue my travels,” his slate said- and to prove his point, it was in Vospian.
“Is that so?” Countess Irieby nodded. She also spoke in Vospian. “Very well, from today onward you are released from my service. It was good to have you.” She slipped a paper onto the desk. “You’ll need this. It’s a border pass.”
Douglas bowed. He was glad she had thought of that… because he hadn’t even considered it. His whole stay had been easier than he had thought it would be… but then again, everything had been strangely easy here. Who took in a random barely-teenager and paid them large amounts of money? Sure, she had evidence he could do what he said at least once… and he suspected that if he hadn’t performed as he said he would have been in big trouble for damaging her dress. Then again, a few golds probably wasn’t a significant risk for Countess Irieby anyway.
A few hours later, Douglas was well outside of the city. He was learning a few things. First, he hadn’t been walking enough for the past few months… and also that new shoes helped significantly anyway. Though he was getting tired… it wasn’t so bad with a full belly and warm clothes. Not that he wore anything fancy- a nice set of clothes would cut at least a month off of the time he could spend traveling and while he only needed a few more weeks… he didn’t want to be a target. He preferred to look more inconspicuous… as much as a young man travelling alone could.
He couldn’t help but keep glancing over his shoulder, expecting something to be wrong… but he continued along the road towards Vospia. While he could make up his own spells… studying in a real magical library would make it takes many times less and give him ideas he wouldn’t think of on his own. Since he couldn’t study magic with his family… ever again… he still wanted to do it on his own.
As he walked he also couldn’t help but worry about Scoubar. From the news he had heard they had just finished conquering Dalgare and hadn’t gone much further into Bryria. They weren’t technically at war with Bryria yet… which bothered him. It felt like they weren’t taking the threat seriously… and if Scoubar didn’t press them, they probably wouldn’t care about Douglas’ family and any other wizards that had been killed or captured by Scoubar. They hadn’t even started a draft yet. Douglas wasn’t sure how he felt about other people dying to protect him… but he preferred that idea to other people just turning him over to get killed. At least in Vospia he would be part of a community of wizards who could rely on each other.
First, though, he had to get there… and that meant weeks of travel. At least he would be faster when he didn’t have to stop at every town and city to work and scrounge up what food he could get. He hated how much difference money made… and how willing people were to take advantage of him at his lowest point. That was why he kept thinking about Countess Irieby. Could she just have been a helpful soul? It sure didn’t seem like that was possible. Maybe she was making a profit off of his work… but it wouldn’t have been that much since she was also providing food and a place to stay. There had to have been something else but he couldn’t think of what it would be.