It was common knowledge among wizards that magic required the use of words, power, and the image of the spell. This was not incorrect, but it was slightly misleading. Mana- the power- was absolutely necessary. The other two were simply necessary for anything significant to happen. With just the words, magic might hold on for a moment but immediately lose its form. A slight exception to this was any sort of ward or magical formation that didn’t require active control from a wizard. In that case, sufficiently complex wording could create a form and maintain it for a specified period of time, if the power available was sufficient.
Words that weren’t quite written or spoken correctly or a fuzzy image would often result in nothing at all happening, or occasionally something like a ghost if the power was sufficient. Given those parameters, randomly doing magic without intending to do so was extremely unlikely. Sorcerers were an exception, because they automatically knew and could speak certain words of magic, so any impetus to output power and a vaguely matching idea would result in magic as they automatically spoke.
But there were always exceptions. Wizards didn’t only know they had the capability if they attempted to use magic, though that was the easiest method to test. Sometimes circumstances were just right. Scratches on a wall shaped just right to match a magical rune or someone stuttered and spoke something akin to a word of magic plus a reason to outpour energy and try to make something happen. This could be from mundane frustration with a craft to encountering danger. In most cases, very little happened. A flash or a spark. Wizards who had not practiced had very little mana, and spells that weren’t precisely laid out were extremely inefficient with their usage of power. But when things mysteriously set on fire, people often suspected magic. In the case of the words being part of an object, as with scrolls the word burned out of whatever it was a part of. If it was not too flammable, that meant it left a perfect afterimage which might spark the thoughts of a potential wizard into trying to use magic more.
The most reliable way of finding a potential wizard was to just look for children with parents that practiced magic. Unfortunately, that one didn’t really help much for the New Vospian Librarians. Listening for rumors about someone maybe potentially having done magic once was better. Errold had found Simon and Maynard that way. Now they were looking for more. It was something that took time, but they didn’t have much.
How long would it take Scoubar to find their way to the entrance to the Vospian Library and prepare an invasion of some sort? A week? A month? They could have any number of soldiers ready, just a couple hours from the pouring out into the Library and then Kheles even if they were still in whatever country the entrance was in.
They couldn’t afford to spend too much time, but they also didn’t want to leave people to what Scoubar would do to them. To that end, they were also willing to risk themselves so that Vospia wouldn’t be completely blindsided.
It wasn’t strange for correspondence to arrive at the personal residence of one of the Librarians. No, not strange at all. What was strange was for it to arrive at odd hours with apparently nobody having delivered it, and an unmarked letter. Gabriel didn’t touch it, instead performing a number of diagnostic spells. All he determined was that it had been exposed to magic before it arrived, and was not currently still emanating any sort of power. In a few moments he had it open on his desk.
There were two parts to it on the paper. One was an extremely short written letter. “Scoubar has come closer to the Vospian Endless Library after the shift.” That was all it said. Then there was a ‘map’. It had several clear markings such as ‘Vospian entrance to Endless Library’ and ‘Scoubarran entrance’. The first was precisely labeled, the second had a border drawn around an area and some question marks. The rest of the ‘map’ was a series of boxes filled with various markings seeming to note whether a room was empty or the arrangement of shelves or other objects. The map started at the Vospian entrance and had a clear path to the Scoubarran entrance, with only adjacent rooms being marked and no further. Practical.
They didn’t call it ‘the shift’, but he knew exactly what the sender meant. In fact, it was probably a more accurate name. Nobody fully understood what had happened, but it seemed the sender of the letter knew more. Gabriel took his letter knife and sliced off the top of the letter, leaving just the map. Then he threw the text into the fireplace. People had guessed that the thieves could still be in Kheles, but there was no point in providing proof. Gabriel hadn’t witnessed the incident, but secretly he found it hilarious. A trio of apprentices, the daughters of some important wizards, and a couple random extras had robbed the vault on the main campus while they were in lockdown. Sure, they were looking for outside threats, but it was still funny.
That sort of thing couldn’t have happened with Oswald and Reed present. Nothing critical was lost, but it was quite embarrassing for the Library. Only a few people actually knew what happened. A couple guards were knocked out and tied up, and more people saw the group running. The fiances of the girls had half an idea of what had happened, but they were half responsible. Gabriel didn’t mind the girls being at the library or actually learning magic, but their families were quite upset at the results.
The whole thing reminded him of Reed and his apprentice. That kid had skulked around in the library almost unnoticably. In fact, he might have actually been unnoticable at some point. Reed wasn’t willing to confirm the full extent of his student’s abilities. Then he disappeared, followed by Reed a while later.
Then some other people disappeared in Bryria. The Hunnisets and Oswald had a vendetta against them, then there was that stupid war. A counter attack followed and now Jacob and Oswald were injured. Gabriel almost wished they were dead, but he couldn’t doubt Oswald’s competence and it seemed like they might be needed now. He often considered leaving Vospia, but it was his home. He couldn’t just leave. Especially not now. They had some ideas of an enemy presence, but no proof of them being Scoubarran. He needed to go see the path for himself. Carefully. Very carefully.
Cobblers were basically ignored, unless someone needed to get some shoes. Even then, they weren’t particularly concerned about what they said in their presence. A cobbler’s shop wasn’t a prime source of gossip, but Maynard heard a few things there and at the tavern after work. Rumors of magic. Normally it would require a cautious approach, but they had to hightail it out of Kheles as soon as they could. Besides, they couldn’t just leave two mages to the Scoubarrans. Especially not women.
Finding them wasn’t hard. They were literally calling out to people. “Joffin’s Music!” one of them said. “Best instruments in Kheles, for the best price! Learn to play!”
“Woo any woman with beautiful songs!” said the other. Both looked much the same. Tall, long brown hair and eyes with swarthy skin to match. Attractive enough to be good at their jobs of bringing people into the store. In fact, as one strummed notes on a harp, he almost found himself wanting to go inside and buy something. He truly might have, if it hadn’t been magically suggested.
At least he didn’t have to guess. And knowing that magic had happened helped clear his mind of the suggestive thoughts. He’d almost thought the talk of the women being ‘magical’ was just drunk idiots, but it had been worthwhile to check it out. He stepped forward to speak with them. “A fine song. I can learn to play like that?”
The one on the harp smiled. “Of course. Joffin’s Music has fine quality instruments and talented musicians who you can hire to teach you.”
Maynard smiles lightly. Doubtless it was more or less true, and would cost a pretty penny. Even if they only purchased a ‘cheaper’ instrument and a few lessons, the shop would make a high profit. And they clearly did, by the glass windows out front. “Fascinating.” He looked around, seeing nobody too close. “But I’m quite busy learning magic at the moment, so I have no time.” Maynard was a cobbler, not some sort of person who used fancy words. And they didn’t really have much time.
“Excuse me?” one of the girls tilted her head. “You don’t look like one of the wizards. Or an apprentice.”
“Wouldn’t expect so,” Maynard said. “Don’t learn much at the Library, unless you’re from the right family.” What wouldn’t be too obvious to others, but clearly magic to them? If he had his choice, Maynard would create a swirl of wind around them. Unfortunately, there was no reason to have such a spell, let alone have it memorized at all times. He went with an easy classic. Blocking potential views with his body, he spoke a few words of magic and levitated a coin above his palm. “We can teach you to do more than just that trick of yours,” he looked right at the one with the harp. He couldn’t be sure that both of these twins could do magic, but they both reacted favorably. It wasn’t just their looks of interest at the floating coin, but he thought they probably could feel the magic itself. “I’m Maynard. Just a simple cobbler. You can find me a few streets over, if you want to talk.” He gave them easy instructions- and it was good for business that his store was easy to find. “I also know some other ladies with similar potential, if you want to speak to them instead of an old man.” Maynard wasn’t that old, but he wasn’t young either. “You two are?” he’d heard their names from others, but he’d like them to say it themselves.
“Rina and Mattea,” said the first one, who wasn’t carrying a harp. “We might perhaps be interested in a visit at a later time. But if you aren’t going to go in…” she sort of waved him on. Then she called out to a passerby. “You there! Young man! We sell just the right instrument for you to grip with those fine hands. Just come into Joffin’s Music!”
Maynard made his way off. Hopefully they wouldn’t do anything stupid like talking to the library, but if necessary he could just abandon his store and run. It was worth the risk. It would be a shame for them to be around when Scoubar invaded, and they wouldn’t get much of anywhere with their current profession, reasonable as they were.