Climbing a ladder with a book in hand was a pain. Regardless of the fact that Douglas’ right hand wasn’t so good at the moment, it was just an awkward experience. There had to be a better way to do this. Maybe with a bag. Or magic, but he couldn’t exactly do that now… for one thing, he probably couldn’t lift these heavy books with magic at his current level.
The ladders were attached to rails at the top of each column of bookshelves, so at least he didn’t have to worry about it coming loose easily, but Douglas still found it somewhat unsettling to have a four meter or more fall below him.
It wasn’t immediately possible for Douglas to make out the organizational scheme of the books. He didn’t recognize any of the names of the books and could only guess at their subjects. It also wasn’t like there was a section of the library devoted to magic. If anything, the library seemed to have sections devoted to things that weren’t magic- history, mathematics, poetry- and then the rest of the vast place was filled with books on magic. Maybe. He didn’t actually have a chance to read them, but at least some of the books in each area were about magic in some way.
It actually took quite a bit of time to bring all of the books around to the right place, climb up, and put the books where they belonged. However, Douglas found every bit of it fascinating. There were so many books, he couldn’t wait until he got a chance to read them. Unless… he didn’t. Well, as long as he worked here he could find a chance, but he wasn’t sure if he officially was allowed to. He wasn’t sure if he should ask.
Finally he was on the last book. ‘Marcellin’s Musings’ was the title. Douglas flipped through it casually as he carried it to its proper place.
“I wouldn’t read that,” Librarian Hagen Reed commented as they walked. Douglas tensed up, worried he had just gotten into trouble, but Librarian Reed continued, “Marcellin Metzger is responsible for the largest collection of drivel claiming to be magical observations. It’s a shame so many copies of his work survive where other more valuable books have not.”
Douglas nodded in acknowledgement, if not necessarily agreement. Maybe he would agree later, but he would at least read it for himself to see if it had value. It did immediately become obvious that Marcellin had written widely… or at least prolifically. In addition to a half-dozen copies of ‘Marcellin’s Musings’, volumes II-VI had at least two copies each, with a single copy each of volumes VII and IX. Then there were a number of other books in the same section that bore his name on the spine- more prominently than the title. Many other books didn’t even bear their own names on the outside… which seemed like it would make it hard to find them.
“You’ll need to learn where each section is and what it contains. Come back tomorrow for that.” Douglas understood enough about people to get that he was being dismissed. He had hoped to stay around and read books… but he’d have to wait at least long enough to be unsupervised. It wouldn’t hurt to work for a while first.
The relatively short day left him with enough time to go help out Margaret. Although she’d managed to get along on her own for some time, it was hard for her. Douglas also didn’t know how much he would be paid for helping out at the library, so he needed to keep up other work. As long as he could cover half of his daily expenses from that work he could last for a long time.
Since the guards had been informed that Douglas worked at the library, he had no further trouble with them. He’d thought he might have issues when he ran into some of the wizards… but they barely even took a glance at him as long as he bowed meekly when they walked by. Sometimes they came to the library, but Hagen always dealt with them- or they went on their own to get what they wanted. Not that anyone would be asking a mute for directions anyway.
At the end of the first week, Douglas got paid. Twenty coppers… four coppers per day. That was enough to cover slightly less than half of his daily expenses for a place to stay and food… but for the difficulty of the work, it was reasonable enough. Memorizing the layout of the library wasn’t hard- though he could imagine someone getting lost in the back if they didn’t have a good memory.
Douglas liked the library. All of the books were in nearly pristine condition- courtesy of the enchantments on the shelves. They seemed to keep dust and moisture away from the books- and scrolls. There were piles of them at various points on the seemingly endless shelves. As far as Douglas knew, there wasn’t a full list of everything in the library… even Hagen didn’t know everything there was. However, he pointed the students to any of the books the requested quite easily.
The students were all rich kids. Douglas was sure just by their clothes, but their attitudes also gave them away. They also only Vospian instead of Bryrian… though Douglas detected an accent that indicated they hadn’t learned Vospian first. They did speak Bryrian when telling him to get out of the way… as if they couldn’t be bothered to take a step to the side. The space between the shelves wasn’t that narrow… but Douglas moved out of the way without complaint. They were older than him, perhaps mostly fifteen to eighteen years old… but he snuck some peeks at the books they were reading through and they weren’t particularly advanced magic. His sister would have put them to shame, and Douglas himself could probably outdo them… if given the time to put together a spell he could cast. Then again, he never saw them actually do magic. He wasn’t specifically told he could go to the practice grounds next door… and he didn’t want to anyway. While he had been wary of letting some people know he could use magic without speaking… he definitely wasn’t going to let any of the wizards or apprentices at the Endless Library find out.