Lucy managed to sell her paper, as while very few people did much writing everyone needed some paper. The population of fey might have been small, but it wasn’t so small that everyone could keep track of what was owed to who without writing it down. Lucy wasn’t sure what the people of Othius knew of the fey living within their forests- except that they mostly stayed away. That was the result of many generations of the fey using magic to keep people away from the parts of the forests where they lived. Even so, they couldn’t entirely avoid humans, both because they needed them and none of their defenses were perfect. Lucy wasn’t even the only human living among the fey, though she was the only wizard she knew of. The rest were usually married to one person or another- fey didn’t have much luck having children among their own kind. While their chances were slightly better than human wizards, death was still rather likely. Lucy supposed the same was true of normal humans, but that was without good medical practices. Having a midwife around helped significantly, but there wasn’t much they could do about the magic related deaths. Perhaps someone could figure out how to separate intertwined souls, but it wasn’t easy to get practice. From what Lucy had heard, the fey that had tried ended up causing more deaths than even they would have normally expected.
On her way back from the market, Lucy stopped by the home of Scrubgrass, Thicket’s brother. He’d been named that because of the patchy hair he was born with… and it was a name that was hard to live down. Especially not now that he was starting to bald. He tried to go by just “Grass” but people rarely got to choose their own names. Scrubgrass lived in a home he had built himself, a home which was small… but not by gnome standards. The house resembled a hill covered in grass- in fact, it had been built on flat ground and then Scrubgrass had used magic to cover the frame in dirt. It kept things cool during the summer and warm during the winter… and fey loved homes that fit into the natural surroundings, even if they really weren’t natural at all.
The house was actually tall enough to accommodate a human… which made sense, because that was why it had been built. Not that Lucy found it especially roomy, but it was already twice the size Scrubgrass would have needed for himself. Just in front of the house Lucy saw Petra, Scrubgrass’ wife, as well as one of the cutest sights in the world- their daughter.
Children of fey and humans overwhelmingly took on the traits of the fey- if that weren’t the case, they would have likely died out. Because of that, Sandy was the tiniest little thing that could be imagined- babies were already small, but she was about half scale… putting her at just a little bit over twenty centimeters. With her legs curled, she almost fit entirely in the palm of Petra’s hand. Lucy smiled and waved, “Hello.” Othian shared similar roots to Bryrian and Dalgarian, so they could share simple conversations. Lucy wanted to do that as much as possible… before she left. While she loved Briarspring and the people in it, she didn’t want to stay forever. There was more to the world she wanted to see… and problems she couldn’t hide from.
Douglas sighed as he looked ahead of him. It was those three again. They seemed to take joy in causing him trouble. He wasn’t sure exactly why. Maybe it was because he couldn’t speak- that certainly seemed like a sign of weakness. Truthfully, that was probably it, but they seemed like the type to find other excuses. They caused a lot of trouble for some of the other younger apprentices- now that they weren’t on the bottom rung- though they of course avoided those whose families were more important. That said, they usually didn’t go further than hurtful words or pushing people over, things they could write off as an accident or just talking. Not that they didn’t really push the limit with Douglas. Unfortunately, they’d found out that nobody cared about Douglas- Librarian Reed being the exception. Thus, as long as they were away from the public eye, they got away with quite a bit- tripping Douglas and punching him in the gut, for example. Once, they’d even tried to push over his ladder… but they weren’t so easily moved with someone on them.
He could go around. Douglas knew the ins and outs of the library. However, they were clearly waiting for him. There was no other reason for them to be standing around in the history section… especially not the particular subsection they were in. Douglas touched his bruised shoulder… that was a good reason to go around them, but instead it made him think of something different. He checked his bag, and then he checked his memorized spells. Hmm, nothing. He would have to improvise then. They hadn’t seen him coming yet, so he ducked behind a shelf and came up with a spell. It was a simple one, the most important thing being the amount of power he put into it. It would likely be highly inefficient, but he didn’t care.
Then Douglas stepped out, walking with his head down like he wasn’t particularly paying attention. As he passed by Harvey- he was pretty sure the one with the big nose was Harvey- he half-dodged the elbow coming for him. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to entirely dodge it, but just that he wasn’t exactly light on his feet while carrying a bag of books and with little room to dodge between the people and shelves. He fell back into a shelf- gracefully enough that he would only be slightly bruised. “Oops, sorry!” Harvey said, not looking or acting sorry at all. “Let me help you up.” At this point Harvey reached out his hand, and he would of course pull Douglas into the other shelves across the way, possibly shoved along with his friends. Instead, Douglas held up one of his hands in a gesture of covering his face… and his other hand behind his head. A moment of concentration and… chaos happened.
As the fire left his fingertips, Douglas realized just how hot magical fire was as the flames just brushed his face. That was not so bad, compared to his hair… which also caught on fire. However, that was all expected more or less. What he didn’t expect were sudden lights and a loud booming. Then there were wailing sounds and the sound of a loud trumpet, echoing through the shelves and inside Douglas’ head.
“What did you do?” Douglas heard one of the apprentice wizards- the bossy leader, Zachary- shouting.
“I didn’t do anything!” was Harvey’s response.
“Let’s get out of here!” shouted the third and most practical one.
Douglas was still getting the fire out of his hair, patting wildly and frantically. It was so hot… and he’d only used a little bit of magic to get it going. He heard shouting- the deeper voice of Librarian Reed- and then soon enough the man himself came into view. He spoke loudly, his voice barely heard over the ruckus. “What happened here? Fire in the library?” Librarian Reed looked at Douglas. “Are you alright?” he looked over Douglas, helping him to his feet, then he check the book in Douglas’ hand, “Terrible. They’re in for it this time.” Douglas was at least happy that Librarian Reed checked him before the book. “No more fire… good.” Librarian Reed waved his hand and spoke some magic- a few simple phrases. The sounds died down. “Come out to the front and we’ll get you some ointments.” He half-dragged Douglas to the front- not that Douglas couldn’t walk, but he was still wincing at the burns on his head. As they reached the front, one of the real wizards- Douglas thought he was Zachary’s uncle if he remembered correctly- stomped through the front doors of the library. “The ointments are in the top left drawer of my desk,” Librarian Reed patted Douglas on his shoulder, “You take care of that as you can, I’ll handle this.” Douglas scurried off… but kept his ear open past the door to Librarian Reed’s office.