It wasn’t hard to sense something coming from afar. That was the thing about being made of magic, it was basically impossible to hide from those who could sense it. Then again, Douglas doubted they even considered trying to hide… or considered anything. Ghosts didn’t have that sort of complex thought left.
As the ghost approached, waves of emotion swept over Douglas- but it wasn’t his emotion, so he didn’t care. He stretched out his hand, magic flowing through him- and out of him. His spell was aimed right at the center of the ghost. To a non-magical observer, it would look like his spell didn’t have any form or substance. There was only a series of runes that darted through the air in sequence. However they quickly reached the chest of the ghost, and that was where their functionality became obvious. They spiraled into the torso of the vague shape that was floating towards Douglas, taking on various shapes. At the same time, the ghost howled- without lungs, its form made purely out of magic created sound anyway.
The runes from Douglas’ magic took various forms- a circle, a star, a sphere, a cube… but only for the briefest moments. As they did, the ghost shook… and then the magic burst apart. Douglas threw up an arm in front of his face… though his shields would likely have stopped all the force anyway. Even so, he was thrown backwards- he hadn’t expected such a violent reaction, and hadn’t braced himself. He hit his head on the wall behind him… but fortunately his shields had padding zones to keep him from hurting himself so much on impacts. That was a trick from Librarian Reed.
Douglas stood up and brushed himself off. He couldn’t sense any more concentrated magic- only the normal lingering background magic all throughout the area. He realized his light spell had been destabilized and extinguished by the magical explosion, so he cast another one. That meant he had to head back a bit earlier than planned… but then again, he hadn’t exactly planned to dispel a ghost either. That was a bit harder than dealing with a magical formation.
“I fought a ghost,” Douglas reported to Librarian Reed once he returned to the top level of the library.
“Really?” Librarian Reed looked over Douglas. “How was it?”
“Short.” Douglas held up his slate with that single word on it. Then he clarified. “The fight was short.”
“That’s as it should be…” Librarian Reed nodded, “No sense drawing things out. You look to have come out just fine. It’s hard to believe you’re the same kid who panicked after fighting a giant spider for the first time last week…”
Douglas’ eye twitched. His hands moved to try to explain himself, but while Librarian Reed had learned some of Douglas’ sign language, they mostly communicated through text. Besides, Douglas hadn’t even made up signs for everything he needed. Finally he came up with something to write. “That is different. Ghosts are just magic. Magic is easy to deal with.” Douglas looked into his bag where there was a small metal spike. Though he’d cleaned it many times, it still felt like it had spider ichor on it from when it went into the eye of the spider. Pulling it out had been pretty tough, too.
“Just magic…” Librarian Reed shook his head. “Well, everyone has their specialties. Find anything interesting?”
Douglas shook his head. He’d only found some boring historical books and a few about necromancy. He knew all of the stories of those who dabbled in necromancy ended poorly, and Douglas liked to think he wasn’t stupid. He’d managed to spend some time learning about anatomy and how people worked- in depth enough to maybe do magical healing. Unfortunately except for surface wounds, healing magic was extremely difficult. Douglas didn’t exactly have a way to practice either. He wasn’t crazy enough to intentionally hurt himself- or anyone else. Going to help the healers in the city- who did things without magic- was also out of the question, because even if the people he healed didn’t figure it out, the healers would know he did magic. Since he couldn’t talk, he would find it harder to get a position studying non-magical healing under them normally anyway. Not that it mattered, he had books and that was good enough. Assuming the books were right, anyway.
“Is that you, Douglas?” Margaret turned as the door opened, then smiled as she saw the young man. “There’s no work today. You helped finish up everything yesterday, and I took care of what came in today.”
Douglas nodded. The middle of the week didn’t bring in many customers. Most people brought in something to be fixed over the weekend or at the start of the week. Margaret’s shop would still be open for another hour or two, so he sat down at the assistant’s desk- which was just a small table and chair that didn’t match it. Tools were hung up on the wall nearby, to be brought down as needed.
“Would you like some tea?” Douglas nodded, and Margaret set about boiling some water in the nearby hearth. It kept the shop warm, so it was lit as much as possible, especially during the colder months. Wood was cheap for individual bits… but for a whole winter it was expensive. Douglas brought a bundle whenever he could. “Have I ever told you about my sister and her kids? It was fun to see them running around…” Douglas had indeed been told about them, many times, but he sat and smiled, listening to Margaret talk. The fact that she provided some cookies made it a very pleasant time, even with the repeated story.
No more customers came, and after they closed up the shop Douglas started back toward his apartment. He shivered. It was cold outside. For a moment, he thought that was the reason… but as he thought about it he felt like he was being watched. He wasn’t sure if that was something he could actually sense, but it would be fairly easy to figure out. There were some people out and about at this time, but not many. Nobody in front of him was paying him much attention, so if there was someone watching they were likely following him. Douglas wondered if he should have come up with a spell to look over his shoulder. That sounded very useful, actually. He made a mental note about that. However, since he didn’t have it, he made an effort to look like he was straining to see a sign he walked past as his head turned far enough he could look behind him. He saw maybe two suspicious people… but then one of them moved into their shop. That didn’t mean the other wasn’t really waiting for someone in a random spot on the street, but they didn’t look like they should be standing where they were. But maybe Douglas was just paranoid. Even so, he kept looking around for guards… but of course they were never around when he wanted to find them. He didn’t head directly back to his apartment, but instead took a different path to try to determine if he was really being watched. He wished he could use magic to throw them off of his trail… but that would give away more than he wanted known. The same man remained at a distance, and if he didn’t already know Douglas had found him out, he would soon. That meant Douglas needed to figure out what he was going to do about him.