In the morning, Douglas awoke groggily. He couldn’t say he had slept well, but then again it certainly wasn’t the worst night of sleep he’d ever had either. It took a while to process what had happened the previous night, but his staff leaning on the wall next to him told him that his memory wasn’t wrong.
It didn’t take too long to pack up his things into a traveling bundle. He only had a couple sets of clothes. Of course, he did have his spellbooks and notes to take with him. Those went into the rucksack he took with him to the library, which had special pockets to protect loose notes and was waterproof as well. Not that it would help if he fell into a river or something, but it would prevent rain or any such incidental water from harming his things. Douglas realized he still had a few books he’d borrowed from the library… but he wasn’t going to go back there. Of course, he couldn’t just leave them in the apartment either. Instead, he would take them with him. If Librarian Reed really came by Irieby, he could give them to him then.
Overall, he was slightly better equipped for travelling than he had been. He just had to buy some travel rations and he would be ready to leave Kheles. Not that he would do so without some regrets, but there was no way he could stay in the library now. Librarian Reed had been his only connection, and with him being displaced… Douglas shook his head. Librarian Reed was probably worse off. It wasn’t like he had a temporary position, but it was suddenly taken from him. It was Douglas’ fault too. He shook his head. No, it wasn’t. It was maybe partly his responsibility, but it was the fault of the Hunnisetts and that other librarian… Oswald? Plus the council and whoever else was responsible for replacing Librarian Reed. Douglas hadn’t heard much about them, but he had heard Librarian Reed once call them stupid old fogies, and he agreed.
While Douglas would have liked to go find the Hunnisett’s place and give a thrashing to Zachary and his father, his ability to safely do either of those things was nonexistent. Especially since guards might soon be looking for him for murder. Douglas didn’t feel bad for the man, who had chosen to involve himself in the situation, but he did feel bad about killing someone even so. It just didn’t seem like there was a better option… he couldn’t just knock him out and erase his memory, and crippling the man would probably be worse- and wouldn’t stop him from reporting about Margaret.
Speaking of Margaret, Douglas needed to see her before he left the city. Since he didn’t want to bet on the guards continuing to not appear, he travelled the early morning streets invisibly. If the streets were more crowded, it might actually be a problem- people could bump into him, for example.
When he got to Margaret’s shop, he unlocked the front door with his key. When he had first come to Kheles, she would have been awake already… but she had been sleeping more and more as the years passed. He didn’t want to interrupt her sleep… but he wasn’t going to leave without saying goodbye. He would also leave some money behind, since she couldn’t really work as much as she needed to.
Margaret lived upstairs of the shop, and Douglas carefully opened the door to her room, knocking as he did so. He saw her in bed, but something felt wrong. He went over to shake her shoulder, but she didn’t wake. In addition… her shoulder felt cold. Douglas went to open the window so he could see. With better light, it was obvious.
Douglas looked at her face. It almost seemed as if she was sleeping contentedly. He couldn’t help but check her for signs of harm… but while he certainly believed that the man who followed him might have eventually led Margaret to harm, he didn’t see anything. The most simple solution was the one Douglas had been expecting for some time. What killed her wasn’t a person- unless they were particularly stealthy about it- but instead age itself… or rather something that came along with that. She hadn’t seemed so bad… but she hadn’t appeared to be doing well, either.
Though Douglas might have appeared calm on the outside, it took him a while to realize he had completely lost control of his magic- including his shield spell. That didn’t even take any concentration, but the internal shock was such that Douglas’ magic had just… stopped functioning. Fortunately he wasn’t a sorcerer that could accidentally use magic. In a few more minutes, Douglas had steadied himself enough to at least feel somewhat normal. He had already expected this for some time, but he still felt it. Death always came suddenly… both with his father and with her. Douglas thought of Lucy, his only remaining family. Was she still alive? If so, he had to do something to save her… even if it meant he would probably get killed while trying. It was a somewhat stupid idea, but thinking about losing her as well was worse than the thought of dying.
The side of Douglas which was practical had a short war with the side of him that was emotional. He wanted to stay and see Margaret properly buried… but he couldn’t exactly afford to remain in Kheles any longer.
Margaret had no family nearby- her sister and her children and probably their children lived in a different city. She would have no need of any of her things anymore… but robbing a dead person, but more specifically someone he cared about… Douglas shook his head. Any money she had could be put towards her burial. However, her cloth and tailoring supplies… she wouldn’t exactly need. Douglas wasn’t aware of her having any sort of will, and he certainly couldn’t stick around to wait for it to be properly dispensed. His brain turned. Trying to imagine how someone else thought was difficult, but he knew Margaret well enough. She hadn’t ever mentioned dying- she didn’t have that sort of morbid sense of humor. However, she was the sort who couldn’t help but to care for people. Would she mind if he took a few things to help himself? He was sure if he had just asked, she would have given him anything she could afford. In the end, Douglas took a bundle of cloth as well as some needles and thread- he had some of his own, but he could keep up his appearance as a travelling tailor better with more materials.
Douglas couldn’t help but feel bad about his thoughts. He was sad that she had passed away, but relieved he wouldn’t have to leave her to take care of herself. Those trains of thought both stemmed from caring about her… but it still felt wrong to be relieved at someone’s death. Margaret probably wouldn’t blame him though. She was too kind for that. In the end, Douglas did take some materials with him. His mind had settled enough to cast another invisibility, and he left the door to her store open as he left. As he passed by one of the nearby store owners who were just beginning to open up their shop, he rapped on his door to get their attention. When he stepped out to see who it was, he noticed Margaret’s door being open. Once Douglas had confirmed the man was checking it out, Douglas felt that he could move on. The man was an honest fellow, and he would see Margaret properly taken care of.
As Douglas left the city behind, he swore to himself that the next time he went on a journey, it would be at his own choice and not because circumstances forced him to… and certainly without anyone dying. For that, he would need to be able to control his own destiny… somehow. At least now he had some mastery of magic… but it never felt like enough. Maybe it never could be enough.