Though he had enough money to travel without worries, Douglas still kept up his persona as a wandering tailor. It made his travels less suspicious, and though he didn’t necessarily think anyone would be following him out of Kheles, it was better if he didn’t cause much stir. Besides, he could always use more money- paper and ink were expensive. At least in Kheles there had been a good supply which somewhat lowered the cost. Douglas couldn’t guarantee he would make any significant amount of money in Irieby, for various reasons.
Having learned his lessons about subtlety with magic, Douglas saved his magic for particularly hard, little fiddly bits. Sure, a skilled tailor might notice that a hole was completely gone instead of stitched up, but they likely wouldn’t notice if a bit of cloth torn out was replaced and then stitched up properly. Lots of rips and tears had missing material that made it harder to fix them without a patch… though patches were fine for some work.
In addition, Douglas was wary of people not paying him properly. While his ability to understand people had improved somewhat, a few minutes of interaction wasn’t going to give him any certainty about those he met. Thus, he prepared another spell that just so happened to do the opposite of repairing. He would cast it on every work he finished, and if he didn’t get paid he would just walk away disappointed… and activate the spell to slowly unravel the area and be worse than before he’d done anything. By the time anyone could complain he would be long gone. Of course, so far he hadn’t had that problem- though perhaps that was because he had decided to not work for a few of those he met along the way. Of course, if he was properly paid he released the spell before he walked out, though if he didn’t activate it the spell should fade on its own.
Being on the road gave Douglas time to think. The annoying kind of thinking, not figuring out a puzzle or putting together a magic spell but instead thinking about life. He was confident enough with his ability to pick up skills that he would always be able to do something to feed and take care of himself. In most ways, he didn’t care much about having more than basic subsistence. However, that was ignoring magic. As he was, he was overqualified to be a hedge wizard, settling down in a small town and making a living that way. Like his father… except his father hadn’t been satisfied with just staying the same. To be honest, they’d had a rather impressive collection of books to study and Douglas knew that money couldn’t have come from just repairing tools. His mother had also contributed in some way before Douglas was born… but obviously he never really met her. Regardless, Douglas wasn’t content with even a life like that- especially not after seeing the Endless Library, there was no way to be satisfied with much less. That said, the Endless Library was not somewhere he could go for the moment… so perhaps he would need to find somewhere else. However, Douglas also felt he couldn’t stay locked up in a library forever… no matter how much he might have enjoyed it.
The war between Bryria and Scoubar continued. He didn’t have the confidence to fight on the frontlines… nor the suicidal thoughts. However, there had to be some way to contribute. He just needed to find that way. Hopefully the Countess was as he thought she was- clever and willing to use someone skilled without trying to use them up. However, if he was wrong… he had a number of spells he would memorize before going to see her. He knew much more now than a repair spell, a light spell, and the way to make pathetic spurts of fire from his hands.
Countess Irieby sat in her office looking at various papers. She’d had to raise soldiers to contribute to the war, and that left a shortage of manpower in other places. That meant various supplies were short, and that meant people complaining. Fortunately the county of Irieby or even Bryria wasn’t the only place experiencing trouble. If they didn’t have such long supply lines, Scoubar’s forces would have overwhelmed Bryria a long time before- like they did with Dalgare. As it was, Dalgare was only able to supply some of what was needed for the army- they had lost many workers to the war but also at least damaged the Scoubarian forces. Unfortunately Scoubar’s resources were great, and they seemed they’d have no difficulty continuing to be at war for years to come, or even another decade. They were advancing more cautiously through Bryria to reduce their losses, but lately they had been sending more princes- wizards- to the front lines.
Bryria wasn’t without their own wizards, but to say they could match Scoubar would be a lie. Vospia certainly had more wizards- the Endless Library gave them the resources to train more- but they still had fewer than Scoubar. Fortunately, in any places wizards were a precious resource- even though there were many princes of Scoubar, they weren’t just sent out to die. That was giving Bryria more time to negotiate with Vospia for some of their wizards. As long as they could make the war not worth Scoubar’s time, that would be enough… but unfortunately, it was hard to say what price they would have to pay for that. Countess Irieby was trying to make sure her domain didn’t pay too much of it.
There was a knock on the door. “Countess.”
“Come in, Gerald.”
The butler stepped into the room. “Countess, a young woman is here selling paper,” he held up a few sheets he was carrying with him.
“Paper.” The countess scratched the side of her head, “Well, paper is something we need still.” She held out her hand for the paper carried by Gerald, looking it over. “I was unaware a new paper business was in town. They do good work.”
“Ah, actually,” Gerald corrected, “I do believe she said the paper was made by herself.”
“Is that so? I can’t imagine she has that much then…” Countess Ireby waved her hand.
“She stated she had a whole ream for sale. She allowed me to pull these sheets at my will to check for quality, and it all seems quite decent.” Gerald bowed his head, “I know you would not bother to purchase just a handful of sheets, after all.”
“Is that so? The pricing-”
“-is quite reasonable. Comparable in price to the Wellington’s, but I do believe the quality is higher.”
Countess Irieby nodded. “I suppose this is a recommendation from you, then? Very well, I trust your inspection abilities. I authorize you to purchase as much as you see fit.” As Gerald turned to step out the door, Countess Irieby looked up from the documents in front of her. “Out of curiosity, what is the name of this young woman?”
“I believe it was Lucy… Lynwood, Countess.” Gerald blinked for a moment. “Ah-”
Countess Irieby stood up from her chair immediately. “I’ve changed my mind. I will go meet her in person.”