After the spoonful of sugar, Librarian Reed brought out some bread and cheese for Douglas to munch on. The bread was a bit stale, but that didn’t really seem important at the moment. “How many tracking spells can you memorize today?” Librarian Reed asked Douglas.
Douglas shook his head, writing on his slate. “Not many. Five or six.”
“After you used invisibility this morning?”
Douglas paused for a few moments before writing, “I could do another two or three but I want to keep a defensive spell.”
Librarian Reed waved his hand. “Five or six should be fine. Stay here in my office. I’ll go get a few things.” Douglas munched on bread and cheese. He wasn’t that hungry, but it felt good to eat. It was only a few minutes before Librarian Reed came back with books in his arms. “I want you to put a tracking mark on each of these, just like you showed me already.”
Looking over the books, none of them seemed important. They were just basic books on magic. Douglas had been worried he might have to hide his tracking mark from experienced mages, but apparently it was just related to apprentices. He could do that. He placed one tracking mark at a time… finally stopping on the fifth. He shook his head, wiping clean the slate and then writing a new message. “I could do one more but I’d lose control of one of these. If I have to do more magic they might fade…”
Librarian Reed patted Douglas on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, these will do. You don’t need to do any more magic for now. Just wait here in the office. You can do some reading if you like, but you’ll need to stay here all day.”
Douglas wasn’t sure how him staying around doing nothing was part of any sort of plan, but he was happy to sit in the office reading. A good book could take several days, depending on its length or complexity, so with the few books he had in his bag- officially borrowed- he had plenty of material without needing to ask for more or going out to find it. He only noticed it was getting late when the light coming through the window started to fade.
Then he felt something. It was like scissors cutting through a string connected to him, and the string snapped. One at a time, his tracking spells were broken. He stood up in a panic. They needed those. He realized they had moved out of the library before that happened, and knew what direction they were- and approximately how far. He needed to tell Librarian Reed. Peeking out the door, he saw Librarian Reed sitting behind the front desk. He looked over as the door creaked open, and Douglas waved him in. “Yes, what do you need?”
Douglas hung his head. His left hand scratched out the words, “Sorry, my tracking spells got dispelled. I thought they could last against an apprentice. I can point out where they were.” Douglas had a good sense of space, so even though the tracking spells were gone now he could find their last location.
“Don’t worry, that won’t be necessary. I know where the books are. Your spells did well to last this long. Jacob Hunnisett is much older than you, after all.”
Jacob Hunnisett… that was Zachary’s uncle. Why would he have those books? Oh. Douglas nodded. Everything made sense now. He had thought Librarian Reed actually needed his help- but he was actually a decoy.
Librarian Hagen Reed felt the books moving. It was about time. He almost wished Douglas had been less skilled at his tracking marks. That way, they could have been dispelled earlier… but it wasn’t supposed to look like they were meant to be gotten rid of. That was why he hadn’t explained. Douglas’ magic was very good- Hagen didn’t think he could have done the same at Douglas’ age- but he wasn’t even yet a full adult. Decades of experience made a huge difference.
Hagen didn’t immediately go to find the books. First, he waited for them to stop at their new location for some time. Once he was sure they were firmly in place, he closed up the library. Douglas was still inside, but the young man knew how to behave himself, even when he wasn’t directly being watched… and he wouldn’t have the need to do any fire magic when he was safe in the office.
The quarters were just over with the rest of the academy, surrounded by the same walls as the library itself. Almost any serious wizards stayed there- most were nobles who came from various cities around Vospia, and thus couldn’t stay in their own homes. Even some of those from Kheles lived far enough for it to be inconvenient for them to make the trips back and forth every day.
The wards protecting the student’s quarters wouldn’t stop any authorized wizard, and as a librarian Hagen could go wherever he wanted- except into the quarters of any full wizards. However, with his current reasons he could have made an exception… but it was better to catch them in the student’s quarters anyway.
The door to Zachary’s Hunnisett’s room had modified wards- that wasn’t technically allowed, but nobody ever really got in trouble for it. Hagen stepped back and chanted a few lines. His dispel curved around to the side before neutralizing everything on the door. It wasn’t specifically prepared for that setup, but it would succeed regardless- either by removing the magic or triggering it. In this case, the angle hadn’t been important- no retaliations came, but if they had they wouldn’t have gone towards Hagen. A few more lines to open a lock that was no longer enchanted was simple. Then he threw open the door.
Zachary was sitting at his desk as the door flew open and Hagen began to speak. “Zachary Hunnisett. You have once again violated the ban on the library, and thus in accordance with the rules you will be expelled from the academy along with any conspirators.”
Zachary turned around. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He made a fairly convincing statement, but it only took a few moments for Librarian Hagen to step over to the hidden compartment, and then find a way to open it without triggering the magic on it.
Librarian Hagen pulled out one of the books in there and opened it up. “This is a library book, as the marks inside clearly indicate.”
Before Librarian Hagen could say more, a figure stepped in through the door. “LIbrarian. It is highly inappropriate for you to barge into my nephew’s room…”
“Oh shut your mouth Jacob. You violated the ban on purpose. I hereby ban you from all access to the library, and will seek your expulsion from the academy and start a formal inquiry with the council.”
“You-” Jacob Hunnisett suddenly waved his arm, chanting magic with blurring speed such that the words could barely be made out. It was clear he had practiced his particular spell to a great degree. Out from his hand came an invisible force, striking against Hagen’s defenses… off of which the dispel promptly rebounded with extra force, tearing apart his own shields and sending him crashing into the wall across the hall.
Librarian Hagen shook his head. “That saves me the trouble. Now I can just kill you.” The air shimmered around Hagen, as he took his time to chant his spell properly, and a sharp almost arrow shaped blue glow formed then stabbed towards Jacob Hunnisett… only to be blocked by a barrier from elsewhere.
Down the hallway came another older man, around Hagen’s age. “Come now, Librarian Hagen. Just because someone who attacks a librarian can be summarily executed doesn’t mean they need to be. Why don’t we bring this before the council.”
Hagen sighed. “Fine. However, before you go anywhere, Librarian Oswald, I will have you confirm the presence of additional book hidden in that compartment there- and note that I have not touched them.”
Librarian Oswald stepped into the room, looking down into the compartment. “Indeed, I see they are library books.” He shook his head, “How foolish of these two.”
Since he couldn’t do anything more at the moment, Hagen took the one book he had so far reclaimed and went off to find a member of the council. They would not like being woken in the middle of the night, but he didn’t care. As he walked down the hall, he noticed Harvey’s bandaged face peeking out from his door. Three apprenticed mages and they could barely even handle a street thug… but then again, they had only been expecting to beat up a poor mute kid. A very clever mute kid, if not always clever in ways that were to his own benefit.