“… though I shall not discuss the entirety of the proceedings that will be going on,” Librarian Reed explained to Douglas, “Zachary and Jacob Hunnisett will not be immediate concerns. I will work to have them banned from approaching the area, which will save you some trouble later. However, I cannot say the problem is completely resolved.” Douglas couldn’t reply immediately, so he just nodded as Librarian Reed continued to explain. “Since they already attempted petty revenge on you, they may yet try again. Jacob is at least deserving of the qualifications of being a full wizard and not an apprentice… so if he gets involved it will be difficult for you. I will do my best to protect you, but we cannot be together at all times. While I could certainly seek revenge if something were to happen to you, that wouldn’t do you much good, would it? You’ll need to be able to defend yourself.”
Douglas nodded, and since Librarian Reed had actually stopped to let him reply, he wrote his answer, “I imagine my defenses are not sufficient yet.”
“There is one thing to know about personal defenses. They are never sufficient.” Librarian Reed folded his hands in front of him on the desk. “If you declare they are good enough, you are also declaring that you have reached the end of your interest in staying alive.” He shook his head, “I know, it doesn’t seem that most of the wizards you have seen would have shields much better than you. However, you haven’t seen that many, have you? Not when you could tell. There are a handful who are quite strong… and of course there are the other Librarians.”
Douglas nodded. The wizards who went down to the lower levels of the library were quite a bit different from the rest. He called them Librarians? But he was a Librarian… Douglas didn’t really feel anything particularly powerful about him. Then again, he hadn’t been able to feel the extent of the magic in the library when he’d first arrived. It had also become clear that Librarian Reed was an accomplished wizard. Douglas focused his senses and felt just the slightest bit of magic surrounding Librarian Reed. It wasn’t weak… just tightly hidden. Then Douglas’ thought went back in another direction. “If you know I went down to the lower levels…” Douglas paused to think as he decided what to write next, “What about the other librarians? I hid from them but…”
Librarian Reed smiled, “They likely noticed you. However, it is not exactly forbidden to go to the lower levels. In a way, it is a test. It finds those who have curiosity… and either the ability to defend themselves or the caution to proceed slowly.” Douglas wasn’t sure he could count as having caution- in fact it was just more curiosity that had kept him near the beginning of the lower floors, studying the new books there. “However, that brings me to another reason you should not yet return to the lower floors. Librarian Oswald has returned, and he and Jacob Hunnisett are connected. The other two, Gabriel and Raymond, are more open minded. Oswald would not approve of me taking an apprentice from outside the academy. He can’t technically stop me but he could make things rather difficult for both of us.”
Douglas thought for a few moments before writing carefully, “Am I your apprentice?”
“I’ve guided you on a few things, even if you learned most everything yourself. If you plan to stay around here, I will be teaching you more. That would make you my apprentice by any practical definition. Do you find that displeasing?”
Douglas sat for a few moments, contemplating that. He did his best to keep a frown off his face- one of thought rather than displeasure, because he really didn’t know what he felt. “I have never been an apprentice before.” That was true as well- his sister had taught him to read, but she hadn’t taught him magic. His father hadn’t directly taught him any magic, though once he knew Douglas could do magic he let him have full access to the library without complaint.
“Hmm.” Librarian Reed wasn’t sure what he meant by that. Had he learned the magic entirely from books? From what he had seen… it was possible. “Though I can’t necessarily give you spells to memorize- since you need a different method- I can guide you on how I think things should best be done. One of those things is a more complicated- but more useful- shielding spell, and of course offensive magic is necessary.”
Douglas looked at his spellbook. Using different inks he could represent spells in three dimensions, but it still wasn’t sufficient for everything. As spells got more complex, it was useful to have carvings or other three dimensional models- just cheap clay or wood, since he couldn’t afford better. However, that wasn’t quite right for anything larger or with a more complex shape. Sometimes he made do, but now he had an idea for how to put together his shield spell.
He wouldn’t be making exactly the same shield spell as Librarian Reed- in fact, he couldn’t. He didn’t know what it was, only that more potential weaknesses had been pointed out to him and it had been suggested that he have contingent counterspell of some sort in case he was attacked. That would make it a more cumbersome spell, but it could save him trouble when he was actually attacked.
Since the shape of the shield spell was his shape, he had a good idea for how to imagine it. A little statue of himself… just wouldn’t be sufficient. He couldn’t exactly make a full sized statue either- he didn’t have the room to store anything like that in his tiny little apartment. However, he could store something with his shape fairly easily. Well tailored clothes would do well enough, and would be a good representation of armor. Of course, it wasn’t anything he would actually wear… especially since it covered up his face- having holes in a shield spell would be foolish.
He didn’t use cheap fabric… but not the expensive sort either. Since he wasn’t planning to wear it, it didn’t matter if it was comfortable. Stitching runes was very difficult, especially with his right hand, but if he did it right he could change things out as necessary- sometimes with a bit of repair magic when he messed up as he cut out the stitches. He was glad he had learned from Margaret… though he was not so glad to see that she was appearing older and older. Neither of them said anything, but Douglas knew she wouldn’t live that long. He couldn’t do anything about it- healing magic was an area he had no experience in and was not a shallow discipline either. He had read about it, though, and one thing that could never be cured was old age. Many wizards had tried- usually to the results of their lives wasting away in the search of preventing just that. Sometimes, the results were much more grim. Douglas wasn’t sure if anyone had actually been successful at stealing the life force of anyone else, but he wasn’t planning to try for Margaret. Even if he was successful, she wouldn’t want it that way. Besides, Douglas didn’t have anyone he was willing to kill… even Zachary probably didn’t deserve to have his life force torn out. Not that he actually had any idea how to do that. On second examination, he would do it to the soldiers who tore his family apart if he got the chance- or more likely he would use a more efficient method of killing them.