Theoretically any sort of opening could be enchanted to access an extradimensional space, like a magic bag. Practically, it was easier on people’s brains to just use a bag. It was also more subtle, which was a big benefit for the New Vospian Librarians. Magic items weren’t so common in Vospia for people to be used to them, and people who weren’t rich with anything even vaguely magic? That stood out like a sore thumb.
Pulling something out of a bag was normal. Errold didn’t even know of anyone who had a magic bag in Vospia, so nobody would even suspect. Douglas had shown him how his was put together, but that couldn’t be replicated exactly. Not with the resources Errold had available, and not if he wanted to make several. They’d spent a lot of the materials they’d stolen on fortifying their defensive position in the Library.
There was a version he could make with less materials that was slightly less convenient but actually more suited to their purposes. It wouldn’t draw mana from the environment and didn’t function constantly, instead requiring a wizard to provide the mana and activate it whenever they wanted to use its extradimensional features. That made it more subtle, and nobody would know it was magical unless they saw it function that way or tore it apart at the seams to find the magical materials on the inside. At that point, they were already under far too much suspicion.
Errold already had one of his own, but since they were leaving and didn’t want to just leave all their books and notes behind in a warehouse they needed more. One for everyone, if he could. As big as he could make them, which wasn’t all that large. Maybe about the volume of a standard crate. That would require recharging weekly to maintain the extradimensional space, any more than that and someone would be spending all their efforts just to keep things stored. It might be worth it if they were really short on space, but they had measured what they needed. There should be enough room. There had to be, because they couldn’t do more.
It already took so much just for a handful of crates. Thinking about the Endless Library, Errold was awestruck. The real part of it, and not just the still remarkable part in Kheles. A truly massive expense and astounding feat of magic. Just adding a simple entrance to it that it was designed to accept was difficult. Shifting it around like the interlopers- the Scoubarrans, apparently- was a fairly crazy maneuver too. Then, if he recalled what Douglas told him correctly, cutting off a section of it from the rest… that also took an abnormal amount of talent. But none of them had created any of it. Errold wondered what the world had been like, many centuries prior. He supposed it probably didn’t have so many selfish wizards holding onto every scrap of knowledge they could.
Maynard was just finishing up a shoe when he heard a knock on the door. He strained himself, feeling for magic, and got just a little bit of something. Either it was a real mage hiding active spells, or it was those two girls who he spoke to most of a week prior. He’d been tempted to repeat his offer, but that was risky.
“Just a moment!” Maynard carefully lay his tools on his workbench. He wasn’t happy with how things had turned out, but he could adjust the final shoe with magic. Not something he wanted to do often because he might get sloppy, and it was difficult. Besides, people would get what they paid for. Good shoes at not-unreasonable prices.
He steeled himself to see a handful of soldiers and a wizard, but when he opened the door it was just the two girls. Women, appropriately, but the age gap was quite significant. “I’m glad you took me seriously. It was… Rena and Mattea, right? Would you like to come in?”
They were dressed in practical clothing. Not the showy dresses of touts calling for customers but sturdy shirts and even pants. Both of them looked to each other, and to him. “We just wanted to know if your offer is sincere.”
“It is, though I don’t know if we should speak on the streets,” he looked around but saw no other passersby. “Some people aren’t so interested in sharing.” He stepped back from the door but neither of them moved to step inside. He supposed that was an appropriate level of caution for a man who they didn’t know. He thought for a moment. They’d certainly be more comfortable with Julie and Priscia, but they might not be keen on heading into a warehouse district with an unfamiliar man. “There’s more than a few of us that don’t much take to the typical rules concerning our special talents. There’s a couple women who can tell you more about that. Maybe you’d like to meet them at The Quill tomorrow evening?” The Quill was a tavern not too far from the warehouse district, but still in a respectable part of town. Maynard didn’t want Julie or Priscia going around too much with people looking for them.
The two women relaxed slightly and once again exchanged looks. One of them- possibly Rena?- nodded her head. “Tomorrow evening, then. Will you be there?”
“Could be, at least to introduce you. Doubt there will be many twins to mistake.” He probably wouldn’t stay. Four young women might be noticed but could reasonably be a group of friends- four young women and a middle aged man was much more likely to stand out in the long term.
“We’ll be there,” the other one said. Mattea, if he guessed right.
“Then I’ll not keep you standing around. Good night,” Maynard inclined his head and slowly closed the door.
He took a look at that shoe. Worse than he’d remembered. He wondered if the two of them would feel a bit of magic. Nobody else had been outside, so it should be fine.
There were still bounty posters up around Kheles. The descriptions of the apprentices and the two girls were quite good, but the others were hardly accurate. There must have been a few thousand people who matched the vague description that should have been Maynard, and they didn’t have a name. Even so, him being with Julie and Priscia would be quite obvious, if they looked like themselves. Instead, they had much more plain faces. Maynard wouldn’t have recognized them if he hadn’t walked with them. That was the whole point. There shouldn’t be any wizards around The Quill who might notice them, but they did their best to minimize the feel of their spells just in case.
Lately Maynard had been working well after dark. He’d been propping up the others with his actual job. He was planning to keep it up a bit longer before selling his shop and home. Couldn’t bring them with him. He felt a bit emotional about leaving his longtime home, but he’d much rather miss the place than miss being alive. Or having a tongue, perhaps. He didn’t think about it much in his day to day, but whenever he thought about what Scoubar would do, he found he was quite attached.
He quit work before dusk just to make sure the twins wouldn’t wait too long. He doubted their work would last past dark, and if they weren’t quick he didn’t mind nursing a couple extra beers. There wasn’t a lot of relaxing happening with the New Vospian Librarians these days.
The twins showed up not too long after, scanning the sparsely populated tavern. Maynard caught their eye and they made their way over. Both of their eyes lingered on the two girls. Maybe they could sense the magic? It could also just curiosity at other wizards.
They sat at the table. “Maynard,” both spoke together and inclined their heads. “Good evening.”
“A good evening to both of you. These two are…” Maynard wasn’t going to be the one to give their names. That was up to them.
The twins looked at each other, then nodded. “We’ve… heard of you.”
The second sister continued their thoughts, “It came up when we were learning about-”
“This,” the other gestured to the pair of them, in general. “What we can do.”
Priscia nodded. “How did you start learning?”
“It just sort of-”
“We tried to practice but-”
“There are only certain things we can do.”
The three members of the New Vospian Librarians took their turn to exchange glances. Priscia continued as the spokesperson. “Then you might be sorceresses. Gifted with natural magic.”
“That’s good, right?”
“Well,” Priscia shrugged, “It complicates things. But we still need to talk.”
“On that note,” Maynard finished the last of his beer and stood, “I should be off. These two know at least as much as me about everything.” While that was sort of a sad admission that most of their group was new to magic, he felt everyone had learned quite a bit. There were so many books available, they’d just had to find them. Some of them had come off the shelves of the upper library, before the heist. Those were generally the ones in the best condition, and the easiest to find.
Maynard hoped the twins would join their little group… but if not, they still had to get them out of the city. Couldn’t just leave people behind when they knew Scoubar was coming.