So, people didn't really like the story as it was, so I decided that I should delete it from the main site and continue working on it here in the sandbox. Current plan is to make it into a much longer, more detailed journey through the characters life and time in the Library. Would love to get feedback and suggestions.
This is ending up long, I might want to split it in two somehow.
Introduction found in the autobiography of Adrien Turell, member of the Hand. He has never been a popular agent among his peers since the day he entered the library, but he has been of use to the hand.
The day I found the library may have been one if the worst of my life. The city of my birth had only one Way, which was hidden so as to only allow a member of the Hand to access it.1My magic was and to this day remains to be single minded, an inborn talent for Stormcalling. I give nary a thought to practices such as warding or protection magic, that was always more of my twin Sister's talent.
When I first heard of this he Library, I was immediately beset by the urge to go there. A vast, likely infinite source of knowledge from around this universe and many others, as well as a gathering place to many like-minded individuals appealed greatly to me. My sister, Emily, was less enticed. "Even if this library exists, I don't want to go there. Who knows what kind of people are in there!" She had said to me.
The city had been abandoned by its only mage almost thirty years before our births, leaving Emily and I to realize the extent of our talents poring over the magically preserved tomes left behind by the last wizard of the city. He had hid his small workshop under a now long abandoned factory, it's broken windows and graffitied walls doing little to distinguish it from all the others that dotted the city's skyline. It was within those books that I read about the Library, of which the he appeared to have been a regular patron. The great frustration that stemmed from this was that the wizard had failed to mention the location of the Way he used to enter, as well as what method would open it.
It was as I was combing through the many volumes of journals he had kept, filling an entire dusty bookshelf, the pages themselves pristine as the day they were written. that I triggered the magical alarm left by him, the runes binding the spell having faded so as to only trigger on half of the bookshelf. I was forced to flee the building with naught but three books before the factory collapsed in on itself, burying the knowledge of the long lost wizard. As Emily reminded me many times during her tirade that evening, she would not have been so sloppy as to let such a thing occur.
I was not about to let the issue of the Library go, despite only having three books and Emily's misgivings. Looking though the tomes I had saved, I found one single hint, in the lines of a poem.
From a square, to be fair
You’re only half way in-between
Through a Way that none can see
I know the Library waits for me
It took Emily more than a week to agree to the idea of finding the library so that she could continue her studies, but she was the one who solved the riddle. The first line referred to two prominent locations in the city, Central Square and the Fair Grounds. I still don't know why the Wizard left this poem, but for better or for worse it changed my life.
Sure enough, it was half way between them to the inch that we found the Way. It was situated on the cliff face of an old quarry, the outline of an arch carved into the limestone. The air was different in that spot, drier, less fresh, and it carried the most miniscule hint of magic with the breeze.
It was drizzling while Emily inspected the archway, on the ninth straight day of trying to find a way in. I sat myself down on the wet ground, attuning myself to the static building in the clouds above. After less than an hour, she gave a defeated sigh, and turned back towards me. "I don't know, Adrien. If it even is there, I can't get it to-" She said, before the stone behind her vanished, revealing a portal with a surface as if it were made of rippling water, contained by magic.
"Well, someone can." I said, my heart pounding. This was what I had been dreaming of. Emily scowled at my remark, and turned back to face the portal.
Two figures emerged from the magical doorway, one man and one woman. They stopped short, just as surprised as we were. For a few seconds no one moved. The man then wheeled towards Emily, casting a spell meant to temporarily immobilize the target. It would have been so of she hadn't been shifting her stance slightly as the spell took hold.
I wish I could say that time slowed down, that I saw every detail in all its horror. In truth, I did the most human of actions, I blinked. Once my eyes focused, I saw her, lying there. Her eyes were unmoving, blood flowing from her head.
I stared at her, feeling scared and more cold than I had in my entire life. The rain fell harder and harder, my shock melting away, replaced by liquid anger. I looked up at the two people who had come through the way.
They were staring at her corpse, and the woman had taken a small step backwards, back towards the way. I realized that I had been holding my breath.
I felt static on my fingertips, and took a breath in. Thunder rolled overhead. I exhaled, and lightning struck.
The bolt of electrical energy empowered by magical force struck the man with the force of a bomb, overloading his magical protections. His partner recoiled from the blast, magical shields flaring up to protect herself from the burst of energy less than two feet away. The man keeled over, his knees buckling, and he fell silently to the ground. This time, I did not blink.
The woman fled back through the portal, her call for help echoing back to me. I stumbled over to Emily's body, my mind and body tired after producing such a blast of lightning. I checked for a pulse, and found none. I stared down at her, at her brownish red hair, and hazel eyes, unable to look away.
My teardrops fell as the rain does upon that city, where my sister died, and I became a wanderer.
The following is Adrien's account of his first mission for the Hand, almost a year after the events of the introduction. Despite his actions he found a small number of friends within the Library, and eventually was made a member of the Hand.
For my first job with the Hand, I was assigned to quite a boring job, some preliminary work near the entrance of a Bookburner warehouse. I was supposed to protect another agent while they applied Wards of Vision to the surrounding area, allowing remote observation of the area.
The person I was assigned to protect was a woman a few years older than me, and was abwell respected patron of the Library.. When she heard that I was her backup she glowered at me. At that point I was used to it, most everyone here hated me for killing a patron. I was surprised how few people understood how I had felt. I suppose that many people in the library go here to hide from emotions in so many rows of knowledge.
Despite this, we found ourselves kneeling in the treeline of a German forest, while she painted a rune on the tree in a brown indistinguishable from the bark. Neither of us said a word until we reached nearly halfway around the area.
"You know that everyone hates you, right?" She whispered, abruptly, stopping in the middle of painting the rune.
I took my eyes off of the drab concrete building and glanced at her, raising my eyebrows.
"Absolutely everybody." She continued. "I can't think of a single redeeming quality you have."
"You do know that he killed my sister, right?" I asked. I immediately felt hollow after saying this. Had I really gotten to the point where I could throw out that line so nonchalantly?
I sighed. "Sorry, of course you do. It's just that noone seems to care. Everyone goes on about how a great man died, but couldn't care less that some "random outsider" died as well that day." I looked over at her again. She had turned towards me, and was intently gazing at me. She blinked once, then returned to working on the ward.
We did not speak for the rest of the mission.
While known for being a gifted sorcerer, Adrien writes about himself feeling inadequate in multiple sections of his autobiography. He later stated that in his eyes he failed to save his sister, and it took him almost three years to finally get over the event.
I sat down at the wodden table, alone. I had stumbled across a book written by one if the more famous practitioners of lightning magic, named Zellias. He claimed to be the son of the greek god Zeus, and I suppose there's no way to prove he wasn't. I had found much stranger things to be true in my relatively short stay in the library.
What was most intriguing to me about his writings was a spell he mentioned in passing. "And with nary beyond a thought I merged with the thunderhead, and placed myself atop the mountain peak."
The ability to preform instantaneous without dimension hopping is far out of the ordinary, as it normally required a dangerously powerful energy source. The type of magic I practiaced and it seemed that Zellias had as well drew power from the static electricity around us.". I stared off into the endless shelves and imagined myself with such a power, and all the respect it would bring.
I stood up, and walked over to a nearby Docent. "Can you help me find more books on the Stormmage Zellias, specifically anything referring to him using lightning to teleport?" It nodded, and pointed me over to a shelf several rows down. I grinned to myself, the lust of knowledge burning in my gut. You can find anything in the library, you just have to know how to ask.
In theory, the spell I was trying to cast was simple and should be easiy to replicate. In practice, half my attempts did nothing and the other half ended with me being struck by my own lightning . Due to being surrounded with normally heart stopping levels of electricity at all times, this wasn't as much of a problem as it would seem.
I sat down on the rocky ground of the middle eastern desert, much of my energy spent.
"Now what are you trying to do there, boy? A man's voice rasped out from behind me. I stood up, turning around to face the man. I had to be on my guard, this place was too far from any settlements to be stumbled across easily.
"Well, little lightningbug? What foolish plans have my old books stuck in your mind?" The old man continued, and he was indeed very old.
He wore a sky blue toga that draped down around his ankles for how bent he stood. He was leaning on a wooden cane embossed with gold. The most striking part of his visage were his eyes, and his eyes are why I will never forget how he looked. They were ever changing, blue one second and grey the next, with flashes of white like lightning strobing irregularly.
"So you're telling me that you are Zellias?" I asked, taken aback. Out of all things, I had not anticipated this. I had honestly assumed that Zellias was long dead.
"I suppose I am." He replied. "I don't get around much these days, but I had to come when I heard of a promising young mage following in my footsteps. I've come to tell you; give up. Theres nothing for you in electromancy. You'll end up killing yourself, like all the others did."
The man sighed before continuing. "And I'll bet you want to ask, like the one before you and the one before him, how the others met their end. And I will tell you, the answer is hubris. I have yet to meet one of our kind with humility. You're no exception, dabbling in power far more complex than you understand." He sighed once more. "Alright, you've been warned. If you last another year maybe we'll talk again.
Adrien spent a full five years studying under Zellias, while still remaining an active member of the Hand. The following account is of his last lesson. Over this period of time Adrien found some small amount of respect for having a near perfect track record in both sparring and duels.
I sat crosslegged on the marble floor of the pristene temple, as I had so many times before. Zellias sat across from me, thoughtfully staring up at the enormous skylight. Once a place of worship to Zeus, only Zellias remained to preform the ceremonies and burn the offerings. He had never told me how he lived so long. I wasn't even sure I wanted to know. That was of little matter, however. He taught, and I learned.
Zellias finally looked straight at me. "When I first met you," He said. "You were trying to recreate my translocation spell. Now, that is all I have time to teach. I am dying, Adrien."
I lowered my head , gazing down at the ground. "Do not be sad." He told me. "Be glad that tommorow you will walk out into the world the greatest living Stormmage. Now, let us walk, and I will explain to you the spell."
We walked out of the temple, the mountains around us giving a great vantage point to the european countryside down below. "When I translocate, I become one with the lightning. What I did not write in my journals though, is the last movement to properly merge." Zellias raised his arm, slightly crooked, to point at a rock. Static electricity fizzled and sparked around him, and lightning struck him, his arm straightening at the last moment. He was standing atop the boulder, leaning heavily on his cane.
"It's really that simple?" I asked.
"It takes a large amount of instinct to preform our kind of magic. This spell, even more so." Zellias replied.
I pointed towards the base of the boulder, setting the patern of static around me just so, causing the bolt to hit me. It carried me upwards with dizzying speed, and slammed me down to where I had pointed. Zellias smiled. "You have learned well. Help an old man down from here, would you? My power isn't what it used to be." He said, letting out a large yawn.
That night I awoke to the sound of hushed voices, but did not fet up. One was Zellias, the other was a raspy, deep whisper wich carried perfectly on the cold night air. "Ah, you're here at last." Zellias said.
"Your borrowed time is up godling. It's time to go." The other said.
"I suppose it is." Zellias replied. The next morning I found his bed, almost pristene besides where it looked like he had sat. There was no body to be found.
The next day I returned to the library for the first tine in several months. There were some new faces as always, the patrons seemingly self-replacing, admittedly an odd thought about a theoretically infinite repository of knowledge.
I brought my haul with me, an enchanted bag containing the books from Zellias's collection. I walked over to one of the Archivists. "I have some unique books from the colelction of the late Stormmage Zellias." I said, handing the bags to the man.
"The library thanks you for bringing these volumes." He said, his voice nearly devoid of emotion. I had long learned not to pity the Librarians, there was a reason why each of them were pressed into service.
For my second order of buisness, I went off towards where the Hand normally gathers. As usual, there were twenty or thirty people in the small cafe-esque area. Inly a few people acknowledged my approach. "Greetings, Adrien!" Aaron, a middle aged french man, called out. "Long time no see." Aaron was one of the few people who had helped me out when I first entered the library, and was the one who had helped get me join the Hand.
"I'm fine," I replied. "But Zellias is no linger with us."
"A pity." Aaron grimaced. "He lived a full life, and then some, from what I heard."
I nodded. "Either way, my schedule is wide open and I'm available to run missions again."
Aaron frowned. "Yes, about that. There has been some talk, shal we say, about putting you through some trials. Mostly from people who are vocal in their distrust. I must agree that we don't know your capabilities post-training, and yet.." He trailed off, his meaning clear.
"I'll do it." I decided. "When can we start." I grinned internally. I had a pretty good sense that they were going to try and bully me out of the Hand. Those poor misguided fools.
The Magically protected arena was small, but unusually full of spectators. Normally only a full on duel would attract so many, not a re-trial for a returning agent. Nevertheless, I stood in the center of the ring, waiting for the trials to start.
A whistle was blown, and the referee spoke. "Alright, time to begin. First trial is magical combat." She said. My opponent stepped down towards me. She was a tall woman, with white-blonde hair and icey eyes to match. "Ready, go!" The referee yelled, and we begun. I instantly lead off with a bolt of lighting, knocking her off ballance. Taking my advantage, I teleported in closer, knocking her down with a static blast from one hand.
The whistle blew again, and I noticed only then how silent the crowd. This was the first time any of them would have seen my new powers. "Moving on, the second trial is a test of speed." She sounded nervous, albeit only slightly.
The rules for this challenge were simple. Physically or magically tag the opponent before they could tag you. The woman, having recovered from the fight, took up position opposite me. It wasnt a challenge. As soon as the words left the referee's mouth I had teleported in and poked the woman on the arm. Infuriated, she lashed out with a bolt of magical force. I was caught off guard and slammed into the ground, my breath knocked out of me.
The woman turned and stormed out of the arena. The judge looked only mildly concerned. "The final challenge is ingenuity." She said.