CH5 - The Lippy Librarian
"What the hell do you mean, that shouldn't be happening!" The vexed and violet haired Librarian Anri said. "In order for what you're talking about to occur, you'd have the be the object tagged. Tagging someone like that is tantamount to slavery! No one would do that!"
She was aggressively insistent about the whole idea.
"And you shouldn't be able to teleport in here through some kind of accident either!"
She said irritably, "So how did you really get in here, and why did you come here hmm?"
This Elf had silver eyes with intense glowing white pupils, so she was starkly intense. Still, he had no more reason to lie than he had before.
So he simply didn't.
"Its more like my soul came here, and kind of made a body when it arrived. Though admittedly the process is a little more complex than just that, I shouldn't be or be carrying any sort of item that would result in that sort of effect."
"And I didn't come here with any specific purpose. Or at least, no nefarious purpose and no purpose that would relate to anyone. Either here or within the city limits. " He insisted. Technically again, all the truth.
He wasn't the willing cause of the explosion, after all, it was an unintended consequence of the reincarnation process.
He'd had other choices of course, but they'd have been as bad or worse than this anyways.
Though the complications here were quickly becoming legion, he couldn't live in a lake of fire. Or a trackless expanse of ice, or the middle of the ocean. Nor could he live many kilometers underground.
Not without being something entirely other from what he was at least.
"I think its more likely you're a spy of some kind, and that you've concealed something you shouldn't have in a pocket dimension or something similar. "
She said blandly, "Or do you want to pretend to be harmless, hiding your true mana reserves like that?"
The exasperated look that washed over Prime's face was almost comical, though Aria seemed a little more shocked. Apparently she'd missed out on that tidbit, and was unhappy about that.
Prime growled, "I think this is a pretty normal precaution. No reason to be recognized as a Mage and then recognized as helpless, and then pumped for all your knowledge and secrets."
"I have no real interest in yours, valuable or not. I wouldn't even know who to sell them too. Nor would I care to do such a thing. I'd just like to be able to leave."
He looked at Aria almost apologetically, "Not that I don't enjoy your company."
"But this city isn't exactly my home. I have no real reason to stay here." Prime said firmly.
"But I'm still going to have to ask you to stay," She said, "At least until we can have someone look into you properly." She added darkly.
Aria jumped in here, "Let's not go to extremes. It's not like he'd threatening or harmful, he hasn't hurt us at all. There's no need to assume he's shifty just because of the timing. I mean it is mainly the timing that makes it shifty isn't it?"
Anri shook her head, "Yes and no, there's plenty of resources here that a regular thief would be only too happy to target in times like these. They're a good cloak for the underhanded." She said faithfully.
At this point, Prime was starting to become deeply uncomfortable with the situation again. Being trapped in an area he was certain was going to explode. And he had no idea when.
Yeah, that seemed like a good time. Still, it wasn't like he could cross the barrier. Or ward. Or shield. Whatever teleport function was keeping him in here.
Aria was feeling a bit conflicted at this point, she'd brought Prime here hopeful that he could get some help or pointers. Not be accused of being a spy and potentially imprisoned or even killed.
He really didn't seem like he was anything like all that, he really just seemed lost and looking for his footing in an alien situation.
She'd been in a similar position in life before, so she could easily empathize. "Aren't you being too harsh? He really doesn't have anything on him. Look, he doesn't even have anything to cast with. How is he going to have a pocket dimension to store anything in?"
Anri tapped her finger on the desk, "True." Tap tap tap. She receded into thoughtful silence for a few moments. Prime just looked at the books, not certain what else he could say to convince her.
This was a compromising situation to enter their Empire, let alone a Royal Noble House. Getting cut so much slack from Aria, was already too much. But she did owe him a teenie, tiny bit.
He tried to stay out of her way, as she redoubled her assault on the Librarian. She was staunch in her commitment to convince Anri, and continued to hammer away at her. Even going so far as to bring up his honesty, and as much as baldly admitting to reading his emotions and divining the truth of his words.
He started to pay careful and pointed attention to the books on the shelves. They were actually quite interesting, once he actually pulled his mind away from the conversation of his fate.
Wizened Wandworks Weekly - Interesting looking little magazine, animated artwork on the cover. Eye-catching little work, he'd love to pull apart the spellcraft involved if possible. He didn't have or know how to use a wand though, so unhelpful to him.
Why Human - A Catalogue of human inventions that did not work out well, essentially a compilation of engineering mistakes. Despite the tone the title suggested, the authors were rather respectful of human ingenuity.
Specifically they approved of their willingness to make errors, and learn from them. Something the previous life in him wanted to pour over for a while, but he only thumbed through it before something else caught his interest.
A Royal Contract - Similar to Marriage, a Royal Contact can only be entered willingly. This isn't due to the nature of the spell itself, but more due to the fact that the bond can be freely edited by either party.
Only a few sacred areas of the bond are protected against tampering. First, Duty to the nation cannot be abandoned. Second, duty to the life of your partner cannot be abandoned. Thirdly, the couple must maintain intimate contact regularly. And finally, The Couple Must Act in the Best Interests of the Nation Itself.
Though the last term is rather broad, and as such has much leeway for interpretation of action, the first three are ironclad. Duty becomes almost impossible to resist, a new loyalty to a foreign ally is cemented, and succession is more or less assured.
Reference - Despite the name of 'The Royal Contact' this is actually just a powerfully flexible Contracting spell. The core principles can be modified precasting if they're undesirable, and its an excellent contract spell for powerful beasts and potentially even mythical monsters.
That spell was a nasty piece of work, Prime did not like that Contract one bit. Though having been placed under two of them, he wasn't exactly predisposed to approval here.
He put the book away, dusting off his hands as he turned back into the conversation. It'd been quite some time since anyone had touched these books, but the shelves themselves were kept spotlessly clean.
'-and you have no way of knowing he isn't dangerous!" Anri insisted.
"Of course I'm dangerous," Prime laughed,
"But not to any of you. Or your city, property, or any sentient person in particular. Hell the most danger anything is in from me, is the danger of becoming my dinner. I haven't had any real meat to eat in a minor age, and I'd love to stretch my legs out the front door and find something to eat." He said,
"I'll even leave the city and go hunting If I really have too. I know what kind of position I'm in here, and I'm not asking for anything aside from the ability to take care of myself. And get out of your hair, this whole situation is beyond me being helpful to any of you."
Anri had to admit that, in many ways, he was making good arguments. He wasn't interested in them, he wasn't interested in their politics, and he hadn't said a word to inquire to that effect in the least.
"Please Anri?" Aria pressed, "It's only a Greater Dispell, and he literally wants to leave."
"You realize that, even if I do this, that I'll report it to Lord Penheart. And that he'll probably be keeping an eye on your friend here, right?" Anri asked Aria.
She nodded, "It's okay, I'm pretty sure he's alright." And with that she continued to press her argument, touching again on topics Prime would prefer to ignore.
Divining the truth from someone's words just seemed rude to him."
"Alright, alright!" Anri said eventually. "But you stay inside the city limits until the succession is over!" She warned him sternly. "Lord Penheart will likely be keeping an eye on you, so I'd advise you to behave very carefully! Don't cause trouble!"
She still wasn't certain about this, but Aria seemed rather certain of herself. And she was a more soft-hearted girl, she doubted she could make a battle mage out of her. But she was well served as an alchemist, and of good service as one to boot.
In all honesty, it was true this young man had basically nothing on him. No casting implements or tools. Unless his personal magic was something very interesting, he had no communication medium with which to spy, nor any other medium to record information.
"But before I do cast a Greater Dispell on you, I'm afraid I'm really going to have to insist you tell me why you're concealing your true mana pool. " Anri insisted, testing his response.
"This is a foreign place, a long way away from home. Nobody knows me, and I know no one. I have no family, or friends here. I may never see them again, and no one here owes me any favors. Why would I advertise that I'm a powerful mage of some capacity, who's currently basically helpless?" He said stoically. All technically the truth.
"I'm not big on the idea of being tortured, and I only got here through my own personal obsession with machinery. This was a sort of machine aided journey, in the end. " He said suggestively,
"All these things combined make me a little nervous about telling me why, or how, I got here. You, reading between the lines here?" Prime asked uncertainly.
Anri just gave him a dry look, but acknowledged that what he'd outlined was rather reasonable for his situation. She'd even started to feel a little sorry for him.
She wasn't empathic, but she had a few hundred years of reading people under her belt.
He was wholeheartedly homesick at the moment, and he really wasn't sure he'd ever see anyone he knew again.
Aria just seemed sad now, and Anri worried she'd depressed the girl. "Alright, Greater Dispell it is." She said eventually.
A small book popped out of her cleavage, levitating in the air before her. Casually restrained by the chain restraining it ascent.
From it popped two great illusory words, written across the air before Anri's eyes.
"Dusting mana, sleeping faunt, the mirror of reality, skim across a ripple, return the beforehand. Return the light, dim life, skitter through the soul. With great gravity, cease all, pull it into nothing, let all Mana Vanish and Be Gone."
As she began the spell, Prime was surrounded by white light. Aria evacuated his immediate area, almost like she was burned. The light intensified and slowly formed a cone as she formed her spell.
The cone pulsed with concentric rings of light and Prime groaned as he felt the mana around him ceased. He felt pain as the Mana within him was pulled irresistibly out of him, through his soul and flesh.
He felt some relief when the Mana sensing enchantment he'd made was pulled out of him, but still soaked in profound misery as the Teleportation Recall Spell was stripped away.
Along with every single scrap of his mana.
He groaned miserably as he collapsed to the floor, the spell finally over with.
"Those are some very interesting enchantments you have in your body," Anri suddenly said avidly, "Where did you get them? What do they do, how do they work?"
"They work," Prime groaned, "They're there. Discussion over." He fought back the urge to puke for a while, which was really very intensely uncomfortable as an experience.
"Well then," Anri said, "We're all finished here, so it's about time for you to leave." She decided to hustle him out, as she'd noticed Prime eyeing the shelves.
"Anything I can help you find?" She asked, a bit rudely. But who knows, he might answer.
"Actually yes, I have no idea how to develop my personal mana. I was hoping to find some reference to that. It's, not actually really available. At least not by the means by which I studied." He laughed, embarrassed. "Its not like you learn the basics, looking over the shoulders of great men."
"You don't even-!" Anri started, but cut herself off. She tutted a few times, seemingly a little angry to Prime's perception. "Wait here, don't go yet." She said.
She stalked off deeper into the library for a while, and Prime poked his head around the corner to see her off way at the back.
She was leaning down and taking a thin book from the lower shelves. She had a nice bum too. He retracted his head before he could be caught appreciating it.
She stalked back, right up to him. "Here!" She said, nearly slamming the book to his chest. He grabbed it, naturally.
He nearly grabbed something else too, but Anri stepped backward quite smoothly and the awkward moment was evaded.
"What's this?" Prime asked, turning the book over to read the title.
"Mana and Myself," Anri responded, "Its a primer on developing personal mana. That isn't information we hide in capitals, we prefer everyone to be able to develop their personal mana. A person's unique magic can offer solutions that years of research couldn't yield, so it's better to encourage the development of that resource."
Prime flipped through the volume, this was was actually in Farth. Farth was essentially the human common tongue.
Along with a tiny bit of Tidral, it was one of the two languages he even vaguely understood. He appreciated that she'd grabbed a version he could understand, without picking up Elven as well. "I assume you need this back?" Prime asked.
Anri shook her head, "Just keep it. I can reproduce these from memory, it's fine." She still seemed a little discontent about the situation.
"Would it make you feel better if I mastered is as soon as possible?" Prime asked curiously.
"Yes!" She said emphatically, "And put it to use too!" Anri seemed frustrated. "Far too much magic is wasted on those it's gifted too, and they do essentially nothing with it. Only serving personal goals. We all need to be more cohesive." She was fairly growling.
"I hope you don't proceed down such an exceedingly selfish path." She said judgementally.
Prime shrugged, "Not planning on anything specific, mainly plans of what not to do. Might help people get around, solve a few simple problems. I'm honestly surprised about a few things. Like horse-drawn carriages, but I'll address that later."
Anri looked at Prime in confusion, and Aria was giving him curious looks now as well.
"Let's talk about that later, when I actually have time and resources to address the problem." Prime laughed, "I'm not sure I could do justice to the machine with words alone."
He nodded to Anri, and bowed to Aria. "Thank you both, I'm going to head into town now. I'd like to try to figure out where I am, and if I can figure out where home is. And what I should do from here."
Anri nodded and ceased paying him any mind, but Aria followed him right out of the building and straight into town.
"So what are you going to do now?" She asked.
He shrugged, "No idea to be honest."
"I guess I'll just wing it for now."
Aria paused, "Wing it?" She muttered. Prime just kept marching on, he had to outwit his arch-nemesis and personal murderer.