The Librarian of Maplehollow: Chapter One – Welcome to the Library

Katya Black sounds like the kind of person you would find in an ancient tomb somewhere studying ancient peoples and finding human remains. She was not though. At least not yet. Katya Black was a librarian. She lived in Maplehollow. This place, rather this world, was her home. She made her way every morning into the city of Wolfmarsh to help people find books. All types of books, tomes, spell books, history books, novels, and ancient writings. She kept records and put together programs for creatures, most of them human, to come together and read. She did quite a bit of research, helping to keep the tradition of passing words down through the generations alive. This was something Katya felt passionate about. But still, something in her world wasn’t complete. Something important was missing.

Katya was a thinker, not a doer. She believed information was the point of life, not experiences. All of that changed when a mage named Virge Mori brought her a collection of spell books.

Virge Mori was a simple man. He didn’t require assistance from others often, and he always tried to help other as much as he was able. He began his training to be a mystic early in life, he was passionate about magic. He thought it was something to discover, to train, and finally, to control. He knew he would never know it all. He was wise in this respect especially. He knew there were some things, dark magic particularly, that should not be used or even known. There are some lurid things which man should not understand or give a chance.

Katya sat at her desk fiddling with return cards to be glued into her large stack of books. She did lift her head when she heard the sound of a walking stick to see it’s owner was Virge.

“Hello, sir. My name is Katya, I’m the librarian. Is there anything I can assist you with on this fine day?”

Virge laughed under his breath. “Of course you can, that’s why I came to the library!” He walked up to the desk and sat down a small bag next to him. He reached in farther than seemed possible and took out book after book and put them on the desk in front of him.

“My name is Virge Mori. I am a mystic from the isle of Osthill. I would love to donate these to the library. But, before you put them out for the public, I was hoping you would help me.”

“You have peaked my interest. What would you like help with?” She smiled eagerly, enjoying the banter.

“I would like to train a protege. A progeny. I need someone to learn what I have learned. I want to teach someone what I know.”

“Are you asking me if I would like to learn magic?” she raised her left eyebrow.

“Indeed.” Virge motioned to the library. “You see, no one is here. Now would be the perfect time to start.”

“Why me? Of course there are many who wish to learn.” she responded with an edge of disappointment in her voice.

“All in good time, Katya. What is your decision?” he smiled at her honestly.

“Why not? How long do you think it will take for me to become a skilled mystic?” she wondered.

“It will take the exact amount of time that it needs to.” his eye sparkled when he said that.

So he pulled out a wand and moved the books in the air over to an open table where they could begin Katya’s studies. She looked at him directly and asked, “So where do we begin?”

“We begin at the beginning. For you, that is the theory of magic. Magical theory, because in theory, we learn about why magic exists. We will learn, who can practice magic, and how it is practiced.”

“That does make sense…” she nodded.

“Also we begin here, because at the moment we don’t know if you have any magical skill and you have no wand. So, to address the first question which is what is magic… Are you taking notes? Magic is energy. Energy exists everywhere. There is nowhere you could travel where there would be no energy. Therefore, you can practice magic anywhere, if you have the skill and knowledge. Magic will only be effective if you combine skill, knowledge, but most importantly wisdom. The fools who practice magic should learn quickly but often dont, that magic has a cost. What that cost may be could be different in every situation. Sometimes it’s not always a bad thing. But, eventually you begin to be affected. Use magic for good, and you will see a positive effect, use it for bad, and you shall see the darkness you invite into your life and it could ruin you. You see, there are some who believe that all magic is evil, but I know this is false. It depends on where you channel your magic from. Did you get all of that?” he wondered for a moment if she was able to keep up, but was quickly reassured that in fact she was with him the whole time.

“So, what you are saying is that I need to use caution and to be very careful. Also, when I learn to channel, that it will be only through specific conduits.”She looked up from the notepad she had picked up and had been jotting on.

“Precisely. And, onward ho. Question two. Why does magic exist? People don’t always agree on this one, and it hardly surprises me. There are some who don’t believe magic exists at all. That’s very foolish. No one can agree on this because we all have different reasons to use magic, so our experiences with magic will all be different and only shared on an individual level. Just as we all go through life alone, we all experience magic alone. We can try to share experiences with others, but in most cases, it will only remind us of our aloneness in the cosmos. I believe in God. God is with me. I don’t know if he’s with you, but I know that he is with me. We cannot know other people’s ultimate truths, we can only know our own. So, because of this we need to know why we are using magic. We have to have a reason. Otherwise, why are you risking yourself to potential consequences? To address the answer to the question why does magic exist, I will tell you that no one truly knows. But if magic is energy and energy is everywhere, then you are asking yourself, why do we exist? That question cannot be accurately answered by anyone other than God, in my humble opinion.” Virge looked up with an intense gaze at the ceiling and Katya realized he might be looking through the ceiling at the infinite heavens above and decided to wait until he was done looking before distracting him onto the next question.

After a few moments, he looked down at the floor. “There are things I must teach you which I have never told anyone. I hope you value the lessons I will try to impart upon you.” Virge looked at Katya with a knowing gaze, searching her irises for evidence, and then he smiled.

Katya knew what he was trying to say. She understood him so deeply in this moment and wondered what feeling had come over her. It wasn’t a romantic feeling, but it was love. She loved Virge but had only just met him.
“I know you will be a wonderful teacher, Mister Mori. I am valuing this conversation. I can’t imagine how many wonderful things I will learn from you.” She almost blushed from nervousness and excitement but looked away.

Virge cleared his throat and moved on from the sentimental moment they shared. Before he spoke, he sat down in the large armchair by the table they had been standing at and she sat across from him. “Question three, ‘Who can practice magic?’I would like to say everyone but there are so many different types of creatures and beasts, there are many types who can never practice magic and all for different reasons. There are those who have pledged their lives to other things and will never have the opportunity to study it. There are beasts which are indeed magical, but are too wild to be able to practice it. There are humans with such a low skill level that no matter how long they study or try they will never be capable of performing even the most simple spells. Speaking only of creatures that can perform magic adequately, there are billions of life forms in the universe. Most of them can perform some magic. I believe that magical abilities are passed through genetics. Earlier you asked me, ‘Why me’? I have traveled a very far way to come to this very library in Wolfmarsh just to see you. You have never met your father… Is this correct?” he looked at her and smiled knowingly.

Katya was dumbstruck. She knew what he was going to say. That her father was a great wizard, and that he had always loved her and tried to find her, but even if it was true, she realized she would have a difficult time believing it. “Yes. It’s correct.” She had great difficulty speaking those words.

Virge glanced at her and then stared at his hands. “Katya, your father was not human….” She could tell that this part of the conversation was difficult for him.

Katyas mouth dropped open out of surprise. “What race was he? What was his name?” She needed these answers.

“Your father was an elvish prince. He was in fact, very important to me. We have known each other for many years.” A tear stung his eye when he said this.

“Was?” Katya was very disappointed.

Virge smiled at Katya. “Your father’s name was Grey Amawiel. He was the elvish prince of fire. He will be reincarnated after three years of death. He has the gift of the phoenix. He will always live endlessly, he will always reincarnate, and he will always die after thirty years. The problem is this, Katya. He doesn’t always come back, the same….” Virge was very distraught, though quiet.

Katya already saw where this was going. “Virge, are you suggesting that he will come back evil? What about free will? What about the nature versus nurture argument?” Katya’s eyes hid something, a flame perhaps.

Virge knew that she needed the explanation. “Katya, you are right about these things. We do have free will, and we do have nature versus nurture. The problem with your father, is that he has a history with this. Karma is very real, Katya, and he continuously has to pay for damage he has done in previous lives. Your father will always be buried in the same grave, and always be reborn in that very grave. Some lives we have shared have been wonderful, others, not.”

Katya was beginning to piece things together, “So, are you the reason my father left my mother?” Katya cried.

Virge looked down and then looked at her, also crying. “No, Katya, I am not. I’m the reason he had you at all. Your father has been gay for the past three lives. He is not always gay. I told him that by having you, not only could he have a reason to keep living, but he could pass down his legacy to you.” Katya smiled and wept tears of happiness.

“Thank you, Virge.” She now knew she could completely trust him. “I guess that makes you my dad, too!” They both laughed full hearty laughs.

“More on this a little later. Let us return to the lesson. The last part of our lesson on magical theory for today is Question Four, How do we practice magic? If magic is energy, and we are made of energy, how do we control this energy? Well, there are many ways to do this, though as I mentioned before, there is no way to have complete control of it. There are master wizards and sorcerers who have lived hundreds of lifetimes who still struggle to control themselves. I believe the problem is self-control. We must control our own minds, our thoughts, desires, wants, needs, and most importantly, our actions. Making a magical error can cost you or someone else their life. There is a magical debt when that happens that most are not close to prepared for…. an eternity of suffering because of one wrong action. So again, I’ll repeat the question. How do we practice magic? If we can control our whole being, and we have channeled the magic from a good place, and we are using it wisely, we still need a conduit. This could be anything, from a magic wand, to a crystal ball, my trusty walking stick, or tarot cards. The list really is endless. The type of conduit depends on the type of magic you are performing. Any questions?” Virge smiled as though pleased with himself.

Katya stopped writing and looked up. “Are we going to do this every day?” she smiled at Virge who seemed to be thinking intently.

“As I said before, this will take as long as it needs to. Most likely, in order to teach you everything I know, we will be doing long trainings every day for many years.” He looked at her and then spoke, “It will not always be possible to teach you everything you need to know here in the library. We eventually will have to do something more hands-on. We will take this one step at a time, and I will train you as vigilantly as I can.”

“Why now? Did my dad only just die?” Katya looked concerned.

“Your father died last month. It has taken me a month to travel here. I left the day after the funeral. I only brought some of the books that I needed to teach you. We will have to journey to Wildecourte to view some texts in person, and we will have to stay in Widlecourte for quite some time. They have the largest elvish library in all of Maplehollow.”

“I see. When my father is reborn will he be a baby?” Katya wondered aloud.

Virge laughed softly, “Your father will be an infant elf prince. He will be raised by the elves who know of his power and situation and it is possible that you will be there to help raise him.” You are very lucky to be his daughter. And if I may be so bold, to be mine as well.”

Katya smiled, “Thank you, Virge. I am coming to understand that. So is this the last of our lesson for today?” Katya looked disappointed.

Virge replied, “Only if you want it to be. I know you must have work to do. Before I do anything else, my dear, I am going to eat. It’s lunch-time! Do you mind?” he gestured to his velvet bag.

Katya looked at the stack of books on her desk. It was pretty large. The library was still empty. She shook her head at Virge and then maintained her gaze. She wondered if he had somehow planned this. “No, of course I don’t mind. I need to eat too. I do have a question, Virge. After we eat, could you magically take care of this stack of books for me?”

Virge laughed biting into a sandwich he obviously had just prepared… it was cooked and the smell of cooked ham was wafting out of his bag. “I do believe I can, but remember, we must work hard to gain positive results. I have a reason to help you during our lessons, but you must not get lazy. Some things you need to do without magic.” He eyed her almost suspiciously.

Katya smiled and her sparkly blue eyes lit up the room. “Thank you, Virge. I understand, you have no idea what this means to me. I will work very hard. Of course, it’s important to by hand. I don’t want to let magic control me and with a teacher like you, I don’t think that would be a problem at all for me.” she sighed and took a bite of salad. She had packed her lunch.

They sat in silence enjoying their meals together, but separately as well. That metaphor did not get past either of them, and Virge knew that he had taught Katya a very important lesson that day.

After they had both finished their lunch, all of the books began to float as Virge sent enchantments floating to each book. Pens began to write, the return cards were glued and the whole library started to be rearranged. “I can feel the hard work you have put into this place, Katya. I am very proud of you. Where is your mother?” Virge glanced away from the books at Katya for a moment and then he tapped his walking stick on the ground and everything continue to move. He turned around and walked back over to the large, comfortable, red leather armchair he had sat in before.

Katya looked at Virge and shook her head and then burst into tears.

Virge struggled to keep his composure and went to hug Katya. “Some things don’t make sense, my dear. But here is what I know. Your mother loved you. I did meet her once before you were born. Grey wanted us to meet, and she completely understood the risks she was taking when you were made. You were planned and loved, Katya. All of us loved you. Your father didn’t want you to know about any of this until you were much older. He knew the risks he was taking  and he did love your mother, Katya. He just was not in love with her.”

Katya smiled and spilled one tear. She knew she could not handle any more answers to her many questions about her family. She accepted that Virge was her father now, and she forgave him for not being there  before. It was a strange scenario, and there was no changing the past. At least she had him now.

She had to distract herself and since her work was being done for her, she wanted to explore more of the magical concepts she had just absorbed. “So Virge, does all magic take your energy? Where does it go? Are you getting tired because of the magic you are doing right now, here in the library?”

Virge sighed deeply. “All magic has a cost, but it doesn’t take physical energy in my opinion. There are debates in the mystical community about this, but I have found no evidence of it taking my physical energy. I believe that magic though it does affect our physical realm, is sourced in the spiritual realm. The conduits we use to channel magic may feel tired, even exhausted after even a single magical use. I do not get tired from performing magic, though I may be a little slower mentally after an incantation or two. I see you aren’t getting tired of learning. Keep writing things down. My memory is not the best.” After the last sentence he looked as if he was hiding something. “Katya, would you like to continue the lesson or would you prefer to go into town and help me find some lodgings?” He wondered aloud.

“Virge! Of course, how could I be so rude? You must stay with me at my cottage! I have the perfect room for you!” Katya smiled excitedly.

Virge wasn’t sure how to respond…. “Katya, are you absolutely certain? I would not want to intrude….” He said cautiously.

Katya looked up as he was taller than her, and sat taller than her as well, “Virge, of course you can stay with me…. I would hate to think you felt you needed to stay in an inn…” she nodded reassuringly.

“Well, if you insist, Katya…. I suppose we could get more done this way….” Virge was flattered that she asked him to stay with her.

“Let’s go, Virge…. we might be able to get the last bottle of Apple Mead that The Chatelaine was selling for summer solstice!” Katya suggested.

Virge stood up and replied, “Alright, you lead the way!”

They both walked out of the silent library and then Katya locked the door.

“Would you like me to cast a protection spell on the library?” Virge offered.

“Why not? I’m sure it won’t hurt.” Katya was thankful that she had Virge in her life. She knew that he would be there for her…

Virge tapped his walking stick on the floor and a white cloud seemed to float out of the stick and cover the entire library. “There is more that I need to do, but this will suffice for the moment.”

Suddenly, Virge noticed an anomaly in the spells. A change in energy. Something was not right. “Katya, go into the library and lock the door. Now!”

Katya trusted Virge but could not move. She was unable to speak or move.

Virge noticed almost immediately. “You’re paralyzed, do not panic. I will locate the source and try to protect you, after I negate the threat, then I will remove your paralysis. Remember to stay calm.”

Virge then sent a Detect Life spell out into the surrounding area. He felt a presence behind a tree. “Homenum Revelio!” he shouted and pulled at the presence. Suddenly the being left the current realm. “Damn. They got away. I can’t track them when they disapperate. Here let me remove the paralysis.” Virge dragged his finger across Katya’s forehead slowly and she began to regain control over her body.

“Thank you, Virge.” She tried to catch her breath.

“This is not good. I need to visit some local mystics so that I can determine how much of a threat this could be. Before we leave the area, I will cast a protection on you, and myself, and I will also try to determine if your attacker left an energy signature.”

Virge touched Katya’s hand and a rune appeared. “Dont worry, it can be removed. I would like you to keep this on until we determine if you are in danger.” Virge rubbed his hands together and runes appeared on both of his palms. Following his own instructions, Virge walked over to the foliages where the attacker had been somewhat revealed. “Detect Magic.” Virge spoke the words hoping to find a clue as to who attacked them, why they were attacked, and whether or not any objects were left behind with a magical presence. Virge sensed that who or what attacked them was simply curious, they weren’t necessarily trying to harm Katya. Virge also found a rock that had soaked up an energy signature from the event. “Detect Evil.” Virge bent down and picked up the rock. “It’s safe, Katya. There is no evil present in the area.” He put the rock in the bag and then spoke again. “Let us now visit The Chatelaine and speak to the barkeep to find out whether anything strange has happened.”

Katya and Virge walked for quite some time in silence. Katya felt strained since she had been paralyzed, and Virge felt the need to let her regain her composure. When they arrived at The Chatelaine, Virge noticed that her aura had returned to it’s normal color, yellow. They walked into the tavern and Virge felt immediately welcomed. Katya looked completely recovered and seemed excited to see people that she knew. Katya sauntered up to the bar and smiled at the barkeep. “Hello, Sal. I haven’t been in here for  awhile. I’m sorry, I’ve had so much work at the library, it’s really kept me engrossed. My companion here is Virge Mori, a mystic from the isle of Osthill.”

Sal stretched and filled up two steins with a best-selling pilsner. The ale foamed and leaked over the sides. Sal handled the steins with less of a finesse, more of a muscular push and the steins slid over to Virge and Katya. “On the house, what else can I do you for?” Sal smiled and his beard gleamed in the dim lighting of the tavern.

Virge cleared his throat and explained the events that took place. Virge explained what spells and incantations he had cast, and showed Sal the rock with the unusual magic energy signature. Sal spoke after considering the situation. “I have not learned the ways of magicka. I have no experience with any of it. But being the barkeep does have its advantages. I know some other folks in Wolfmarsh and Katya is a friend, so I’m willing to get the word out about a new mystic. There are some gypsies who travel in the area quite a bit, and there is of course the Chancellor of Wolfmarsh. He is in touch with the Minister of Maplehollow. Depending on the depth of the problem, their security may be necessary to step in. It’s probably nothing of course, there are all sorts of freaks out and about, and they can prank all of us quite a bit. I appreciate what you did for Katya too. I’m glad you were there. Do you have a place to stay?”

Katya volunteered an answer, “He’s staying with me, Sal. He’s actually teaching me magic!”

“If you get good, you might want to try your hand at adventuring. I get all types of offers from creatures good and evil who need adventurers. Let me know if your interested. I also get bounties. I’ve got all types of work for someone with magical skill.” Sal responded helpfully.

“We will keep that in mind. Today was our first day, and Katya’s doing very well. I’m very proud. I will volunteer to take on some bounties when Katya is busy working or practicing. We will need all types of supplies. Is there a shop here in Wolfmarsh that sells those types of things?”

Sal nodded. “There is more than one, we’ve got a lot of magical ingredients in the area. There is a school of magic two towns over as well. You might be able to study there, or teach a class. You seem very experienced. They are always looking for masters of the art of magicka.”

“I see. We appreciate the help and information.” Virge smiled at Sal. “I need to settle in and then prepare for the day tomorrow. Thank you, Sal. This brew was more than satisfactory.” Virge stood up and invited Katya to retire.

When they left, Virge ventured into town to visit the magick shops that Sal had mentioned. “We need to get you some supplies. Ah, here is one, ‘The Bleeding Artifact’.” Virge entered with Katya following behind him. He noticed that they had many types of conduits. “You need a wand, a cauldron, a crystal ball, many types of tarot cards… The other conduits can wait. We also need you to be clothed in robes that can be enchanted. A female elven shopkeeper came out of the back room at  the sound of the bell on the door. “sut y gallaf eich helpu chi?” Virge understood that she was asking, “How may I help you?” in Welsh, a common tongue of the elves in Maplehollow, though there were many dialects.

“Mae angen cyflenwadau hudol arnaf i’m myfyriwr.” Virge explained that he needed magical supplies for Katya.

“Beth sydd ei angen arnoch chi, yn benodol?” The elf asked what specifically Virge needed.

“Hoffwn brynu set o ddillad y gellir eu swyno, cauldron cyffredin, gwandid hud dechreuwyr, pêl grisial, a sawl math o gardiau tarot y gellid eu defnyddio mewn gwahanol ddisgyblaethau, a ddefnyddir ar gyfer addysgu myfyriwr.” Or translated to english,  “I would like to buy a set of robes that can be enchanted, a common cauldron, a beginner’s magic wand, a crystal ball, and several types of tarot cards that could be used in different disciplines, used for teaching a student.”

The shopkeeper went around the store suggesting things to Virge in Welsh, and Katya stood by and trusted that he would get her the things she needed to learn magic.

The shopkeeper measured Katya, and the time came for Katya to select her wand and robes. The elven excited for the business she was getting, brought over several boxes of wands. Katya was very nervous. She understood the importance of this pivotal moment. She wondered what it would feel like to try a wand, whether it would work or not worried her, but she pushed through the feelings of incompetency and decided to try the first wand. “What do I do, Virge?” she asked nervously.

“Just hold out the wand and think of a happy moment. Keep doing this until you feel a good response. Then send energy out of you, into the wand, and finally into the space around you. Try to send it in the shape of the wand. Think of the wand as an extension of you. Your energy should be one. The wand is a neutral energy. It’s supposed to be alive. That’s why it’s made of organic material. Feel yourself  and feel the wand, trust the moment.”

Katya took the wand that spoke to her the most, and did exactly what Virge said, but nothing happened. She couldn’t feel her own energy, let alone control it.

“Dont forget to think of something positive, Katya. Remember a happy memory. Then feel the energy of that moment and thank the wand for serving you. Send out energy sparks.”

Katya closed her eyes and tried to remember something good. She thought of her time at university learning about books. She thought of her friends there and how much she loved the town of Wolfmarsh. She had moved here after her mother died. Katya began to remember her mother, and then realized her happy moment was with her. It wasn’t a memory. It was the feeling that her mother was still with her even though she had passed on. Something of her mother still remained, and Katya tugged on that feeling that lay within herself. It was deep, all the way from her heart to her soul. She sent the wonderful feeling into her right hand, and then into the wand. She felt something alive connect with her mind. It was the wand. Suddenly a beautiful rainbow of sparks spewed out of the wand and Katya knew. She knew that she would love magic. She would do everything she could to learn about it and control it. She had to. Magic was a part of her now.

 

TBC (Chapter 2)

 

 

 

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