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Enlightenment - Chapter XVIII

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Looking upon the large pile of fresh recall scrolls, pride surges through the scribe. She didn't know what to say. She could never have done this on her own. The shadow wisp made it possible to make so many in such a short time. "If you weren't a ball of light I'd hug you right now."

The wisp responds with a shake and a shimmer, and a small surge of mana flows into the scribe, and then it drifts off to the right. It always stayed close, but never seemed to be able to stay still.

"I love you!" she laughs.

Making scrolls was time consuming, but it was also in demand. A spell could be cast from a scroll, without the need for a spellbook to focus mana or reagents. The reagents part made sense, because the same reagents to cast the spell were used in the creation of the scroll. The lack of a mana focus made sense because the scroll itself became the mana focus, albeit a flimsy one, and so was consumed when used. What didn't make sense was that the scribe used an amount of mana to make the scroll that was equal to the amount of mana needed to use the scroll. And that was also the same amount of mana it took to cast the spell in the natural way.

The only other difference was that scrolls of the fourth circle could be used by people who were usually only good enough to cast second circle spells. Perhaps it was the extra mana that compensated for the poorer execution of the spell. Whatever the reason, it's what allowed people to cast spells above their skill level, and that's what fueled a lot of her business. But it was still something to think about.

And lately she had been trying to think about anything and everything. Not as an intellectual exercise, but to hide from the one thought that kept on forcing its way into her mind. By focusing on the most insignificant of details, she tried to hide from her own thoughts.

Why would I ever spend gold on extra help when I can create my own help. I'm making scrolls more than twice as fast thanks to Wisp. Another wave of mana hits her. "Enough already," she laughs. "You don't have some kind of dark and sinister plan to work me to death do you?" This time her laughter cuts short. Her words reminder her of another familiar. Darksage.

The dark wolf was out there, somewhere. And she wasn't sure if he'd return. His parting words sounded like they meant that if she left him alone, he'd leave her alone. And she was more than happy to do that. She didn't want a giant wolf following her around. Now that certainly would set Stark ablaze. The wolf had threatened her life. Defeat him or die, it had said. She thought she was done with him, but she wished she knew. She wished he didn't keep on popping into her thoughts, and that she could stop wondering where he was, and if he'd attack when she wasn't looking.

At the same time, she wished she never knew the answer so she could keep on wondering. It was a better to latch onto this thought than the other.

"I don't suppose you can protect me from him can you?"

Another shake and shimmer was its only reply.

"Well... thanks for trying."

Stark can help, she thinks. It's what he's for. Surely a paladin can defeat a familiar. But I don't want his help! The way that he looks at me now, as if I've betrayed him! Some of those guards of his seem to be avoiding me too. But they wouldn't do that if he'd try to understand me! He won't even try! Stupid-


The scribe looks down as the broken half of a quill floats down onto the floor. Now look what he did! She picks up another and continues. Why do I care what he thinks anyway! He talks a lot, all about his being a paladin, and all about his bushido. But does he try to listen when it's his turn? No!

Another stack was complete. So she rolls them, ties them, and bags them. "Reagent!" she calls out. He hops up from his stool, and the furry guy runs to her side. "Bag," she says, and he spits out a bag of fresh ingredients. "That's a good boy. Now put this away." He takes the finished scrolls and scurries towards the open chest that she points to. He was good for more than just storing things now. He was learning so fast.

How could he ever be a threat to anyone. He's the perfect little helper.

Her thoughts cool down a bit, but they cling back to the guard captain. Maybe I should get Cadence to talk to him. I wonder if he'd listen to her. It's kind of cute how he lights up whenever he sees her... But she'll never settle down. Maybe we shouldn't be encouraging him. Gotta tell Gwen that.

At least Lord Luna understands. Or at least he won't interfere with my research. He probably doesn't care what I do. It's all about business with him. Whatever. As long as he doesn't get in my way, I'll stay out of his.

She sighs. It was hard work not thinking about something. If you reminded yourself of what you were supposed to not think about, then you failed at not thinking about it.

I wonder what Gamblor's doing right now. I'm sure he'd show some interest in my work. He's a lot more open-minded than stupid Stark. He'll show up, offer to get me some supplies for free, then I'd have to refuse, then he'd offer to do it for a small fee, and I have to "reluctantly" give in, but remind him that I don't want him actually stealing anything when he's on a job for me without actually saying the word steal. Then he'll laugh, and be that arrogant jerk he can be sometimes, but then he'll come back and throw in something extra, and ask about what I'm doing and he'd actually be interested. He'd know what an amazing opportunity I've come across.

Overhead, the wisp twinkles and sends over more mana. "Oh, and he'd be fascinated by you." And he'd love Reagent. Unlike Wayland.

And there it was.

The subject she had been trying to avoid. The subject that occupied her thoughts most days. Stark hated her now. Or at the very least he was definitely avoiding her. It made her sad, but on her list of problems, it wasn't that bad. The worst that could happen was that she'd lose a friend. The dark wolf was on the list. It might show up at any time, but then again, it might never show up at all. And then there was Wayland. It had been over a month now since she had seen him last, but she knew he hadn't given up. He was coming for her. She didn't know what he was going to do, and she didn't know how to stop him.

If she was willing to abandon her shop, which she was not, not after what it took to make it completely her own, she couldn't simply just run away. Running would just be used against her in whatever case he was making to the archduke. She had a lot of money now to try to get started somewhere else, but Luna had much more.

What is he waiting for! It was torture to be certain he was coming, but to not know when. Sometimes she just wanted it over with. She couldn't stop him, but it would be done.

And how fun would it be to lash out at him with the Tome. Make him pay for what he's trying to do. And what he's already done. She runs through scenario after scenario of what she could do with the Tome of Lost Knowledge. She could feel its power. She could hit him hard and fast. If she could catch him off guard. Explosion and flamestrike in rapid succession. Then teleport a few feet away and feeblemind to throw him off balance. Some lightning and fireballs, and then finally weaken. Force him to his knees and relinquish all claims to the book. He was more experienced, but she had her Tome. He needs to be put in his place.

It was fun to think about, but didn't know if the Tome would be enough. She should probably prepare for it just in case.

It would be even more fun if she could throw in necromancy spells as well. She could test out how potent strangle really was. But she wasn't nearly as skilled in necromancy as she was in magery. She wouldn't have access to the more powerful spells. And how would Stark react if he had to fight along side a necromancer. Switching between the two books would be a complicated mess. The thought of attempting to switch from flamestrike to wither to energy bolt was too much. It was one or the other, so it had to be the Tome.

Maybe Gamblor could help me with my problem. Let Wayland get the Tome, and just have Gamblor steal it back. No. Have him recover it. Because I'm the one being robbed. Gamblor'll be able to get it back. I know he will. If I asked... and then Wayland would find out. There's no way he wouldn't know. And then Wayland would have him killed.

He doesn't have it yet though. I just need to keep it from him. What's Wayland going to do!! What can he actually do? I'm not in Luna anymore. He can't arrest me can he? I don't pay any taxes to Luna. And the archduke has no authority here, so neither does Wayland. Right? But they do have the Guard. If they come after the book will a battle break out? Will Stark defend me?

Maybe not. Not if he doesn't know that they're coming. Not if he doesn't know why they're here. Stupid Paladin. Can he even refuse an order from the archduke? Or from the High Father? He seems to think Wayland is as clean as the robes he's comes dressed in! But Stark listens to Lord Luna, too.

She sighs. She couldn't keep this up. She had to do something.

The scribe gets a clean sheet of paper and begins to write. I have to tell him.

* * *

Lord of West Luna,

There is a threat to my business...

Version 1.00

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