Aeramin Firewind had seen the door at the library before. The restricted access door. It wasn’t labeled as such. It looked like any other normal closed door, but anyone who spent any amount of time in the library would know that room was off-limits. Sometimes, when he was still an apprentice, he would sit not far from it, reading unrestricted books from the unrestricted shelves. Few people went in or came out of the restricted access room, but he saw it was full of books when someone did. Most of the people who had access were older mages. They all had a key. The door was kept locked at all times. He was sure of that.
And so, he was quite surprised upon going into the library the morning when Sanimir didn’t show up at the landing, the morning when they were supposed to go to the Azure Dragonshrine. That morning was when he found the restricted access door had been left ajar. He looked around. No one else was in that part of the library. He pushed the door open a bit further, and peeked inside. He didn’t see anyone. He stepped into the room.
It was a large circular room. He could see closed doors on the other side of the room through the bookshelves. Larger shelves lined the walls both ways around the circle to the doors on the opposite side. He still didn’t see anyone else. He started browsing through the books. Demonology, necromancy, and other dark magics seemed to be the topics of most of the books. He took one of the demonology books off the shelf, and started flipping through it, hardly believing his eyes. These books weren’t supposed to be allowed to exist.
Still holding the demonology book, he stepped to the next shelf. He found a book on fel pyromancy that looked intensely interesting. A fire mage should know everything about pyromancy. He took the book down off the shelf. He grinned before taking a quick nervous glance towards the door. If he was caught in here, he wouldn’t get to read either book. His grin turned into a slight frown.
He held both books close to himself as he walked back to the door. He peeked out into the rest of the library. Still, no one was in this section. He slipped out the door, making sure it stayed ajar. He put the books behind some of the others on one of the shelves on the wall. He slipped back to the restricted room. This time shutting the door behind himself.
He began browsing the books on the shelves again, taking down another about demonology after a few minutes of looking. He started to flip through the pages when he heard the unmistakable sound of a key going into a lock. He glanced at the door to the rest of the library while closing the book in his hand. He grabbed his satchel, and hurried to one of the doors on the opposite side of the room. He put his hand on the door knob, and sighed in relief to find it was unlocked. He went in quickly and closed the door. Smiling again when he saw the lock on this side. He slid the lock closed, and looked around the room. It was a small private reading room. The chair looked comfortable, and the room was well-lit with the daytime sun through the high windows. Hopefully, whomever had just come into the restricted room, wouldn’t want to use this reading room. Or perhaps they could respect that it was occupied. He could try to call out in an old voice if someone knocked. It was cozy enough that he could wait here until the other person left.
He sat and began to read.
Four days later, he had ascertained that the person in the other room was one of the undead variety. He had peeked under the door, and had been able to figure out that much from the way it walked, and the way it didn’t seem to sleep. He could hear it shuffling around the outer room with the books now.
Aeramin wished he didn’t need to eat or sleep. He had dozed off a few times, but now he felt cramped almost everywhere. He had also gotten quite adept at climbing up to the high windows. Luckily they locked from the inside, and, although it was tricky aiming through the bars that covered them, he was able to relieve himself. He still thought conjured food was the worst tasting substance on the planet. Especially his conjured food. He had been eating it anyway, since the second day when it became apparent to him that the undead person wasn’t leaving anytime soon. He had read the same book, the only one he had brought in with him, twice now, and halfway through the third time. Some of the later chapters were beginning to make more sense. Some of the earlier chapters were enticing. Perhaps if he were to summon an imp, he could study the differences between the fire it made and the fire he made. And if what was in the book was true, the imp would be bound to him. It would have to do everything he said, if everything was done right. The dangers of summoning demons came when the summoner was not in control, or lost control, of the demon. An imp didn’t seem so bad then.
Aeramin shifted his weight in the chair and continued reading.
A few hours later, his eyes fluttered open. He had dozed off again. There was a pounding knock at the door.
“Open the door! No one was given access to this room. You must come out now!”
Aeramin jumped up from his chair. He held the book in his hand. He couldn’t be caught with that. He looked around the room. There was no place to hide it, and even if there were, he was sure the people knocking on the door would search the room after. Then he looked up. The window. The book was small enough that it should fit through the bars. He pushed the chair over and pulled himself up to the large window sill. The pounding on the door and the shouting continued. Hurriedly, he reached through the bars and unlatched the window. He squeezed the large tome through one of the spaces, and dropped it outside. He carefully closed the window, and climbed back down.
He knew he would be in trouble either way, but rather than waiting for them to break down the door, he opened it. “I’m sorry. The door was left open, and I was curious, then I heard someone coming and I hid in here. I didn’t want to get in trouble, please.” Maybe if he explained the situation first, they’d go easier on him.
The undead man grabbed his arm. The human mage who was with him followed as the undead dragged Aeramin from the room.
“My satchel. It’s still in the room.” Aeramin tried to remain calm.
“We’re confiscating it as evidence.”
Aeramin’s eyes widened. “I didn’t do anything. I swear. I was just curious. I didn’t even get to see any of the books.”
The human man grunted.
“I saw titles. That’s all, I swear.”
“If you didn’t see anything then you have nothing to worry about. You’ll be let go after the investigation is over.” The human smiled smugly as the undead man continued dragging Aeramin along.
Aeramin frowned. He wondered how long the investigation would take. “Will I be able to eat? I’m hungry for some real food, or some well-conjured food. Mine isn’t very good.”
“You’ll have to ask downstairs. They’ll be questioning you there.”
Aeramin nodded as he struggled to keep up with the undead man’s quick pace. He certainly didn’t want to trip over his own robes, and make things even more embarrassing for himself. There was nothing incriminating in his satchel, and having disposed of the book, there was nothing else in the room he had hidden in for the past few days. He hoped they wouldn’t check in the forest below. He was certain the book could be found there. All he had to do was stick to his story for now. He could retrieve it and the other two books later.