Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Flash Fiction: Wizard Librarian

Ah, at last we have a new writing prompt from (caution: link not suitable for workplaces or children) Chuck Wendig and Terrible Minds! He gave us some kind of "Dungeons and Dragons character creator," which produced some outrageous characters for the role-play. I ran the machine a few times and came up with one I just had to do:
“An outspoken dragonborn wizard from the gutter who was brought up to be a librarian.”

So here we have...

The Wizard Librarian


Millicent was no name for a wizard. What the dragons had been thinking when they saddled her with the appellation, Mil had no idea. But it had given her something to overcome, and the dragons were big on overcoming things.

Maybe that was also why, when she was 7, they had left her in the slums of Erlintown to manage on her own.  For four years she had done just that. The magic helped. She could bend men—though not dragons—to her will, and no one messed with her. Especially after she’d blown that one fellow into a million pieces. He’d needed it.

When she was 11, she’d been taken to the university, and that had brought her to where she was now. They’d trained her for the job they claimed destiny had selected. Mil thought that destiny came in the form of a name, in her case. What else could a Millicent be but a librarian?

Of course, she thought with a satisfied look around, she wasn’t exactly a typical librarian. Hers wasn’t a typical library.

This library needed a wizard to keep it in order. Too many of the books had their own views on where they should be shelved and who should read them. And the patrons…she didn’t mind the dwarves, gnomes, and banshees so much, but the orcs took a lot of keeping in line. Likewise the werewolves. The dragons did what they liked. No one, not even a wizard librarian who’d been born among them, told dragons what to do.

The wizards were a whole other problem. They were either afraid of everything, or far too confident. They slunk about, hiding their actions and hiding from their fears. One of the sneaking wizards had just come in, sidling around the shelves nearest the door to try to escape her notice. Mil sat up straighter and adjusted her glasses—she didn’t need them, but they did add just the right touch—and looked through the shelf to track the young man.

Ah, of course. He was headed for the Spelled Books. Not the spell-books. Those were open to anyone, because they were useless. The dragons had long ago taught Mil that spells came from within, not from books. The spelled books were a different matter. Those were the ones that were governed by spells, spells which made them do very strange things. Some contained information that would make a person very rich, very powerful, or very dead, if they could find the key and read it.

Mil watched the young wizard, trying to decide if she would go to his assistance. He scanned the shelves as though he knew what he sought. Too confident. She stood up, but he was already reaching for the book. She was too late to stop him. He let the book fall open in his hands.

He gave one squeak as he was sucked into the book, which fell slowly to the floor with a small plop.

Mil sighed. Young fools always wanted to try that book. They almost couldn’t help themselves. She was sure it called to them on purpose, and she couldn’t seem to make it behave. She had put a strap on it, and it ate the strap. She strode down the long aisle and picked up the book, keeping her hand locked about it so it couldn’t open. She knew how to manage these books; the very unusual librarian school she had attended had seen to that.

Mil knew better than to ever open them, too. She guarded those books, she kept them in order, but she did not attempt to read them. Mil slid the book back into place and crossed the library to break up a kerfluffle between a dwarf and a banshee. Fighting upset the books, and any dragons were all too likely to solve the problem by eating the combatants.

Arriving at the disturbance, Mil grabbed the dwarf by the back of the neck, pointing a finger at his opponent.

“You. Will. Stop. This. Right. Now.”

Both looked cowed, though the banshee—since it wasn’t suspended off the floor by the scruff of the neck—managed to look a little defiant at the same time, a trick which not many species can pull off.  “Aw, it was just a little philosophical disagreement,” whined the banshee.

“You are upsetting the books,” Mil said. “And I believe there is a dragon in the back reading room. You wouldn’t want to attract his attention.”

Both combatants went pale, or paler, at that news. They might have been new to the library, but they knew that dragons were touchy creatures who didn’t care for the squabbles of lesser mortals. To dragons, everyone was a lesser mortal, including other dragons. Mil was the first Librarian in a century who had managed to get the dragons to take their own disputes outside. There was a battered and blackened courtyard behind the library where they settled differences of scholarly opinions.

“So you will go about your own work, and leave each other alone?” Mil now asked in a deceptively mild tone, setting the dwarf back on his own feet.

“We both want the same book,” he grumbled. “I had it first.”

“Only because he pushed me aside to grab it,” the banshee retorted, warming again to battle.

Mil looked at the book and shrugged. “There are three other copies on the shelf. Really, if you cannot behave, I shall be forced to ask you to leave the library.”

The dwarf really was new. “And if I don’t want to?”

“I shall feed you to the books. I will not have disorder in my library.”

Shaking, the patrons accepted a book each and sat down to read. Mil walked back to her desk, pausing here and there to straighten a row of books or pick up an escaping tome. Yes, she was what she had been brought up to be. Life could be a lot worse.

###
©Rebecca M. Douglass

2 comments:

  1. Oh, oh oh.... I SOOOO want Willoughby to tell this story at a narrathon! Brilliant, and, what can I say, probably could only be written by one with that certain inner sight.... I'd love to know the title of the Spelled Book, though :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure we could work something out with Willoughby! Your words are too kind (and I have NO IDEA what the title of that book is! I'll try to come up with something :D ).

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