Prudence entered the small library in her usual dramatic fashion: throwing the double glass doors wide, and strutting through with all of the confidence of a peacock. She didn’t use to enter this way, however over the years she had discovered that apart from herself only two other people were ever present in the library.
Not a huge surprise to Prudence after a little thought, the university library was only four blocks away, and this one consisted of a single medium sized room. It only had seven shelves that were organized meticulously, if by no system she had ever encountered anywhere else. Most of the library was taken up by a table off center of the middle of the room, two broken down sofas, and one extremely comfortably beige chair.
The chair was occupied by Justin, one of the library’s two permanent residents. Justin despite looking to be in his early twenties was constantly talking about things before his time, and lamenting about the good old days. She hadn’t yet decided if he was serious, or just dedicated to the joke enough to keep it up for three years.
She had found the library; and it was necessary to find it, there were no signs outside, when attempting to escape a sudden rainstorm in her freshman year. It turned out that the library was a very good place to study, it didn’t have much in the way of reference materials, but if she brought her on books it was comfortable, and quiet.
Quiet except for Justin that is, but he seemed to have perfect timing, only distracting her when she really needed to take a brake. Over three years he had went from the dude at the library that read erotica constantly; or as he called it ‘research materials on the human condition’, to something of a friend. She still wasn’t sure where the erotica came from, she had never seen any on the shelves. Justin said they were in the back room, but apart from the single unisex bathroom the library had no other rooms. So that was crap.
She could count on her hands the number of times she had seen Justin get out of that chair. She had once even convinced him to go to a bar with her after a particularly rough exam week. She learned three things about him that night, none of which were his last name. One he liked pretentious booze, two he could afford to buy it, her drinks, and shots for everyone in the general area, multiple times. He explained it as a series of good investments. Three, and most important, under no circumstances should she ever try to keep up with him. She had done the math, and still wasn’t sure how the evening didn’t end at the hospital.
“I did it, I fucking did it.” Prudence exclaimed loudly and with great enthusiasm.
The elicited a humph from the other permanent resident of the library. The Librarian who’s name Prudence had never learned, and at this point was too afraid to ask. She was a combination of the sexy librarian stereotype, and the elderly librarian stereotype. Leading to a shockingly good looking older lady with silver hair, and glasses. Not that Prudence could tell how old the Librarian was, apart from the hair there we no other indicators.
The Librarian was actually fairly cool, in that she didn’t mind Prudence’s antics although she did require voices be kept down. She also had an almost encyclopedic knowledge on most topics Prudence had ever asked her about. Making her a better reference than the university library. It was fun to talk to someone else with an eidetic memory, even if experts were calling it mostly a myth, they had it.
Justin looked up from his book, that had a girl in a gauzy dress, and a horse on the cover. Prudence was mildly concerned by what it could contain, and resolved to not allow him to read out of it, as he sometimes did.
“We know, no need to be so loud about it.” He said.
“How could you possibly know, I just got the letter, I passed the test, and I’ve been accepted to the program. I’m going to be a mage.” She replied.
The Librarian looked down over her glasses at Prudence. “We helped you study dear, we know you passed.”
“Also we helped with your schedule, we knew about the graduating early thing for two years now.” Justin added.
Prudence flopped down on one of the sofas as dramatically as she could manage. “Thank you both for taking the wind out of my sails, and brining me down to earth. Just what I needed on my day of joy.”
“Oh relax, we even got you a present. See.” Justin was holding out a package wrapped in brown butcher paper and twine.
Prudence knew what it was even before she started opening it. The package was the right size and weight to be a medium sized hardcover book. But it felt softer meaning a leather cover. They had most likely gotten her a older rare book, it fit the theme of their friendship well.
Upon opening the package she realized she was wrong. It was a book, it did have a dark leather cover, and it was about eight hundred pages thick. But the cover had no markings, and the pages were blank. It also just faintly under her fingertips had a pulse.
“This is a grimoire isn’t it?” Prudence asked slowly. Holding the book with a certain reverence. “How? You can’t get one without a license.”
“It belonged to a rather powerful mage I knew in my youth, he left it in my care when he died. It’s one of his later grimoires so the knowledge contained is relatively advanced, but I think it will suit you well.” The Librarian answered.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Prudence gave Justin a hug before running to the front desk to give the Librarian a hug too. She didn’t make it.
“YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES.” Screeched the woman who burst into the library, throwing the doors open before her.
Naturally the Librarian shushed the woman. The woman looked pretty at first glance, but at a close examination something was clearly wrong. Her eyes were red and puffy like she had been crying. Her face, was pale, and had a sheen of sweat covering it. Her hands were shaking. Also she had a look of complete rage on her face, it was directed equally between the Librarian and Justin.
“Prudence, I think you should go and celebrate with your friends, this might take a little while.” Justin said.
Prudence didn’t need to be told twice, as she scampered passed the enraged woman and out the door. Conflict had never been her strong suit, and this clearly didn’t involve her.
“What did you fuckers do?” The woman asked, quietly, after Prudence made her escape.
“Simple,” Change said getting up from his beige chair. “We gave a girl a book.”
“A book, a fucking book? You changed all the damn timelines, all of them. No one who survives the next ten years is going to be unaffected. Every damn mortal on the planet just got roped into this, some immortals too.” Fortune replied, as she accepted a handkerchief from the Librarian to wipe her face. “What book was it?”
“The grimoire of Abe Helex.” The Librarian replied.
“You gave the girl destined to be one of the greater mages of her generation, the grimoire of the last great dark mage?” Fortune asked incredulously, almost like she didn’t believe her ears. “The whole world is going to be roped into this war, she’s going to take out countries. Why didn’t Good stop you?”
Good put down his newspaper and looked up from his spot at the table, that he hadn’t been sitting at before. “Faith in religion has been waining, a good dark lord just might revitalize it, besides the world needs more honorable knights it in.” He offered his fist to Honor who was sitting across the table. Who bumped it with his own fist.
“Besides it’s always good to have a dark lord about, keeps me from getting too bored playing around with politicians.” Evil said, he was seated at the table as well, but away from good.
“All of you are on board with giving some poor innocent girl a book of unimaginable evil?” Fortune asked.
“She is hardly innocent anymore, not after the whole fertility ceremony she participated in last year.” Change replied.
“Hey, there is nothing wrong with ceremonies in my honor.” Fertility interjected.
“I didn’t say there was, but they don’t leave people innocent. Are we still on for Friday?” Change asked.
“Of course we are.” Fertility answered.
Fortuned surveyed the assembled gods looking at each of them in turn. “Your all ok with this? It will be a world war.”
“About time.” War said from behind one of the shelves.
“Millions are going to die.”
“I’ve wanted some more proper soldiers for a while.” Death said while flipping through the pages of a YA novel.
“Cities will burn, libraries will burn.”
“I have copies of everything, and besides nothing increases knowledge like a good arms race.” The Librarian said.
Fortune let about a frustrated sob, and stamped the ground out of frustration.
“Ok, what’s really the problem here Fortune?” Change asked.
“I’m suppose to stop you. The Librarian fights Decay, Good fights Evil, Honor fights Debauchery, War fights Peace. But now after six centuries of doing nothing since I ascended to godhood, you make a move and I couldn’t stop you, I couldn’t even oppose you. It’s too late for me to do anything.” She was actually crying.
“Oh Fortune I’m sorry, I suppose I should have taken it easy on you the first couple rounds. Look, you’re the youngest and I’m the oldest. My M.O. is single unstoppable moves. You did’t stand a chance, but no one will hold it against you.” Change said trying to be soothing. It helped that the assembled gods were nodding in agreement.
“Fine, where is Peace by the way. I would think she at least would be working to stop you.” Fortune asked.
“Oh I told her everything, she’s setting the groundwork for the alliance to take Prudence down. It’s going to bring a bunch of old enemies together, peacefully.” Change replied.
“Am I the only god you didn’t bring into this?”
“FUCKING DAMN IT, YOU’RE ALL ASSHOLES.”