William was on his way to visit his family. Lorelei did not come with him, because she was busy catching up on things she had missed while she was gone, among other things. William didn’t have anything that required him to remain in Ducson, so now was the best time. He would likely be needed in the few months before the council, so the sooner he went to see his family the better.
Besides, it might be the last time he would see them. He hadn’t decided yet. He liked his family, and didn’t want to break ties with them, but that was the problem. He cared. Still, no matter what, they deserved to see him and hear what he had to say in person.
William wish he had a car and a highway… or better yet a plane. The car would have been a long, long day on the road… but it would still have only been a day instead of weeks. A plane would merely have been hours… counting the time waiting around, and not just the flight. Otherwise, it would be about an hour, or less. However, there weren’t cars or roads good enough for them to drive at high speeds on. William wondered if construction on trains had begun in Eclea. It had certainly been long enough, but such things could take very long before they were actually put into practice.
William rode up to the farm on a horse. It was a decent gevai horse, big and strong… though not much compared to what would be ridden into battle. However, mounts suitable for battle were generally magical beasts, and taming and raising them was hard work, expensive, and dangerous.
When William knocked on the door, it was opened by an unfamiliar woman. “This is still the Rutten farm… correct?” Something about the woman looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t remember what.
“Oh, of course. Who might I say is… wait, are you Josef?” When he nodded, she smiled. “I’m sure everyone will be happy to see you. Everyone should be working out in the fields.”
As she led him toward the right section, William couldn’t help but think. She looked familiar, but he couldn’t quite place her. It was only when they were almost to the others that he remembered. She had been much younger… and he had only seen her for a short time. However, he finally recognized the little girl that his father had saved. Though, she was an adult woman now. What had her name been?
The first person they saw was Stefan. “Gisila!” He waved and smiled, “and… Josef?” He dropped the hoe he had been holding.
William grinned. “Hi.”
Stefan ran up and threw his arms around William, almost knocking him off his feet. While William hadn’t particularly been braced, it still showed a good amount of force. “Brother! It’s been so long!”
William nodded, “I know. But… it was important.”
“And you couldn’t even send a letter?” Stefan shook his head. “Mother and father will be excited to see you. And umm… I don’t know if you’ve been properly introduced. This is my wife, Gisila.”
“We’ve met. Though I admit I didn’t remember her name.”
“Ah, right.” Stefan held the back of his head. “You were there, weren’t you? Anyway, mother and father should be just over checking on the animals…” William followed Stefan as he stepped into the barn, “Guess who’s here?”
“Is it Gisila’s father again?” Anselma walked out of the barn with a smile on her face then froze.
“Well, who is it?” Barend stepped outside as well. “Oh.”
William raised an eyebrow, “Oh? Is that all I get?”
Barend shrugged and tried to hide his smile. “Well, I guess it’s good to see you.”
William went to hug both of his parents, but Anselma looked around behind him. “Who are you looking for?”
“Well… I was hoping to see your lady-friend. Lorelei, wasn’t it? Did things not work out?”
William held his face in his hand, “She’s not… available for travel right now. She has a lot of work.” William was going to say they weren’t lovers or anything… except they were now.
Anselma smiled, “When are you getting married? Stefan already snagged his woman. Now he just needs to make me some grandkids.” Gisila blushed at that, though it was hard to tell against her green skin. “Speaking of her… where did Sarah get off to…”
William pointed, “She’s hiding around the corner there.”
There was the sound of a bonk, a pail crashing to the ground, and a few other noises, before a slight blue skinned girl tumbled into view from around the side of the barn. She immediately stood up and brushed herself off, then looked nervously toward the rest of those standing around. William couldn’t say he recognized her, except for the skin color. After all, she had only been a newborn the last time he saw her.
Anselma smiled wryly. “There you are, honey. This is your oldest brother, Josef. I’m sure you don’t remember, but he was here when you were born.”
Sarah slowly walked forward. “Umm… hello.”
William smiled. “Hello.”
“… You’re bigger than I thought you would be.”
William laughed. “Oh? Why did you think I would be smaller.”
“Because you’re a wizard.”
“That I am, but it’s still useful for wizards to be big and strong.”
“Can’t you just do everything with magic?”
“Can I?” William raised an eyebrow, “Even if I could, lots of things are easier without.”
“Like picking people up. Really, magic is best for things that can’t be done without, or at least are difficult.”
“Hmm.” She didn’t sound quite convinced.
Barend smiled, “You know, dear, he is an official mage. He knows what he is talking about.”
Sarah’s eyes looked down, “You said he came up with the coolers?”
Barend nodded, “That’s right.”
“Oh. Those are pretty good, I guess.”
“He wasn’t much older than you, either.”
At that, Sarah’s eyes widened, “Really?”
William didn’t have a response to that. Physically, that was true, but he’d had many more years of experience. Still, that wasn’t something he wanted to bring up… at least not yet.