In the next few weeks, William found himself without a moment of free time. His classes didn’t occupy him too much, as he was quite capable of finishing any outside work quickly. Instead, the biggest drain on his time was Headmistress Lorenz. She wasn’t satisfied with a single look at things up close. On the other hand, neither was William. He knew the basic structure of a real microscope- a lens, a slide, and a light source, plus some components to make all those things work together. That didn’t occupy too much of his time, because the lens was still being crafted, but he found himself being accosted at random times to be asked also seemingly random questions. When he asked why, Headmistress Lorenz gave a straightforward answer, “Because you’re a source of new ideas!”
“Why not Matfey then? He’s got all sorts of ideas.”
“Sure, he’s got all kinds of unsupported ideas, but yours always have something behind them.”
“Ok. One last thing. Why do I have to be awake at midnight?”
“Because I had an idea and it couldn’t wait! Also we need to look at the stars.”
“‘K.” William looked up. “Done.”
“Aww come on, don’t sound so unenthusiastic.”
“Maybe if you had warned me instead of just dragging me out of bed. I’m pretty sure there are rules about entering other people’s rooms.” At various points in time, William would have been quite happy to have a woman come into his room, and the Headmistress wasn’t unattractive… but obviously also at least a little crazy.
“Nobody can stop me! Anyway I didn’t think of it until just now so I couldn’t warn you.” She pointed to a telescope, “Look through that! Tell me what you see.”
William looked through. He saw a reddish brown splotch. “I dunno. A planet? I don’t remember it’s name.”
“Okay, it’s Jelia.”
“And what? That’s what I see. And some empty space.”
“What’s it made of?”
William shrugged. “Dirt.”
“What kind of dirt?”
“Probably dirt with iron in it.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because it’s red like rust. Why ask me all this, couldn’t you just read a book?”
“Sure, of course I’ve read about it. I know what they say, but why do you believe that it’s red because of rust, and not fire or red plants?”
“I’ve read books too, and they made good points.” Plus, it looked like Mars, and . It wasn’t Mars though. First of all, it also had brown areas, though the telescopes he’d seen didn’t have that clear of an image. On the other hand, Mars probably had some brownish spots too, but not so easily visible in that color. More important was that there were only three known planets in the system, so and William had no other reasons to believe it was the same planet just because of a similar color. William hadn’t actually forgotten its name either, but he didn’t know what it was called in gevai territory.
“How boring. You don’t even know that stuff for sure. The books are just guessing, and we can’t even really tell because the images are blurry.”
“So stop complaining about that. Get better telescopes. Put your telescope on top of a mountain so it works better. Or just go there and touch it.”
“The top of a mountain has thinner air, so it won’t get in the way of the image so much.”
“No no, the other thing.”
“What? This telescope isn’t really that great. I mean, I’m sure it was expensive, but it could still be better.”
“No! The other other thing. Did you say go there and touch it?”
“I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily touch it. Probably best to look at it first, in case it really is fire.”
“Hah. Of course,” she grinned broadly, “I just have to go there. See, this is why I picked you. You have all sorts of good ideas. So, how would you do it?”
“That’s… a very long project. We’d probably never complete it… well, it would take a very long time. I suppose it depends on whether there’s mana in space. If not, it would have to be done differently. I think that’s a little much for how things are now. Shouldn’t we finish exploring here first? We’re pretty isolated to just this continent.” William thought about the elves and dwarves, but nobody knew if they survived, and he wasn’t sure if he could have reasonably learned about them in this life. They hadn’t come back, but that didn’t mean anything. Maybe they couldn’t, but maybe they didn’t want to. After all, it wasn’t like they left because they felt like exploring. William wasn’t even sure if there would be other continents, or even distant islands. He’d assumed there were, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case.
“It will take a long time, yeah. Still, we can’t just give up on the idea because it will take a long time. I suppose there are other things that need to be dealt with first.” She muttered under her breath, and William was certain he wasn’t supposed to hear her next words, “… like the Demon King.”
He wanted to ask about that. Calling him the Demon King didn’t exactly speak of friendship, and she’d said that term before as well- he just hadn’t thought about it. However, he didn’t want to push too hard. “Like what, specifically?”
“Ah… don’t worry about it. Just stay here and keep learning and thinking of good ideas. It’s safe here. Still… don’t neglect taking some combat magic courses.” She grinned. “I teach those, so I know they’re good. Then, when you’re a bit more prepared, maybe we’ll talk.”
The Demon King. William wanted him to have been completely destroyed, but as always his own survival indicated that wasn’t necessarily the case. Did Headmistress Lorenz know something he didn’t know? Maybe she was just expecting his return, as normal. On the other hand, if her teacher was Lorelei, she should know that the plan was enacted, in which case still worrying indicated they had some idea it was a failure. Now he really needed to meet the teacher, to see if she was Lorelei. For that, though, it sounded like the only thing he could do was wait.