Dimitri had run his own tavern in Canta for most of his life and before that he had worked at his father’s tavern. He had seen people of every type pass through his tavern. Soldiers, labor workers, wizards, crafters, and even prostitutes and nobles. Some came for the food, some came for the drink, and others came for the song. Dimitri prided himself on running one of the best taverns in the whole city, and while that meant his prices weren’t cheap, he kept the tables clean and hired bouncers to prevent drunken fights at night.
Currently, he was trying to figure out what type one of his new regular customers was. The man came in every day, ordering food if it was meal time and just a drink otherwise. He would take his time enjoying the food, and then he would stare off into the distance as he nursed his drink. He didn’t cause any trouble for the other customers, but didn’t speak with them much either. His darker skin indicated he was from either Eclea or Ustil, but Dimitri couldn’t quite place the accent.
Almost every day he would come in for a few hours, though at different times. He didn’t come with the waves of laborers or soldiers getting off duty, but his clothing didn’t indicate he was a noble either. He wasn’t someone down on his luck, planning to drink his life away, because he ordered decent quality alcohol. Besides, the vacant look wasn’t the look of a drunk. It was a look of seeking, looking for something, though not in the physical sense. The man rarely even took a glance out the large glass windows that Dimitri was quite proud to have. Instead, Dimitri thought he was some sort of intellectual, or want-to-be intellectual, pondering over the meaning of life… or pretending to.
He was a strange fellow, but his peaceful presence was appreciated. Business was down since the war had started, with most of the soldiers off at the front. Officers were gone too. Some of the laborers who had wanted something better than cheap swill were absent because of the draft. Business wasn’t as great as it had been, so each paying customer was a blessing.
If Marek had wanted to hunt down the Demon King’s fragments previously, he would have needed to take the crystal staff with him… Chris. That would likely have required his sister, because she was at least trusted a little bit by him. Then William had come, and Chris didn’t wish to be with anyone else. That might have presented a problem, but Marek now had another method to find the Demon King’s fragments.
He had already been working on ways to detect the Demon King on his own, but he had been missing critical pieces. After scanning William’s memories, he had only been left with some vague feelings, and confirmation of what he needed to know. Along with that, he had latched onto one thing. The feeling of a connection to the Demon King, and even a feeling of being the Demon King himself.
Marek had no way to absorb the true memories into himself, even if he had the power to actually take more than an impression from William. Perhaps he could do something like the Demon King, but he wouldn’t. However, the impressions of the memories gave him exactly what he needed. It was exactly the feeling he had been missing, and with a few years of practice he had finished his technique. It would be able to sense the Demon King’s fragments. In a way, it was better than actually having the connection. It wouldn’t function at such a large range, but it also wouldn’t reveal him as easily. If the Demon King was in a moment where he was sensitive for ki fluctuations he might notice something was off, but he wouldn’t necessarily know what. Even if he noticed, Marek merely needed to find a fragment. Then he would destroy it. He was certainly capable, and this time he was determined. He wasn’t going to let silly things such as his body and soul hold him back.
The reduced range was rather unfortunate. That meant that Marek had to get much closer than a few miles to find what he was looking for. Thus, he had set himself up in his first location, the capital of Ostana, Canta. He chose a location that many people passed by, but more importantly many important people passed by. The humans were far too eager for war, and while such political shifts could be entirely natural, Marek didn’t think so. Lorelei agreed with him, and thus he had come. So far, he had determined that the Demon King had no fragments in Canta. This didn’t discount the possibility of hiding elsewhere in Ostana or even being on the frontlines, but this was just his first stop. He would visit a few more cities in Ostana, but his eventual destination was Ustil. Jeim appearing was more than a little bit suspicious. Although it had been vaguely remembered in the gevai histories, he had heard from William through his sister more about it. They had nearly perfect defenses against the gevai, and there was no sane reason for them to change the way they had been doing things for so many years.
As for the front lines, the young William would handle that. He would be able to sense the Demon King at a much greater distance, and he could certainly destroy a fragment or two without issue. After all, he had been the one to shatter the Demon King’s soul in the first place. Marek knew that wasn’t a failure in terms of technique or power, but merely a result of what the Demon King had done to his own soul over time. Grafting on pieces of other souls had made his soul stronger, in a way, but also more fragile. Thus, the individual pieces hadn’t been completely destroyed but had splintered off. Each fragment would be much weaker… but Marek wouldn’t give them the chance to grow or combine if he could help it. He just hoped it wasn’t already too late.