William had two people to talk to, based on what he learned from the history books, but he would need to find where the one he didn’t know stayed, first. He would put that off until later. After all, he could talk to the one he saw every day quite easily. In fact, he didn’t even need to go anywhere to find him. Chris was practically always with him.
William thought about being tactful, but it was Chris he was talking to. It was easier to just get to the point. “Chris, you were brought into the Ostana Wizard’s guild shortly after the defeat of the incarnation of the Demon King five times ago, correct?”
“Maybe? What do you mean?”
“I know I was brought here after the defeat of some incarnation of the Demon King. I didn’t really keep track of the ones after that, so I don’t know if he was five ago.”
“Right. Well, the records I found indicate it was this one. Unless there was another crystal staff similar to you.”
“Oh man I hope not,” Chris scrawled on the ground, “I tried to teach a lesson to the guy who did this to me. Well, I killed him. Maybe someone else knew how to do this, but I doubt it. It seemed… very difficult. I don’t mind being a staff now, but I was super angry at the time. I feel like I had a grudge with that guy before.”
“You killed him? Hmm… Just asking but… was it the Demon King?” William had read that the Demon King of that time died mysteriously. The armies raised against him found him dead upon entering his fortress. Sadly, that didn’t mean there weren’t still large losses fighting against his army, but some lives were likely saved by not having to engage the Demon King himself.
“Was it the Demon King? I’m certainly not strong enough to do that on my own… You’ve seen my capabilities, after all. Though, he was really drained of energy afterwards. Now that you bring it up, it might have been. It was some demon. My memories are most confused around then, since I was just transformed into a staff.”
William had surmised something similar. The records on Chris’ “reclamation” mentioned that he was cursed, partly because of his reaction to people trying to control him, but also because he was found in the Demon King’s fortress. With the mysterious death of the Demon King, it was either a huge coincidence in which some unknown thing or person killed the Demon King, or Chris did it. However, the description of the corpse that was found as “pummeled to death” was very indicative of it being Chris. “How strong was he at that time?”
“Then? Well, I only vaguely remember he was very powerful before turning me into a staff, but afterwards he was barely able to stand. Fortunately, he was paranoid or something and didn’t allow anyone else into the room during the process, so I could beat him. Though, even with him barely able to move at all, it was hard to kill him. His body was tough.”
Demons were known to have strong bodies as well as the ability to use magic. It wasn’t known whether this was true of all demons, or just the ones that had been fought against by various armies. There was never any desire to enter the demon’s lands, so there had been no contact with any “civilians” if such existed among demons. William was glad to have some clarification on Chris’ history.
The other person William needed to talk to was one of the few wizards who returned from the fight with the last Demon King. William only knew he existed because he had been the one to add the latest update to the record books, summarizing the battle and casualties. Ariston Ilias was his name, but William knew no more than that. Actually, he didn’t even know if he was still alive. Hopefully, he had just retired, and not died. It had been almost thirty years. William decided to ask Professor Pierce about him.
“Ariston Ilias, huh? Where did you learn that name?”
William told him about the record books.
“Good. It’s important that someone in the younger generation knows about them. There are some contingencies to make sure they are not forgotten, or so I’ve heard, but it is best that someone shows interest. Especially a bright young man like yourself. Learn anything interesting?”
“Interesting? Yes. Even more so, disturbing. That was part of the reason I want to find Ariston Ilias.”
“Yes, records of wars are always troubling. Even more so when there are so many casualties.”
“It gets worse, actually. Did you know…” William told him what he had learned about the casualties. The numbers and percentages had gone up, and less wizards were being born.
“That… was something I did not know. I had not scrutinized the numbers so closely… I will need to talk to some people about this. In the meantime, I do know where you can find Ariston. He lives outside the city, now. He’s retired, and has become very reclusive. He may not wish to talk to you, but I can write a letter of introduction. At least, that will give you some chance of him actually speaking to you. Whether he will answer your questions, or will even know what you want… well, that’s something different.”
“Thank you, Professor.” Fortunately, he did not live far outside the city, so William could visit him the next day, though it would be an all-day trip. William hoped it would be worth it.