Before William reached the edge of the forest, he took some time to brush up on his stealth techniques. Perhaps he should have done so before entering the forest, but it was more important not to be seen leaving. If they actually noticed him and sent people to look for him, it would be a pain. He couldn’t afford to run into any trouble near the beginning of his stay, because it could be quite long. William wasn’t sure if it would be better for the Demon King to appear early and cause the stay to be shorter, or if it would be better for him to not have a fragment here at all.
Regardless, getting seen would do him no good. Once he was inside Liaoyang, he could get some form of identification, at least something that would work for people casually inspecting him. Different regions had different laws, but for general travel anything to indicate he belonged to some sect or business or even just had a residence would do. Though the eastern regions controlled the border with Ostana, they were not excessive with their taxes. While many people might have felt that way, most of the funds were necessary to help prevent magical beasts from casually walking out of the forest and into villages and towns. Of course, the rest of the money certainly went into people’s pockets, but that was where all money went eventually. Regardless, various taxes and fees for crossing the border couldn’t be too excessive, or other regions or powerful merchant organizations might band together to do something.
William concentrated, and hid his aura, as well as his person. Chris confirmed it was working, and did similar for himself. Of course, he was usually hiding his aura. William hadn’t thought about it much, but as staff that could cultivate ki was more than odd. Chris had long since learned to hide it, and never stopped, except sometimes in battle. However, most of the time it was more casual. Only when he expected people did he put more effort into it, which could really pass scrutiny. Of course, if someone got Chris into their hands… he would probably hit them in the face, but assuming he didn’t, they would be able to learn he had ki abilities, assuming they possessed some themselves.
Though it was daytime and thus a bit less optimal for sneaking, William still left the forest. There were some pros and cons to that. At night, people would be looking harder for stealth, but it would also be harder to spot them. During the day, it was easier to spot people… which meant there would usually be less ki involved. After all, they mostly searching for magical beasts or large animals, most of which weren’t subtle. The most dangerous ones were usually big and obvious, while the more stealthy ones usually remained in the cover of the forest anyway.
William passed between two towers that served the same purpose as those in Ostana, but with completely different architectural design. Still, in the end it still lifted someone up from the ground so they could see further. Everything else was fluff except whatever method they used to communicate that they found something. Likely a signal fire, but he supposed they might have some other method. He wasn’t going to go ask.
Once he was inside the border, William realized he didn’t have any specific goal. He was here to search for the Demon King’s fragments, which meant he would have to travel around and gather information about what was happening. The Demon King usually made big scenes. Even so, that wasn’t anything specific. So the first thing William did was stop by the Yu clan. At least, the buildings that he knew about. The area they controlled and their buildings had indeed expanded, but William couldn’t see much more than that. If what he had heard was true, he didn’t want to get too close. If they practiced magic… they were some of the few in this country that could notice his disguise easily. Though William didn’t have any ill intentions, he doubted they would treat a demon that was also technically a spy well.
For the same reason, William avoided any of the places he knew that had belonged to the Order. Perhaps they might not exist anymore, having killed the Demon King… but whether they were certain of that fact or not was a different matter. William had been certain… but he had also been wrong.
William found a temporary place to stay, and proceeded to get some identification. If he had any sort of real background, it wouldn’t be hard to get something legitimate, but it was a bit more difficult precisely because he would rather his background remain unknown. Fortunately, Lorelei had given him some tips. In the end, it involved significantly fewer actual dark alleyways than he had imagined, and within a relatively small number of days found himself walking out of a shop with a token that proclaimed him to be a member of a mercenary company he wasn’t sure existed.
Even though William had brought a significant amount of money with him, that money wasn’t designed to last for several dozen years. Hopefully, he would not need to spend so long, but William did need to secure a source and profession regardless. A man who had money without no discernable way to earn it who went around asking questions was not a figure people would trust. At best, he would seem to be in shady business.
William started with gathering the latest news in the eastern regions of Liaoyang. There wasn’t anything spectacular, but William at least learned who some of the more influential clans were in the region. The Yu clan seemed to have grown in influence in the area, but they were certainly not the sole power.
After the basics, William decided he should make a tour of all of Liaoyang. The easiest way to do that was as guards for merchants. While travelling between the various cities was mostly safe and therefore not great pay, it was a way for William to go from place to place without reducing his funds. If he was willing to work for even worse pay, William knew even merchants who didn’t really need more guards might take him along. Well, first it would depend on what he could find.