William had missed over a month of classes. That wasn’t too big of a problem, as he had the Headmistress and her teacher as personal tutors, if he wanted. He’d gotten most of what he could learn in those classes already anyway.
Matfey had been worried sick about William, which he appreciated. William came up with a story about being sick and going somewhere for treatment. He came back looking thinner and less healthy, which made it appear true enough.
William grimaced. His soul was slowly recovering, but unfortunately that meant the return of feeling, which meant pain. He continued to learn from Marek, even some active instruction… but mostly they sat in silence while William observed. Marek’s soul and body were both relatively healthy, disregarding the fact that the body was now old. However, the connection between them was extremely tenuous. He wondered what could cause that, and if it really were just giving up. Did it happen to humans too? Their lifespans were already so short, it probably didn’t matter much. On the other hand, without the desire to live, humans did die more quickly. Was it related, or merely caused by the mind and the physical body? How much were the mind and soul related? There was obviously a physical part, influenced by chemicals and hormones. Memories were stored in the brain… but they also seemed to be connected to the soul. Yet, if the body forgot them, perhaps the soul did as well. Either way, head wounds and old age caused people to forget things, but since most people forgot everything between lives anyway, it was hard to say if they would regain such memories in a next life.
William looked at Lila. Perhaps in some contexts she was Headmistress Lorenz still, but here she was Lila. “I’m glad you’re alive… again.”
“Me too. I don’t remember… everything, but except for the small details I basically have my memories. Is this how it feels for you? Oh, I’m also glad you’re alive again as well… I thought you were dead for… a very long time. Twice, I suppose.”
“Hmm… I mostly remember everything, but this time my soul got pretty messed up. I forgot some things, but I think… not everything is irrecoverable. As my soul heals, I’m getting some bits and pieces back.” William didn’t mention the bits and pieces of other people’s memories. Those weren’t usually attached to whole memories, so they were pretty disconcerting and useless. “I suppose you’re older than me now.”
“I was always older than you!”
“You thought you were older than me. I was already reincarnated when we first met.”
“Oh. Wait, you cheated! No wonder you were smarter than me!”
“Oh please, don’t tell me you seriously studied except to get into the academy. After that, you only cared about whatever you thought was interesting at the time.”
“She still does that.” Lorelei walked into the room. “Have you seen her excited about anything that isn’t new?”
“Hey! I still get excited about combat magic!”
“And other than that, you only care about… refrigerators, bacteria, and trains.” She turned to William, “I heard you say you would tell me about your life in another world once I didn’t want to destroy your soul anymore.” She coughed, awkwardly, “Not that I ever wanted to destroy yours, but just the Demon King’s, to be clear. Sorry for keeping you in a cell for a month and making you think I was going to destroy your soul. Or have someone do it, anyway.”
“I’m sorry too!” Lila interjected, “but I didn’t know how the Demon King worked so I couldn’t be sure it was you…”
“I… accept your apologies.” William frowned, “Didn’t you say the Demon King was stupid, Lorelei? Shouldn’t that have helped.”
“Well, sure, but we couldn’t know it was you just because you were smart and had some of your memories. I mean, he never became smarter before, but there was always that chance, especially if he absorbed you. At the very least, he’d be able to fake it for a while. It’s not easy to tell if you were the Demon King with your memories, or you with some of his.” Lorelei narrowed her eyes. “I know you have some of his memories, but you’re better at lying now.” Lorelei sighed. “We’re lucky it was you, because Marek could have destroyed two or three Demon King fragments with the same effort as determining it was really you. As you can probably tell… he doesn’t have that much more of that in him, and we have no idea how many Demon King fragments there are. We’ve only actually found a couple… but we have to be fairly close, basically in the same city. He could be moving around, or out in the wilderness…” She shook her head, “But enough about that, tell me about this other world.” Lila nodded, and looked on eagerly.
William nodded. “Well, let’s see here. I can’t say I remember everything, but I’ll start with the basics. I was on a planet called Earth, which is just another word for dirt or ground. It was actually felt more important to have a name for it, because we went to the moon.”
“You went to the moon?!” Lila exclaimed, “What was it like?”
“Well, I didn’t personally go. Anyway, it was just a big rock with very little air and not much in the way of useful resources. Not that it wasn’t a good achievement, it just wasn’t a practical one. There was talk about going to another actual planet and trying to set up living spaces there… but that had been happening for a few dozen years… decades, without much real progress when I died. Anyway, some of the differences you might find most surprising… there was no magic, and there were only humans. No gevai, or elves or dwarves… though I haven’t seen those latter two here either.”
“No magic?” Lorelei frowned, “Is that why you couldn’t sense mana even in the slightest?”
William shook his head. “Nope. It was just me. I found a few people who reincarnated from Earth at a similar time to me who had some magical potential. I seemed to be the only one with full memories, that I found anyway. It was probably related to the Demon King destroying souls. Maybe people came from other worlds too, but I’d have no idea how to tell. Without them telling us or searching literally everyone’s soul, anyway. Because we didn’t have magic… or ki for that matter… and our bodies had much lower physical limits… we developed very differently from here. Especially in technology… like trains.”