After the escalation of their feud, William had half-expected himself to get attacked in the halls- or elsewhere- by Edgard. However, he seemed to be smarter, more cautious, or more cowardly than that. Still, William remained on guard around him.
So far, the only thing William knew he’d done was spread the rumor about himself and the headmistress. He didn’t have any proof it was Edgard, but he knew it was him. Other than that, he immersed himself in his studies. The fervor with which he did so would have impressed William, if he didn’t dislike him so much. William could also clearly tell he was just trying to find some knowledge he could hold over William. He didn’t, but not because it didn’t exist. Edgard just didn’t know where to look, and William was good enough at coming up with answers to unexpected questions.
Well, William found it didn’t hurt to find out what Edgard was studying. His initial reason for spying on him was to determine for sure if he was spreading the rumor, but by the point William did so it was too late. The rumor was already around, which meant Edgard wouldn’t need to continue spreading it. Still, William saw what he was studying to try to trip him up, and also who his friends were. Well, maybe they weren’t friends. Lackeys wasn’t really right either, but they were more than acquaintances. Either way, they were people he talked with rather frequently. William couldn’t watch them all, but at least he would know who to be more suspicious of. Maybe they wouldn’t do anything, but caution wouldn’t hurt.
William’s sneaking skills weren’t nearly as good as when his ki was… well, useful. Still, he was capable of conventionally hiding, and in the library he could listen to conversations while appearing to browse the shelves. He could at least slightly boost his hearing with ki, even if it was much less so than before. As for using magic… trying to be stealthy with magic in front of gevai was a futile effort. Even those who didn’t study magic would at least be able to tell magic was happening, because of the way mana would move unnaturally.
Even though he did spy on Edgard, he didn’t actually do that much of it. After all, William had his own things to do, and they were more important than coming out on top of a stupid rivalry. Not that William didn’t want to do the other things and come out on top of the rivalry, even if a squabble with a kid was stupid to get into. And a kid he was, no matter what humans might say given his age.
William heard the alarming sound of furniture breaking- the snapping of wood and clattering sounds. He hurried his steps toward Headmistress Lorenz’ office… only to have to dodge a chair that came flying out the door. It shattered into pieces on the wall behind him. “Oh! Sorry, Josef. Come in.”
“Expecting someone else, Headmistress?” William asked as he stepped into the room. The only intact furniture were the bookshelves and the desk. Everything else had been smashed to pieces.
“Why the throwing and breaking then? Aren’t these kind of expensive?”
“Who cares about money?”
“Lots of people, actually.”
“Then why is my school so empty? Wizards can make a lot of money. Heck, even people with a basic education can make a lot more than those without, but nobody comes to the free classes.”
“Almost nobody. In a city this size, I should have to be turning people away because the building can’t hold anymore instead of just seeing a couple dozen children every day. I know not everyone is helping out with the family business. I would have killed for the chance!” As she snapped the leg of of a chair- made from ironwood, it seemed- William wondered if she was being literal.
“I never realized you were so passionate about that.”
“The only thing that bothers me more than stupid people is uneducated people. At least here they have a chance to fix that! The stupid are a lot harder to fix, but it’s free education!”
“Maybe nobody sees the value in it because it’s free? Perhaps if you start charging a token fee…”
“I already tried that a long time ago, but some of these people are so poor they can’t afford a copper per day- or per week.”
William shrugged. “I don’t know then. Maybe they’re afraid of wizards.”
“That’s a stupid reason. Everyone can use magic, if they learn how.” She sighed, “Is that it though? The few students seem like a timid lot, but they aren’t afraid of us. On the other hand, they don’t do much convincing of others to join. At home, they’ll at best get half an education… but usually less.” She tilted her head for a second, “I wonder if magic would help? It could get people to show up.”
“What, like demonstrations?”
“Hmm? I guess we could do that, but I was thinking a formation to draw people here.”
“What, and force them to learn?”
“Ah… when you say it like that, it sounds bad. I’m sure once they came here and saw how it is they’d want to come back.”
“How would you know, with the formation drawing them? Besides how would you even filter the right people?”
“I don’t know!” She threw her hands up. “If I did I wouldn’t have broken all this stuff.”
“Right. Well, at least this isn’t the lab. You asked me here for something?”
“Oh, yeah.” She shuffled through the papers on her desk… and some on the floor next to it. “Ah, here it is. We got something out of Eclea- it’s a real pain with their stupid barrier. It’s a schematic for something, I’m not sure what yet. I’m still translating it. Should have learned it when I had the chance, but there aren’t exactly any Eclean to gevai language books around. Well, not any good ones, which is why it takes time.” She shook her head, “Oh right, here’s the thing. It’s probably not a great copy, but it should be something.”
William took the blueprint, though it wasn’t blue… nor had he seen any actual blue blueprints in this world. Regardless, he took it and looked at it. “Huh. A train.”