Another year passed, a year William spent in training. In his previous life, he had spent most of his time in study, but he still trained his body and what little he knew of staff techniques. This time, he trained in ki cultivation. He spent some time training his body, but he noticed that his improvements were much slower and less useful in that area. Perhaps the techniques he had learned weren’t suited to his current body, or perhaps it was because he was focusing more in other areas. William also spent time training with Yu Huan, helping her along the path of soul techniques… and occasionally getting a bit of insight in return. Of course, William also trained with Dong Xin, who was still much more experience than William in the proper use of a staff. William supposed his total time using a staff to fight might be comparable, but in his previous life he wouldn’t have called most of his efforts proper technique. Thus, his experience there was more of a hindrance now than a benefit, though he had managed to move past most of his old, bad habits.
With all that said, William still devoted time to study. Not studying ki techniques, that fell under the category of training in his mind. However, what he was really studying was history. William found that much of it was boring, tinged with hints of the unpleasantness of war. These were not always wars with the Demon King, but also among the human nations. The nations themselves had retained the same borders for most of recorded history. This would be astounding, except for the fact that this was maintained mostly by natural borders. On the western border of Ostana and the eastern side of Liaoyang, there was the Endless Forest. Marching armies through there was not simple, and bringing supplies through with them was even less manageable. To the south of Ostana was Ustil which was a desert. It hadn’t been particularly valued land even before that time, though William obviously didn’t find much of anything in the way of information on that. Ostana and Eclea were bordered by mountains. Although they weren’t as hard to traverse as the range on the northern borders, separating the human lands from the demon lands, it was still not a simple prospect to bring an army through. Eclea and Liaoyang had no borders with each other, and transporting armies by sea wasn’t a great prospect, in addition to the fact that they had little conflict between each other. That wasn’t to say that wars had never happened… just that they rarely changed borders, and never for long.
It wasn’t that the countries had always been the way they were now, however. For one thing, there was often fighting inside the countries themselves, and they split into smaller countries. However, then the Demon King would show up. While the various factions didn’t always realise the threat of the Demon King before he showed up, or even until some time after people started being killed in large numbers, but eventually everyone participated in the war. After the war, the divided factions would usually return to a united whole… either willingly, or enforced by the strongest or only remaining country.
As William studied all of this, it really made William realize why Lorelei called the Demon King stupid. His forces weren’t outmatched by any one country, perhaps not even two. However, not only did he choose to straightforwardly attack the humans, he also divided his forces to attack several or all of the countries at once. There had even been occasions where he sent forces to Ustil by sea, losing a good portion of his forces and only taking out a few villages before they were forced to retreat or die of thirst or starvation. Yet, somehow, he was still allowed to lead the armies. According to Lorelei, it wasn’t that the demons were fanatically devoted to the thought of wiping out the humans, though there were some who were. Instead, the Demon King gathered powerful supporters, who maintained positions of power. Most of them didn’t go to fight in the wars, and thus survived, at least for some time. Often, this was until they displeased the Demon King. As for why they didn’t just seize the power for themselves… They weren’t united enough to share power without the threat of force, and none of them was enough more powerful than the others to become king. More importantly, there would always be the looming threat of the Demon King returning, and even without an army he could kill any specific person he wanted to quite easily- or worse. None of them wanted a reign that could be cut short any time, with a sudden but not unexpected death. These lieutenants controlled those below them, and so on until it reached the normal citizens of the demon kingdom. William knew that societies could easily opress the lower classes, and imagined that was even easier if the upper classes could become physically as well as politically stronger while stopping the lower classes from doing the same.
This brought William back to the thought of the demon lord that had started a war during his previous life. Lorelei said that he was young and brash. He thought he could gain some accomplishments for himself, and if he controlled part of the human’s territory when the Demon King had returned, that might have actually been the case. As it was, though, he just wasted the lives of some of the demons. Even if William hadn’t killed him, he would have been killed by the Demon King’s lieutenants, or possibly imprisoned and kept for the Demon King himself. The soldiers under him had been trained, but not for as long as real troops that would participate in the Demon King’s army. That made William more nervous about the future, because even though he had realized that there were some more elite troops among the demons, he hadn’t know that those should have actually been the standard. Even the regular demons were so fierce… though the “minimal” training they were given was still a dozen or two years, which for humans would have put them past their prime. However, William was somewhat comforted by the fact that the countries would be prepared for the war… and working together, hopefully smoothly.