While travelling, William found it problematic that he couldn’t use magic to help destroy the soul necrosis. While most people would not notice the mana, he couldn’t rule it out that there were people who could. More importantly, if someone merely looked where he was, they would see him undisguised. That would cause all sorts of problems, including people trying to kill him.
William would have done the same in the past, but it irked him now. He couldn’t really blame them, because he’d been, at minimum, quite suspicious of demons. Even when the humans and demons weren’t killing each other, they were effectively at war. Even though the humans believed the Demon King was dead, it didn’t mean they would be at peace. For one thing, even without the Demon King, there were plenty of demon lords who would be happy to go to war with the humans… and the other way around. William didn’t want that, but he wasn’t in a place to stop it either.
That reminded William of his weak position in the political spectrum. What was he, son of farmers, a mage that worked with the Archmage? It meant something, but not that much. Certainly, Lorelei had a significant amount of influence, but he didn’t have any himself. He would have to work on that… later, of course. There wasn’t much he could do about that while in Liaoyang.
The caravan William was with was travelling along the coast. They carried goods too heavy or too bulky to go by ship. This meant that they weren’t that high in value either, or a ship would have reluctantly carried them anyway. From William’s perspective, that was even better. Lower value goods meant lower pay as a guard, but also less danger. He wasn’t particularly worried about any danger he might encounter, but he would prefer not to fight at all. Even if he didn’t use magic, his disguise might not keep up as well during combat, at least there could be some small flaws.
They had travelled about half of the route without incident, when they ran into the most implacable of foes. A rockslide. A cliff near the road had partially collapsed, covering the road for hundreds of feet. For those walking, it would be an inconvenience, but for the wagons… it was impossible. They couldn’t cross the debris, and if they went off road there was a good chance the wheels would sink into the soft ground and get stuck.
The caravan didn’t have much equipment to clear the debris, and with what they had it would probably take several days- and it wasn’t their job anyway. They would report the blockage once they reached a city, and those responsible would come out to clear the road- they liked taxes flowing easily, after all. That didn’t do them any good immediately, however.
William thought he could clear the debris in a few hours or less with magic, but he obviously wasn’t going to. The martial artists with the group wouldn’t be of much help in that aspect, as though they were decently fit, they weren’t built the same as those used to heavy labor. Ki would do little good lifting or breaking the rocks, and it would be quickly exhausted, assuming the guards would deign to do such work. Thus, the caravan took the remaining option. They moved back up the road for about half a day to where there was a fork, and took the other branch.
The other road wasn’t quite as good, and it was a bit longer and less safe. Still, it would get them where they needed to go more quickly than trying to clear out the road. One thing that the new road did have was a view of the ocean. William appreciated it, and wished they would stop at one of the pebble beaches, but of course this wasn’t a pleasure trip but a merchant caravan. Nobody would be stopping for leisure activities, not that swimming was high on the list for that anyway.
It wasn’t just that people couldn’t swim- though many never learned. It was unfortunate, but the increased dangers of this world included the sea- and the sea was none to safe even back on Earth. For the most part beaches on Earth were safe, with the dangers of sharks usually being blown out of proportion. Some jellyfish were much more dangerous, but they didn’t appear as threatening so people didn’t think about it… or didn’t see them at all.
Other than that, beaches mostly had minor annoyances. It was the deep oceans that were the problem. William was disappointed to find out that was not the case here. Not just in this world, but also on the particular beaches they were passing within sight of. William was the first to notice it, as he was idly feeling for anything with his senses. He noticed something alive… and shortly after big. At first, he thought it was hiding under a rock, but then he realized it was the rock.
Well, it wasn’t really a rock. It was a giant crab, though not of the hermit crab variety. Thus, it didn’t actually have a rock or any such thing on it, and was merely the same grey as surrounding rocks. Unfortunately, it was right next to the road, and William doubted it would react well to a large number of people and horses passing within claw’s reach. William pointed it out before they got close, and the caravan stopped.
The five other guards and William convened to discuss how they would fight it. That was the only real option, and it was unfortunately their job. It was dangerous… but not outside of what they were being paid. William considered that it was a pain to keep secrets, because he might be able to do something with magic… or crack its shell with Chris. Chris’ shell cracking abilities would be significantly hampered by his leather case, however. Finally, they figured out a formation where four people would attack the joints of the back legs, while two would watch the front claws and try to keep its attention. William found himself in one of the front places, but as long as he dodged carefully, he would be fine. If he didn’t… well, he would probably survive. If the crab stood up it would be ‘only’ human height, and of course several times wider than that. Besides, William wasn’t going to sit there and let it crush him, and if it grabbed him he was confident he could hit it with a soul attack, as it would be immobile relative to him. He wasn’t planning on that, because it sounded painful.