It took Marek a moment to orient himself in the city, but after a few moments it became trivial. He was only a street away from the council chambers, easily the most recognizable building- at least to him. It wasn’t that he couldn’t have just picked a direction and walked out of the city, but his location confirmed some of his suspicions.
He headed north, because everything was to the north. North and east or west would get him anywhere he needed to be. Walking out of the city was easy. He probably didn’t even need to use magic to disguise himself, but he did so just in case people glanced under the hood or thought too much about how it stood up at the top. He didn’t have to pass inspections by guards at the gates- because there were no gates. Not on the city of Jeim itself. Traditionally, there had been no need. Ustil itself was harmonious, and nobody else could even reach the capital, or knew it existed. At most, outsiders had seen a much poorer city. Walls were only necessary when you had something to keep out, and that job had already been accomplished.
Several days into the desert, Marek accidentally stumbled across something. It was the only thing that wasn’t sand or an occasional cactus that he had seen since leaving the fertile area around Jeim. It was just rubble, but Marek was curious so he stopped to look at it more carefully. He quickly determined that it was the remains of a small pillar. Presumably at some point it had been buried in the desert sands.
Marek turned pieces of the destroyed pillar over to get a look at the rest of it, and quickly determined that it had magical formations inlaid. They were inert now, but he could still determine something of what they had done. His sister could have done better, but Marek already pretty much knew what this one did.
This pillar was part of the grand magical formation that had covered Jeim since antiquity, until only a few years prior. It had served to confuse the movements of those who weren’t from Ustil, and had an even greater effect on demons. Marek sat and pondered as he looked at the various bits of formation. Interestingly enough, from what he could tell it was actually two parts in one formation. The second part was the stronger part that worked against demons. The enchantments were powered in the same way, but they were separate enough that they could have been destroyed individually.
Marek pondered what that meant. He knew they must have been destroyed deliberately by the nation of Ustil. At best, someone might luckily stumble upon a single part of the formation, but there were likely hundreds of pillars. Even if one or a few were destroyed, the formation as a whole would remain active.
If they wanted to open up Jeim to allow all humans to enter, they could have destroyed only that part of the pillars. However, they were completely destroyed. Did they not know how the formations worked? Marek shook his head. They showed little signs of wear, until perhaps the recent years, so they must have been maintained. That required some understanding of how they worked.
The Demon King had worked his way onto the council… but there would have been no way to convince the council to allow demons in- if he even knew the functions were separate. Opening Jeim, and thus Ustil, to mingle with the rest of the humans in harmony? That sort of line would make sense, Even so, they had been completely destroyed- and almost certainly in a deliberate manner. Those who were doing so should have understood… so why did they?
It had certainly made things easier for him. Without it he couldn’t have entered Jeim at all. Marek frowned. Could that have been it? He had heard Ustil’s only magic was divination magic. HIs arrival and destruction of a fragment of the Demon King… was it predicted? Marek shook his head. Divination usually wasn’t that precise. On the other hand, someone had taken care of him afterward, and even if they were especially sympathetic to demons- to the gevai- they would not have taken care of a criminal. They must have had a reason.
Marek sat down and looked at the map. There weren’t any geographical features he needed to see, so he had merely used the compass to make sure he kept heading north. He didn’t need to go to oases since he could use magic to get water, and it was better to avoid humans if he could. Now, however, he realized it was somewhat different than expected.
The human lands were well marked, if not detailed, mentioning only particularly large cities. Beyond the mountains to the gevai lands, everything became even less clear- and mostly incorrect. The important thing was the additional marks not denoting of interest, but something else. They were simple circles- the kind drawn by hand and without much care. They didn’t even always connect up at the ends, and their shapes were irregular, but they served their purpose. They marked particular places.
There was one in Liaoyang, but it was crossed out. In Ustil, there was the same. Another circle in Eclea, but none in Ostana. Then there were a number of them in the gevai lands. They were half-crossed out, as if uncertain… but Marek got the point. The locations were vague, at best, but the numbers lined up with the number of fragments he had destroyed. There was just one additional circle on the border between Ostana and the gevai lands. This one was marked with test- ‘unclear’. Marek was not extremely fluent in the language of Ustil, but it meant something to that effect. Unclear. Uncertain. Unknown.
Besides the one in Eclea, that was the only circle that was an unaccounted-for fragment of the Demon King, if he was reading it correctly. He wasn’t sure what was special about that one, but it was different. On the other hand, he could have been incorrect. Maybe they were just locations that something significant happened. After all, he hadn’t destroyed a fragment of the Demon King in Liaoyang, and neither had William. Either way, he had no reason not to head back to the gevai lands. Perhaps something would happen at the marked location, perhaps not. Either way, he was quite certain that Eclea’s magical barrier was still working, and he had no interest in bringing the wrath of a country down on himself- with no benefits in sight.