William didn’t want to be too picky, so he took the first decent job available. Most travel would be west to the rest of Liaoyang, though some flowed toward Ostana, and an even smaller portion toward Ustil. William signed on for a trip with the Eagle Crest Merchant Association. Their reputation was good enough, and the pay was decent enough. The trip would get him to another city with more money instead of less, so it was everything William cared about.
He didn’t have a specific goal in mind besides visiting various cities and gathering the news. If he got near the Demon King, he should feel him. At least, that was the assumption. Perhaps Chris would and he wouldn’t, but he’d already had a faint connection to the Demon King before, and now that he had some of his soul it should be more significant. William supposed it would have been better to have Chris with Lorelei because of that, but Chris wanted to stay with William and couldn’t be convinced otherwise. Trying to force him to do something else wouldn’t work, and William didn’t want to force him anyway.
William quickly found himself on his way to Xianchun with a number of unfamiliar people. Not that he knew anyone in this country anymore, but these people were especially new. There were a few other guards, some obviously older and more experienced, and some younger and new. William himself was taken as an experience but not especially talented veteran. After all, he was older, but didn’t feel strong. That was just a consequence of cultivating Rotational Soul Pressure, he wouldn’t exude any of the normal feeling of passing major breakthroughs. Of course, his actual cultivation level was only secret if nobody looked too close. If they did, they would either be able to tell his true strength, or if he was hiding it realize he was strong enough to conceal his strength from them.
The merchants were carrying a number of different things, but among them were magic items. William wasn’t sure what they were, but he knew they weren’t very powerful. He could just look at the boxes they were in and see… very little. Which was the whole point. They barely affected the mana in the area at all. That said, they were still worth more here in Liaoyang where there was less history of having easy access to such items. That said, there wasn’t much difference in which valuable items were being carried, and that was also why they had a good number of guards.
William briefly considered they had something even more valuable concealed inside some kind of magical formation, but he would also notice the fluctuations from that. The could have had something inside a material that blocked the transfer of mana, but then the box itself might be more valuable than the item, depending on the exact materials. Since they made this trip several times per year, William doubted that there was anything particularly special this time.
The trip to Xianchun was quite uneventful. Not that there should have been any events, because if bandits were allowed to rampage around in a territory, no one would trade with their cities. That didn’t mean they didn’t exist, but their numbers couldn’t be too high, and most trips would be safe. As for magical beasts, they were even less likely in most places, because they didn’t live where people did- either they stayed away from people or they would be exterminated. It wasn’t like they were traveling through unpopulated or sparsely populated territory- unlike most of Ustil. Liaoyang was a truly populated country, and as long as nobody tried to travel off the roads, there shouldn’t be any issues.
William didn’t learn anything about the Demon King in Xianchun, but was pleased to see a number of places using magic lights. That indicated that magic was cheaper and more accessible, and William hoped it would increase the quality of life for more people. It was certainly better to use a magic lamp than an oil burning one. Perhaps William was hoping too much for an increase in technology level to benefit everyone, but he still wanted to believe it. He also saw schools, and while they weren’t necessarily open to everyone, from the number and size they had to be educating a good portion of the population. More than when he had been in Liaoyang before, but one city didn’t mean all of Liaoyang was better, especially since they cities and counties weren’t all united… unless threatened by another country such as Ostana or the demons.
William took the time to consider that the lands of the gevai didn’t have a good name. To the humans, it was demon territory or if they were being nice “the northern lands”. To the gevai, though there were cities and counties, the country as a whole was just called the land of the gevai. He supposed that could be a name, and it was often written as such- The Land of the Gevai. However, it didn’t feel quite right. Not that William had any say in naming the country.
The Eagle Crest Merchant Association caravan he had travelled with stayed in Xianchun for some time, and William finished his information gathering not long before they were ready to leave. Thus, he signed up for another leg of the journey with them, as he was interested in getting to better know some of the acquaintances he had made there. More than that, staying with the same group for some time would help his reputation for loyalty somewhat.
Like this, several months past, and William found himself in a familiar city, though it was not exactly the same. He had travelled across the whole of Liaoyang, to find himself in the city of Qinshan. He had fond memories of this place, but with them were some sour ones about decisions made in uncertainty. He didn’t really want to be here, but he knew he needed to face it at some point.