William woke up in a cold sweat. He couldn’t remember what the dream was, but it was deeply disturbing. Somehow, he couldn’t feel like he knew something he didn’t want to. Still, if he couldn’t remember it and didn’t think about it, it was nothing but a bad dream. Nothing else. He tried to go back to sleep, but he couldn’t. His mind wouldn’t settle down. So, he got up and went to the training grounds. Perhaps hitting things and zapping something else with lightning would make him feel better.
“Josef! Hey Josef! Did you heard the news?” Matfey ran into the training area, breathing heavily. Before, that wouldn’t have meant much, but William had seen his exercise regime. He must have run almost half the city.
“What news? Is something wrong?”
“Well…” Matfey took a few breaths to steady his breathing, “It’s big news. The Van Cann manor…”
“What about it? Have they made some kind of proclamation?” William was worried it would somehow involve him. Would he have to leave? He hadn’t done anything wrong, but that wouldn’t necessarily stop them.
“No… it… *phew* it sunk into the ground. The whole place. It sunk, and collapsed inward, and there are only like a half dozen buildings still standing on the entire property. Nobody knows what caused it.”
William blinked a few times. He supposed that was good news, perhaps. “How did that happen? Was there an earthquake?” William shook his head, “No, I would have felt it here if it was that much.”
“Nobody’s sure… but it seems like it was… magic. That’s what I heard anyway. Nobody knows if anybody survived. Well, except the servants. The building they stayed in was one of the few that survived. They said they woke up in the night to a rumbling and terrible crashing sound. However, it was dark, so all they could really see were lights sinking. Now there’s just a pit full of rubble. I went and saw it myself.” Matfey shook his head. “I mean, it couldn’t have been an earthquake, but I honestly don’t think it could have been magic. Except, the mana there was all weird, so maybe it was magic. Maybe a… Lord… was displeased with them and sent a squad of highly trained wizard through. Either way, it’s big news.”
“Yeah…” William thought about it. Was it wrong that he was happy to hear the news? He could imagine the buildings crashing down on people, and the screams… and yet he felt fine about it. Good, even. He’d only ever met Edgard, the others there might have been just fine. On the other hand, William wouldn’t have bet anything on there being any innocents there. “Those servants were pretty lucky.”
“Yeah.” Matfey shrugged. “It’s big news.” He smiled slightly, “But hey, it’s nice to know that bad things can happen to bad people, right?” Then he frowned. “I hope this isn’t the signs of something else though. Large magical phenomena aren’t good for people in the area. The city is far enough it will probably be fine… but sometimes…”
William hadn’t considered that. “I suppose we should watch out for it. Perhaps the professors will have some idea what to watch for.” William didn’t really think that. Watching for strange things happening for mana would work, but if all of the mana was doing things underground, it wouldn’t do much good. Being able to see mana didn’t give the ability to see through stone. Though, a large phenomena underground had a chance to give off mana toward the surface.
Several more days passed without incident. Then, he was called to Headmistress Lorenz’ office. William hoped it was a good sign. It shouldn’t be too bad, because if he was under suspicion he likely would have been called in immediately. Besides, he’d really done nothing. Still, he couldn’t help but walk with some trepidation as he went toward her office. William nervously stepped into Headmistress Lorenz’ office. “You called for me?”
“Yep. I finished the interpretation of all of the text on the blueprints. Of course, I could have just waited a day or so, but I wanted to do it myself. Anyway, this ‘train’ thing is super interesting. I kind of want to make a little one, just to see if it actually runs.”
William blinked. That wasn’t what he expected to hear at all. It was as if the last few weeks of not interacting with her hadn’t happened at all. “Did you hear… uh… the news?”
“What news? Oh, you mean the Van Cann estate?” She shrugged, “Of course I heard. That sort of brings one thread of the investigation to a dead end, so we’ll wait and see if anything changes. If not, I might try another angle.”
William didn’t know what to say to that, but he found himself distracted for a moment. It was that feeling again… but closer maybe? No, it was gone. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking. “So, it’s called a ‘train’?” William had already read the Eclean name, but that was too hard to explain.
“That’s right. It’s actually quite-”
William heard the door to the office open up behind him. The entrant started talking even before William could turn around. “I heard what you did Sofia. That was rather stupid.”
“Ah… umm… hmm…” William hadn’t seen the headmistress stumped for words, but she seemed to have little to say at the moment. “Josef, this is my teacher that I told you about.”
William just stared in shock. It’s not like he wasn’t expecting this, but it was more impactful than he thought it would be. Lorelei stood there in front of him. He almost wanted to run up and hug her, but she wouldn’t recognize him… and she wasn’t really the type to hug anyway. Though she was surprise enough, that wouldn’t have completely paralyzed William. Next to her, there was a blue crystal staff. Chris. That was what he had felt… but he hadn’t expected it. He also certainly hadn’t expected him to be with Lorelei, because he didn’t even like her. Finally, William moved. “Chris?” He took a step forward… then he felt the connection between them again. At the same time, Chris moved toward him… and then the last thing William could recall was Chris’ form moving toward his temple and striking it.