Marek was well aware that wasting words on someone you were about to kill was a foolish and sometimes fatal mistake. However, he was an old man. While it was probably far too important of a task to humor himself, he did it anyway. After he spoke, he lunged forward and grabbed the human’s throat.
Marek had no idea if this body had ever partaken in body training, but it didn’t matter. Marek was an old gevai- but an old gevai was still better than an old man. The Demon King’s current body wasn’t nearly so old- not even in a relative sense- but wrinkles had creased his face and grey hair was the most dominant color he had. “Wh-” The Demon King tried to speak, or perhaps use magic- Marek squeezed down on his throat either way.
There was just one thing he had to do before he destroyed him. He had to be sure. If this was a decoy, he would have wasted his life for nothing. Searching memories took a lot out of him… but he didn’t have to do that. He now had a method to feel if this was the Demon King. He was only worried about if this was a decoy that had been taught gevai, and somehow switched out at the last moment.
Marek’s senses swept over the man, then into him. His soul… was a mess. It was scarred and cracked… but definitely carried the feeling of being a Demon King. Furthermore, the parts that were still solid were full of soul necrosis. Marek almost pitied the man. His appearance of age was actually somewhat deceiving- likely he wasn’t actually as old as he looked. Not that he wasn’t weak and decrepit, but merely that it had happened early. Even if Marek let him go now, he would die within a few years, soul necrosis ravaging him… but that couldn’t be risked. Perhaps there was some possibility for him to survive. That couldn’t be allowed.
Marek’s ki flowed into the defenseless soul, reaching the center and detonating in a specific way. Then, all at the same time, there was an explosion of energy and brightness… combined with a darkness as he lost consciousness for the last time.
There was only one good forest on the border of Ostana and the gevai lands, though it wasn’t immediately adjacent to the mountains. It had abundant trees, flowing rivers, and very few magical beasts. Sometimes the rivers flowed in such as way to create small river islands. In one such place there was a river island large enough for a fort. William had been surprised to learn a fort actually had been constructed there- one of the less common good locations. With drawbridges it allowed access to both sides of the river, and it had a highly defensible position. The river was deep enough nearby that it was difficult to cross, and troops stationed in the fort could harass those passing on either side- or send messages further into the country.
William reigned up at the edge of one river, looking out at the fort. “Hello there!” he called out, “I would like to speak with your commander!”
“Yes sir! I will pass the message on!” The gevai soldier on the wall quickly did as he stated, and within a minute the commander of the fort was on the wall.
“Reinforcements? I hadn’t been told any were coming.”
William nodded in an exaggerated fashion, so as to be more noticeable at the distance, “It wasn’t exactly planned long in advance.”
“Why don’t you come in? It’s a bit inconvenient to talk at this distance. Ah, the keep doesn’t exactly have room for your army…”
“Don’t worry, they can remain here for now.”
William crossed the lowered drawbridge, and soon found himself in a small dining hall, sitting across the table from the commander. “I’m Lord Rutten,” he offered his hand.
The commander reached out to shake, “Commander Mulloy. As I was saying earlier, I hadn’t heard you were coming. However, we could certainly use your troops here. There is a large contingent of humans nearby… They should be within the extent of what your forces can handle.”
“Sorry to disappoint, but we’re not exactly here to take care of them. Of course, we will help out if the fort is attacked, but we’re in the area on a different mission. I’m just here to inform you we’ll be in the area.”
“Ah, that’s a shame, but I suppose there’s not much to be done. They don’t bother us too much here anyway, as our mages and archers make anyone who gets close enough to try to cross the river regret it. They might be able to take the fort with their numbers, but they’re not willing to lose so many men that their bodies pile up to make a bridge. Well, they’d probably wash away downstream…” Commander Mulloy shook his head, “The point is, it’s plenty defensible here, with good enchantments. Don’t have to worry about anyone eating away our foundations or some such nonsense. There’s also few boulders to use in a trebuchet, unless they cart them in. Of course, there’s plenty of wood for them to construct their own little fort… but as long as they remain there it’s not a problem. Your mission…” Commander Mullor shook his head again, “Actually, better I don’t ask. Let us know if you need across the river, I suppose. Otherwise, good luck.”
William nodded. “Thank you commander. Truth be told, the mission is mostly just waiting around. We might need to cross at some point, but unless the situation changes it will be some weeks.”
“Ach, waiting. That’s the worst thing that can be done- unless you’re doing it in a cozy fort. We have some room that you and your officers can stay in, if you’d like…”
“Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. If anything happens we should be with the troops.” It would be somewhat more comfortable, but the fort wasn’t exactly luxurious. Even ‘cozy’ was being somewhat generous, but William wasn’t going to say that. He hoped everything went as planned, even if it took longer than expected.