Sarah was tiny. It didn’t seem that she was particularly smaller than she should have been, but William was bigger than he had been before. That was what made her seem particularly tiny, even for being a baby. Regardless, she was a pretty cute little sister. Taking after her mother, she was nice shade of blue.
Being who he was, William couldn’t help but wonder how gevai skin pigments worked. Humans only had one pigment, melanin. Not that it particularly mattered what it was called. The quantity of it determined how dark skin was. However, with gevai having such a range of different colors instead of just “brown” and “light brown” and “apparent lack of brown” there had to be multiple components. William wondered what the purpose was, but he supposed there didn’t have to be one. Any color would likely serve the purpose of blocking ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Beyond that, was it just to look pretty? On the other hand, it didn’t necessarily have to have a purpose.
William didn’t stop magic training just because he received an official title and was no longer at the academy. He could definitely be better in practical use of magic. He wasn’t poor by any means, but each bit of practice helped with speed, or power, or accuracy. The more comfortable he was with using magic, the better it became. Plus, he could always use work on visualization of what he wanted magic to do. A number of more complicated techniques were completely useless without practice. Controlling multiple things was difficult. Separating different gases in the air was also significantly difficult, at least if he wanted a high level of purity. It was easy enough to gather the right parts to make an explosion for a fireball, but if he wanted pure nitrogen or oxygen or anything else, it was very difficult. The air wanted to mix together naturally, so he had to move what he wanted inward and hold it there, while also moving what he didn’t want away. Of course, since he couldn’t see it, he had to perform some tests to confirm he was actually doing more than making wind, and even those tests might have seemed successful because he was confirming his bias. He would need a laboratory setting to really get more. William experimented with other types of magic as well. He had a ‘new’ idea, but hadn’t gotten it to work yet.
When he returned from training one day, Lorelei had a few comments. “How did you get burned?”
William looked down at his hands and arms. It was hard to tell he was burned, with his skin already being quite dark, but it certainly didn’t look right upon closer observation. Still, it wasn’t a real issue. “Well, I was testing some things. It didn’t work like I wanted.”
“You should be careful when playing with fire.”
“I am. Though, this wasn’t fire.”
“Hmm, is that so? I don’t recall you having any of the sorts of materials that can cause burns in other manners…”
“Well, I certainly wouldn’t mess with radiation. At least, not radioactive materials…” William shook his head, “It’s just sunburn, basically.”
“Really?” Lorelei raised her eyebrow, “You, getting sunburned? And just on your hands, no less.”
William shrugged, “That’s just how it is.” Then he frowned, “Do gevai who spend a lot of time in the sun get skin diseases?”
“Umm… some of them, I suppose. I hadn’t really looked into it.”
William frowned again, “I should wear gloves. I already should have, I suppose.”
“Dragonhide is quite fire resistant. Especially from fire dragons, but it’s all tough. Doesn’t make good gloves though.”
“I’ll figure something out.”
William and Lorelei stayed with William’s family for a few months. That was more than enough time for Anselma to recover, and for them to catch up on everything.
“So, what do you do now, William?” his mother asked, “You’re an official mage, but what do they do?”
“There are a few options. I could be a court mage, but that wouldn’t really suit me, if there are even any such positions open. However, I feel that a position as a researcher suits me much better.” He would also be searching for and hopefully destroying fragments of the Demon King, though that wouldn’t necessarily be short term. On the other hand, if they waited too long…
“With the way some people act, you’d think they already knew everything about everything.”
“Ha, not by a long shot. Some people do think they know everything, but that’s what keeps them from learning. In some ways, we’re falling behind Eclea, and their researchers die of old age.” William avoided saying it was due to the Demon King and the lord’s stupid policies and traditions, but he certainly thought about it.
William and Lorelei said goodbye to everyone. William couldn’t help but wish he had time to stay and see Sarah grow up, or at least learn to talk… but he couldn’t afford to spend the years required to do so. Not that he was limited by time… except if he failed to remove all of the soul necrosis in time. A few years wouldn’t be too much in terms of lifespan, but he wasn’t able to do what he needed with magic, and also wasn’t making any progress on methods to track down the Demon King. Perhaps a few years there wouldn’t make any difference, but maybe it would make all the difference in the world. The Demon King was known to be hasty when he had power, but before he’d become strong he’d taken his time. A few months to see his new sister was more than he would have taken as a human anyway.
On the trip back, William and Lorelei discussed more about how they would find the Demon King. Obviously, they couldn’t count on just coincidentally being near him. The few fragments Lorelei had already found were narrowed down through divination magic, but that was tenuous at best. Though it could confirm that the Demon King still existed, finding pieces of him wasn’t so easy. Over 90% of the probably locations had been false- or he had moved on by the time Lorelei arrived. Unfortunately, without him trying to declare himself, there was no way to tell. Since Marek couldn’t destroy the fragments of the Demon King in quick succession, it hadn’t mattered that a handful of years had passed in between events, but William would soon be recovered enough to do it himself- and without issue either. After all, William had destroyed the Demon King before, and with the fragments being weaker, he wouldn’t even need a fifth of his strength to do so- though more was safer.
Then again, Chris was stronger as well- he hadn’t just sat around doing nothing. Unlike before he knew how to cultivate, Chris took advantage of all of the time he had available. He didn’t grow bored of doing nothing, and fortunately that translated over into cultivating as well. William couldn’t say his growth was fast, but with diligent work over more than a gross of years he made progress. Considering he didn’t have anything like a traditional body, and his soul wasn’t exactly in a regular form either, it was good that he could do it at all. William wasn’t exactly sure how strong he could be considered on his own, but Chris could be counted as at least the strength of a cultivator who had passed the third major breakthrough, plus a seemingly invulnerable body… and minus useful features like limbs.