William sat down with Jordan and Lorelei. He really needed to get a cabinet of advisors set up at some point. While he couldn’t afford to keep everyone at his castle with him, that wasn’t actually necessary anyway. As long as it was only a few people, they could have phones to communicate from wherever they were. He wanted to expand his communication network in different ways… but that was a plan for another day. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do everything at once.
“So, what do you think we can do about this dwarf problem?”
“I suppose I could lay out a plan for military action…” Jordan started.
“Ignoring whether or not I want that sort of solution, do you think it would be viable?”
“It wouldn’t be impossible to enter another war, but it’s not really a sound financial policy at the current time. Cruoria isn’t sufficiently recovered to make a fight against an enemy of unknown strength advisable.” Jordan shrugged, “Not that it ever really is.”
Lorelei spoke up next, “The problem with a non-military solution is… nobody speaks dwarven. It’s possible the dwarves don’t even speak the same language anymore, by this point. They clearly still hold a grudge- or have come up with a new reason to attack the gevai.”
“It would be nice if I could convince them I already killed everyone responsible for driving them out- or trying to exterminate them- but that might not make them sufficiently appeased. That still has the problem of communication anyway.”
Jordan frowned, “Could you learn their language… from them?”
“What, just hop onto a ship and hope they let me stay around and listen to them talk for a while?”
“I was thinking something that played more to your… strengths. It might still involve hopping on one of their ships. Do you think you could learn their language by searching through their memories?”
William frowned and closed his eyes, “It might be possible. It wouldn’t be possible to do quickly. I would have to capture some- a bunch of them. One wouldn’t be enough even if I had no regard for their soul… and I’d rather prefer to leave them relatively unharmed so they can vouch that we’re not total monsters. It’s not really a quick solution though.”
Lorelei nodded, “Especially not if we want you to teach other people. However, if we avoid shipping by ocean on the western side… at least we won’t lose too many gevai lives. The money will be less but with improvements to the roads it will balance out somewhat. What else can we do in the meantime?”
Headmisress Lorenz- who once was known by the name Lila- sat in her office behind her desk. Across from her sat a boy, Theo Chaves. He kept shifting in his seat, and his eyes darted all around the room. “Welcome, Theo. I’m glad you decided to come. Before we decide what classes to place you in, I need to ask some questions to determine how much you have already learned.”
“Mmm. Okay, headmistress.”
“You can read and write, correct?” Theo nodded, “How about arithmetic?” Theo nodded again. “Alright, I’ve prepared an arithmetic quiz. Take as much time as you need.”
Theo took the piece of paper- real paper and not parchment. He bit his lip as he concentrated, writing each answer carefully with the quill pen. He completed the few dozen arithmetic problems in a handful of minutes and handed the paper back.
Headmistress Lorenz nodded. “Good, I appreciate the neat handwriting.” She set down the sheet of paper after looking over it briefly. “I hear you saw one of the foreign ships. Others have seen them as well, and said there were dwarves on them. Did you see any?”
“Yes, headmistress. I didn’t say anything about it before because I didn’t think anyone would believe me. People almost didn’t believe me when I said I saw the attack happen, just because I’m a kid.”
Headmistress Lorenz nodded again, comfortingly. “Unfortunately, some children have trouble distinguishing truth from fiction, and many people don’t take the time to figure out which children fall into that group. You have seen magic used, correct?”
Theo nodded again, “My father is a fisherman. He knows a simple spell to prevent his boat from scaring away fish. He taught it to me. The dwarven ship was doing a lot with mana too, but I don’t know what.”
“That’s alright. Let’s cover some more of the basic questions here. Do you know how fire magic works?”
“My dad used it to light fires to cook fish. You still need something that will burn, but then you just have to gather some of the right kind of air and make a spark. He said it’s dangerous to do too much though.”
“That’s right. It’s important to be careful when using magic unless you understand it completely. Do you know chants for any other magic?”
Theo’s eyes darted to the side. “No.”
“That’s okay, we can teach you. Now then, we’ll cover some more basic knowledge. What do you know about how plants grow?” Headmistress Lorenz went from plants to the water cycle to earthquakes and volcanoes. The questions covered a wide variety of topics. “Alright, that’s good enough to place you in the appropriate classes. It will take a few days to arrange everything, but you have been assigned rooms and can get meals in the cafeteria. Please don’t leave campus alone. I’ll have someone show you around and tell you what areas you aren’t allowed to go without permission, but other than that you can go wherever you want. You can even sit in on classes, as long as you don’t disrupt them.”
Once Theo left, Headmistress Lorenz sighed. Theo must have lived a very sheltered life. Not that he didn’t know things… but he didn’t know which things it wasn’t normal for a child around a half dozen years old to know. His arithmetic calculation was too fast- except for some very easy calculations he took longer on. Two times six was a dozen, four times nine was three dozen… but he had almost written a dozen and two and three dozen and six. Headmistress Lorenz recalled something similar from when she was just Lila, and sighed. William would need to meet Theo to be sure… but he certainly wasn’t a normal child.