The rest of the year passed without incident. William received letters from his parents and brother ensuring him everything was fine- business was good, actually. They even hired a farmhand to help with some of the work, since Stefan was busy much of the time working on installation or maintenance of refrigerator arrays. Perhaps the interest would die down in future years, but it was steady work at the moment. William tried to send letters regularly.
On his own side, William had filled up many holes he hadn’t known or had forgotten. He was gaining a deeper understanding of magical formations, including the use of some materials he hadn’t seen in human lands. He wasn’t sure if they weren’t available there, or their use was just unknown. Some of them looked plain, so most people wouldn’t recognize their worth. Even William wouldn’t have, if he hadn’t been told about them or tried studying new things. He advanced in other areas of academic interest as well, but he felt the most impressed with his duel results.
It wasn’t that William hadn’t been good at duels before… but from a purely magical standpoint, he had been lacking, and that was with Chris. Now, he could do magic on his own, and he was getting pretty adept at using it. He already had dozens of years of experience in fighting against wizards, and now that he could see mana he became even more adept. He even won purely based on magic, without using his staff at all. Most of the time, it would have been even easier, because many students weren’t prepared for melee combat. Even so, it was their own fault- because the classes did teach the basics. If they couldn’t understand why it was useful, or even bother to ask about it, that was their own problem.
As the year came to an end, a new one started. That brought with it a new batch of students… but again, not that many. This year, there were merely a half-dozen new students. Because the academy was set up university style, William found himself in some classes with them. There was nothing specifically restricting students by year, though there were often prerequisites for certain classes. These could be waived if the student had proper knowledge, at their own risk.
Among the new students was Edgard Van Cann. He was from a minor noble family- his father did not have the right to call himself a demon lord, nor would he when the position was handed down. This wasn’t why William disliked him, but it certainly didn’t help. No, William didn’t like him because he was an arrogant brat. He thought he was better than everyone at everything, but he strictly wasn’t.
Taking a step back, William had to admit that he was better than many people at many things. He had enough intelligence and knowledge to back himself up. William didn’t really care whether or not Edgard actually was better than anyone else or not, he didn’t like the attitude. William found himself better than Edgard in every subject, and while he had a significant advantage in age, he couldn’t help but show Edgard he wasn’t the best when the opportunity arose. It was childish, and William didn’t know why he did it, but he couldn’t help it. Even so, William avoided direct conflict with Edgard- he merely provided a more complete answer to a question asked by a teacher, or did better quality work. After a few instances, even if William didn’t want to compete, he could no longer avoid it. William would always see Edgard looking at his projects, though he tried to avoid looking like he did so, or acknowledging them at all. After all, if he acknowledged them he would have to admit he was inferior.
William wasn’t the only one better than Edgard, but he was the only one who consistently surpassed him in every area. Maftey was quicker and more consistent with his calculations. Though he came from a merchant background, that really only gave him an advantage in arithmetic. However, his skills also continued into higher level mathematics. There were others who were better than Edgard in one or two areas as well, which made his arrogant attitude apparent. Confidence was different, but he refused to acknowledge when he was bested, not even trying to explain it away but completely ignoring it. William could tell he still cared though.
In terms of duels, Edgard was… average. That was William’s assessment of his actual skill. He relied mostly on his magical robe and expensive staff to bring him up to near the top. In a real battle, he would be effective enough, but when he acted like it was his own skill it grated on William’s nerves. William still beat him every time, even with his plain staff and normal robes. William thought he should really consider investing in a better staff, but a truly good one was still beyond his price range. He had to consider having money for the future. He did have to admit that not having to pay the tuition fee for the year helped his financial situation considerably- otherwise he wouldn’t have even considered some of the staves. William’s other reason lay in the staves themselves. The best performing ones were specialized in certain elements- approximately. Some magical beasts that actually used magic formed gems that helped them- like a dragon’s heart. Beyond that, certain types of gems seemed to work better with certain types of magic, but William wasn’t sure how much of that was placebo. William didn’t really specialize in any one area, so if he wanted a certain level of increase in overall performance, it would be more expensive. Well, there was one staff that would probably be just what he wanted, but William had no idea where Chris was. Sometimes, he thought about him, and it was almost like he could feel him for a moment, and then the feeling was gone. William had no idea how he would find him, but he put searching for him on a mental list of things he needed to do. First he would continue learning in Ducson until he was satisfied with his overall level of skill. He was even considering trying to become a professor again, but he would take some time to journey around the country first, for various reasons. Then… he would see. He had time, and nothing was hurrying him. It was nice.