When William arrived outside of the Cyril estate, the guards recognized him. After all, he had lived there for six years, and had been gone for only one. A different hairstyle and a beard only caused them a few moments of thought. William looked over the familiar grounds. The walls surrounding it made it more like a fortress than an estate, however inside it was perfectly habitable. Inside, there were rather pretty gardens and an orchard, and the living quarters were quite luxurious. That made William consider how much land a prosperous noble family would own. Granted, the Cyril family managed their resources smartly and efficiently, but it wasn’t easy. It was proof of their resilience that they had been able to stand under the suppression of the Lockridge family for so long.
William soon learned that Daniel and Ivy were not present. That was a rarity, because it was dangerous for them to go far. Although they might not be able to openly admit it the Lockridge family, or more likely those who worked for them, would attempt to kill members of the Cyril family with the excuse of hunting rogue wizards. However, the reason they weren’t present was soon made clear to him.
The father of the household, Zachary Cyril, explained the situation to William as they sat in the lounge drinking tea. William wasn’t particularly fond of tea… but he would drink it when it was offered. He did find that good tea was certainly worth drinking. Regardless of its taste, it was also useful for when one wished to take a moment to think before talking. Zachary Cyril was taking a sip of tea at this very moment. “Well, I suppose a summary of the situation will do just fine. The investigation into the Lockridge family and the wizard’s guild has gained enough traction that it has come down to court procedures. Daniel and Ivy are attending as witnesses. Their safety was guaranteed by the knights- Tyler Dragonfoe herself. The main charges against the Lockridge family are abuse of authority, destruction of critical war intel, and collusion with demons. The charges against the wizard’s guild are much the same. Of the charges, the last one is the hardest to prove. Sadly, though they might act arrogant and stupid at times, they were not so stupid as to keep records of any collusion with demons, though there have been several things that might suggest such. However suggestions are not proof in court.”
William took a chance to speak. “Colluding with demons? I didn’t think they would go so far… though I suppose that might be a bit hypocritical of me.”
“Our dealings with Lorelei are somewhat of a different matter, not that it would be wise to let it be known. The specific charges against the Lockridge family are related to collusion with demons to the detriment of Ostana… and perhaps all of humanity. There are indications that the Lockridge family’s sudden rise to power might have been aided by demons. However, this can’t be proved since it happened about half of a great gross of years ago. It was much closer to the re-establishment of the Wizard’s guild than to current times, so any evidence is long gone. However, there are a few more recent suspicions. As for the wizard’s guild, the third charge is only because of the close relationship between the guild and the Lockridge family- since the time of the Archmage William. Regardless, if the first charge is upheld, the results can be anywhere from large restrictions being placed on the guild to its dissolution, and possible criminal charges on individual members.”
William shook his head. “I hope the charges are proved, though personally I would be happier if they weren’t guilty of colluding with demons, because that could lead to some deeper problems. Is there anything I can do to help? I can testify that Cecil Lockridge said he burned the records kept on the Demon King. However, the word of a wanted man might not go over well, and I’d really prefer not to have charges raised against me.”
Zachary Lockridge took a sip of tea as he thought for a moment. “Well, that would certainly help. You seemed to have a good relationship with Tyler Dragonfoe- she would be the best guarantor of your safety. If the charges against the guild or the Lockridge family are proved, then there would be little reason to pursue any charges against you. At best, it would be… overzealous execution of justice. At least, that is something Tyler has mentioned in the past.” Zachary grinned. “Actually, though, there might be something else you can do. That said, I don’t know what it is. However, Lorelei mentioned that you might be helpful in proving some of the older charges, though not how.”
“Lorelei is around?”
“Indeed, she has been helping with the investigations… behind the scenes, of course. She didn’t specify in what way you might be helpful.”
William couldn’t think of anything specific either. Though he’d been killed by an assassin he was sure was sent by the Lockridge family, he wasn’t actually conscious for that, nor was being “sure” who an assassin was sent by proof. Of course, it might have just been what he had already mentioned, what Cecil Lockridge himself had said. Still, William would be glad to see her, and was glad that she was helping.
Zachary finished his tea, then continued, “While I would like you to stay and tell me what you’ve been up to, I’m afraid that there isn’t much time to chat. If you’re to provide any help at all, arriving sooner rather than later would be best. A few minutes time might not make a difference… but an hour or two might. Then again, it might not. Still, I’d rather not have you arrive too late to make the optimal impact. Besides, I’m sure you’d rather be doing something besides talking to an old man.”
William chuckled inside. Zachary was hardly old. At least, he wasn’t much past fifty, which William certainly didn’t count as old anymore. Zachary didn’t know William’s true age, though, so his assumptions made sense. William hadn’t realized how close things were to being finished- though he knew with politics that meant a week to a couple months. If he had, he might have come sooner, even at a larger risk of being spotted by the wrong people.