“Can you really help with the Demon King?” Councilor Norrous asked, “You admitted you had already attempted to destroy him, but here he is.”
William shook his head, “Only a fragment of his soul. I wasn’t strong enough to completely destroy him then, but this piece of him is much weaker.”
Lundroic hadn’t given up on his protests yet. “You would let him, a demon, destroy the soul of a fellow dwa-” The sound of a fist impacting him cut him off.
One of the younger and brawnier councilors shook the fist he had just used to backhand the Demon King. “Don’t you dare call yourself a dwarf again.” He turned toward William, “You were saying?”
Lundroic started muttering under his breath. William could see the mana in the area moving… but he did nothing. With a final shout, Lundroic tugged at the manacles binding him… and besides a small flash of some sort, nothing happened.
Honestly, William was impressed he had managed to do anything with external mana as a dwarf. He shouldn’t be able to see it, which made it very hard to affect it. Or perhaps he could see mana properly- at least like a human, with concentration. In that case… he didn’t have much of his power left. Well, with at least a dozen fragments powerful enough to survive reincarnating, William hadn’t expected that much from any individual one.
Norrous shook his head, “Those are magic resistant shackles. Made for demons,” he looked at William.
“As I was saying, he’s much weaker, so I am completely positive in destroying this fragment completely.”
“And what do you get out of that?” one of the councilors asked.
William shrugged, “The same things as you, I suppose. His destruction itself.”
Lundroic continued to struggle against his chains as they walked through the tunnels- but his body was old and held by several strong dwarves. The manacles seemed to prevent him from using ki as well, though he didn’t possess a terribly large threat with the portion of his peak cultivation that he had maintained in that fragment.
William continued, “I’m not above admitting I have personal investment in seeing him destroyed. Now, I could be wrong… but I doubt you have any experts on souls among the dwarves, and likely not any that have methods to destroy a soul to stop it from reincarnating.”
Norrous glanced over William, then turned to the rest of the council. “We’ll talk it over. Regardless of you exposing a traitor in our midst, we have no love for demons.”
“We could talk about that as well. You don’t have to like us, but I think peace would be best for both of our peoples.”
William nodded seriously, “Quite simply, I don’t like gevai dying,” William emphasized the proper name for demons, hoping they would choose to use it, “and you don’t like dwarves dying. If we go to war, some of each of us will die. Perhaps many. Besides, it’s quite a long journey if we want to fight each other.”
One of the councilors who hadn’t spoken took his chance, “You expect us to accept your offer of peace just after launching an attack on one of our ports and our capital?”
“I trust you will find there are very few casualties from those incidents. Unfortunately, our previous efforts to contact you were unsuccessful.” William frowned, “You still have some people in the upper military to deal with.”
Councilor Norrous crossed his arms, “We can deal with such matters ourselves. How are we to know you truly want peace?”
“You can hook me up to the Truthreader again…”
Councilor Norrous shook his head, “It’s not best suited for such things. Often, a token of some sort is brought as a show of sincerity in such negotiations.”
William wondered why the Truthreader wouldn’t work in that scenario, then shook his head, “Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure we would even be able to talk at all, and we didn’t have much extra room for any sorts of gifts. However, I could arrange the return of a proper and less threatening diplomatic force within a few months… and they could bring with them some of the captured dwarves.”
“You have captives?” one of the councilors exclaimed in shock.
“Why is everyone always so surprised? I truly am not in the favor of slaughtering each other for no reason.” William took a deep breath, “Yes, we have quite a few captives… and they’ve been treated decently. I’m sure we can discuss details of their returns along with the peace treaty, though their families have probably been told they were deceased. Most of them are from a dozen years ago…”
The next week was a bustle of activity to call off military activity on both sides- including a planned attack on the ships docked in the dwarven harbors. Fortunately the ships involved weren’t close enough to reach the area faster- and the messages to prepare for battle had barely reached them before the orders to avoid hostilities.
William thought they could have had more progress in the negotiations in a week, but the end result was that they would talk more… presumably to diplomats who came with a shipful of dwarves.
William wasn’t sure that the military was safe, so he had his men remain on high alert until several executions happened. Not that they let down all guard after that point, but at least William knew there had been some cleaning up done.
He was left with the dubious honor of destroying the Demon King. He noticed there hadn’t been any talk about the accusations he’d made against the councilor. Perhaps they didn’t want to look bad. Either way, he was most comfortable knowing he would be the one to do the job.
Out of the view of the public, William destroyed the Demon King- the only fragment he had been personally involved in the destruction of. He avoided the methods that would cause a large explosion, opting for the more stable mix of ki and magic. Even so, it wasn’t peaceful, and he felt tidbits of memories washing over him, whether he wanted them or not.
That was where he learned about another fragment… among the elves. He had been the one who taught Lundroic how to fix his soul necrosis, and helped somewhat with the removal. William sighed, wondering how the Demon King kept managing to get into high ranking positions even with his… lack of traditional intelligence. He supposed passion and drive were sometimes enough.