The news coming out of the human lands did not please William one bit. Not that it was easy to get much news, but this news was big enough that any sort of smugglers or spies would easily hear of it. Jeim had been uncovered, but given a few years humans had gotten used to the idea of a large fertile land in the middle of Ustil.
Feelings among the gevai were different. At least the ideas circulating among the lords were that they should have taken over such a place long before. Never mind the fact that the rest of Ustil was a desert, and it was the country most removed from the gevai lands. Never mind the fact that whenever the wars extended so far into human territory they inevitable were attacked by whatever remained of the humans and had to retreat without keeping any territory. It hadn’t been possible for those reasons… and because of the wards keeping everyone- but especially demons- away from the area. They would just have been wandering in the desert every previous time they tried to find the capital of Ustil.
William shook his head at the silly ideas presented… but he was glad he got to hear them. He was starting to be accepted among the lords. It wasn’t particularly slow- years passing was nothing to the gevai- but it felt slow. Still, he found himself going to parties, or receiving visits from some of those closer.
That didn’t mean he was friends with them. Instead, he was being accepted as a rival. That was just the way the lords were, jockeying for power. The good news he could overcome some of his lack of political skill with actual personal strength. Not that it would do much good if he was poisoned.
Lorelei had taught him how to detect poisons using magic, ki, and purely mundane means. So far he hadn’t encountered any. It wasn’t that poisons were an extremely common method, as most demon lords preferred a frontal fight, but they could happen. They might not even be able to kill William… but if he didn’t notice a poison that then made him lose a fight… he wouldn’t be alive to complain about cowardice. Besides, if he had any deep grudges with anyone they might not care how he died. He hadn’t gotten to that point yet… but it was better to be in the right habits.
Beyond the mere news of Jeim appearing, the human lands also had more turmoil. If William read the situation correctly, they were preparing for a war with the gevai. At least, none of them seemed likely clash with each other at the moment. The question was why it was so obvious. William didn’t even have any spies, and he didn’t have to heard what he heard from Lorelei either.
The lords, of course, wanted to build up their armies and launch a preemptive strike on the humans. William pointed out that humans built up armies faster, but he couldn’t deny that they would have to raise armies. He didn’t want to go to war with the humans, so he hoped that they would realize it was a fruitless idea. Regardless, William’s time became filled with reminding the lords that the Eternal King would not want them to start the war, and that he would be cross if they invaded the human lands without him.
William’s lands weren’t on the southern border, but all gevai needed to contribute to the war effort. Though there was to be a council of all lords soon to officially declare war, or the preparations for war, William was already considering how to raise and train the troops. Normally, all of the poorest would be drafted and then there would be a shortage of labor and possibly even food. Unfortunately, William couldn’t think of a way that didn’t primarily involve drafting the poor- specifically because most of the people were poor. He wanted to change that, but a few years wasn’t good enough. He would probably be required to field a certain number of troops, and he couldn’t change that required number. Thus, he tried to think of the best ways to reduce the overall impact on his population.
William found that though he didn’t like being responsible for the lives of so many people, but there was nothing he could do about it. Besides, it was better for him to be in control, because he could make good decisions. He kept telling himself that, and was doing his very best to make it true. He just had to think of what the good decisions were…
Lorelei was a big help in that area. Though she was busy with other things, she still came up with the time to help William develop a draft plan that would have the least impact on his population and the local economy, depending on how many soldiers he needed to field. It was hard for William to do, because in the end he had to think of the people as just numbers and statistics… and when he walked through the cities and towns, he found that difficult. Even so, he had to for their end benefit.
Of course, the individuals picked wouldn’t care if there was a stable economy to go back to if they were dead. They would need proper training and equipment. Unfortunately, William couldn’t afford to outfit them all with the best armor and weapons- not without damaging his territory’s economy, anyway. That said, he could afford to outfit an elite group with better equipment, and the rest with quite serviceable gear. Training… was actually quite cheap. One person could train many- and the population of gevai wasn’t extremely high to begin with. William imagined his territory would have to raise between one and three great grosses of troops based on what he had seen raised by the lord who attacked when he was Archmage William, and his experience with the later war against the Demon King.
Everything depended on how serious about the war the humans were. William hoped they would give up on the idea. He also hoped that humans and gevai would give up their timeless hatred of each other, and that nobody would be poor or starving ever again. Perhaps the Demon King’s fragments would turn over a new leaf, and… perhaps pigs would fly- without magic. William just hoped his family would be safe… perhaps he could exempt them from the draft somehow. He would think about talking to the lord who governed that territory. He didn’t want people to know how much he actually cared about them, so he had to act properly. At least Sarah would be fine as a part of the Ducson Academy. Not that she would be exempted from a draft, but she would be in Lila’s capable hands.