It took several days for Lord Novak to gather the proper supplies- plus wagons and animals to pull them. He could have gathered them all in one day if he had just put out the word of what he needed instead of sending people to purchase everything… but everything would have been more expensive that way. William understood that, and decided not to force the issue any more than he already had.
After that, they continued on their way- traveling west. “I can’t help but notice, sir, that we have not received new orders.”
“Well, you know how information travels. It will be going faster than us, but not too much faster, then it has to travel back. I figured we should head to where we will be needed to save some time.”
Jordan nodded, “An excellent idea. Might I ask where we are going?”
William pointed ahead on the road, “That way.” Then he shook his head, “I am not quite sure yet, but a more centralized location. I need some more information before I can know if negotiations can go through.”
Marek looked around him. This was probably the nicest city he had ever been in. Clean, wide streets. Buildings made out of adobe as well as those made out of wood. All around, there had been farms, and in the city there were markets with fresh fruits and vegetables. This wasn’t even the best season… if they even had seasons.
Jeim would have been a perfect city except for one thing. It was defenseless. There weren’t even city walls. Marek had just walked right in, which was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard of. Sure, he walked into many other cities- but this one was especially bad. It wasn’t the lack of walls or any defenses that made it so strange, but rather that they had previously possessed the best defenses possible. When they’d had the bewildering formation, he literally would not have been able to arrive in the capital, and wouldn’t have even known he’d missed it.
Now, Jeim was like a rabbit taken out of a hat. It seemed wrong to compare it to sleight-of-hand ‘magic’, but that was really what it was. It used to be protected by real magic… then like a rabbit out of a hat, it was revealed that it was there all along… and it was a helpless animal. Sure, they had an army, but it wasn’t here. It was off somewhere getting killed. That wasn’t a slight against their quality as soldiers, but merely what happened in wars. People went off and got killed, or stayed home and got killed.
Marek wondered if he could kill everyone in the city by himself. Not that he would, but it might be possible. Of course, that hinged on him being able to do… anything. Maybe he would just fall over dead. Maybe he had already fallen over dead, and was a ghost. Except he didn’t believe in ghosts. His sister was the Archmage, and she said there were no ghosts- so there were no ghosts. He wondered if he could become something like a ghost anyway. William said his ki cultivation remained with him through his lives. That meant it didn’t need a body. Unfortunately, without a body there was apparently no consciousness or more importantly physical location to do anything from.
So, he wouldn’t try to become a ghost. It was a stupid idea anyway. He was just going to die. After he finished his mission. He was going to kill the Demon King. Or a fragment. No, however many fragments he could find. Hopefully, there was just one here. He would have preferred there to be none… but that was not the case. There was definitely one, in the biggest and most impressive building.
Ustil had been so well fortified against demons since they created the barrier around Jeim. It had been a perfect record… and then they let a demon onto their grand council. Either that or the Demon King was in there serving as a servant, but Marek doubted that. Of course, they might claim they hadn’t let a demon influence their grand council… after all, they would undoubtedly all be humans.
Who said humans couldn’t be demons? The humans would say that, of course, but even from their perspective Marek thought that they should have also watched out for demons who weren’t gevai. After all, the Demon King was still the Demon King whether or not he was what the humans called demons. It was a matter of behavior.
Marek had no idea how they managed to mess up so badly. According to William, they were quite talented at divination magic- if no other kind of magic since they set up their grand illusion formation. They had been on guard against the Demon King, but subsequently utterly failed to find him in their own midst.
He was in there… and Marek was almost certain he hadn’t been sensed. He didn’t have a direct connection to the Demon King, so he wouldn’t automatically feel Marek. Meanwhile, Marek had a very long lifetime’s worth of experience with using ki for soul techniques- sometimes subtle, sometimes not. If he had been detected, there had been no signs.
If he was detected, things would become problematic. He wasn’t worried about fighting or dying, but merely that the Demon King might flee during that time. He could go anywhere- Marek would have trouble finding him again, and he would be on guard. He couldn’t talk his way out of any situation. Even if he wasn’t planning to go into a secure location, he could barely put together two words of the Ustil language. He’d gotten to Jeim itself by pretending to be an Eclean speaking bad Ostanan… but Jeim was still getting used to having people from outside Ustil visit. There were quite a number of guards in and around the council chamber, even if there weren’t so many throughout the city itself.
Marek could be patient. He could even wait for the Demon King’s human body to die without problems, but the only issue was he didn’t want that. He had to destroy him before then, just to make sure he couldn’t come back again. So, he stood and watched. Guard shifts went in and out, patrols passed, and Marek waited. Until he was confident, he would wait- even if it took years, and he had to learn the language.