The gevai who had been doing his best to coordinate the discussion, Oliver Krantz, continued, “What do we do? There are signs of unrest among the humans. It might mean another civil war, but it might not. Then there is the appearance of that city, no, an entire region within Ustil… It is most concerning.”
Lorelei smiled calmly, “What do we do? You already know the Eternal King’s opinion on the war with humans. Unless he is around he would disapprove of any offensive actions. Even if you think it would prevent further trouble… he would not approve. Thus, if it worries you, we must look for him… as Josef and I were already doing.” She shook her head, “Well, he may yet return as normal. It is not quite the end of the expected time… Still, it is worrying. We must consult the diviners more. As for anything else… I can’t think of what we should do.” William almost found himself convinced by her words. She was quite convincing.
There was some muttering and discussion among the other lords. William could tell that many of them didn’t like Lorelei- or him- for various reasons. However, there wasn’t much they could say. Finally, Abiel Thorsten spoke up, “I agree that there is not much we can do but to look for him. However, besides the diviners, there is a least one other option. His castle… or more specifically his private study, might contain some clues. Of course, I am not saying we can send just anyone in there. Perhaps… a trusted advisor of some sort?” He looked around the room, “If I recall correctly, was not our very own Archmage the one who installed the wards for him? She has also always served him loyally.”
There was more grumbling, but the lords had to admit she had a unique position. She had always been seen as a trusted advisor, much as many of them didn’t like a woman in such a position of power. Of course, Lorelei had confided in William that the Demon King didn’t completely trust her, but that sort of paranoia was expected of a man so invested in personal power. It also wasn’t unjustified, but that was another issue entirely. Finally, one of the lords spoke up, “While I couldn’t say that any of the rest of us are in his good graces enough, the Archmage might indeed be forgiven, since it is for his own sake. I believe no one here would have any objections if you were to go look for clues in his study.” Left unspoken was that they didn’t really care if he got angry at her, because then her position would be weakened. Still, all of the others agreed that was an acceptable option. Of course, this meeting wasn’t composed of the entirety of the lords, but now that the idea had been stated William knew it would spread.
There was more in depth discussions of the plans everyone had to find the Eternal King, but then the council was finished. There was not much that they could actually do, and even though it took many times longer than it should have, they were still done discussing by late evening. William made his way out, not to Lorelei’s carriage, but to his. He saw the guard standing there nervously, obviously looking for Lorcan Harridan. It seemed nobody had told him. The lord who had been expunged through the window by Lorelei had already left, finding it the wisest choice.
William took out the signet ring he had taken. “Lord Lorcan Harridan is dead. I will be taking over his position.
William watched as the guard actually broke out in a cold sweat, “Of course, Lord.”
“As for you… “ William let the silence string out for a few moments, “I have no need of you. You will be relieved of duty.” The guard turned from a ruddy brown to almost a light tan as he paled. “You may return with me to retrieve your possessions, or if you have nothing of value elsewhere, you may part ways here, of course leaving behind any sponsored equipment.”
The guard looked extremely relieved to not have been killed. William had considered that, but it wasn’t quite right. William didn’t want someone like him as a guard. He was either an incompetent guard who couldn’t recognize the face of the Archmage, or someone who intentionally blocked the Archmage. Neither were good, but even if incompetence could be forgiven, blocking a woman from entering for just that she was a woman would not be. Even so, William didn’t plan to kill him. The guard nervously stammered, “I-I would return with you, if I may, Lord. I do have some personal effects I wish to retrieve.”
“Very well.” William went to the coachman, who was similarly nervous. William had no quarrel with him, however, and after explaining the situation soon found himself on the way ‘home’. He had never been there, but it would be his. He expected to run into more trouble there, but if he could not handle it then he wouldn’t be able to deal with the bigger problems in the future.
At least Lord Harridan didn’t have a wife and family. A number of mistresses, certainly, but William wouldn’t be turning any children out on the streets. As for the guards and servants, he would keep many of them in service. The guards would vary depending on how ingrained in Lord Harridan’s methods they were. Though, if William could remember the face of a particular one… he would be made an example of what happened when you crossed the new lord. That sort of brutality still seemed wrong… but it was also easy. William needed to appear strong to more than just a few lords, so he couldn’t afford to be too soft. Still, he wouldn’t kill anyone who didn’t deserve it. As for how many there were who did deserve it… that was something he didn’t yet know.