Dong Xin continued to relayed the successes they were now having to William. “The Archmage is quite reasonable, even without comparing her to the other one we met. We mostly just need to organize everything now.”
“I’m glad I don’t have to do that. I was terrible at those kinds of things.” William shook his head.
Dong Xin raised an eyebrow. “Is that so? Shouldn’t an Archmage be able to handle those things?”
“Probably. I did have people who could help me with organization, but it would have been better if I had the skills myself. Maybe I would have realized how much certain people were holding back the guild… and the trouble they might cause in the future.” William shrugged. “Hindsight is… not actually that useful or clear, actually.”
Dong Xin nodded. “Regardless of that, everything is going well. The Archmage wished for a demonstration of Shattering the Soul, but was quite reasonable when we explained why that was… not a great idea. That leaves her somewhat unconvinced that we will be able to defeat the Demon King permanently, but that doesn’t particularly affect any of our preparations. We’re not asking her to field troops or wizards that she wouldn’t have anyway. We at least bring with us a highly probable timeframe for when the war will begin, and our efforts to organize all of the humans to be ready and fight together.” He paused briefly. “It would have been nice if the wizards in Ostana had been willing to join us, but they seem to have very little strength compared to those here.”
William nodded in agreement. “Instead of stagnating in their study of magic, the wizards here in Eclea have come up with some truly fascinating things. They have also accepted all of the wizards chased out of Ostana over the generations, at least those who managed to survive. The guild here is better than a dozen of the guild in Ostana.” William sighed. “I really wish that weren’t the case, but it is.”
William had been wondering about some of the things he had seen wizards from Eclea do, as well as magical items they had created. He hadn’t been able to find much information in the library, which made sense because that was publicly available. He hadn’t officially joined the guild here, so he couldn’t enter the private libraries, at least not on his own. However, Amelia had no problem discussing some things that weren’t public knowledge with William.
The most important thing that William learned was that they had discovered ways to use energy other than mana to power their spells. This didn’t mean spells didn’t require mana still. In general, it just made spells and the abilities of magical items easier to maintain. William had been mostly right about the merchants in Ustil. They had items that deflected harmful rays from the sun. They were relatively cheap and easy to produce because they only required a small amount of mana-reactive materials. They only needed enough to start the barrier as well as to absorb some heat to use as power. Mana was still required to control and convert the heat, but it wasn’t too much, and mana would naturally return to the area fast enough that it wouldn’t be depleted.
At another time, William remembered the printed books. He decided to bring them up to Amelia. He didn’t actually know the word for “printed” in any language from this world, so he brought her to the library to show her the books. “See these? They’re exactly the same. Whoever made these has a way to make a large number of books.”
“Oh, these?” Amelia smiled, “Actually, I didn’t know these were here…” She paused for a moment. “Would you like to see how they were made?”
William’s eyes lit up. “Absolutely. Can I?”
“Of course.” Amelia led William through the compound. He was taken to places that were forbidden to the public, but nobody tried to stop him since he was obviously with Amelia. Eventually, they came to a rather large room with something William had never seen.
It was obvious that William had never seen this before. He could tell it was a printing press, at least a magical version, but he couldn’t have put together a mechanical one, so he wasn’t exactly sure what the differences were. As he was taken on a tour, he could tell that it was still rather simplistic as far as printing went. Each page had to be manually typeset, and then a run of the same page was completed until there were as many copies as intended. The process wasn’t particularly fast yet, but it was still much faster than doing each page by hand, even though it required a few people working to keep it at optimal speed. William didn’t have much to say about it, but he let it be known that he was impressed.
Time passed, and William learned how much Eclea had advanced the study of magic, and thus technology. He supposed he shouldn’t have been too surprised, as it had been over 150 years, but he wasn’t conscious of most of that time. He supposed he had already seen some other changes before he came here, but he accepted them as normal because he had lived in a world with computers. He didn’t particularly notice when carriage styles or building techniques changed, since he didn’t actually watch or participate in any of that work. He had also only visited Ostana, which had basically stubbornly restricted themselves. Although things could advance without magic, in Ostana the wizards also controlled a lot of the knowledge, so things hadn’t gone well there. William supposed he didn’t know exactly what level Eclea had been in his previous life, since he had never visited.
Finally, it came time to leave Eclea. Most of a year had passed from the time they had left Liaoyang, though the journey had taken a portion of that as well. Only William, Dong Xin, and two of the members of the Order of the Watchful Sentry were actually leaving. Yu Li was staying, which William found to be a good idea. After all, the wizard’s guild here was good, and she could actually study instead of just learning from him. In Ostana, the Cyril household had some good material to study as well, but they were much more limited than an actual guild. William knew that Yu Jian would be sad to not be able to see his granddaughter, but it wasn’t impossible to visit, or at least send letters. The rest of their contingent was also staying in Eclea, to help with coordinating the efforts between the countries.
William didn’t know exactly what he would do when he was back in Liaoyang, but while he would have liked to stay in Eclea, he felt that wasn’t the right move at the current time. He knew he would be back, though, so it wasn’t too hard for him to leave. Still, William couldn’t help but glance back frequently as he was heading back into the desert of Ustil. He couldn’t say when exactly he would be back… but he hoped it wouldn’t be too long.