William was glad how easy it was to provoke gevai Lords into single combat. They all had their own pride, and were confident in their own strength. They mostly had good reason for it. So far, William hadn’t fought anyone purely with magical strength, so Lord Womack wasn’t completely without reason to be confident.
Lord Womack started out with a lightning spell. Against those who didn’t know how to defend against magic, it could be one of the most effective. William countered with his own magic to deflect it, and only avoided getting hit by a half dozen inches.
The next spell was a fireball, and William threw himself to the side to get out of the blast radius. If they weren’t enemies, William might have even complimented him on his power and control.
Lord Womack continued his magical assaults without pause, and William was glad his robes helped protect him. Though he never took a direct hit, he still found himself a victim of some collateral damage. Lord Womack was even adept at performing two sorts of magic at once, such as turning a patch of ground to mud at the same time he launched a fireball.
After half an hour, William found himself leaning on his staff. Lord Womack chuckled, “What, tired already? I could go on for a while more. Just admit your defeat.”
“Huh?” William shook his head, “Oh, no, I was just bored. You know, if there wasn’t a mana gathering formation you would have run out of mana in your location long ago.”
“I merely took advantage of the situation I found myself in. You cannot claim your defeat was from this alone.”
“Defeat?” William stood up straight. “I just happened to give you a very long chance to see if you could come up with anything good. You didn’t.” William took a deep breath and then his voice rang out thunderously. He chanted… but not in the gevai language.
Lord Womack began a chant of his own… but the mana didn’t respond to his control. He couldn’t even wrest control of the mana nearest to him. In the distance, as far as he could see, the mana was under someone else’s control. That surprised him enough he forgot to consider what it might be doing, and those few seconds cost him his only opportunity.
Underneath Lord Womack’s feet, the ground in a cylinder six feet in diameter liquidated. At the same time, he found himself forced downward. Then he found himself in mud underground, but before he could react… the mud returned to being dirt.
That was the last anyone saw of Lord Womack. Above the ground, William continued chanting, before finally launching a fireball the size of a small building into the sky, where it exploded over the castle. It was well beyond the area of the barrier… but those inside realized what it could have done had it been launched at the castle.
William took a few deep breaths, as the area went silent. Then he looked at the castle walls and spoke, “Get out of my castle.”
Mages stared nervously down at the ground as they walked past the strange spotwhere Lord Womack had once stood. Some of them realized that he might have been able to move away… and if he were as physically strong as even the average gevai a few feet of dirt wouldn’t have held him so easily. Even so, they recognized the power it took to instantaneously liquidate an area of ground, and return it to hardness. Most of them had trouble comprehending the power required to gather mana from such a wide area to create the following fireball. The mana had just barely started to flow back into visible range in the past few minutes.
With the departure of the mages, the few guard trainees left as well. They didn’t understand as much about the situation, except that they would do no good staying behind.
The head caretaker stepped out, nervously. “What are we to do, Lord?”
“The staff may remain or leave as they see fit. I have no quarrel with you. Merely some of the other lords.”
“Ah… of course, Lord Rutten.”
Beyond the symbolism of the Demon Lord’s castle, it was a good defensive location. If there had been more defenders, it could have been a serious issue… if he wanted to leave it in good shape. It might have been a problem anyway, as William wasn’t sure if he could have broken through the wards.
He knew how to bypass them… but fortunately hadn’t needed to try that because the defenders had given up. If he had actually tried it in battle… there would have been unfortunate consequences. The wards had been changed slightly.
The changes made William wonder about his secondary objective here. After a few days of cautious work, his fears were confirmed. The secret room hidden beneath the Demon King’s study had been emptied out. He wasn’t sure if his previous visit had set off alarms somehow, or if it was a coincidence. They could have cleared it out just because he had shown up before, or because of the war starting now, but they might also have realized he found that room before.
William wondered if he should have taken the notes when he had the chance. If they’d actually noticed the intrusion, that would have started problems long before. Likewise, if they had come to take them after his visit… Things could have gone very poorly. Regardless, now they were gone. There was evidence of them having been removed some time before, so those he let leave wouldn’t have been carrying them unless they had retrieved them long before.
Having the notes would have been useful, but not completely game changing. Those who were now on his side might be somewhat more solidified, but all of the important enemies would be in on the conspiracy. It would have been nice to perhaps be able to convince some of the other northern lords to switch sides or stay out of the conflict, but convincing them of the veracity of the documents would also be a problem. Anyone could come up with a handful of documents written in somewhat different handwritings and say they were written by the Eternal King. Old documents would take longer, but could have just been a long-term conspiracy.