“What did you say, Josef?” Headmistress Lorenz raised an eyebrow.
William restated more concisely, “The local nobles, or at the very minimum the Van Cann family, have been suppressing the commoners to keep them from attending the primary school.”
She folded her hands in front of her and leaned forward. “Do you have any proof?”
“Not… exactly…” William hesitantly stated.
She sighed and leaned back. “Then why even come here?”
“Well, it’s not proof, but I did hear it directly from Edgard’s mouth.” He recounted what Edgard had said, including some details that came up later in the conversation. “So, unless he’s lying, which he might be, it seems pretty clear.”
“Hmm…” Headmistress Lorenz nodded slowly. “Yet, I only have your word on what was said. The conflict between the two of you is well known, which brings with it some suspicion.”
“I-” William started, but she waved her hand to cut him off.
“That said, I believe you are generally trustworthy, and that means the matter is worth looking into.”
“That’s all I can ask.”
“I might find nothing. I hope you know that if so, this won’t reflect well on you.”
William shrugged. “Then I hope you find something. I know what I heard.”
Several weeks passed with no news. William hadn’t seen much of Headmistress Lorenz, which could mean that she was busy investigating. Perhaps she had finished, finding nothing. In that case, she might be avoiding him. William didn’t like that idea, but he hadn’t been doing it to frame Edgard. He truly believed what he had heard, but perhaps he should have tried to gather some hard evidence on his own first. He wouldn’t want to ruin the good relationship he had with the Headmistress over this. Perhaps he could go out himself, though he didn’t know where he would start.
Thus, William hit the training dummy in front of him. It was good for taking out frustration, especially if he imagined Edgard’s face on it. It had mostly been a petty rivalry, but with the thought of his family getting involved, William grew more angry about it. Fortunately, they were fine, but it still bothered him. On the other hand, if he did anything rash, he probably couldn’t afford the consequences. Kicking people out of a window only worked if you were lucky enough to get a powerful organization on your side, and the best he had was Headmistress Lorenz… and she wasn’t necessarily on his side, at least not anymore.
William stopped. He felt something to the north. Was that…? William shook his head. The feeling was gone, and it had only been so slight. Maybe it had been nothing. He sighed, and went back to what he was doing.
Before him was a roomful of elves and dwarves. Well, there were also some of his people, but they were not the focus of the room. He reached out to a dwarf. He had to bend down- even more than normal, because the chains held the captive even lower. He reached out, almost gently, and touched the dwarf’s face. He was unsure if this was a man or a woman. The beard didn’t tell him much, and he honestly didn’t care. Then he began chanting, his voice echoing throughout the chamber. The dwarf struggled out of fear… but they had no idea how terrified they really should be.
There was an explosive force, but he suppressed it. It would be a waste if all that energy were to get away… and killing those nearby would also be a different kind of waste. Energy flowed into him, and he took it like a breath of fresh air. It was so invigorating, but that was it. Ultimately, it was disappointing. As expected of a dwarf. Still, there were plenty more. His hands reached for another one. He heard muffled sounds, but no words. It would have been a pain if they could talk, but even so he wouldn’t have understood them anyway. Another dwarf… another disappointment. No, this was barely worth it. After this, he would not get any more dwarves.
One by one he walked down the rows, until there were no more dwarves. He had to wait sometimes, because the mana in the room depleted even with the gathering formation. No matter, he wasn’t in a rush. None of the prisoners could escape their bonds- escape him. After the dwarves, now it was time for an elf. There was once again an invigorating feeling, like a breath of fresh air, but it came with more. There was that slight tingle that came with it that made it so much better.
Again, he walked down the rows. One by one, he destroyed them, absorbing what he could… and most importantly, the magic. Mana was something external, but magic… that was part of people. Perhaps it was better to say that it was the connection to magic. That was why dwarves were no good. Their connection to magic was tenuous, at best. Worse than humans, even. Even so, it didn’t stop them from making truly annoying armor and weapons. The weapons were fine in the end, because his people could use them, but the armor was all the wrong size and couldn’t be reworked without losing its properties. It was worse than raw ore, because of the effort it took to make it something useful.
Well, dwarves still weren’t completely useless. They did have the knowledge, and perhaps the smiths could make some use of it. It was hard to know which of them were smiths, though. It could be any of them, or none of them. It didn’t stop them from being soldiers or commanders or just citizens.
Still, the elves were quite useful. It would have been nice to capture more, but that was impractical. So, he took what he could. Though he could only truly take a single tendril of magic from each, they added together into the great weave that made him up. At the core was, of course, his own magic. That dominated everything, and controlled everything. In his soul, his own consciousness and ki worked on crushing the remaining bits of useless fluff that were once elves and dwarves. Those parts were unnecessary.