For the next few weeks, most of William’s time was spent with Lorelei creating more phones. Clear, instant, point-to-point communication would definitely be very useful in the future. Even if the war they were anticipating somehow didn’t happen, they would be a valuable resource.
After making some improvements on the phones and crafting an adequate number of them, William had to switch over to more diplomatic work. While many lords had agreed to peace with the humans, that didn’t mean they were necessarily on his side. Some of them hadn’t particularly cared… but had been persuaded with offers of magical equipment or other things. One of them had just wanted a large-scale refrigerator installed. He’d heard of them, but the designs hadn’t spread to his territory yet. That was something easy to take care of, and William didn’t feel bad about such bribery.
Some lords had wanted things he wasn’t willing to offer, and he’d either stopped seeking their support or in some cases threatened them- or in most cases Lorelei or Lila threatened them. The latter wasn’t a particularly good way of making friends, but at least he had secured peace with the humans. Those lords wouldn’t be much help in the future, and he would have to watch out for them… but nothing had really gone outside of the normal diplomatic relationships between gevai lords. Nobody had actually been killed, and only a few buildings were destroyed.
William knew that a society based on who was the strongest wasn’t the best for long term stability, but that was what he had to work with. While it might have seemed like the many long years of a unified country were a sign of stability, that was really only skin deep. Various different territories went under radical changes from one lord to the next as they fought among each other during the times when the Demon King wasn’t around. When the Demon King was alive, his threat to their lives was enough to keep the lords from killing each other. Though they might die in a gross or two of years if they fought among each other, they certainly would if they made the Demon King angry. William hoped he would be able to change they way the lords thought and change things for the better, but it certainly wouldn’t be a quick fix.
Of course, other than settling the agreed upon promises, William also planned more. He wanted as many lords on his side as possible… or at least a promise to stay out of any conflict. He wouldn’t necessarily be able to trust any such promises, but if he looked to be the stronger party it would help immensely. Of course, old lords with entrenched power would look rather strong, so once any real conflict started he would need to show dominance in some way. He just wasn’t exactly sure about how.
Over a year had passed since the end of the war with the humans and the signing of the first human-gevai treaty. William had expected a quick response from the old lords, especially based on his killing of Lord Kendrick, and his… creative interpretation of orders, follow by subsequently not waiting for new orders. He had almost expected an army to show up… but he didn’t even receive a message. That didn’t mean they were happy with what he’d done… or that they still didn’t intend a ‘swift’ response. Instead, their view of what swift was likely differed from Williams.
Because of the time that passed, William had to release his troops- and Lord Kendricks- back to their normal lives. That happened gradually, as William received word of the more northern lords reducing their armies. All of the old lords lived in the north, which made sense in a way. They knew there would be constant battles with the humans, and they didn’t want to risk themselves or their territories in battles.
William couldn’t afford to keep his army raised, not just paying them but also the impact of them not being in the workforce on the economy of his territory. He also couldn’t afford to not have an army ready to fight, so as a compromise he implemented an army reserve system. A small portion of those who had served in his army was kept active, but even those who weren’t on active duty were required to train. That way, when he actually needed them, they would be ready to fight and didn’t have to start training a new army. While some of them might grumble about the requirements, they did receive some pay… and most of them were just happy they didn’t have to be on active duty.
William still kept his personal guard… though it was noticeably larger. That was where those who wanted to continue in the military as a career mostly went. This included a number of good officers, though some of them wanted to go back to their previous work. Jordan remained, though it wasn’t like William would have given Jordan much choice anyway. Jordan had become an important part of future plans.
William brought his personal guard with him everywhere- even though it was inconvenient. He didn’t want the chance of being caught out alone. Not that they followed him into buildings or anything, but when he went to Ducson to see Lorelei, they travelled to the city with him.
“Jordan, I must introduce you to someone. This is Lorelei, the only true Archmage in all the lands, and my lover. Lorelei, this is Jordan- my most excellent commander.”
Jordan saluted smoothly, “Greetings, ma’am. I have heard many good things about you.”
“Oh?” Lorelei grinned, “But how many bad things have you heard?”
Jordan’s eyes flickered off to the side, “Well, everyone has unpleasant things said about them. I’m sure none of the things said about you would substantiate.”
“Oh, are you?” Lorelei leaned in, “That’s not quite true… I’m sure some of what you’ve heard is accurate. I can be pretty jealous. I’m sure you heard about me driving out all of the mistresses at William’s estate?”
“I heard that he did so himself, actually.”
“Well, certainly… but only because he is a kind and compassionate man. It was much better for them that way.”
“Noted.” Jordan stood awkwardly, not knowing what to say.
William waved his hand, “Well, I’m sure you two will have more time to talk later. As for now, Lorelei and I have more work to do.” Jordan nodded, and took the opportunity to leave gracefully.
Lorelei put her finger to her lips. “You do know that Jordan is a woman, right?”