William looked carefully at the barrier in front of him. He only had one chance to deal with it. A single mistake and… well, things would get complicated. Nothing about the barrier was physically stopping him from moving forward. It couldn’t cause any damage to him either, but if he didn’t properly deal with it… it might indirectly be the result of another war’s worth of deaths. He could be wrong about that, but didn’t like to make bets where a large number of people just maybe wouldn’t die.
Of course, they wouldn’t die right away. It wouldn’t even be anybody from Cruonia. However, if he could prevent repeated civil strife- even in New Eclea- he preferred to do so. Of course, there was also the possibility that if he messed up their initial plan might fail and they wouldn’t have to worry about later plans anyway.
William wished he’d studied the barrier in Eclea more in his third life. At the time, it hadn’t been important. It kept out demons- or more specifically alerted them to a demon’s presence and let them find it. He was a human at the time, so it didn’t matter that much. Of course New Eclea had established the same sort of barrier. So far it probably had seen exactly no use at all- William wasn’t aware of any gevai trying to pass into New Eclea, and if they had the barrier would have been quite obvious… though not necessarily its effects.
As he considered it, William realized the barrier was actually tuned to detect the soul. While physical bodies of gevai were fairly obviously different, the barrier in Eclea had detected Chris. Chris had a number of bits of gevai souls wrapped up in him, along with numerous human souls. However, as he was clearly a staff and not a demon… they had let him pass. Certain people might have debated the demon part, but they were the ones who got their heads bashed in by Chris so they were rather biased.
It really didn’t matter much to William whether it determined status by body or soul, however, because he was gevai in both now. He would certainly be detected. Because it was a barrier purely for magical detection, it would likely be sensitive to any disruptions, even by something that didn’t register as a demon. While he could brute force his way through with ki, counting on it to protect him from detection… he might still register as unnatural.
It was better to bypass it with magic. He wasn’t worried about not having sufficient mana at his disposal, but rather precisely what he would do. If left entirely to his own devices he would have to guess, but he had a few mages who could help him out. The memories of the archmage came in handy even though the barrier was built well before his time. While William only skimmed most of his memories it gave him a basis to go off of- though he hadn’t thought to look into the details of the barrier at that time. In addition to the memories, there were some native New Eclean mages he could ask questions.
Spending an extra day at the barrier wouldn’t particularly throw off their plans, and it was better to be safe than sorry. He discussed the barrier with them. “Does it extend underground?”
“Of course!” one of them said. “It wouldn’t be much good otherwise, now would it? It should go at least a few gross meters everywhere. While one could theoretically tunnel underneath…”
“It would take months, just for a small tunnel,” William nodded. Magic could accelerate that- but would also bring with it higher probabilities of accidentally triggering the barrier. “What would happen if it’s disrupted?”
“Umm…” one of the mages scratched his chin, “I think… it should take that as a demon crossing through, and send a signal. In addition, it would probably violently react with increased power to try to re-establish itself and try to mark the intruder so we could track him down.”
William continued to ask questions, but it seemed there was no simple solution. He would just have to be as careful as possible. Fortunately, he had practiced many tricks with magic since he learned it. He could move mana through barriers that blocked mana, so he should be able to do something with this one.
After readying himself to his best state of mind, he started chanting and drawing in mana. He intentionally only drew in mana from the side of the barrier he was on. He doubted that just mana moving through would trigger the barrier, but it was better to be cautious. Now that he started, it was better to be quick- the longer he took, the more chances he had to make a mistake.
He directed his gathered mana toward the barrier, twisting and reshaping the part in front of him. The barrier itself didn’t actually have much power in any one area, so ripping it apart would have been trivial… but he needed the barrier to remain whole. Even as the barrier visibly separated, it was whole. At least, William hoped he made it think it was. It was like peeling back the door on a tent, except instead of going through the door he was going in through the side. However, if he did everything correctly, it would smoothly reconnect.
After about a minute he had a man-sized hole. It took all of his concentration to maintain it, but he didn’t have to hold it for long. After taking a few moments to make sure it was stable, he stepped through. Once he was past, he went another dozen meters quickly before carefully letting the barrier return to how it was, cautiously guiding it back to being fully connected.
He couldn’t be sure his efforts hadn’t been detected, but at the very least it hadn’t fought back, and he hadn’t been marked. If he had been detected, they might send someone to check the area, but as the barrier extended across the entire border, they wouldn’t be able to arrive quickly.
William moved further inside the barrier, towards a predetermined location, hiding his features with magic before he arrived. While a few mages and of course Uzoma needed to know who he was, there wasn’t much point in passing through the barrier undetected if an entire army knew he had entered New Eclea. Even if the army was on his side… it was better if he wasn’t known to have entered the country. That way, it would be taken as a legitimate rebellion. In a way, it was. The army following Uzoma was upset with the practices of the council and the archmages for a number of reasons. Sending them into battles they had no way to win, in a war that didn’t even need to take place was one thing… but for those former prisoners who had very nearly had their souls sacrificed for use as a weapon, there was an even greater motivation.
William found it ironic that sending an entire army though the barrier had been easier than getting through himself. Of course, the barrier wouldn’t care about normal humans, so it did nothing. They were even all native citizens of New Eclea, so everything was as it should be. With that, William followed Uzoma Idowu and his moderately sized army on their path to take control of their country.