Qinshan. A peaceful fishing city… though of course they had other products as well. William had spent several years in Qinshan, in his previous life. Most of his memories had been fond, but the end of his stay had been unpleasant. He had tried not to think about it too much afterwards, but he couldn’t help it.
During his stay, he had made friends with Zhu Fang of the Zhu clan. That had been all it was, but William accidentally found out it pertained to his mission in Qinshan. He had been sent to look for any clans that were traitors working with the demons, and he discovered that Zhu Fang and the rest of the clan practiced a demonic cultivation technique. That wasn’t conclusive evidence that they were working with the demons, but William felt it was significant enough to report to the Order. The Order agreed that the risk was too high… and thus the Zhu clan had been destroyed.
William still didn’t know what the truth was. Logic said he had made the right choice. There was a reasonable enough chance that they had been traitors, and if that was the case they would have caused inestimably large damage to the war effort. Though Zhu Fang had been his friend, he couldn’t say they were close enough to know his true heart. That said, they had been friends, and William didn’t like making that decision because of cold logic. It was hard thinking about what might have been. William didn’t think he would change his decision, but he regretted that he had to make the decision at all.
His feet eventually brought him to the location of the Zhu clan. At least, where he thought their property had been. The buildings nearby had changed some, but he shouldn’t be too far off. As far as he could tell, the former entrance to their grounds was now a teahouse. He went inside and ordered some tea. Perhaps it would help him calm his thoughts. “Excuse me, what do you know about the Zhu clan?” he asked the waiter.
The waiter shook his head, “There is no clan by that name in Qinshan. As for the nearby cities, I don’t know.”
William sighed internally. Certainly, it was long enough to forget about a small country, let alone a single clan in a city. He somewhat hoped they would at least know about the land they built their teahouse on, but it could have been another building before, and passed through various hands… Or perhaps nobody even cared enough to remember or pass it on. It could have been just that server, but William didn’t think so.
William stretched out his senses. He felt the building, the walls, floors, ceilings, chairs… even the foundation and dirt below. Of course, there were the people too. Even so, he didn’t feel anything that felt like the Zhu clan. They were gone, and had been gone for nearly a dozen generations. Yet, he still didn’t know the truth.
Perhaps nobody knew the truth. According to Lorelei, the Demon King didn’t keep much in the way of records, and those that could be accessed were in his castle. All that remained there at this point were some loyal guards. Lorelei could have gotten access to the records, but William didn’t want to ask because it wasn’t important enough. It mattered to him, but he doubted the records would be there anyway. All of the work of recruiting traitors was handled by the Demon King’s subordinates anyway. Perhaps the people who knew had died in the last war, and perhaps not. There were so many possibilities it made William’s head spin… but it was still hard to let go of it. Sometimes, living many lives wasn’t as great as it seemed.
William frowned. In the last few weeks, the soul necrosis had felt… different. That was all he could say about it, except it felt worse, and more dangerous. That meant Marek had been incorrect with his timing, or hadn’t considered that William had had it since he was born… and before. Or, perhaps it would just slowly grow more dangerous. He hadn’t asked for enough detail, and regretted it. It was stupid, really. He had been overconfident in being able to handle it.
As he destroyed a piece, it lost its feeling of danger. That meant it wasn’t too late yet, but it was progressing more toward an irrecoverable point. It didn’t seem like dozens of years away, and certainly wasn’t a gross. What could he do about it? William estimated he had removed perhaps one dozenth of the total soul necrosis over years of effort. Even if he got faster, twice or three times as fast… and spent all his time recovering and using his ki… it wouldn’t be enough. He needed help, but who could help him? Even if someone could, would he trust them to root around in his soul?
William thought about it. He would trust Lorelei. If she knew what she was doing, he would even trust Lila. However, neither of them were here or able to help. Marek… they had similar goals, so he could be trusted on that point, at least. However, William doubted Marek could do anything even if he were around. He had barely been holding himself together, and he didn’t have the energy to devote to helping others. Someone like Han Xinya, with that level of skill… that was what he needed. However, he couldn’t trust them. There was Chris but… actually, Chris could help. He just wasn’t enough. Still, he could trust Chris, and he was here and able to help, if only a small bit.
Beyond that, he would have to deal with it himself. Even if he found someone else who could help, he wasn’t sure whether they would, or if he would want to let them. He needed a solution, but it wouldn’t be so easy to find one. It wasn’t like some sort of miraculous method would just drop out of the air like… magic…