Wizard! Chapter 106
William looked back on the city as the wagons for the caravan left. He supposed he would miss it a little bit, but it wasn’t the most inviting of cities. More relevantly, most of what he would miss was coming with him. He looked over at Big Sister Li, who was now leaving the only home she had ever known. It was probably harder for her, but she looked to be handling it well. However, a more unexpected member of the group was also nearby. Dong Xin was also traveling with them. His presence wasn’t unwelcome, however. He made William feel much safer, though he was not weak by himself.
As for the reason he was traveling with them… officially, he was on business for The Order of the Watchful Sentry. They recognized that they needed to get in contact with others who were prepared to combat the Demon King, if they were to be maximally effective. Since he was likely to arrive sooner rather than later, in the grand scheme of things, they needed to start becoming an organized whole. It was possible that nobody in Ostana was still keeping ready to fight the Demon King… so in that case, they would just need to expand. William also suspected that Master Dong Xin was traveling with them for another reason. He was a guard. Due to his friendship with Yu Jian and William himself, he wanted to make sure William and Yu Li stayed safe. There were possible dangers on the road, and the Song clan might find a way to cause trouble, if they could.
Neither Dong Xin nor Big Sister Li actually knew the language of Ostana. William had started lessons with them during the month where preparations were being made, but they still only knew very little. Fortunately, there were other members of the caravan who also spoke the language. One of the members was the leader of the caravan, Zhan Cheng. He was technically William’s first cousin once removed or some such. Either way, he was about a generation older, and not particularly closely related to William. However, he was impressed by how well William spoke. William was just glad his grasp of the language hadn’t faded much over the years he hadn’t been using it.
William took the opportunity to ask about what was happening in Ostana. He’d already learned what he could, but it was better to talk to someone who had heard or seen things in person, or at least one step closer to the source. William wasn’t particularly thrilled with the results. First, he inquired after the descendants of those he had known. “Have you heard of the Vaughan family?”
Zhan Cheng shook his head. To William, that hopefully just meant that they weren’t particularly prominent. Hopefully, the line of Lila and Gerald had continued. Though, it was also possible that they had married into another family or just chosen to not have children. Over so many generations, almost anything could happen.
“What about the Cyril family?”
“What, you mean the ones who killed the Archmage William?”
“The ones accused of it.”
Zhan Cheng nodded, “Accused of it, yes. Many people believe it, though. Well, I can say they are nothing if not tenacious. They have managed to survive despite the constant oppression from the Lockridge family.”
“Ugh.” William grimaced to hear the name Lockridge, “I was hoping the Lockridge family had all died in mysterious accidents. Or a horrible plague, or something.”
Zhan Cheng raised an eyebrow. “Have a personal vendetta with them or something?”
William shrugged. “They killed the Archmage William. Then they blamed it on his friend and friend’s family. I hate people like that. Not that they had a stellar record before that.”
“Well, I had heard of that possibility.” Zhan Cheng shrugged. “It did seem more likely based on other accounts from the time, but that’s not the current version of events that ‘everybody knows.’”
“What about the Wizard’s guild and the knights?”
“Well, that’s a convenient combination to bring up. In fact, there has been quite a bit of conflict between them recently. Nothing overt, mind you, but it seems the leadership of the current knights and the current archmage don’t see eye to eye on some issues, though what issues those are is up for debate.”
“Who is the current archmage?”
William would have punched something, had there been something convenient. “Have the standards fallen so far?” Then, he sighed. It wasn’t particularly fair to judge someone by their past, or even current family. “Is he a good archmage? How many wizards are there?”
“The exact number isn’t publicly available, but there are hundreds.”
“Hundreds?” William shook his head. There had been hundreds while he was alive, after most of the wizards had died fighting the Demon King. There should be more now. “Did they change recruitment policies recently?”
“Indeed. How did you know?” Zhan Cheng looked down on the twelve year old child asking these questions. At first, he had only entertained the questions out of politeness, and to alleviate the boredom of travel, but he had quickly noticed they weren’t random or idle questions. “I don’t know the details, but I hear that one must have a certain amount of money to be a wizard now. More than before, even.”
“Then the new archmage is an idiot.” William confidently said. “The most powerful wizard in Archmage William’s generation came from a poor background. Even then, she almost didn’t get a chance. What’s the point of keeping around a bunch of rich idiots?”
“Well, they’re rich. I can think of a few good reasons to have rich idiots around, as a merchant.”
“That only works so long. Until humanity gets wiped out.”
“And that will happen… why?”
“The Demon King.” William shrugged. “There might still be time to fix the situation though. Say, one last thing… Have you heard about Archmage William’s staff?”
“Recently? No, I only know the stories. After his death, it hasn’t been seen.”
William had already basically heard that, but he was hoping. The journey continued on, rather peaceful, but quite long. They were a few weeks in, but it would be at least a few more before they reached the border between Ostana and Liaoyang.