Wizard! Chapter 119
Dong Xin asked a few preliminary questions, arranged by William in advance. They were mostly polite questions designed to butter up the archmage. One was “I have heard that the quality of student wizards has risen to even higher levels than before.” William expected more wizards to be around, and thus there certainly should have been at least a few quality students mixed in. However, the response was somewhat surprising.
“That is quite true. In fact, we have taken steps to ensure that we continue to admit only those of the highest quality into our ranks.” Cecil Lockridge smiled at this.
That response slightly surprised William. He’d thought there weren’t as many students as he had expected. At first, he thought they might be elsewhere. However, accepting those of only a certainly quality… William wasn’t sure about that. It was quite hard to determine what kind of actual quality a student might have. With the exception of someone like Lila, whose exceptional talent meant she had to put forth only a small amount of academic effort, just talent wasn’t sufficient. Perhaps that was true even in the case of Lila, because she certainly wasn’t lazy. Marius was less gifted in magic but his study led to greater abilities, though that wasn’t to say he wasn’t quite talented, just lacking compared to Lila. There were some students William had seen who could barely control magic at all, but were quite good at certain other things, such as carefully inscribing the runes for wards. William would err on the side of accepting more to see what they could do, but that was perhaps just his personal preference.
The questions continued, trying to remain polite, since the Archmage hadn’t needed to meet them. He seemed quite reasonable so far, which was a good sign. “We have heard of the dangers of the Demon King, who always returns. What do you think of the potential danger of the Demon King’s return?” The questions were designed to allow the Archmage to tell them only a little, instead of ending the meeting if he didn’t want to answer.
Cecil Lockridge just smiled and said, “The Demon King will not pose a threat.”
To William, that meant that they were either exceptionally well prepared… or significantly underestimating the Demon King. However, there was no good way to ask that. “We have heard that you possess records related to the previous Demon King incidents. We were wondering if we could view those records, or copies of some sections that might be helpful.”
The Archmage just shrugged. “I’m afraid that won’t be possible. I burned that paranoid pile of garbage. They were just silly stories,” he said, as if talking about a small bit of trivial news.
Normally, William translated for Dong Xin right away, but he was trying to figure out if he had confused some words. He hadn’t. Maybe the Archmage was lying, though William couldn’t think of exactly why he would do so when he could have just refused to show them. In the end, a few moments of silence went by.
The almost thronelike chair that the Archmage was in was quite heavy, being made from solid wood, and a bit of gold. The Archmage himself was not without some amount of weight himself, though he couldn’t really be described as heavy. Behind him, the glass was quite thick, and therefore strong. However, none of these factors were enough to change what occurred next.
The knight-commander, who had just returned from outside the city, stood on a balcony looking toward the opulent, almost gaudy newest tower at the Wizard’s guild. The tower was quite far, but easily the most visible thing in the city. That said, even with the knight-commander’s exceptional vision, it was hard to make out fine details. However, there was a slight oddity, a shape appearing outside of the top of the tower, though it wasn’t clear what it was. Then there was a sound. A single word, a shout… but yet with no trace of the distance it seemed like it should have. The word was “traitor”, and it vibrated throughout the knight-commander’s bones, and the city.
Dong Xin looked at William, standing behind the Archmage’s desk. Then, he looked further along, to the window. The window was now shattered. Dong Xin had always thought that William was reasonably calm. He had made some somewhat rash decisions before, but always for a purpose, with a goal in mind. He had also gotten angry several times, but William hadn’t really ever yelled since he knew him. Dong Xin pondered, thinking over the words he had heard. Something like “no”, “fire”, “strange”. He wasn’t entirely sure, because he still hadn’t gotten used to listening to Ostanan speech at the native pace. Then, there was the word William had used. Miscreant? No… maybe traitor. The negative meaning was fairly clear.
Dong Xin hadn’t brought a staff with him. It was somewhat rude to bring a weapon into a meeting. However, he now wished he had one. So, he took the one that was easiest to get. At least, the one that would be maximally efficient. He supposed the one near the Archmage’s desk would be easiest to get, but that would bring him away from the two guards, who were currently in a state of shock, though not likely for much more than another moment. So Dong Xin took one from them. Then, a short moment and a few thwacks to the skull later, the two guards were no longer conscious. They were, after all, unprepared wizards. As guards, they had been mostly ceremonial.
Unfortunately, there were more guards outside, and they opened the doors. Then, there was a lot of yelling, magic, thwacking with staves, and running. William was only shortly behind Dong Xin, as they ran to escape the tower, which was unfortunately but quite understandably on high alert. However, in the relatively tight confines of the tower, it was quite hard for magic to be effectively used against two quickly moving targets. Though there were wards and guards at the walls of the compound that surrounded the tower, they were really geared more toward keeping threats out than in. Plus, many of the guards had rushed to the courtyard to see what had fallen there. Thus, Dong Xin and William managed to get out of immediate danger, though William had only the lower half of an ornate staff left. They left behind them a shocked courtyard full of wizards, staring at the body of their Archmage.