Wizard! Chapter 154
The trip to the city of Kufra was fairly uneventful, except for the fact that each city grew larger along the way… and with larger cities came more magic. Most of the uses of magic were small things such as lights. At first, this made William think that Eclea was very rich. While that was not particularly wrong, even shops that didn’t look particularly prosperous had at least one magical light, even if it was rather dim. From what he saw of homes in passing, the same was true in them. This meant at night the city was still lit up, until a certain time where it was either agreed upon or mandated that the lights needed to go out. However, there were still things like street lamps lighting the walking paths, though they were not particularly bright.
Mansions that William saw all had magical wards on their gates. Many in Ostana also had them, but not all of them. William wasn’t sure if magical wards were still too expensive, or just considered more important by those with more to lose. It was likely both, because magical wards required more materials and skill to create than magical lights, and that wouldn’t change even if they were both prolific.
In addition to magical things, William noticed something else as well. Most of the shops had signs with words on them. Even the smaller ones had names for their shops, or at least descriptions of what was sold. This indicated that the literacy rate was high, or otherwise it would be a waste of effort. William also saw some other things with signs… including a few schools. Specifically, public schools. There was at least one in all of the bigger cities, and over the course of the journey William saw students entering and leaving. If he had to judge, he would say they were poorer, at the very least none of them were wearing lavish clothing. However, there were enough people attending that the admission fees were either paid for by someone else or very cheap. That didn’t necessarily mean the quality of education was good… but some education would almost certainly be far better than none. William imagined those with more money went to more exclusive schools, hired tutors, or both but that was true elsewhere. Liaoyang had many schools as well, but they were a bit more expensive. However, families would often have at least one child go to school and then teach others as well as they could. William thought back to Ostana, both in the past and during his most recent visit. Obviously the education had been lacking when he first arrived in this world. He was educated because his parents had money and education themselves, but Lila hadn’t been able to get an education. She had been quite poor, but her parents would likely still have given her an education after learning about her magical potential, if it was at all feasible. As for more modern Ostana… William would say that it certainly hadn’t seemed worse in terms of education, but he also couldn’t say that it was better. However, from what he had seen the nobles and especially the wizard’s guild seemed to like being in control of the knowledge… even if that actually limited their prosperity.
Upon arrival in Kufra, William was briefly worried that the wizards of Eclea might have fallen into the same sort of manner that those in Ostana had. The towers were immediately apparent upon entering the city. They looked shiny and new. However, William had also seen evidence that the wizards here weren’t focused on just profits, if they really contributed to the agriculture like he thought they had. Though he supposed the growth of the population would be good for profits in the long term. However, William wasn’t even the slightest bit opposed to gaining profits by advancing a country and its economy. Still, he would reserve his final judgements for once he had more details. At least the wizards towers weren’t the only things that looked prosperous.
Dong Xin mentioned that they had been followed up until they entered the city, after which point he either lost track of the person following them, or they left. Their motives still couldn’t be known, but it was almost certainly related to William. That was the only strange thing that had happened at the border. However, they also hadn’t directly come out and accused him of anything, and it would have been possible to arrest him there if they felt the need to. However, that still created an awkward situation for their group from the political side.
The decision, after much discussion, was to not have William show up at any negotiations. While he might be useful for some things, he wasn’t critical. However, he couldn’t just leave Eclea, because it wasn’t known what they thought he might have done, and it would also look like some kind of admission of guilt. Thus, he would be staying mostly alone for much of the time. Mostly, that is, because one of the elders from the Order of the Watchful Sentry would be guarding him. His life was still important after all, and a guard could at least prevent anything except an official arrest. If he was officially arrested… they just had to hope there was some kind of proper or at least minimally corrupt legal system. It wasn’t necessary to have all of the members of the Order present at meetings either, so the plans only changed slightly.
William personally found his relative autonomy to be convenient. He had learned that there were publicly available libraries, and he wanted to see what they had. Though they were public, they still required a security deposit in case books were damaged. Books were still expensive, after all. However, the deposit would be returned upon exiting the library. William couldn’t wait to see what was available in the libraries.
When he got there, he found that most of the books were written in the language of Eclea, which wasn’t surprising but also meant that he would be slower in reading them. Mostly, he browsed through, skimming a few histories and other books. He was pleasantly surprised to finds books on the basics of magic available in the library, though they didn’t contain anything he didn’t know. For a week, William spent most of his time in a particular library, except for lunch times when he left the compound that contained the library as well as one of the smaller wizard’s towers. He had found a nearby restaurant, something he might have called a cafe, that was rather cheap. William was glad to not have to deal with any of the politics… but still couldn’t help but worry as there didn’t seem to be much in the way of progress toward arranging a meeting with anybody of significance.