Wizard! Chapter 155
William talked with Dong Xin about how his time had been going. “Are you making any progress?”
Dong Xin slightly shook his head. “Not really. It’s hard to tell, anyway. We’ve met about half a dozen unimportant people. They might have been able to get us meetings with some people higher up the chain, but only if we told them our actual reason for being here. However, going around spreading the information that we’re working on a plan to take down the Demon King once and for all isn’t the best idea. Thus, we have to be rather vague, and make little progress.” He shrugged. “At least we’ve had a few discussions about magic. It seems we’re making more progress than the last group that came here, anyway.”
William nodded. “I’ve been reading histories and whatever else I can find here. While I haven’t seen any detailed records, the reincarnation of the Demon King is mentioned several times. Nothing I’ve read has been exactly the right kind of book to go into details about when exactly each happened, so I’m not sure if they know that information.” William shrugged, “On the other hand, I wouldn’t expect that to be available to the public anyway. At least the books admit to the reincarnation.” The discussion ended with William clarifying a few points about magic that had been brought up in Dong Xin’s discussions, with Dong Xin suggesting a few subjects William could try to research.
William stared at the book he had pulled out. Its contents weren’t particularly interesting, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something weird about the book. He looked through a few pages, finding nothing that particularly caught his eye. Then he put the book back onto the shelf… right next to another copy of the same book. When he noticed this, he pulled them both out and brought them over to a table. He started comparing them side by side, but once he had realized what it was it was pretty obvious. The lettering was exactly the same. That wasn’t completely inconceivable. Someone might make two copies of a book. They might even make sure exactly the same words were on each line, and have a steady hand. However, this wasn’t the case for these books. These books were exactly the same, though the letters looked somewhat different than normal. However, William hadn’t noticed it at first because he had spent so many years with similar text. Printed text. He immediately took one of the books to the librarian. “Can you tell me who wrote this book?”
The librarian shrugged and pointed to the cover, where the name of the author was, reading the name aloud.
William shook his head. “Sorry, that wasn’t what I meant. Who…” William didn’t know the word for printed, if there even was one. He wasn’t even that proficient in the language of Eclea. “…Scribed this book? Where was it made.”
The librarian took the book and looked it over. “I’m not sure exactly, but this looks like it was made locally. It’s new, too. It could be one of the apprentices, but with the quality it’s more likely someone higher ranked, though I couldn’t say who.”
William wasn’t sure if the librarian knew about the book’s printed nature, but he also didn’t know how to describe it to him. For the next few hours, William looked through the library, but didn’t find any other printed works. That was disappointing, as he thought he would find more if they had some kind of printing press. However, perhaps such books were just elsewhere.
While William was taking a break for lunch one day, someone actually came up and talked to him. That was rather rare, since either people in Ustil liked to leave people alone, or just figured someone from Liaoyang wouldn’t speak the language well, or would be uninteresting. However, this time he heard a woman’s voice. “I’ve seen you around here a lot recently. You’re not a local, I imagine?” William thought that was an understatement. He was obviously not local, with what he still sometimes thought of as asian features among a large number of dark skinned individuals. He turned to look at the woman, only to see something unexpected. From her speech, he had assumed that she was an Eclean native, but she looked like someone from Ostana, with what he thought of as caucasian features.
William immediately discarded the possibility that she was doing some kind of flirting with him, because her words didn’t have the same kind of connotations in this world. She was certainly actually just curious. “Indeed, I am not local. You don’t look local either, but you speak pretty close to one.” As William looked more carefully at her, she appeared to be about thirty, though he could have been years off in either direction. She wore robes, indicating she was a wizard, though it wasn’t an absolute certainty that a wizard would wear robes, nor that someone who wore robes was a wizard. However, William noticed a few patterns that indicated they were probably magical, which greatly increased the probability that she actually was a wizard. He gestured to the table he was sitting at and the empty chairs. “Go ahead and sit, if you wish.”
She did sit down, across from him. “Well, I may not be a local here, but I’ve lived here for almost a dozen years. As you might have guessed, I used to live in Ostana. However… I had to leave.”
William nodded. “If I had to guess… You had magical potential but no money.”
Her eyes widened. “You’re right. It almost sounds like you’ve been to Ostana.”
William shrugged. “I was there for some time. I found that they were doing a poor job of managing their potential wizards. I can’t say that my home country of Liaoyang is any better about that particular thing, but at least it is less hypocritical about it.”
She nodded. “So, what brings you to Eclea?”
“I’m part of a delegation from Liaoyang, though perhaps it might be better to say I am travelling with them. I’ve studied some magical theory, but I’m not much of a wizard. However, in Liaoyang having read a few books on magic makes one almost an expert. They thought it might be good to have more people who understand something about magic in the delegation.” Everything William said was true to some extent, though he had obviously read more than a few books on magic.
“Ha! And such a young expert you are, indeed. Welcome to the city of Kufra. I’m Amelia Roderick.”
“Thank you. I’m…” William almost said ‘William Stevenson’, but stopped himself, “…Yu Hui’Lam.”