Wizard! Chapter 161
William found the journey through Ustil much more pleasant the second time. It wasn’t that he had grown used to it, or that Ustil had changed. Instead, it was because he had something to make the journey easier. Although they weren’t technically supposed to be given or sold to foreigners, Amelia had given William and his group some “sunshields”. William couldn’t say there was really a better name for them, either. William’s group still wore clothes that covered most of their skin because that was what they had, but the heat was more bearable.
While they were traveling, William wondered what could be done to get Ustil prepared for the Demon King. They were stubbornly uninterested in talking, but William wasn’t sure why. When he was Archmage, they were actually the only ones to send help against the Demon Lord that Ostana had to face. While enough time had passed for a country and its people to change completely, William didn’t know if that was the case. While they were certainly not open to anything at the moment, this might be a special case now. William wasn’t sure what could be done, though, because asking why Ustil wasn’t receptive to outsiders wasn’t helpful, because they would not answer.
The journey was expected to be uneventful, and it was. Though they were attacked by a group of giant scorpions who perhaps thought a small group would be easy prey, it had been pretty much the same as the journey in the other direction. However, when they arrived in one of the larger villages, perhaps even worthy of being called a town, William found more looks on him than usual. Usual was actually almost nothing, since the people of Ustil seemed to prefer to pretend foreigners didn’t exist unless actively engaged with them in conversation or trading. However, he occasionally noticed being looked at. That wasn’t too strange, since people would naturally look at people passing by, but he felt that their gazes lingered longer than normal. He couldn’t think of what would be different, since he was still the same.
Then a small group approached William’s group. That was a particularly unusual occurrence, and William didn’t feel that it was a good sign, since the group was mainly composed of warriors. The leader of the group was a man who obviously wasn’t a warrior, since unlike the others he wasn’t heavily muscled, and he also didn’t have any weapon at his side. The group actually ignore Dong Xin and the others who were walking at the front, and instead turned toward William. “Greetings.” The man bowed slightly.
William had learned many of the formalities with the language of Ustil over the years he had studied it, but he was taken off guard since he had usually been the one to initiate conversations. However, after a moment William bowed back, “Greetings.”
“May I see your staff?”
William wasn’t sure what he had expected to hear, but it wasn’t that. It was phrased politely, and didn’t sound like a command, but William wasn’t sure if the warriors were supposed to be there as… encouragement. They weren’t particularly acting in an intimidating manner, but they were around nonetheless. “I would really rather not hand my staff to anyone I do not know…” William didn’t directly refuse, because he was still trying to read the situation.
The man shook his head slightly. “I need not hold it. I merely wish to see it in its entirety… not covered up by leather.”
William thought the phrasing was slightly odd, but then he thought about it for a moment and looked down at Chris. The leather case covered him, but the word “entirety” made William look more carefully, and then he realized. The spot where he had blocked the sword back in Eclea had been damaged. William hadn’t been particularly worried about it, but as time passed the leather had frayed, and either time or that and the desert sands had revealed a small part of Chris’ light blue color and his shape. William thought internally. Perhaps this man saw that Chris might be valuable, and upon seeing the whole thing might try to take him. William didn’t think this man was that sort, but it wasn’t hard to put up a very polite manner for just a short time. Besides, the body language was slightly different between cultures, so perhaps William might be misreading the situation. However, William felt that showing him Chris should lead to a tolerable result. It was possible he really was just curious, in which case it wouldn’t hurt. If he tried to take Chris… William didn’t think there were enough warriors in this city to stop him, Dong Xin, and the two with them. William carefully took the top off of the case and pulled Chris out.
The man nodded slightly, almost so little that William half-doubted whether he had moved at all. “Would you come with me, please?” The man gestured toward the center of the town, and his voice remained polite. William didn’t ask anything, but was reassured when the man explained, “There is someone who will wish to see you, but he is not up to walking around.”
William glanced over at Dong Xin, who just rolled his eyes. William wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but he seemed to be leaving the decision up to William. “Can I bring these three with me?”
“Of course, that is not a problem.” The man turned to walk in the direction he had earlier gestured, but only walked a short distance before checking to make sure that they were following him.
William was slightly encouraged by the fact that the warriors didn’t seem to be particularly on guard. It didn’t take long to travel to the center of the town, where there was a slightly larger house. The group was led directly inside, and into a room where an old man sat. The room was relatively unadorned, containing only a few small shelves laden with books, as well as a small table next to the chair where the chair the man sat. The old man seemed to have been dozing, but returned to alertness upon the arrival of William and the others. He looked over William casually, then spent longer looking at Chris. Then he nodded, so slowly that William wasn’t sure if he was actually nodding… or just falling back to sleep. However, after a few nods, the old man sat up straight. “It does appear to be the staff we have been watching for. I can’t imagine there are others like it.” His eyes shifted to William, “I didn’t expect it to be carried by such a young man, but that is where my assumptions came into the picture. I am told you should have an important message… but listening to it is not my job. I just need to know… are you the right one?”