Wizard! Chapter 177
William sat in the cafe. On Earth, he would have been met with the smell of coffee. However, that was a rarity here, not that he particularly cared for it to begin with. Instead, a cafe was basically just a casual, cheap restaurant. William didn’t expect to have to wait long, but he was hungry, so he ordered some stew. It wasn’t anything particularly special, but it wasn’t bad either.
Before he had finished, he felt something. He couldn’t have said he was exactly familiar with the sensation, but that didn’t mean he didn’t recognize it. It was someone using a ki technique to search the area. He felt it briefly linger on him, before disappearing.
William was sitting facing away from the door, but he heard someone enter. Then, as they came up behind him, he turned. “Hello.”
“Tch.” William saw Lorelei’s face frown. At least, the face she made with an illusion. “You noticed me, huh?”
“Sure. You weren’t exactly subtle.”
“Wasn’t I, though? You didn’t notice at all last time.”
“Is that so? It’s been almost half a dozen years. I’ve made some improvements.”
Lorelei pointed a finger at him. “See, that… that is unnatural.”
“Why? Yu Huan improves about as fast as I do.”
“Is that so? That may be true, overall…” She reached up to stroke her chin, but stopped before her hand touched her face. William knew it was harder to maintain an illusion with more parts intersecting. “However, this technique is very subtle. People below the fourth major breakthrough absolutely shouldn’t be able to detect it… and not everyone who has passed it, either. Yet, you obviously aren’t that strong. Right?” William saw a beginning of a frown, causing slight ripples in the illusion, before her face went flat again. “Your cultivation should be somewhere between the second and third in strength. Right?”
William realized she actually wanted confirmation, instead of just noting what she already knew. “Yeah, somewhere around there.”
“See, you shouldn’t be able to notice that. That’s weird. Especially since you’re so insensitive to mana.”
“I mean, mana and ki are very different things.”
She shrugged. “I suppose so. I’ve spent too much time among… my people. Sensing mana just seems natural.” She looked over at William, then the leather case leaning against the table next to him. “Is that Chris?” She said the name Chris rather awkwardly, and it felt more… formal. After all, she didn’t know his name was a pun in English. Crystal staff- Chris. Instead, it sounded like some kind of arcane name, even though there weren’t really any magic words to begin with.
William nodded. “That’s right.” Chris normally would have waved, or his version of that, but he was currently in disguise. He was good at following William’s instructions not to move without a good reason… at least not in public.
“Good. He might be useful for the investigation. You see-” Lorelei blinked a few times. “Wait, does that staff… Chris… do I sense ki from him?”
“That’s right. He’d already started cultivating ki before you left… with a real method, anyway.”
“That’s… hmm… how is that possible?”
“Why not? He’s got a soul, and he’s intelligent.”
“I suppose. Anyway, we should get back to the compound. There’s a meeting in session, and we could use you.”
William left some coins on the table and followed her out. He supposed there would be better times to stand around talking.
William waved to the guards as Lorelei brought him in. They were a bit surprised that he had been important enough to immediately bring in, but didn’t let much show on their faces. They had properly done their job, so they had nothing to be ashamed of.
Lorelei brough William through the compound, past many knights busy training, or doing work in their offices. There was a surprising amount of desk work to be done as a knight. Then, they entered a larger room, with a big table in the center. William recognized Tyler Dragonfoe, but no one else. There were a few other figures recognizable as knights, as well as some recognizable as members of the Order, though William didn’t know them personally. However, they were the only ones with features indicating they were from Liaoyang, from their physical looks to the way they dressed. Finally, there was one person that William presumed was a representative of the king. He found out that the representative’s name was Javan Garber. Kings were more politician than military leader, since the knights took care of most of that. However, they didn’t directly follow his orders either.
William felt awkward being in the room. Not because he didn’t belong, but just because he seemed young. Everyone else looked older, from a small bit older such as Lorelei, to a bit older than that like Tyler Dragonfoe and then finally the representatives of the Order of the Watchful Sentry, and the king’s representative. Though, William knew that Lorelei was the oldest person in the room, and he was second… or third, if Chris counted.
After acknowledging his presence, the rest of the group went back to their discussion, while Lorelei summarized what had been said earlier. She went over in detail the evidence that had been collected, with William providing several additions that might be helpful. For example, it was already known that the guild had become much more exclusive, but their excuse was that they only let in those who were talented. Among other things, William pointed out that Amelia was an assistant to the Archmage of Eclea, a country that was doing much better in terms of magical development. She had originally been from Ostana, and had to flee for her life instead of being welcomed to the guild like someone of her talent should have been.
Lorelei continued her explanation, “We are also attempting to prove that their cooperation with the demons goes back much further, though that becomes much harder to prove. However, I have… sources… that documented some things. Specifically, near the beginning of their rise to prominence, they sent some promising young people to be killed by the Demon King. Not that there’s any real proof now, since there aren’t even any… documents… from the time.”
Chris suddenly started moving. He did so in a way that said, at least to William, “Ohh, ohh! I have something to say!” Then, he started writing. Fortunately, the floors here were stone. Less comfortable than carpet… but much better for getting boots or water on. “I remembered something! From before! When I was human! I did that!”
“Did what now?” William asked.
“That! That thing!” Chris started tapping on the floor in agitation. “It was them! Those Lock Ridges. They were the one who told us-” Chris started moving erratically. He spelled out me us we me me me all of us- and continued in such a disjointed fashion. William noticed that the handwriting, for lack of a better word, was slightly different every time. Then, Chris slammed into the floor, and became steady. He went back to writing in his normal fashion. “Sorry about that. Anyway, that event happened. The Lockridge family sent me and my group of allies on an ‘important mission’, but it was just a trap. Then we all died, and now we- I’m a staff, and that’s where I first saw…” Chris stopped. “Well anyway, the point is that I remember that now.”