When William awoke, he saw Lila standing nearby, though somewhat blurrily. His eyes were somewhat… sore, may have been the right words. His ears also hurt still, and his mouth, throat, and lungs felt worse than the rest of him. However, it was only to the point of “feeling bad”. He had experienced death once, and this didn’t feel like he was heading in that direction. Plus, he could sit up just fine.
Lila turned to look at the noise from him sitting up. “You’re awake? Are you okay? How are you feeling?”
“Hmm… pretty much all of my head and chest hurt. I also feel pretty weak.”
“That’s… still pretty good. You did lose quite a bit of blood.” Lila asked him some more questions about how he was feeling. His hearing was fine, even though he’d had trouble immediately after the battle. His sight was still slightly blurry, but it seemed to be clearing since he woke.
“So… How long have I been out? Is the monster extermination still going?”
“It’s already over. Otherwise we wouldn’t have met up like this. Well, it’s not like you missed anything. The battle with the chimera was yesterday. Fortunately, there weren’t too many monsters in this region. However, Marius’ group also ran into a chimera with that poisonous breath. Fortunately he wasn’t in the area of the attack, but some of the knights… well, they aren’t looking good. You… probably should have been much worse. Do you have any idea how you’re… relatively fine?”
William had pretty much one explanation for anything exceptional he did. “Where’s Chris? Err, my staff?” He looked around and saw Chris on the ground beside him. “Umm, this probably protected me.”
Lila smiled. “I’m glad you have it then. I should go check on everyone else, okay?” She walked off.
“So, Chris, how did you protect me?” William took Chris to an area with no one else nearby, so that he could write on the ground.
“Me? I didn’t do anything.”
“So I somehow managed to be… mostly fine from a poison that almost killed some knights? That doesn’t make much sense. I haven’t seen any signs of that kind of exceptional toughness until now.”
“Well, it’s because you were like… you coughed out the poison and stuff, yeah?”
“That was blood.”
“I know it was blood, but it took the poison with it. From your ears and eyes, too. All the poison pushed out with it.”
William did remember that he had felt a lot better after coughing up the blood. “So, do you have any idea how that happened?”
“Well, you… hmm… I don’t really have the right words to explain it. You just pushed it out.”
“I pushed it out, or it just got pushed out?”
“You did, I think. It’s like when you go really fast sometimes. Fwoosh.”
“Oh. I didn’t really feel that at the time, but I guess I was slightly distracted by trying to cough up my lungs. I wish I could do that kind of stuff on purpose.”
As they were traveling back to Ostana, William saw some of the knights that had been poisoned. They certainly seemed to be much worse off than he was. Their conditions didn’t seem to be getting any worse, but they also weren’t getting better. If they didn’t have very robust constitutions, it was likely they would have already died. However, if they could remain stable until they arrived, they would have a good chance to recover.
William was comparatively much better off, even though he’d actually been more or less directly in the poison. Was he only alive because of that mysterious phenomenon? He didn’t like the fact that his life depended on luck. Still, he was glad that he got to continue his second chance at life.
To prepare for possible events in the future, William came up with a few ways to counter the poison attacks. If you knew when they were coming, it might be possible to burn the poison away before it struck. This might have the drawback of turning it into fire that was still flying at you, but at least fire was something that could be somewhat defended against. A wind spell could also be used to push it away, or deflect it. After all, there hadn’t really been much momentum behind it. Likewise, if one were prepared, a number of shielding spells could ward the poison off. Unfortunately, Chris couldn’t really shield William with magic and also cast offensive spells. Still, if William were to encounter another chimera, he would probably need to stay on the defensive until determining what type of breath it had.
The monster subduing expedition had been quite successful, even with the wounded, and a few dead, knights. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be expected that any kind of battles would allow all of the members of one side to return unscathed. Still, without the help of wizards, the knights would have been much worse off. Not that it made William more comfortable with death, and he hadn’t even personally witnessed any of it.
Upon returning, William got back to his usual routine of teaching, researching, and worrying about events that wouldn’t happen in his lifetime. The last one he fortunately didn’t do all the time, but it still bothered him. There really needed to be some kind of prepared efforts or the Demon King might succeed in the next attempt… or the one after… with each reincarnation being more dangerous, and with proportionately less wizards.
The only thing William could think of to counter it was soul magic, but unfortunately, it couldn’t even be tested. William couldn’t practice it. Neither could Chris, but for different reasons. Chris could use magic but still couldn’t do it. Chris’ specific problem was, there wasn’t enough information on how to do it. He wasn’t the type that could fumble around and figure out how to do things. William didn’t have enough information to give Chris good instructions. In fact, it could be that the only ones who knew how to use soul magic were the demon king, and whoever he learned it from. That was not an encouraging thought.
Lila… might be able to figure it out. William really didn’t want her to try it, though. It was one thing to kill monsters, demons, or even humans if it came to it. However, William felt that it was much worse to destroy the soul of something… even monsters.