William felt the ki senses of the Liaoyang representatives sweep over him, probing. As long as they just stayed at the surface, he had no reason not to let them. “That’s right, I have been to Liaoyang.”
“Is that so? Some years ago, there was an… incident… with some de- umm… gevai?” he questioningly said the new word, “in Liaoyang. One of those involved had a similar appearance to yourself.”
William raised an eyebrow. “Really? Is it the horns?” He tapped his finger on the tip of one of his horns.
The envoy blinked, unsure how to respond. “There was… similar colored skin, robes similar to yours, and a staff as well. A large number of people agree on those details.”
“I might recall such an incident. What of it? If I recall correctly, I let your people off lightly.”
“Ah… we do appreciate that. May we ask why you were in Liaoyang?”
“Personal business.” William couldn’t exactly say he was hunting fragments of the Demon King. While humans wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to that, they also wouldn’t likely believe him. At the very least, this wasn’t the right time. However, he didn’t want to leave it at nothing, or it would sound very suspicious. “I was looking for one of ours.”
“Ah, the woman?” the envoy nodded, and William let him believe what he wanted.
“Anything else?” William looked out over the group.
The next to speak was the second in command behind the Archmage of Ostana, Eldin. “If we might ask… where did you get that staff? What do you know about it?”
“This?” William raised an eyebrow. “It was left in our lands after a battle late in the previous Demon King war. Before that, it was in the hands of someone from your land,” he gestured to the martial artists, “Before that it was in the hands of an archmage of Ostana, and before that it sat around unable to be used. Though, at the very beginning it was created by gevai.”
The knight looked questioningly at the wizard. “Is that right, Eldin?” He also looked to the representatives from Liaoyang, who nodded.
Eldin spoke to clarify, “As far as I know, that is… correct. You are aware that it is probably cursed?”
“I am, but as you can see it’s not hitting me.” If this hadn’t been a serious situation, Chris might have actually chosen to bop William over the head at such a point, but even as a staff he had more social awareness than that.
“Well, that is true, but even those who have tamed it… met with unfortunate fates. They both died in battle.”
William wanted to point out that he’d technically been assassinated after the battle the first time, but that seemed like information that was a bit too specific for him to have. The second time he would have died in battle anyway, but would probably have failed in his goals without Chris. “Many men die in battle, even with great weapons and armor. Perhaps they would have died even sooner without it.” William shrugged. He doubted there was any real curse associated with Chris. It was true that he wouldn’t have been able to find himself in those situations without Chris, as he was a necessary part of everything that was happening, but in those cases he might have just died powerlessly or been a figure of little importance. Knowing everything he did now, he could have gotten by without Chris, but he was an important part of getting to where William now was.
The head representative from Ustil smiled gently, “Very well, I think we have asked Lord Rutten enough about himself and his equipment. It is time to get onto the key negotiations. Lord Rutten has already proven that he and those with him truly desire peace, but before we can attempt to create any sort of treaty, we must ask if peace is even possible.”
William frowned, “Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be?”
“Tell me, Lord Rutten, how do you feel about… the Demon King?”
William thought many things about him. He hated what he had done. He felt pity for his misplaced ideals. Having never actually had a conversation with him, he couldn’t necessarily say he destested him as a person, but his actions indicated they would not have gotten along. “I do not agree with his ideas. It is foolish to try to wipe out the humans, even if we actually could. We could have peace and growth instead of always having to rebuild and recover from wars.”
“Indeed. That might be possible, but not with him around. He always returns. How can we know he won’t just overrule the decision for peace?”
“I cannot guarantee anything lasting forever, but what I can say is this. The Demon King is not around to make such decisions.” He didn’t want to say that he would stop him even if he showed up, because some of the lords might have still been loyal to him. A number of them were only on the side of peace because the Demon King detested wars that were done without his approval, though William suspected some of those were just afraid of the Demon King and would be perfectly happy without him. None of the very old lords would be able to overhear the current conversation.
“Could he not be hiding among you, waiting to see what you do?”
William shook his head, “We have ways to determine his presence. If he showed up in front of me, I could pick him out- and many people have been searching for him, waiting for his return. It seems something is different this time.”
“I see.” The older man nodded slightly, though when William considered they were probably of similar physical age it was strange to think of him as old. “You say you could pick him out if he stood in front of you?” His eyes flickered briefly toward the representatives from Eclea.
“That is correct.”
The representative to Ustil turned briefly to the rest, and spoke in his native tongue, “Perhaps we could use this person to pick out the last part of him, from Eclea. The one in our midst was finally dealt with, after all.” He almost whispered, but William had keen ears and the support of ki so he had no problem hearing.
The other one frowned, “Unless he is… It’s not clear.”
At this point, William brought Chris down on the table, snapping it in half and causing various representatives to jump back and draw their weapons.