William looked around the room, but the only place to sit was the chair in front of Sarah’s desk or on her bed, so he remained standing. “So, Sarah, how have things been for you here?”
“Everything is… fine.” Sarah bit her lip slightly, “The headmistress and Archmage take good care of me, and I’ve been able to learn a lot… but I don’t know if I deserve their attention. I do well in classes, but when I was taken to be part of a real battle… I froze up and couldn’t do anything.”
William nodded gently, “It’s alright. Everyone gets afraid in battle.”
“Do you though? I heard about all the battles you were in, and you even killed another lord!”
William shook his head, “Winning a battle doesn’t happen because you weren’t afraid. It happens because you overcome it. Even I am afraid of losing.” William had to admit that he wasn’t really afraid of dying as much as he probably should be, but he was aware of the other consequences that would come with that. Even if he would reincarnate again, he wouldn’t be able to do anything to protect those he loved while he was dead. William took some comfort that those he cared about in his current life wouldn’t die of old age if he was gone… but that wasn’t his primary concern about their welfare anyway.
“Really?” Sarah looked down, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to really fight.”
“Then… don’t.” William shrugged, “What good does fighting do anyway? We already have so many people who can fight. I suppose we could always use more until *snap* suddenly we don’t need anyone who can fight. Then we only need other people, people with constructive abilities.” William shook his head, “I mean, with monsters and magical beasts around, we’ll need some people to fight, but if humans and gevai stopped killing themselves and each other, we wouldn’t need armies. Either way, we still need people for other things… like making new dyes.”
“You think new dyes will actually be useful?”
“Sure, why not? Now… people will buy it, and money is useful. Later, maybe it will be cheap and anyone can afford it. Then some artists will use it to make something beautiful.”
“So I… don’t have to fight?”
“I wish I could say that… and while showing favoritism to family members is par for the course I don’t believe that should be encouraged. On the other hand, we truly need things other than a larger fighting force. You just have to show you’re more valuable doing something else. Make this dye profitable or come up with something else. If you have no ideas… find someone with ideas but no time, and make that work.”
“Do you have any good ideas?”
“I have many ideas. Some of them are probably good, but by the time I could explain them I could have done it myself. At least, for the most part.”
“Oh.” Sarah frowned, “I guess… I can come up with something.”
“Don’t rush. Make it something good.”
“Okay.’ Sarah nodded seriously.
William returned to his manor. It was a great opportunity to relax and fiddle with new magic designs… but he didn’t get to do much of that.
There were many preparations that had to be made still, and while he wasn’t personally involved with everything, he needed to remain alert. While the old lords hadn’t yet done anything, that didn’t mean they would wait for him to act first. William would be content if they did, as long as they had finished all the groundwork, but they weren’t done yet.
As the lord of a region, William was also responsible for mediating disputes among other things. While many lords delegated that work to a subordinate, or merely took bribes, William had to seriously consider the issues at hand. He wanted to make the world better, not just kill off some of those making it worse. Most of the disputes were minor, but he was currently dealing with a dispute between two trading houses… made more complicated by the fact that they didn’t operate solely in his territory. He knew he would need to look into it more before making a decision.
William had just spent the afternoon working with Theresa Bennett on his current financial situation. She had been worried about the continued expenses for his larger personal guard, but his frugality in other areas made up for that. He didn’t spend large amounts of money on rare and exotic foods, or mistresses. He wasn’t even spending much on magical materials for his laboratory at the moment. William was somewhat surprised that the food expenses of some lords could be relevant compared to the wages of more than a gross of soldiers, but some of them managed it- even without counting the feasts they threw.
Interestingly enough, Theresa had recommended that William throw a banquet for the other lords. With decent vintages and the expected quality of food, it would be quite expensive… but William understood that it was somewhat expected for him to throw and attend banquets. He needed to maintain good relations with as many lords as he could.
“That is the end of my financial concerns, Lord Rutten.” Theresa nodded and started organizing papers on her desk. “There is just one unrelated question I have. I have heard rumors that some of the lords have a conspiracy to regularly go to war with the humans. Then the deaths of the gevai fuel their personal power. Is it true?”
“What makes you think I would know?” William raised an eyebrow.
“You went to inspect the… Eternal King’s castle. You might have seen such information there.”
“An excellent point. It is quite true, though most people won’t believe it.”
“Those involved will know, though.” Theresa nodded seriously.
“Yet without any specific names in the rumors, people will add their own ideas into the mix. Unfortunately it’s hard to control rumors changing.”
Theresa shook her head, “Those involved will suppress the rumors in their own territories.”
William smiled, “If they don’t, it could spell trouble for them… and if they do, the rumors gain credibility. Sadly, rumors are just rumors. They might sway some people, but they’re not enough. We’ll need more.”