Marek’s travels had been easy, as far as anything he did could be considered easy with the threat of falling apart at any moment. Fortunately he didn’t have to spend literally all of his time in concentration. He could still sleep, though he spent an hour before and after in meditation to stabilize his soul and its connection to his body. He also didn’t sleep much… but that hadn’t really changed. He’d had far too many things to think about even when he hadn’t been motivated to do anything about them. Then, it had been out of worry and disappointment in himself. Now, there were new worries- but he had also made progress in destroying the Demon King. As it was, any fragments in the same state as the latest one he had met probably didn’t even need him to do anything.
The only problem was guaranteeing they were all in such a state. There were two more that the map from Ustil indicated existed… or maybe one? He would have preferred a written page of notes explaining one of them, the one they were uncertain on. Regardless, he could actually get to that one most easily, so that was his target. Of course, there was no guarantee that there weren’t more that nobody knew about… but he hoped they would be filled with soul necrosis and unable to recover from it, like the other fragments he had briefly seen.
When he finally arrived in the marked area, Marek couldn’t help but hold his head in his hands. Of course it was William. They had run into the same thing themselves. Marek could see he was in a meeting with some humans. That was a surprise, as it meant the plan had been accelerated… but at least they almost certainly didn’t have to worry about the Demon King popping up and interfering… and certainly not any strong remnant of him. Marek thought that the chunk that William had gotten was at least as big as any of the rest. Marek didn’t stop to greet William, as he didn’t want to interrupt the negotiations… among other reasons.
It was time to go see his sister again. She always could help him sort out what he should do- even if he didn’t always do it. Plus, this could be his last time to see her. So could the previous time, but he didn’t want to miss each chance. The rest of their family had long since died, though statistically they were probably related to many gevai, just none they knew about- and not closer than a dozen or more generations.
By the time he arrived where she was, all of the negotiations were over. Not that she was out of things to do- she always had things to do, and if there weren’t an important event to be involved in she would be researching something… or possibly just playing around in her laboratory. Marek wasn’t entirely sure on the difference.
“Greetings, brother.” Lorelei smiled, “It’s good to see you again. How did your mission go?”
“Well, I didn’t die.” Marek shrugged, “Which means it went even better than expected. I took care of a fragment of the Demon King, got taken care of by some nice humans, and they even gave me a map.” He pulled out the aforementioned map and handed it to Lorelei. “Take a look.”
“Got taken care of by humans, you say?” Lorelei continued the conversation while looking over the map.
“They bound my wounds and put me in an almost comfortable, unlocked prison cell… so yes. Taken care of describes it rather well.”
“Interesting. Did you draw this map?”
“I told you I was given it… and you know my handwriting.”
“I know.” Lorelei nodded, “But besides me and you, I’m surprised anyone knew about what happened at those locations. Well, and Chris I suppose…” she shook her head, “But he’s not particularly talkative. I haven’t had much chance to visit anyone of import in Ustil, with the barrier. I’ve only heard they have startling divination magic from William.” She frowned at the map, “I don’t recall you destroying a fragment in Liaoyang, and William would have mentioned it…”
“True… but about the more ambiguous one there…” Marek pointed.
“What? I suppose that’s William. We made the same assumption… but you checked him out.”
“I am not perfect.”
Lorelei shook her head, “In that state he was in, I don’t doubt your success. Besides, I have spent ample time with him. I know you had little interaction with the Demon King and none with William, but I have spent time with both. Every second with the Demon King was unpleasant. Unless he miraculously became a perfect actor or was always even better at fooling me, William is William. Why even bring up the possibility?”
Marek shrugged, “It’s good to be sure. Also, the last one is in Eclea, and I can’t go there.” Marek scratched his head, “Even this had its doubts, and no reason to trust them over my own experiences… but it was still worth bringing up.”
Lorelei shook her head, “Seriously, why even mention it? Is the thought of there being just one more fragment that bad? I’m sure you can find something else…”
Marek shook his head, “We both know I am at an end either way… and I would hate to end in failure after everything.” He grinned as his eyes looked off wistfully into the distance, “Not that I could do anything even if he was truly part of the Demon King.”
“Well… maybe it doesn’t have to end there. You have a strong soul… so maybe when you reincarnate you will remember me.”
Marek nodded, “Maybe I will reincarnate.” Left unspoken was the uncertainty that he would reincarnate at all given his current state, let along with any sort of memories intact. Neither he nor Lorelei wanted to mention that, but they both knew it. William had done so even with an injured soul, but he already had a history of reincarnating with memories… and his circumstances were different. He had suffered sudden, if significant, damage to his soul. Marek’s, meanwhile, had been held together and attached to Marek’s body by pure willpower, especially for the last dozens of years. It was hard to say what would happen, but he doubted it would be so convenient as to give him what he wanted.