Marek sat on top of a mountain, looking down on the land below. It was more of a symbolic gesture than anything useful. It would be impossible to recognize any individuals from such a difference, even if he knew what he was looking for. However, he couldn’t really do much else. Below him lay Eclea… and with it a gigantic barrier. It wouldn’t actually stop his intrusion, but it would track him inside… and he would quickly be attacked by squads of soldiers- or an army.
He needed to enter, but he couldn’t… so he waited. Perhaps the last fragment would come out. Would Marek be able to recognize him? Unlikely. He couldn’t sense people at such a distance.
It was likely that he had become a figure of some import. In that case he would likely be surrounded by guards if he were to leave Eclea. That was what Marek could watch for. When he saw such a group, he would approach close enough to sense them. Then, he would return to his perch.
Marek considered that the barrier might go down at some point. William had mentioned that it would likely only track those who entered the border while it was functional. If it went down, Marek would take the opportunity to enter.
Perhaps that would keep the fragment in Eclea. He could be uncertain about whether he would be distinguished as a demon. He could also somehow know that fragments were being destroyed, or he could be busy with his political position.
Marek didn’t know. He didn’t even know if the fragment continued to survive. Perhaps that fragment had died from soul necrosis, or age… but it could also live.
Thus, he sat and watched. Then, when he could no longer put it off, he would sit and meditate, holding himself together. He would reinforce the tenuous bonds between body and soul… bonds that surely should have broken a long time prior… and then he would watch, and wait.
William sat in his office, not really looking at the papers in front of him, just thinking. In his first life, he had only been responsible for himself. As such, he hadn’t really accomplished much.
Then he had come to this world and taken on more responsibilities. He helped define the future of Ostana by becoming the Archmage. Perhaps they would have been fine without him, but there was no way to know for sure.
His third life, he didn’t have an official position but fulfilled an important role. He destroyed the Demon King, which changed the fate of nations… though perhaps not as much as he would have wanted. The fragments weren’t as big of a problem… but the Demon King wasn’t the only one who would cause frequent wars with the humans and even seek to destroy their souls. The Demon King had not come upon such an ability himself, but learned it from others. William wasn’t sure if they could use it as well as he did, but even if they couldn’t repeated wars weren’t good for humans or gevai- especially not wars meant to wipe out the others entirely.
Now, in his fourth life, he had influence over whether humans and gevai fought… and whether or not those who had perpetuated that mentality continued to live. He was not solely responsible for such, but he was definitely an important part of the process.
While it wasn’t a sudden increase in power and responsibility, it went far beyond what William ever thought he would have to deal with. The fact that he had the ability to made him feel like he had to do something about it, but he didn’t know if he was doing things the right way. It was merely that he couldn’t think of anything better.
Then there was a knock on the study door, breaking William out of his musings. “Lord Rutten, there is a guest here to see you.”
“Send them in,” William answered. At least he would have something else to think about.
William hadn’t expected to see Stefan, but there he was. “Greetings, Lord Rutten.”
William shook his head, “Oh please, don’t start with that. I’m still Josef, am I not? You could even be something like a lord yourself….” William frowned, “Perhaps I should have required that you stay with me, instead of remaining as farmers.”
Stefan shook his head, “Mother and father wouldn’t be happy with that, and neither would I. We can still do important work with our positions, and we aren’t the type suited for politics.”
“You think I am?” William raised an eyebrow. “I’m just good at fighting and yelling at people. Other than that, I just rely on people with more experience than me. Besides, if you had joined me you wouldn’t have been drafted and…” William looked pointedly at Stefan’s left arm… or what remained of it.
Stefan patted his left sleeve, which now stopped at his elbow, “Oh, this? It could have happened anywhere. I got careless, and that would have been just as dangerous when working with animals. I wouldn’t have been content to just sit around during the war anyway- this could have happened serving under you too.”
William leaned back and looked at the ceiling, then sighed. “I just wish… I was free to do what I wanted. Why does my brother have to lose an arm when I can’t even grow it back yet?”
“It’s just the way of life. I’ve got another arm still, Josef. I also have my wife… and we’ll have children as well. I would like to think that having them grow up in a better world is a good thing, even at the cost of an arm or two.” Stefan frowned, “Wait, did you just say something weird again?”
William shook his head, “Don’t worry about it. Unless you have a lot of spare time to study lizards.” William furrowed his brow in concentration, “Though maybe with magic… piece by piece…” He started muttering to himself.
“Huh? What? Oh, well you see some lizards regrow their tails, and perhaps magic could replicate similar effects, given time.”
“That’s… interesting. But, do you really have to fix everything?”
“If I can? Absolutely.” William nodded gravely. “So, I suppose you didn’t come here just to catch up? What is it?”