A year was both far too long and far too short. William found that his time was full of work such as checking his guard’s training- and noticing they were significantly underpracticed in magic. Fortunately, he was able to deal with that himself. He also had to meet with those who governed the cities that ultimately paid a portion of taxes to him. That was mostly so people knew who he was and didn’t get any funny ideas. Most of the tax money was actually spent on the things taxes were for- upkeep of guards and roads and other useful things. Not as much in the way of schools as William would like, but he made some plans for that. Only a small portion actually went into his coffers, but that was just small in the grand scheme of things. Really, it was probably far too much… but he wasn’t going to tell anyone that. With the funds under his personal control, it was much easier to do what he wanted with them.
Even though he was kept busy, William couldn’t help but think of Lorelei. She planned to visit. Certainly, there would be important things she hoped to accomplish before then, and they would discuss how things were going… but William cared less about that much less in the immediate moment than he did about just seeing her again. William hadn’t really been in love before- just some infatuations- so he hadn’t understood why sometimes people who actually were in love seemed so crazy sometimes. The simple answer was that they were crazy. If William thought about it rationally, it was much more important to run a county and work on concreting the destruction of the Demon King than just him seeing Lorelei, but he didn’t feel like that was the case.
Fortunately, the time eventually came. He knew what day she would arrive, and even approximately the time. He got very little work done, as he couldn’t help but keep glancing out the window. Finally, her carriage pulled up to the manor. It was all he could do to keep from running out to see her. The only thing that stopped him was that it was undignified… and he did have to keep up some kind of public image- even in his own manor. William didn’t wait for her arrival to be announced before heading over. That was too much patience.
A number of guards and servants had found themselves ‘coincidentally’ working nearby. After all, they too knew of the arrival of the Archmage- who was also the lord’s lover. They wanted to see it for themselves. William didn’t mind, and it was actually better that they were around.
Lorelei’s smile was brilliant and charming as he walked toward her… and William could only imagine that his own face had a goofy smile. He couldn’t help it though. They met in a passionate kiss… one that was rather prolonged and perhaps a bit more flowery than normal. It was for public display, though certainly a pleasant one. Afterwards, nobody would doubt they were together.
Though William and Lorelei had sent messages, they still had much catching up to do. Lorelei started, “Most of the lords are a pain. I took the time to visit them personally and they barely were willing to put up with that, even though I was really doing them a favor. Everyone is worried about the Demon King not reappearing yet…” Lorelei paused, “Which was why I wanted to be done destroying his fragments by now, but that plan has been less productive than I wished. If only he’d just been destroyed completely…” She looked at William, “Ah, not that I want to say you did a poor job. It’s not something anyone else could have accomplished at all. Perhaps Marek, if he’d stayed determined… but he spent too much time actually knowing the Demon King.”
William nodded, “Meanwhile, I only met him at the end. He probably didn’t even have an idea I existed until that battle, and I wasn’t going to get out of there alive anyway.” He looked down at himself, “I almost didn’t even get out of there… existing. If the Demon King had actually had any idea someone was out to destroy him, he might have been more cautious, and then I doubt I could have handled it.”
Lorelei shrugged, “He might have been more cautious, he might not have. It doesn’t matter, you did… better than I thought anyone would. I rather expected the plan to fail, in which case I could very well be dead now. As it is… some people are suspicious, but there are always such people. The most important thing is that nobody was there to see it and lived. I merely saw the crater. Anyway, I have been successful. A majority of lords have agreed to investigate the Demon King’s castle, with the caveat that we’re the ones doing it and taking the risk of his anger.”
William grinned, “Well, if he ever recognizes me he’s going to be more than a little bit angry anyway. Do you really think we’ll find anything in there?”
Lorelei shrugged, “I don’t know. He might have kept some information that would be useful. Obviously it won’t let us know where his fragments are, but it might have information that would help us destabilize his supporters or something to that effect. It also might just be a waste of time, but even if we don’t find anything we can make something up to cause internal conflicts among some of the lords.”
William shook his head, “I guess we’ll see. What I’ve learned is… managing things sucks. I can see why so many rulers are careless and terrible at it. I’m not even nominally in charge of a very large area, and I can already see all kinds of problems, very few of which I have solutions to.” He shrugged, then grinned, “On the other hand I’ve been working on something… Want to come back to my lab?”
Lorelei licked her lips, “I’d absolutely love to.”