William considered what he was hoping to accomplish by coming to see his family. He honestly didn’t know. He’d thought maybe he was looking for a sense of closure, coming to see them one last time before letting go. After all, he loved his family and didn’t want them to get involved in anything dangerous. He loved them, and that was the same reason he didn’t want to let them go. Even Sarah, who he barely knew, had a special place in his heart after a month.
He didn’t want them to be in danger, and if he retained a connection with him, they would be. What could farmers even do against a lord? William sighed. Apparently he did it too. They were farmers… certainly. That was their profession. That didn’t mean they were helpless, or that they couldn’t do more than they were. Even if they weren’t currently strong enough, that didn’t mean they couldn’t be with time. They were certainly capable of learning.
William stared down at the stew in his bowl. There was nothing wrong with it. It had fresh ingredients, of course, and they were high quality. It was tasty, but it was also the easiest place to stare. Thus, he did it unconsciously.
The meal was quiet, except for the sound of spoons clinking into bowls. Finally, Barend spoke up, “So, Josef, you still haven’t really told us what you were doing the past dozen years…”
“That’s right. I haven’t.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “Tell me, what do you know about the Demon King?”
Barend frowned, “Well… He’s the king of the gevai.”
“He’s really strong!” Sarah proclaimed.
“Quite.” Anselma responded unenthusiastically, “Not undefeatable though, but he always comes back to life.”
Stefan picked up the thoughts next, “Then, whenever he returns, there is always a war with the humans.”
William nodded, “That about sums it up correctly.”
“So, what does this have to do with where you were?” Barend asked.
William took a slow breath. “Well, that’s a secret. I can tell you, but it has to remain with the family. Before that, I want to know your opinions about the Demon King. How do you actually feel about him?”
Sarah immediately spoke up, “He sounds stupid! He’s really strong but he always gets himself killed fighting humans. Humans are so weak! How can that happen?”
Barend frowned, “Sarah…”
“What?” she looked down, “It’s probably true! It’s not like I’m saying this in public or anything. I know better than that.”
Barend nodded, “Good. Such opinions are best kept quiet, no matter how much I might agree with your general idea.”
Gisila spoke up timidly, “I… don’t know why we have to go to war at all. Everyone says we should hate humans, but…” she shook her head.
Anselma nodded, “I haven’t heard about any good he’s done for the gevai. Sure, he fights on the frontlines to ‘protect us from the humans’ but from what I can tell most of the wars start on our side.”
William smiled. He was glad his family was as informed as they were. Maybe more of the general population felt the same way, but couldn’t speak about it. On the other hand, many of them might not really know, especially if they weren’t educated. “That’s about right. Most of the other lords aren’t much better for the gevai in general. Unfortunately, they’ve had a very long time to build up strength of various kinds.” William shook his head, “As for what I was doing… I was looking for him so that I could stop him.”
Sarah and Gisila paled slightly, though their expressions showed the greater part of their nervousness. Barend and Anselma seemed surprised as well, though not to the same extent. Only Stefan nodded in acceptance.
“Isn’t that… dangerous?” Sarah finally said.
William raised an eyebrow. “Dangerous? Of course. However, the Demon King himself is just one person. The real danger will probably come from the lords. They are quite comfy with their positions of power, and he is part of that structure. But, it is quite dangerous. For me, and people close to me. As time goes on it will be more dangerous. Thus, this is your chance to cut off all ties to me and be safe. You’ll never see me again, and you can tell people I died.”
“But we just met!” Sarah exclaimed, “You hardly even taught me anything about magic!”
Anselma was more calm in her reply, “What if we have no interest in forgetting about you?” She turned to look at Barend, and touched her fingers to his chest, “Your father and I aren’t particularly happy with the current state of the lords either.”
Gisila looked down at her folded hands, “I… don’t like them either. Though I can’t do anything about it…”
Stefan shrugged, “I certainly wouldn’t say I’m fond of the people who almost casually killed my father while trying to kill a cute little girl.”
“I’m not a little girl anymore!” Gisila pouted.
“Oh, but you’re still very cute,” Stefan grinned.
William clapped his hands together. “Alright, that’s enough of that. This is a very serious matter. I want all of you to be safe, but I can’t be here to protect you.”
“So?” Anselma asked slowly, “What’s your plan then?”
“Well, you could all be safe at the Academy…”
“Ohh! I want to go!” Sarah leaped up from here chair, “Take me there!”
Barend shook his head, “Sitting around doing nothing while my son risks his life… sounds worse than cutting off ties.”
William shrugged, “That’s all I can do. Anything else, you have to do yourself. But… since I can tell you’d do that… I can teach you to fight. That won’t be enough to protect you from an army but…” William sighed, “I don’t know. If an army is coming you can run. It’s not a great plan, but maybe we can think of something better. By the time anyone is willing to throw around an army, we’ll have figured something out.” William frowned. Maybe Lorelei would have a good idea.