William was glad for the time he had sitting in the wagon in the caravan. It meant he had time to think that couldn’t be used for anything useful. He could cultivate his ki, he supposed, but beyond a certain amount per day, it wasn’t effective. Somehow, it was both refreshing and tiring.
He first thought about his actions in Ostana. He didn’t regret anything, but he did think some things could have gone better. For example, the men he had killed in the Hengan household… they had deserved to die, but killing them where they were may not have been the best option. On the other hand, he couldn’t have guaranteed they would die for their crimes otherwise. If they had mysteriously died after being unsuccessfully prosecuted, it wouldn’t good for the knight’s public image at all. William shook his head to clear it. Yes, it was best they had died there, but he supposed he should have considered it more carefully beforehand. Still, he didn’t want any problems in the upcoming war with the demons.
William coughed. He couldn’t wait to deal with traitors or idiots, even if he wanted to. He might not even be alive for the war. Though there was some small chance he would, after having looked into his mother’s family who shared in his disease, he wasn’t going to bet on it. Most died within a dozen years, even with medicine. The medicine that Lorelei had arranged for him to get might be more effective… but Lorelei’s information was of the disease in demons, so the fact that they survived the disease longer meant very little. Their lifespans were longer, and their bodies naturally stronger. The only thing that could be guaranteed was that the medicine wouldn’t perform worse, which would have to be good enough.
Most of the journey was uneventful, despite the guards with the caravan. In fact, most caravans traveling the Endless Forest didn’t run into any problems at all. The only problem was the remaining portion, which absolutely needed guards to defend against wild animals and magical beasts. There was no way to guarantee which group a caravan would be in on each trip, so guards were a necessity for all but the gamblers- many of which lost their lives. Perhaps not on the first trip, but after a few trips of safety, they were lulled into a false sense of security… after which, they usually were never seen again… or at least not alive.
William wasn’t hired as a guard on this trip, instead just paying to be brought along. He didn’t want to be required to stand guard at night, or to deal with minor skirmishes like wolves. Though there weren’t many regular wolves they still were around and they were one of the most common threats, along with some other normal animals. They were far from the biggest threats, but they were most plentiful. Even a forest the size of the Endless Forest could still only support a certain number of very large creatures such as dire wolves. Fortunately, most of the real dangers stayed away from the road, most of the time. Of course, that only went so far.
One day, William heard loud shouts, which caused him to look out from the covered wagon he was in. As he looked around, he didn’t see any injured people or attacking beasts as he had expected. In fact, besides the somewhat panicked cries, nothing seemed wrong at all. William didn’t see that anyone was looking at anything in particular, until he realized that they were… it just happened to be directly ahead on the road. The creature that was causing the panic appeared tiny… but that was only because of how far away it was.
The caravan was on a particularly straight section of the road, so they could see almost to the horizon, but the creature could still be seen. It wasn’t just a speck, either. Instead it stood out compared to the road… or perhaps it was better to say that the road paled in significance with it there, since it was large than the road, which had enough room for two wagons to pass… though just barely. This creature was a forest dragon.
William thought it was a somewhat silly name, since it wasn’t a dragon at all. Dragons were intelligent and could use magic. At the very least, their typical fire breath was a type of magic, though sometimes they could do other magic as well. In fact, their flight capabilities were supported by magic, because otherwise a creature as heavy as a dragon couldn’t fly, even with wings much bigger in scope than their body. Dragons also had gems that grew inside them- a dragon’s heart, though of course they had a real heart as well. Still, a dragon heart served the same purpose as a wizard’s staff, or more specifically a gem on a staff. Lila had even made a staff like that after she had slain a dragon. William wondered where it was, because it was extremely valuable. Tyler Dragonfoe probably knew, but it might have been lost to the generations. William hadn’t thought to ask.
Regardless, the forest dragon was just a large lizard. Saying just was a bit too far in the other direction, however. Its body was actually bigger than the only real dragon William had seen in person. It could afford it the extra weight, because it didn’t need to fly. William thought it seemed slow, though as he watched it walking forward, one step at a time, he realized that wasn’t the case. Certainly, it didn’t take quick steps… but that was deceptive, since each step it took was significant with its size. Though it wasn’t technically a dragon, that didn’t make it less dangerous than one… at least to a caravan. A city might have walls that could slow it down, but there was nothing here that could do that.
The caravan leader was now calming those who were panicking. There was still time to organize the caravan before the fight with the forest dragon. The caravan leader ordered all of the wagons to leave the road. Though they weren’t made for off road travel, they could go a small way away from the road. William thought it was the right call… because perhaps the forest dragon would just pass by. After all, it could be moving along the road because it was easy, and if it wasn’t hungry, there would be no reason for it to go out of its way to attack them. Though William thought it was the right call, and at the very least the trees would somewhat limit the movement of the forest dragon. Maybe not much, as it was used to this terrain, but some. The dragon might even pass by the caravan entirely. William still made it known that he would be fighting too, if it came to battle. He may not have been signed up as a guard, but they would probably need all the help they could get.