William had almost forgotten that he’d asked Zhan Shengrui to procure a manual containing staff techniques. In fact, it would be more fair to say that he had forgotten. It had been so long since he’d asked for it, and he had other things on his mind. Then, it had to be translated. This came in the form of an additional set of papers corresponding to each page. There were also pictures showing the forms, since words were mostly insignificant.
Zhan Shengrui explained, “This is a very basic set of techniques. Anything more is much more expensive, and generally considered secret. All the factions are very secretive with their techniques. This, however, is so common that nobody would even bother trying to keep it secret. As for what is considered high class… Well, I don’t think it would be worth the price just for the sake of curiosity.”
William thanked him for his help, and paid him. Then, he started flipping through the manual. Even with pictures and translations, it was somewhat hard to get a firm grasp on what they were trying to convey. There were many subtleties that couldn’t be conveyed without actually seeing it. Still, it gave William some insights into methods he hadn’t considered. After all, he had just been making up what seemed to work for him. The fact that he was best as staff techniques among the wizards was because the others were all even worse. With these, William thought he might be able to better hold his own sparring against a knight. At least, the more junior ones.
In fact, William was looking forward to showing his friend Gerald how much better he could be. Not that William would be able to do much of anything to him, but Gerald knew how to hold back, which occasionally made William feel like he could win. Of course, this was only on the condition that William didn’t use Chris, and magic. When they sparred, William would use a normal staff, and Gerald used blunted weapons. The knights had several arenas that had been set up by the wizards to allow for safer sparring. They were somewhat easier to set up, since they only protected from physical attack. Thus, William would never use magic there, though he could if he and Gerald were at the academy. Chris… well, as a weapon, he was exceptional. William was pretty sure he could do serious damage when wielding Chris even with the restrictive wards.
In fact, that was something Chris had figured out how to do on his own. He’d felt somewhat disappointed at being unable to move as he wanted to when in the restrictive wards. So, somehow, Chris had figured out how to ignore the restrictions on his actions in such wards. When William asked him about it, he couldn’t really explain how. He seemed to know, but was unable to explain precisely. He also didn’t completely ignore the restrictions. In his words, “I just do things that aren’t restricted. Fast attacks and magic are restricted, but not my… inner magic? I think it’s because I’m a magic weapon. Probably.”
Not that William would let him use whatever those abilities were in a duel. Even people knowing he could injure people in such circumstances would be bad, and he didn’t have anyone he wanted to do that to. Even Geoff. Though, only barely on that part. He was still a somewhat unpleasant person, but it had come to the point that he and William just avoided each other now, instead of getting into more conflicts.
When William was twenty five years old, he went out to fight his first magical beasts. Not for fun, of course. There just happened to be a larger amount of them approaching human territory than normal. Not enough to be worth mobilizing an army, but enough to warrant the squads of knights requesting more wizards to assist them. After all, even Lila had limits to what she could do. Though William thought some of that was because she didn’t want to burn down the forests that were the most common place to encounter magical beasts. Maybe that was just his imagination though.
William joined a squad that also included Gerald, which he was happy about. In addition to Gerald, there were eleven other members, for a total of twelve. It was a good sized group, not too many or too few, and it was also a nice round number, with a base twelve number system. William still sometimes found himself thinking in base ten, even though he had a long time to get used to the change. With William, the group was thirteen people, but there were no stigmas associated with the number here, and William didn’t believe in number luck so it wouldn’t have bothered him anyway.
Marius also joined a squad, since he was also rather capable at combat magic. William thought his joining was also somewhat political, though he knew Marius cared about saving lives as well. However, having a noble willing to go out and risk his life could be good for their image. Not that it was particularly dangerous, though there were sometimes casualties. Magical beasts were taken seriously enough that more soldiers were sent than the estimated requirements. Of course, no combat situation was ever safe, even if you had the advantage.
William was somewhat nervous about approaching his first life or death combat situation, though he had some idea what to do. Lila had told him about her experiences and provided him with some idea of what to expect. In addition, the knights were the only ones who should be approaching melee combat, which was more dangerous. William’s job was to use magic while they were far away, and if there weren’t too many, it was even possible to take them out without the knights having to engage in combat at all. There was no reason for them to risk their lives unnecessarily.
The one thing that William ended up thinking about most on the trip, though, was that he hated riding horses. It was uncomfortable. It would have been even worse if he’d had to wear his robes. He knew the horse wasn’t to blame, and was sure it was also uncomfortable for the horse to be ridden, but he still found himself getting angry at the horse inside. Fortunately, after days of travel, they finally made it where they needed to be.