Finding people who spread rumors wasn’t particularly easy. At the very least, William wasn’t adept in such an area. It wasn’t that the rumors just spread in the city of Canta, but throughout the nearby area. Most of the noble families lived nearby, and an even larger portion of them had at least a small residence in the area.
However, rumors also worked for him. He heard about several noble families that were dragging their feet on providing the additional taxes and support required of them. William completely understood that nobody liked to pay taxes, or give up their “hard earned” money. It wasn’t hard to do some quick observation at the manors of those in the rumors. There were a few that actually possessed smaller properties or had buildings in disrepair, and William thought they might actually have trouble raising the money. There were also some that looked perfectly fine financially, and were probably just dragging their feet. Then, there were a couple that had seemingly new buildings, including one that had a new carriage and a building still under construction.
At this point, William realized he didn’t know what he could actually accomplish. Unlike in certain types of fiction, training in martial arts and ki hadn’t suddenly made him good at stealth. Although he could probably hide his ki fluctuations from casual detection, that didn’t matter at all against people who weren’t even trying to find ki. It would be just as useful as using magic to become invisible to hide from a blind person. On a related note, invisibility wasn’t easy to accomplish. It involved the manipulation of a large amount of light… and precise manipulation at that. Chris certainly wasn’t up to that level of precision. Even if he was, there was the slight problem that it would make it so that William couldn’t see. After all, the light would have to flow around him… and thus not reach his eyes. Well, it would theoretically be possible to see with even more advanced control, but that would involve allowing light to flow in and reach the eyes but stop it from flowing back out, while also flowing enough light around that it wasn’t obvious in the middle. As for using ki to do the same thing, it might not have been impossible, but William had no idea how to do it. Magic seemed to manipulate the existing forces and energy of the world, while ki created a sort of replica of the forces. That was how William might have explained his understanding to people who would probably end up thoroughly confused. Regardless of whether he was exactly correct on the differences in usage between magic and ki, he couldn’t become invisible, nor did he know how to sneak in a traditional manner.
Then there was the fact that he only had rumors that they hadn’t paid taxes to begin with. He had no certainty that they were connected to the original purpose of starting the rumors denying the Demon King or the importance of the upcoming war. William thought perhaps the entire thing was pointless. He should just go back to what he could do… training to fight the Demon King.
Except, that didn’t feel like he was doing anything. Was he really going to wait around for possibly a dozen years doing nothing? William didn’t like that idea at all. Besides, he hadn’t even tried anything here. Plus… just because he couldn’t do something now didn’t mean he couldn’t learn it.
William concentrated, then stomped his foot. It made a loud thump as it connected with the floor. He brushed his sleeve against the wall. It made the familiar sound of cloth against wood. No, that wasn’t right. William tried again. He concentrated, trying to get the right feeling. What he needed to do was dampen the vibration of the sound through the air. This was also kinetic energy, and was just like stopping a sword. Of course, it wasn’t really that easy. For example, if he really tried to remove all of the kinetic energy from the air, there would be another problem. That was essentially making things colder, and while he could do that, it took a lot of energy. What he wanted to do was a bit more specific.
William thought that perhaps there were manuals of techniques like what he needed available… but those would be in Liaoyang. More importantly, he understood the principles of what he wanted to accomplish. It was just creating a new technique… why would he be unable to do it? After all, all techniques had been created by someone in the past. Though it may not end up the most refined and efficient technique, there was no reason it couldn’t be done.
What William wanted didn’t need to be absolute. In fact, it couldn’t be. An absolute absence of sound and therefore kinetic energy was impossible, except in a vacuum. However, from a certain perspective an absence of sound was actually just an unnoticeable amount. There were certain thresholds below which the average ear could not hear anything, and even if there were exceptions among humans it wouldn’t be vastly different. William thought perhaps knights might do a bit better, or some form of body training, but he wasn’t sure how one would train their ears besides just learning to listen carefully. Regardless, he could still create a technique that was good enough.
What did he really need? He needed kinetic energy over a certain threshold to be dampened. This was actually much like a typical defensive use of ki. However, these were tuned to stronger levels than what typical sound would make, though protective ki would protect eardrums from getting damaged by very loud sounds. More importantly, though, protective ki was generally kept in a tight layer around the body, and also let energy flow out. Thus, there would still be sound, and if he brushed or hit against something, it would make normal noise. William concentrated on the idea of containing energy over a certain threshold, and not letting it out. He also expanded the area to be not just immediately adjacent to his body. He stomped on the ground. It went thump… but more quietly. William wasn’t sure if he was just reducing what sound got to his ears, however. He repeated the action only focusing on his leg and foot. It was a bit louder, but quieter than without trying. He was somewhat dampening the sound that flowed in, but definitely also the sound flowing out. Though, part of that was he reduced the impact of his leg with the floor, since as the kinetic shield hit it slowed his leg slightly through its relative spatial connection. That wasn’t a problem, though, as long as William wasn’t planning to break anything while sneaking around… and he could probably get around it. He could probably even reduce the sound dampening coming in toward him, but he felt that would reduce the quality of the shield overall. William kept experimenting until he was satisfied, and actually stealthy noises weren’t audible at all.