William was just about to give up for the day. There had been a few sessions with nothing to show, and he was nearing the end of his energy for the day. Still, he could run one more. He wouldn’t grow if he didn’t push himself.
Sprinting was boring. It was just the same thing over and over, and even with an opponent, nothing changed. Lila was growing slightly faster, but William wasn’t unable to grow either, and his ki was recovering fairly well. William knew that some of his cultivation couldn’t be recovered, but if he successfully recovered his soul, he thought he could train to the same level again, and beyond. It should be possible, but he would only know for sure after he fully recovered.
William reached the far end of their area first, again, but Lila wasn’t far behind. Then, William suddenly found Lila catching up… and she passed him for a brief moment. William put all of his effort into speed, and was back in front in a moment, then finished a reasonable distance ahead of Lila.
When she crossed the finish line, Lila flopped down on the ground. “It’s not fair. I managed to pass you this time, but you still won. I-”
William held out his hand, “Stop there. Think about that feeling when you passed me.”
“What about it?”
“Just remember the feeling. Everything you can about it.”
Lila nodded her head, “Alright. There was wind on my face. My muscles were sore. My lungs hurt. When I passed you, it felt exhilarating… and then crushingly disappointing when you passed me back..”
“What else? What about that exhilarating feeling?”
“It was just… the feeling of winning. That’s all. No, wait. There was something more.” She blinked, “Was that ki? You can learn to use ki just by sprinting a bunch? Why didn’t anyone just say that?”
“Oh come on, you’re smarter than that. Think about it like a headmistress.”
“Not just sprinting, but pushing to my limits… beyond my limits. But it’s different from body training, because you really do push beyond your limits. Still, why didn’t you just tell me that?”
“Because, it might not have worked. It might have, but if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to un-tell you.” William shook his head, “Anyway, remember that feeling. If you can, find that feeling, energy like that, and do something with it. Move it around… carefully though.”
“Ugh, do I have to meditate?”
“No, just feel it.”
She closed her eyes and frowned for a bit, “I guess there’s… something.”
William nodded. There was definitely a wisp of ki there. That’s about all that could be expected. “Just get used to controlling it. It’s sort of like exercise, and will help you grow stronger… to a point.” It wasn’t the most optimal way to train ki, but if he tried to get her to start on a cultivation method right away, she might lose the feeling.
William went to Marek for cultivation advice. Though he was doing fine on his own, someone with unfathomable years of experience should be quite helpful. He was, but he wasn’t much for talking. “My soul is healing rather well, but I still have indestructible black goo that I can’t do anything with but move it around.”
“Soul necrosis. Destroy it.”
William was going to say he couldn’t, that it was indestructible. However, he thought about that. Certainly, he hadn’t yet been able to destroy it… but could it really be indestructible? No, it couldn’t. Perhaps it it were something that had always existed in that form, he could imagine it being immutable… but it hadn’t existed before. Though he might not have been able to destroy it, that didn’t mean it couldn’t be done with more power. “What happens if I leave it?”
“Death.” Marek’s face was neutral, as if he were talking about the weather, though he never bothered to speak on anything so mundane. “If you wait a few years, it will poison your soul, and you will die.”
William blinked, “A few years?” He hadn’t thought that a potential threat to his life was so close.
Marek nodded. “I have seen it before, and I saw it in you. In three dozen to a gross of years, it will be a danger.”
“Oh.” That was more than a few years… but William didn’t plan to leave it that long. He didn’t feel any problems with it yet, but if it did start to cause trouble, it would be devastating. After all, it was currently distributed all throughout his soul. Perhaps it wouldn’t all happen at once, but William wasn’t planning to study the effects. He would try to do something about it as soon as possible. “Do you have any techniques that cultivate the soul? Preferably something straightforward and simple.”
“You do not need a simple technique.”
“Oh, it’s not for me.”
William had tried to destroy one of the black balls of goo. Using all of his energy… he managed to squish it around and distort its shape. Well, they didn’t come as balls of goo, but rather just goo. William decided it was better to try a smaller one. He surveyed his soul. He would consider about ten percent of it healthy, with the rest in various states of being damaged. Throughout it all, the black goo was present. Soul necrosis. Bits of dead soul. That didn’t surprise William too much, but that implied that the rest of his soul might be alive, even the most thoroughly damaged parts. It was hard to say exactly how it worked.
There was another oddity, as well. The black goo took up space… but it also did not. If he moved a sphere, it wasn’t that his soul flowed around it and moved to fill up the empty space he left behind. This was most obvious when transitioning from an injured area to a healthy area and back. If he moved the dead soul out of an injured area, there was more injured soul underneath. Likewise if he moved the dead soul from a healthy area… there was actually more injured soul underneath. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to be causing new injured soul, but just revealing an area that hadn’t been healed yet. William spent some time relocating everything in the healthy area so he could have a continuous area of truly healthy soul. He would have to spend more time on this… but he had that time. Probably even a normal human lifespan. That was a strange thought.