The more observant among those who remained realized that there was still something more. Of course, there were more spiders remaining from those who hadn’t used them, but nobody was really interested in another attempt at Shattering the Soul. A single experience had been enough for them. Of course, if the Order hadn’t screened its candidates in the same way, there was a possibility that they would have ended up with someone who enjoyed the sensation of destroying a soul, as twisted as that could be. The Order had been more interested in stability and reliability than just potential, and William was glad that was the case.
William could be seen walking around and brushing at the ground with his staff. Upon closer inspection, he was creating a series of lines, with another line crossing them at a perpendicular. Then he walked to another area, and repeated the process. In total, he created eight such areas, with each of the longer lines facing away from the cage in the center. Yu Huan found his actions curious and asked, “Is this some kind of magic?”
“Ha! Nope. It’s just for measurements.” Yu Huan didn’t really know anything about magic. William found it strange that each country had kept to itself so much that they didn’t seem to even try to learn about how those from other countries fought, even to strengthen their own. Was it some kind of plot perpetrated by the demons? Probably not. More likely, it was just human stupidity, or stubbornness. Regardless, Yu Huan wasn’t clear on how magic worked, and William had to admit that it looked something like the start of a magical formation. “Alright everyone. There is one final thing. If you wish to stay, please stand…” William looked around. “Over on top of that rise.” It was a bit too small to call it a hill, and it was only about six dozen meters away from the cage itself. Still, it wasn’t that close either. “Don’t forget to protect your eyes. The explosion will be very bright.” William thought to himself, ‘If this works, anyway.’
Most of those remaining, including Yu Huan, gathered on the hill. One or two of the remaining dozen slipped away… but they were replaced by a few elders from the Order. This was actually a somewhat important juncture although most of those present didn’t know it, at least not in specifics. Nobody had ever performed Shattering the Soul on a creature the size of a wolf. Not that size directly mattered, but the strength of their soul wasn’t too unexpected. Significantly weaker than a human, but significantly stronger than a spider. It was hard to judge exactly, but that was the whole point of what was happening. William was confident he knew how much effort it would take to destroy a larger soul, and even approximately how large the explosion was.
That was what the marks were for. One mark where he thought the explosion would be, and then a few marks approximately a meter apart going in either direction. The line crossing them in a perpendicular was just an aid in keeping them straight. William stood inside that circle, about a dozen meters from the wolf, which was now chained to a post. This was probably unnecessary since it was unconscious, but William didn’t want to deal with the probable shrapnel from the cage or a possibly angry wolf. The predicted circle was approximately three dozen meters, though this was for the very edge of the effect, where the dirt should stop being disturbed. Still, that put William well inside the area.
William stood and concentrated. In combat, he wouldn’t have the chance to do this so easily. He knew he would have to gather ki while fending off attacks, unless the opponent was entirely insensate to ki. Chris gathered his own ki as well. There was a limit to how fast ki could move from where it was stored to where it was usable, at least safely. William took some time, over a full minute. He actually gathered all of his ki from his spiritual sea. However, William was not doing so because he thought it would be difficult to succeed at Shattering the Soul. Rather, he devoted about ninety percent of his energy to defense. Truth be told, William wouldn’t have been too worried if a psychopath with talent had gotten their hand on Shattering the Soul. That was because they wouldn’t be able to use it to kill humans… more than once, anyway. Unless they were extremely powerful, and skilled in defensive techniques and soul techniques, they would be wiped out. If they were less skilled in soul techniques, they would have to be closer to their opponent or possibly touching, which would only make the danger that much worse. They would also have less ki to devote to defense. William was confident in his technique, and he probably didn’t even need to use so much ki on defense… but he didn’t want to be wrong and then dead again… or have his soul destroyed. This way, even if he was wrong by half an order of magnitude… he would probably survive.
Finally, William was ready. Hesitating would just cause him to lose concentration and waste energy. Unlike with the spider, here he was pushing the limits of where he could use Shattering the Soul on something with the strength of a wolf, but if he failed to destroy it at least all that would happen was embarrassment. He wouldn’t fail, though. Unwavering confidence was very helpful, and William wasn’t particularly worried. He was more distracted by thoughts of how accurate his predictions would be.
He struck forward with Chris, an attack invisible to the eye, but quite obvious to anyone who could sense ki. A short moment afterwards, it was obvious to anyone with any kind of senses at all. Ki, mana, sight, hearing, smell, touch… the resulting explosion wasn’t something that could be missed. However for those looking at it directly it wasn’t clear for long, as the light was blinding just as William warned. Still, it was only for a brief moment, and all of those watching had taken a least a small precaution in protecting their eyes with ki.
When the dust started clearing a minute later, a figure could be seen. As it cleared more, William could be seen half-kneeling about two dozen meters from the center of the blast, breathing heavily and leaning on his staff. After he caught his breath and the dust completely settled, William looked around. He walked around the edge of the blast radius, checking all of the marks. Then he walked up to the hill, speaking to the elders there, though of course the others could hear as well. “Almost exactly as predicted, at least within a meter in either direction. The amount of effort required was also close to predicted, though I suppose it is hard to know if I used more than necessary.” William looked down at the area from the top of the hill and sighed. “I never want to do that again.”