William considered whether he should return to Ostana or the northern lands. After all, he had lost communication with Lorelei and Lila. However, if he left there would be months where he wasn’t in Liaoyang, and as time passed each moment was more likely to have an appearance by the Demon King, at least until the end of the timeframe. The plans said he would be responsible for himself if contact was lost, so he knew he shouldn’t.
After some time of thinking, William realized part of the reason he wanted to go back was for himself. That is, he wanted to have contact with Lorelei and Lila… not because of any emergencies, but because they were his friends. In the current Liaoyang he only had acquaintances, but nobody who really knew him… and he couldn’t have more than that. Meanwhile, Lila and Lorelei were friends who stretched across multiple lifelines. Though, William wasn’t exactly sure if he was friends with Lorelei in his second life. At least from his perspective, he hadn’t trusted her yet.
William’s cultivation technique was progressing nicely. He was beginning to get a solid understanding of what he wanted. His basic ideas worked, but the implementation required experimentation. Finally, it had progressed to the point where he was ready to solidify the first layer, and breakthrough to whatever the next would be. That would be up to him.
Some simpler techniques merely built up their store of ki until the limit was reached, then forced even more power. This could cause a breakthrough to the next level… or severe injury. It depended on various factors such as the stability of the ki, but the most important thing was that a proper technique would have a far lower chance of anything going wrong. However, other techniques didn’t force the transition, but instead underwent a qualitative change. This was usually the case when the desired form of energy couldn’t be formed at the first level. Transforming techniques were not without risks themselves, as mistakes could still happen during the transition from one form to the other, especially when developing a new cultivtation technique.
There were also exceptions, such as Rotational Soul Pressure. Such techniques had no levels, but there were limits they couldn’t surpass. However, since most of those limits weren’t significant, not many people trained in them, and they couldn’t be a main cultivation technique. William had been somewhat of an exception with Rotational Soul Pressure, but he had still reached his limit eventually.
William’s technique would be the transforming type. He couldn’t do all he imagined at the first layer, even with the support of significant ki reserves. He could jump levels to be closer to what he wanted but William wanted to create a cultivation technique with a solid foundation- one he could teach to others if he was so inclined. Besides, he could think of uses for the energy in different states, and it would not be easy to transfer between them in a battle.
William started transforming all of his energy into a state like water. Previously, he had transformed some of his ki, but now he was changing all of it. However, the new state was merely like water. It would not be wet… merely fluid. This would lessen its ability to have a physical impact unless contained somehow, but it would be better at absorbing distributed shocks. In a short time of a few days, William was done. It was actually a rather quick process, not really worthy of the title of a major breakthrough… but William supposed anyone with five dozen years of cultivation experience would not have too much trouble with it either.
After that, he started on the second level. That would take much longer, but he could begin the process. He began transforming some of the liquid into vapor. This form was even less useful for direct confrontations, but its ethereal form was perfect for slipping through enemy defenses. Although it had the appearance of water, William’s technique was based on energies from the soul and not water itself. Thus, it could still be used for soul attacks, though the vapor was still not good at direct confrontations. However, it could slip through vulnerable points in defenses and cause damage directly to unprotected areas.
On the other side, William also transformed some of the liquid into a solid, icelike form. Unlike a real solid, of course, it was still formed of ki. It was still energy, and he could control it as he wished, within the limits of its properties. Thus, he could form an “armor” of “ice” over himself. This was much the same as what he did with ki before, except each part of it was stronger for the amount of energy. The drawback was that he could not easily move it, and thus he could not concentrate it to block an attack at a specific point. That was why he had the other forms still. In truth, with his body strength he didn’t need it very much, but this way he could devote only a portion of his ki to have the same total usefulness in blocking or striking with extra kinetic energy. This left him with the other portions of his energy to do more subtle things. The only problem William had was he wasn’t sure what the proper ratios should be. How much would he need of each form? That was only something he could determine with practice.
William tested his abilities and found that in normal circumstances it was merely an academic question. He could knock out warriors who had completed the first or even second major breakthroughs in any cultivation technique he found, and many at the third level. Only those who had stronger souls or trained their defenses in those areas were the exception… and they were still very rare. William understood that it was difficult and usually unnecessary but even so it felt like a huge oversight. On the other hand, it did make things easier for him. Almost nobody even noticed the momentary lapses of consciousness, and more importantly nobody ever traced them to William.