“Uuugh, I’m so tired of walking,” Sarah said. She was walking hunched over, with her arms hanging down almost to her knees. William didn’t point out how much more energy walking in that exaggerated pose took.
“It’s a good thing we’re here then, isn’t it?” William and Sarah had just arrived at the Ducson Academy of Magical Instruction. They proceeded to the office of the headmistress with little interruption, as they guards knew William. William knocked on the half-open door as he arrived. “Hi. I’m back.”
“Good. You can help me deal with some paperwork. I’m-” At that point, Lila reeled back in her chair.
“I see you’ve been working hard at your training,” William nodded, “I forgot to check last time I was here.”
“Did you have to do that?” Lila leaned over her desk slightly, before suddenly flinging a heavy paperweight at William, who caught it with one hand.
“Of course I have to. If not, somebody could kill you.”
“Who?” Lila glared, “I don’t know of any other freaks like you!”
“Of course you wouldn’t. Not until it’s too late.”
“Umm…” Sarah glanced back and forth between the two.
Lila looked over at her. “Oh, right. This is your sister? I’ve already finished most of the process for getting her enrolled.”
“Good. I’ll see you later.” At that he turned on his heel and was out the door, with a startled Sarah half-dragged behind him.
A shout still came through the doorway, “Don’t think I forgot about the paperwork thing!”
As they walked down the hallway, Sarah looked up at William, “So you really do know the headmistress.”
“Of course, I said so. Why would I lie to you?”
Sarah shrugged, “I don’t know. You also said you were friends.”
“We are friends.”
“You made her angry then she threw stuff at you!”
William shrugged, “I didn’t see any lightning, so she wasn’t really angry.” William paused to think for a moment, “Though, we were in her office. Regardless, she wasn’t very serious.”
“What did you do to knock her back in her chair? I didn’t see anything but it must have been you.”
“It was ki.”
“I didn’t feel anything.”
William raised his eyebrows, “Of course not. It was a sneak attack. You’re going to have to learn how to defend against things like that.”
“Other people can do attacks I can’t see too?” Sarah’s eyes widened. “You definitely need to tell me how to stop that.”
William nodded, “Of course. We’re going to go see someone who has some cultivation techniques to let your raise your general level of power, but I can help you with the kind of thing I did.” Sarah reminded William of Lila, at least in her enthusiasm and general magic toward magic. Fortunately, she was more capable of concentrating, and took better to ki. Perhaps it helped that he was her big brother who seemed to know everything, but she listened to him… mostly.
The pair arrived at a private room. William knocked, “It’s William.”
“Come in,” said a croaky voice.
“Who’s William?” Sarah asked.
“But you’re Josef.”
“That too.” William opened the door. The first room was a small sitting room that William doubted was ever used, but one of the two other doors led to a meditation room… which contained Marek and also many of his collected scrolls of cultivation methods and ki techniques. Marek’s figure was thin and wrinkly… perhaps even more than it had been before. “It is good to see you again Marek.”
Marek nodded again slowly. “It is good to see you are well also. Perhaps this time you will remain around longer. My sister spent far too much time nagging me while you were gone.” Marek turned his head toward Sarah. “This is your sister? I have taken the time to put aside some cultivation techniques to look through. She can see if any of them suit her.”
William watched as Sarah looked through the various cultivation techniques. By looking at them she would be able to get a basic idea of whether they suited her, but it was not perfect. Some people picked more powerful techniques without realizing the increased difficulty associated with them. Of course, everything that Marek had would be of high quality, so the most important thing was how well the technique fit Sarah’s affinity and how hard she worked.
William turned to Marek, “What is it that makes a technique feel… well, like a gevai technique, that familiar tyrannical aura?”
“It is merely a common core that they all work around. It provides significant power, though it is somewhat harder on the user. Nothing gevai or even determined humans can’t handle, though.”
“Hmm… is that so. Do you think I should try to incorporate that into my technique.”
Marek immediately shook his head. “No. It would be a waste. That core is mainly for physical power, but it is less useful for soul techniques. We need you for that.” Marek looked up and down William. “You are fully recovered? My sister said so, but I can’t tell. Not without expending unnecessary energy.”
“Of course I am. I have no reason to lie about that.”
Marek nodded. “Good. Good. I can’t say that I expected you really would.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t die.” William tried not to think about how much he had died before, and the fact that he couldn’t guarantee anything.
“Why would you die?” Sarah stood in front of the two with a scroll in her hands. “I thought things weren’t that dangerous yet.”
“Oh, well, I was… sick.”
“Really? Mom and dad never said anything about you being sick.”
William shook his head, “I didn’t tell them. Anyway, I’m fine now.”
“Okay.” Susan’s eyes flicked to Marek, “Thank you for the technique, mister… umm…”
“Marek,” he said perfunctorily.
“Thanks, mister Marek.”
“Alright Sarah, let’s go get you set up in your room. It’s not quite time for a new cycle of magic classes to start just yet, but you can attend the regular courses to get to know some people.” William thought Sarah would be more comfortable in the general education classes to begin with anyway, since more of the people there were commoners, and less were those who were well off, and none were noble progeny.