Though the competition of soul techniques was going to be held throughout an entire region, there were only a bit more than a hundred participants. There weren’t that many who even practiced soul techniques to begin with, and even fewer who were confident in their abilities. Part of this was because the effects of soul techniques were invisible. While they could be sensed to some extent with the right method, the didn’t look impressive. That also made them hard to learn and to create. In addition, if a soul attack was too weak, it would usually have no effect, whereas another kind might cause a small injury still, or at least weaken whatever defenses it was facing. This was often the case with those who only dabbled in soul techniques. In addition, cultivation methods that supported soul techniques were rare as well.
William had been lucky that the Yu Clan had a few soul techniques to learn, but they didn’t have very useful offensive techniques. Fortunately, they did have techniques that were actually related to the soul, and not just titled that way. His cultivation method, Rotational Soul Pressure, was extremely suited for him, and had provided sufficient energy even when he used other attacking methods. Now that he knew Shattering the Soul, and the techniques he had created based on that, he barely even considered most other techniques. Of course, at some point he would reach the limits of Rotational Soul Pressure, and he would have to find something else if he wanted to continue to grow stronger. William kept telling himself that, but it hadn’t yet happened, so he had only spent a small amount of effort studying other cultivation techniques.
William watched the first rounds from a seat next to his grandfather, Yu Jian. William gave his commentary on what he had seen so far. “Most of them seem pretty mediocre. Though, there are a few who could likely give big sister Yu Huan a decent fight. That said, I have the feeling some of the participants just haven’t had a chance to show their abilities yet.” William coughed slightly, and grimaced. Unfortunately, getting sick was something that still had to be dealt with, even in a world with magic. There were some things that magic could heal, but it wasn’t worth the price to try to treat a cough, even if there were any wizards who could heal in Liaoyang. Of course, ki abilities could be used to heal some things as well. William didn’t know much of these techniques, but he did know a few things like how to remove poisons from his bloodstream. Of course, such a technique wasn’t perfect, and it wouldn’t fix any damage that was already caused by poison, but with William’s experience involving the poisonous breath of a Chimaera, he thought it would be useful to learn. He wasn’t worried about poisoning by other humans… at least not now that the Song clan wasn’t a threat.
Yu Jian smiled. “Still, a few more people on Yu Huan’s level could be helpful. Have you noticed any that could match up to you?”
William shook his head. “Not that I’ve seen yet, but that could still be revealed before the end.”
The next match was between an older man and Yu Huan. William had a pretty good idea of how strong Yu Huan was in the area of soul techniques. However, the older man hadn’t shown his limits in the earlier matches either. There weren’t any age limits on the tournament, precisely because they were looking for those who were skilled in soul techniques. The actual winner didn’t matter as much as seeing what people could do. Plus, if there was an already well trained and strong person… that was possibly better than a young person with potential.
There were only a bit more than a dozen years until the war with the Demon King could start, and though that was enough time to train someone to a reasonable level, it wasn’t enough time for someone to truly become a master of ki techniques. While a knight would generally stop growing stronger after their 30’s and 40’s, they would still have a wealth of practical experience that would make them able to stay on top until their body started to become weaker. A ki cultivator or wizard could continue to grow in strength for longer, since their strength didn’t depend on their body, though growth would slow down, since people didn’t have unlimited potential. The stronger one was, the harder it grew to progress.
William watched the fight with interest. This older man had defeated his opponents in a quick manner, but sadly William hadn’t been able to observe his technique much, just that he hadn’t even seemed to care about his opponent’s attacks. Of course, this could just be that he was quite disciplined, and didn’t want to show any weaknesses, but William hadn’t felt him struggling in any way.
The battle opened up with Yu Huan launching an attack. Her attack appeared straightforward, but William knew it was fast and sharp. Of course, sharp was a strange term to apply to something other than a sword or other physical weapon. In a spiritual attack, perhaps it was better described as piercing. William had seen this technique pierce through the defenses of Yu Huan’s previous opponents. It was derived from Shattering the Soul, but in a different direction than William had taken his training. Shattering the Soul pierced into the opponents soul, destroying it from within. William had developed his new deadly technique from the idea of the destruction, but instead of destroying the soul, it was more the link from the soul to the body. Of course, it wasn’t harmless to the soul… but it didn’t eradicate it either. Yu Huan’s technique just pierced into the soul. In the tournament setting, a successful attack would usually be enough for her opponent to surrender, but if necessary in a fight to the death she could use the initial point to more easily pierce the opponent’s defenses again.
William knew how hard it was to resist, but when the attack reached the older man, it seemed to do nothing. The attack wasn’t directly blocked, or William would have felt more ripples from the impact. In fact, the attack continued on, almost as if the man weren’t there, or the attack had missed. Then, the older man attacked in return. While Yu Huan’s attack was sharp, his felt like flowing water. However, upon the attack reaching Yu Huan, William saw her stagger back, and her face paled slightly. William was somewhat unsure what happened. Although William had to admit that water had significant power… that was not true from a gently flowing stream. That was what the attack had felt like. A raging river had great power… and over time, water would erode the terrain. It could even split rocks when it froze into ice. In fact, if fired like a jet, it could cut deeply. However, all of these took power… or time. However, it had just been a single attack.
Yu Huan was still standing and able to fight, and she prepared her second attack. William hoped to see what he could glean from this fight.