William hadn’t been sure about how magic worked on the soul. He’d tried some things to replicate what he had done with ki, but he hadn’t been sure at the results. Then, he’d moved on to other areas of study. It had only been later that he ‘remembered’ the Demon King’s method for destroying the soul. That was obviously not what he wanted, but the feelings that went with it, the ideas… those were important. Unfortunately, the Demon King was stupid. Perhaps that wasn’t fair, but William didn’t like him at all and he wasn’t the logical type. Thus, his thoughts were just feeling with no background for why it worked. Not that he expected measurements of the energy in a soul, but… actually, William expected that. He just didn’t have any of it.
So, William experimented… carefully. First, he locked himself in a room at the inn he was staying at. Since he would be performing magic, he couldn’t afford anyone seeing who he really was. Then, he took a small amount of mana, and tried to see if it would even interact with his soul… at all. He brought the mana up against his soul, and he felt his ki defenses unconsciously reject it. The second time he let it through. With his perception inside his soul, he saw the motes of mana, but it was indistinct enough he wasn’t sure if it was his imagination. He had only looked inside his soul from the perspective of cultivating ki and healing damage to his soul. However, he knew mana was somewhat connected, and magic could definitely do something with it, or the Demon King couldn’t destroy souls.
He failed to get the mana to do anything useful the second time, but the third time he brought it to a small bit of soul necrosis. He tried to get the same feeling of destroying a soul as the Demon King had, but there were no results. The Demon King used large amounts of mana, so perhaps there was a minimum threshold, or it didn’t work at a smaller scale… or he just did it wrong. He tried many times, but he was always cautious with how much mana he used. He didn’t want to injure his own soul more trying to fix it.
Several days passed, with him taking breaks to eat and sleep, before he finally got real results. The technique that finally seemed to work was almost like unraveling a piece of cloth. Though the soul necrosis wasn’t made of threads, he could continuously pull parts away, and as they were separated and thin, he could annihilate them with the mana. The parts turned into the small sparkles that looked like mana, but were instead bits of destroyed soul. This was different from when he destroyed the Soul Necrosis with ki, but that involved more brute force. He tried with ki again, and discovered that it would also result in the smaller sparkles, but he usually ended up destroying them as well. That cost him extra energy… and by avoiding that his efficiency using ki rose, as well as having a way to destroy soul necrosis with mana.
William spent most of his days for the next month sitting cross legged on the floor, with Chris sitting across his legs. He drew mana, with the help of Chris, from far around, unraveling one little piece after another. However, after some time of this, the mana in the local area was depleted and he had to wait for it to return. He could move around to other parts of the city, but he couldn’t leave himself vulnerable in public… and especially not looking like he did. He also couldn’t afford to buy rooms at multiple inns, and if anyone noticed it would seem quite strange.
Though his progress was much quicker, it wasn’t as if he was annihilating soul necrosis left and right. At the end, he estimated that his progress in a day through the combined efforts of magic and ki resulted in a reduction of about one part in a great gross. It would still take several years to remove all of it… but that was much accelerated, and also made him less worried. He wasn’t sure about how fast the soul necrosis would become more dangerous, but over the course of a month it had only slowly worsened from the time he first noticed the change.
William couldn’t go out immediately after using magic to destroy soul necrosis, so he usually saved his ki for afterwards. Once he had used as much ki as he was comfortable with, he would leave his room for meals, and by that time enough mana would have returned to the area for his disguise to function. William considered what he would do in the future. There was still much of Liaoyang to go through, and he still wanted to accomplish his goal here. The caravan from the Eagle Crest Merchant association he had been travelling on had long moved on, so William considered what options he had to continue. Staying in Qinshan as a fisherman for a short time could work, because news flowed in from the port, but he knew he still had to personally travel around the country to have a better chance of encountering the Demon King.
The divinations gave a good chance of the Demon King showing up within a few dozen years. That didn’t mean he would. A fragment, or more than one, might show up in Liaoyang, Ostana, both… or possibly neither. That was the worst part about divination magic. When it worked at all, it usually just indicated what might happen… and that was based on various assumptions of the one using the magic. That was part of the reason William had never tried it himself. If he was uncertain about it, it would probably just not work, or have completely useless results. Regardless of whether these particular divinations were any better, they were the only leads they had, and Lorelei trusted them enough to act.