William was reconsidering what he might do with magic. There were certain methods that were not efficient uses of energy, but that varied greatly by a number of factors. First was number of opponents. A lightning bolt concentrated a large amount of energy on one area, possibly a few to a dozen people if much effort was taken to chain it, and if they were otherwise undefended. A fireball naturally covered more area, but unless people were tightly clumped could only fare a little better in total damage caused. The effectiveness dropped off rapidly with distance from the center.
The solutions generally took more control. One could launch more fireballs at various points, taking out key targets and scorching those around them, but generally it would not be enough sustained heat to damage significantly armored opponents, or those with strong ki. Lightning bolts were more able to pierce through defenses, but the right ones could also completely counter them.
Of course, there was much more that could be done with magic… but that didn’t mean there was always a way to use it in combat. Fireballs could be created- there was always air around. Likewise, lightning was just difference in electrical charge, and everything had electrical charge. Other types of magic were less useful. For example, air magic. Simply manipulating the air to make wind did little good. In certain situations it was extremely valuable, such as making a volley of arrows fall short. However, creating enough force to actually affect an individual or soldiers was impractical. Even if they got very upset about their hair flapping in the wind, it was no danger to their life. It couldn’t even knock someone prone. Likewise, earth magic was hard to use. Creating a wall for temporary defense could be useful, but using it to attack wasn’t really possible. It required too much energy to move any significant amount of dirt or rock. Its main usefulness came in creating ramps up fortifications, where it didn’t have to have any force behind it. William supposed it could also be used to collapse such fortifications as well, by pulling out structural pieces, but only if nobody took the effort to put wards on their walls. Ostana had done so at their main fort even in his time as Archmage, so it would only be those unfamiliar with magic who would be vulnerable to that.
Living bodies had significant resistance to magic acting directly upon them, otherwise it could have devastating effects. It would only take a small amount of force to cut a spinal cord, for example. That would require precision targeting and thus wouldn’t work in a large scale battle anyway, but if done to an enemy commander it would still be significant. William was glad that it wasn’t so easy to do… mostly because he didn’t want that to happen to him.
There were other tactics that could be used in single or group combat, but new options opened up depending on the total power involved. The Demon King didn’t make a very elegant example of it, but he threw out massive fireballs capable of defeating dozens of people at once. Depending on the effect wanted, that level of power could do many things. It could create a small earthquake… More useful for cracking a buildings foundations than in pitched combat where soldiers could just stand back up. William considered merely the shockwave part of such a fireball… but without the fire, it would actually take much more energy. Fireballs were actually fairly efficient, merely being the transfer of air and a spark to release much more energy, though some energy was used for containment and directing the damage.
William considered the various possibilities. While he wasn’t sure exactly how he compared to the Demon King as he fought him, he was quite powerful, especially with Chris involved. He could do some more interesting things… though thinking about them beforehand would be important. If a large spell failed on a battlefield, it would be disastrous.
More years passed. William was starting to get used to time passing and nothing happening. Certainly, things still happened… but nothing important. Even so, he wasn’t completely used to it. He had been in Liaoyang for at most a dozen years, but there were still more of those to go before he should leave. Clans fought, people grew older, and time passed… but in the end, things stayed mostly the same. At least, in Liaoyang.
Then word came. A lush oasis appeared in the middle of Ustil. Most of the stories couldn’t agree on the details at first, but it was enough for William to know… Jeim had appeared. Not that it had ever been missing… but most people didn’t know how to get there… couldn’t get there. People argued about the significance of this. Some thought Ustil suddenly changed overnight, others argued that they had been hiding their true wealth. William knew it was more of the second, but instead of wealth, it was more… their only good land in the whole country.
He also knew it meant that their wards had failed. It could have been from age, but it could also have been from sabotage. On the other hand… perhaps they had decided it was time to reveal Jeim to the rest of the world. He couldn’t understand why that would be, but it was possible. Unfortunately, no statements had been made, or at least none that had travelled far into Liaoyang, so he merely had to speculate.
William actually considered going there to look… but decided against it. There was no saying that they didn’t somehow keep the part of the barrier that kept out demons. It would be a pain to deal with, and William still had business in Liaoyang. It might just take some time.
Still, Jeim being revealed was a big occasion. It had been that way for… nearly a great gross of years. Perhaps a bit more or less, but in that area. While large changes in the world could be good, William didn’t think it would be… at least not in the short run. Maybe he was just becoming an old grumpy man who didn’t like change, the same as everyone else.