Though William’s soul felt big, that wasn’t really a good thing. It certainly didn’t feel strong or healthy like it had before- instead it was like walking through a desecrated city. Using that metaphor, all he wanted was a half-hanging roof to go over his head. Everything was so broken… maybe just a wall. A few unbroken bricks stacked on each other… even a single unbroken brick. No wonder it felt so big, because even on the smallest levels he couldn’t find any functioning part of his soul. The only thing that differentiated the different parts was what kind of damage there was.
Eventually, though, William found something. A tiny spot in the center that was unburnt and unravaged. Perhaps it wasn’t exactly the center, perhaps it was. William considered zooming out to determine that, but he was worried he would never find it again. There was just the tiniest spark of ki. William doubted he could have even redirected a mote of dust with that, not that he had a body and any dust to move.
Still, he cultivated Rotational Soul Pressure… for a moment. As he moved the spark of ki, it immediately ran into unusable area. William felt that the tiny bit of emptiness in which the ki resided was surrounded by black ash… but upon touching it, it seemed more like a goo. He barely pushed against it, and the ki faded from existence, leaving only a finger sized depression in a ruined city. That was it, and then it was gone.
William knew that expended ki would recover over time. However, that was only tested in specific circumstances. First of all, that required a body, and the ki generally was refined from energy around the user. William certainly didn’t have a body, but the bigger issue was that he wasn’t sure if there was any energy around him. William wasn’t sure if there was even space around him. Souls didn’t really have much in the way of physical locations to begin with, and probably less so without a body. William had no way to tell, with no physical senses… and he had no real ki to feel around him.
Fortunately, the spark of ki came back. It was slow. William’s sense of time wasn’t clear, but it was definitely much slower than it should have been. Still, it came back, which was something. William tried again, merely managing another poke. He waited for ki to return… and used it. Eventually, he had an area about the size of two fists… at least on the scale he was thinking about, if each instance was a poke. He found that the ki gathered faster, and there was more of it. Not as much as he would have recovered subconsciously every instant of his life before, not even over what was probably hours or days, but it was some.
He was running into a problem, though. As he pushed aside the black goo that seemed to be what burnt soul was like, it became harder. He was having to push on more of it behind it, which became harder and harder. Thus, he pulled. He formed a small sphere of it, and left it floating. He compressed it as much as he could, but it still took up space… and that meant space that wasn’t working for him. Still, it provided an avenue to work with. He made another sphere, and another. He considered piling it all on one large sphere…. But he wasn’t sure what the consequences of that would be. Instead, he guided his ki through an ever growing grid of spheres… like the night sky, if stars were made out of gooey blackness instead of fire… and not like that at all. He carefully arranged them in a pattern… because he had no reason to be sloppy at this point. Gradually, as he compressed the spheres he had more and more space to work with, until he reached the point where he could most definitely alter the path of a speck of dust… if with some effort.
Finally, he reached a point where he was actually recovering ki fast enough to continually be working… though only at a very slow pace. That continued on for a very long time. Years… dozens of years at least. William somewhat calculated based on the thousands of tiny balls of black goo he had organized. Then, suddenly, the recovery speed of ki sped up… and William felt something. Not the ki inside him, but he actually felt something. He had a body. He was alive!
Well, though he was alive, that was the extent of it. He couldn’t even extend his senses out of his body… not even though all of that. It was barely developed, but he could tell he was a baby… presumably in a womb. Still, having a body allowed him to recover ki faster. Being an infant was already a very frustrating proposition, but being yet unborn was even more so. Fortunately, he had something to do to distract him.
Though he had to slither his way around in between the balls of black goo, William was still managing to do something like cultivating… or at least clearing things up so that he later could. Somehow, having a physical body helped with perspective on how much progress he had made… and he realized he was still far below the level he had been at the end of his second life. Second life. That meant he had a first one, and since he had gotten higher, a third one. He didn’t think there was any more than that. Still, he seemed to be have reincarnated two times before, and that would make this the third time. Thinking about that made him want to cry for some reason, but he didn’t even have complete tear ducts yet. Still, he couldn’t help but feel emotional at the fact that he was still alive. The man known as William was not gone from this world, and that made him happy… yet he still felt like crying.