Lorelei frowned at William’s sigh. “Not up for slaying the Demon King anymore? Split up, the explosions are much less… significant… if that’s what you’re worried about.”
William shook his head. “I just can’t. I mean, look at what I can do with ki right now.” He gathered up his energy, and used it all to push her. She slightly shook on her feet before stabilizing.
“Ah… I see.” Lorelei bit her thumb, “That does put a damper on things. How fast is your recovery progressing?”
William just shook his head.
“That’s… unfortunate. Perhaps my brother can help.”
“It would be great if he could.” William refrained from mentioning he could probably destroy a soul with magic. He would have to practice it first, and as far as he knew the Demon King had only really used it on weak souls. Perhaps the fragments of the Demon King would be weak, perhaps not. Either way, William was hesitant to use it. Somehow, it felt even more wrong than Shattering the Soul. Perhaps that was bias because the knowledge came from the Demon King, but maybe there really was something worse about it. Well, it was also followed by absorbing parts of the soul afterwards, and William wasn’t entirely sure it was a separate process. He preferred to keep his soul his own… as much as he could, now.
William sat in front of the old man- Lorelei’s brother. “I’m Marek.”
When he didn’t say anything after that, William realized he should introduce himself. “Ah, I’m William.”
Marek nodded. “Surprisingly, you are.” There were a few more moments of silence. “My sister has asked me to help you recover your soul. I would deem it a hopeless endeavor. Your soul has sustained irrecoverable damage.”
William frowned. That seemed correct, but he didn’t like being told it.
Marek shrugged, “On the other hand, I would have also thought that reaching that state would result in disintegration of the soul with no chance of survival. Regardless, I will not be expending energy to help you. I cannot afford it.”
William could feel he felt… less than when he first saw him. Normally, any expended ki could be recovered without issue, but when one was old and dying, that wasn’t necessarily the case. “So, is that it then?”
Marek shook his head, “Perhaps you can recover. I won’t waste the energy on it, but perhaps you might succeed yourself. I have a soul recovery method. It is all that is keeping my body and soul together. Perhaps it might be of use to you.” He closed his eyes. “I have no manual to help guide you. I dare not write it down. No, perhaps I should say I cannot write it down. I have not the energy. So, you will have to learn the old fashioned way. Observe my soul.”
William had to reach out and touch Marek before he could make the connection, and even then he felt he could collapse at any time. He felt that at any moment his tendril of ki could be snapped off, and then his own soul crushed afterwards. It was a novel feeling, as in his previous life he had always been the one with the stronger soul, except in the fight with the Demon King. Even there, he hadn’t entered inside with his consciousness, but merely attacked.
William saw the swirling ki inside Marek. It flowed like a river, calm and gentle on the surface, but with turbulent waters underneath. He saw that Marek’s soul, while strong, was like an ancient building. It was falling apart and barely standing. The river flowed past, providing repairs, but they merely supported the structure instead of making it new. William felt that the few dozen years of life Marek had left were the outside edge, and only if he didn’t expend too much energy. Though there was no resistance, William could only keep up his observation for a short time before he had to withdraw. However, he felt like he learned something. “I think… I learned something. Will I have another opportunity to learn from you later?”
“I will be here, waiting for my sister to capture another fragment of the Demon King.” The expression on Marek’s face didn’t tell much of his feelings. He merely stated a fact, as if he were talking about the weather.
William didn’t have the same problems that Marek had with his soul. William’s was damaged from battle, not age, but the technique still helped. William managed a very slight improvement in his condition over the next several weeks, but since he was making no progress on his own, it was better. He still wasn’t sure what to do with all of the blackness. He couldn’t make it useful in any way, and he couldn’t destroy it. Still, he managed to patch up some of his soul, such that he had about twice the quantity of ki he had before, and it flowed a bit more easily.
William didn’t forget that he could use magic. In fact, there was one thing that he wanted to try very badly. “Hey, Chris. Can you actually amplify magic?” That was something that had been assumed, but never known for sure. Chris hadn’t let anybody but William use him, and William had been incapable of using magic. Chris had taken a bit of time to get used to the idea of William actually being William, even after the confirmation. After all, he still felt different. As William’s soul recovered slightly, Chris watched, and decided he finally felt William in there.
The two of them went to the training grounds. Along the way, he got a number of looks, probably since he had been missing for a couple of months. The attendance of the academy was small enough that one missing person was easily noticed.
At the current time, the training grounds were empty. William picked out a target, a solid one made out of rock. He could already destroy a wooden training dummy, so there was little point in testing on those. As soon as he began chanting, he felt the mana flow more easily. Having a good staff helped, and it was immediately clear that Chris was more than just good. Not that William would have expected anything else from a gigantic crystal. William quickly gathered mana, but Chris stored it so well that he didn’t feel like he was in any danger of losing control anytime soon. He could even draw mana from further away than normal without too much effort. Finally, William decided it was enough. He could gather more mana, but he felt like that might be dangerous if any problems arose. As it was, it was far more than he could have controlled alone.
Lightning. Lightning was fun, flashy, powerful… It had many good features. William had no problem with the power, but he was unsure about the accuracy. He had intended to aim for the center of the target, but he couldn’t really tell if he hit it. That was because the whole target had been destroyed. It was now merely a number of head sized chunks. William grinned. “Nice job, Chris.” It wasn’t particularly a display of skill or finesse, but at the very least the power was impressive.