Wizard! Chapter 108
As soon as he saw the bandits, William wanted to fight. He wasn’t normally the type to want to escalate conflicts, at least he didn’t see himself that way. William considered this, and came up with some possible explanations. The culture of Liaoyang glorified combat and winning, and perhaps that was starting to affect him. William could say it had certainly at least changed his attitude. However, at the moment he had a theory of what made up the bigger part of his desires. It was puberty again. It had come a bit late and he was only just starting to feel its effects, but it would be around for a few years now. How annoying.
Regardless of whether he wanted to, and why he wanted to, William was expecting to have to fight. Zhan Cheng spoke, “A toll is it… how much?” William was expecting it to be “everything”, but instead the bandit leader named an actual price.
Zhan Cheng then pulled out a coin purse and tossed it over to a subordinate next to the bandit leader, who counted it. “The money’s all here, boss.”
The bandit leader nodded. “Good. You may pass.”
Like that, the bandits faded off into the forest, some more gracefully than others. William was left staring, still full of the tension of an expected combat. The caravan moved on.
William asked about what happened. Zhan Cheng was happy to tell him. “Those bandits control this area. Normally, of course, I would rather not pay bandits, as it reduced my profits.” He waved his hands around at his guards. “Which is why I hire them. However, that particular group of bandits is not only formidable, but also quite… reasonable. Inside their rather sizable territory, not only are there no other bandits, magical beasts and monsters are also quite rare. They patrol the area, and charge a very reasonable fee. Thus, I like to think of them as the city guard for a city that does not exist, except maybe less corrupt than some guards. Other bandits… well, I don’t expect to see any for a while, if at all, but they will be less reasonable.”
That explained to William why there was a purse with the exact amount already prepared. This was a regular occurrence not worth risking life, even the lives of hired guards paid to do so. Even if they succeeded in driving off or killing the bandits, the loss of life might be more costly, and the next time there might be more or different bandits, or dangerous magical beasts. The price felt rather large to William, but he was thinking on a similar scale to his budget as a researcher, and not a merchant. William did agree he would certainly prefer if none of the people in the caravan died or were injured.
As a side effect of puberty, William had fortunately never experienced growing pains. This had remained true the third time, at least so far. Now that he was aware of it, he noticed the jumbles of chemicals inside him messing with his thoughts. This made it somewhat harder to control his emotions… but now William had practice. This made him slightly less outside of his own control.
One noticeable effect was that his body training- exercise, was becoming more productive. That was to be expected, as increased musculature was an essential part of puberty. William wasn’t sure how much help it would be, since ki was quite powerful. There was a reason most martial artists focused on training ki over their body, once it reached a reasonable level of fitness. There were more options for what could be done with ki. On the other hand, William had seen the seemingly inexhaustible strength of the knights in Ostana. William wouldn’t say that they would necessarily lose to martial artists in strength. If one was clearly superior, it would likely have been adopted as the sole method. On the other hand, martial artists were very secretive with their ki training methods, and while the body training methods of the knights were not secret, they weren’t spread around in public either.
No matter which was better, William was glad that he was able to train his body a bit better, since his ki cultivation was becoming extremely inconsistent. At first William had thought he was finally reaching the limit of his cultivation method, but he now realized that it was just that his emotional state was fluctuating wildly. His body still influenced his mind, and he used that to control the ki in his spiritual sea- his soul, or his connection to it. Sometimes William had to choose not to even try training, because he knew that he might push beyond the limits if he found them, and that would be extremely dangerous with his technique. When he was thinking rationally, he obviously wouldn’t ignore warnings, but that wasn’t always the case. Thus, he took the extra layer of protection to just not start training. He had the assistance of Dong Xin in this matter.
As for the final part of puberty, William was now keenly aware of every female in the caravan. Not that there were many. However, there were a few guards, a couple merchants, and some people who were just traveling with the caravan. The last group included Big Sister Li, but she was William’s full blooded sister. However, William wasn’t interested in any of them, at least not beyond a purely physical level. William supposed if he ever wanted have a romantic relationship with a woman he would have to get over his aversion to their relative mental ages. However, even if that were to be the case in the future, William knew that the current time was neither the time nor place for such. Not that such decisions changed how he felt. Still, William felt that a relationship would be relatively unimportant, compared to fighting the Demon King. William thought that maybe he was a bit obsessed with that particular thing, especially having never has the opportunity to see the Demon King, but on the other hand he felt that he wouldn’t have wanted to ignore a giant meteor headed for Earth, if he had still been there. Or, since the Demon King was intentional, perhaps an alien invasion. William wondered if there were aliens in his previous universe. Then he wondered if this was the same universe somehow. Then he noticed an attractive woman, and sighed. Puberty was annoying.