William faced off against Lila across the 30 meter arena. It was, effectively, a private duel, with only Marius and Professor Pierce watching, in case someone was seriously injured, though this was unlikely with the barriers in place. However, extra precautions never hurt. William certainly didn’t mind, since it would probably be him, if anybody, who got injured.
If the duel hadn’t been mostly private, William would likely not use the trump card that he had developed. There were various reasons he didn’t want people to know, but the easiest one was he wanted to be able to use it as a surprise again, against someone else. Though, it certainly wasn’t worthless without the surprise element.
The match started, and William instantly started moving. He was much faster, with his body fully developed. Though, at this distance, it was really only a matter of parts of a second. However, this wasn’t good enough to get to Lila before she finished a spell. After all, she had gotten faster at casting spells. She was only restrained by the speed at which she could gather mana, since she was the one who had helped William learn about chanting. She didn’t have to chant anything specific, and didn’t have to actually finish preset phrases. William had learned just a little bit more about how and why chanting worked, but he hadn’t told her yet, since it was just technical information, and wouldn’t really improve her performance.
Soon, Lila finished her first spell. More of those seeking fireballs. Three, this time. He was rather familiar with how much they could do, so he would be able to dodge them fairly well. As he started running to the side, he did something nobody expected. He started chanting. In addition to that, there was a faint humming sound.
Lila didn’t look bothered at all. She knew William couldn’t use magic. She continued with her next spell, finishing it as William was still dodging the third fireball. She thought it was slightly odd that he hadn’t deflected that one with his staff, as he often would, but she decided not to worry about it too much. Most of the time, any changes he did were just to play mind games with her. She launched more fireballs this time, though much smaller than even the previous ones. She didn’t need to beat him with this, just reduce his mobility.
William inwardly grinned. He just needed to dodge this attack, and the next one, and he would have an opportunity. Not that it would be easy. The six fireballs came at him from different directions, and he had to dodge and weave around them. Though he was successful in not getting hit, he had to slow down his movement to avoid them all. There was still a small amount of collateral damage from their explosions, but nothing that his robe couldn’t handle, since he avoided getting hit. However, now William was almost not moving. He needed to be fast to avoid the next spell. He had fallen to this tactic before, and maybe he would again. However, even if that happened, he thought he could still tie.
The next spell should be a lightning bolt. Powerful and hard to dodge unless he was already moving, and even then if his direction could be predicted, he would still be hit. However, William really wanted to win, so he put everything he could into moving. It only took a few steps to get up to speed, but he probably still wasn’t fast enough. He reached further into himself, trying to see if he could just get a little bit more speed. At first, he thought his body had reached its limit, but then he felt just a little bit more energy, and he dashed forward faster than he ever had before.
His timing had been very good, though partly by luck. However, he had correctly predicted the lightning bolt, and it went just behind him. Close enough that he could feel his hair stand on end. If he hadn’t gotten just a tiny bit faster, he wouldn’t have gotten off unscathed. However, he did, somehow. He still wasn’t close to Lila though. She had gotten quite good at making it hard for him to approach.
Then, he stopped. He was still about half the distance of the arena away. At the same time, he stopped chanting, and held Chris out before him. Immediately, the low humming ceased, and something that nobody but he was expecting happened. A lightning bolt shot at Lila.
Lila was completely unprepared for that result. Certainly, she could deal with a lightning bolt or two with a defensive spell. If it were someone predictable, she could even dodge it. However, she wasn’t prepared for magic to come from William. In addition, it was a fairly powerful one. It struck through her lower stomach, and she dropped to the ground.
William ran over, and stood above her. After a few moments, her eyes blinked a few times. Then, she felt where she had been it. It wasn’t particularly bad, since there was a barrier and William had no intent to really hurt her much. However, she looked more stunned than injured. “I… lost?” Lila had never lost to William before. Only Marius had managed to defeat her, on occasion. She sat up. “I lost. Though, since when can you actually do magic?”
“Well,” said William, “that’s a bit complicated.”
William had always desired to be able to use magic. He’d put a lot of effort into being able to use it. However, with his current resources, the answer he’d found was quite simple. He couldn’t. He was unable to sense mana, and thus couldn’t control it. As far as he could tell, nobody had ever gained such an ability later in their life, though it might often go unawakened. However, he knew that he didn’t have the right… soul, probably, to use magic.
That said, Chris could sense magic. William hadn’t immediately made the connection from the blocked lightning bolt, but he’d learned that Chris, though he had good reflexes, wasn’t anywhere near fast enough to block a lightning bolt after it was completed. Quite simply, he had just sensed the path that it was going to go beforehand. It was something Lila could do as well, or anyone with the ability to sense mana and sufficient practice, and concentration. A lightning bolt needed a concentration of mana in the path it was going to go, otherwise it would just head for the ground. It was real electricity after all, and would follow the path of least resistance.
After William realized Chris could sense mana, he was disappointed, because Chris couldn’t speak. Thus, he was still not able to use magic, since the chants were an important part. Why? That was the question that William had wondered. Then, he’d come up with a theory. Chris was quite willing to help him test it. After quite a bit of work, he had his result.
Chanting didn’t matter what was said. However, it did still require continuous chanting for the duration of casting a spell. Why? In simplest terms, based on William’s discovery, the sound was key. Specifically, the sound waves. As they moved through the air, they excited the mana, making it easier to control- from almost impossible to do anything, to simple. Chris had helped him confirm this. This was why it needed continuous chanting, and a certain volume. Otherwise, it was not enough to cause the mana to flow freely, and if the chanting stopped, it became uncontrollable, and the concentrated mana would behave as it normally would. However, since it was concentrated and had begun to be made into a certain form, it would violently move apart, causing the phenomenon of backlash.
Theoretically, this meant that William could chant and Chris could control the mana to cast a spell. However, that didn’t work very well. William had mostly done the chanting as an excuse. Though Chris couldn’t talk, that didn’t mean he couldn’t make sound waves. After all, sound waves were just vibrations in the air. Thus, the part that took the longest to train had come. Chris had learned to vibrate at the correct frequency to make sound. Though, it took a lot of concentration, so his speed of gathering and forming mana was rather slow. That was why Lila had been able to use several spells in the time of Chris’ one.