William surveyed the scene around him. Many of the parts of the magic formation were cracked or completely shattered. However, not everything was damaged. The stone floor was completely unaffected for some reason. William then looked over at Chris. As expected, he couldn’t see any damage, but he wasn’t sure if that meant he was actually fine. He was, at the very least, knocked over. “Chris, are you alright?” William asked as he stood up and walked over. William slightly grimaced at that. He was reminded he felt something like being punched in the gut. It hurt, but that was pretty much the end of it. As William got near, Chris moved from horizontal to vertical. However, he didn’t stand straight up, but sort of swayed around as if he were dizzy. He didn’t have any way to write in the rock easily, but he looked fine.
Next, William turned to the demoness. It had been only a few moments, but she groaned and sat up. She looked mostly fine, if somewhat dusty from being on the floor. She looked over toward the center of the formation, got a confused look on her face, and tried to stand up. However, she fell back down. That somewhat ruined William’s previous image of her, but on the other hand, something had obviously happened to affect her. Realizing she couldn’t stand up, she just tilted her head to the side. “He’s gone?”
“Over here.” William said and waved. The demoness turned her head toward him. As she did, William could see something strange about her face, but wasn’t able to immediately place it. It was a bit shinier than normal… Ah, that was blood, dripping from her nostrils. He just hadn’t been able to tell immediately because of her red skin. “Are you alright?”
She tilted her head questioningly. “Me? Of course I’m fine. You were the one in the center.” William pointed to his own nose and made a wiping gesture. She wiped the blood on the back of her hand and looked at it. “Oh, this? This is a normal reaction to mana perception overload. It’s fine.”
William wasn’t sure that bleeding from the nose could be described as “fine”. Generally, that would be seen as something pretty serious… but she should theoretically know best, he guessed.
The demoness shakily stood up, and walked over to the circle surveying it. “I’m fine, but the question is… why are you fine?”
William shrugged. “I can’t sense mana. Thus, there would be no way for me to get an overload of that.”
The demoness waved her hand dismissively. “Oh, yeah, you shouldn’t have that problem, but you were in the center of a mana explosion.”
“Pure mana doesn’t affect physical objects without being manifested into something first, though. Though, parts of the formation… well, those were mana-interactive materials, right?”
The demoness nodded. “Certainly, you should be physically fine. However, although it’s not observable in small quantities, mana can cause effects to the soul if it’s sufficiently dense. That’s why I told you to mention if you felt anything. Certainly you should have felt something.”
William shrugged. “Well, not before the explosion. Then I felt like someone punched me in the gut.”
The demoness looked at William. “Punched you in the gut?” She appeared in front of him. “Like this?” Her strike hit him dead center, and William doubled over, almost having the air knocked out of him. However, she didn’t keep attacking him, instead looking at him questioningly.
After a few moments, William managed to speak. “No, not like that. Less… impactful.” He straightened, but this time was ready in case she tried it again.
“Less?” The demoness looked very surprised. “It really felt like less than that?” William nodded. “Normal people would have had their souls broken into tiny little pieces. I didn’t think you wouldn’t feel anything… I forgot to stop it before the level where it could cause a mana explosion.”
Souls broken into tiny pieces… was that related to the scroll that contained “Shattering The Soul”? William pondered on this. No, it wasn’t supposed to be related to magic, and this method would be extremely inefficient. After all, the explosion was just a side effect, and had required staying in one specific location for several minutes. Finally, William shrugged. He’d have to think on it more later if he could.
The demoness approached to right in front of William and half-glared into his eyes. “You must have a very strong soul. Stronger than mine, at least.”
“Stronger than yours? You didn’t seem like you were affected by more than the mana perception overload…”
“Well, yeah, but I wasn’t in the explosion. I was outside of it.”
“So, what are the benefits of a strong soul, beside not dying just now? Is it related to the ability to understand magic?”
“Eh.” The demoness shrugged noncommittally. “Not really. It’s never a bad thing, but it can’t help that much. The Demon King’s soul is stronger than yours, but he’s pretty bad at magic. I mean, given how many lifetimes he’s had, you’d think he’d come up with something on his own.”
The Demon King’s soul being stronger than his apparently strong soul was a bad thing. That meant it would be much harder to destroy. “That’s disappointing. I was hoping it would help me out somehow.”
The demoness shrugged. “Yeah, it’s not really a direct benefit to a wizard. It just helps survive stupid mana accidents and stuff. Other people have ways to use it to their advantage though.”
Since the magical formation she had set up was completely destroyed, there wasn’t much more that could be done in the way of experimentation at this time. The demoness hadn’t yet set anything else up. However, William still stayed around for another day to discuss ideas. As they were talking, he realized something about what probably allowed him to understand magic easier. His previous life, and a background of various sciences let him understand the way things worked more easily. However, the knowledge was also available in this world. The real difference was they came at it from a different angle. Here, it was more of an understanding of how magic worked, and through that, the world. Back on Earth, science was coming from an understanding of how the world worked directly. So, instead of thinking “how does the world work compared to magic” he’d been thinking more like “how does magic work compared to the world” in relation to physics, chemistry, etc. It was a different path than others had walked, and people in this world probably hadn’t gone in that direction because those who were most well studied were the wizards. Even those non-wizard academics would visit the same libraries, and end up with the same trains of thought. William wasn’t sure if that was enough, but he knew it must have some effect. The question was if it was a good idea to introduce that line of reasoning to this world or not…