Being immobile was hard to handle. The first time he died, he’d been out of shape, sickly, and old. The second time, he’d been in shape, pretty healthy, and still old. He’d still been able to be up and about as he pleased, and honestly had still been in better shape than his prime in his first life. Thinking like that… he was surprised he’d lived so long the first time. Obviously, the medical technology had helped immensely.
Since he couldn’t move, and thus was unable to optimally learn things, and most importantly explore, he put all of his efforts towards his goal. That is… exercise. There’s not a lot you can do as a baby, it turns out. Waggling your arms and legs seems to be it. Well, he had nothing else to do except practice learning this new language, so he would wiggle his arms and legs until he got tired.
The language in this world seemed slightly familiar, even though it was entirely new. Maybe it just helped that he was already fluent in two languages, and had slightly dabbled in a few more. It was a good thing he’d kept his secret notes in English. It had helped him stay fluent and was a fun secret language. Now, he could maybe have two secret languages. That would be fun. Maybe it was time to find something to keep secret!
It was much harder to write, though. The other languages had alphabets, whereas this one was logographic. That is, the symbols represented whole words. This required much more learning than just an alphabet. However, William was still able to learn it relatively easily. This was because he had someone actually dedicated to teaching him.
His older sister. This time, he had an older sister. In fact, this time he technically had quite a bit more family than any time before. Technically, because they didn’t really act like family. William’s new father had ten wives, and many children with each them. Thus, William had 43 half-siblings, and one full sister, who was older by 10 years. The reason they weren’t really family wasn’t because they had less blood relation to him, but because they didn’t act like family. William had seen his father approximately 3 times in his almost two years of new life. Certainly, he was a very busy man, but their not meeting was unrelated. He only met with members of the family that were perceived to have value, and William and his older sister were from a less favored wife. The rest of the siblings pretty much ignored them, which probably would have been very bad for William’s development… if he were normal. Instead, it just allowed him to monopolize his older sister’s time and have her teach him whatever he wanted.
At one year old, he was surprisingly steady on his feet. He didn’t think he’d been this (relatively) steady the last time he was one year old. The time before that… well, he didn’t remember. The one even before that may not have existed at all. After all, he could only remember two previous lives… which seemed to be quite a lot, actually. Either way, he could waddle to wherever he wanted to go, as long as there was a wall nearby. Freedom!
Except then he was picked up. “Hello, Big Sister.”
The woman who was also his Big Sister, or possibly half-sister, gave him a stern look. “Running off again, are we Hui’Lam?”
William nodded. “Yes. I want to see the yard.”
His Big Sister sighed. “You know you aren’t allowed in there.”
“I wanna see, pwease~.” He gave his best adorable look and pleading voice. Honestly he wasn’t good at that. It didn’t hurt to try, though, right?
Big sister rolled her eyes. “Don’t give me that. I know you can do better.”
William attempted to clear his throat. “I request that you bring me to a window, so that I may view the training yard, kind lady.” It wasn’t quite right, since sadly his vocal chords were still maturing, but he knew the right words. He’d learned this language much faster, helped significantly that by the fact Big Sister didn’t seem to have any other tasks than taking care of him, and thus teaching him to speak. Plus, being bilingual already seemed to help.
“See? Why didn’t you just ask me like that from the beginning?” She shakes her head. “Also, why won’t you talk like that to anybody else? They all think I’m crazy and dote on you too much.”
“Hmph. They all talk down to me. Why should I not respond in kind? At least I use polite language. Plus, this way I don’t look like a threat.”
Why would he worry about looking like a threat to his family? Quite simply, he had been born into a large martial arts clan. While he hadn’t seen as cutthroat of an atmosphere he as he’d read about in books, he still felt the rivalry for honor. He wanted to stay out of it. It was a hard thing to adapt to after two lives. Finally, they arrived at the yards he was being carried towards. It was still faster.
In the yard he saw dozens of students training, practicing martial arts. William honestly had no idea what styles it was related to, because the last time he’d seen any real martial arts had been more than a lifetime ago… in movies. At least, any that used bare hands. Technically, sword fighting and staff work counted to some degree, but those weren’t honed in the same way as they were here.
Big sister had set him on a table near the window, looking out. William copied the moves of those out in the yard. Big sister watched… and kept him from falling down, and especially from falling off the table. After a short time, William was too tired to continue, and he knew too much exercise would be bad for his developing body. As far as he knew, anyway. It could be different in this world… Still, he enjoyed moving through the stances, even if he didn’t really understand them yet. After sitting on the table watching for about half an hour, the students in the yard went and retrieved staves. William’s eyes lit up. “Big sister, where’s my staff?”
She smiled, and handed him his “staff”. It was about two feet tall, almost the same size as WIlliam. Really, it was just a polished stick. His legs were tired, but William spun the staff around for a while. Nostalgia filled him as he thought of Chris. Meanwhile, his Big Sister looked at him and wondered how a one year old child could give off the look of an old man nostalgically watching his grandchildren in the yard.