William and his sister did their best to remain invisible to the rest of the family, and for the most part it worked. Occasionally, there were tests for William to see how well he was being taught, which was now Big Sister’s responsibility alone, though it should have belonged to some of the many tutors around. William’s learning was satisfactory when tested, but nobody actually was interested as long as he wasn’t doing terribly. Perhaps they should have been more interested in his actual results, but they weren’t.
Though in general William avoided most of the family clan, it was still made up of humans with different personalities, and thus there were some he avoided more, or less. One of the first group was Yu Chao, William’s older half-brother. He was the most unpleasant sort of fellow, bullying William and Big Sister just to make himself feel superior. He wasn’t of course. He was the same age as Big Sister, but was basically the bottom of the barrel in terms of talent. Since she had no talent in martial arts, he was only just barely better than her. He would often have nasty but bland insults prepared for when they met, also including William since they were together.
Though it was bothersome, from William’s point of view anyway, Big Sister probably took it worse. However, though she could probably blast him with a fireball, that would have unintended consequences. Though Liaoyang’s society valued strength, and magic was a kind of strength, it was still less well regarded. More importantly, there would be the issues of where she learned to be able to do that. Besides, Yu Chao hadn’t been brave enough, or perhaps stupid enough, to actually start a physical fight.
William grew to six years old, and Big Sister was a dozen years old. William had achieved some success with his ki training, but he didn’t really have much to gauge it against. The “marble” had slightly grown in size… probably. It was hard to tell, since size and distance were somewhat relative to perception in that place. However, William had achieved some success in controlling it more precisely than he had in his previous life, where he didn’t really understand its use, except to attack and run faster. In addition, with careful training, William’s body was in excellent shape. As much as it could be at his age and size anyway. At least, it wouldn’t hold him back. William was looking forward to a future where he was big enough, and his sister old enough, that they could leave the family, which he felt was hindering their growth, even though their basic necessities were more than covered.
One morning, on their way back from the “secret” training room, they ran into Yu Chao. Not literally, though it seems he had tried to make that the case by stepping around a corner suddenly. “Hmph, a weakling such as you still goes to a training room? How foolish.”
His mood seemed particularly bad today. William soon realized it was because the martial aptitude tests were today. Likely, they had just finished. William was thinking of how to diffuse the situation, when Big Sister spoke up. “What’s wrong? Did you lose to a twelve year old this year too?” Normally, she acted more timidly, but obviously she was fed up with him.
Yu Chao’s eyes narrowed, then without warning he struck out toward her. However, she easily dodged his swipe. It wasn’t particularly a surprise to her after she had provoked him. Then, William felt Yu Chao gathering ki towards his fist. That was serious. Big Sister, even with her mediocre talent in that area, could vaguely sense something as well, and dodged away more seriously, barely avoided his second punch.
William could handle verbal bullying. He could even handle getting punched or kicked, if he wanted to. In rare cases, William might even forgive someone attacking him with a weapon, magic, ki, or other kind of lethal force. However, none of the last were true when someone attacked someone he cared about.
William was being ignored. He was, after all, six years old, just about three and a half feet tall. Yu Chao didn’t consider him any kind of threat… or he wouldn’t have stepped forward until William was practically underneath him. He might also have been ready to sense ki gathering, but he was arrogant, stupid, and William was actually quite fast. His fist started heading upward at the same time as he was gathering his energy. Sadly, William had to jump to hit his target, but he was also quite good at that. There was a loud sound as William’s fist hit Yu Chao’s jaw, lifting him off the floor slightly. At no point during this had he reacted, except a slight tilt of his head at the very end.
Immediately afterwards, William regretted his action. He’d put a lot of energy into that attack, and the head, especially the brain, was vulnerable to attack. Yu Chao’s body fell over onto the floor, and lay there limp. William thought he might have killed him. He regretted that, not because of the possibility of Yu Chao’s death, but because in the stunned silence that immediately followed, there were also footsteps. William wasn’t sure how to react. Running would imply guilt, but not running could also result in trouble.
However, the steps, though very calm sounding an methodical, were quick, and an elderly man strolled around the corner. He did not walk, or hustle. No, he definitely strolled. His hands were behind his back, and William felt that if he didn’t feel it beneath his dignity, he might be whistling a tune. He strolled, seemingly not paying attention, right up to Yu Chao, William, and Big Sister. He almost walked completely past, then glanced down, as if casually. William still wasn’t sure how to react, but he knew he should probably do something. The elderly man calmly reached down and put his hand on Yu Chao’s head. Then, he spoke. “A concussion. My my, how careless of this boy to trip and hit his head in the hallway. He should learn from his carelessness for next time, but I doubt he’ll remember what happened.” The old man narrated, as if to himself. William felt like he should recognize this person, but he couldn’t figure out where he knew him from. The old man straightened back up. “I’m too old to carry this poor foolish child to the infirmary, but he’s trained as a warrior… so he should be fine on his own.” The old man stretched his back, with his arms up in the air. “Well, I suppose I shall continue on to my post at the library. I have to moderate those who view the scrolls there, based on their level of ki training and understanding.”
This old man’s speech was entirely unnatural. Either he was completely insane, or was putting on a terrible, abysmal act. It did allow William to recognize him, though. He was one of the elders in charge of the technique library. William had only really seen him at larger gatherings, since he couldn’t enter the technique library. William glanced over at his sister. “Umm… I think I will go visit the library now, Big Sister.” Then he started walking off after the elderly man. Elder Shaozu, by William’s recollection.