William was actually more nervous than he looked, following Elder Shaozu. William presumed he had good intentions, since he could have quite easily caused trouble for William, but William still didn’t want to let his guard down too much. On a related note, William was both upset and glad that his control of ki wasn’t as good as he thought it was. It was probably good that Yu Chao hadn’t died, but William had thought his attack would have been more effective than it was. William continued to follow Elder Shaozu, who strolled along at a casual pace, toward the library he had never seen the inside of.
The doors were much thicker than on the other library, and the locks likewise looked more secure. Guards stood on either side of the door, though they left when Elder Shaozu waved them off. Presumably, they were there to protect the area at night. William could also presume that Elder Shaozu was at least as strong as both of them put together. Or, possibly, at least as trustworthy as both of the two guards put together. Probably both.
Elder Shaozu unlocked the door. “The least busy time here is in the morning. Presumably, that’s because everyone is deep in meditation, and not at all because people are too lazy to get up before lunch.” The door opened to a room filled with shelves, on which were scrolls. In the library William had access to, most everything was a book. They were much easier to peruse, though a few things here or there had been scrolls. Here, there were only scrolls, for reasons William wasn’t entirely sure of. Perhaps tradition. Elder Shaozu waved his hand. “In this first room, anyone who has awakened their ki ability is allowed access, unless specifically forbidden.” He looked down at William at this. “Thus, you qualify to access this room. You can browse and view as many things as you wish, but you can only check out one cultivation method and one technique at a time. Depending on how popular the item in question, you will have a different amount of time before you must return the scroll.” Elder Shaozu walked up to a shelf in the corner and picked up a dusty scroll. “I always recommend people start with ‘The Basics of Energy Control’,” he paused to blow some of the dust off, “As you can see, many people take my advice. It’s not really a technique, but it will still require you to check it out as if it were.” Then, Elder Shaozu returned the scroll to its position and went and sat at a table.
William looked around the library. At the end of the shelves there were signs indicating what was contained in that row. Sword techniques – fist techniques – movement techniques – spear techniques – staff techniques – cultivation methods – martial arts. There were many things to choose from, but William could only bring two things out with him, though he could always come back later. One of the two things he could take was a cultivation technique. Cultivation techniques were like the meditation method he had been taught by Big Sister, but these would be better and more refined. What he knew was somewhat like a basic exercise regimen of pushups, situps, and running. Good for health and general fitness, but not particularly complete. It was unlikely to allow progress to a significantly higher level. Of course, cultivation was a lot less physical than exercise, but the idea was there.
William was instantly drawn to the area with staff techniques, but he knew he wasn’t going to actually choose one to study just yet. However, he would browse. He looked through, seeing things labeled as “Mountain Splitter” and “Bending Willow” and even “Flowing Waves of the Ocean”. The names didn’t really tell him much of anything, though. William unrolled Mountain Splitter, and found that there was very little text. There was just a short description of a move. It was basically just a swing. Then, below, it said “Split the Mountains, Shake the Earth, Mountain Splitter”. Immediately, the text flowed off of the page and into William’s eyes. William almost dropped the scroll in surprise.
William was surprised by two things. First was that he now knew how to use Mountain Splitter, if only in a very superficial way. The second was that he had seen this phenomenon before, but not in this life. William recalled the scroll that the mysterious demoness had given him. Shattering the Soul. No wonder it hadn’t made any kind of sense as magic. It wasn’t magic. It was a ki technique. William tried to recall the sensation, but to no avail. He couldn’t even recall the slightest shred of insight from the scroll. If he were to have any hope of understanding it, he would have to see it again. That might not be a simple thing. He would have to make a trip to Ostana, specifically Canta, and hope that Marius’ family still had it… if they had even survived.
William then briefly browsed the martial arts. These were more traditional things, sword and spear forms, without any ki involved. There were also a few methods for staves, and William knew he would definitely return to this section later. At the very least, the staff moves looked more sophisticated than what he had learned, but he couldn’t actually know they were better just from that.
Finally, William started browsing the cultivation methods. This was something important, since it would affect the path he went down in the future… or possibly require him to start over, if he changed his mind. William browsed through them. Some were just different ways of training ki, some converted ki into different things, like changing its dominant element to fire. William wondered if that made it similar to fire mana. Since he was uninformed about what was good and what wasn’t, William searched for something he could later build on top of, instead of starting over. He didn’t want to spend too much longer in the library, though, since other people might start showing up. Finally, William decided on a rather dusty one, titled “Rotational Soul Pressure”. It was a foundational method that could be built upon by others, though it was noted that pushing it too far was very dangerous. However, there would also be clear warning signs, so William knew he could just stop at that point. He took that scroll, as well as “The Basics of Energy Control” to Elder Shaozu. He looked at what William had chosen, nodded as the second, and commented on the first. “Interesting choice. Be careful with it. Oh, don’t forget that you’ll have to return those sometime. I’d say probably within… a few… hmm… well, based on their obvious popularity, I’ll contact you if we ever need them back. I suppose just don’t take them out of the city.”