After a month, William returned to the library one morning. He approached cautiously, unsure if there would be anyone else there, or if someone other than Elder Shaozu would be in attendance. His fears were fortunately unfounded, as he found Elder Shaozu sitting behind the desk in a quiet library. He appeared as if he were napping, but when William approached the desk, his eyes opened. He looked down at the scroll in William’s hand. “Mastered energy control already, have we?”
William shook his head. “No, but I’ve memorized all of the practice methods. I don’t need the scroll for anything else now. Besides, if I really need it, I suspect I can come here and look at it.” William paused to consider. “What would you recommend next?”
Elder Shaozu shrugged, lazily. “Beyond energy control, I have nothing that can be recommended in general. Different people have different needs. However, since you’re the only person who has asked… Perception techniques aren’t a bad place to look. That section over there.”
William returned the scroll to its proper location, then headed towards the section with perception techniques. There was actually quite a wide selection. There were techniques for enhancing all of the senses, both individually and as a whole. As William was reading through various items to see what they did, he again experienced words jumping off the pages into his eyes… his brain. He found himself with a smattering of shallow knowledge about various perception techniques. He wasn’t sure what to do about this phenomenon. Theoretically, it would help his studying speed if he actually picked one of those techniques, but as it was he just ended up somewhat confused by all the bits and pieces of information. William did notice one thing, however. The phenomenon only appeared for specific, active abilities. It didn’t appear for The Basics of Energy Control, perhaps because it was just a description of practice methods. Likewise, it didn’t appear for the few “passive” perception skills, but only those that required ki to activate. Perhaps this was the difference.
Finally, William settles on a passive perception technique. It wouldn’t let him see or hear long distances, but it was the kind of thing he felt was useful. It was a ki sensing method. Basically, it would allow him to sense the locations, and relative strengths, of ki users, Martial artists, warriors, whatever they were called, anyone who had ki would qualify. Perhaps even knights who subconsciously gathered small amounts of ki. It was a passive technique through the virtue of sensing the energy that emanated out from people. Others wouldn’t be able to sense William using it, since he wouldn’t be reaching out with any energy. The drawback, of course, was that the sensing range was much more limited, and would be less effective against those who tried to hide the ki emanations they produced. However, William couldn’t afford to let anyone know he was learning ki techniques, so a passive method was more appropriate. As for how useful it would be, William couldn’t tell until he practiced it, and then needed it.
William took the scroll, simply titled “Soul Perception”, up to the desk. There were actually two techniques with that name, and a few others with similar names. Many techniques referenced the soul, but William wasn’t sure how many of them were actually related to it. “I think this one might be suited for me.”
Elder Shaozu looked at him, nodded, and wrote down something in the ledger. “This will be due back in a month. If you have not finished studying it at that point, you can return to request an extension, which will be granted if no one else has requested it.” He made no mention of a due date for the cultivation technique William still had.
William found that Soul Perception had many similarities to sensing, or attempting to sense, mana. It was somewhat of a reaching outside of oneself, feeling for energy. Of course, there was a major difference between them. William could actually accomplish this technique. At first, he only sensed himself. That wasn’t particularly useful, nor did it let him know if he had actually succeeded, because he could sense his own energy if he thought about it at all. Eventually, he got vague senses of something around him, but it wasn’t even so specific to have a direction. However, since there would be ki users all throughout the compound he lived in, it made sense. Perhaps he was vaguely sensing everything, but nothing was close enough at his level of practice. However, when Big Sister showed up in the training area, William could sense her. She hadn’t possessed any talent for training ki, but she had still started. William felt her as a tiny spark, drifting through the air. He only really sensed her when she was passing within a few feet of him, unless he was concentrating. However, it allowed him to verify that he was, at least, having some success.
Time seemed to pass quickly for William, but as another month drew to a close, William had attained a decent amount of proficiency. If he concentrated in sensing just one direction, he could detect someone at his sister’s level at twenty feet, but most at a further distance. William had begun to recognize a few different people, as everyone was slightly different, though it was not always immediately apparent. One of those people was Yu Chao.
Though Yu Chao certainly didn’t seem to have any memory of the incident, he also didn’t suddenly cease his hostility toward William and Big Sister. Fortunately, he also wasn’t in any condition to spend time tormenting people for a few weeks. After that, he would occasionally still taunt William, or more specifically Big Sister who was near his age of twelve. However, physical confrontations were avoided. Some of that was just avoiding him altogether, since William could avoid hallways where he would be, but that wasn’t always the case. Sometimes, they still encountered each other.