Wizard! Chapter 82
Every day, William practiced Rotational Soul Pressure, his cultivation technique. It was supposed to be a temporary technique, something like increasing foundations, and William was expecting to reach his limits at any time and move on to something else. He had been expecting this for two years, but he didn’t feel like he was getting closer to the limit. Not that he wasn’t making progress. It may not have been the most rapid growth available, but it was still consistently growing. In fact, it was improving increasingly quickly. It wasn’t anything shocking, on the level of exponential growth, but perhaps closer to compound interest accruing on a bank account with regular deposits. William used such metaphor to himself, because he was having trouble exactly quantifying it.
William would have liked to believed that he was able to conceal the fact that he could use ki, but it was quite frankly untrue. No matter how little he interacted with those of the family, there were at least a few gatherings every year that everyone attended. Therefore, some people must have noticed. Presumably, they didn’t bring it up because it might, in fact, make him look good. Since he seemed weak, they could ignore him for a while, then perhaps later bring up the fact that he had developed ki abilities years ago but was making no progress at all, which of course would make him rather mundane. That was William’s guess, anyway. He thought he appeared to not be particularly growing stronger- even Master Dong Xin said he found it hard to discern William’s growth without actually seeing what he could do. This was because William hadn’t made any breakthroughs. William had practiced his Soul Perception technique, as well as reading the basics on others. He knew that determining breakthroughs, and thus a general level of power, was possible through such techniques. He wasn’t exactly sure why, but they showed up in the ki emanations, something like rings on a tree showing their growth, if William were to try to visualize it. Since he didn’t do that, only more in-depth investigations of him would actually show William’s strength.
Without fighting anyone, William only had a vague estimation of his strength. If one counted each breakthrough as a discernible level, terminology which was technically correct but much to gamelike for William, he could at least place himself above those who had 2-3 minor breakthroughs, at the 3rd or 4th level. William found it hard to think of an equivalent level of power in terms of magic. It wasn’t so easy to measure magical strength. Certainly, one could count the level at which one could destroy a training dummy, or some larger object, as specific levels of power. However, these were even more vague than the ki system, which at least judged approximate quantity of power. With magic, a wizard’s strength was affected by the amount of mana in the air, as well as the talent in controlling mana, which included the practice that had been put forth to that effort. In short, a wizard’s power fluctuated depending on external factors, while a knight or martial artist had less dependence on anything outside themselves. William wasn’t exactly sure how to quantify it, but he thought he could coat himself in a protective layer of ki and stop fireballs from an equivalently aged Lila. Not that he would have wanted to try that. As an upper bound, William was definitely much below any of the adults he had seen, who were mostly after their second or third major breakthroughs, which occurred at the 24th and 36th levels. Unlike in a game, though, although it got more difficult to progress the further one went, the increase in power wasn’t proportionately higher. Otherwise, they would have been truly terrifying. As it was, he wasn’t confident that anyone he had seen could defeat a dragon on their own. It was possible that there were a few who could, perhaps some of the elder. However, William wasn’t sure how much of an effect age had on martial abilities. Certainly, they seemed to maintain their health longer, but ki abilities needed to be supported by a body that was fairly strong. In short, William had all sorts of theories about how strong he was and how strong other people were, but he didn’t really know. Except that he would rather get in a fight with any one or two of them than Lila at the peak of her power. Of course, that might just have been his personal bias being involved.
Considering his own case, William developed another worry. William had already had some ki when he’d first learned to really sense it. This implied, to him, that some amount of his spiritual sea had persisted through reincarnation. While this was rather useful, it was also very worrying. Although he wasn’t literally constantly thinking about it, William still frequently thought about the Demon King. Demons had strong bodies, and could all use magic. He had no reason to think they couldn’t cultivate ki. Based on some offhanded comments by the demoness he had met, he felt that the Demon King might not be exceptionally talented, either in magic or in potential ki training. However, since the effects of magical practice would most certainly transfer over through a reincarnation, and ki training at least partially did, William could start building a terrifying picture of the Demon King in his mind. This just meant his eventual goal to defeat him, no, obliterate his soul, would be much harder. William wondered if anyone in Ostana had gained any insights into Shattering the Soul over the generations, if it hadn’t been lost somehow. Though, with his strong suspicion that it was a ki technique, he didn’t think they could do much. William hoped that the Cyril family still existed and had it. The latest information he had was old stories that indicated they were in decline from oppression by the Lockridge family, but they had at least lasted a few generations. After that, they hadn’t appeared in any information that came to Liaoyang, or at least not to William. William thought over his plans for the future. In a few years, he wanted to leave Liaoyang and travel, hopefully arriving in Ostana and finding the descendants of some of his friends. If not, however, he wanted to find any others with the determination to fight the Demon King. It had been long enough since the last appearance that he was beginning to appear like he was just a story that was told, instead of a real, recurring threat. However, William wasn’t the only one making plans.