Wizard! Chapter 83
While William might have had the advantage of three lifetimes, Big Sister Li was still better at the social side of things than him. William, at best, found those who were already basically on his side and joined up with them. Big Sister could actually convince people who were more on the fence. As for what the sides were… in this case, the context was the Yu family, and the sides could be somewhat complicated. However, the particular conflict that William cared about involved those less and more in favor. William’s mother had been a less favored wife of his father, which put William pretty low on the ladder. Why did it matter? That was a question William kept asking, but he doubted anyone knew or cared. Instead, those at the top of the family, including his father, were vying for powerful positions… just so that they could have them, he supposed. He thought it might be better to work together toward a larger mutual gain in power, if anything, but William hadn’t ever been the kind of person who felt a need to be on top. Becoming Archmage was just because nobody else was qualified, and he needed to get things done. On the other hand, William could see the appeal of a higher position in that it helped expedite actually getting things done, instead of having to deal with arguments among many people on the same level of authority. Not that what was done by those in authority was always good, but things happened.
In short, William mostly stood around confused, while his sister made allies and got things done. Which was good, because good allies provided important information for her. There were talks among the higher echelons of potential political marriages, though he supposed all marriages were political in some way or another, and Big Sister Li’s name was among the possibilities. She was currently too young to get married, but an engagement could be set. Although it was somewhat expected and normal that she would have her marriage partner chosen for her, that didn’t mean she liked the idea. Meanwhile, William was concerned because, besides just her personal feelings, it would also upset his plans for the future where they travelled the world, looking for allies to help prepare against the Demon King. Not that he had her fully on board with that plan yet.
While it was still just in the “talking” phase, both William and Big Sister agreed that she was one of the most likely candidates for any political marriage, since she didn’t appear to have much value to the family otherwise. William knew she was perfectly capable of handling finances or business or any other task she was assigned, but sadly that seemed to not even be considered. Not that William was considering the benefits toward the family either, since he planned to leave. Currently, he was working on securing finances, and also waiting for both Big Sister and himself to grow older. Though William was mentally ready for everything, sometimes it was just better to have an adult sized body. It would help in many ways, since people would take them more seriously and they would look less like vulnerable traveling targets.
It was certainly possible to convince a few people to not set any engagement, or at least delay it significantly, but that would only go so far. The best way was to show some kind of value, though not too much, because then Big Sister would be a candidate for a more important marriage. Since she didn’t have any martial talent, that wasn’t an option. Showing off her magical abilities could have a wide variety of reactions. It might elevate her position, or cause people to reject her entirely. It might also bring up the question of where she learned it, but William had actually been preparing on that front. He was creating a “basics of magic” guide, written in the language of Liaoyang. It would look obviously new, but that could be explained away somewhat by it being a recent copy. Perhaps she managed to get it cheap in the market from someone who didn’t know what kind of value it had. William just wasn’t quite done with that yet. William could also try to show off his potential, giving her value by her proximity to him, but William wasn’t sure if he actually was that worthwhile. He had more ki than other children, even those four or more years older, but that wasn’t the end of everything. He’d only been able to watch their physical and weapon exercises, but hadn’t ever observed ki training of anyone else. Master Dong Xin wasn’t helpful in letting him know how he compared to others of his age, instead only comparing William to how William was in the past. This was good for his general confidence in his progress, but bad for his idea of relative power. Other than either of those options, William had little idea what to do. Fortunately, an opportunity presented itself in a way William did not expect.
There was a family tournament every year, and apparently eight years old was the arbitrary cutoff age for being able to watch it. This gave him an opportunity to watch those in the younger generation in combat. It was actually a series of tournaments based on age range rather than a single tournament, but it was one big event. The first category to compete was the fourteen and under range. Everyone participated and wanted to win, so William should be able to see some good fights.
The first fight was between someone about twelve, and someone who had just recently learned to use ki. It wasn’t particularly an instructive fight. The second was between two who were more evenly matched, though it was somewhat surprising that one of them was a girl. The fight started off with an exchange of weapon blows, the boy using a heavier sword and the girl using a lighter one. Both were wooden weapons, since this wasn’t a fight to the death or anything. Still, they could break bones, especially if ki was involved. The skill levels of the two were similar enough that neither of them gained an advantage. Then they moved on to ki abilities. The boy shot a spray of fire from his hand, and the girl blew it away with a gust of wind. It wasn’t any more impressive than just a spray and a gust. William had seen better in his first magic tournament… but on the other hand, the two here had been involved in melee combat at the time, where they would have been vulnerable taking the time to cast actual magic. Still, he felt the fire was a bit clumsily sprayed all over the place, and unless it had been intended as a blinding maneuver, it was wasted energy. The battle concluded shortly, with the girl taking advantage of her speed to defeat the boy, ending with her sword by his throat. The next few battles gave William some insights into various levels of fighting. Then, something unexpected happened.
“Next battle… Yu Hui’Lam versus Yu Chao.” William looked around at that announcement. Was there another Hui’Lam? He knew there wasn’t. He hadn’t entered in the tournament… but technically all of those who were trained in ki and under 14 would be entered into this category. It was just that they usually only entered those 10 or older. William sighed. Yu Chao… he wondered whether that was a coincidence. It could have been. William walked toward the stage, and the weapon racks nearby. Whether it was a coincidence or not didn’t matter. It was likely someone entered him to show him losing, but he didn’t plan to lose.