William and Dong Xin found little reason to stay in Ustil much longer, so after settling affairs there, the decided it was time to move on. They made sure that there were places that both William in specific and the Order of the Watchful sentry could be contacted, as well as way that they could contact the leaders of Ustil, or be brought back to the capital if necessary. After that, they began on their way back to Liaoyang. They had never intended their trip through Ustil to actually have such a long diversion… but it was certainly worthwhile. It was still rather strange, since at least in the other places they had visited they had specifically sought out those in leadership, who fortunately shared their views already. That could be said to be a coincidence as well, but since it was a recurring issue, all that people had to do was not forget the past. Granted, William had found that the wizard’s guild in Ostana had done that very thing. In fact, they had even made the situation worse. People could certainly not be counted on to remember the past. It didn’t help that many generations passed, so there was never any living memory of the Demon King.
Even William, who was reincarnated, hadn’t actually seen the Demon King alive. William would have preferred that to be the case forever, and even more so for that to be the case because he did not exist. However, William knew the Demon King existed just like he now knew that Ustil had once not been a desert- records that were kept. In the case of the Demon King, each country and many organizations had records of his appearance, though whether or not they believed it was a reincarnation wouldn’t necessarily be the same. However, all the records could agree that wars with the Demons, and someone calling themselves a Demon King, occurred on at least a semi-regular basis. As for Ustil’s case, William hadn’t seen the information elsewhere, but it was believable, and William thought he could find the information if he looked. In that case, it didn’t actually matter if it was true, because the desert wasn’t going to be any different no matter how it came to be.
William found he had too much time to think during a long journey, and he was actually somewhat glad when the group was attacked by several giant scorpions. He just had one last thought… were the giant scorpions a product of there being a desert in a magical world, or were they a side effect of the same magic that made Ustil a desert to begin with? If they were a side effect, why were they suited to the environment that was created unintentionally? William did have to admit that they probably came about later, either developing larger, or coming from elsewhere… or both.
Regardless of how they came to be in the area, William now had to fight them, though not alone. Dong Xin, William, and one of the other two each faced off against a scorpion each, while the final member of their group watched for openings in the scorpions, where he could intervene to help. William considered his options, and found that scorpions actually had many openings. For example, they were of almost no danger when approached from the rear, since neither the pincers nor the tail could attack in that direction. However, they were quicker than they might look, and could actually turn quite rapidly. More importantly, the tail might stab out when attempting to go around them… and they were large enough that one of their normal legs could topple a person if they collided with one.
William had a plan for the particular scorpion he was fighting. He had been developing a new technique, based off Shattering the Soul but somewhat less… violent. Not that it wouldn’t still kill its target, but William thought it shouldn’t cause their soul to explode. This was better in several ways, because William felt that the giant scorpions had souls that were much stronger than bees, and thus would explode in a fashion that was probably deadly to those around them. It was also better to not destroy souls if at all possible, which it always was. The most important point was that Shattering the Soul would have little to no effect if it failed to destroy the soul of the target, while his technique would cause damage no matter what. As for why he bothered developing this particular technique instead of just using another… William felt that he was more talented in the areas of the soul than in controlling ki in the form of fire, electricity, or even in it’s forms where it acted as kinetic energy.
William had fought against giant scorpions before, though fewer times than Dong Xin. This was enough for him to understand how to avoid the pincers, as well as to watch the tail. Though they were very powerful and even quite fast, they did not have much finesse, nor did they try to hide their movements. Thus, William could dodge the claws by either stepping back, to the side, or ducking, as was appropriate. The tail was more important to watch, because the poison it contained was deadly. The poison wasn’t actually any stronger than that of normal scorpions… but there was much more of it. The stab from the stinger itself could also be lethal.
Still, William found that the scorpions speed made things much closer than he liked. He could feel the wind from things brushing past him, anywhere from a few centimeters to a dozen, but with the size of the pincers and tail, it seemed much closer than that. Then, the tail struck out. William move to the side, though he also pushed it a bit further with Chris. That left an opening. It was not that it took long for the scorpion to retract its tail, less than a second, but for that brief time it would be somewhat harder for it to use its pincers to attack William, and the biggest threat was also incapable of hitting him. William swung Chris down in an arc. His technique didn’t require any particular form, so he took the most direct route to hitting the scorpion. There was a loud sound as the crystal staff met hard carapace. There were no sounds of cracking or anything breaking… but the scorpion collapsed. William couldn’t see any real damage, at least not with his eyes, but with his ki perception he felt that it was dead. William smiled. That was another advantage to soul techniques… a hard shell did nothing. William thought for a moment and considered that magical armor might or might not make a difference depending on the type… before he lept into action to help finish off the other scorpions.