William next met with Dong Xin. He was impressed that Dong Xin always had insights in how William could improve his staffwork. He expected such depth from the subject of magic or ki cultivation, but not just fighting with a staff. Not that he didn’t think people could continuously improved in any area, but rather he thought he would learn everything, and spend the rest of the time attempting to accomplish every move perfectly. He wasn’t given a set of a dozen moves that he had to learn and then left with that. He continued to learn how to respond against different weapons with the staff, each of which had different things to consider. In addition to that, Dong Xin still knew some deeper intricacies of staff against staff that he could show William, even though it seemed like he must have learned everything. Some things he could tell William, but sometimes he had to realize them on his own. Dong Xin could have told him to parry a specific attack in a specific manner… but William learning it on his own properly trained his instincts and reactions. If he couldn’t figure out how to respond, and only learned a set number of things, he wouldn’t be able to react to anything new. He would become like a robot… not that there were any robots in this world. There weren’t even any golems or at least nothing worthy of that name.
Dong Xin took a moment of rest to comment on William’s progress. “Your experience fighting as an amateur before we met is finally starting to catch up and have some benefit.” Dong Xin mentioning the time before they met was code for William’s previous life. “There was a good amount of learning there, but you didn’t have a good foundation to place it on. Now you’re really starting to make progress.”
It was humbling training with Dong Xin. In his previous life, he thought he had been pretty decent with a staff, but he had overestimated himself. Against humans, those the fought hadn’t really known how to counteract him, and against magical beasts, Chris’ strength more than made up for his inadequacies. Now that he had proper training, each bit of improvement was magnified that much more by Chris. Of course, part of this was because Chris himself was training.
If Chris was just an inert crystal staff, hard almost to being unbreakable, he would still be a powerful magic weapon. He might even be better as a wizard’s staff, since he wouldn’t stop a wizard from actually using him. As he was, if he didn’t have good synergy with his user, he would be less effective. That was the case when William had first met him, but of course when anyone else tried to use Chris he would be actively working against them, which was an overall negative for the user even if he was a powerful weapon. William supposed a particularly determined knight or martial artist could make him move as they wished, but it would usually be less effective than if they just picked up any random stick off the ground, as long as it wasn’t rotten. In fact, William thought martial artists would do better with a rotten stick, because they could support its durability with their ki, whereas knights relied on at least a minimally sturdy weapon. Wizards didn’t have the right kind of power to force Chris to do anything. It took expensive formations to hold him… but it was not long before they had been broken expensive formations. William was glad that, for whatever reason, Chris had taken a liking to him. Now, they were friends, so there was something more concrete, but Chris could have ignored William just like everyone else.
Han Xinya also had more to teach William, as could be expected. Though William was highly talented in the area of the soul, at least from the perspective of ki cultivation, that didn’t mean he could learn everything he needed to know in just a few years, or even a dozen. Having a master to teach him was very helpful, but the experience of fighting the forest dragon was also very useful. Practical experience was good, but William would have preferred the practical experience be less deadly.
That particular fight had reminded him that things besides ki training and defenses could hinder soul attacks. He knew some of that, but he hadn’t realized the full extent. Han Xinya admitted he didn’t know of the particular resistance of the forest dragon, but it couldn’t be expected that he would have fought everything. William also realized how much effect a strong body could have in addition to special materials such as the forest dragon scales. He hadn’t attempted to use any soul attacks on a knight, only on animals, magical beasts… and some wizards. Wizards had ways to defend against soul attacks… at least according to Lorelei. They were just very vulnerable when unprepared. Of course, if they were prepared, they had the longest effective attack range and most dangerous attacks. William still thought that being a wizard who could use magic would be exciting… as well as useful, of course. The problem with the wizards in Ostana is they were arrogant, and thus didn’t bother to prepare themselves for attacks from non wizards as much as they probably should have. Of course, William generally hadn’t given any of his opponents a chance, though he thought they could have at least trained their reflexes a bit better.
William shook the fuzziness out of his head. Though soul attacks seemed very powerful, their actual strength lay in the fact that they were rare and unexpected. They were hard to figure out, and hard to perform… to the point that they were often forgotten. William hoped that was the case with the Demon King. Lorelei had indicated he didn’t know much of anything about them, but it was possible he was hiding something. The Demon King might also have armor that had similar properties to the forest dragon scales. Lorelei had talked about various weapons and armors that he had used, but he didn’t stick with just one set. They were often lost or destroyed during or in between his lives, so all of his equipment was subject to change. In addition to that, he would have a strong body and was a strong ki cultivator, so it wouldn’t be easy to destroy his soul. Still, it wasn’t going to be the effort of just one person. Just like the fight with the forest dragon, coordination and numbers could chip away at the defenses of an opponent, whether physical or metaphysical. William hoped it would be enough. He was fairly confident in his own abilities, but he was counting more on Yu Huan and the others. William coughed, once again revealing a small amount of blood, and reminding him of the uncertainty of his involvement in destroying the Demon King.