Arthur could have read the notification immediately. He should have. However, he held off. For a few moments, for his throat was parched, his eyes bloodshot and gummy. His movements sluggish, the skin on his arms, his face drawn tight and cracking. Each movement he made, as he stumbled through the oven-hot room was a struggle. He did not even bother with a glass, instead sticking his head under the tap and slurping down the life giving liquid.
A small part pointed out the paradox of needing water now, and yet not needing to drink or eat normally. Why the requirement at this moment?
Another side screamed – magic.
And a third noted that what had happened was not the normal proceedings of existence but a cultivation frenzy wielding the opposite powers of the Tower energy, Yin and Yang in ways that his body was entirely untrained to do so.
Of course there was need, there were side effects. He was lucky he was not throwing up or blown up. What he was doing, had done, was reckless in the extreme.
Another breath. Another dunk of his head under the tap, drinking till he needed to breathe again and he was sloshing around, feeling like he was a water jug. He almost sat down then, but chose to stagger over to open the windows, letting in blessed fresh air. Leaning against the window, he wiped at his face that had already begun to steam.
“Steam. Am I in a dream? But if this is a dream, and I am dream too, should I not be real, like a good deal?”
He frowned, eyeing his body, the way the sweat and the water that he had accidentally splashed on himself rose off him. His lips thinned in thought, as Arthur watched the head dissipate and then, acting on instinct, dove into his own awareness. It took him only a few moments to verify his initial assumption and a few more after that to curse himself out.
“I should have gotten into a bath….” He muttered to himself. It would have spend up the dispersal of Yang chi, allowing him to speed up his cultivation. Because at one point, it had not been the rate he could draw energy from the cores that had been the problem but the conversion rate, which had required him to slow down. In fact, as he had cultivated, he had found his refinement speed from the cores increasing. Still, well below the theoretical maximum of his new refinement speed – other with a pure Yin core he assumed – but better.
“Later. I’m tough. Next time…” Arthur said to himself. Right now, as he was beginning to feel more human, between the breeze and the water that he had drunk, he turned his attention to the notifications that had been waiting. He still felt strained, a little off balance, his center of gravity sunk into his overburdened dantian.
Well, that was interesting. There was a maximum his dantian could store. It was not even a full two points and was a weird fraction amount. Likely a case of individual growth, though he wondered if it had something to do with his Spirit or Mind attributes. Maybe even Body.
No way to know right now.
Once more, Arthur cursed the way all this knowledge was hidden. Many sects and other orgnaisations had learnt the lesson about patents and the like, instead opting to just not tell anyone. When secrets did leak, it was scrubbed vigorously, mixed with pure fiction and the leakers dealt with in a violent and final manner.
Even so, the occasional trickle of information did come true. Governments, NGOs, the occasional philanthropist had released information into the public, leaving people like Arthur with the ability to at least learn basic cultivation methods or meditative techniques that allowed him to make use of the scrolls they purchased.
A definite improvement over the first few years, where everyone had been stumbling around completely blind-sided by the Tower and what it meant.
“Got another point, where to put it? Do I even need to ask?” Arthur muttered to himself. He moved along the windows, making sure to prop them fully open to cool down the room further before making his way over to the bed.
He stopped himself just before he clambered onto it. While it was much more comfortable to lie on it, it also meant that his sweaty, disgusting skin and clothing would end up touching the new sheets. And even if he was not in charge of cleaning his own laundry – or was he? He’d never checked – he was not going to be that much of an ass.
Anyway, the floor would do.
Lying back down on the stone, he shut his eyes, only to realise that there was another notification waiting for him. It had not been pressing on him till now, and only when he was readying himself to apply the attribute had it come to him.
“What the hell does that mean?” Arthur cursed. He could feel its meaning, of course. The way his entire body felt like an overstuffed balloon, the almost hyperaware sense he had of the breeze, the energy coursing through him that made him want to run and jump and sing.
But what it meant in terms of cultivation, he had no idea.
“In for a penny, in for a pound.” He mentally prodded the energy in his dantian into moving, pushing it forwards to start running through him. At the same time, he made the choice for the Tower, guiding it towards empowering his Body attribute.
There were many reasons for that, but reaching the Body threshold would gain him another trait and, more importantly, improve his overall chances at survival. Perhaps he might have been able to game the numbers a little, improve his Mind such that he could refine the abundant cores that he had better so that he could make better, more efficient use of the resources.
But that was assuming his enemies gave him the time. And he’d just learnt they weren’t willing to do so. So, for now, Body.
As the energy coursed through him, the change that had already begun triggered. A waterfall effect of mutation and alteration happened, and once more pain made his body arch, his muscles lock and seize and a strangled scream erupt from his mouth.
No surprise that Yao Jing popped his head in, checked for trouble, and then realizing his boss was busy cultivating and hurting himself again, he closed the door.
Some things, you just got used to, working for that idiot.