With little choice about what he should, or could, do, Arthur chose to spend that time cultivating once more. Since the volume of beast stones had dropped significantly, such that he would likely burn through them in a few moments, he chose to cultivate the Tower energy rather than attempt to refine the energy from the few cores he had access to.
If things went well, the Clan would soon have access to many more cores. In that sense, while he felt a little guilty of utilizing the cores, he would soon leave and only gain access to the other cores much, much later. In fact…
“I probably should talk to Amah Si about how they’re planning to push the cores through to me in the real world,” Arthur muttered to himself. Then, struck by a random thought, he hummed and sang. “Got to get my moolah, because I’m the…boo-yah?” A violent shake of the head. “Got to get the cash, so I can dash? Get the cash to take care of the rash? No. I have no rash. Don’t want people thinking of that either…”
Whatever. He’d worry about rhyming later.
That was the normal course of action, where the cores owed to the Clan leader would be transferred by those exiting the Tower at the end. Like the runners who entered in the first floor, a certain level of loss was expected from those failing to complete the exit tests. Even so, the continual flow of beast stones and enchanted items were one of the ways that Clans managed to solidify their control in the real world. It also allowed family members – with the appropriate documentation – to draw upon owed amounts inside Tower levels.
It was that kind of debt and balance that Arthur assumed the Chin girl was going to be utilizing to pay for him. With a large clan like theirs, built up over years, the amounts owed and kept in reserve were likely to be considerable.
As was their expenses when they pushed someone through.
“I can’t wait to get another enchanted item…” Arthur muttered, glancing over at his black spear. Once again, he pulled up the notification for it.
No indicator of damage type, or damage dealt or anything that would have made it like a real game. Which was great, since it never made sense that a glancing blow or a stab to the arm did as much damage as a stab to the head. As Arthur knew, you could kill someone with a two inch blade in the right spot as a parang swung badly.
The fact that the spear was just primed for enchantments but had none had been initially disappointing. But once he realized why, Arthur had let his disappointment go, instead looking forward to the future. After all, how could his people afford to put a proper enchantment on a weapon on the first floor? They were not rich, they had not the have purchased anything extremely powerful. Better to spend the money on equipment that could be primed for use, later.
Once he progressed to higher levels, now he’d pay for the spear to be enchanted. It’d also help, by that point, to know what he could do and thus fill any gaps he might have with the skill. Anyway, he should not be greedy. He already had one enchanted item.
Hand drifting to the other side, he touched the kris. Hand on the weapon, he called up the information on it, having finally found time between all that cultivating and running around to get it properly identified. Not that what it had to say was particularly surprising.
Not a great name. Arthur would have preferred something like the kris of Huang Tuah or something, but that’d probably be a reward on the tenth floor, rather than a giveaway on the first. At it stood, it was a way too powerful weapon for this floor. The effects it put those under after three or four attacks pretty much guaranteed that most first floor cultivators before their threshold break were done. Even a single good strike could infuse enough of the toxic chi into a fighter. As he had learnt all too firsthand.
If he had not been already a Yin body individual…
“Not a bin, being Yin.”
Arthur shuddered and let that thought sit in his mind for a moment before he pushed it aside. He idly noted that his heart rate had spiked again and his fingers were trembling a little from the flood of chemicals. No surprise, that he was still suffering effects from all the fights, the near death experiences he had faced.
Even years spent training, working with his master to clear his mind, to help him learn how to handle the expected mental burden of becoming a killer and nearly dying still had some minor after effects. And that was on top of the calming influence hours spent cultivating and meditating and whatever else the Tower had done to them upon entry.
In fact, there were very clear indications that the Tower did influence or alter those who entered. There was a marked increase in sociopathic traits among those who entered. Or was that psychopathic? He never could get it right, and it didn’t help that the damn articles in the paper never got it right either.
It really didn’t matter in the end. The point was that people who entered the Tower, who transformed because of it were almost always a little more callous, a little less empathic. They handled the aftermath of violence better and, frankly, had a tendency to reach for violent solutions as their basic method of handling things. Of course, there was always debate if it was because the Tower made such solutions the most viable ones – thus training said individuals – or because it had happened when the first transfer happened.
Arthur had a very basic understanding of all that discussion, but as his tsifu pointed out, the why’s mattered less than the fact that it happened. His goal was to learn how to handle and manage his mind, not figure out why he had a different body.
Pulling his mind back into the present, Arthur breathed, cycling air through his lungs till his hands stopped trembling. Then, and only then, did he begin cultivating. He could have started a little earlier, but the time saved would not be worth the drop in inefficiency really.
Anyway, he was close to having a full core of cultivated energy. Once he achieved that, he would need to refine that energy again and then repeat the process.
In the meantime, hopefully the negotiations would go well. In the end though, he could only trust in his people. Everything, everyone had their place. And his, right now, was cultivating.