Brushing off the dissipating fragments of a monster core from his pants, Arthur wandered over to his door and opened it. On the other side, a much more presentable young heiress stood, hand raised to knock again. In her other hand, she held a heavy pouch and a rolled-up scroll.
“About time—hey!” she cried, as Arthur interrupted by snatching the scroll and pouch from her.
“Thanks!” Arthur began to close the door, only for Casey to jam her foot in the way.
“I told you your supplies would come. Just as we gave you that other cultivation technique on the first floor. But these cores aren’t just for you, they’re also for all of your people who came along,” Casey said. “First delivery. We’ll have more tomorrow.”
“Gotcha. Send them to me, will you?” He tried to nudged her foot away with his own, but she refused to move it. Arthur could have pushed harder, but then he’d move from being rude to outright hostile, and that was a line he wasn’t willing to cross.
Even if he was in a hurry to get back to cultivating.
“Three days,” Casey said, firmly.
“You have three days to sort out your clan and cultivate. And then we’re going to work on the mandatory quest.”
He met her challenging gaze with a nod of his own, before she finally got her foot out of the door. He shut it swiftly, dropping down to his mat and slipping his own pouch of cores back onto his belt before he began the process of checking the contents of Casey’s pouch. As much as he’d like to read the scroll, verifying how many cores had been provided was more important.
“I need a scale,” Arthur muttered after a few minutes. Of course, a scale wouldn’t actually help since the cores weren’t all the same size or shape. They varied in every possible dimension including colour. Still, individually counting cores that were each the size of a marble was painful. By the time he was done, he sighed and leaned back.
Sixty cores, broken into groups of twelve each. Enough for five people to cultivate for twelve hours. With these second-floor cores, he’d be able to cultivate for most of the day, setting them on the path to finishing the climb. A fifth of the way to getting a full point, really. And that assumed he didn’t spend more cores on himself.
One of the most dangerous times for a cultivator was when they first arrived on a new floor. They would struggle to match the strength of upgraded monsters.
Arthur had experienced a little of that problem himself in recent days.
“Cores?” Yao Jing said, swinging the door open without asking. The brawler and self-appointed bodyguard to Arthur looked around the room, spotted the piles of cores beside Arthur and walked over to squat down beside his boss. He waited for Arthur to nod before he grabbed one pile, stuffing it into a breast pocket. “You want me to wait outside?”
“Might be a good idea,” Arthur said as he reached for the scroll. “Got to get reading.”
“Okay, boss,” Yao Jing said. “I’ll cultivate outside your door and keep watch.”
“Don’t think that’s a concern,” Arthur said. “We’ve got the Tower guard.”
“Creepy fella.” The big man shuddered. “Why can’t he have a face like the one downstairs.”
Arthur had no answer for the man after some futile searching. Yao Jing offered Arthur a nod before he left, though Arthur was barely paying attention by that point since he had the cultivation scroll open.
Finally, he had a proper Yin technique. It was a pity he couldn’t share this scroll with Uswah, but whatever insights he gathered, he’d do his best to pass it on to her. Arthur had to admit he felt a little guilty for making this demand, considering there were only two of them in this clan with Yin Bodies. Even if it was imperative for him as clan head to grow stronger.
“Now, let’s see,” Arthur muttered as he unrolled the scroll and made a face. “Why, oh why, does every single technique have to be so damn pretentious? Night Emperor’s Cultivation Technique. As if it’s that great, being a two-star technique. Might as well just call it Yin Technique 2.12 or something.”
Another long sigh, but then he focused. After all, the Night Emperor’s Cultivation Technique was better than the pretty much unnamed technique that Uswah had offered him long ago. Which she had studied because she’d known beforehand that she would gain a Yin Body, unlike him.
“Oh, look. A treatise on Yin-Yang bodies...” Arthur sighed as he read the initial portion, figuring he knew that much. Then, after a moment, he discarded his own assumptions. Better to start with the assumption that he really did know nothing, rather than end up making a mistake because he was too arrogant to read a page of words.
Well, it looked like it was just a page of words, and if one were to copy the words down, it really would just be a page. However, the difference between a Tower-generated cultivation method and a plain pen-and-paper one was the magical ability of Tower documents to pass on intent and meaning directly.
Which was why anyone who could buy or find a cultivation technique from the Tower would do so over reading a mere handwritten copy. Even if there were limitations of transfer and movement of such techniques, it was still the best way to learn and could shave days and weeks off learning.
“Blah, blah, blah, balanced Yin-Yang bodies are the natural state.” Arthur read quickly, skimming over the words to focus on the intentions being poured into him. The first few paragraphs were about the nature of cultivator bodies, how individuals were mostly balanced. Part of the process of early cultivation was the complete balancing of the body, since most individuals had some degree of variance. This generally happened during the period of transition towards the second transformation.
Reaching ten points in all three attributes was the actual triggering point of the second transformation. That was when the body was able to take in additional Tower energy and achieve complete Yin-Yang balance. During this period of transformation, the cultivator would receive a significant increase in strength.
For most Towers, that timing could happen between floors two and four. What made a Tower easier or harder was partly the layout of the Tower’s lower floors, whether they allowed an individual the leisure to actually reach that second transformation in peace.
In that sense, the Malaysian Tower was considered quite easy. There was no time limit on the first or second floors. You could, theoretically, achieve second transformation on those floors, which of course put a much higher pressure on the cultivator to keep climbing to deal with the increasing rate of energy drain. But, once you had those upgrades, it was much easier to forge ahead too.
Since a balanced body of Yin-Yang energies was the norm, it was considered deviant to possess a “specialized” Yin Body or Yang Body—or even more esoteric body types which required specialized body alteration techniques.
At this point of the scroll, Arthur was imparted information he had not expected.
“That’s going to suck, like getting a tummy tuck,” Arthur muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose. “When the transformation comes, it won’t be once and done.”
No, each transformation that occurred would once again attempt to forcibly push Arthur back into the “normal” state of balanced Yin-Yang energies. If he wanted, he could return to a balanced body in the second transformation; he would just need to purchase a certain cultivation method and some herbs to prep himself for that forcible change. If he resisted or didn’t prep himself, he would experience incredible pain fighting against the Tower’s efforts to balance his energies.
It could even damage him, such that progress and cultivation in the future were more difficult. Not impossible, or at least that was the impression Arthur got, but more difficult. In the end, without a good cultivation technique, at a certain point the demands of his body to support itself would balance out against his cultivation techniques, pulling him to a stop.
Before that, he would need to prime himself.
“And that’s what this technique does...” Arthur said, shutting his eyes briefly. This was important. This was really important and something he’d need to pass on to Uswah. And any in his Clan for that matter, if they chose to take a non-standard body.
“Of course, there’s advantages...” A properly set up Yin Body was stronger than another Tower climber’s body of equivalent investment. There was a lot of theoretical talk about why, much of which Arthur found himself unable to understand without a non-existent dictionary, but it boiled down to one simple fact. Yin Bodies were refined bodies ahead of the transformation curve. Because of that, they had physical advantages, plus some mental or spiritual advantages, that outweighed their negatives.
All of which was a long way of saying to Arthur that it would be a bad idea for him to give up on the Yin Body now. It was, after all, even possible to revert to a normal body much later on. It just took a lot more resources and prep time.
In the meantime, he was better off studying the document before him, reinforcing his body and prepping himself for the second transformation.
There were other, more detailed notes about the various stages of Yin Body cultivation, all with flowery names but Arthur dismissed them soon after reading. No point in worrying about the many stages, not until he had at least completed the second transformation.