Weeks flew past, Arthur rarely finding the time to leave his clan building. Speedrun or not—and the fact stood that speed was a bit of a misnomer when it came to climbing a Tower—there were still some important administrative and cultivating work that needed completing.
In theory, one could gain a new point within fifty hours by just refining monster cores constantly. That, unfortunately, depended on having an unending source of such cores. Granted, the Chins were generous as per their deal. Also, the clan was now earning cores from renting out rooms to the 66 as well as gaining cores through hunting. But Arthur did have a full team to upgrade, and that wouldn’t be easy.
And as usual, he needed more cores than other people because, other than Casey, he was the most junior member—in terms of how long he’d been in the Tower—and also the least progressed. The other team members were close to, or even already at, their second transformation. And because of that, more often than not, he was stuck cultivating indoors while the rest of the team had fun outdoors.
His world narrowed to a series of meetings, whether to bring in new clan members or to deal with petty issues that others could not handle, and then back to his room where he cultivated most hours of the day or slept when he was not cultivating. Outside of necessary breaks, Arthur was stuck in a training routine, almost no different than his time before entering the Tower.
Except with a few important differences.
“You cannot let them do this, boss,” Yao Jing said, arms crossed.
“I have to agree,” Rick said, nodding along.
“Really not right,” Yao Jing added.
“Oh cry us a river,” Mel huffed. “There’s only a few of you men. Giving you all an exclusive bathroom is a waste of resources.”
“A man needs his privacy,” Rick protested.
“For what? That?” Jan rolled her eyes and gestured with her hand to indicate what she meant.
Rick spluttered, “I do not—”
“No, ah? Can’t get it up, is it?” Jan said.
Arthur groaned, burying his face in his hands. He half-listened to the two bickering, Jan slipping out of Manglish—the local variety of English—into Malay and even Cantonese just to frustrate Rick. Yao Jing was dragged into all that, forced to translate.
“How many clan members do we have here now?” Arthur asked Mel, refusing to referee those children right this moment.
“Just over forty. And only five men,” Mel said.
“Excluding you. So, six.”
“Not sure he is a man, anyway,” Jan couldn’t help but interject, alluding to his Yin Body.
“Don’t start that again,” Arthur said dangerously. To his surprise, Jan immediately bobbed her head, mouthing an apology. It seemed she knew when to shut up after all.
He had imagined handling many things as clan head, but refereeing bathroom usage had not been on his list, and he was fed up of it.
“You need to learn some manners, girl!” Rick snapped.
“Girl? I’m more woman than you can handle.”
“Oh yeah, want to see me try?” Now the man was grabbing at his crotch, which was the point when Arthur had enough. His hand came slamming down on the table, palm flat so that it echoed through the dining room. Without a proper meeting room, it was either meeting here or in his bedroom. And considering how often these meetings grew in size, Arthur had learned his lesson about using the bedroom. Among other things, it also meant that people stopped trying to barge in to have conversations with him while he was cultivating.
“Quiet now, yes?” Arthur said dangerously when Yao Jing made to speak. “We’re making all the public washrooms co-ed.”
“What?” Jan and the boys shouted at the same time.
Mel knew better, just looking at Arthur as he made his pronouncement. There might have been a small shake of her head, but Arthur kept talking.
“I’m serious. Make it known. Everything’s co-ed for now. Or intersex or non-gendered or whatever you want to call it. Also, make it known that anyone trying to take advantage of that for stupidity gets one warning, after which I will, personally, cut off the offending part.” Arthur shook his head. “Consent in everything, and that means consent of everyone in that bathroom. Everyone has bedrooms, use them.” This time, he was looking directly at Yao Jing and Jan, causing the pair to cough in embarrassment. Yes, he had heard those rumors too.
“Now, go away and leave me alone. I have . . .” He trailed off, looking at Mel for a clue. “Something more to do, I’m sure.”
The trio left, heading off to report the news to everyone else who had shoved them the dirty job of dealing with Arthur. Leaving him alone with Mel, who waited for the others to get out of earshot before she lowered her voice and spoke as they exited the room themselves.
“You’re making that a habit.”
“Annoying people as a management technique.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Arthur replied.
“It’s not always true that a good compromise is when everyone is left unhappy. Sometimes, it just means you’re not trying hard enough,” Mel said.
Arthur opened his mouth to object when he sensed movement. Head turning, he saw the Tower guard leveling a blade at a familiar face who was leaning dangerously close to the blade at the building entrance. Eyes searching, the visitor spotted Arthur and her face relaxed a little.
Even before she spoke, Arthur’s sense of foreboding grew. It was never a good thing when someone stressed looked happy to see you. In his past life, that either meant a beating or extra work.Sometimes both.