The next few hours passed in restoring his basic cultivation pool. In between, he had to give orders, interview prospectives, and confirm them as new members—all done quickly before he closed his eyes to cultivate again.
Aiding Jaswinder in recruitment was Su Mei, his very first recruit on this floor. She had fallen into the role of administrative aide with practised ease. The pair had grown close over the last few weeks. Having skipped first-floor growth, the young lady had also taken to cultivating and strengthening her attributes, on top of taking on small tasks for the clan.
As it would have been pretty risky to go monster-hunting, the young lady instead became the impetus for the formation of their clan library and quest board, through which members traded requests and aided one another. Working with Mel and borrowing from their library on the first-floor clan building, she had built a fast-growing library on the second.
Of course, the paranoid portion of Arthur worried that she might run off, stealing manuals and other information, leaving the clan bereft and exposed. Then again, there was little he could do about it.
At least, with the current controls offered to him. There were hints, discussions with Mel and Amah and others who had read about Clans that indicated there might be additional security options available once he actually upgraded the Clan itself and exited the Tower.
But they were just that. Hints. Till then, he could only hope for the best.
Finishing up with the latest batch of applicants, Arthur waved Jaswinder over. He pointed to Su Mei, who was speaking in one corner of the dining room by the bookcase she’d started. It was half-filled, mostly with paperbacks from the real world donated to the cause, but some hand-penned manuals and guides took center stage.
“Whatcha think?” Arthur asked.
“She’ll do,” Jaswinder said.
“Yeah, I think so too. Keep her on as librarian. But make sure to train someone else too.”
“Librarian?” Jaswinder said, surprised. “I was thinking floor boss.”
“Are you insane?” Arthur said, cocking his head to the side. “She’s too new.”
“So am I.”
“Yeah, but these people know you.” He shook his head. “I don’t know anything about her. Including whether she’s going to stick around. We need people like you and Amah Si if possible, to just keep recruiting.”
“And what if you can’t find someone, in the future?”
Arthur shrugged. “Then the clan doesn’t recruit on that floor.”
“Sounds like a missed opportunity.”
“It’s all very makeshift,” he admitted. “But we make do, eh?” Then he added, “You’re quick to trust. Any particular reason?”
Jaswinder shrugged. “She’s committed. At least a dozen of the new applicants were thanks to her. She’s friendly. Has a good head for organizing things.”
“And that’s all it took?”
“She’s a cute one but tough. Saw her tell off a young man who tried to bribe her to put in a good word, then she broke his fingers when he grabbed her. Has some skills.” Jaswinder chuckled. “Though not the strength.”
“Mmm . . . he and his friends were beating her rather badly when we finally stepped in.” At the look he shot her, she grinned, “I’m not completely innocent either, boy.”
“Fair enough.” Arthur stood up, rolling his shoulders. “I’ve done all I can. Tomorrow at nine in the morning, I’ll start again. As for now, I need to refine a little, study a little more, and then get some actual sleep.”
Dark eyes ran over him, searching, before she offered him a grim smile. “Don’t let her run you all ragged. Won’t be much of a clan if you die of exhaustion.”
“That’s the plan.” Offering her one last wave, Arthur slipped back into his room.
Except that, rather than refining energy immediately, he let himself flop onto the bed. In the silence of his room—broken only by the noise of the clan creeping in through the door, though being at the end of the hall helped somewhat with that—he managed to get a moment to think.
He certainly needed stronger attributes, but more importantly, he felt the need to start studying some of the cultivation techniques he’d been pecking away at too slowly. The Bark Skin technique in particular would increase his chances at survival, and it was certainly something he intended to make better use of. He’d only been practicing it on and off, so a period of intense study was required.
But more than that, Arthur could not help but consider what he needed for the next level. His spear was strong, but it was not enchanted. Finding someone to enchant it was nearly impossible on these lower floors. That left him only with the option of asking the Tower itself to do so, which meant he could do it on either this floor or the seventh. Or much later. An enchantment would, almost immediately, give him a boost in lethalness.
That wasn’t the only way to make himself more dangerous, though. Cultivation techniques were, of course, the bread and butter. He had Focused Strike, which was the most basic of techniques but useful. He also had Heavenly Sage’s Mischief. Both already gave him a close-combat boost, though he was tempted to pick up a third. After all, while having a ranged attack like Refined Energy Dart was important, he was in the end a melee fighter.
He still remembered information on the Heavenly Sage’s Heaven Beating Stick technique. From what he gathered, he should be fine using it with his spear, and since the spear was something he intended to use for a while—and this one was unlikely to break too easily—it seemed the perfect technique to add to his arsenal.
If not for the fact that it required refined energy.
Costly. But better to get that now than later. Of course, first defence, then offense. Then, after that, maybe he should consider something a little more tricky, a utility skill that had a wider degree of options rather than “Arthur hits them very hard.”
But that was later.
Struggling out of bed, Arthur pulled cores from his pouch. He had work to do, and he didn’t have the credits for a new technique just yet. In the meantime, refining energy from within and from the cores was the way forward.