Arthur stared at his pack, mentally reviewing everything within. Snacks, change of clothing, bandages—a lot of them—and a first aid kit. Whetstones. Replacement spear head and knives. Twine, cooking implements, and utensils. String. Water bottles—two, just in case one got pierced. And more, whatever he needed for a multi-day trip through the wilderness.
They were going to hit their second orang minyak village. This time around, if things went well, they might even hit a third village soon after. Location-wise, it made sense to finish off both villages on the same trip. They were roughly the same size, though the fourth and final one was larger.
All in all, nearly seven weeks after arriving on the second floor, the team was ready. Everyone, including Casey and Arthur, had managed to achieve their second transformation. More than that, he’d managed to absorb the full details of the Night Emperor cultivation method, with Uswah managing to learn it just the day before. Even without the magical aid of the original Tower scroll, she had figured it out eventually.
Drawing a deep breath, Arthur pulled up his status screen again.
Along with the increase in his attributes, Arthur had also managed to gain three new Traits, one in each attribute. It had taken him quite a while to decide which traits to pick. First, he’d increased his Body to ten points, which had triggered a painful rush of energy as his body rebuilt itself upon hitting that second threshold.
Choosing the Body trait from there had been easy though, since he had realised a while ago what he lacked. And while he still had no time to practice the Bark Skin technique to increase his physical robustness, he could at least try not to get hit. The Swiftness trait was just a general increase to his reflexes and speed, but it had the advantage of also boosting future upgrades.
He would not be as quick at running as someone who specialized in that, or have the snakelike reflexes of the same named trait, or even have a twitch muscle response to duck a sudden attack. But the overall increase in speed would allow him to edge out anyone else in each of those areas. Add his spear use to it and he could potentially save himself from getting injured by just not being there when a hit came.
After he finished with his Body upgrade, he focused on Mind. He would have done Mind first, if not for the fact that he had still been a little wary about Casey pushing to continue their advancement and needing to have the ability to deal with the calamities her insistent and continuous momentum would cause. In other words, increasing his ability to fight.
Increasing the Mind attribute sped up refinement speed of the energy in his body and from monster cores. He had debated what he should choose as a trait, whether it was to boost his Multi-Tasking ability as he had planned or instead choose more a socially-oriented technique. There were a lot of ways to approach problems in the Tower, but in the end he resolved to keep to his initial plan.
That meant finding a trait that worked with Multi-Tasking. The obvious ones, like Parallel Processing or Disparate Thoughts or Second Mind were interesting, though urban legends of individuals going down that route and fracturing into multiple personalities had pushed him away from that.
Instead, he chose to go with a more broad-based option called Quick Learner. It allowed a small increase in analysis speed, understanding, and learning; but it was a low-grade support for Multi-Tasking. In fact, the moment he had taken the trait—and dealt with the resulting headache—he found his ability to process and consider multiple sources of information easier. He started reading over various documents and then letting his subconscious deal with it while he focused on more important aspects like cultivation.
Lastly, of course, came the upgrade to his Spirit. Those were always the weirdest. Instead of physical changes, Spirit upgrades elicited a cold shiver through the body like getting dumped into an ice bath and then warmed up again.
Or at least, that’s what Arthur assumed an ice bath felt like. He had not actually taken an ice bath—
that was way too expensive to do in Malaysia—and there weren’t exactly glacial lakes to jump into.
Upgrading his Spirit with a trait had required a little bit of thinking. The last time, he’d gone with Sticky Energy to add a little to the speed he could refine at. This time around, building upon the idea of sticky energy and in consideration of his lack of time, Arthur leaned into making the most of the energy he did have. From the Dregs was a weird trait he recalled reading about before.
It allowed him to keep a small portion of the energy he refined in his body rather than in his dantian. It was a tiny percentage to begin with, but as his Spirit attribute increased, that tiny percentage would add up, ensuring that he would need to refine less in the future.
Between the three new traits and full-body transformation—which, not surprisingly, was an agony and a half that had left him crippled and bleeding sweat for half a day—Arthur was now feeling like a whole new person. Not only was he stronger and faster than ever but he could also process information better and he had a significant store of both basic Tower energy and refined energy.
All in all, he was as ready as he could be for their next expedition. This time around, Arthur was sure, things were going to be different.