Thankfully, Arthur noted that all the information about techniques was categorized. First things first, he checked the pill information. There were literally only three pills. The cheapest, as mentioned, was worth 10 credits; the other two even more. A glance at the information the pad pulled up showed that he could expect roughly the equivalent level of upgrade in his refined energy, except with the addition of more impurities to his body.
“Why the heck would anyone buy a pill?” Arthur said, frowning.
“It’s faster to consume a pill. Only spend a single hour rather than 10 hours absorbing all the crystals. And that assumes you can concentrate for 10 hours straight.” The attendant saw Arthur’s surprise and he sighed. “Right, right, Tower fanatic. Look, not everyone’s like you. Most of those who come here, they do so because they’re desperate. So, cultivating for 10 hours straight? Forget it.
“On top of that, as we said: there’s techniques that can help. Make more use of the pills, give you a better bang for your credits. Then you’ve got the special ones.”
“The lucky people who take in pills better or who have a mystic bloodline.”
“Those are real?” Arthur’s jaw dropped. “I thought that was a Hollywood thing.”
“Nah. As real as the Tower. Just a heck of a lot rarer than they showed in the movies. You might be lucky to find one once a year or so per beginner Tower.” The attendant shrugged. “But as I said, not worth it for most.”
“Right.” Armour next, since he liked staying alive. Techniques, while useful in the long-term, weren’t going to give him an immediate, accelerated likelihood of making it through the day. Anyway, how expensive could armor get?
“This is daylight robbery!” Arthur shouted, pointing a finger at the pad moments later.
“You wanted armour? That’s what we have. You can buy cheaper outside; just walk around the lots. Lots of people bring armour with them, sell them secondhand. Have it made by artisans and other fools outside, wear it in here and think it’s good enough.” The attendant snorted. “Maybe for the first floor or two. But after that? After that, you want this. Better to pay more now.”
“Pok gai!” Cursing, Arthur read the details.
The details went on. Soft leather armour, plated armoured tunic, even a leather skirt in strips. But the cheapest—the skirt—was nearly a dozen credits and the most expensive was the Silk Tunic. After a while, Arthur shook his head.
Better to buy something cheap for now and upgrade later. He mentally set aside a couple of credits to buy something in the tents before he moved on.
Techniques next. This was the meat of the shopping experience, where he expected he would be spending the majority of his funds. Each technique started at 20 credits and rose from there, with Arthur looking to start with the general body reinforcement technique.
“Dung beetle?” Arthur said, looking at the attendant.
“It’s a good technique.”
“And a horrible name.”
All he got was a shrug at that comment.
Still, three points to the Body attribute was significant. That was the equivalent of adding the strength, speed, and reflexes of a well-trained athlete. Which . . . huh.
“Hey, am I wrong? All the forums I read said that three points in attributes was the base expected number for entrants to the Tower. But you keep saying that most people aren’t as well trained as me. So do they get lower traits then?” Arthur said, curiously.
“What am I? Your librarian?” The attendant snorted. Arthur apologized and returned to poking at the tablet, pulling up the next technique.
“It depends,” the attendant said suddenly. “In the forums you browsed, they probably spoke of three points as being the normal; but that’s for fanatics like you. Your average human scores around two. Two, two point five, maybe one point five. Of course, the Tower doesn’t do decimals for attributes, so it just rounds up or down.”
“Now, make your choice. I have others to work with.”
Arthur chose not to answer the man, instead turning back to the information he had been provided, skimming through the techniques. The others were variations of the first two he had read about. The more expensive versions had higher base amounts and additional effects or a lower surge potential, but they also took longer to learn.
Nodding to himself, he moved on to the combat-focused techniques, curious about what options had been given. His eyes flicked across the names, some elaborate like Heaven Splitting Kick while others were simple like Piercing Strike. However, his gaze fell upon the one item that he had not expected to see.
“Only twelve?” Arthur could not help but exclaim in surprise.
“It’s not that powerful,” the attendant replied. “It’s only good for taking out small animals.”
“Oh, like, literally a dart.” Arthur made a face. “Is this upgradeable?”
“Yes. One of the reasons it’s included. More powerful options are available.”
“Nice . . .” Back to the pad, he browsed further, searching for options. Finding nothing that jumped out at him, he began to look into details of the earlier techniques. After a moment, he realized he had made a mistake and handed the pad back.
“I need weapon techniques. Or techniques that work with weapons and unarmed combined, if possible. Staff,” he added quickly when he realized what he forgot to specify.
“Should have said earlier,” the attendant grumbled, even as his fingers flicked over the pad. In a short period, he was handing the thing back to Arthur. “Combined weapon and unarmed techniques are expensive. Generally better quality, but expensive.”
Nodding, Arthur scanned the list. It was a very short list: only four items listed and only one of those that was a combined technique. He could not help but smile as he noted the name for one of the weapon systems.
It was kind of annoying that the basic Focused Strike he had learned really only had two major stages: using it with a single limb, then learning to use the same attack with all the limbs or body parts. He was still working on the second portion, since those with the skill could even use unusual parts of the body like shoulders or foreheads.
Moving on . . .
“Can or not?” Arthur said and tapped the information. “Also, didn’t we discuss not wanting passive techniques?”
“We did. Then you asked for techniques that could work with both unarmed and armed.” The attendant shrugged. “You’ll have to make up your mind.”
“Aura control’s the only way to extend techniques to both weapons and unarmed then?” Arthur said, surprised.
“Other than specific martial styles, but those we don’t sell.”
“Oh.” Arthur sighed. He had been hoping to get the man to recommend a secret martial style that only those who could ask for it might receive or something similar, but obviously this wasn’t a movie. There were no secret scrolls to be bought.
Turning back to the pad at the pointed look he got, he scanned through the rest of the information. There were a few other techniques that caught his attention before he chose to lean back and think, debating what to get.
“You can come back later, if you need time to think about your purchases.” The attendant’s waspish voice broke Arthur off from his thoughts, making him blink.
After a moment’s more hesitation, he grinned. “Nah. I know what I want.”