It had been a few days since Neave had arrived in Pavarrie. Since the first night he had slept in the secret vault of the inn he was staying in, he hadn’t had a wink of sleep.


Because the morning after, he woke up feeling tired and terrible, as if his life was sucked out of him.

The reason why he felt like that was self-evident.

It was because his life had been sucked out of him. Literally.

He had forgotten that it was impossible to maintain conscious control over his life force if he was asleep. Because, well, he was unconscious. Consequently, he lost a further one percent of his life force. His estimation of ‘being able to live for another ten years’ had received a slight revision.

And the current number wasn’t particularly reassuring.

After he had gone to sleep in the inn, the first night he had arrived here, his room was surprisingly left entirely alone.

Maybe the inn had better security than he’d thought.

Ever since that day, he had been occupied by the same routine. Killing many monsters and making a show out of selling the cores. Neave was trying to attract the attention of anybody who could sell him a life force restoring treasure.

Or anyone willing to ‘donate’ one.

He was being quite generous, constantly putting up a show of giving cores away or generously paying everyone’s tab since he wanted to give the impression that he had money to burn. Sadly, so far, his bait had hooked no fish.

Neave was hesitant about buying the mansion at first, but he had saved up for it a lot faster than he expected he would. Once he bought it, he decided to decorate it with as much ostentatious crap as possible.

It was a great way to attract a seller's attention, not to mention that if he didn’t have the money, well, he could trade the mansion. It wasn’t as if all the money he’d earned magically disappeared. It was still there in the form of a disgustingly overdecorated building.

Living off no sleep while your life force was below twenty percent was a nightmare. If Neave wasn’t so used to agony, he doubted he would have any will to live left. Not to even speak of his muscles. This little life force meant he recovered at a brutally slow speed. He had to use healing pills to recover his muscles from overuse.

That strategy wasn’t terrible, but it was costly and suboptimal for gaining muscular strength. It worked great if you wanted just to bulk up, though. Which still didn’t work for him either. He was currently looking at his body in one of the many mirrors of the mansion.

He looked more like a corpse washed ashore than a living cultivator. His skin was wrinkly and looked like it had spent too much time underwater.

Neave sat on the queen-sized bed and pulled a bag of cores from the dimension ring. He wasn’t selling all of the cores. He kept some of the ones that seemed like they might potentially help him with his life force.

Then he pulled a book out of the dimension ring.

Spirit powers: Practice and Theory.

Due to his daily schedule, contact with the dull old merchant happened daily. The clerk hooked him up with the book, which wasn't expensive. Neave was immensely disappointed that he couldn’t buy a life-force-recovering treasure from the merchant company. He could have had a lower-quality one for five platinum coins, but currently, they were out of stock.

He’d asked whether they could deliver some from a bigger city, but that was only possible if he needed to purchase something at fifty platinum coins or above. Delivery across countless miles of dangerous forest wasn’t done unless it was for a solid profit.

It was possible to get delivery for purchases lesser than ten platinum coins, but those deliveries went through much slower channels. It could be as many as four months until he finally got the treasure. By then, he would likely be dead.

So his current plan was to gather fifty platinum coins. His money-saving efforts were getting increasingly difficult, however. Soon he would have to sleep again, and every time he slept, the seconds would flow away like the sand in an hourglass.

Neave put those thoughts aside and focused on the book. It was theoretically possible to find a solution here as well.

He flipped through thirty or so pages, then stopped.

Wait, how long have I been reading?

He felt dazed after a mere thirty pages for some reason. It simultaneously felt like he'd been reading for hours and like he’d been reading for seconds. Then he read another page.

Oh yeah, that was definitely seconds, alright.

Neave had known that cultivation could improve one’s mental abilities as well. But he always discarded that since it just seemed like all cultivators were stupid.

But the sheer difference in reading speed between now and before was utterly baffling. He didn’t need to read sentences. He could just read an entire page! Was he perhaps so incredible at reading before that entering the foundation realm turned him into a book devourer?

No, that was exactly what happened. He smiled at the unexpected boon. It felt good being him, sometimes. Alright, perhaps ‘sometimes’ was a bit too strong. Exceedingly rarely would be more appropriate.

But the book was damn long, so even with his reading speed, getting through it would take some time…


In a small city close to Pavarrie, there was an organization. Officially, they were just a high-end construction crew of cultivators.

Unofficially, they were spies for the Bentheta sect.

It had been a few days since they had received an order to report any sightings of limbless cultivators.

And currently, all of the construction crew members were seated together around a large table. There were three individuals, a black-haired woman, a bearded elderly man with long white hair, and a bulky man with short brown hair. And behind them, nine people were standing, three behind each.

The elderly man spoke up.

“So… Do we report this Guardian of Pavarrie? I honestly do not know whether this fits the criteria. We are talking about somebody who is reportedly on the golden path.”

The woman pondered.

“We were explicitly ordered to leave no stone unturned. However, I can’t help but agree that perhaps turning too many stones may uncover a snake.”

Then the burly man spoke up.

“Come on, you cowards! We do not need to insult this person. We could send one of our men to check things out. They would at least be open to conversation if it is some good-natured spirit beast! Right?”

The elderly man sighed but had to agree. If the sect somehow learned they had failed to report this individual, they could be severely punished.

“Very well then.” The elderly man turned to the younger cultivators standing around the table, “Are any of you from Pavarrie? I think sending someone who already knows the locals there may be a good idea.”

The woman nodded.

“Yes, I believe that one of your boys is from there, Gabrias, was it?”

One of the three young men standing behind the old man held back a sigh. He was a tall lad, standing at nearly seven feet. His arms were long, even for his height. His black hair was a little curly and combed back behind his ears. He had slightly droopy eyes and a rather large mouth. His nose was also just a little too big. One could call him ugly but in a strangely attractive way.

He was ugly but handsome. And he didn’t want to be part of this nonsense.

“Yes, you are indeed right. Not just that, I believe he may just have the perfect spirit power for the job. I shall have him scout the situation then. For now, we will send a report, putting the likelihood of this being our target at minor. Once Gabrias is back, we will send a more detailed report.”

Gabrias was sent on his merry way back to his damn hometown.


Gabrias exchanged awkward greetings with old acquaintances and learned where this Guardian of Pavarrie lived. Then he just simply walked over to the mansion, and well…

He knocked.


Neave finished reading the book and… Oh, man. He was so glad he didn’t take a spirit power. He wouldn’t have died, but the consequences could have been awful. He wanted to conduct so many experiments with spirit that it was basically…

Knock, knock, knock.

Did somebody just knock on the door?

Neave was flabbergasted. He could sense somebody standing outside, but it was nobody he recognized. He was so immersed in his reading he hadn’t perceived the spirit until now. It seemed to be a third-step bronze path cultivator.

Tall fella, too, wow.

Neave happily skipped over to the door and opened them.

The man was, indeed, exceptionally tall. Neave had to practically look up at a ninety-degree angle to see his face.

“Who are you, and what do you want, tree man? Are you here to rob me!?”

The man chuckled awkwardly.

“No, no, heavens forbid, no, I am merely a humble cultivator from a nearby city. My name is Gabrias, and as someone raised here, I merely wanted to visit and express my thanks to the Guardian of Pavarrie.”

The man talked pleasantly, with a kind smile plastered on his face. A damn big smile too.

“I’m sorry, but what the fuck are you talking about?”

“Uhm, excuse me?”

“No, you mentioned something about some guardian or some shit? Are you on something?”

Gabrias tensed up and looked around.

“Have I got the wrong address? I was told this was where the Guardian lived.”

Then he looked at Neave’s missing arm.

“This dude must be out of his mind… Look, dude, I’m like… Oh, man. I’m not used to dealing with crazies.”

Gabrias was getting more and more confused by the second.

“Excuse me, but do you mind if I ask exactly who you are?”

“Oh, me? My name is Neave.”

Gabrias nearly swallowed his tongue.

“Oh, I, I–Uh. I have not… No I have–I have not heard of you, no, I do not know who you are.”

Neave looked at him, this time almost with pity. Then the compassion disappeared, and anger set in.

“Look, Mr. World Tree, can you kindly fuck off? I’ve got shit to do, and I don’t need some crazy bastard snooping around my place."

“Wait, please, just wait a second, uh, do you…” Gabrias’ mind whirled, trying to come up with anything. “Do you, ah. Do you, d–ah perhaps know where the uh… Where the uhm? The dude. The person, no I mean the Guardian, yeah, where the guardian lives?”

Neave just started closing the door. However, Gabrias grabbed them.

“Okie, I see somebody wants to lose a finger or two.”

“No, please, just wait…”

Then Neave felt something strange wash over him.

Gabrias stepped back.

“Okay, I apologize. I will stop bothering you.”

“Wait a damn fucking second…”

Gabrias paused, breaking out into cold sweat.

“Did you just do something to me?”

“Who? Me? No, I, no I literally, there was nothing I could have even done to you.”

“Hmmm, ugh, fine, whatever, just get off my property.”

“Thank you for your time…”

Neave slammed the door.

“... Sir.”

Then Gabrias turned around and immediately sprinted away.


Well, that was weird as hell. Neave scratched his head in confusion.

Guardian of Pavarrie? Ah fuck.

Did somebody spread some weird rumors? Oh, damn it, was it those people he gave the big monster core to? Or maybe somebody else he had given something. It seems like someone had forged some rather favorable rumors about him…

"Ha, ha…"

Fucking Guardian of Pavarrie.

Would they offer him sacrifices if he asked? Perhaps a minor life force restoring treasure? Neave couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation. He was expecting a gang to break into his mansion this whole time and try robbing him, but the entire damn town declared him a ‘guardian’ instead?

Was it the number of monsters he had killed? He shrugged. That explanation was as likely as any other.

Anyhow, after reading the book, Neave believed he had a good plan. Well… Maybe ‘good plan’ wasn’t the best way to put it. A solution. He had found a solution for his life force problems. A rather suboptimal solution, but a solution nonetheless.

Honestly, the method he was considering was, theoretically speaking, so horrible that even he was reluctant to do it. But it was practically guaranteed to solve his problems. And create several others. Several dozen others.

Neave went to the master bedroom. This place was so massive that he might need to hire some maids to keep things clean. He sat on the bed.

He pulled out the bag of potentially useful monster cores. Then he threw it back into the ring and pulled out a bag of miscellaneous crap. He dug through the pile of almost completely random monster cores and fished out a few that would serve his purpose. They were all relatively tiny, but that wasn’t an issue. Not a big one, at least, and not for his current needs. They were all misshapen and jagged.

And they all had powers related to digestion. Everything from stronger stomach acid to more flexible bowels to a larger stomach. The one he was looking at, however, was the most simple.

Better digestion. That was it. A vague power that made his digestion better. Not even by much. It was a tiny and jagged monster core as well, about the size of his thumbnail. Neave grabbed it into his hands.

And crystalized some spirit.

It cost him around another half a percent of his life force. The small jagged piece of spirit became perfectly round. Neave cackled. He could sell this on its own for dozens of platinum coins. He could still tell the original shape of the monster core. It just looked like a transparent marble that was encasing a monster core. Even though it didn’t add any power to the monster core or change the actual power in any way, this was enough to perfectly stabilize the spirit.

Those geezers who wrote the other books on spirit weren’t clear enough on how much more valuable round monster cores were. A nearly round monster core was something that sects would go to war over if the power contained inside was any good at all. Why?

Because the rounder the core, the less spiritual interference.

Neave grabbed a bowl. Then he made a small cut on his finger and filled the bottom of the bowl with his blood. Then he put the monster core in.

The core melted into the blood, and Neave then drank it.

Immediately, he was back in the hellish loop. He almost panicked, but he calmed down. This wasn’t the same place. This was just his spirit realm. What a spirit realm looked like depended on completely unknown factors, but it did have something vaguely to do with the person's subconscious.

Neave was holding a sword. It was the swordsman demon’s sword.

The weapon he had used the most.

And standing in front of him was a small abominid. It was a critter with three arms and one leg. Neave just cut it up with the sword, and it died.

Ta-dah, spirit trial over!

Such were the spirit trials of feeble powers from frail creatures. If Neave hadn’t rounded up the monster core before doing this, this would have been the single dumbest thing anybody could do to themselves.

He wasn’t done yet.

Neave pushed qi into the part of his spirit that contained the spirit power. The spirit power evolved, and another trial started. This time the abominid was as tall as Neave’s knee. Neave again, cut it in half, and it died.

Another spirit trial finished!

And the power had evolved. It went from better digestion to… Even better digestion. Great.

Spirit trial round three, start!

This time he fought an abominid that was as tall as he was.

And the power evolved into 'perfect digestion.'

Neave was starting to run out of qi, so he had to take a qi restoration pill to continue.

Spirit trial round four, start!

This time he fought an abominid three times taller than he was.

And the power evolved into 'consume.'

Neave had to take another pill. When he tried evolving the power, to his dismay, he realized his qi reserve just wasn’t enough for the next one. Neave focused and added a bit of life force into it. It put him into frighteningly dangerous territory, but he would fix his life force issues soon enough.

Spirit trial round five, start!

This time he fought an abominid that was utterly gigantic. The fight took him a few minutes as he cut the abominid up to bleed it to death.

And the power evolved into 'absorb.'

Neave cackled maniacally. Spirit trials felt like they were practically made for him. You faced the spirit of the creature whose spirit you had absorbed in combat. The fight took place in your spirit realm. The only equipment you got was what you subconsciously created. It could also only be mundane equipment.

Sure, one could imagine their trusty high-rank sword with a quasi-spirit, but it wouldn't be any better than their spirit was capable of making it. One’s body was perfectly recreated within the spirit realm, but one could not use any spirit powers. Everything worked the same as reality usually did. Neave doubted he could create spirit within his spirit. That almost definitely wouldn’t work… Would it? An experiment for another time.

The reason why round cores were great only came into play when you acquired a second spirit power. One still had to fight the monster from the first spirit power as well as the monster from the second spirit power. When the cores you used were jagged, the spirit interference ended up blending the monster's powers. This created two creatures whose powers add up.

Sure, Neave could take another tiny monster core, let’s say a slime! If the cores were jagged, he would have to fight an utterly gigantic slime and an utterly slimy gigantic abominid. Why wouldn’t he add a goblin as well?

Now he would fight three slimy humanoid giants, probably with several extra limbs each! That didn’t sound particularly fun.

There was a reason why so few people had more than a handful of spirit powers. Eventually, the spiritual interference made the trials impossible. So people refrained from adding any powers until they advanced and became more powerful.

Neave simply didn’t have this problem. Perfectly round cores meant zero spiritual interference. He laughed so hard he almost puked the blood he drank. This was such an utterly moronic power Neave was starting to doubt he even needed cultivation in the first place. And he wasn’t done yet. He had acquired the power he needed.

This was a relatively well-known spirit power. Infamous, even, for being exceptionally dangerous to its user. It made one capable of absorbing nearly any substance they consumed. The problem was that consuming too much of anything could be lethal. Eating a large meal could mean he had too much sugar in his blood and died. So he needed to be moderate with food. Neave would be looking to remove that limitation with another spirit power, but that power would save his life for now.

He then walked out into the garden and found a random bug.

He ate it alive.

Neave winced as it squirmed in his throat, and he almost puked it out. The moment it reached his stomach, it practically evaporated, and Neave’s life force was restored by a small amount. The problem with getting life force from something like monster meat was that life force didn’t like sticking around in dead things. But things that were still alive? Oh yeah. Those had plenty of life force.

Neave cackled like an absolute lunatic as he merrily chased bugs around his garden.

The strange encounter with the man named Gabrias was already far out of his mind.


Support "The Jester of Apocalypse [BOOK 2 FINISHED]"

About the author

Robert Blaise

Bio: Man do I love recursion. Man do I love recursion. Man do I love recursion. Man do I love...

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