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*****Author’s Note*****
Kukuku. I have been studying the Dao of the authorship, and I realized I can force more of you to read it if I put it early, and moved it here.

But really you shouldn’t skip, I want to clarify where the MC is.

If it is not clear, MC is still on the FIRST floor of the tower. Most everyone who has talent or connections skips the first 5 Floors completely. Extremely talented individuals skip the first 10.

The First floor is made up of 8 layers. The bottom layer is 128 paths, then 64, then 32, 16, 8, 4, 2, and finally 1. To pass the first floor you literally need to make it up through 8 paths, or ride one path up all the way. Hence why the first floor is sometimes called the pyramid.

So everything he has faced thus far has been riffraff who basically wandered into the tower off the street. Some of course are strong, but most are not.

So he was promoted once to 64, then double promoted to 16. At the end of day 17, he should be promoted to 8 path floor, but he was double promoted again, to the 4 path one.

Hope that clears things up. Happy reading~

Day 18
Waking up this morning was like slowly reviving from the dead on top of a cold concrete floor. A thin coating of dust and wood chips covered me. I sneezed it away, sitting forward. Aside from that, I felt surprisingly good, considering how brutal the training yesterday was. I tried to stand.

Where as my bones used to be made of bones, I seemed to have abruptly become Jen, and they were simply jelly. I toppled over, groaning.

-You spoke too soon~

-Shut it, other me. How about you handle the training today?

-No can do, sorry. We aren’t really different, we can just do two things at once, so you would still be doing it. Besides, I figured out of to suppress the precognition pretty well, and I’m going to get back to training in Air Affinity. Good luck with the squats though.

I walked out of my room, rubbing my legs. Jerry was waiting expectantly.

-Such demanding subordinates.

-It’s pretty easy to be punctual in the morning when the unholy fire that powers you doesn’t require sleep...

My mana was 904. Mana costs for Hunters was 120, archers had decreased to 90, scavengers were 60. I didn’t even consider summoning another skeleton drudge, feeling a small amount of pity for the one I summoned yesterday.

4 Hunters would be 480… 4 archers would be 840...., so no, 3 archers for 770, 2 scavengers made it 890, leaving other me a pittance to play around with for air affinity. Gerard dutifully recorded the summons and handed me the report.

TurnipArcher of the Blood OwlLvl 15
Yellow BonesAncient Skeleton DrudgeLvl 14
Gerard KiefhartReanimated AntphoLvl 11
Corpse HunterLvl 10
Skeleton ArcherLvl 9
*Corpse Hunter (x4)Lvl 8
Skeleton Archer (x2)Lvl 8
Zombie ScavengerLvl 8
*Skeleton Archer (x3)Lvl 6
*Zombie Scavenger (x2)Lvl 5
Corporal TimSkeleton Drudge CorporalLvl 4
Total Minions: 18


“...who is Corporal Tim?”

Jerry gave me a shocked look. “What do you mean? He is the skeleton drudge you summoned yesterday. He performed admirably in battle, so I promoted him.”

-Suddenly we are the military? We have ranks?

-I assume they are all under us, so what does it matter? Besides, he’s level 4. He will die soon.

Shaking my head, I walked away, teleporting to the tavern area.

******
“...I have how much in my account?!?”

The woman smiled sweetly at me. I promised myself to do all of my shopping in the morning.

“That would be 1330 Towers sir. Apparently someone high up pulled some strings for you, and you were promoted once again. Your daily salary of towers is 1200. Will you be needing anything else….?”

“Oh,” I frowned. “Could I have another detail environment person come out to my path? Today would be easiest. And is it possible to have someone other than that lizard woman?”

The clerk clicked some buttons on her tablet. “...the up-charge for immediate service is 5000 towers, so I’m afraid that won’t be possible.”

-So typical.

“And Zassa has been assigned to your account, but you can switch…. For 400 towers.”

-This place sucks more out of you that a vampiric vacuum cleaner.

“...No, that won’t be necessary.”

The woman smiled and turned away, walking over towards a haughty looking giant black hawk. It gave me an icy glare, then snorted. I watched in annoyance as the woman immediately began to flirt shamelessly with it.

I turned back menu. First I purchased 10 more mushroom seeds. This would certainly curtail the challenger’s ability to gather and push towards me in too large of a group. And while they were worried about the poison, the undead would ambush them.

Inwardly pleased with my strategy. I considered the list of available purchasable options.

Minions: 50. Puzzles: 50: Buildings: 50. Skills: 1000. System Assistance: 200. Miscellaneous: 50.

A bed might be in buildings, I mused. But I was most curious about system assistance and miscellaneous. I had 830 remaining, so I supposed there was no harm in getting them both.

I opted for miscellaneous first, in case something within caught my fancy. Honestly, it was a glorified climate control. Temperature, weather patterns, length of day, wind, whether the water was salted or unsalted, the color of grass, leaves, and stones…

Just miscellaneous nonsense. And pointless, when changing the temperature 1 degree cost 100 towers. Feeling slightly put out, I bought the option to see inside the System Assistance section.

My eyes brightened immediately. Exp boost?!?!

-For 10,000 towers…

Frowning, I looked at the other options. It was a relatively short list.

Exp Boost, NPC characters, AI companion, Challenger amount limitations, and challenger flags, huh…

The Challenger Amount limitation interested me the most, because from what I read it would allow me to pay money so that the system preferred to send challengers elsewhere. Of course, my competitors could similarly spend money, entering us into a de facto bidding war…

Besides, I figured that I had the challenger flood problem under control. Then I winced. Except now I had somehow been double promoted… again. So I could expect x4 as many challengers? I hoped to god SOMEONE below me bothered to stop people from advancing through the paths…

As I went back to my path, I wondered how I had gotten stuck here among these weaklings.

*****
It was a good morning for me. Not because I wasn’t hellishly driven by Whipman, but because around two sets in, other me made a breakthrough.

Congratulations! Due to your actions, your skill has improved to “Lesser Air Affinity Lvl 4”. Mana cost for manipulating air has greatly decreased. It is now easier to control larger quantities of air with ease. You may now compress air to achieve greater results.


Other me demonstrated his newfound mastery by smacking Turnip from behind with enough force to make him stumble. We had to save up around 100 mana to manage it, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.

-No wonder this skill was rated so poorly. It has taken so many levels to just make it serviceable for gags.

-We can’t compare these amateur skills to Summon Lesser Dead-sama. The level of utility is just too different.

-At least it isn’t “Song of the Murloc People”. Must be sung underwater? Give me a break.

However, my own efforts soon paid off as well.

My eyes were glazed as Whipman stood behind me.

“Punch.”

My fist flashed forward, slamming into the pole.

Time dragged by as I continued to repeat my mantra.

-Every drop of sweat tempers you.

-Every second of struggle sculpts you.

-Every bit of pain forges you.

-Every drop of sweat tempers you.

-Every second of struggle sculpts you.

-Every bit of pain forges you.

“Punch!”

Thump.

But before I could settle back into my mantra, he was yelling again.

“Punch, punch, punch!”

Thump. Thump. Thump.

“Punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch punch!”

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

The notification surprised me so much that I fell over.

Congratulations! Due to your actions, you have learned the  skill “Cadence of Thunder”: You are firmly on the path to learning the profound martial arts of the Tellite people. Knowledge and experience are required for this skill to evolve further.


I lay on the ground, laughing and punching the air for a long time.

*****
Whipman let me take a break until lunch. Avoiding my gaze the whole time, he said he just said he had things to do and walked away. During that time I walked up to the battlements and joined Turnip in watching Yellow Bones massive form, knocking over trees and thumping across the landscape as the challengers fled before him. At his size, normal weapons basically did nothing.

Jen’s popping into existence was my cue, and I hopped down. Whipman walked back over too. “Let’s talk while you eat,” He said cryptically. Shrugging, I began to devour larva. I was pleased that the amount of drums Jen had brought had increased. Even she seemed to have problems lifting that many at once, only moving 8 at a time.

Whipman watched me and steepled his fingers. Jen was in her pseudo-human form, and apparently she had mastered shoulders and arms in the past day. Her slime fingers barely wiggled at all, too.

“Thanks to Jen, I’ve been doing a bit of research on… your situation.” He gestured towards me. I finished one drum and moved onto the next.  “It’s basically unprecedented.”

He looked at me expectantly. I nodded, unsure of what he wanted. I stuffed more larva into my mouth. Mmm, today’s batch was particularly juicy.

Jen’s slime torso undulated slowly. “I...I always thought… Pre-P….. Predator…. Was really…..s-special…” Her voice trailed off and her body drooped until it was just a puddle underneath her head and arms.

“Setting aside some unresolved emotional issues…” Whipman gave Jen a pointed look. “Let’s focus on what we do know. You were originally a human. Humanity as a whole, due to its innate potential for reaching B rank, was allowed to consult with an Ilium and sell parts of themselves. You must have sold you race at that point.”

Tilting my head, I asked. “What’s B rank?”

Jen exploded back up to her normal height. “B rank means that you have enough strength to achieve Ascension! Ah…. ascension is just what they call succeeding at the 50th floor. It’s a demarcation between those who are strong, and who are not.”

Whipman shook his head. “Save that for later. Human’s are typically E rank. The reason they have the potential to reach B is because they seem to have an incredible aptitude to learn and level skills quickly. For example, it’s unheard of for a Tellite youth to learn a cadence, even one he has an affinity for, in under a month. It took you a dance.

“Also…” Whipman paused. “How many skills do you have?”

I counted. “Cadence of Thunder is my 12th.”

Whipman was struggling to maintain his composure, and I could tell. It was almost amusing. Jen’s faux-human eyes grew, slowly taking up almost all of her face.

“Oh wow…” She breathed out, the awe clear in her tone.

-Hmph, such a smile thing is not worth remarking upon.

-Hohoho, I’d like to thank all of my absolutely loyal undead minions, who I forcibly conscripted into service with dark magic. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.

“So what I’m saying is that it’s extremely peculiar that you retain that part...perhaps being human is similar to being raceless…? Well setting that aside,” Whipman rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Jen, when he gained a level yesterday, he had 7 gains, one of them was an over 200 increase in mana, and two of them were almost double digits.”

-....and honestly, it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the Lich or the Owl.

-Shush, their puny minds can’t handle our greatness.

“OH…. oh wow….mmm….that’s…. impressive.” Jen lost all semblance of a human form, simply jellying down until she was a green sheet of ooze on the floor.

-Watch it killer.

-Don’t act like this is all me. Where would I be without you?

-Kukuku, too true. I was afraid you were ungrateful, but your modesty is endearing.

-Our modesty <3.

Shaking his head, Whipman turned from Jen to me. “And you get a random growth rate similar to this every time? Just as an example, Tellites usually gain between 1-4 on physical traits per level, and 2 or 3 on mental traits. When I was 8, I gained my first level. Most of my phys stat gains were 2, but I gained 4 on Int and Understanding, and I was hailed as a prodigy. And you just…”

He sighed. “Well anyway, after you finish eating, let’s prepare for the next cadence. I think we will try earth stance next.”

We both stood up and walked away from Jen, who remained a pancake, cooing softly.
*****

“This isn’t working, stop.” Whipman seemed exasperated. “You are too caught up in thunder cadence. Let it go. Move slowly!”

Once more I was squatting in front of the dread pole, told to slowly alternate punches. But apparently I was too fast.

“You need to feel the strength of the earth! All of your power comes from your base! You need to value… hum.” Whipman began stroking his chin. “I have an idea.”

*****
“So yes, just sit there for the rest of the day, meditating. Don’t move at all. Yellow Bones fights in an earth stance manner, and the point is having faith in the power of the earth beneath you. So just learn to have faith in yellow bones.”

I was sitting on Yellow Bones shoulders, which had expanded to be about 2 meters wide, nestled between two skulls. The two skulls next to me purred contentedly. The other three looked on with jealousy.

While I was training, Yellow Bones had eaten bones until he was 5 m tall. Getting in the castle gate would soon be a problem. And the black spots had definitely gotten larger, transforming to streaks that covered the most heavily armored parts of him. One of the skulls was almost half black, half yellow, lending it a very disturbing look.

“I’m just going to… ride him the rest of the day? Meditating?”

I could feel all of Yellow Bones humming with pleasure. Whipman nodded. Sighing, I instructed Yellow Bones to avoid the areas with Heart Murmur Shrooms and began to meditate.

*****
Perhaps the most annoying part of the whole experience was that the challengers came to the illogical conclusion that I was the weak point of Yellow Bones, and began focusing their attacks at me.

Hatchets, knives, blasts of fire shot up towards me. I dodged them at first, but then I realized guiltily that I didn’t need to. Yellow Bones raised one of huge bone trunks of arms and blocked most of it, and he bobbed and weaved so the rest flew harmlessly past. I could hear Whipman yelling at me to trust my base, so I resigned myself to just taking a few blows and decided to be still. It’s not like they would hurt me anyway.

It was… impressive, watching Yellow Bones. And touching.

We stumbled upon a group of 50 survivors, more added every second. They were seemingly humanoid, in that they had legs and arms and heads, but some were furred, some feathered, some scaled. A few I even recognized as being the same race as Whipman.
But they were babies playing at war compared to Yellow Bones. He leapt, traveling 20 meters and smashing down in the middle of the group. I shifted my center of gravity, leaning in so I didn’t tumble off.

-Trust your base.

-Shut up, I know!

It was touching because the smaller pair of arms would reach into his ribs and flick little shards of bone in every direction, his form almost exactly the same as mine was for throwing knives. It brought a smile to my face, knowing my subordinates were imitating me.

-Wait… if he can do the same moves as you, and is almost the same level as you… who would win in a fight?

-Shut up, other me.

The challengers began launching 10s of attacks at me, but Yellow Bones just swung one of his huge arms, knocking them all out of the air. The other arm swept backwards, smashing at least 3 challengers into a pulp.

Kicking and smashing with his huge arms, Yellow Bones soon broke their will to fight, and they began to flee in different directions. I watched with pleasure as several ran unseeing into the shrooms, soon frothing at the mouth and starting to seizure on the ground.

-...Yea, let’s not breath in any of that.

As Yellow Bones gave chase towards one of the ones not running into the shroom areas, one particularly brave souls ran up a tree, glancing behind at us. With a roar, Yellow Bones kicked the tree, shattering it and knocking it to the ground.

But the challenger was already backflipping off the tree, drawing a saber and swinging it towards me. I blinked slowly.

-Trust your base.

I calmly raised an arm holding it straight forward.

The saber inched closer through the air.

One of Yellow Bones’ skulls turned and studied my action, its eyes burning.

At the last second, Yellow Bones jerked his shoulder forward, putting me out of harm’s way and slamming my fist against the jaw of the challenger. But the angle took me a bit by surprise, and my elbow bent, most of the force dispersed.

As Yellow Bones stomped the presumptuous challenger into oblivion. I looked at my hand wonderingly. That was it. Trust your base, channel the force from the Earth.

I clenched my fist. I would get it next time.

*****
When the challengers had finally stopped arriving, we returned to the castle. As I walked into my room for bed, Jerry was waiting by the door again. I eyed him coldly.

“Ah, sorry to disturb you, it’s just…” Jerry hesitated. “By the time Jen had recovered, you had gone. She wanted me to tell you that it's imperative that you once more don’t let any challengers through for 3 days, and get promoted.”

“That would make me…”

-The layer of two paths, still on the First Floor of the Tower. God, this will take forever…

“The Layer of two paths?”

Jerry nodded. “And when you get the promotion, come to the tavern and call this number.”

He handed me a paper. On it was a strange string of symbols, and then a name : Gillette.
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