Tom continued infusing qi for the rest of the night but unfortunately wasn't able to reach the first level of body strengthening before he became too fatigued and had to sleep. In fact, he wasn't able to reach this level the next day, nor the day after that.
By the end of the second day the natural qi in the qi stone had already been completely depleted. From there on out his progress slowed noticeably. Thankfully, he was able to spend the majority of his time cultivating instead of doing any of the busy work that the original Tom Cardinal had to do.
Ever since the incident on the night he had first arrived Tom was given time off from his regular work. The reasons for this were threefold. Firstly, it was recognised that he might not be at 100% after the ordeal he had went through so he was being given some respite. Secondly, part of his job involved work in the governor's office and travelling to nearby towns and villages. It was still hectic at the moment with the manhunt for the bandits and his presence could cause problems. If he was in the governor's office he'd probably just get in the way and if he tried travelling outside the city he might end up getting targeted by the bandits. Thirdly, his job wasn't actually that important anyway so it didn't really matter if he took some time off.
Anyway, since he had all this spare time he could focus on cultivating, only taking breaks to eat, wash and sleep. Then, after seven days, Tom finally broke through to the first level of body strengthening.
Tom could feel the strength of his body was greatly improved. He clenched and unclenched his hands to feel his grip strength and his muscles tensing. He smiled, happy at the force his body was now able to exert. Although it was only the first level of body strengthening, his body no longer felt weak and frail. He felt a sense of comfort for the first time since being on this world. He felt empowered.
"Good... very good" Tom muttered under his breath. "It's time to put my plan into action"
The plan Tom was referring to was his plan to extract as many resources as possible from the clan. The clan did its best to nurture all of its members, providing them with cultivating resources and training, but, in the end the resources of the clan were limited and they had to prioritise who to spend their effort on. If a member of the clan proves to be untalented, after a certain age they stop receiving as many resources, or, in some member's cases, any at all. Tom Cardinal was one of these cases. Never mind the first realm of cultivation; he hadn't even achieved any of the stages of preliminary cultivation, so the clan didn't give him any resources. Therefore, even though Tom had reached the first level of body strengthening he was unlikely to receive much support at this time.
Reaching this level at 23 years old was not the worst record in the clan but it certainly wasn't good either. Even if Tom attempted to get resources from the clan they wouldn't be likely to give them to someone who showed such low talent. Because of this he decided to be smart about it.
Tom knew that there were three places he could go to try and extort *cough cough* receive resources from the clan. These were; Tom Cardinal's parents, Adam Cardinal and one of the elders responsible for managing the clans resources. However, the latter of the three would be the least promising of these endeavours.
If Tom went to someone responsible for managing the clan's resources he would have to wait a while for his efforts to bare any fruit. This is because firstly he might not be able to meet with one of these people, they were after all busy, and secondly, for reasons already given, unless he reached a higher level of strength he was unlikely to get much, if anything at all, from them. Heck, even if he did manage to meet someone it would probably be someone who was lower level and didn't have the authority to make any changes to distribution of resources.
However, if Tom went to Gerald, Sarah or Adam Cardinal he was much more likely to be able to secure resources from them because of the pre-existing personal relationship between them and Tom Cardinal.
Out of all the people who he had an idea to go and see, he most wanted to meet Gerald. As the father of Tom Cardinal and an elder of the clan, he was the best candidate to secure resources from.
Actually, Tom could have gone to see Gerald immediately after he had depleted the qi in the qi stone. Gerald had given this stone to his son in the hopes that he would one day be able to cultivate and if he ever managed to deplete it that would be proof that he was able to. If this ever happened, Gerald intended to once again spend effort in helping his son become a true cultivator.
Although Tom knew this information, he decided not to go see Gerald immediately after the depleting the qi stone. The reason for this was that he wanted to reach the first level of body strengthening first in order to create the most impact when going to see Gerald. If he'd gone to him just after depleting the qi stone he would surely receive assistance, but, by reaching the first level of body strengthening he was doing more than proving he had the capability to cultivate, he was showing that he'd already become a cultivator. The more talent he showed, the more resources he would receive.
With this, Tom got up and left his room. Anyone who saw him would see that he had a joyful look on his face and a spring in his step.