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Tom was on his way to see his family. First though he had to actually find them. The Cardinal estate was large and everyone was busy at the moment, never staying in one place too long. What's more, over the past week he had been spending the majority of his time in his room cultivating and still wasn't sure of their schedules.

Thankfully, it was around midday so he was quite positive he would be able to find at least one of the people he wanted to see in the communal eating area he and those close to him shared.

As he was merrily going on his way he couldn't help but think maybe he should wait and try and catch people in their own rooms or their places of work. Honestly, he didn't want to meet his family all at the same time. In order to maximise the amount of resources he could obtain from them, he wanted to approach them all individually and then con them *cough cough* convince them to each give him some qi stones.

Thinking of this he shook his head. Even if heading to the communal area wasn't the perfect way to pull off his plan, he didn't want to stall his progress by wasting time. Besides, if he did wait to try and catch them all individually he wouldn't know where they might run off to and might not be able to see them at all. Also, he was hungry and wanted to get something to eat.

Tom finally arrived at the communal eating area he and his close relatives shared. He opened the door and went inside.

[Damn!]

Tom was currently feeling a bit of frustration as he stood at the door to his family's communal eating room. He'd come here looking for someone to extract resources from but none of the people he was looking for were here.

Looking in the room Tom was able to see Rowan and Evelyn Cardinal but no one else. He felt exasperated at this outcome but nevertheless sat down to eat some food. When he had finished eating Evelyn had already left the room but Rowan was still there. Since she hadn't gone yet Tom decided to ask her the whereabouts of the people he wanted to meet.

Tom turned to Rowan and asked "Rowan, have you seen either of my parents or Adam?"

Rowan, who hadn't been paying attention to Tom, looked up at him. She was slightly surprised because her cousin had been uncommonly quiet this past week and this was the first time he had initiated a conversation during that time. Her cousin wasn't the most talkative person anyway but that was normally just around outsiders, he was actually quite conversational with her and Adam. She assumed he was just disheartened after the bandit incident and as she got used to his new quiet nature he just seemed to fade into the background, hence, why she was surprised when he actually started talking to her again.

"I think your parents are in your father's office but Adam isn't here today. He went out with another search party this morning and should be gone a couple of days. Why?" she asked curiously.

This was the first time Tom had initiated conversation with her in the past week so naturally she was quite intrigued about his question.

"Heh. Why indeed. By any chance do you notice anything different about me" Tom said in a slightly cocky manner.

Rowan gave Tom a once over with her eyes but couldn't see anything different about him. She wasn't sure what he was talking about but him acting this way actually got her more interested.

"Let me give you a little clue"

Tom then proceeded to pick up a glass from the table and then crush it in his hand, an action that he immediately regretted because the shards of glass gave him cuts on his hand.

"That was not well thought out" said Tom with hindsight as Rowan stared at him in shock. Though, now that she had seen his ill-advised actions she finally understood what he was taking about.

Rowan hadn't been paying attention to things such as the qi in her surroundings. Why would she? She was having her lunch. It wasn't like she'd be paying attention to such things all of the time, but, now that Tom had made his display she immediately began sensing qi.

Looking at Tom with new eyes she could see the faint infusion of qi that represented he was at the first level of body strengthening. Many thoughts ran through her mind but the main ones were shock and disbelief.

"Tom... you, you... How?"

"Ha ha ha" Tom laughed gloatingly. "So, what do think?"

"What do I think, I'm shocked. When did this happen"

"Just this morning. I finally broke through, I'm finally a cultivator" Tom said while grinning.

Tom didn't actually think this was something particularly worth showing off about. To him it was just an infinitesimal growth in strength hardly worth mentioning, however, it represented more than just an increase in strength. The first level of body strengthening represented he had become a true cultivator and could be considered the first real step he was taking to win his bet with Methis. It also represented that he had achieved a certain understanding of the power of qi; which would help in gaining insight into one of the four main energies of the cosmos, Primal energy, and this was something to be pleased about.

"Well... well bloody done I guess. I get why you're looking for people now"

Finding out that Tom had become a cultivator had shocked Rowan but as she was adjusted to this her shock turned into sincere happiness for him.

Done with his showing off Tom was making plans to go to Gerald's office. He felt it was unfortunate that Adam wasn't there but it couldn't be helped. He would just have to try and get resources from his parents. But, while thinking of this, he decided he might as well try his luck with Rowan.

Adam and Rowan were both friends to their cousin only the former was undoubtedly closer to him than the latter. This was why Tom hadn't thought to look for Rowan. Even though she was friends with her cousin, he didn't think it would be to the extent that he would be able to get any resources from her if he asked. Nevertheless, since Adam wasn't here he felt that it wouldn't hurt to at least try.

Actually he didn't particularly enjoy having to ask people so much weaker than him for anything, he had his own pride after all, but, he wasn't so foolish as to not do so. He knew that right now, in his current body, he was weaker than everyone around him. He also knew that to maximise the chance of winning his bet with Methis he would have to cultivate as quickly as possible and cultivating resources were key to this.

"You know... if Adam was here, he'd probably give me a gift to celebrate my success" Tom said.

He didn't say this line directly to her. He didn't want to make it seem too forceful but he believed he'd appropriately broached the subject and intimated his intent.

Hearing this Rowan gave Tom a knowing smile.

"Ha ha, right, now I see what you're trying to do" Rowan said in a cheerful voice.

"But, I'm afraid you'll get nothing from me"

"Are you sure?" Tom queried.

"Tom it's not that I don't want to help you, I mean I'm happy for you, but I'm trying to break through to the first level of qi expansion and can't really spare anything for you at the moment. Besides I'm sure your dad will give you plenty. You're his only son and you've just become a cultivator, I hardly think he'll be stingy"

After a short pause she added "Good try though" and then laughed again at Tom's tomfoolery.

"Well, it was worth a try" Tom muttered to himself before turning to leave.

Adam and Rowan were both a bust but he wasn't finished yet. He had yet to see his parents and they were the key players in securing cultivating resources. With that, he left the room and Rowan, who was still shaking her head and chuckling to herself, and began making his way over to Gerald's office.

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jmj1011995

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