26 You Wanna Join Our Squad?
According to Tzatziki's instructions, now that Jam reached the Muscle Realm of Body Refinement, he could return to Energy Cultivation. Jam would now reform his Dao Palace, with the help of the various arrays he had previously prepared.
Jam's Dantian Space and Dao Palace had an overwhelming amount of stellar energy. That was, after all, the energy Jam had previously been using the most, in an effort to hide his affinity talents.
Jam would need to dispel some of his stellar energy. Only then could he allow space, time, fire, and thunder energies occupy space in his Dantian Space. While dispelling some of his stellar energy, Jam would be replacing it with the other four types of energies.
He began with space energy, then time energy, fire energy, and finally thunder energy in that order. After redistributing his energy types to be equal and evenly spread out over his Dantian Space, Jam could begin to reform his Dao Palace.
Fortunately for Jam he had enhanced his resistance to pain through his recent training with Body Refinement. Otherwise, reforming his Dao Palace would be a truly miserable experience for him.
To reform a Dao Palace, one would have to destroy the current version. The pain of crippling an already made Dao Palace would be one of the greatest pains imaginable, never mind destroying it completely.
Jam took several deep breaths and began imploding his Dao Palace. He chose to use a Barrier type superpower, to make the destruction in his Dantian Space limited to only his Dao Palace.
Compared to training in the Muscle Realm of Body Refinement, destroying one's own Dao Palace was a bit more painful. Jam himself almost passed out before completely destroying his Dao Palace; which was very dangerous. The rampaging energy within him might escape out of the barrier he set up if he lost consciousness.
Fortunately, Jam only passed out after confirming with the last shred of consciousness he possessed, that his Dao Palace was completely destroyed. When he woke up again, he felt miserable. A feeling of weakness accompanied the destruction of the Dao Palace, and Jam once again found himself at the start of the Palace Creation Stage; regressing an entire Stage in cultivation.
After regaining his bearings, Jam weakly sat up and activated all his energy attracting arrays to recreate his Dao Palace. Since Jam already had the experience of creating a Dao Palace, making another one would be faster this time around. His first Dao Palace was created in one and a half days, but this time it only took half a day to complete.
The recreated Dao Palace had the same dimensions as the previous Dao Palace, but that was pretty much the extent to their similarities. From the atmosphere of the Dao Palace, to its colors scheme and runes, everything about Dao Palace had changed.
The original Dao Palace was dark and evil, while this new version was uplifting and inspired feelings of worship on those who could sense it. Before, the colors of the Dao runes matched their Dao's natural color, but now, all the runes that covered the Dao Palace where tinted gold and purple.
Additionally, the runes changed from pure Dao Runes, to Dao Runes slightly modified to the shape of the runic structure of Jam's Dantian Space. In a way the Dao Runes had changed to become more like Jam, instead of becoming more profound towards the essence of their respective Daos.
After reconstructing his Dao Palace to equally fuse five energies, Jam became countless times stronger than before. At the very least, challenging Saint Realm experts should be possible now. However, Jam would at best only be able to handle False Saints, those at the first Stage of the Saint Realm.
Jam could only challenge these beings at the Saint Realm, because the gaps in strength that come from cultivation disparities, only start to ramp up after the Saint Realm. In the first two Realms of Energy Cultivation, a cultivator is focused on building his foundation, more so than gaining strength.
At the Saint Realm, cultivators can start to manipulate the Daos significantly, which is what contributes the most to their strength; unless they are a demonic beast, or if they focus on other cultivation systems.
Jam wanted to continue cultivating to reach Core Formation, but a knock on his door woke him up from his cultivation session. After a couple cultivation sessions, and the memory of Rina unsuspectingly intruding on his house, Jam had learned how to divided his senses in a way that made him aware of his surroundings while cultivating.
Outside of Jam's house Rina, Cynthia, Kirin, and Alex were talking to one another as they waited for Jam to answer the door.
Cynthia: "Are you sure you want to bring him along with us?"
Kirin: "Why not? He's reached rank 2."
Alex: "Yeah? Did you forget how he fights? He has barely any experience. He might hold us back."
Rina: "Oh really? I wouldn't be so sure about that."
Alex: "Oh? What makes you say that?"
Rina was going to continue talking, but Jam opened his door.
Jam: "Can I help you guys?" Jam was very confused as to why his classmates were outside his door. Jam once again checked with his internal clock and made sure there were still several days before the next class; a sense of déjà vu hit Jam.
Rina: "We're here to invite you to be the final member of our squad for the Biannual Academy-wide Hunting Competition."
Jam: "?" Jam had a look of total confusion on his face. 'Cecily didn't mention this event along with the other important events to me on the first day. The fuck is this?'
Kirin: "Mate, only people in the top 200 of the power ranking can enter the Biannual Hunting Competition. You only recently entered the power rankings, so you've probably never heard of this competition." Kirin read Jam's face, correctly guessed what question Jam was deliberating over, and answered it.
Jam: "Oh? Well, what do I have to do?"
Cynthia: "Kill as many demonic beasts as you can. We will go to the Delta Heavy Forest and compete over which team can kill the most demonic beasts."
Tzatziki could hear everything the other core disciples were saying, and told Jam to accept the invitation. Tzatziki knew of Jam's motivation problem, and thought that having him engage with his peers in this competition, would lead him to make positive relationships.
Moreover, he also wanted Jam to go out and engage in fighting to solidify his shakey cultivation base after his recent advancements in energy and body cultivation.
Jam: "Fine. When and where do we meet again?" Jam was kind of getting bored of cultivation as well. He was happy his teacher wanted him to participate in the competition.
Cynthia: "You should really consi… Oh? You agreed?! ...Tomorrow at seven in the morning we meet at the cafeteria..."
Rina's group of four, couldn't believe Jam would agree that quickly; it was almost too good to be true. They were expecting Jam to resist at first, or at the very least, ask for what rewards will be given out.
The reason these competitions existed in the first place was because of the rewards offered at the end of the event to incentivise the competitors. The group didn't understand why Jam would agree to participate without knowing what he was competing for.
Jam and his squad gave their goodbyes before separating. They had seen that Jam ranked second in the Power Rankings, and while they didn't really believe the judgement of whoever decided his rank, it must have a reason.
Asking Jam to join their squad was originally a last ditch effort on their side, as they assumed that he would join Arnold and Jared's Squad. Jared and Arnold were, after all, ranked higher than them in the Power Rankings. Arnold originally ranked second, now ranked third, and Jared always ranked first.
Jam was glad his teacher wanted him to have a field day, but he didn't understand his intentions 'Shouldn't his number one concern be to get me to cultivate as quickly as possible so he can get his body reconstructed?'
Before Jam could even ask anything, Tzatziki himself started talking "Kid, you can't just hole yourself up forever. Cultivation is about experiences. Sure, cultivating in itself is an experience, but no one can truly understand cultivation by mindlessly sitting in a room and cultivating for an eternity.
First of all, I'm sure it's impossible to get very far in cultivation without going out and having fights and adventures; but even if it were possible, what kind of person can stand that kind of perpetual loneliness?
While I haven't been with you long enough to generalize your nature, from the interactions I have seen you in, I can tell you don't really care about pretty much any one you talk to. Do you plan on not making any friends throughout your journey through cultivation?"
"Mhmm? Friends? Why would I need those? Those guys who passed by are just my classmates, why would I go out of my way to try making them my friends?"
"..." Tzatziki was speechless at Jam's response. Jam was a ten year old, He should be way past the age of wanting to socialize.
"Well let me ask you this, why did you become a cultivator?"
"Woody, my foster parent told me "If you want to survive in this world you must train and cultivate yourself." She was the one who looked out for me when nobody else would, the one who helped me when I was most vulnerable; to me her words are made of gold and I would do anything she asked of me."
"Is she a cultivator? How old is she?"
"Woody is not a cultivator, she just a regular 170 year old woman."
"You do realize then, that she will die in another 20-30 years right? What do you plan on doing then? If you say you only became a cultivator because of Woody what will you do after she passes away?"
"..." Jam knew deep down in his heart he would keep cultivating. He just didn't know what for.
"You've told me you want to know what cultivation and cultivators are about. Well, for me, I cultivated for my friends, my family, and my sect. I started from nothing just like you, as an ordinary mortal. Needless to say my mortal friends and family died, and I outlived them by millions of years.
The reason I could become a god, aside from my talent, was because of those three pieces, my relationships with friends, family, and sect; at least those that lived long enough for me to still care about. They were what motivated me to keep gaining power.
Once you become immortal, you literally have an eternity to spend searching for stimulation. As a mortal, I was part of a group that my clan sent to a local sect. There, along with new friends that I made in the sect, and a group of my fellow clan members, I traveled across my home planet. We went through countless adventures, and made life-long bonds.
Reality wasn't kind to me, most of those people who I had grown with didn't live to become gods like I did. Some were fortunate and died of old age, but most were killed by this cruel and unforgiving world. The few that did survive and still live along with me, taught me that the bond's you make throughout your cultivation journey are what truly matter in life.
They were the motivation I needed to keep breaking through the various stages of cultivation. Sure, the power and lifestyle of a god is very appealing. But, once you do have that power, not having a purpose for it makes your life meaningless.
I'm telling you this now that you are still very young. Make friends. Your attitude to cultivation can lead you to a very dark and evil path. I have seen many like you, who lose their purpose, or never had a purpose to begin with. All of them end up as broken souls that will do literally anything just for another hit of power."
After giving another one of his lectures Tzatziki went back to total silence and let Jam himself think about what he had just said.