30 Two For One Special
Before Jam could start asking if they were ok, the girls walked over to him and thanked him for saving them.
"Hey! Thanks mate, really appreciate the help. I thought we were done for back there."
"No problem. Are any of you seriously hurt?"
The girls were all cultivators, thus they knew better than anyone else, the severity of their wounds. They did quick checks, and mostly only had superficial wounds. There was however one girl who had a lung pierced.
Jam gave each of them some of his healing pills. The girl with the most severe injury received a Tier 2 pill, which would regenerate her lungs completely in the next couple hours. The girls thanked Jam once again.
Jam collected the corpses of the ten Saint Realm Demonic Beasts, and none of the girls had any problems with his actions. Sure, those corpses might have been worth a lot of points in the competitions, but Jam saved them. To them, their lives were worth much more than those ten Saint Realm Beast.
Now that Jam finished his business over here, he was preparing to leave, saying his goodbyes, when the leader of the girls raged at him.
"Wait! That's it?" The leader of the girls was flustered at how unassuming and straightforward Jam behaved.
"What?" Jam was completely confused
"I said. Is that it?!"
"What do you want me to do?"
The girl was put on checkmate. Even she didn't know how to respond to Jam's question. What did she expect him to do?
"Can you at least tell us your name?"
"Oh. My name's Jam."
"Alrighty then, Mr. Jam. We are Squad 4, and I'm Mary. If you're ever bored, we should hang out."
"Uh, Ok?" Jam didn't really understand Mary's non sequitur; how did she go from introducing herself to wanting to hang out?
'Wait a minute this is something friends would say to one another… Did she just make herself my friend?' If Tzatziki could hear Jam's thoughts he surely tell him "Congrats Jam. You've made the analysis of the century."
"Wait a minute. I just realized… you're at the Palace Creation Stage?!" Mary said, with a look of disbelief.
"Holy shit, that's even lower than us! Are you like a core disciple or something?"
"Yeah" Jam was getting tired of the "yeps," so he decided to switch it up a bit and go for a "yeah."
"For real though?"
"I became a core disciple like a week ago."
"Whoa" Said all the girls collectively, at the same time.
"See you guys around at the academy... I guess?" Jam gave his final farewell and then left. He left all the girls there, looking at his vanishing silhouette, still somewhat confused.
Mary looked to her fellow squadmates and said "Guys. Wasn't this like the perfect time for him to show off and try his luck at picking up one of us girls?"
"Yeah, it is very weird for him to just save us, and leave so straightforwardly." one of Mary's teammates responded.
These girls were used to the cultivation world. Here, nothing was ever done without a purpose, the usual suspect was self gain. If they were to know that Jam's reason for saving them was because he felt bad about letting them die, and that he wanted more Saint Realm Divine Beasts, it's uncertain how they might react.
Another girl added "He could be gay."
"You think?" Mary retorted.
"Well, we are all beautiful, at least that's what most other guys show with the unerring lust plastered on their faces." These girls were truly beautiful. However, to Jam, be it a good or bad thing, that didn't matter.
"You have a point, he didn't have an ounce of lust towards any of us."
It's not that Jam was gay, he just didn't understand the appeal of sex. His previous misadventure with Rina led him to read about anatomy, along with its various functions. He knew very well what sex was, as well as its process, and outcomes. It must be that he's not old enough to understand yet; he is after all ten years old.
Somewhere in the center region of the Delta Heavy Forest, Jam was back at it again, hunting for treasure and killing the strongest Demonic Beasts his eyes would lay upon. He kept doing this for three days, accumulating dozens of millions of spirit stones worth of ores, herbs, and Demonic Beast corpses.
In the midst of this killing spree, after Jam took in the demonic energy of twenty thousand or so Saint Realm Demonic Beasts, his True Demon Form reached the second level; The Lesser Demon Form.
[Partial Demon Form: Transmute demonic energy into internal demonic power; able to change part of the body into a demon. Unlock increasingly perfect demonic forms — 100%| Evolvable] → [Lesser Demon Form: Transmute demonic energy into internal demonic power; able to change one's entire body into that of a lesser demon. Unlock increasingly perfect demonic forms — <1%| Evolvable]
With this new and improved transformation, Jam could completely transform his body into that of a Lesser Demon. The former transformations that Jam could apply to one part of his body would now be displayed in every part of his body and at all times.
Unlike in his partial demonification, this new Lesser Demon Form seemed to fit Jam's body in a way that made the transformation cohesive.
Jam no longer had blade like fingers and elbows in his arms. Now, his arms fit the metallic armor look of his demonified chest and legs. Jam's head also gained one horn, sprouting out of one side of his head, which looked asymmetrical. Jam's previous demonified chest would give him demonic armor, but the Lesser Demon Form added a demonic core to the center of Jam's chest.
In the future, Jam would be able to use demonic techniques, exclusive to demonic beings, because of his new demonic core.
Jam's hair would grow to be very long while in the Lesser Demon Form, but would revert back to normal when Jam canceled the transformation. Last but not least, the demonic armor that covered Jam's entire body, still retained its metallic look, but seemed to form overlapping pieces of demonified metal, which very closely resembled draconic scales.
Jam looked very intimidating in his new Lesser Demon Form. However, this new transformation would have to wait for Jam to reach the Dao Infusion level in the Demonic Dao to see the light of day, as it would be incompatible with the rest of Jam's abilities until that point.
Jam would have to chose between strictly using his demonic powers, with his Lesser Demon Form, or fight with the rest of his abilities; it was obvious which of these two options would make Jam more powerful.
On his third day of treasure hunting and demon slaying, Jam ran into a big problem. While he was running around crazily stripping nature of its treasures, and bringing about the worst genocide of demonic beasts ever witnessed in the Delta Heavy Forest, he entered a pocket dimension, just like he had hundreds of times during this escapade.
In this natural pocket dimension, Jam found tons of spiritual herbs and ores. Most were Tier 1 and 2, however several were Tier 3, 4, 5 and there was even one herb at Tier 6. But, this natural pocket dimension also had a natural formation, restricting those who entered it.
The formation was not deadly, all it did was not let anyone who entered it, leave. If Jam wanted to leave this formation before the competition ended, he would need to reach the Soul Condensing Stage. This would allow him to quickly create and destroy Tier 3 Formations.
Jam could break out of this formation without reaching the rank of Tier 3 Formations Master. However, he would be brute forcing his way out of the formation, and not solving it; this required a lot of energy, much more than Jam could supply within four days.
In these three days of treasure hunting, Jam collected thousands of spiritual herbs. Included, were the herbs needed for Jam to create five pills to perfectly create his core. If Jam wanted, he could breakthrough the normal way, by collecting energy from the environment, maybe with the help of several arrays.
However, he wanted to be as perfect as possible with regards to his cultivation. He wanted to create a pill for each of his primary cultivation energy types: space, time, fire, thunder, and stellar energies.
Within the now empty pocket dimension, Jam took out his pill cauldron and began refining the pills he would use to reach Core Formation. After Tzatziki gave Jam the Spatial Storage technique, Jam began carrying all of his belongings, no matter how trivial; this included his array flags, herbs, ores, refining furnace, and pill cauldron, among other things.
Jam was currently limited to being able to create Tier 2 pill. Thus, he had to make do with Tier 2 True Flame, True Thunder, Celestial, Condensed Time, and Condensed Space Pills. These were all at the upper limit of what Jam could make with his current cultivation base.
After several attempts, he succeed in making a batch for each of these pills. He had plenty of herbs for all these pills, so he had no worries, with regards to his chances at successfully concocting the batches.
To further secure his chances at creating a perfect core, Jam set up the same arrays he had back in his house. He activated all the arrays and ate all the pills at the same time.
"Quick, use your Divinity and Divinity form to replicate Essence Devouring." Tzatziki just realized, he had neglected the potential use of Jam's superpower as a means for cultivation.
Essence Devouring was a superpower derived from the Dao of Absorption, which captured the aspects of engulfing and devouring energy. By using Essence Devouring with both Divinity and the Divinity Form of Jam's eyes, Jam would be able to complete the breakthrough much faster, and safer as well.
Jam did as Tzatziki told him, forming a storm of chaotic energy in the pocket dimension in the process. With all these measures put into effect, Jam began condensing a core within his Dao Palace.
The Core started as a ten meter tall illusionary mass of energy, before being compacted and refined gradually. Usually the compacting and refining process would take a while, but, with the pills, arrays, and Essence Devouring, Jam was reducing the size of his core by 10% every minute.
Soon his core was the standard size of a initial phase Core Formation Realm cultivator, the size of a human head. However, Jam would continue refining his core down until he could no longer continue to do so. His core reached the size of an intermediate phase Core Formation Cultivator's core, the size of a heart, then the size of an late phase Core Formation Cultivator's core, the size of an egg.
Since Jam had yet to reach his limit and could keep refining his core, he continued to do so, even when it became so small he could not see it with his eyes. Jam might not have been able to see his microscopic core becoming smaller, but as it was a part of him, Jam could still feel it shrinking.
Eventually his Core collapsed, and became a singularity. Jam was a bit worried but Tzatziki told him this was good news. It meant Jam now had a black hole as a Core. Now, inside Jam's Dao Palace on the last tiered floor, there stood a black point hovering, and constantly processing energy
A Core's purpose in cultivation, was to be a source of compact, pure energy. Instead of having to take unrefined energy from the Dantian Space, a cultivator could take the much more potent energy after it was processed through their Core.
No normal Core would be able to compete with the level of purity a Black Hole Core would provide. Furthermore, Jam's Black Hole Core didn't even need him to actively use it, the Core would by itself automatically take in energy and refine it.
Tzatziki told Jam this was a normal occurrence in the Immortal and Divine Plane, and that he didn't need to worry over this phenomenal event.
Moreover, now was not the time to worry about his Core. Instead, Jam needed to get back on task and breakthrough once again to the Soul Condensing Stage, only then would he be able to break the Tier 3 Formation. Breaking through to the Soul Condensing Realm would be much harder for Jam, since this would be the first time Jam crosses over a realm.
Jam was still under the effects of his pills and arrays, he didn't want to waste the time he had under their effects, so he returned to cultivation.
Now that Jam had completed his Mortal Realm Cultivation, he would no longer be chasing after energy to create things in his Dantian Space. Instead, he now needed to use energy to strengthen his soul.
In the Spirit Realm a cultivator fused his soul, with his body and energy source. Only by synchronizing these three aspects of a cultivator, could that cultivator in turn continue cultivation.
The first step was to strengthen the soul in the first stage of the Spirit Realm, the Soul Condensing Stage. The soul, up to this point, would have been the weakest link in the train that makes up a cultivator.
To strengthen the soul, a cultivator will infuse the soul with their energy, until it is capable of leaving the corporeal body without immediately perishing. At this level, a cultivator has reached the boundary of the Soul Condensing Stage.
All of the Spirit Realm Stages were fraught with dangers, becoming increasingly perilous as a cultivator moves up a Stage. In the Soul Condensing Stage, just a slight mistake in a cultivator's judgement with regards to their soul's tolerance of energy, could lead to that cultivator short circuiting their soul. Effectively making them retarded at best, and dead at worst.
The human soul was located in the brain, and would grow with the feeding of energy. Apart from having a soul capable of separating from the body, another characteristic of those at the initial phase of the Soul Condensing Stage, is that their souls are about 10% the size of their body.
Jam found that his soul was about 1% the size of his body before feeding it energy. He would need to make it 10 times bigger to enter the Soul Condensing Stage. Jam's soul being 1% the size of his body before feeding it energy was anomalous. Its normal for cultivators to have their souls' be less than 0.01% the size of their bodys' before training.
Jam resumed his cultivation, and drove a small stream of energy into his soul. He felt nothing, so he gradually increased the amount being transferred, until instinctually, he knew where his limit lay.
Jam could tolerate quite a ridiculous amount of energy. However, even with him pumping tons of energy into his soul, Jam would need to speed several days of perpetual cultivation to reach the initial phase of the Soul Condensing Stage.
For the next three days, Jam cultivated, never moving, looking like a statue. It was the evening of the third day of his cultivation session, where he became a Soul Condensing Cultivator. As his soul became 10% the size of his body, Jam's soul also materialized into a gaseous form.
As a Spirit Realm Cultivator, Jam was now much more powerful and was no longer restricted to creating Tier 2 pills, arrays, inscriptions, essences, etc.
However, just because he was no longer restricted to Tier 2 didn't mean he would automatically ascend Tier 3. No, just like anyone else, if Jam wanted to break the Tier 3 Natural Formation, he would first need to upgrade his skills.
Jam spent about an hour analyzing the natural formation that captured him for three days, before coming up with a solution, to break the array. Jam threw 21 array flags all around the pocket dimension, and casted out energy to each of the flags in an ordered manner.
Then, all of sudden, the pocket dimension's natural array fragmented, and Jam could leave whenever he felt like it. Before he left, he felt this was the time to upgrade his various secondary occupations, and Essences.
Jam first took out his refining furnace and began to process his Peak Armor set, Stellar Bow, and Gauntlets, to reach Tier 3. He had plenty of Tier 3 ores with him after the treasure hunting he did before getting stuck. After a bit of practice Jam successfully upgraded his equipment.
Now that Jam had the skills of a Tier 3 Artifact Refiner, he could added up to six types of energy to his artifacts. Jam added fire and stellar Dao runes to his gauntlets. To his armor he added stellar and demonic Dao runes. Now he could empower his armor and gauntlets with all the various energies in his arsenal.
Jam's equipment changed from their dark and desolate image, to match Jam's new Dao Palace's aesthetic. Their original colors of black, grey, yellow, red, and white, were changed into a seamless gradient of purple and gold. This made Jam's gauntlets appear to be a part of his Peak Armor set, even if he did intend for them to be.
Next he tried upgrading his essences. Jam succeed in upgrading both his Bow and Beam Essence. Usually he would not be able to upgrade essences so quickly. However, because Jam had only focused on training his Styles of the Cosmic Bow, and his Foundational Beam Magic, he met the prerequisites needed to have Tier 3 Essences.
Jam upgraded his alchemy skills even faster than he did with refining, and after restocking his pills with newer, more beneficial Tier 3 pills, of all shapes, sizes, and types, Jam moved on to his cooking, illusion, and inscription techniques; each of which reached Tier 3 faster than the last.
Jam needed wild Soul Fusion Demonic Beasts to train his Beast Taming to Tier 3. Considering his current situation, Jam found that it was not a worthwhile option. Thus, Jam would have to postpone training his Beast Taming skills until the competition ended.