Chapter 149 – The Steps to Success
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Even as I run toward the dorms, away from that section, my mind can’t help drift to feeling I was getting when searching for the big catch.

It was obscured. Not exactly secret, but was even partially hidden from the scan at that level. If I increased the scan, I could definitely find it. But at what cost?

Searching in this way is likely the best way for now.

Cementing this in my mind, I move my thoughts to more productive areas as the dilapidated buildings around me become better and better.

I’ve made a few friends in this world, but now I’ve increased the number of potential enemies here.

If I don’t do something about this, it’s likely I won’t have anyone around to work with me, if… when something inevitably happens.

 

… I need allies.

With there being no need for the merchant scan, I reallocate the resources to figuring out some methods to getting people on my side.

After some deliberation, among my fast-paced movement, I come to the best strategy for my situation.

It requires a few things.

First, I’ll need to adjust my merchant scan to a type of ‘potential/value meter.

My first attempt at this turned into everyone that I passed, glowing brightly. Which was extremely shocking and almost made me stop in my tracks.

Then I realized it’s because everyone has an inherently high value as a person. Even if they have low potential where they are at, the possibilities could be endless.

Well… at least I know the system actually cares about everyone.

I change this to more of a potential/Value of being a good ally and/or mitigating enemies. I also layer this with an additional side that determines how strong their abilities are or could be.

There are a few more nuances that I add into the calculation, but that is most of it.

Those changes to the scan seem to cover most of the things I was looking for.

Most of the people over here give very little sign that they could help with my journey. They additionally have very little strength or abilities that could be expounded on.

Showing it to be mostly a success.

This isn’t a false assumption, because I focused my scan on similar, but broader metrics for individuals to tailor the settings. I then ran testing for several different types of individuals. Once I began to get consistently accurate results from the settings, based on what I was looking for and with the proper reasoning, I knew I had it down.

Then I had the scan double check itself on whether this method would achieve what I wanted.

It revealed the settings were a bit off in some ways, which leading me to change some items.

By the end of this whole process, I finally found myself back at the dorms.

Entering into the building, after waving to the guard, I come into a similar situation as before. Tai Ye and Ru Ning guarding the areas leading to the exterior, while Dana is cuddling with Mei Lin.

I can see a tiny Dana wave at me from one of the windows.

 

Settling in the bed, I continue my train of thought on how to get allies.

The second thing I’ll need to look for is people in trouble. Specifically, people who the trials are incorrectly filtering out. The good and bad thing about the trials is that it counts your ‘resources’ as your abilities. As long as those resources are tools to help with the trial rather than replace them.

Exempting truly amazing tools.

What this really means is that rich people can get whatever they need to get into the sect. They can use items their families have bought them or even people their families have specifically trained to help them get through anything. Not only that, but it showcases what things they're able to leverage to get through a trial.

It was a system, pushed by the big groups to make sure that their children, even if not capable enough, could still get in. It was also a way for this sect to effectively to buy the loyalty of powerful groups. Or items themselves, if they are powerful enough.

For everyone else, there's a tendency to treat others as either obstacles or people to follow. In this case, I'm looking for people to follow me. Normally, though, people of my lower status would not be scouting, but be scouted.

That’s not the worst part, though.

Just as these groups can leverage their weight to get people to win, they can use that same weight to influence the sect’s decisions.

Even though they're called trials, it’s really just tests for different areas of the sect to determine competency.

With this in mind, I review the different trials.

In order:

  1. Physical trial
  2. Spiritual root
  3. Alchemy trials
  4. Formation/Talisman Knowledge
  5. Combat
  6. Discernment
  7. Taming
  8. Special Constitutions (inner court only)

The only required trials to pass are the physical trial and the spiritual root trial. If you can’t climb the steps to reach the outer court or you don’t have the spiritual root to become an Outer court sect member, you can’t take any of the other trials.

Their reasoning, is that for the progression of any of those areas you will eventually require Qi (exempting special constitutions).

They are correct, that usually you need to Qi to become strong in those categories. For each of them, you can go without Qi, but if you aren’t of a certain cultivation level, you won’t be able to handle even the intermediate tiers of the professions.

Of course, this isn’t true for every case and there are plenty of ways around these things. But they don’t know all of those ways and it would be too expensive to waste time sorting through all of the applicants to find edge cases.

Not only that, but spiritual root really is a good general determinate of ‘talent’, so is a good marker for whether a person is worth investing time and resources in.

It’s also assumed that a person’s abilities will naturally come out if they join as a sect servant.

Though somewhat rare, there are opportunities to showcase abilities.

Though, that’s for only people who have shown they have the physical strength to climb the stairs to the mountain. So, if you make it up the stairs, generally you can become a sect servant.

An interesting note about the spiritual root trial is that you receive your initial ranking there. From there, you are taking the rest of the trials as that ranking.

You are officially part of the sect, from that moment. With all the benefits, roles, responsibilities tied to it. Apparently, this is to lay claim on members before any other abilities are revealed.

Also, it allows them to know where to place you for housing during testing. They don’t want a core member sleeping in the same area as outer court members, between trials. For both sabotage and prestige reasons.

 

Going back to the other trials, they are basically a way to get even more resources allocated to you. If you ‘pass’ those trials, you will be trained and be given more resources.

Some outer court members have jumped up to being an inner court just from their competency in the other trials.

 All in all, there’s no harm in doing it.

 

Of course, I’ll be showcasing my alchemy skill. With that, there’s even the possibility that I could rise to become a core member.

Alchemy, formation, and array experts that can become skilled with Qi are highly valued. They are more Strategic assets than tactical.

 Taming is also one I will need to do, as well. I originally wouldn’t focus on it as much, but with the hero group here, I’ll need the resources to keep them here.

Though now that I think of it, they don’t really need me to take care of them.

Either way, it would provide an explanation of why I was able to retain the three of them with such ‘control.’

Looking at the other trials, I really want to keep some of these to myself.

It wouldn’t be good for others to see how I scan things. I don’t know how much they could get from watching me closely. Which means Discernment is out.

 

Formation/Talisman knowledge is tempting.

It’s only formation ‘knowledge’, because you can’t create formations until you reach Foundation Establishment. Formations can be used by Qi Condensation experts. Before then, they just want to see how much you know. Having a deeper knowledge base and the potential to reach Foundation Establishment, will mean you would be a great investment for the sect.

Talismans can also be created in the later parts of Qi Condensation. Of course, they can be used by anyone, including normal people.

Similarly, to Alchemy experts, Formation Experts can be considered Strategic assets for the sect. Thus, a core member position wouldn’t be a dream with enough skills in that area.

However, I get the feeling that I should keep some things a secret. Especially, since I don’t really have a solid reason on why I would know about formations.

Not only that, but I can always dive into it while I’m normally in the sect and take the lessons there. At that time, then I can showcase my ‘fast’ learning abilities in that subject.

No to Combat.

Just no.

And finally Special Constitutions. Also no, unless forced to. There’s no need to reveal this, especially with how powerful it is for me.

That trial does a deep dive.

And, while they might really lay on resources to help people develop it, they also are able to know and use that knowledge as they see fit.

For me, I have the scan. I can do that myself. So, I can find what I need and potentially acquire it through other methods secretly.

 

I can feel my mind turn away from myself and to the people I can try to help.

The Physical trial is where I’ll likely make my first connections. Any other trials are mainly solo, but can use some teamwork or cooperation.

The only issue is, if I jump to help too early, it will be suspicious.

I’ll need to be careful of…

 

Interrupting my thoughts, as I lay on the bed, is a small Dana who pinched me hard on the side.

She looks panicked.

I immediately connect to her and see what she’s seeing.

Outside the dorms, a distance away, is a person covered in black. On their shoulder is an insignia. The Alchemy Group’s symbol.

The cultivator on top of one of our building warmly waves at them.

 

… Fuck.

 

 

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