Three months later
When Greem woke up from a long period of meditation, he couldn't help and have a worried expression on his face.
"Chip, how efficient is this meditation?"
"Calculating... Spirit has increased by another 0.007. According to the current progress, in order to reach the maximum of 20 points, an estimated 139 days will be needed."
The muscle near the corner of Greem's lips twitched.
His body had turned into Flame Body and he had also used his authority in the Adept Tower to make himself a room with abundant Fire Elementiums. In addition to that, his daily meals were all magical energy foods that would bring great benefits to his body and Spirit. Even combined with the Fire Diamond pillow and Deep Sea Flower, he had actually just gained an increment of 0.007 in a day. Compared to the past, where he could easily gain 0.05 increment in every meditation, Greem felt it difficult to adapt to the situation.
Since he had become a Pseudo-Adept, Greem had discovered that the increase in Spirit brought by basic meditation and studying magic spells was not as significant as in the past. Because he had the help of the Chip, he was able to detect the increment of his Spirit on a daily basis. Yet, for those Pseudo-Adepts who didn't own such ability, their productiveness was ten times lower than his. What was the thing that they relied upon in order to go through this painful period?
Greem closed his eyes and pondered for a brief moment. Only then did he realize something.
It seemed like those Pseudo-Adepts rarely stayed in their own rooms and meditated days and night. Instead, they spent most of their time bustling about, training themselves laboriously through different missions. In the past, Greem had thought they did this for the sake of getting more resources. Now, looking back and pondering deeper, it was more likely that due to the slow progress in their Spirit, they were pushing themselves to the brink of death as a method of stimulating their Spirit.
This might not be a bad idea!
"Chip, you spent quite a long time doing analysis. Have you found out why there's such a slow progress for Spirit?"
"Beep. The modeling of the mission has been completed. The result shows that during the period of apprenticeship for humans, the primary task is to arduously increase the density of Elementium in the body and strive for a qualitative change that comes from quantitative accumulation. The ultimate goal is to rise and become a magical creature: Adept.
After entering the grade of Pseudo-Adept, the increase of Spirit becomes slower because the accumulation of element energy is approaching its bottleneck. Due of the lack of traction from a vital core, and because of the characteristics of elements, the energy accumulated in the early state will cause an unpredicted distraction to the energy that comes in later. This causes the efficiency of energy accumulation in the later state to weaken significantly."
The Same-Element Attraction and Universal Repulsion of element energy?
Both of them were elementary theories of elemental magic spells that had long been known by all senior Adepts. To put it simply, among the different types of Elementiums, it was easier for the Elementiums with the same element to gather together and produce a homogeneous region. The Adepts referred to this phenomenon as Same-Element Attraction!
However, there was a limit to such aggregation. Once it reached or exceeded this limit, Adepts had discovered that it would become extremely difficult to bring in more Elementium of the same element. It was as if there was a powerful repulsive force between those Elementiums of the same element which caused them to reject each other. As a result, Adepts had referred to this phenomenon as Universal Repulsion.
The characteristics of Same-Element Attraction and Universal Repulsion existed within all Elementiums at the same time. The key was the regional density of the Elementium. If the density was lower than the limit, they would portray the characteristics of Same-Element Attraction, but when it was higher than the limit, they would show the characteristics of Universal Repulsion. The Adepts didn't know the details and exact theory for this phenomenon, or perhaps they did have a conclusion but magical knowledge of such an advanced degree was not something Greem had the right to know right now.
"Chip, do you have any workable methods that can solve the current problem?"
"Beep. Data analysis complete. There are two workable solutions:
Solution number 1: Core Transplant.
The Spirit of Apprentice Adepts is scattered, as it is not bound by a vital core. Transplanting a Fire element core into the brain can reduce the repulsiveness between Fire Elementiums.
Pros: Able to solve the issue of having Spirit increase at a slow rate, and eventually increase the success rate of official Adept Advancement Ceremony.
Cons: The transplanted Fire element core cannot compare to the Element Core formed by oneself and it will restrict the possibility of future development.
Solution number 2: Stimulate the Spirit.
Bypass the weak stimulation toward the Spiritual Domain which is caused by the accumulation of Elementium. Instead, use a more direct approach which can stimulate the source of the Spirit, using the method of reducing the tenacity of the Spirit to obtain increments of the Spirit's maximum limit."
Greem knitted his brows in a tight frown.
Ugh, restricted to the knowledge mastered by the Chip, Greem didn't like either of the solutions it provided. The first solution was a method that attended to the superficials and neglected the essentials; it was the lousiest approach that could destroy his future totally, and was only useful to those Pseudo-Adepts who had no more hope of becoming an official Adept. As for the second solution, it wasn't too dependable either. It was still unknown whether this method could really cultivate an official Adept, but it for sure could give birth to a freak.
Since the crooked ways weren't feasible at all, Greem had no choice but to focus all of his attention on the source of Adepts.
The reason for human Adepts to set 21 points of Spirit as the basic threshold of breaking through the limits of humans and becoming official Adepts was most probably because 20 points was the maximum limit of Spirit a human's body could ever achieve!
Once they stepped over this threshold, there would be some essential differences between a human Adept and an ordinary human, as the human Adept would become more like a magical creature. Therefore, the reason why there was such a huge gap in the overall strength between an Adept of 21 points Spirit and a Pseudo-Adept of 20 points Spirit was most probably because the basic data of their bodies had become totally different!
With the aid of so many outside advantages, without the need to participate in any life and death training, Greem could still achieve an increment of 0.007 in his Spirit on a daily basis. If this was known by any other Pseudo-Adepts, for sure they would be extremely jealous. For Greem, however, it was still very slow!
Because... because the recent transformation of Evil Bugs Acteon had made his heart tremble!
Initially, he had thought his progress had gone beyond all other people. Thus, catching up or even suppressing Acteon was just a matter of time. But, after he had accidentally bumped into Acteon in the Tower a few days ago, such thoughts had become rather inconclusive!
That Evil Bugs nearly had a new transformation every single day and his massive Spiritual pressure had become more visible. After having the Chip perform a scan on him, Greem knew that it was highly possible Evil Bugs's Spirit had gone beyond the half-mark of a Pseudo-Adept. That meant his Spirit must have reached beyond 20.50. Yet, he had only become a Pseudo-Adept less than half a year ago!
This proved that the increase rate of Evil Bugs Acteon's Spirit was not weaker than Greem's.
Of course, it might be the result of Acteon visiting the fifth floor of the Swampy Tower every couple of days. From the scan results of the Chip, it was highly possible that Adept Anderson was performing a bloodline infusion experiment on Acteon, because the Chip had detected the familiar scent of blood from Acteon's body.
Although the smell of blood was rather faint, with the Chip's gene detection approach that scanned up to the cellular level, it was still detectable and was presented in front of Greem. He was really angry with such a discovery, as the source of the bloodline factor was actually pointing directly at Mary.
This meant that the blood sample Mary had given Adept Anderson was being used on Evil Bugs. Having two different bloodlines that kept fighting each other inside of Acteon's body was no different than placing him at the brink of life and death every single day. No wonder his Spirit was increasing at such an incredible rate.
There was no room for reconciliation between Evil Bugs Acteon and Greem. And yet, there was one thing that worried Greem the most. If Acteon was able to stand at the pinnacle of Pseudo-Adept before him, then it was highly possible that something he didn't want to see would happen.
From the information publicly available in magical books, he knew that the success rate of becoming an official Adept in the Zhentarim region wasn't that high. Basically, out of ten Pseudo-Adepts, if two or three of them could become official Adepts, that would be something worth a grand celebration. During an official Adept Advancement Ceremony, though the innate talent of an apprentice played a big role, a large part of the success rate was actually pure luck.
Indeed, a Pseudo-Adept with a powerful innate ability would have a higher success rate than those Pseudo-Adepts of that weaker innate talent, however, it was not absolutely certain. Even a Pseudo-Adept with extraordinary innate talent would still have to face the possibility of failing when advancing into the realm of official Adept! Yet, for some fellows with lousy innate talent, if they were lucky enough, they might take the leap and rise to be the master of this world - an official Adept!
Therefore, in the Adept Continent, every single Pseudo-Adept felt nervous during the official Adept Advancement Ceremony, fearing they might miss their steps and became a total failure for their life. After all, once the advancement ceremony was failed, there would be a significant decay in the Pseudo-Adept's Spirit and the success rate of next advancement would drop by 50%.
Hence, except for those favored children who received special attention from big families, no Adept Family wanted to pour another round of new investment into a Pseudo-Adept who had failed once.
And this was what worried Greem the most!
If... if Acteon reached the top of Pseudo-Adept first, he would only have to tell those Adepts who were in charge of the advancement ceremony that his success rate of advancement was 100% if he could devour Mary. Then... what kind of outcome would happen?
On one side was a Pseudo-Adept who had signed an Adept contract with the family, and on the other side were two Pseudo-Adepts who had only signed the servicing contract. One had a 100% success rate of advancement, the other side had two Pseudo-Adepts who had an uncertain success rate of advancement...
If it was that situation, together with the involvement of Adept Anderson, Mary would face a life-threatening situation!
Greem hadn't told Mary about this. Before he had a method to solve this situation, telling the situation to the irritable Mary would be no help at all. Unless Greem could capture tens of Adept level demons at one go and give them all to Mary as a supplements, he would have to depend only on himself in order to change the situation.
Greem lowered his head and looked at his right palm. On top of it, there were two black fragments of bugs. Through his powerful Elementium Vision, Greem could barely see some constantly changing Musta scripts on top of the fragments. On one of the fragments, he read 'save me,' while the other was 'devour Mary.'
The two fragments of bugs didn't come to him at the same time. The first one had arrived during the night, one month ago. When he had been meditating, a fingernail sized black bug had crawled through the window into Greem's room. It had exploded upon touching on Greem's wooden table, leaving behind only a bizarre shell covered with words. As for the second one, it had appeared one week ago.
It was only because of the clues brought by these fragments that Greem had drawn the conclusion that Acteon had the intention of devouring Mary. Otherwise, no matter how profound his intelligence, there was no way he could have thought of such an absurd conclusion.