I don’t even know how many times Di told me “Ya ain’t gotta worry bout no weapons or armor! True power comes from yer own damn body! Don’t waste yer time foolin round with them fuckin fancy-ass swords or sabers, just focus on getting stronger! It don’t matter how amazing yer gear is, if yer facing off against an Expert when you’re only a shitty Apprentice! You’d definitely die without even having the chance ta fight back!”
That’s great and all, but not totally accurate. The biggest difference between the Stages wasn’t the physical strength, it was actually how much Qi a person could condense and utilize. I’ll try to explain how things work, in order to make it a bit clearer for you.
Novice: You need to be around the average strength of an adult by the time you reach the peak. The Qi within your body would be in the form of a thin gas. In order to simplify things a little, let’s just say that a level-ten Novice has around a single ‘point’ of mana.
Apprentice: The moment that you reach this Stage, your mana points will increase tenfold. In order to progress through this Stage, the most important thing is to have a way to improve your skin. By the end, you need to have at least a hundred and fifty-percent the fleshy durability of a ‘normal’ Human. Most people do that by practicing a special Cultivation Method and being an overpowered piece of shit. What, I’m not bitter about being flayed alive on a daily basis for months in order to accomplish something a phrase like “I am an Ironwood Tree; my bark is the hardest part of me.” can achieve in a year. I mean, I was faster, right? By being skinned all those times, I saved so much goddamn time!
Anyway, the moral of the story is that your physical improvements are crucial, but the main focus is still Qi. To break through, you need to be twice as strong as a peak-level Novice. However, the mana requirement is about a hundred points.
Adept: Just like the last time, the jump from Apprentice to Adept will increase the quantity of mana tenfold. By that I obviously mean the ‘capacity’, it’s not like the shit instantly appears in your Dantian.
Within this Stage, a person really starts to become harder to kill. Vital and sensory organs had to be improved really fucking dramatically. There’s more to it than that, but now isn’t really the time to explain all the gory details. I’ll skip to the end and say that at the peak, you should have around ten-thousand mana points. Yeah, it’s definitely a pattern. By then, your muscles and bones need to be around four-times as strong as a max-level Novice. Vital organs need to function at twice the capacity of a normal human. The acuity of all senses must be doubled. Last but not least, your skin and internal organs need to be at least twice as durable as a Novice.
Expert: Finally, the moment I’m sure that you’ve been waiting for! These assholes, or douchebags if you prefer, are fucking overpowered as shit! At least, that’s in comparison to Novices and Apprentices. No, actually, even Adepts hate these cunts, because there’s just such a huge difference.
Now, Apprentices can technically use magic, but it’s barely anything impressive. Adepts on the other hand, that’s when you start focusing on spells in order to make yourself stronger or to deal damage to your enemies. However, even at the peak, you’ll only have a maximum of ten-thousand MP. On the other hand, Experts have a hundred thousand from the goddamn start! By the end they’ll have a Qi Capacity of a million… Yeah, since everyone focuses on Secret Techniques, Daoist Arts and Martial Skills so much, I’m sure you can imagine how ridiculous the difference is even between a level-one and a peak-level Expert.
Eight times the muscle and bone strength of a peak Novice might not sound that impressive, but just think about that for a moment. Their bodies usually aren’t that much heavier, so even without using magic, they could jump fifteen to twenty meters into the air. A max-level Expert could bench press like sixteen hundred pounds or more. They can train their skin and internal organs to be four times as durable as a normal person’s. Acuity of all senses and the efficiency of all vital organs could be quadrupled.
For fuck’s sake, there were all sorts of outrageous advantages. Rank-D items required outrageous amounts of mana to use, which is why they were restricted to Experts. Flying swords that defied logic and common sense, armor that could change shapes at will, plus plenty of random bullshit that I don’t really feel like listing right now.
All of their magic and other shit is totally useless if they’re a fucking moron though. Like that one guy… Zhang Wei? Yeah, that was his name. I’m sure that he was almost about to die from old age, but he still should have been able to easily kill me in an actual fight. Fortunately, I’m a sneaky motherfucker and have absolutely no sense of honor or integrity when it comes to that kind of stuff.
Sure, there are lots of things that I won’t do, because of my personal beliefs. However, shooting some dickhead assassin-style wasn’t on my list. I didn’t really understand what the rules of a duel on the ocean were, but I knew that he was awfully close to it. As an Expert, he had the ability to easily murder Captain Li and even if he didn’t directly do it, he only needed to discreetly pull some tricks…
Although, I probably wouldn’t have made my move if a certain psychotic bitch didn’t make my monocular explode! Well, the only pill for regret is cyanide, or maybe vicodin?
My left eye was gone, but I wasn’t too worried about it. I mean, how many crazy magical drugs had I taken already? Even if it couldn’t grow back, I was pretty sure that I could replace it with a new one or something like that. Besides, I had much more pressing matters to deal with.
Those long and pointy thirty-ought-six cartridges were each painted different colors. The first batch I had loaded were red, for fiery explosion of death. However, there were nine choices to pick from. I wasn’t sure which would be best for the situation I was in.
“White is probably ice, purple lightning, green acid, gold… Who the fuck even knows?! Why didn’t Azrael just write it down?! Goddamn it!” I picked silver, because it seemed the most ironic given the situation.
Fortunately, our crow’s nest obviously wasn’t the only one. There were three other masts and each of them had much larger watchtowers, which were filled with archers, crossbowmen, I think there was a dude with a magical slingshot and one guy had a hand-held ballista. The other two ships weren’t quite as formidable though.
Instead of fighting to the death, it seemed like the enemy fleet was much more interested in retreating. That battle-staff bitch who blinded my left eye and nearly killed Liara, casually jumped off of her own sinking boat and landed on our ship that was the farthest away from us.
I couldn’t see exactly what was going on, but within moments, the cannons stopped firing. Dozens of Adepts who had escaped from various capsized silver ships, all swam over towards the one that she had just captured. Without even waiting for Admiral Yong, they unhesitantly used the propellers to flee.
The eight surviving enemy vessels attempted to follow after them in retreat, but an absurdly large and pointy white tail stabbed up through the bottom of one. Moments later, the massive face of a truly colossal mantaray floated above the waves. Standing on its head was a beautiful middle-aged woman, holding a trident in her right hand and looking extremely pissed off.
She roared “This is your last fucking chance! Surrender or die!” I think it’s pretty obvious which choice they made…