The caravan continued down the path ahead and after two days they finally left the area of dead vegetation. Their surroundings turned into barren but green vegetation and they set up another camp. They wanted to rest for a few days before continuing onwards through the mountains.
At noon during the next day, Kael finally opened his eyes. After he woke up he looked through the room and determined that he was lying in a tent on a field bed with clean garniture.
He lifted his upper body up and checked up on his abdomen. The wound was stitched together, and although it itched a bit it didn't hurt. He changed into a lotus seating position, closed his eyes, and started to meditate. He carefully channeled his qi through his meridians and checked their condition. During the last fight, he completely used up his qi so he had to determine whether his meridians fractured after drying out. Luckily he had no serious consequences and the minor fractures he had could be easily fixed by channeling his qi through the meridians for a few times.
"You finally woke up." A rustling sound could be heard and a person stepped through the tent opening.
Kael opened his eyes and looked at the intruder proving to be Kathrin. "Did you take care of my wound?"
"I only helped to clean it. Johann took care of the stitching." Kathrin blushed when she looked into Kael's face directly. During the cleaning, she had a clear view of Kael's naked body and the well-defined body still lingered on her mind.
"Thanks." Kael nodded.
Kathrin raised her eyebrows with slight astonishment apparent on her face. This was the first time he didn't attack her in a conversation.
"Your armor was torn last time so we prepared you a new set." She spoke up and handed over a bundle of clothes. Kael took the clothing suspiciously with a raised eyebrow and checked up on them. "This is an armor? These just look like normal robes."
"We found this set in an armory at Gladia. The townspeople were dead already when we arrived, but the inventories of the shops were left untouched. It's called titansilk armor and the whole set was weaved by titansilk." Kathrin explained.
A hint of excitement appeared on Kael's face. He had heard of titansilk before and knew about its characteristics. He tore at the cloth with force and nodded satisfied. He looked up at Kathrin and bowed. "Thanks a lot. This kind of armor would generally be too expensive for someone like me."
"No shit. Even my mother wouldn't be able to afford a two hundred gold pieces for a simple armor." Kathrin taunted.
"Wh... Wh... WHAT? Excuse me, but I think I just misheard something. Did you just say two hundred gold pieces?" Kael stuttered and stared at Kathrin unbelievably.
"That's right." She smiled victoriously and waited for his next reaction. Maybe he would fall to his knee's and thank her while groveling, or maybe he'd rush forward and thank her with a hug. Her face blushed a bit at her last thought.
"I need to sell this at the next opportunity. I could live for the rest of my life drinking with this amount of money." Kael digressed and his face turned joyous.
Kathrin's face went dark instantly. "You... We went through so much trouble to find a set of armor that would fit you and you want to sell it?"
"What else should I do with this? A commoner like me wearing such a high-class armor would be a smack into the face of its creator." Kael argued.
"The creator is dead already. What are you worried about. We looked through all armories in Gladia and this set perfectly suits your fighting style. I also think that this armor is more fit to the image of a temple priest than the set you wore before." Kathrin fought back.
"I am no temple disciple anymore." A hint of regret appeared on Kael's face and he interjected.
"Kathrin's right. Just think of this set as a gift for protecting us from the evil spirit." Another voice sounded out and Melissa appeared in the tent and continued. "The primary occupation of temple priests is to protect our world from evil spirits and other evil beings. Just based off of this you're already more than fit to be looked upon as a temple priest."
Kael was silent and his face held a troubled and lightly sad expression. He closed his for a while and seemed to think. After a while, he opened them again and spoke up with a firm tone, "Alright."
"Very well. We'll leave you alone for now. I believe you'll need some more time to recuperate properly and change into your new set of clothes." Melissa spoke up with a smile and led the unwilling Kathrin out of the tent.
Kael sat down again and continued his meditation. He channeled the qi through his meridians and the fractures started to mend slowly upon contact. His qi had the form of a thin strand that moved through a fixed set of channels. After finishing a cycle it would enter his dantian again and reinforce itself with vitality from his body. Generally, it would only become a bit stronger with every fixed cycle, but this time the amount it grew per cycle was enormous.
After around two hours the strand of qi started to disintegrate and transform into a gaseous form. Kael knew what this meant: it was the sign of a breakthrough from the captain rank to the major rank. During his time at the temple, he was taught about the different requirements of qi after the fifth rank. The first form of qi was a strand, and after it reached its maximal capabilities it would automatically disintegrate into a gas that spread evenly in his dantian. The requirement to reach the next phase of qi was to condense it from the gaseous form into a liquid form. The liquid form was the requirement to enter the rank of a colonel. The rank of chief required you to condense this liquid partially into crystals and finally condensing it into a core as general.
Kael continued the channeling process and after an additional hour, the qi strand completely transformed into gas and he successfully entered the ranks of a major.
He stood up from his bed and stretched his body with a puzzled expression.
"Strange, after two years of stagnation, I suddenly entered the next rank for no reason."