Chapter 143

Chapter 143

Crawling towards his spear, and then using it to help him lurch, stumble, and limp towards the portal, every moment was agony, his legs barely functioning as he pushed on. Yet, he refused to let himself stop. A glimpse over the rise had shown him that the jenglot was not dead, swarmed as it was by the birds and the rats and a kuching hitam that had somehow managed to make its way up and taken a chance to make its mark.

That herd of babi ngepet now had riders, for the troop of monkeys somehow managed to corral the creatures to become their unwilling mounts. As the boars charged up relentlessly, the monkeys plucked away snakes and rats, shielding the demonic swine.

All of those creatures gained ground on Arthur, even as he poured unrefined energy into Heavenly Sage’s Mischief. The combined increase in his strength, speed, and resilience was all that kept him moving, even as his healing technique strained to patch him together.

Each exhale saw his vision fade at the edges a little, each laboured inhale saw it come back. Somewhere along the way, he realized that he’d done more than bruise his back. He might have cracked a rib. He felt a spreading numbness from compressed nerves, a dislocated—herniated?—disc or two from repeatedly crashing into hard metal.

His left arm did not want to work properly. He barely could hold onto his spear with his right hand, but it was the only thing helping to push him on. His right foot dragged with each step, nerves and muscles no longer working.

One eye was entirely gummed up, the numerous scalp wounds he’d gained started bleeding again, overwhelming the simple bandana he had used and now dripping down his face, forcing him to blink around it each time.

Behind him, he could hear the monsters coming. The howls, the cries, the shrieks. No birds, not yet, for which he was grateful. If they had come, he was not certain he could have stopped them. He was not even certain how he was moving forward, other than the fact that he refused to stop.

He had beaten the jenglot. Maybe not killed it, but beaten it just as surely. He had survived everything this overblown, lopsided test had to throw at him. He would not give up now, just because his body threatened to fall apart with each moment.

He could not. Too much was riding on it.

Breath aching, vision swimming, he pulled himself to the final slope and hauled himself up. The smell of himself, of the congealed blood and the thrown feces that had struck him, the rank stench of dried fear and voided bowels, it all threatened to overwhelm him.

Even then he did not stop, even when he heard a cry from the jenglot. How it had recovered so fast and was on its way back up, he could not know. He could feel the thunder of hooves on the ground, hear the panting growls and chittering of rats, and now even the cries of the much diminished flock above as they began their bombing runs again.

Each step, a struggle. Each moment, a threat to his consciousness. The energy within his core had plummeted, Heavenly Sage’s Mischief draining his reserve. Thankfully, the final ascent was just a few dozen feet, though they might as well have been a mile long.

Then, his energy was exhausted, the Mischief gone. He crashed to his knees and found himself crawling. Pulling himself through sheer force of will. The glowing doorway of light was hanging right there, waiting for him to cross the threshold.

Inch by inch, he pulled himself toward it, leaving a trail of blood behind. Until he was nearly there, his hand extended and even touching the light. It felt like a snapping, twisting short-circuit of electricity arcing through him.

He grinned, rejoicing. Too soon as a clawed hand grabbed his foot and dragged him back. He twisted about to face the jenglot, its snout opened and ready to snap him in half, saliva dripping down too-sharp canines.

Cilaka,” Arthur cursed.

It lunged and the fight was back on.




Arthur tumbled through the doorway to land on hard ground. His body ached, his mind ached, his left arm mangled as it had been chewed upon multiple times. His right hand clutched the kris, still moving in a cutting motion. Somewhere along the way, his spear had tumbled through the portal too, dragged along by his feet by accident.

He just lay there for a long time, ignoring the insistent pressure of the Tower demanding that he read the notifications pushing into his head. That pressure was nothing compared to the pain that consisted of his entire being. There was not even an inch that was not cut, bitten, torn, bruised or abraided in some manner.

Arthur could not help but grin.

He had survived the trial. By the skin of his teeth.


Turning his head over sideways, he spat out the fur that had already begun dissolving, the taste of decrepit flesh more a memory than reality by now. He smiled even though it hurt.

He had done it. He was on the second floor.

And now it was time to collect his rewards.

“Told you I could do it. . .” Arthur murmured. “Even if, I almost blew it.”

Then, finally, he let the darkness take him as he lay in that liminal space between floors. Victorious.

“Told you I could do it. . .” Arthur murmured. “Even if, I almost blew it.”

Then, finally, he let the darkness take him as he lay in that liminal space between floors. Victorious.

The End of Book 1, Level 1 of Climbing the Ranks
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Climbing the Ranks is a LitRPG cultivation novel by Tao Wong that publishes serially on Starlit Publishing. While the whole novel will be free to read, you can purchase a membership to receive chapters weeks in advance of the public release.

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