Chapter 151

Chapter 151

“There’s never anything more disgusting than sorting through the corpse of one who was recently hustling all in search of a torque.”

Silently, Arthur worked his way through his stalker’s corpse, pulling apart fragments of skin and clothing. The smell of blood and innards was overpowering, overwhelming the clean odour of mud and trashed vegetation all around him. It sucked.

And still, he persisted.

A good five minutes later, Arthur scurried away with his looted goods further uphill. He kept a close eye for trouble, but their battle had, luckily, failed to attract attention from the other denizens of the forest. Good thing too, since his body still ached from being thrown around. If he had been an ordinary mortal, he would have likely picked up a number of nasty fractures. As it was, he was only badly bruised and might have torn a few muscles. Nothing a few rounds of cultivation wouldn’t fix.

Near the spring that had created the mud pit, Arthur bent to wash himself quickly. He stripped his shirt and wiped down his body with the bloody cloth, rinsing out mud and dirt with quick swipes. The act got rid of the most of the mud and made him hiss as water and rough cloth went over open wounds, but it did not stop him. Rather, he focused on washing the wounds down even more, trying to remove as much of the sand and other foreign objects from the open wounds as he could.

Thankfully, the passive healing that the Tower offered seemed to take into account the down and dirty circumstances of cultivator life. It did a decent job at getting rid of the majority of these foreign objects, pushing them out of the body as the cultivator healed and cultivated. Of course, that added its own taxation of energy, so getting rid of dirt the old-fashioned way before cultivating was preferred.

Also, wounds just itched and hurt more if you left dirt in them.

Once Arthur was clean, he bent his focus to the few items he had found that were not a complete mess. One of which was a pair of boots. A little too large for his own feet and a little damaged. However, the stitching on the bottom had caught Arthur’s attention, and the slight glow and flow of energy in the quiescent boots told him something was up.

Too bad the Tower didn’t provide detailed information on this pair. He’d have to get the boots identified first. Still, after washing and tossing out a separated human toe, Arthur figured this was a definite win.

Now, figuring out how to store the boots was going to be interesting. He didn’t want to put them in his backpack, but hanging them off the end like any good hiker would just attract attention. Maybe he could wrap them in some leaves? While there weren’t any banana trees around, some of the broader palms would work just as well, he figured.

Next up, the pouch. There was a hole in it, which was why the entire thing was wrapped up in a big, leaky sappy leaf that made the entire thing sticky. The slight itching sensation that he felt while handling the leaf made him take note. Probably something to avoid touching in the future if he had any choice.

Pouring the contents of the pouch out, Arthur grinned, his greedy little inner pig rising up. While he would never hunt other cultivators like his stalker, he could see the appeal. Five new cores, all of them decently sized and one significantly larger than the others, had him smiling. There was also a small grey token, which made him frown. Still, added to his three cores, he’d increased his store of earnings quickly.

That did raise a little concern, about exactly how strong his stalker would have been if the babi ngepet had not interrupted their fight and trampled the man to death.

On that note, Arthur might have gotten a touch overconfident after kicking the ass of both the black cat on this floor and herds of babi ngepet on the first floor. And on hindsight, jumping on the moving bodies of the babi to stab them had not been his smartest idea, even if it was the fastest way of slowing them down with kris poison.

“Maybe I should change tactics?” Arthur mused out loud as he touched the hilt of his kris. The ability to poison someone and drain them of energy meant that, in a battle of attrition, he would win. Perhaps he should look for camouflage skills like his stalker had, allowing him to strike quickly and fade into shadows.

“Rogue build for the win? Or put it in the bin?”

That brought him to the other piece of loot. One poison dart left, fallen on the wayside when Arthur had initially attacked his opponent with a Refined Energy Dart. The rest of the stalker’s vials and darts had been smashed apart on the body itself, so he considered it lucky that he even managed to find a single one intact.

Arthur picked up the dart, eyeing the simple green and black fletching from some unknown bird, then the glass vial and the dark yellow liquid within. He sniffed at the dart tip, noted the small wax plug that had been placed on the needle tip to ensure the liquid did not leak out and, eventually, shook his head.

No clues about what, exactly, was within. Again, something else to have inspected.

He let out a long sigh, then sifted through the rest of the items. Dagger, plain and simple and not at all enchanted. Bent a little on the blade from being stabbed into the thick hide of devil pigs. Still decent and workable. Much like the sheath that it came with and the set of skinning knives he found rolled up. Unfortunately, half of those thin sharp blades had been bent.

Retrieving the small grey token from his pouch, he bounced it up and down in his hand. He had a guess that it was this floor’s credit marker. Just a guess. For all he knew, it might be a tracker or a clan seal, allowing others to find him if he took it. For that matter, it might be both.

He bounced the token further, debating quietly whether to keep it or let it go. The question, as always, was whether the risk was worth it. Potential untold riches or extra trouble? Or, as was his luck, a little of both?

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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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