When he woke, he woke to a new world, one that he had never seen before. Everything was brighter, sharper than ever before. Paradoxically he did not need to squint, for his eyes adjusted to the brightness, the vividness of what he stared at without an issue. It only took him a moment to realise that the inside of his shrouded cave now looked nearly as bright as full daylight.
Enhanced Eyesight was the generic version of a specialisation, in one sense. There were other traits, like Night Sight or Infravision, that could be added, but while those expanded upon the base ability of a human’s eyes, they were very context specific. Enhanced Eyesight, on the other hand, was an overall improvement, even adding a few colour variants while sharpening eyesight and expanding range.
Just as important for Arthur, the new trait also increased his ability to pick out camouflaged individuals and notice inconsistencies in the environment faster.
For if there had been one thread with all his encounters, it was that if he had known what was to come, he would have changed his actions. Whether it was to block the kuching hitam earlier or just to back away faster from the babi ngepit, knowledge beforehand would have given him options.
Over the next few minutes, Arthur concentrated on objects close and far, testing out his new vision as much as he could within his cave. When he was finally satisfied, he pulled up his status screen, confirming his current level.
Cultivation Speed: 1
Energy Pool: 5/12
Refinement Speed: 0.01
Refined Energy: 0.00 (2)
Attributes and Traits
Body: 5 (Enhanced Eyesight)
He was on the way, though in other ways he was just beginning. Still, he could no longer spend time in this cave. If nothing else, the stink from sitting still and cultivating had begun to truly bother him, and soon enough, he expected that other monsters would find him.
Indeed, better to exit, wash himself and his clothing, and test out his new enhancement. If he could collect the necessary cores, then he could perhaps find another location to stay and cultivate. But for now, he needed to clean himself and stretch his legs. Arthur grabbed his backpack.
Locating the river was not difficult. More of a hindrance was the hesitation he felt at plunging into the cold water. But after probing the area and waiting for potential waterborne threats and finding none, Arthur finally committed to washing up.
Clambering out of the river, he grabbed at the towel he had set aside, wiping his body down of soap and pond water. He wrung dry the underwear he wore, moving over to his weapon and watching around him. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted movement. A whipping motion with his staff caught the hand-sized spider in the body, crushing it to the ground where poison slowly leaked out.
A second later, the monster burst into light but left no crystal.
“I hate spiders,” Arthur muttered. Doing one more slow pivot check, he ensured that no monster was creeping up on him before he shed his wet underthings and climbed into fresh items. He wrung the rest dry before wrapping it up in his backpack.
Clothed, armed, and newly rejuvenated, Arthur slipped the backpack on and began the process of searching for monsters. He moved carefully, making full use of his new trait to spot movement in the distance: the bending of branches and the sway of monsters creeping through the forest.
High in the trees, a kuching hitam crept along branches, waiting till Arthur was nearly beneath it. It leapt, paws brushing against wooden branches as it pounced at the cultivator beneath. Claws extended, viciously sharp and aimed at his throat.
The moment the cat jumped, Arthur stopped playing dumb and swung his staff. He caught it high on the neck and front paws, striking it away from his body and into the tree it leapt from. The wet smack of feline body against tree resounded, and the monster attempted to regain its feet as it slid down, one paw broken.
On three feet, it tried to stand but met its end moments later as Arthur’s staff crashed down on its body, breaking spine and ending its defiance. The monster soon disappeared, leaving behind its crystal.
“Score one for Enhanced Eyesight.”
Picking up the crystal, Arthur scanned the area once more. More monsters were waiting for him in this forest. Monsters and who knows what other gains.
Humming a little, Arthur forged in deeper, searching for easy kills. That, after all, was the point for now. No hard fights, no massive monstrous battles between him and a herd of animals or against multiple cultivators.
Perhaps a cowardly way of progressing, but it was also smart.
Climbing the Ranks is a serial LitRPG cultivation novel by Tao Wong that will publish exclusively on Starlit Publishing. While the whole novel will be free to read, you'll be able to purchase a membership to receive chapters weeks in advance of the public launch. To get updates on how to subscribe in mid-January, please join our newsletter or follow us on social media.