Chapter 174

Chapter 174

“Reloaded, they folded; but now we aren’t uploaded,” Arthur said as he blocked an attack, slammed the back of his spear into a face, then retreated as inhuman screams from behind him arose. He watched as a bullet burst through the throat of his opponent, forcing the monster to stagger back, clutching the ruined neck.

Then, silence.

Arthur spun around, crying out as he moved, “Take over, keep them busy.” There were five orang minyak left up front, but now behind . . . Behind there were another four monsters. Casey was fighting back against one; Lam was on the ground, attempting to block the attacks of the creature that was punching at him.

Leaving two more, one chasing after Rick who had been struck aside and was sprawled on the ground, cradling an arm which had been broken. The last one was coming for the team holding the monsters in front.

“Shit!” Arthur shouted, spinning both the spear and his body. The spear flew forward, only for it to be blocked and struck aside by the orang minyak. No surprise there; it was only meant to buy Arthur time.

Time for the Refined Energy Dart he had formed where his third eye would have been. He watched as the monster staggered back, surprised at the sudden dart attack that burrowed through its flesh, and then again as Arthur kicked his spear upwards, causing the tip to tear through gonads and flesh. Using a passing step, Arthur grabbed at the spear as it began to fall again, thrusting once more to drive the monster back with Focused Strike.

No time to conserve energy at all, he poured refined energy into techniques, his mind splitting across multiple avenues. The energy that flowed through his meridians formed easily as he pushed at it, another Refined Energy Dart forming even as he watched his spear tip pierce another body.

Arthur kept pushing forward, his spear spinning and striking from all angles. The orang minyak was bleeding from its numerous wounds, but initial surprise was giving way. In a few moments, Arthur knew, he was going to lose that momentum so he turned his head to where Rick was kicking futilely against the monster’s leg.

The second Refined Energy Dart flashed forward, catching the monster in its lower back. It shrieked, surprised, and clapped a hand to its wound. Rick, freed for a second, managed to raise the other pistol he had held onto, opening fire once more.

Unfortunately, all that meant was that Arthur was distracted, such that the kick that came for him caught him in the side. It threw Arthur aside, his body bending around the big hairy leg. He crashed to the ground, turning and tucking into a roll without thought, hours of training pulling his body into a reflexive roll.

Even so, his head struck an upturned root, sending stars shooting through his vision. He groaned, pushing himself up only to catch another kick across his stomach. He was lifted feet off the ground, and a claw came down to strike him as he fell.

Pain, again and again, Arthur rolling over sideways as he was struck. He brought his spear up, blocking an attack that swung down. Fingers and knuckles bled as the skin was torn by the claw that struck at him.

Again and again, the monster kept attacking him, pounding at Arthur with arms and legs. Muscles strained, blood flowing, his world narrowed down to each second as he blocked the attacks. Fist, claw, feet, it blurred together into a red haze of pain.

And then, it was gone, though Arthur flailed for a few moments longer. His brain caught up, and he stopped moving, the injuries flaring in warning of incoming agony. Yet, his nerves had yet to catch up fully and so Arthur managed to get himself to stand, taking the proffered spear from Casey who was looking just as bad.

“How . . . ?” Arthur said, or tried to. His jaw wasn’t working right. He flexed it, or tried to, and had the disturbing sensation—followed soon after by blinding pain—of bone snapping back into place. He clutched his face, barely recognising her words as they came.

“Dead. Most of them are.”

Now Arthur realised what was quiet. The roar of firearms was absent, the sound of battle muted. He forced himself to look around, realized that most of the team had collapsed where they stood among corpses. A lot of corpses, many of them with bullet wounds.

“That . . . was close. Anyone dead?” Arthur winced, hating to speak but forced himself to ask. Even if he slurred a little still.

Casey winced as she pushed bloody hair away from her face, a deep wound down one side still fresh and bleeding. “No,” she croaked. “A lot of injuries though.”

“Told. You.” Even muttering those two words hurt. Then, realising there were no more monsters to fight, he let himself slump, using the spear shaft to help him to sit. He groaned, hanging his head a little as he did so. Something inside his chest was shifting, his insides hurt in ways that made breathing or even flexing his stomach muscles a pain, and his vision kept wanting to narrow to pinpoints.

“Healing. Watch out . . . for me.”

Then, rather than wait for an answer, he delved into his body, tugging at the refined energy within his system to form the strands of energy needed to accelerate his healing process. He needed to fix himself and fix himself fast, because from the looks of it, the majority of his team was out of commission. If there were more stragglers coming in, they were in a lot of danger.

It would be nice if they could leave, but not only had they not looted the bodies yet, he was also pretty sure they wouldn’t manage to stumble more than a few hundred feet anyway before people collapsed. Better to deal with the shakes here.

And hope he could pull enough energy into fixing himself before they got moving.

Still, he could not help but curse them all. He told them they were too raw to be trying this. It was sheer luck, and a lot of firepower, that had saved them from losing anyone. Next time, they might not be as lucky.

Next time, they’d be better prepared.

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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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