Chapter 210

Chapter 210

Mel made it back later that day. By that point, they all had beds – or the closest, Tower equivalent of them which involved a lot of stitched together discarded clothing and rush leaves dried and packed together to give some padding – and even some free standing shelving. All in all, the place was much homier, even if Arthur was a lot poorer.

“They’ll join you,” Mel said. “Eventually.”

Arthur grunted. “Eventually?”

“No point now,” she gestured around the crowded Clan building. “Nothing to give them, and this way they can make sure you’re actually, you know…”

“Who and what I say I am?” he snorted and nodded. “Damn.”

“Why so worried?”

“Just hoping we could get some taxes coming in, like the floor below,” Arthur said. “Make it easier to ascend.”

Mel frowned at his words, but chose not to say anything. Curiously, Arthur asked. “What?”

“Nothing. Just a thought.”

“Spit it out.”

“Don’t tax people here.”

“What?” he said, surprised.

“Don’t tax people here.”

“Yeah, I heard that. But… why?”

“Makes people angry, lah.” She waved a hand around, catching a mosquito and squishing it with that motion. She shifted her hand, turning it over to show the splotch of blood and darkness where the mosquito – having fed well – was now smeared across. “Who wants to stay longer here?”

“So, what? We offer this place to let people get through faster? What do we get?” he said.

“Loyalty. Gratitude.” At his grimace, she added. “Later, tax them more. To make up for it.”

“The fourth floor?” Arthur hesitated, considering. It was the death floor, but death’s happened during the trials, as those tried to pass through. Rather than immediately. Which meant that there was a chance, for there to gain more. In fact, if they managed to establish a decent beachhead, keep their people safeish as they came up, they could train and empower themselves further even.

Increase their chances of survival, and add to his own tax base.

“So we make this easier for people to pass through, by giving them everything they need.” Arthur said, slowly. “No taxes. A place to cultivate and rest in safety. Techniques?”

“If we can.” She hesitated, then added. “That’s what they were trying to do.”


“Michelle and the Thorned Lotuses.”

“Oh.” Arthur frowned. “Whose idea was it?”


“Huh. Didn’t strike me as the thinker of the group.” He glanced over to the side to where the rest of the team were quietly cultivating on their beds, pulling in energy. The only person not doing that was Yao Jing, and he was deeply engrossed in a technique book of his own that he was studying from the floor below.

Without anyone to bounce the idea off, Arthur could only add. “I’ll take it under advisement.”

Mel nodded, moving away from his bed to her own. Like the rest, she needed to cultivate.

After all, the first step was growing stronger.

No matter what.




Two days later and the team had run out of monster cores, even with the return of Lam with their payment from the Chin’s. There just wasn’t a lot of cores being held back on the third floor because of the general desire to leave the place, meaning that few enough were gathered. Overall, there just wasn’t a point.

That viewpoint kind of pushed Arthur towards considering mel’s suggestion even further. It made sense that such a benefit would attract even more Clan members, in this floor and previous floors too. Of course, letting those on the lower floors know what he was doing was going to have to take a bit since there was no real method to communicate downwards without sending a Climber in.

Ah well, at least it’d be a nice surprise for those arriving.

Without cores to cultivate, the team had a discussion about whether to continue normal cultivation or taking to the marsh to find the necessary stones. It was, of course, rather dangerous but grouped together, it was likely they would be fine.

The negative to that, of course, being the division of stones. Eventually, they’d decided to split into groups of two such to balance safety with speed. After choosing a three day period for the exploration and return, the team was just about to leave when Uswah stepped into the Clan hall and threw things off course once more.

“And you managed to steal it all from them?” Arthur said, holding the three documents in hand and turning them over and over, a little incredulous.

“Yes. They weren’t watching for me,” she said, just a little proudly.

“So no one knows you have this?”

“Exactly. He ran off to meet with those he stole it for, and led them to where he stashed it.” Arthur sadly, was not surprised that the man had lied to the women. That was, after all, one of the problems with torture. Verification of information was always tricky, especially if you weren’t very good at the interrogation. “So when they slept that night, I led a bunch of leeches over and when they were fighting, stole it.”

“Good work.”

Terima kasih.” Then, she pointed to the bath. “I’m going to wash up and sleep a day now.”

“Yeah, you do that.” Arthur watched Uswah leave, the woman almost sauntering off. He was glad she was feeling better. After losing her hand, she’d mostly recovered, but he still had caught moments of self-reflection and doubt. This was a win she had needed.

Of course, it did leave him with a whole new problem.

“Now what?” Arthur asked Mel.

She looked at his documents, frowning.

Cassie, looking over the group and seeing them settle down for another long discussion let out a long sigh. “I’m going out.”

“Me too,” Rick said. “I don’t need to be here for this.” He hesitated, looking at Yao Jing who glanced back at Arthur. Offering the man a nod, Yao Jing grinned and the pair headed out as well, following after Cassie and her bodyguard.

Leaving the remaining three to decide what to do about their windfall.

“Keeping it would be stealing, ya?” Jan said, slowly.

“Possession is nine tenths of the law, no?” Mel said, frowning. “After all, can you steal from a thief?”

“I don’t know, I’m not sure I want to take ethic classes from the British Musuem, you know?” Arthur said.

Mel snorted at his comment.

Jan laughed a little. “Okay lah. So nak buat apa, boss?”

Arthur shrugged. “I’m not sure. But I think, we should let them know.”

“Don’t know if Uswah will like that. She gets nothing for all her trouble.”

“Other than whatever else she stole,” Arthur said. “Also, the gratitude of the others can’t be discounted.” Then, he smiled a little as he eyed the documents. “Anyway, these aren’t Tower locked, right?”

“No…” Mel said. “Are you suggesting what I think you are?”

Arthur smirked. “I’m nice. Not an idiot.”

“So what we have ah?” Jan asked.

Rather than directly answer her, he handed out a document each and then opened his own, scanning the contents. Most cultivation techniques had a quick summary at the start, giving an idea about what the technique did and also, the kind of energy usage and the meridian flows. While most wouldn’t register till they were actually trained, it was still a non-Tower magic way of understanding what one had.

In this case, he had a simple cultivation technique. It was not particularly better than the previous generic technique he had used upon entering the Tower, at best a half star. Which, considering everyone was basically using a 1 star technique, unlike his own 2-star meant that it was useless.

Sighing, he explained it to the others and set the scroll aside. No point even making a copy.

“This one is better,” Mel said, handing over the document.

“Oh?” Arthur asked, but he got to reading immediately. It took him all of two lines to start nodding his head, and about three minutes to make his way down the document before he had to push himself to stop reading.

“Water walker. The insect kind.” You’d think, with the full range of the various human languages available, names would get more creative. But the sheer number that defaulted to the basic varieties was rather staggering. There were, at last count, something like eleven Sprint and twelve Strike’s. And over forty seven Heavy Strikes.

“Yes. Very useful here, not bad outside,” Mel said. “Lightens the body and spreads the weight out, so you can run across the water. Doesn’t make you any faster but…” She shrugged. “I bet, if you can figure a combo, you might even do tree walking.”

“Ah yes, the goal of every weeb.” Arthur hesitated, then frowned. “What’s the term for the Chinese obsessed?”

“Egg?” Jan offered.

“Does that work for us? We’re not exactly white on the outside.” Arthur gestured at the group, which made Jan snort. “Sinophile? Too nice, right?”

“Yu xia ren,” Mel supplied.

Arthur’s face scrunched up as he tried to translate the words. “Useless heroic person?” At her nod, he snorted. Well, that was one option he guessed. Certainly, ever since the export of a bunch of bad Chinese webnovels and some much better TV shows, the obsession by certain groups had grown significantly. Helped along even further by the Tower’s ability to make such things viable.

“Okay. So, Water Walking is a win,” Arthur said, pulling the conversation back. “What’s the next?”

“Movement technique too, but it’s a body boost type,” Jan said, handing it over.

“Accelerated Metabolism,” Arthur said, reading the heading of the document as he opened it. No surprise with that kind of lead-in that it was the kind that accelerated the entire body. Very similar to his own Heavenly Sage’s Mischief, but with a few minor differences.

The Heavenly Sage’s Mischief was meant to be a combat bonus, so it scaled in the boost that it offered to an individual. In that sense, it could be built upon with more refined techniques in the future so that the total Body boost was higher but also, that the amount it boosted the body by even in its base form would increase.

After all, a two increase in Body at the lower levels was entirely different when you added to your Body at a higher attribute base. The requirements and energy forms and what it increased varied.

On the other hand, the Accelerated Metabolism technique was a persistent boost that focused mostly on increasing an individual’s overall speed. That meant a minor increase in strength, but also an equivalent increase in balance and twitch muscles, so that the user could – literally – react and move faster.

It wasn’t, however, a significant increase in the Body attribute and would likely fall out of use after a while. In other words…

“Not that great, eh?” Arthur said, frowning at the document.

“Good for training?” Jan said, while Mel made gimme motions. He handed the document over, sitting back as he waited for her to finish reading.

“Yeah. It’s not much use for most of us. We’ll want an actual movement technique, even if it’s a boosted one,” she said. “High speed movement, flash steps, anything like that. This just makes you move faster, which…” She shrugged, looking around.

He had to concur. Well, at least he wouldn’t feel bad returning these documents since most of all, it just wasn’t a major increase in the Clan’s strength having them or not.

“I wonder why they bought it then…” Arthur mused.

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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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