Chapter 211

Chapter 211

“We traded for it,” Michelle said with a shrug as she looked over the document, checking it over for damage the next day. “The original buyer thought it was something else. Then realized it was crap.” She chuckled a little. “We bought his copy cheap.”

“Oh, that makes sense…” Arthur said. “And the others.”

She shrugged in answer, not wanting to detail that further. She’d been annoyed when she realized that Arthur and his team had read over the documents, but only marginally so. Mostly, she’d been appropriately thankful. After she’d grumbled and muttered quite the series of threats to the poor thief.

“So, this might not be the best time but…” Arthur waved at the documents she held. “Where do you intend to keep them?”

Kenapa?” she snapped.

“Because now that we know people know you have them, and are stealing it, wherever you put them might not be that secure.” Arthur gestured back towards the Clan headquarters a short distance from where they were meeting, on an open gandola under one of the trees that were used to pass through. “Whereas I’ve got the most secure location on this floor.”

“Till you die.”

“Till I die.”

“I’ll think about it,” Michelle said.

“Okay.” Arthur waved the rest of his people on, many of them impatient to get moving. After all, they’d been waiting since yesterday, copying down the various techniques in the meantime. Now, they were a day behind the others and still in need of monster cores if they wanted to empower themselves.

The only major advantage with there being only three documents was that Arthur had a chance to cultivate himself, pulling Tower energy in during the middle of the night when Uswah had woken up and taken over for him. He’d been able to add more energy into his core and even refine a little, though no major breakthroughs had occurred.

Still, having taken the Increased Metabolism technique to read over and then copy, he had a few ideas now of how it might work with his own Heavenly Sage’s Mischief technique. If nothing else, he thought he had a better understanding of it and what it did. Some careful testing might see greater efficiency.

“We’ll be back in a bit. Be ready then, eh?” Arthur reiterated.

Michelle frowned, but nodded. She had no right to gainsay his movement, even if she wanted to. Waving her friends to her, she departed down one swaying suspended bridge, Arthur and his team heading the other.

They’d split, once they had moved some distance away. For now, there were too many eyes for them to come apart. Even if, he assumed, this floor was going to be relatively conflict free.

No one wanted to hold a fight whilst being eaten alive by mosquitos and other, nastier insects.




One of the most annoying aspects of fighting to collect monster cores and shards in general, Arthur realized; was that you had to be careful about the kind of techniques you used. Couldn’t shoot Refined Energy Darts wily-nily. After all, each Dart was basically ten minutes of dragging energy through a core. Which worked out to be at least a half hour of hunting – that being the amount of time before they found another cluster of creatures to kill.

There were, technically, more. But Arthur neither had a trident, a net or a desire to go fishing. The giant catfish that lurked below might have full cores ready for plunder, but first you had to get them to rise. While your normal catfish might not bite, Tower mutated ones did – and could take a chunk off any climbers body. Nevermind the venoms that were all too common in the barbs located on the creature’s fins which they used to attack. Since most of the time they were in the water, the muddy water, you couldn’t even see them before they brushed up against you, dropping a ton of venom and leaving one incapacitated.

No surprise few people, other than the dedicated anglers, were interested in hunting them. The mutated leeches and the occasional giant beetles were all simple enough to handle, along with the occasional Tower snake.

And the harimau hitam. Which, thus far, they’d not seen.

No one wanted to meet that creature. It was, overall, considered overpowered for this level. It could be killed, and a few had reported doing so. But since it’s monster core was not much more powerful than a giant leeches and the higher mobility and deadliness of the creature meant it was much more dangerous to hunt, most just avoided it.

There was, beyond the ability to boast about it, nothing to be gained from hunting the black tiger. Not that it stopped certain groups, but it was as much an exercise in frustration. As Arthur had noted, the creature was prone to running away if its surprise attack failed.

All that really meant was that Arthur and his teammate – Mel in this case – were stuck poking and stabbing with their spears, relying on their base abilities to deal with the swarm of leeches. Of course, this being the eight hour in the swamp, it was neither normal or routine.

“I told you this was a bad site for sleeping at!” Arthur snapped, ducking a leech that somehow had managed to get up onto a higher branch than the one he was fighting on, swung his own spear and knocked another off and then stabbed a third that felt that flinging its head at him beneath the trunk was the way to win.

Mel, fighting on a nearby branch with her legs splayed across two thinner limbs of the tree was dual-wielding, her spear held mid-haft to knock things around and occasionally slice something open with the tip, but mostly, it was her parang that was doing the work of killing leeches.

“How was I supposed to know they’d swarm here at the end of the day?” Mel said.

“The pile of bones!” Arthur said.

“They weren’t in full pieces. And looked old. And were in the water!”

“I told you what they were.”

“You’re a city boy!” A twist of her wrist decapitated a leech, but then one managed to sneak up her unmoving legs. Unlike him, she couldn’t exactly dance back and forth – not that he had that much space to move – with the branches they’d chosen to sleep on a touch too thin.

And constantly swaying and bobbing as they fought.

“Who’s seen bones.” He slid backwards, letting his feet slide across the bark as he did so to get the angle he needed. A quick stab caught the leech that had snaked upwards, lancing through the upper half of its body before he twitched his hands, tearing his blade outwards. He used that same motion to sweep another pair of leeches off the tree and leave a long score lone across another, causing it almost to deflate.

Then, he had to focus on his defense again. A leech dropped from above, letting its upper body unattach from the branch that was nearly entirely covered with moving leeches rather than leaves by now and he caught its attack on his bracer. Snarling as it attached itself to him, Arthur proceeded to swing his arm side-to-side, using the fatter body to cushion the blows as he bludgeoned others.

If nothing else about the leech swarm, they were definitely going to get their share of monster shards when this was over.

If they survived.

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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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