Chapter 219

Chapter 219

“Ready!” Arthur roared as he dropped the spear and elbowed the zombie attempting to grab him. He shoved a little, pushing it further back and then swept his hand down and outwards, twisting at the hips to complete the throw as the creature chose to grip him rather than just tumble over like the good little possessing spirit it should have been.

Left hand glowing with energy that cackled, burning fingers and hurting; Arthur pointed it at the boat and released the ball of power. He watched it streak off, crossing the space at the speed of a fast moving fastball and then shouted, moments later just as the energy was about to impact.


Energy released, exploding outwards and sending rib cage and other portions of the zombie aside. Piled as they were all around the boat, piled on top of Mel herself, the boat rocked and portions of the raised lip tore apart. Vines that held the whole thing together began to come apart, even as figures were cast aside.

In the gap that formed, in the shadow of moving bodies, a figure wielding a knife and shadowy tendrils rose, throwing and upsetting zombies and chopping with swift strikes, over and over again. She wore a tudung, the green and blue patterned headscarf covering her hair whilst long sleeves whipped around her as she struck, over and over again to free a friend.

For a moment, it looked like it might work. For a moment, the figure beneath surged upwards and stood clear, Mel bleeding from wounds on her scalp, on her arms. Knives kept moving, threading their way through the bodies pressing against her, punching and pushing.

For a moment, it worked.

Then the boat rocked, balance was thrown and Uswah stumbled. Mel moved to back her up, and in that moment, the space cleared was filled again. As the concussive blast faded and the surprise ended, the creatures rose again and the pair were forced to fight back-to-back.

On his own portion, Arthur was hard pressed. No longer aided by his friend, he was forced to focus on his footing, on swinging and striking and pushing the hantu air away. The smack of the heavy spear and the black spearhead rang through the surroundings, the Heavenly Sages Mischief soaring through him to give him the strength to push on.

And on, and on. As moments dragged on, and the group was forced to hold without sight of aid or a potential rescue. How many had he killed? How many had he dispersed or cast back into the water? Arthur could not count. Each shattered chest, each ball of yin energy held deep within the corpse’s chest that was disrupted was another ghost chased away.

But they kept coming.

Breathing grew hard, his motions jerky. He shook another monster off, even as his limbs burnt. Eyes stung from sweat, and he swore something move. Something shifted and the boat rocked.

And then, a roar as a body was picked up and limbs were held as the corpse was spun around. Slamming into other figures, into one another. Yao Jing swung the body down, crushing a pair and sending the group into the sky as he roared.

“Into the water!” the soaking wet man cried.

“What?” Arthur said, surprised.

“Into the water! Dive. NOW!”

Now, Arthur froze. The thought of jumping in, where the monsters lurked. He could not, would not… There was no reason for this. It was insane. It was dangerous and likely to end them all. Others hesitated too, the precarious balance between zombies and tower climbers broken.

Before he could make up his mind, his choice was taken away. Arthur was bull rushed and shoved into the water by Yao Jing, taken over the edge as his knees clipped another. Together, they fell into the water, tumbling past corpses and spirits where the watery embrace took him.

Into the water, where the corpses lay.

And moments later, the rest of the team joined him.




Arthur went in holding his spear by his side, braced for trouble. He dared not let it go, even if it was probably not the most appropriate weapon for wielding in the water. Contrary to numerous movies, Greek mythology and Aquaman, long weapons meant to sweep and twist were not exactly the easiest weapons to wield. Tridents were used outside the water, after all, to stab at fish swimming below while you stood on rocks or the shore or river’s edge. Not for        swimming in the water and trying to impale things or sweep them up, like any good polearm wielder knew to do.

All complaints about the practicality of holding into his spear, Arthur wasn’t about to let it go. It was his first weapon he had been gifted, and he wasn’t about to let it go. Back braced, he hit the water hard and was driven below the surface by Yao Jing who kicked and kicked till they were fully submerged. Then, the man broke away, shoving Arthur deeper.

Water pressured around his ears, some of it going up his nose. He fought the instinctive need to breathe and spit and exhale, kicking hard now that he was free, twisting around as he instinctively sought to go deeper and away from the writhing mass of rotting flesh and enchanted limbs above.

He figured he had about a few seconds before the hantu air clocked onto his presence and came after him. Until then, he needed space. Maybe with a bit of distance he might last. Even outswim them…

The silence of the water startling. From the wheezing gasps, the thump of weapons and the sound of tearing flesh and panting humans, the drone of insects and lapping water, the silence of being underwater was unnerving. The drone and lap of water against his ears, the muffled movements and noises from above might as well be whispers.

Peering about, through squinting eyes that had begun to burn just a little, Arthur was faced with the sight of even more zombie rising from the depth. He disassociated for a moment, his mind picturing the scene like a movie poster, creatures of horror and fear and death rising from below.

Then he came back, as he saw them swarming up, in singles and doubles to the boats, breaking through the air and into the water and clustering around the boats themselves. Emerging dripping, pieces of flesh pulled free as long rotted bodies came apart. Others emerged from the earth, struggling upwards as twitching limbs sought to reach the boats.

Feet kicking in rapid motions, he angled away. One of the zombies came near and he swiped to the left, cutting with his kris that he’d drawn. Poison rushed into the body, the monster twitching a little but not shifting course as it kept ascending.

Leaving him alone.

All of them were leaving him alone.

Surprised, Arthur floated in the water, waving hands holding his weapons aloft. He stared, as zombie after zombie headed for the boats, leaving him alone. Further above, Yao Jing who’d taken him down was bobbing in the water, paddling away from the boats with big sweeps of his hand.

Well, he’d be damned.

Or not.

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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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