Chapter 222

Chapter 222

Hours. It took him hours to pull energy from the Tower into his body, to refill his stores of cultivation energy and to ready himself for the fight. He had not progressed much since their leaving, only adding a few more refined energy points that he was storing away for a fight or eventual use. With only a few stones in the pouch he’d attached to his belt, he would need to be careful about his energy use. At least until they managed to retrieve their stores.

Or found more monsters that dropped their cores.

Cultivation Speed: 2.371 Yin
Energy Pool: 22/22 (Yin)
Refinement Speed: 0.1421
Refined Energy: 0.412 (26)
Attributes and Traits
Mind: 15 (Multi-Tasking, Quick Learner, Perfect Recall)
Body: 13 (Enhanced Eyesight, Yin Body, Swiftness)
Spirit: 10 (Sticky Energy, From the Dregs)
Night Emperor Cultivation Technique
Focused Strike
Accelerated Healing – Refined Energy (Grade III)
Heavenly Sage’s Mischief
Refined Energy Dart
Bark Skin
Partial Techniques
Simultaneous Flow (54.7%)
Yin-Yang Energy Exchange (34.6%)
Heavenly Sage’s Heaven Beating Stick (33.8%)
Refined Exploding Energy Dart (54.3%)


Two entries, one of which made him smile a little. The Bark Skin technique kept him in one piece, though he had been careful in its use. After all, it drained energy; even if it was just Tower Energy.


Bark Skin
Toughen the cultivator’s skin to make it like hard bark, offering greater protection from cuts, scrapes and crushing techniques. May be upgraded in the future.
Cost: 1 Energy per minute


In a fight, a full point for a minute wasn’t that much, but he’d been lucky enough not to get swarmed and thus had not needed it. Not that it had helped Mel that much. Then again, there was a reason it was a beginner technique.

More interestingly, the new technique that had popped up made him smile. For something he’d put together out of desperation, it had worked out quite well. While the Tower hadn’t provided him a full description of the technique, he knew enough to know what the final should look like.


Refined Exploding Energy Dart
Project a dart of compressed and refined energy, to strike an opponent at range. Will explode upon impact.
Cost: 0.3 Refined Energy


It was one of the reasons he’d even dared try for it. There were other options that he’d browsed, including producing multiple energy darts, piercing energy darts and the like. Yet, making things go boom had an appeal. Especially when it was something that formed from one’s own hand, rather than via an external instrument. Like a gun.

Lips compressed, Arthur pushed away the thought. Whatever his prejudices, about the weapon, about Rick, it was his own problem. The man had been – for the most part – fair with them.

Sticking the extra point into his Body while they journeyed had been almost a no-brainer. While he did want to increase his other attributes, body was always going to be one of his most important ones. After all, he had to protect himself and keep himself alive.

And frankly, looking at people like Ferdinand of the Reborn North and any of the members of Valorant, there was something to be said about just being so tough that no one dared mess with your guild. Strength was strength, no matter how you cut it. Especially when the world bent the rules for the Climbers outside.

With his Tower Energy fully topped up and his injuries mostly healed; and damn it, he really needed to find time to figure out how to upgrade that technique. The fact that not even a single line had appeared showed that whatever he was doing was refining the speed and his technique as it stood now, but it wasn’t transformative enough to be a new technique or even an upgrade on the current one; he was the first up. There was a lot to see and do, including figuring out what the heck the heck the Heart was.

Grabbing his spear and levering himself upwards, Arthur took to walking the circumference of the tree. Moving in a slowly closing circle, peering down into the water, poking at roots and clambering up and down, he searched.

Quite quickly, he noted a few things. Firstly, outside of the occasional tree leaf or weed, the water itself was extremely clear. He could look down into the water with ease, spotting everything from darting fish to a slow swimming turtle. The surroundings smelled similar too, full of clear, fresh air and  the slight humidity of the lake itself. The breeze that ruffled the leaves above constantly brushed against his skin, the entire tree bringing with it a sense of overall serenity.

He'd idly noted that cultivating beneath the tree had been marginally better too. Not as good as the Clan residence, of course, but the energy around the tree was definitely more concentrated. Of course, coming from the tree itself, much of the surroundings was flavored with Yang energy, but he sheer density was sufficient that he had no issues speeding up his overall cultivation.

For those who weren’t Yin-based and took a more regular cultivation path, it would have benefitted them even more.

All of these factors were why it took him nearly the entire circumference before he realized that he had been missing a rather obvious fact. Unlike the waters they had crossed, there were no ruins – even broken and shattered and worn away as they might be – to be sighted.

Crouched on top of one particularly low-dipping root that had a broad footing area, Arthur stared at the waters below, frowning. The earth below the roots, what little he could see of it, was bare. Sandy and water clogged, with pebbles and the occasional floating plant within. But there were no large paving stones, no shattered walls or any other indicator of civilization.

“A heart is a center. A center is a core. The core is what is important. In some cases, temples. Others, palaces. Or city hall.” Biting his lip, Arthur puzzled this through slowly. “But what we have here… we have a garden? A tree?”

Standing up, he peered up and down the water, taking in the shade cast by the tree. The rough shape of the lake itself. Then, he looked up, to the leaves that shimmered in their myriad greens, twisting and fluttering. He stared, hard from branch to branch, sudden suspicion burning.


Maybe he was wrong?

Maybe he wasn’t.

Rather than give up immediately, he began to pick his way along the roots again, moving under the shade further. Peering upwards, always upwards. Searching and yet failing to find what he sought. Once, twice and again he made his way around.

His companions peered at him, between moments of cultivation or when they surfaced from the water. Mel and Rick, soaked through to their skin, cotton clinging to muscular bodies and highlighting curves. Each taking turns to dive as they slowly made their way farther and farther from the safety of the tree. Testing the reactions of their enemies.

And all the while, he walked.

He was about to give up, when he spotted a glimpse of it. Another might have missed it. One who had not taken his particular trait, who had not focused on their vision. Another might have given up. But he had not, and in doing so, he found what he sought, high in the branches of the massive tree.

If a civilization valued its plants, and made a singular tree the center of its city. Then what was a heart that could be brought back? Not the broken and chopped remnants of the tree itself.

But a fruit.

A fruit, glittering green and yellow, shiny with potential high above.

Back to blog

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.

Join Tower One for $5/month to read 3 weeks of advanced chapters or Tower Two for $10/month to read 8 weeks of advanced chapters.

Want to read new chapters in your inbox?

Receive new chapters of Climbing the Ranks either daily or weekly in your inbox.