Chapter 228

Chapter 228

The group were split apart, all staring at the original technique scroll sprawled across the top of the table. Rick was relegated back to his bed while the group excitedly pored over the document, staring at the details within. Yao Jing was quietly mouthing the words as he read, while the rest scanned down the document, Arthur using a finger to trace his way down.

In short order, Arthur was done with the initial readthrough and did a second scan. He was halfway through the document before the rest of the group had finished and pulled away a little to give him some space.

“So?” Arthur said, placing his hands on top of the document and table as he waited.

“It’s good,” Mel said immediately. She tried to suppress the grin that was slowly spreading across her face before she gave up. “At least a two star, maybe even three.”

“Damn cheapskates,” Arthur grumbled. You would think that they would at least indicate the quality of the technique since he got it from the Tower direct, but would they bother? No. Not at all. “What’s Wind Steps these days? One?”

Ya lah.” Jan confirmed. “So, I learn?”

Yao Jing frowned, grabbing her hand before she went for the document. She tugged at her hand a little, pouting at Yao Jing and almost making Arthur gag. He waved her away from the three documents making her pout as he continued.

“We only have three,” Arthur said. “We should think about this before we use them up.”

“You want one or more of us to study from the main technique scroll,” Mel said frankly.


Tak mau.” Jan was shaking her head in negation.

“You should take one,” Mel said, tapping the table. “I’ll study from the main scroll.”

Jan frowned at Mel, then looked over to Yao Jing who was scratching the side of his head in thought.

“Thank you.” Arthur hesitated, feeling absurdly guilty. But studying from the main scroll would only provide a minor boost in learning the technique, unlike the Tower invested scrolls. Considering he was still behind the curve of everyone else, he needed all the time savings he could find.

“I don’t want to either.” Yao Jing said, arms crossed. Then he added, after a beat. “But I can do main scroll.”

“You?” Jan said, frowning. “You…”

“I’m pretty good, you know.” Yao Jing lifted his chin, as though daring her to argue with him about that. Something in his eyes, the way he said it had Jan hesitate and she ducked her head after a moment, nodding at last.

“Me too ah.”

“Then, what do we do with the other two?” Arthur frowned, turning them over.

“Bring one. Keep other here,” Mel said, firmly. “Gift for those who come up who do well, later on. Make it something that can be gifted. Later.”

Arthur grunted. Considering they could, theoretically, with ownership of the master scroll continue to produce such gifted scrolls in the future if they were willing to pay the Administration center, it made sense. They didn’t have the contribution points or the time to build up enough credits with the center for this to happen now, but in the future… Well. It was possible. Of course, that was so long as they had the main scroll.

“Do we have to bring the main scroll for them to copy it from?” Arthur said, curiously. He knew from his reading that producing working Tower-empowered technique scrolls could be done by the Administrators and also, via certain techniques. Of course, the individuals who bothered to study such techniques were incredibly rare. Something that only major Clans and guilds could even hope of supporting.

A round of shrugs and negatives came from his people. Like him, such details were not what they had studied. Or, for that matter, perhaps not even available in the widely touted forums. After all, it was not as though the Clans or other major corporations wanted to bandy about any weaknesses they might have.

“Can you look into it?” Arthur said. If they had to cart the scroll around each time, it would raise the danger significantly. “Also, if not, do we have to leave it on this floor? If I take it up to the seventh floor or something, and leave it in a secure location in our Clan building there, is it then available for everyone?”

Mel was nodding at his words, before she asked the obvious question. “Guild treasury?”

“I don’t know,” Arthur said. “I’d heard of it before, but…” He sighs. Low as they were on the totem pole, it was possible such abilities were locked out from the Clan for now.

“Then, what if we can? Outside the Tower?” Mel asked, obvious the next question.

Again, Arthur could only shrug. He drummed his fingers on the table, then glanced outside and then over at Rick. He raised an eyebrow in obvious question. When no one answered, he got up and walked over, waiting for Rick to exit his cultivation before he spoke. In the meantime, the quiet discussion by the trio reading over the original technique manuscript behind him filled the air.

“What?” Rick said.

“I have a question. Questions.” Arthur hesitated, then added. “I thought you might be able to help.”

“Oh, I’m useful now, eh? So how long more before you decide to just discard me aside again?” Rick said.

Arthur glared at the man but swallowed his ire. Rick was right, he had been making use of him with little thought. He was in his rights to be angry. The question was, what Arthur should do about it, if anything.

He pondered the question for a few moments before he nodded firmly to himself. Rick had sat patiently during the period, choosing not to say anything.

“You really want in?” Arthur said.

“Yes,” Rick confirmed. Then, lifting his chin, he added. “But I stop paying.”

“Usual Guild dues are still owed,” Arthur said, firmly.

“That’s nothing here, right?”

“Right,” Arthur confirmed. “But out of this floor, it can add up.”

“Whatever.” Rick shook his head. “Not as though I’m hurting.”

“You’ll be under the same restrictions and rules of the Clan, and that means no discussing what we do with outsiders and there’s likely going to be a penalty if you leave us after exiting each Tower.”

“Each Tower?” Rick said that, amused. “Assuming much, are we?”

“I’m not stopping with one, are you?” Arthur said. Not that the likelihood of them being able to do so was high. After all, the Tower really didn’t like people who didn’t and the cost of acquiring the stones needed to keep one active was prohibitive. The rich could afford it, but he certainly wasn’t within that.

Never mind the quiet promise he’d made by taking on so many to build a proper Clan.

“Seven. I need seven.”

That made Arthur blink. The numbers dropped off drastically after four. One was easy enough, and you could often buy yourself a few years if you stocked up properly and worked hard when you got out. The second Tower was harder, but not impossible to clear. Most bought themselves another decade of real-world time by going through and powering up. Enough to establish their families, to provide money and set those they loved up before they inevitably disappeared into the Tower.

The third Tower was where nearly fifty percent of the survivors never came out. Some just chose to spend the rest of their lives there, collecting cores and sending a small portion upwards via Clans or families like the Chin’s who had regular messengers in. The fewer levels one had to pass, the cheaper it got; but by the time one was on the third Tower, those stones were worth quite a bit. Even a small trickle, going to a family outside made a big difference.

Those that exited the third Tower varied deeply. Many were strong enough and in-demand enough that they could, if they were willing, work for others and extend their real world existence for many years. Some even brought out a large enough fortune in monster cores that they could become real world powers if they wished, often marrying into established families.

By the time one exited the fifth Tower – if one did – those individuals were all powers in their own rights. If they were not already tied to an existing power structure, they could restablish their own Guilds or Clans or businesses without an issue.

Of course, the major issue by that point was how few years they had. Unless they stocked up themselves, such time outside of the Tower was extremely low. Their very existence bled power into the surroundings constantly and with so few exiting, and most keeping their cores to themselves, it was rare for such individuals to stay in the real world long.

Even rarer for individuals to exit a sixth or seventh Tower.

“Ambitious,” Arthur said finally. “Then, we’ll see you through it all.” He hesitated, then added. “Though we’ll probably need to take our time.”

Rick shrugged, as though it mattered little to him. That level of disregard was why Arthur hesitated so much with the boy. Yet, when he spoke those words earlier, there was a fire within him that he had not seen before. This wasn’t a game, even if he acted like it at times.

“Then, welcome to the Clan.” Sticking his hand out, Arthur watched Rick shake it and the notification bloom, adding another one to their Clan. “Now, let’s talk about our most recent acquisition. We have questions and I’m hoping you have answers.”

“I’ll try,” Rick said, following Arthur as he lead him back.

“All we can ask.” Of him or anyone else.

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.