Chapter 232

Chapter 232

Arthur took to the marshlands by himself, no Yao Jing, none of his other teammates. They were still working on learning the Seven Cloud Stepping technique and couldn’t be bothered. As for Cassie and Lam Kor, they were busy cultivating. So, alone, in the middle of the night, Arthur journeyed into the surrounding areas to hunt for monsters and gather their cores. A rather necessary requirement of pushing ahead.

Now, he was ahead, the energy of the Seven Cloud Stepping technique infusing his body as he held his spear with him, jumping from one location to another as he searched for monsters to kill. As he did so, he learnt about his technique, understanding it better and better with each moment.

The first, the lightening, allowed him to cross wider stretches of water without even having to utilize the cloud stepping portion. He flew across tens of feet with ease, bouncing off root after root, footing firm on the slippery ground. Occasionally, he’d land and pivot, push down on a cloud that he formed and strike.

Upward, sideways, downwards.

It varied, depending on where the monsters were. Monsters abound, leeches, snakes, even a large catfish or two that he found as he jumped all around. He struck, injuring or killing with ease before he’d reposition himself, allowing himself to stop long enough to pluck the monster core from their body. And then, he’d move on.

A single cloud was all he could form, and not very long. A second or so, sometimes a little briefer, sometimes a little longer. Enough time to stand and strike, but not long enough to stand upon anything. Not just yet though, though he felt that at some point, he’d reach that.

A lot of information that he was learning, and little of it included in the actual description.

Seven Cloud Stepping Technique
This movement technique lightens the body, reducing their weight and allows the technique user to form clouds which may be stepped upon for leverage and footholds. As user strengthens their knowledge of the technique, additional clouds may be formed up to a maximum of seven.
Cost: 1 Energy per Minute. Cost increases if clouds are formed.


He finished pulling the monster shard from the latest corpse, staring at the portion of a normal stone that came from the leech and sighed. One of the worst parts of this floor was the lack of full stones. The creatures themselves were easy enough to kill, so long as you didn’t let them swarm you. And being able to literally leap into the air, kick off a cloud and keep moving helped with that a lot.

On the other hand, it did make collecting a little less efficient. Having to travel to his prey rather than have them come to him was always going to be slower. Especially if, for example, a monkey tribe or leech swarm chose to attack him.

“About time to stop?” Arthur muttered to himself. He hopped up and down a few times, looked around him and nodded. Not here, though. Over there was a bigger tree with some actual earth and land gathered around its trunks such that he would have more space to fight.

He took a leap over, marveling at the distance he could make now and landed smoothly, killing the Seven Clouds Stepping technique the moment he had his balance. Even knowing it was about to happen, he tottered for a moment as his balance came to rest more firmly on the root.

Then, squatting smoothly, using his spear as a third leg, he breathed in and focused within. If he was going to be in a real fight, it was time to pull some energy to him. He could wait for the monsters to arrive while he cultivated and refilled the tank.

One day, perhaps, he’d actually have a proper tank. But not yet.




Arthur lashed out with the kris, never moving from the squatting position he was in. The fifth leech that had come up to him died, its body deflating as the liquids rushed out of it and the poison within the enchanted kris entered its body. It twitched and squirmed, the slimy, wet feel of its body making Arthur shudder a little, the grossness added to by the coldness of its body.

“Leeches all want to suck, but they’re just made of yuck.”

Stopping his cultivation, Arthur swung his freed kris a few times to get rid of the blood before he sheathed it. In the periphery, he spotted the growing leech swarm coming for him. He managed to get a good twenty minutes of peace and quiet, only having to kill a single leech in the first six minutes before the next one came.

But time for relaxation was over. These creatures were swarming and it was time to get to work.

Arthur debated his options, eyeing the numbers coming. Best to start with what he knew, for now and then only use the Seven Cloud Stepping technique when he needed it. He was going for endurance here, and that meant being careful about how much energy he was using.

On that note, he stood and rotated his feet and ankles a bit, swaying his hips as he loosened up. Then, a single step and thrust, sending the haft of his spear skittering along the hollow of his lead hand as he guided the attack to strike. It plunged in with little issue, slicing through bulbous flesh and erupting out the other side before Arthur yanked upwards, flipping the body backwards.

As though this most recent attack was the trigger, the leeches started moving faster, attempting to swarm him. His spear never stopped moving, slicing along bodies to tear long lines of injury, thrusting forwards or battering aside with equal fervor.

He chose to walk, carefully, steps crossing root and soil in a circular fashion as he traversed the land around the tree he had chosen to take his stand. Uncountable numbers of leeches kept coming, filling the night with their darkly squirming shape, only reflected moon light and the twinkling of skies highlighting them.

If not for his Keen Sight, if not for his Yin body, they might have been hidden. If not for their unnatural persistence, they might have fled. Or just slept. But instead, they came for him, and Arthur answered their unwanted interest with the sharp end of his spear.

Blood splashed, bodies deflated and guts spilled out. Bodies piled in the water, sinking into their depths or covered the branches and mud near his location, staining the water. Feeding frenzies below the water, glimmering darkly and observable by the increased ripples spoke of battles being held even deeper underwater.

Arthur ignored it all, his weapon striking and spinning, twisting and battering. A leech, somehow managing to make it to the treetop branches, dropping low met a headbutt before it could latch on. Another climbed up his pants, wrapping itself around his leg, teeth burrowing into the side of his thigh and eliciting a hiss. He struck it three times, even as his staff spun, battering it with the back of his hand before it was crushed; body deflating and blood – his own, the leeches – mingling as its body hung off his legs.

They kept coming, filling the surroundings and finally, Arthur chose to flee. The flow of the Seven Clouds Stepping technique energy gave him strength, lightened his body. Flagging limbs and exhaustion that threatened to pull him down washed away for a brief moment as he leapt sideways and away, staff battering one falling leech aside as he jumped.

A cloud formed ahead of him, firming moments before he landed, the creation simpler in this humid environment. He landed and under the spongy mixture, Arthur leapt again to another, less crowded tree.

He dared not flee too far or lose out on his corpses, on his own loot. But repositioning to strike, to attack and kill more of the creatures, that was viable. Necessary even.

There had to be an end of these monsters, and he would find it.

Or run away.

Because he certainly wasn’t going to die trying.

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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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