Chapter 239

Chapter 239

Arthur grimaced as he walked along the sand dunes, his spear stabbing into the ground as he walked to provide stability. Each step he took had his balance shifting, boot sinking deep into granular sand forcing him to pay attention to his balance.

At the same time, he scanned the surroundings and wiped at his face occasionally where sweat had been squeezed from like a rather damp sponge. Worst was the dampness beneath his armour that stained his undershirt, underwear and pants. Each moment of movement made the shifting fabric and the straps across his body and along his armour chafe.

“Damn but its hot. And not a shade; spot.” Well, not every rhyme was going to be a winner. But the idea was the same, what with the sheer heat of this platform. It made little sense, what with the other platform nowhere as hot, but that was the Tower for you.

Sometimes, logic just had to take a vacation. Especially considering the entire floor had been floating through the sky.

Not that any of this was unexpected. The desert platform level was quite common, though there were a number of variations in the type and, more importantly, variety of monsters there was around. Right now, Arthur was looking around trying to figure out what exactly he was dealing with.

Rolling sand dunes, as far as the eye could see. No cacti, no oasis, nothing at all. Just sand. This entire platform was huge, comparatively; but it should not take him more than an hour, even with the shifting sands to get to the end. It would have taken less, but again, space itself had warped so that he had quite the distance to walk.

End of the day, once he reached the end, all he’d have to do was climb the much higher wall.

So far though, he couldn’t see a single monster. No lurking scorpions, no underground cacti with deep roots, no camouflaged snakes with rattling tails. Nothing at all that worried him.

“Perhaps it’s too hot?” Arthur muttered to himself. Or, you know, it could be that he was lucky and it was one of the rare empty platforms. They happened, of course. And while he wouldn’t say no to a rest – as much as sweltering in the heat might be a rest – the fact that this was his second platform meant that he really wasn’t ready to stop.

Best to get at least another one done, especially while he was still fresh.

Out of the corner of his eyes, Arthur noticed a shifting in the sands. He turned to the motion as he stepped forward, lifting his spear entirely out of the ground and shifting the angle. He took hold of it with both hands as he waited.

Might just be shifting sand. The breeze that blew sometimes toppled over tiny mounds, or the addition of one too many grains sent a chain reaction off. But…


Movement, undulating movement. A bare dozen feet away from him.

Thinking fast Arthur shifted course rather than meet it straight on, trying to move away from the movement. He took his gaze off it for a second to check for additional threats in the direction he was moving and by the time he glanced back, it was gone.

Hun dan!” Arthur cursed. He took another step away, hoping to draw out whatever it was, but if it was moving, he couldn’t see it.  Perhaps it had stopped moving. Perhaps it had gone away. Perhaps it was his imagination.

He snorted. Not a chance. Instinct hummed and he forced the energy he’d kept at the ready, humming at a low level through his body. He lightened up immediately as the Sevon Cloud Step took effect, making his next step easier, his feet not sinking in as deep.

But he wasn’t done.

Instinct made him trigger the cloud portion as he took his next big step, rearing up over the ground and pulling himself out of the sand. He pushed, hard on the cloud moments before it dispersed, casting himself into a long leap away from his position.

On instinct, he tried to form a second cloud and failed, the slight wisps of smoke disappearing as he crashed through the location his foot impacted, his foot sinking in deep into the sand. He barely noticed as he surged forward, head turned back the way he had come from, such that he caught the next motion fully.

It exploded out of the sand, nearly a foot long. It’s back was curved a little, a half-dozen spindly legs propelling it forward as the bristly edge of its carapaced body twitched. More worrying were the giant pair of pincers in the front of the body opened wide atop its thinner head, the ‘shaft’ portion of the arrowhead like body.

The name of the creature and sketches of the monsterised version and pictures of the real thing flashed through Arthur’s mind as he watched it try to catch him where he had been. If not for his surge of motion, it would have caught up.

As it was, as Arthur stumbled up a dune, he watched it burrow into the sand and scuttle forward, legs digging in deep and allowing it to rush after him faster and lighter than he could move.

Making a snap decision, Arthur spun around, letting his spear extend above his head before coming crashing down in the direction he thought the ahlf-buried creature was. A hard snap and a bounce as it impacted the ground, throwing up sand told him he hit something.

Moments later, as he retracted his weapon, he watched the insect crawl out, half its body’s shattered. He struck again, crushing the monster, forgetting one rather important part.

Like it’s namesake, the damn creatures were worked in packs.

Feet grounded, he felt a sharp pain along his legs as one of the creatures bit into his feet, pincers biting into the flesh of his leg. Letting out a hiss, Arthur forced himself to engage the cloud again and leapt upwards, dragging the light insect with him as he bounced away to a safer spot moments before more of the insects arrived to attack his former location.

Cursing as he landed, he shortened his grip on the staff and used the metal tipped end to smash into the monster’s body a few times. The soft, yielding sand absorbed his attacks enough that he needed multiple thrusts to break it free.

The moment he was done, he was scrambling away, scanning the ground for telltale waves as he hunted for the next attacker. He could not outrun the creatures, but he definitely could not stay still. This was going to be a drawn out battle of maneuvering and camouflage.

And him already crippled.

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.