Chapter 249

Chapter 249

Swinging vines and dropping platforms were one thing, but whoever decided floating platforms that shifted silently in different patterns was the way to go was just sadistic. Furthermore, the platforms varied in biome.  The issue was figuring out how they moved, if it was indeed not random.

The open plains or carved stone squares were about twenty feet across. Those generally contained a couple of monsters, none of them too difficult to defeat. Annoying, though, since some were bouncing slimes or earth elementals that required you to pound or pierce them just right. Even so, those were the nicest ones to be on.

However, that was not the only variety that Arthur faced. There were the magma, the lava-filled walkways that would choke and kill those who clambered within, spitting salamanders always waiting. The sand-laden rolling hills of a desert where scorpions and beetles lay in wait were just as bad, especially since they occasionally swapped those creatures out for even more dangerous snakes.

He'd already been bitten once, and Arthur's head was woozy from the poison pumping through his body, each thud harder than the next and bringing a roaring to his ears.

It was why he was seated here, on one of those rolling hills, watching the world go by as he struggled to get his body under control; actively utilising the Accelerated Healing technique and borrowing some of the precious energy in his core. He couldn't refine any of the monster cores he was acquiring right now, but there was another thing his mind was doing anyway, beyond watching for more trouble.

He was trying to piece together the puzzle that was the sliding platforms. They came together and parted in a pattern that tickled the back of his brain, taunting him that there was a way that it all came together such that you could cross them to the final, unmoving finish line. 

However, he hadn't explored it all yet, and after reaching two dead-ends, characterised by platforms that just refused to connect further and forcing him to backtrack till he grabbed another one that would move him ahead, Arthur was intent on figuring this out. His initial attempts at just winging it weren’t succeeding, only adding to his injuries—but also to his pile of monster cores—as he traversed the land.

Five different platform types were here: desert, plains, lava, night, and forest. Two maps he'd found so far showed a third of the pattern of movement for one kind of biome. In this case, the lava and the plains movement. It would have been simple if everything moved in a single horizontal pattern. After all, just like those children’s games where you slid tiles around, there was an eventual solution if you just kept moving.

Unfortunately, these platforms added vertical movement too. Going up or down at set intervals. With three different layers, there were dozens of platforms in play at any one time. Trying to actually understand where each platform linked up and moved ahead seemed to be a matter of luck rather than strategy.

Unless you had some insanely mathematical mind. Or grabbed enough clues. And the slight yellow glow on a half-dozen tiles or more showed where such clues might be found. All he had to do was make his way to one glowing tile, beat the monster that guarded it, and take the clue from the pedestal.

Once joined with the map he had stuffed into his pocket, the clues blended and added to the map.

Easy. If he wasn't already poisoned, tired, and rather grumpy.

"Why isn't this easier?" Arthur growled, forcing himself to his feet. Two options from here, both with a potential for a clue coming up. He just needed to decide if he went forward or back. The one ahead might mean a single platform traversal, the one behind two. That assumed they didn't rise or drop. Or that he didn't.

He figured he needed to move soon though, or else his current platform was going to move on him. Cursing under his breath, he moved forward. Always forward, because you never knew what might be behind.

With a grind and thump, the two platforms glided across one another. He snorted a little at the sight and stepped across, dropping to a knee immediately even as his Enhanced Eyesight struggled to deal with the sudden danger the loss of light resulted in. Going from bright daylight to pitch-black night had a tendency to do that.

It wasn't, of course, actually pitch-black. It just felt like it, what with his eyes taking a bit of time to adapt. In the meantime, he listened. Good thing too, as the ribbit that preceded the creature's jump was signal enough for Arthur to lash out. He missed the silhouette that threw itself at him for the most part, clipping only the creature's leg as it tried to land on him. Good enough that it dropped to the earth not far away, at which point he slammed the haft of the spear down on its body a few more times till it stopped moving.

Peeling the body apart and wishing he had gloves as the poisoned skin took effect on him, Arthur was nearly able to see by the time he was done. Nearly. 

Night-time swamp area. All kinds of joy. At least, the ground here was marshy and swampy, but it didn't require him to wade through the water. A good thing too, though staying on the path meant he was easier to attack. Keeping his spear moving and clipping off overhanging branches and the occasional spiderweb—and dealing with said web owners—kept Arthur busy, long enough to make his way to the center of the platform.

To spot the giant frog that guarded it. Half the size of a human, it opened its mouth to release its sticky, nasty tongue which Arthur dodged by stepping behind a tree. He released a Refined Exploding Energy Dart, and the timing was perfect, leading to the muffled thump as mouth closed in on the attack and the resulting explosion stayed concentrated within the creature.

The only negative was the cumulative effect of wading through and touching even more poisoned skin, this one blistering his hands and fingers even as he used strips of cloth to provide some protection. It wasn't great, but at least the beast stone was of a decent size and quality and the next clue filled in more of his map.

Just a half-dozen more platforms like this and he would be able to saunter across them to the end.


If you believed that, Arthur had a great piece of plantation land, filled with ripe durian and mango trees he wanted to sell you. Land that the government really, really, wasn't going to take back. Pinky promise.

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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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