Chapter 251

Chapter 251

Snatching up the spear, he eyed the make and feel of it. Rough build, stone spearhead. Probably quite blunt too, though he neither had the hands free nor the inclination to test it out with his fingers. Keeping the Seven Cloud Stepping technique running beneath his skin but not active, Arthur took another jump, angling sideways to land on the next walkway. Seven feet, straight up and at an angle, was a little on the harder side for most people. Before the Tower, he would have struggled to do that, even when they had trained for plyometrics.

Now, it was an easy hop.  Sometimes, he wondered what was the point of all that training, all that time pushing himself outside the Tower. All the blood and sweat and tears, the torn muscles and the hobbling around when after a few days in the Tower and some cultivation and you could just increase your base stats.

Then, of course, he kicked himself. Arthur knew the truth. The base of an individual, that they started from was important. Just as important, surviving the first few levels to increase their base stats. It was hard enough surviving the start of the Tower if you weren't trained or fit, and unless you were some preening crony's son, you'd be dead.

Or stuck. Which was just a slow death in the Tower. Without modern conveniences like indoor plumbing.

Thinking idle thoughts helped keep his mind active as he ran up the minor slope of a walkway, eyes flicking sideways as he searched for more trouble. He timed it, waiting for that rolling ball of fluff on the higher walkway on his right to bounce down and across before he leapt, crossing the distance before the mushroom monster landed on the walkway he just left.

He could fight them, but the longer he was stuck in battle, the more likely he'd get hit by a random spear chucked from above. Stripping monsters of their stones while potentially getting stabbed from above was not his idea of fun. Nor, for that matter, was he particularly in need of monster stones, what with the numbers he had accumulated.

Just as bad, the fact that some of these platforms had a tendency to shift meant that he might find himself moving backwards or rolling down, rather than progressing upwards. Better to keep moving, dodging and stabbing when necessary but only when necessary.

Two more platforms, including one rotating sideways as it rose, had him stepping across to an unmoving one that shuddered and nearly threw him off as it came into contact with his previous ride. Arthur grunted, realising that one of the feather-balls was coming at him, having dropped from above.

He bent low, fitting his new goblin spear to the ground and propping it up while keeping his black spear slightly angled and away. No need to mess up both his spears. Braced for the impact, what Arthur was not expecting was the explosion as the spear pierced the bouncing, feather-filled monster.

No fire or shrapnel, thankfully. It was more of forced air and explosive decompression which threw him off balance enough to knock him off the platform, what with the impact and weight forcing itself on him at the same time. Arthur flailed, dropping the new spear shaft as he fell, twisting around and trying to get his bearings.

Too slow. Too close. The platform that he struck, turning as it was beside him, caught him hard across one arm. Another bounce, another spin through the air. But this time around, he poured energy through the Seven Cloud Stepping technique to offer him purchase moments before slamming into the next platform. He pushed up and sideways, hopping a little to land against another platform that was swinging upwards.

Slamming his spear into the ground, Arthur fought for balance, inner ear still thrown off by the explosion and spinning through the air. He struggled to focus, the scream coming from the creature that just leapt over snapping attention to the forefront. He spun his spear to focus on the hopping mushroom, thrusting forward only to feel an impact on his backpack that forced him to his knees and miss the hopping mushroom.

Another impact, a spear falling off-course and hitting his leg. Blood welled up, the attack coming in sideways and not lodging within but leaving him disoriented further as his face filled with frills and scrabbling, clawed hands and bouncy feet that tried to pound him into the ground. Behind, on his backpack, his balance constantly thrown off.

Panic welled up. Arthur drew on the Heavenly Sage's Mischief, pouring energy into his body to give him strength, stability, speed. 

Explosive movement, one hand grabbing the monster in front of him, hauling it away. Body turning sideways, as a glimpse of something falling caught his attention. Another falling feather-ball, coming for him. The monster jumping in the air fell, its perch knocked away even as Arthur hauled and threw off the mushroom-hopper.

Explosion of air. Blood and musk and anise filled his nostrils.

A foot, booting away the damn hopping mushroom, and he skipped back, moments before a spear embedded itself in the ground. Energy poured through him as Arthur scanned the surroundings, realising the quiet, routine movement of the monsters had sped up. They were all aiming for him now.

Mind spinning through options, Arthur took off. His eyes flicked across the platforms, assessing dangers, movement options. He jumped onto the next platform, wobbled for a moment as it swept sideways, nearly knocking him off as he failed to account for momentum. Forced himself to keep moving.

Ran sideways, nearer to the center where the spin was less pronounced. Wait...

Jumped to a falling platform as it rotated down, running straight up. He blocked a spear with his own, smacking it aside. Saw the feather-ball come ricocheting down the steadily rising platform, picking up speed and bouncing. He ducked low, dodging the monster before it hit him, using the creature's momentum to let it bounce away. 

Watched as a mushroom-hopper landed on the platform and then fell, unable to keep its balance. He was finding it hard to do so himself, the damn platform nearly at a seventy-degree angle and still rising. 

No platforms on hand to jump to, not easily. Not in a single bound.

He steadied himself then leapt, conjuring a cloud to land upon. Step and push, going higher. Landed next to a goblin readying another spear, surprising it. He grabbed the spear just behind the head, hauling the monster close as he stabbed upward. Caught it in the heart, yanking up with his spear to gut the monster before he turned and flipped the body off the platform. A quick flip of the other spear got him into throwing position and he hauled off, tossing it at a feather-ball further upwards.

Explosion, one that he followed, jumping upwards to reach the platform. The decompression knocked off the feather-ball, setting off another explosion further below. Ears ringing, the tube-like structure he moved within amplifying the noise, mixing with the shriek of goblins, the squishy sound of falling mushroom-hoppers and the squealing grinds of the platforms moving.

"Going to get ear damage, from all this slammage," Arthur ranted, even as he took off running. Surprisingly, there was a ladder to the next level, which was good because he needed a moment and the unmoving platform underneath the ladder and above it worked for him. He dodged another mushroom-hopper as it tried to get to him, outpaced it and skidded to a stop, squinting upwards.

Jerked his head back, seconds before a spear pierced the air, tearing skin and fraying one of his ropes for his backpack. Arthur snarled, jumped up and headbutted the goblin that was grabbing for another spear. A hand on the edge of the ladder was all that stopped Arthur from falling back. 

Blood dripping down his forehead, head ringing and filled with the roar of pain, Arthur stabbed at the flickering movement. Once, and again and then once more just to be sure. As his vision cleared up, the goblin wasn’t moving anymore, and Arthur scrambled the rest of the way up the platform. Moments later, a mushroom-hopper jumped up, only to get speared.

Breathing heavy, Arthur spotted the monster core in the goblin's chest, torn open in his frenzy. He grabbed it, slipped it into a pocket, and then looked up.

A third of the way there, and the monsters were not stopping.

Getting up was going to be a pain. 

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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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