Chapter 259

Chapter 259

He was wrong. It took two days and the arrival of the rest of the team - all of them, thankfully surviving - before things went to hell. In-between, he'd received word from Lam and Cassie that matters were proceeding apace, though slowly. Content to leave them to it, Arthur kept drawing down the extra stones he'd acquired, allowing Yao Jing and Uswah to handle the occasional query about the Guild. In a way, without the Guild headquarters to bring eye-catching attention, thus far the number of enquiries had been pretty low.

When chaos arrived, it wasn't in the shape or form that Arthur had expected. The incessant knocking on his door while he was cultivating had been annoying but ignorable till he was done with his current  stone. But once he had finished, he found himself annoyed by the irregular knock.

Clambering off his bed, he grabbed his kris and flipped it over so that the blade rested against his forearm. Then, using his other arm, he threw the door open. 

"Now, who the hel- urk!" Arthur snarled, his words stopped by the explosion of movement the door opening threw. He saw the fist coming at his face and blocked it, twisting his hand to bring the side of the kris in to cut, only for the blade to skitter off the hard leather bracer. He shifted targets, aiming to slide it down and cut further, but the attacker was not done.

Step inside, knee coming in on the inside of his leg. Arthur shifted weight and raised his leg, taking the attack off-line a little so that while it disrupted his balance a little, it didn't hit the nerve cluster. Not that that helped, as the arm was withdrawn, another hand smacking at his own arm that was slicing downwards, the kris being caught in a high grip even as the body kept moving in, body checking him with their shoulder.

Arthur found himself sliding backwards, the grip on his kris slipping with each moment. Rather than fight it, he released the weapon and turned his own hand and body, pivoting to bring his other arm into play. Kept tight to his body, palm pulled back, he slammed a short and hard strike into the ribs of his attacker.

Hard enough to send his opponent back with a loud oof, grip on his arm relaxing a little. A snap kick from Arthur's front leg caught the side of a knee as it was withdrawing.

Then, finally, the kris clattered to the ground and the door, thrown wide open slammed into the other side. Finally, Arthur caught sight of his attacker.

"Tai Kor! Really?" Arthur grumped, keeping his hands up in guard but a portion of his mind relaxing a little. 

His opponent, standing at six foot one inches with a tight, fashionable buzz cut and the features that would have made him a movie star or model in a world without AI models and industry connections grinned. "A little slow, eh, DiDi?"

"You've gotten faster. A lot more Body or what?" Arthur grumbled, shaking his arms out as he saw his big brother relax. "And harder. What the hell, it felt like hitting concrete." He should know. He'd punched enough walls in his time for 'training'. His toes were still smarting after that snap kick, the nerves along the ball of his foot still tingling.

"Lightning reflexes, Swift and Explosive Power," Arthur's Tai Kor said, proudly. A moment later, he winced as he got smacked over the back of his head. "What?"

"Don't just announce your traits, you idiot." Stepping the rest of the way, Arthur's other visitor stepped in, looked around and then closed the door firmly. "Good to see you, Arthur."

"Tai Chei." Arthur greeted her, respectfully. "And you too." He frowned. "Surprised to see you two still on this level."

"Blame this one," the pixie cut beauty said with a roll of her eyes. "Broke his leg in the previous level and ended up taking nearly a month to get out because he kept having to backtrack." 

"You could have kept going, Leia." 

"As if. You think your mother would ever let me hear the end of it, Eric?" Leia replied. Leia - or Aleia as her actual name was, but one only called her that if you were reading her government documents or wanted to really piss her off - was looking around carefully, taking in Arthur's residence with trained eyes. They stopped on his armour, his kris that he had picked up and sheathed while the pair were arguing and then the spear. "More surprising you're here this fast. I thought you were going to train longer."

"I did." Arthur hesitated, then admitted. "I'm kind of on a speedrun."

"With the Chin's. So we heard." Eric sounded extremely disapproving which was not surprising. Unlike many others, Eric had actually come from money. Or did, before his father had been fired and his job automated away when the Prime group bought the manufacturing plant he'd been working in. 

"Did you hear why?" Arthur said, straightening his shirt out and then glancing around. Realising there really wasn't a place to sit, he flopped down on his own bed, gesturing for them to do what they want. He knew they would. Formality was something you bothered with with strangers. These two were family. 

Or as close as you could get.

"Garbled rumors. Some rather unbelievable. Especially when it concerns a runt like you," Eric said. The last sentence and term should ahve been playful. Would have been, normally, but this time there was an edge to it that Arthur didn't like. 

"I'm a Clan Head," Arthur said, simply. "Long story why, but I'm in the middle of putting together a Clan. To do that, well, you need money."

"And so you went to the Chin's." Eric sneered then shifted when Leia shifted too, flinching away before she struck. "Fine, he can talk."

"It's not exactly how it happened. They came to me." Arthur hesitated, then shrugged. "But yeah, I'm allied with them. They have money and influence, and I need it." Leaning forward, fixing them with his gaze, he added. "We need it."

"We, eh?" Leia sighed. "You know tsifu doesn't want anything to do with the Tower."

"Maybe. But he still trains us, and we all do, right?" Arthur gestured around. The answer was obvious. "And I think he'd be happier if more of us survived, no?"

"Fine. Why don't you tell us, about this long story," she said.

Arthur nodded, detailing his initial entrance, his trouble making and the Suey Tong and then, later on, the events that led him to joining the Thorned Lotuses and finally, ending up being the Clan Head. A couple of times, he could see the pair mentally face palming themselves, but eventually, he ran down after detailing his most recent exploits.

"You weren't joking, were you? You really are the Clan head." A slight pause, then Leia gestured. "Strip."

"WHAT?" Eric and Arthur shouted together.

"I want to see it."

"Tai Chei..."

"Stop playing stupid. The Clan crest. Seal. Whatever. Show me lah!" Leia clapped her hands. "If I'm doing this, I want to make sure it's pretty."

"And if not? You going to give up joining us?" Arthur said, his last words muffled as he took off his shirt. Good thing he had chosen to keep it in a relatively easy to locate position, rather than somewhere a lot more private. Hiding his face in the shirt also let Eric take a moment to compose himself, what with the man's well known jealousy about Leia rearing his head. You'd think he'd learn to give up on her, what with her turning him down repeatedly, but he kept banging his head on that wall. Going so far as to introduce him to his family even.

"You really did call it the Benevolent Durians," Eric said, awe and surprise in his voice. "You really are an idiot eh?"

"I like the name," Arthur said, crossing his arms defensively over his bare chest. "So you two in or not?" 

"You have to ask?" Leia said, holding a hand up to his arm and then shifting the hand around on her body as though trying to figure out where to put it. 

"Ya lah. You know someone has to watch over you with those babi about," Rick said. Then, he added. "So, there's just one thing..." 

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.