Chapter 95

Chapter 95

Once he had finished listing his thoughts out, Arthur let his gaze run over both leaders, trying to gauge their thoughts. Mohammad Osman already knew most of what he had talked about, though in explaining his plan a second time, Arthur had refined some of his thoughts further. As for Amah . . .

The older woman let out a long snort as she leaned back, looking around and then tapping the table impatiently. One of her attendants scrambled to grab the tea set nearby, only to look disappointed when there was no actual tea within. She did not say a word of reproach, though, but hurried out the door, obviously searching for something to quench the older woman’s thirst.

In the meantime, Amah Si was speaking to Arthur. “Your big plan is to negotiate for the release of Mel and any others he might have captured, but failing that, you’re going to build an alliance large enough to force Choi to give up or that will finish him off in a fight. Is that it?” Arthur nodded.  “And you want to do this all today, because you don’t want any of the real powers to know about what is happening, or take action.”

“Yes. Once the sects or corporate cronies or families get involved, it’s going to be a mess,” Arthur said. “If we can take care of this problem first, and maybe forge an alliance beforehand, it’ll make any pressure they bring to bear less.”

“Real powers: you should sign up with at least one of them,” Mohammad Osman said. “Or else they will still crush you. And your new friends will run.”

“We won’t,” Amah Si hissed. “And any friend who runs, is no real ally anyway.” She shook her head. “None of the powers, the mover-and-shakers, the cronies or families ever gave a shit about us. We won’t give a shit about them.”

“Then you will die,” Mohammad Osman said, bluntly. “They will bring in their people: cultivators who have ascended two, three towers. Who have passed their second or even third ascension. They will crush you all.”

“You think we don’t have friends of our own?” Amah said, sniffing. “You think we’re completely unaware?”

“It’s unimportant right now,” Arthur said. “We got to fight, soon. Unless you know anyone who can help us out and would be a good fit, we’re going ahead with what we have. Deal with the problem in front of us, quickly and effectively.”

The pair of leaders were forced to reluctantly nod in agreement.

“So what do we do now?” Amah said. “You want me to send my people out? Ask around and make trouble?”

Arthur hesitated, then shook his head. “No. I think you need to bring in those you trust. I’ll interview them. Mr. Osman is getting more information about what the Suey Ying are doing now. Once we know, we’ll send someone to tell them we want to talk.”

“If they don’t send someone here first,” Mohammad Osman said.

“Fine.” Amah Si barked a couple of orders to her attendant, the first having arrived and busy brewing them all cups of tea. Seeing that there was nothing much else for him to do, Arthur flopped himself down onto a seat, even as Uswah came to report that the Lotuses were settling in. 

“You got most of your people here, right?” Arthur said.

“The vulnerable. We have a few still watching over the things we can’t pack up.” At Arthur’s frown, Amah waved a hand dismissively. “It’s fine. We hired Bintang to keep an eye on them. Even Boss Choi won’t start something with them. Can’t afford them for long, but it’ll do for today.”

Arthur nodded. The Bintang Group was a corporation, mostly focused on running security inside the Towers. They usually worked for families and sects who could afford them but couldn’t afford a dedicated security team. Who wanted to deter attacks from other groups that might sully their reputation, make them lose face. Losing face was dangerous and often called for a vicious response. 

“Good.” Arthur reclined, only to lean forward a moment later when the second attendant started bringing people in. Just over a half dozen women, all of whom carried themselves with the earned confidence of a regular combatant.

“This is the first batch of those I’d have you add,” Amah Si said. “Mostly our protectors and core collectors.”

Arthur nodded and glanced at Mohammad Osman. The older man stood up immediately, making excuses to leave and take a room on the other end. As he left, Arthur gestured at Uswah, pointing to the man’s back.

The Yin Body cultivator smirked at Arthur before following Osman, both to keep an eye on him and to offer any help she might have. It was rather annoying for Arthur to have things move so fast, but he would do the best he could.

On that note . . .

“Thank you all for coming,” Arthur said once the door had slid closed. “I won’t keep you here long. You all know that I am the new Clan Head for the Benevolent Durians?” He ignored the snort of laughter and the wide grins that appeared on a few faces. “Well, I am so only because of the sacrifice of your people. So I’m going to be filling my clan with many of the Lotuses.” He paused, putting to words what he had discussed with Mel and the other girls in the past. “This clan won’t be made of the Lotuses only, though. We need allies, we need more fighters. So we’ll take in everyone who fits us.

“But I won’t be accepting just anyone. We’re here to help and grow those who have been trampled upon, to give shelter and space for individuals who have struggled to make it through the Tower. And eventually, we’ll be a power in the real world and do the same out there.”

“So you want to be a charity?” said one of the prospects, a charcoal-skinned woman of south Indian descent. There wasn’t exactly scorn in her voice, or distaste, but something related to it that Arthur could not place. Doubt perhaps? Either way, she stared at him severely.

“No charity. You join us, you work. But I believe, given enough space and training, people can make something of themselves. We’re going to give people that,” Arthur said. “It doesn’t have to be the rich or the fortunate who get it all. We will give people a helping hand, we’ll guide them when we can, but if they refuse.” Arthur shrugged. “There’s only so much we can do.”

“A charity still,” the woman said, while Amah sat in silence. Arthur swore he caught a slight nod of approval from her though.

“A clan,” Arthur said. “One intent on building up those within. And to some extent, those without. Because we’re stronger together. I won’t justify my vision, just letting you know what it is. If you don’t like it, don’t join.” His eyes swept over the group, his voice firming. “That goes for all of you.”

“Any other rules we should know of?” the woman said.

Arthur held up a hand and pointed a finger at her, knowing how rude it was. “What’s your name.”

“Rubini Arumugam.”

“There are two rules right now. There’ll be more,” Arthur said. “Rule one. Tyranny, not democracy. I run this clan. You don’t like it, you can leave. Or be booted.” He felt Amah stir next to him, but he chose not to temper those words. He knew that with allies like her or Mohammad Osman in play, he needed to be firm. Otherwise, he’d just be run over by their strong personalities. “Two. Don’t be a dick. Any other questions?”

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.