Chapter 109

Chapter 109

The next few days passed by quickly enough. Barring a single visit to the Administrative Building that had required more co-ordination than he liked to get through the crowds, Arthur found his time taken up by studying the cultivation exercises and just cultivating. Even the visit to administration to learn more about his clan building and potentially upgrading it and his clan had been a waste of time. There was no information to be had, at least on this floor. Any enquiries were met with either a shrug or a reiteration that further information and upgrades were available on a higher floor.

In some ways, this was not too surprising. He was on the first floor of the most beginner-level of Towers. It spoke of the need to climb the Tower, but to do so he would need to strengthen himself.

Which was the entire point of his next few days. Other than sleeping and the occasional meeting when decisions could not be put off—or when he got too curious about clan matters that he asked for further information—Arthur focused on cultivating.

It was rather peaceful in his rooms, especially knowing that his suite was guarded at all times by others. Yao Jing, Jan and Joe, the trio of Js—as he called them in his head—took turns watching over his rooms. It amused him a little that the Js had decided to take on this role, but he assumed Jan was doing so under Amah Si’s behest to keep an eye on him. Allies or enemies, keeping them close was smart.

The Bark Skin technique was an interesting experiment to apply. However, after the third attempt at making use of the notes, Arthur had placed it aside for later use. There was a reason that Amah Si had called it an incomplete technique, for even if he thought he had the exercise done right, the sizzling pain and cramping muscles of his arm had been a painful backlash.

Better then, for now, to focus on pushing ahead to the first threshold and achieving his second transformation. Using the last of his own share of the beast cores and staying focused, he managed to break through before the end of the second day, hours before he was to meet Mohammad Osman.

Glowing with happiness at his progress, modest though it might be, Arthur could not help but call up his status. It amused him that thanks to the Yin Body, he had a higher total number of points in attributes compared to his actual investment than others at the same threshold. So even if it seemed like he had not gotten far after all these months, he really had.

Or at least, he so told himself.

Cultivation Speed: 1.23 Yin
Energy Pool: 14/15 (Yin) 
Refinement Speed: 0.035
Refined Energy: 0.00 (5)

Attributes and Traits
Mind: 5 (Multi-tasking)
Body: 7 (Enhanced Eyesight, Yin Body)
Spirit: 5 (Sticky Energy)

Yin Body – Cultivation Technique
Focused Strike
Accelerated Healing – Refined Energy (Grade III)
Heavenly Sage’s Mischief
Refined Energy Dart

Dropping the point into Mind had been a simple choice, though the restructuring and pain that came with the change had made him slip into unconsciousness for a few moments once more. Thankfully, it had been less of a shock for his system than before, since this was the second such upgrade. 

The choice of a Mind trait, on the other hand, had taken him a little longer to decide. While Arthur had considered the straightforward choice of Calm Mind, which would have boosted his ability to deal with shocks and analyze fights like Uswah did, he hoped that with better planning such instances would be less common. 

Empath and other social traits had been tempting, but with his experience of the past few days, Arthur leaned away from them. After all, it was better to allow others to manage people problems for him. So long as he could trust them to work for the clan, he could avoid managing people more than necessary. 

No, what was best for the clan was improving himself. There was never enough time, though. And one thing he had noticed was that the demands on his time kept increasing. 

So, it seemed like a good idea to get better at splitting his attention between thinking and doing things, whether in a fight or while talking to others or reading or whatever. Multi-tasking was only a single trait increase, but if he devoted enough traits to it and perhaps found a proper cultivation exercise, Arthur had high hopes of actually being able to process two things fully at once.

Maybe even cultivate and talk! Now, wouldn’t that be amazing.

Till then, at least he could listen and read, fight and analyze, or otherwise split his thoughts a little easier. Multi-tasking might even make a good combination with an Ambidextrous Body trait, which granted the ability to dual wield properly. Future plans, future traits.

All good and well to plan, but he knew that something would crop up to throw all his plans in disarray at some point. It always seemed that way at least.

Bath, then an hour more of refinement to fill that yawning abyss of energy in his core, and finally Arthur made his way down to the meeting rooms, half an hour early. It was there that he took the first real report from Uswah about their resources, reading over the information received and tapping on it after a moment.

“Tax rates of one in twenty cores?” Arthur said, surprised. “That’s pretty low, isn’t it?” After all, even the government took a fifteen percent tax rate. Or others a tenth.

“We don’t have much to offer yet. Also, you’re the one who wanted to grow our people faster,” Uswah said grimly. She pointed further down the document. “We still get a decent amount anyway.”

Tracing his gaze down as indicated, Arthur had to admit she was not wrong. “One core per group per day, with seven groups ranging out there. So fourteen cores in two days.” At that rate, it would take less than half a month for him to go up a full point if he took the entire thing for himself. “Not horrible at all.” No wonder clans—and being clan head—were so sought after. “How are we distributing the treasury then?”

Uswah shrugged. 

“What? You don’t have a suggestion?”

“We do. But what do you want to do?” Uswah said pointedly. “Sometimes, you should consider asking that, no?”

Arthur sighed but nodded. He hated making such decisions, but she was right. He really should decide on this. “One in ten to me. Two to the people who are bureaucrats, as their salary. Two for reserve.” He spoke out loud, using his fingers to count things down. “Five more . . . we invest?” He rubbed his chin. “Use it to push up people? Or give out loans?”

Uswah cocked her head to the side at his words. 

Encouraged, he continued speaking out loud. “Clan loans. We offer three out of the ten as loans to people, and they have to pay us back. Three to one—so we get four back. We loan a maximum of, maybe, ten per person before they pay us back. And the last two out of ten, we use as direct bonuses. No repayment necessary, just an overall boost to our people.”

“How do we decide who gets a bonus?” Uswah said.

Arthur shrugged. “Rotation and best clan members? I’ll leave that to you to figure it out.” At her glare, he shrugged. “Hey, I made the call. Now you can work out the details. But I think this works. We have ways for the ambitious to grow. A bonus for clan members. A way to compensate those who are stuck doing the admin with an upgrade. And to reward those who do particularly well. Maybe we only give a small portion of the bonuses out immediately, and the rest when someone does something amazing.”

“Employee of the month?”

“If it works.”

Uswah snorted but before they could get into it, a knock on the door stopped them short. Yao Jing popped his head in to warn them. “Mohammad Osman, incoming.”


She was already gathering up her materials, while Arthur made sure to flip over the few documents he wanted to keep, hiding the notes. Lacing his fingers together, he drew a deep breath and let it out.

Time to see how deep a hole he’d thrust them into, working with Osman and the Double Sixes.

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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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