Chapter 182

Chapter 182

Back in their clan headquarters, Arthur was quick to induct Harley and a few other Thorned Lotuses into the clan. He flopped down into a seat in the dining room while leaving Mel to deal with the arrangements—most importantly, sleeping arrangements. Building bunk beds and, more often, stringing newly woven hammocks  between walls in rooms helped them maximize space, but it was not comfortable by any means.

Still, it would have to do until they hit the next inflection point of clan growth. At which point, Arthur could only hope they’d get a building upgrade option.

“That was not the solution I expected from you,” Jaswinder said, arms crossed as she watched her people disappear towards their new rooms. She looked highly conflicted as she watched her people leave, before she looked at Arthur. “But . . . thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Arthur sniffed. “I prefer not to fight.” Sobered, he added. “Especially people. Killing people is . . . different.”

“It is.”

For a time, the pair fell silent as they struggled with their own demons. Then, Arthur shook his head, discarding dark thoughts aside. He would deal with his own misgivings about killing people—and his rather scary lack of morals about it—for later.

“So. You owe me.”

“I do.”

“You know what I want.”

“My people.”

Arthur nodded.

“I’ll . . . I’ll tell them.” Then, Jaswinder added, “I was going to do it anyway. You got her out, without anyone dying. I promised myself: If you did it, if you actually were good for us, I’d tell the rest to join you.”

“And you?” Arthur raised an eyebrow.

“I thought you didn’t want me.”

“Uswah’s told me a little about you.” Arthur propped his chin on a hand, staring up at Jaswinder from his seat in the dining room. “I think we need you.” He watched her brighten, before adding, “As a spear.”

“Not as a leader?”

“Nope. You have the wrong temperament for it. For being a big boss, at least. Maybe head of security or something, but not the floor leader,” Arthur said.

“Oh, thank Vishnu.” Jaswinder said, taking a seat with a sigh.

“You’re not angry?”

“Do you think I wanted to be their boss?”

Arthur frowned, then nodded. That... actually tracked with what Uswah had learned about her. An overbearing sense of protectiveness and duty, probably one of the best fighters on the second floor, and... someone who had not progressed for nearly five years.

“So, what are you going to do?” Arthur asked curiously.

“Well, you mentioned head of security, right?” Jaswinder said slowly.

“For now. Until things stabilize.” He paused, then shrugged. “If you can find a replacement, or the floor boss decides it, then no more than that.”

“Good.” She smiled, looking younger now. Less stressed and angry. “Then, maybe...”


“I can leave.”

“We’ll do our best,” Arthur said, looking around the building. “That’s the point, after all, of all this. Making it viable for everyone to actually climb the Tower. Not have people stuck, for no good reason.”

“Some of us . . .” She grimaced. “Have injuries.”

“I’ll find a solution,” Arthur her cut off. “There’s always a solution, if you try hard enough.” He laughed softly and a little wryly. “Isn’t that the promise of the Towers? A solution to our problems.”

“I never believed that. Did you?”

Arthur shrugged in response and Jaswinder’s grin widened. “You really did!”

“It’s not a perfect solution. But what kind of world did we live in before? AI and automation and corporations owning everything. Us given a small allowance, just so we wouldn’t starve. And any kind of attempt to fix that or protest crushed by the police or army or by others of our own kind,” Arthur said. “The media makes it seem like we all hate each other, and of course, we end up doing so.”

“Are the Towers any better?”

“It shook things up, at least,” Arthur said. “But we’re getting off track. We were talking about your place.”

“Decided already, no?”

“I guess. Though . . . any suggestions for who should be the floor boss?”

Jaswinder snorted. “If I knew, I wouldn’t be the boss, would I?”

“Were the boss.”


Arthur chuckled and waved his hand. “Whatever. Glad we sorted this out. Go tell the rest of your people, and we’ll start adding them in.” He sighed, rubbing his face. “It’s going to be a pain figuring out how to fit them all in.”

“Can you?” Jaswinder said, looking back out the door.

“Not really, at least not without stuffing people into rooms and piling them on top of each other. But . . . ” Arthur shrugged. “It comes with the benefits, right?”

“What if they didn’t want to stay?” Jaswinder said.

“Who wouldn’t? You can cultivate in here much better. And it’s safe.”

“Some of us aren’t looking to go up and aren’t in a rush. And many of us have our own residences already,” she said.

“Ah, right. I didn’t think about that.” Arthur frowned, then brightened. “I’ll just have Mel sort it out.”

“Do you make her do everything?”

“Only the boring parts,” Arthur said.

Jaswinder looked like she was about to say something but, after a moment, turned around and walked out. Arthur watched her leave, humming to himself. So. She could learn.

Now, it was time to find Mel and dump more work on her. Whistling to himself as he exited the building, Arthur went searching for the lady.

This was, in spite of all expectations, a good day.



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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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