Chapter 196

Chapter 196

Cultivation was never actually fun. Arthur knew some people found tranquility and peace in it, and he had done enough meditation that he could achieve those states of serenity for a time. But for the most part, the mind had to be active enough during the process that one couldn’t actually consider it meditating. Outside of a few cultivation fanatics, most people just found the task tediously repetitive.

Like going to the gym, but even more boring.

Arthur never found the actual act of cultivating fun. Long years of discipline helped him keep going longer than others, and he knew how to break up his routine sufficiently so that he never actually grew too bored. But there was, he had to admit, something extra boring about cultivating while sitting in a room. Compared to his early months in the Tower, when he had nothing to his name and no abilities, the safe but all-too-quiet sessions of cultivation and study in the clan building were practically torture.

In between he had administrative meetings, of course. Ones he was forced to join, being clan head and all. But while he did not care for these meetings, at least there he could find some amusement.




“And eleven tins of kueh kapit a month,” Arthur said firmly. “And we’re talking big Milo tins here, not canned-food size.”

His pronouncement had much the effect he expected, causing the group to start. The young man sitting across from Arthur stared at him, jaw shutting before he spluttered, “What?”

“You heard me. Once you exit with our help, you supply us eleven tins a month. We’ll handle the delivery, but you have to supply it,” Arthur said adamantly. 


“Yes. And that’s not negotiable.”

“Why me?” the young man said.

“Su Mei said you’re Nyonya?” Arthur said. A slight nod from the young man of mixed-race heritage. “Then you’ll know where to get the good stuff. And eleven tins should be nothing once you’re out.”

“I could just give you more money.”

“Eleven tins.” Arms crossed, Arthur waited for the man to nod in assent before he drifted out.

Only then did Su Mei looked at Arthur, perplexed. “Really?”

“Ehh, I’m sure he could do it. And the additional clause and weirdness will keep him on his toes. If he starts forgetting what he owes us, that’ll likely be the first to go,” Arthur replied. “My green M&Ms.”


“Never mind. I might be misremembering it.”

“But why eleven?” Siao Mei said. “It’s oddly specific.”

“A man’s got to eat, you know?”




“This technique manual is around eighty percent accurate,” boasted the balding man on the other side of the table. “We’ve got two out of ten people studying Harvesting Rain. With this technique you can tap into ambient humidity. Perfect if you ever run into a desert environment.”

“Which is not present on the first few floors of the Tower,” Jaswinder said, bored. “We don’t—”

“Four copies. You create four copies of the manual and we’ll pay you,” Arthur cut in.

“Four copies?” The man frowned. “We are looking to sell a single copy.”

“One copy or four, it’s just a question of who spends the ink.” Arthur pointed a finger at him. “That’s you. Or the deal is off.”

“The deal is already off,” Jaswinder complained. “We have a budget, boss.”

Eyes darting between the two, the man grunted. “Eleven cores.”


“Daylight robbery!”

“I’m not the one trying to sell snow to Eskimos,” Arthur said. “Three cores.”

The man opened his mouth to object, then seeing the glint in Arthur’s eyes chose to give a single, jerky nod.

“Perfect. Payment on delivery.” When the man left, looking annoyed, Arthur gave Jaswinder a thumbs up. “You were great playing the part of the customer who doesn’t want the goods.”

“That’s because we don’t! What’s the point of having that technique?”

Arthur smiled. “None. But there’s always the future.”




“So you want to join the Durians?” Arthur said.

The young woman was barely over eighteen at most, if Arthur was being generous. Frankly, she looked fourteen, but some women had baby faces. He had one too, till he reached his early twenties. Still, being shy was not helping her case right now.

“Okay,” he continued. “Then, the most important question: Durians, bitter or not?” He stared at her seriously, while the young woman looked surprised. She started to turn towards Jaswinder when Arthur added, “Don’t look at her. Just answer the question.”

“Uhhh. Not bitter. I like it a little sweet,” she said.

“Hmmm.” Arthur nodded and sat back. For the rest of the meeting, the poor girl kept looking at him nervously as she answered the remainder of questions, which came from Jaswinder. In the end, she was dismissed.

“And what was that for?” Jaswinder said. “Bitter or sweet?”

Arthur grinned. “Just having a little fun.” He stood up, stretching. “Let her in.”

“So sweet’s the right answer?”

“Oh, hell no. Not my problem what she likes to eat. But the rest of her answers were good, even when she was nervous. She’s truthful, even when she’s not sure if it’ll get her kicked out.” He smiled grimly. “We’ll need people like that.”

He left her with that to think about, while he went back to refining cores. The plan was to use up the cores they had acquired and whatever the Chin family could provide. Soon enough, it would be time for the next floor.

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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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