Chapter 226

Chapter 226

That boot did not drop, not for a while. Not even when the team made their way across the lake in one piece. Not a single ripple of the damn hantu air had appeared, the water demons choosing to leave them alone so long as they stayed in the water. In the end, picking up the damn heart was just a slog. Outside of the one, rather scary, incident.

Rebuilding the rafts took longer, with the group forced to range a little deeper first into the marshlands before they could acquire more building materials. After that, rather than waste time, Arthur took to cultivating while the others built the rafts. It was a choice he made reluctantly, knowing the entire team needed to strengthen but he most of all.

Sometimes, being the boss was a benefit, but it still weighed heavily on him.

He cultivated with the monster cores they’d garnered from the tree, that they’d picked up on their way over. Long hours, processing energy through his body, over and over again so that he gathered it within his dantian, building upwards. Cores were the most efficient way to cultivate, but soon enough he ran low from the share of cores that he had kept.

Rather than ask for more, and while they were still in the vicinity of the tree, he turned to cultivating Tower energy. By the time they were ready to go, Arthur had gotten bored and had switched over to training, trying to hold and enhance his ability to form the Refined Exploding Energy Darts and flow energy through Focused Strike.

Splitting his focus was hard work, and working on two different, untrained techniques was even worst. But the process of study to improve his ability to split his focus and use multiple battle techniques was necessary. It would increase his effectiveness in combat and in general quite significantly.

By the time a day had come and gone, Arthur felt he had made a decent degree of improvement and the Tower seemed to agree.

Simultaneous Flow (57.9%)
Refined Exploding Energy Dart (61.1 %)

For Arthur, the Refined Exploding Energy Dart was natural. It made sense to him, in a way that the Simultaneous Flow technique did not. If not for his traits giving him a leg up, he would have required significantly more time to improve it.

“Time to get on, oh great lord, eh?” Jan called out, breaking Arthur from his contemplations. He pushed the notification way of his progress and grabbed his spear, grateful that it was back.

“You know, speaking in Manglish and saying ‘great lord’, it just doesn’t sit well,” Arthur said.

“Who want to sit?” Yao Jing asked, using the pole he’d buried in a nearby root system to shift the raft back.

“No one.” Arthur stepped over carefully to the raft, noting it was a little more slipshod than the previous one he’d built. Then again, it only had to hold together till they got back.  “Time to go.”

He looked around, waving Yao Jing to lead the way. He followed soon after, trusting that Mel would take the rearguard once again, with Rick standing close by. Maybe he would look at having people carry some paddle boards along when he got out. There could be some decent income there, lending it out.

Plans for the future swirled through his head and he could not help but touch the bag he’d stored one of the fruits in. The second was with Rick, since the man was the least likely to get engaged in direct combat. One way or the other, they would get the heart back.




Exploding from the water, eyes stinging and hacking with water having entered his nose, Arthur swam for the surface. His spear was lodged in the creature’s side, the massive snake that had dropped towards him impaled in one portion of its lengthy green-brown scaled body.

He dodged to the side as it lunged for him, less worried about getting bitten than getting caught. The creature’s body splashed against the surface of the water with quite the explosive violence before it pulled back, retreating upwards to the thick branch it had laid itself upon.

Celaka!” Arthur backpedalled in the ater as furiously as he could, trying to put some distance between him and the creature. He had no time to attack it, trusting instead to his friends. The first to engage was Jan, the spearhead plunging into the body and ripping sideways. The wound itself was bloody, but thin.

The snake hissed, pulling back further. It swayed to the side, dodging the next spear strike and struck at Jan, battering the shaft of the spear aside and striking her with its body. It pushed her back, nearly knocking her off her raft.

Hand, reaching backwards, found a root. He scrambled backwards, trying to stand and get into the fight. Moments later, the roar of a pistol firing filled the chamber. Again and again, the bullets struck the creature along its body. It twisted and hissed, trying to get away from the attacks and launch itself at the others. Moving downwards, it landed on the raft, nearly sinking the building with its weight as it did so.

Realising he couldn’t move closer, he raised his own hand and focused. The Refined Energy Dart formed there, even as the snake managed to wind the top of its body around the base of Jan’s feet. Then, twisting it kept rising, attempting to wend its way around her body.

“Off. Off!” Jan said, pushing at the body, trying to get away.

Rick’s guns had fallen silent, no longer having a clear line of sight. On the other hand, Arthur could see the back of it’s body clearly and he fired at it, watching his dart enter the flesh from behind. It struck and drilled through, causing the creature to twist and thrash but kept climbing.

Realising that ranged attacks weren’t going to be enough, not while the monster kept crawling along Jan’s body, he wadded into the water again, moving forwards. Rick had done the same, holstering his pistols and then pushing with the pole he retrieved forwards.

Even so, the snake was nearly two thirds of the way up Jan’s body, tightening its grip with each moment and causing to scream and shout as she tried to keep it from rising before they arrived. Arthur made his way there first, the kris slipping through scales into the creature’s body after a second strike.

Immediately, he dragged it upwards, using it to help haul him up the raft. The entire thing tipped precariously, almost depositing the three of them into the water before Rick reached over and jammed his foot on the other end. Planks splintered under the rough handling and the raft bent, but the ivy holding it all together held.

Upwards, gripping the creature with one hand, Arthur used Focused Strike to plunge his weapon along the body again. The kris entered the flesh with ease, the wavy edges slicing through flesh and helping him flense his target with ease. At the same time, the enchantment kicked in, sending waves of poisonous Yin chi through the creature.

Single-minded as it was, the snake kept its attention on Jan, tightening its body as Arthur kept striking it and pulling himself upwards till he got to the head. Finally, he plunged the kris into the monster’s head, killing it even as it hissed and thrashed, crushing Jan.

Panting, the pair pulled the monster off her.

“You okay?” Rick asked.

“NO!” She shouted-panted out. Then, she hissed and feebly clutched at her sides. “Ribs. Broken. Hips…”

“Shit.” Arthur looked her over, winced and helped straighten her out. She let out little moans, and he gestured for Rick to drag his boat closer. They’d have to transfer her over to his, since hers was seriously about to fall apart. Nevermind the fact that she likely wouldn’t be able to do anything for a bit.

This was going to slow them down again. But at least, for now, they’d survived.

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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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