Chapter 244

Chapter 244

"Of course they're coming now," Arthur sighed, pushing the bottle in deeper before releasing it. Hopefully the bottle wouldn't float away, but he had a more immediate problem.

Options flickered through his mind. He mentally kicked himself for not prepping a Refined Energy Dart, or even pulling out his sling. Then again, he had only two hands. Holding the sling, the water bottle and the spear would have been difficult. No, he was better off just trying to deal with the flame moose himself, now that he had lost the opportunity to kill it at range.

Not that a single Refined Energy Dart would have done that. He doubted the creature would let him one-shot it, not with a pitiful basic attack like the Refined Energy Dart. Punch a hole and annoy it sure, but kill it? He'd have to figure out a different spell technique. Maybe a refinement - hah! - on the Refined Exploding Energy Dart. Make it pierce and then explode.

Something to look at later. 

Thoughts firing like a machine gun, Arthur bent moved slightly away from the muddy ground near the water. Once he was on rockier shore, Arthur considered his next steps. The problem with crouching low and 'setting' the spear was the size of his opponent and his own spear. The six foot spear was great for close-in fighting, but it lacked the proper length to ward off charging monsters like the fire moose, especially when the creature was longer and wider and the distance from vital spot in the chest to the end of its antlers were a good three feet.

He could bend down, crouch low and hope that he got the numbers right; but if he was wrong he'd be scooped up or impaled by the antlers before he sunk in his own attack. Also, to get the attack properly attached, it'd need a good foot at least to pierce within.

That meant no setting himself, butt of the spear against his backfoot. Which meant he was better off fighting mobile rather than just stopping.

He could try tossing his spear, but then he'd be fighting the damn thing with a kris if he missed. Or the spear toss didn't kill it. And somehow, Arthur knew, the single toss would be vastly insufficient to end the moose. 

By the time he had made up his mind, the creature was nearly on him. Barely ten feet away and Arthur crouched low, his mind doing the math of how far, how quickly the moose was arriving. He would have time to time this perfectly, and with that thought he flooded his body with the Wood Body technique. It would protect him, a little, to save him. At the same time, he had already been weaving the Focused Strike into his spear, intending to use it to help punch through the creature's thick hide.

Straight charge, not much deception. One nice thing about dumb animals, they weren't particularly wily. Which was why all Arthur had to do was time it, perfectly and leap aside.  Pounding earth, the ground feeling like it was shaking a little from the size and weight of the creature before him. Heat ratcheting up each second as the monster grew closer, the flames licking across those large antlers blazing through bright reds into deeper oranges and sometimes, even blue. His breathing forced slow, brushing against his sweating lips, hands damp against the wood of the spear.




Arthur did not jump, knowing better than to put himself in the air. You couldn't move in the air - at least, he couldn't, not without an active qinggong technique - and that just left you vulnerable. Instead, he lunged to the side, letting his front leg hit the ground and bend and bend and bend till he was parallel and at an angle, his body shifting so that he could thrust with his spear. He couldn't get the rest of his body into it, just arm and shoulders and hip, but it was enough even as he recovered his other leg back, knowing that leaving it behind would see it crushed.

The moose turned as he lunged forwards, heading shifting along the line of his movement. Body moving forward, the spear tip with focused chi bursting through it pushing aside hardened fur and thick muscle to punch through. Fur, skin, muscle. Then, bouncing off the side of a moving bone at the front of the leg, pushed deeper and nicking another rib as it went in. Arthur could feel the minor jostles as the spear sunk in, pushed forward by his own strike and the creature's momentum, the pressure on his own grip nearly tearing the weapon out of his hand even with additional strength of a climber's body.

It sunk all the way in, the spear twisting and turning as the moose thundered past. But it's head had kept turning, and those antlers, glowing and red had their own surprise for Arthur. Energy exploded forth in a wave, catching him before he could recover, his own balance thrown off by holding onto his spear and attempting to extract it.

The best defense Arthur had, moments before the flame arrived, was to close his eyes and shove his head down, so that he caught it at an angle rather than directly in his face. 

Breath held, even as flames washed over him and any open skin. His leather armour heated up immediately, the straps for his backpack burning, metal buckles warming. But it was his skin, his exposed hair, the flesh on his ears and body that caught most of all. Flames washed over him, burning his body and causing him to flinch and release his weapon, to , to roll against the ground to get away.

Surprisingly, the heat was not painful, at first. His movements were the reactive flinch and fear of a mortal to fire. It was only afterwards that the pain arrived, as flames licked at exposed skin and burnt away hair. Ears, nose, eyelids, thin flesh all along his upper body where the creature had targeted. 

His bracers...

Choking back screams, Arthur rolled, twisting and turning. Bark Skin offered some protection, made the flames harder to burn, made it harder to heal but it was not enough. Not enough at all. 

He rolled and rolled, trying to get away from the fire that refused to die, hands gripping and tearing. So distracted was he that he never noticed when the damn Moose arrived again. When it picked him up with a scoop of flaming antlers and tossed him, twisting through the air, third degree burns arriving upon contact, seared flesh tearing free as he was tossed.

Luck was with him though, as he crashed into the water.

And enchanted, magical flames or not, they were still fire.

Water beats fire.

Flames extinguished finally, Arthur spluttered to his feet. Thankfully the pond was not too deep. Throat and mouth and lungs hurt, flames - or heat or smoke or something - having gotten in as he had tried to clear himself. Not only that, of course, but the water from the pond.

Worst, he was blind. The world was darkness, flashes of colour only. Atavistic fear brought hands scrambling for his eyes, searching for them. Pain coursed through his body, all the various burns lit on fire as water lapped at them and movement worsened the tug and tear of open wounds.

Fingers, scrabbling at eyes, found eyelids in one piece. Eyelids closed shut, sealed shut. Panic and knowledge that he needed to see forced him to tear them open, wounds weeping and eyes tearing up. Sight though, sight was restored.

Splashing from behind had him turning sideways, feet shifting on muddy ground. To see a completely incongorous sight. The moose, spear dug deep into the side of its body, flames dancing across its antlers, red blood pouring down and foam flecking nostrils the size of a dinner plate... that fire moose... wading into the water.

Into the water.

It made little sense to Arthur, but that was the truth. And worst, he realised what the colours on its antlers meant. The red, turned orange, turned blue. Arthur backed off, further.

When the flames came the second time, he was ready.

Zurück zum 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.