Blinding light. Arthur found himself in another empty room. Beige walls, a light that came from the surroundings without seeming to have a point of origin. The floor was hard but with a little give, like a particularly firm mattress or the sprung wood floor of a training hall.
Immediately, Arthur let himself collapse to the ground. He wanted to cross his knees and enter lotus position, but the injury to his ankle put a stop to that. So instead he sat with one leg crossed, the other pointed outwards. He noticed the bleeding was already stopping and he knew from the training books that he would soon begin healing.
One of the advantages of life in the Tower. Along with that, the swirling morass of energy that surrounded him. It was so thick Arthur could almost feel it brushing against his skin, like static electricity just before it released. Hair on the back of his neck and along his arms stood at attention, and the teenager smiled.
This room was an opportunity, a chance to draw in the energy released by the babi ngepet that had died. The harder-than-normal fight was a lucky break since the monster had a higher amount of energy—chi, mana, quantum potential, whatever you wanted to call it—for him to cultivate with. Of course, he also hurt and ached, another part of the trade-off of having this opportunity offered to him.
Another breath, tickling along his chest and out his mouth. Arthur calmed his mind, forcing himself to breathe slowly through his stomach, to sit upwards in the hollow body position, his spine straight. Everyone who came to the Tower was taught how to do this. It was one of the requirements of being successful.
Breathe in, draw in the energy.
Breathe out, settle your mind.
Breathe in, draw in more energy with your breath.
Breathe out, contain that energy.
Repeat until such time that the energy dispersed or you had absorbed it all. Since Arthur had a bog standard cultivation method, one taught to all children looking to advance, the former was more likely.
Still Arthur could not let that fact discourage him. This was as much test as opportunity and he would not stumble on the second hurdle.
His breathing sped up, his intake grew shallower as his desire made him grasp what could not be held with force. Energy slipped through his metaphorical hands, escaping with each inhalation.
Arthur grimaced, forced himself to ignore the part of him that recommended he just try harder. Instead he chose to just breathe, to focus on the every day, the very act of breathing. He grounded himself in the humid exhalation, the slight chill on his skin and the growing warmth around his stomach.
He chose to calm himself, even as energy dispersed.
When his mind was stable once again, he returned to cultivating. That heat in his center, just below his navel, grew. His pool of energy, his spiritual sea, the dantian.
Interminable time passed till he found the energy around him too tenuous to grasp. Eyes opened and Arthur's lip twitched as his body buzzed with potential.
Then, another glowing series of golden lines appeared before his eyes.
Second entrance test completed.
Results are being graded.
Tests have been graded.
Would you like to review your results now?
Yes! Arthur mentally shouted. He could have waited but the test rooms were the safest place in the Tower to review this information. Best to get to it.
As quick as he thought his answer, new lines of information appeared.
Cultivation Speed: 1
Energy Pool: 7
Refinement Speed: 1
Attributes and Traits
Arthur paused, then found himself smiling grimly. It was not as bad as he feared. A starting stat of three for one’s attributes was expected for your average Tower climber. His energy pool was higher than other cultivators, with most others starting with only four or five points of energy.
Not that it mattered much, since he had no styles or skills that he could channel his energy pool into. The only thing he could do was gain enough energy to refine it and, using that refined energy, upgrade his attributes. Even that would be slower, due to his lack of cultivation and refinement manuals.
Nevertheless, for a man starting out with not a single backer, this was not a bad start at all. Before Arthur could revel further in barely surpassing the average, another line of gold letters appeared.
All tests completed.
Teleportation commencing to first level of Tower.
Continue reading Climbing the Ranks
Climbing the Ranks is a serial LitRPG cultivation novel by Tao Wong that will publish exclusively on Starlit Publishing. While the whole novel will be free to read, you'll be able to purchase a membership to receive chapters weeks in advance of the public launch. To get updates on how to subscribe in mid-January, please join our newsletter or follow us on social media.