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Chapter 16: The climb (2)

Pain.

This single world described the entirety of what Leo could perceive. An insurmountable wall of pain that muted everything else.

A burning pain made Leo's muscles feel like they were on fire. The stinging pain made his joint feel like giving in. And the terrible migraine caused by the nanites going into an overdrive completed the picture.

The pain grew to be all that Leo could perceive... But it was a prize he had to pay for slowly climbing up the cliff's face through the entire day.

By the time the sun started to set, Leo still had roughly fifty meters of height to conquer. Given his lack of climbing experience, though, it was a result he was more than happy with. 

Still, as the sun started to set and as the exhaustion of his flesh grew to unbearable levels, Leo's movements inherently slowed down.

Now, it wasn't his desire to stay hidden underneath his stealth cape but the pain that made his movements slow. And as the late evening quickly turned into a proper night, his speed only decreased.

It took Leo an entire day to climb a little bit more than two-thirds of the cliff. Yet, when the night came, every inch of progress became all the more time-consuming. Now, to a huge degree, Leo could allow himself to move a bit faster, making his movements more deliberate...

Only for the lack of light to make looking for the next piece of rock to grab onto all the more challenging.

Pain.

Leo no longer had two arms, they had turned into two sticks of burning torture. His legs the young man often had to rely on to stay glued to the cliff became nothing more but practically useless weights he had no other choice but to drag along.

Still, with the cover of the darkness now allowing Leo a tiny bit greater freedom of movement, his simple yet demanding task grew somewhat easier.

'Not having to worry about moving as slow as a snail really helps with this damn migraine,' Leo thought, not even allowing himself to grit his teeth in fear of making a noise that would alert the guards above.

For a while, there was no light coming off from beyond the cliff edge that would indicate the presence of a burning torch... Leo had no doubts there were people above.

Curiously enough, when he risked a quick glance behind during one of the stops necessary for his flesh to regenerate, Leo realized that the cultivator's camp by the forest in the distance...

Was just like the camp of cultivators beyond the cliff's edge. Fully and perfectly deprived of even a single spark of light.

'Is burning a torch or even burning a candle a taboo in their culture?' Leo initially thought, only to roll his eyes over his stupidity when he recalled what he saw back at that strange clinic he escaped from.

'I guess that's not it...' the young man thought when the image of a burning candle back in the clinic resurfaced before his eyes. 'Maybe they are wary of something and are trying not to spook it out of the forest?'

In the end, though, Leo simply dropped the topic as the time he allocated for this short rest quickly ran out. And with that, regardless of the pain still burning through every molecule that made up his muscles, Leo resumed his climb.

An hour passed. And then another. 

But Leo continued to climb.

The young man grew used to the pain, treating it more as a reminder he was still alive rather than something he ought to avoid. His movements grew as even and calculated as they were steady and irregular. 

And with Leo falling into a strange sort of masochistic trance...

The entire night has passed, leaving him stranded a mere meter below the cliff's proper edge.

'Ten more minutes,' Leo thought, breathing as silently as he could not to alert the cultivators above.

With merely a meter of a cliff left for him to conquer, the young man could finally allow himself some serious rest. After all, everything was ready. The distraction in from of the explosive launcher below only waited for him to tap the screen of his interactive clock. A short series of instructions for the truck to open its rear doors in silent mode and without booting up the entire thing would activate the moment he would get within five meters of the armored vehicle. 

All that Leo had to do now was to rest to regain at least some of his strength, or rather, to alleviate some of the pain born from nanites forcing his muscles to work beyond their ability. All that Leo had left, was to rest… and pray that nothing would go wrong in those last few minutes. 

And so, for the next five minutes, Leo prayed with all of his heart and soul. 

Sadly, he had to be lacking in faith, for whatever deity ruled over this world, refused to hear his pleas. 

"… for drinking so much!" 

With all the shadows left by the morning now eradicated by the full glory of the rising sun, Leo had nothing but his gray cape to keep him hidden. 

"Are you seriously going to lecture me for taking a damn piss?" 

A second voice joined the conversation… And against all of Leo's prayers, it was clearly getting closer. 

Leo looked at the clock on his wrist. 

'Still three minutes left.'

"Just go already but be careful not to slip. I can't imagine a leader rushing with all her speed just to save your sorry ass!"

The other voice remained more or less constant, implying only one man was approaching the edge. 

A blessing… or rather, the one weak link of a damn curse that was this unfortunate timing. 

"Yeah, yeah, what am I, an idiot?" 

The voice of the second guard got even closer, all the way to the point when Leo could hear each and every step the man took.

He could hear the man reaching the cliff's edge and stopping. He could hear him pulling his pants down and groaning when he stretched back. 

Holding on to the cliff with all four of his limbs, Leo threw one last look at the clock. 

'Two minutes…' 

The time was pretty damn unforgiving. And with the guard about to take a literal piss right above Leo's head, he could bid his farewells to any hopes of sneaking into the truck. 

'Going guns blazing is not an option,' Leo gritted his teeth… Only to feel something wet strike down against his back. 

Leo's prayers fell on deaf eyes… or to be more precise, only seemed to anger the local deity, for the piss-taking cultivator noticed the unnatural way his piss bounced off Leo's cloak. Or maybe it was the different sound it made as opposed to how it would sound when striking rock?

Whichever it might be, whatever it was that stroked the guard's curiosity, didn't matter. 

"Huh?" The guard uttered a small moan of surprise, taking half of a step forward and leaning over the edge to inspect the curiosity. 

'Now or never.'

Leo's mind strangely calmed down. 

With the nanites pumping adrenaline into every last corner of his bloodstream, he abandoned all hopes for stealth, hanging as far down as he could without losing the grip… 

Only to pull his arms back with all his might while also jumping up with his legs. 

Leo's desperation to compensate for the exhaustion of his flesh ended up with him overshooting it a little. And with the stream of the cultivator's piss painting a wet line from the top of his face all the way to the bottom of his pants, Leo managed to eject himself not only above the cliff, but as far as a few inches above the stunned cultivator's face. 

"What the…?!" Shocked, the cultivator stumbled half of a step back, not sure whether to hide his dick into the pants, reach out for the sword by his belt or scream an alarm… 

But whatever he would decide on, didn't matter in the slightest. 

Having no room for hesitation in his soul, Leo swung his right hand and grabbed at the man's throat right as he reached the peak of his leap upwards. 

Crushing the cultivator's soft throat with all the might of his nanite-reinforced grip… he simply swung him to the back, using his body as a ballast to eject himself forward. 

It didn't matter how physically powerful this cultivator was when only the force of resistance of the soles of his feet grinding against the rough stone below could oppose Leo's powerful pull. 

"Khe…" 

Unable to produce a single sound from his crushed throat, the man stared at Leo for half a second he had before stumbling into the abyss below. 

Using the momentum of the throw, Leo somersaulted over his left shoulder, raising up to his feet after the roll… Only to tear his gray cape with a single, leisurely pull and throw it to the ground as he started to casually stroll towards the nearby truck. 

Even after nearly a week, the cultivators only managed to dismantle parts of its interior that now laid scattered around, failing to penetrate the thick slabs of reinforced armor. 

'Now, let's give them something to pay attention to,' Leo thought, swinging his left hand towards his right wrist. 

"Huh? Wait, who the hell are…"

BOOM!


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
MotivatedSloth MotivatedSloth

Yay! 2nd day in a row with a chapter? What is this, a serious project or just a passion one?

Kekeke...

ITS FCKING BOTH!

And with that, enjoy :D

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