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Orin Son jogged down the path but tried to stay slow enough so Matt could to keep up with him. An explosion rocked the ground, and a steady breeze blew past them. The gold path that had been going straight for some distance suddenly switched at an intersection and curved off to the left.

He heard a whimper, and the footsteps behind him stopped.

They didn’t have time for this.

“Get up,” Orin said. “We have to get to the shelter.”

Matt shook. He apparently wasn’t moving.

“Alright little dude, I’ll carry you, just get on my back. We can’t stay here.”

He hefted the kid to his feet and knelt down with his back to him.

Clumsily, the Matt wrapped his legs around his waist and his arms around his neck. He clung too tightly.

He tapped Matt’s hand. “Can’t breathe.”

“Sorry!” The kid loosened his grip.

“Just hang on. We’ll get there soon.” Although whether or not they’d get there in one piece, he wasn’t sure.

Orin took off running and heard the kid squeak, but he didn’t complain. After about twenty minutes he started to see signs of fighting. A sliced branch here, scorched earth there and a broken statue around the corner.

He couldn’t tell where they were heading, but he didn’t think that the gold path had their best interests at heart. He slowed down, because of the intense training, he grew up with, the short run didn’t make him feel out of breath at all.

“Hey, little dude. I’m setting you down here. There’s something I need to take care of up ahead.”

Matt nodded, trusting him. He didn’t know how this kid was raised, but he must have come from a really awesome family, unlike Orin.

He ruffled the boy’s sandy blonde hair.

“Make sure you hide.”

“I will.”

Using all of his stealth training he snuck forward down the gold path. After turning 3 more times, he reached an area with various different Fae in battle. He slid into the wall’s leaves and stilled his breathing. It helped that the people were too busy fighting each other to notice him.

The familiar red and black uniforms of the Goraitheshselan knights stood out to him against the silver and gold of what had to be light Fae.

The red guards were losing. Seeing how he and Matt were considered their mages that meant their side was losing. He thought briefly that if he explained their situation to these people, they might let them go but shook his head. No, there was a chance that they would take them for themselves which meant he couldn’t risk getting exposed. Instead, he waited. After a few minutes of parries, thrusts and energy blasts the remaining red guard fell to the three white knights.

They turned their back to him and gathered together.

“What next?”

“We’re done here. We need to reach the next point.”

On second thought, perhaps he could just stay hidden and let them go past.

“But the mage school is just up ahead. Wouldn’t it be better to join the main phalanx when they attack.”

“If you want to go up against thousands of mages go ahead. I’m not going to stop you.”

“To the next checkpoint then.”

The guards turned Orin’s direction. If they continued going that route, they would reach Matt. He waited until they passed, then jumped out and cast the spell he’d only recently been able to master, Minor Area Shock.

A small field of electricity burst out from him.

The guards jerked in place, stunned. Orin grabbed the hilt of the idiot guard who’d lost his helmet or forgot to wear one. He twisted his wrist. The warrior let go, and Orin used the hilt pound his temple. He collapsed.

Unfortunately, by then the other two guards had recovered.

“A mage student?” The left one said as he moved towards one side.

“With some martial ability,” the one on the right said, as he stepped to flank.

Orin snorted. He finally had a decent weapon, like he would lose to some jerks in tight pants, especially not when he could already see what they planned.

From the way he placed his feet, Left was going to attack him to try and draw his attention, which would let Right go in for the kill. Too bad for them Orin had become obsessed with magic and had already made plans to use it in battle.

When Left lunged at him, he cast teleport and appeared behind the soldier. He rammed his blade in between the man’s helmet and breastplate. He collapsed and disappeared.

Right didn’t stop his charge and began thrusting at Orin. Orin still hadn’t recovered enough mana to use teleport again so he jumped back as far as he could then rolled to the right. He attacked the man’s feet as soon as he could because the soldier had been about to slice right through his neck. Instead, the man jumped back.

His sword began to glow. “I didn’t want to waste a weapon charge on a student but this is getting ridiculous, and you killed Evans.”

Orin swallowed and stopped himself from reliving that murder.

“Don’t worry he’ll be back soon enough. Can’t say the same for you.”

He could feel the magic coming off that sword, and it was way more than anything he’d seen. His mana just barely renewed, and he used teleport again just as the soldier swung down. He appeared behind the man and slit his throat. His body disappeared.

Adrenaline pumped through his veins, and he turned to see the soldier he stole the sword from stagger to his feet. “Give me my weapon back, Dark Fae mage!”

He snorted and charged forward.

Sword guy dug into his pocket and threw something that looked suspiciously like a grenade.

Orin, cast haste on himself and ran around the soldier who stood as if gloating. He then pushed the man’s own blade into his neck. He disappeared, leaving only a scabbard and a few yellow cubes.

A flash. An explosion sent debris flying. Orin fell to the ground and covered his neck.

When he stood up, a message appeared in front of him made of light attributed magic.

You have killed a Knight of Seirei Vohinthaslan with his own blade, severing his soul bound connection with it. This sword is now soul-bound to you.


“Huh,” he said, flicking the window. It disappeared in a bunch of white sparks. “That’s new.”

Another box appeared before him that sent chills down his spine.

You have killed Light Fae Warrior x3 you have earned 15 experience

 

What was this? And why had it only popped up now? He flicked the box again, and it disappeared. What? Did he have some kind of character sheet now, filled with stats?

He thought about a stats page, but one didn’t appear. Maybe later? Was this some kind of after effect of training with magic and being in the Realm Under the Hill?

“Orin!” Matt yelled. The boy tackled him, and he grunted with the effort to stay upright. “I heard the explosion.”

“I’m fine,” he said and peeled the child off him. He attached the scabbard as he was trained to do and sheathed his sword. He then picked up a yellow cube.

Oooo. Do you want to use me? The voice said in his head.

:What are you?: He thought back.

I recharge your weapon.

:Not right now.:

The yellow cube flew up to spin quietly behind him.

“Hey dude, is this thing distracting?” He pointed to it.

Matt peered up at him, obviously confused. “What thing?”

So, it was invisible to others. He picked up the other two cubes and sent them spinning next to the other one.

“Still need me to carry you or are you alright now?”

He nodded. “I’m fine. Sorry. I was just so scared and when I heard the explosion, and I thought you might need help.”

“That was a dumb thing to do. Next time you hear explosions you run away from them. Understand?”

Matt nodded, but Orin didn’t believe the kid would do as he said.

***

They jogged on, not as fast as Orin could go alone but definitely quicker than they had on the way to the Pixie Field.

They approached their dorm entrance, but it had an orange force field surrounding it. Matt was about to run right into it, so Orin grabbed him.

“What?”

“Wait.” Orin then yelled. “Hey, is anyone in there?”

Megan dashed out. “Matt? Orin? What are you doing? Get in here. We’re under attack.”

“Get Asia and Samuel. We’re going to use this chaos to escape.”

“We can’t,” Megan said. She pressed her hand against the orange field, and it didn’t move past it. “We’re stuck.”

“Someone call my name?” Samuel came into view. He’d lost a lot of weight and looked healthier than he had when he’d first arrived. Asia walked up right behind him. “What’s this about escape?”

Orin grimaced.

“We discovered a way out of here,” Matt said. “We were just picking up our last needed item before we let you guys in on the secret.”

They all had shocked expressions on their faces.

He really didn’t want to, but he supposed if they couldn’t come with him then he should stay behind as well. Just as he was about to say so, Megan said.

“Don’t let us stop you, leave.”

Matt’s eyes became saucers.

“Of course we can’t leave you here. We’re not inhuman.”

“You don’t understand because from the beginning all you could think about was leaving, but I want to stay here.”

“Me too,” Asia said.

“Me three,” Samuel said. “Sorry muchachos, but you’re on your own.”

“But, Megan. What about your family? If you stay here, you’ll never see them again.”

“Matt. I hate my parents. They’re always arguing, and they ignore me constantly. Here, I don’t have to worry about that.”

Another blast rocked the ground.

“You better hurry while you still have a chance.”

Matt stared at Megan like he didn’t even know her. Orin grabbed the kid’s shoulder. “Come on we gotta go.”

Orin led him through several familiar turns.

“Am I doing the right thing? Should I have stayed?” Matt asked.

Just how the heck was he supposed to know? “Yeah, dude. If you stayed, you’d never see your sister or parents again. Besides, magic might be cool and everything, but in the end, it’s not your family. And this place, it isn’t your home.”

“Yeah. But I’m glad at least you’re here with me.”

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A note from DragonOfRochester

Thank you all for taking the time to read my story! You are awesome!

About the experience message... So, when I first started writing this story it was only going to be a short novella of maybe 25k words. I had originally planned it to be very simple and structured. I had considered adding a little more RPG flare to it but dismissed the idea because it was a short story without a planned sequel. I thought I would keep it as a mining game (even though the idea was as a LitRPG with a non standard game type). As you can see, this story grew with the writing of it. I developed the Reapers further and came up with the bubble countries that each have different rules. Then I started planning the sequel. These information boxes are part of that planning. I won't go into any details about what you'll see in the second book because I feel like one game type a novel is more than enough. But I also can't just suddenly introduce you guys to some of the concepts without foreshadowing them. 

This story's procrastination is brought to you by my next project (which is not the second book). I'm already almost 4k words into it!


About the author

DragonOfRochester

Bio: Rochester has a degree in Videogame Art and Design and 8 years of industry experience. She challenged herself to write a LitRPG with a nonstandard game type and post the result here.

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