Jake bobbed in the water, staring at the small dark Kobold standing on the wooden walkway in front of the partially completed wall. Compared to her, it was tall, but he could stand on his back legs and look across. He must be the size of a winged car now, although, to him, it just felt like the Kobolds had shrunk. They almost looked like toddlers.
"What took you so long!" Melissa's voice sounded more like a reproach than a question.
"Ahh, yeah. About that." Jake scratched his jaw. Should he tell her that he hunted his way back to the ocean and what happened afterward? Seeing her worried gaze, he decided that it was probably a bad idea.
"It took me a long time to get back to full strength. Needed a lot of food and all that…" Coughing a bit, he saw Tir's sleeping form and bent his head towards Melissa.
Melissa shrunk back.
Jake gaped at her, feeling offended. He knew he had grown, but she should know he wouldn't harm her!
Melissa sighed and took a quick step closer. "Sorry you startled me. I didn't expect you to become this big…"
A few loud shrieks from the jungle vibrated through the damp night air, and they both looked away for a moment.
"It's okay. I guess I must be a bit scary." Jake said, keeping his head to himself.
He paddled softly in the water and pointed with his claw at Tir. "How is she? Did she say what happened and where Ter is?"
Melissa shook her head. "She woke up but barely spoke a word."
Another uncomfortable silence followed until Jake grunted and swam to the shore a slight distance from her. Climbing out, he shook himself dry, drops spraying everywhere, including across Melissa.
Jake just grinned before stepping to the wall and looking across. "How are things going here? Any trouble with the Antraci?"
Melissa stopped wiping drops from her face and smiled. "None. Bolyr says it's because we are already starting to form a single tribe. Something about our shared survival instincts. "
"That's probably the first thing that's gone right since we got here then…" Jake muttered as memories of Mason and Emma played through his mind.
"One of those Antraci, Gria, has taken over most of the day to day things. Bolyr listens to her, and the others listen to him. They are working together with Helen and some others to build a town."
Melissa grinned as she shook her head.
"You should see the plans they have laid out, everything from houses to a furnace to create a brick. The Antraci also have plans to create some sort of temple around the mana-well."
"That sounds great, and the wall is coming along nicely. At this speed, they will have it finished in a few days. No signs of the Goblins?"
Before Melissa could answer, someone scraped his throat softly. Jake swiveled around.
Bolyr stood inside the gate, staring at him. That guy always managed to sneak up on him—one of these days, he needed to figure out how.
"The Goblins are trying to rebuild Gobtown, those that remain. Many died in the lake, and even more when you collapsed the wall. I have scouts keeping an eye on them, but the Orcs survived." Bolyr moved closer as he spoke, staring up at Jake with glittering eyes.
Melissa was watching him from the side, and Jake noticed an odd smirk on her face. Before he could wonder about it, Bolyr stopped before him.
"You are growing closer to your first limit. I have never heard about any awoken that grew this fast."
Jake lay down, keeping his head level with the others. Bolyr had some fresh scars, but besides that seemed the same as ever.
"How many of the Antracii followed you here?"
Bolyr sighed and sat down next to the water, dropping his feet in.
"Only half. Most of the younger generation that was born here, and a few that saw you when you came to get me."
Bolyr looked out across the water, a sad look across his face. Jake knew he wasn't telling everything, but he didn't ask.
"But it's a good thing you got back! I was starting to get worried. With you here, we won't have anything to fear from the Insectoids or Goblins."
Jake sighed. He had hoped this would be easier.
"I won't stay…" His voice came out like a forced whisper, and the two Kobolds gaped him.
"What do you mean!" Mellisa hissed, sounding irritated and hurt.
"Something is drawing me to the sea. It has been for weeks now. It was hard to resist before the fight, but now. I need to go before my instincts take over and force me."
Melissa moved closer, scowling at him. "Instincts my ass. That's just a poor excuse to say you are going to look for Mason! You will leave us here to die?"
Jake shook his lowered head, unable to look her in the eye. She was partially right, and he did want to find Mason. But there was more to it that he couldn't explain.
"And what about Tir? Are you leaving her here to her faith or taking her along on a wild goose chase! You know how big this world is! Mason could be anywhere."
As her words dropped, she hissed when Jake stared at Tir with a frown.
"You didn't even think about her, did you… ?? was right."
A strained silent spread between them, and finally, Melissa snarled and looked at Bolyr.
"Why don't you say something? You brought half of your people here for this guy, and now he is leaving!"
Bolyr's eyes closed, and his shoulders sagged, and a look of weary resolve spread across his face.
"I had hoped it would be longer… but with your growth. Can you stay for two more days? Help us kill the last of the Goblins and Orcs?"
Feeling the resistance build, Jake struggled. It had been so hard to come back here, and now he had to stay? It took him almost a minute to force down the desire to flee right now. Melissa and Bolyr had been staring at him, and when he finally nodded, Bolyr seemed relieved.
"I will stay until we get rid of the Goblins, but not a minute longer. You have no idea how hard resisting this desire is."
Melissa just shrugged and walked away without another word carrying Tir with her.
Seeing the two go, Jake felt saddened. They were the main reason he had come back, but he just couldn't stay. The thing drawing him to the deep sea was like a rubber band that lost its stretch. Soon he would have to go or be dragged there.
"She won't understand until it is her time," Bolyr said, getting up and looking at Jake.
"Do you know what is going on?"
"Only a little. After an awoken turns, they will feel drawn towards the area that most match their element. In your case, that's either the deep sea or a frozen land." Bolyrs voice was hushed at the end.
As he felt the desire to rush to the sea, Jake shivered. "We need to hurry and take care of the Goblins. What do you have in mind?"
"Sleep first; I will explain in the morning."
Jake suppressed the urge to complain and slid back into the water. The energizing it gave him helped. "Okay - sleep well." He submerged and headed towards the dark and overgrown bottom. He knew sleep wouldn't come when the desire was this strong. But perhaps he could relax.
When the sun ushered in the morning, a shape flew high in the air, circling the lake. From this height, Jake could see the sea, and it beckoned him. Below, Kobolds moved across the small island. More woke up every minute now, and it looked like a bustling place.
He barely recognized it. The idyllic island covered with dense bushes and plants below was gone. Only the overhanging branches of the immense heart tree remained, but even those were cut in many places, so they didn't touch the ground anymore. The bushes had made way for trampled areas of dirt and mud, with long logs lying close to the edges. A three-meter high wall was partially completed all around the island with four entrances in it and a rampart for guards to walk on.
Around the massive trunk was the beginning of a town. Only a dozen buildings were ready, and those were no more than log cabins. But the outlining was there, and from this height, Jake realized if they survived, the Kobolds would create a bustling city around the tree.
A figure on the top of the tree was waving at him, trying to draw his attention.
Let's hope Bolyr has a plan ready.
Circling down, he saw a small group of Kobolds wait for him in the bottom branches of the tree. It almost seemed like a small delegation. Bolyr was there, as was his daughter Lyra and Gria, the leader of the Antraci. Melissa was off to the side, Tir draped around her shoulders. The small lizard had woken up and was staring at Jake's approaching shape.
Seeing the largest branch left clear for him, Jake sighed. It was the top one. As if he needed more height to tower over the others? Landing with a soft thud, the rustling as he folded his wings seemed loud compared to the silence. Even the leaves barely moved due to the lack of wind.
Staring at the Kobolds around him, he noticed Hellen two others previously, hidden from view by overhanging branches. He knew both Bert, the skinny Kobold, who had questioned him and seemed to want to be the one in charge, and Garry. The latter was staring at him with large eyes, a look of reference on his face.
"Incredible… I thought Bolyr must have been mistaken but to see a Frost Dragon. I had never expected this." Gria moved forward and stared unabashedly at him. Her eyes traced every inch of his body, and he almost felt violated.
"I remember you. Gria, you are the one who saved us from Vestr. I thought you were the leader of the Antraci now? Why did you come here?"
The female Kobold shivered, her heavily lidded dark blue eyes seeming to lose focus for a moment. The moment passed quickly, and she looked at Jake with a look of steeled resolve.
"As a leader, it is my duty to do what is best for the Antraci. And if that means disbanding them and joining them with your earthling tribe, I will. A tribe where almost everyone can turn into a Dragonian is unheard of, and with a mana-well?" She shook her head with a look of wonder.
"We need to clench this land from the Goblin and Insectoid menace. After that, we can create the greatest Kobold nation since the fall of the Dragons!"
Jake stared at her, wondering how she could be this positive. The other Antraci seemed to agree with her, large smiles brimming on all of their faces. It seemed they had forgotten all about the incredible losses they had taken the last few weeks.
"That sounds fantastic." Jake could hear the uncertainty in his voice and cringed. He quickly turned to Melissa and Tir.
Seeing the small lizard stare at him with pain in her eyes, he lowered his head close.
"Tir, what happened?"
With a crooning noise, Tir jumped forward, causing Melissa to cry out as her nails scratched into the Kobold's shoulders and neck. She slithered across the branches until she reached Jake and climbed up. Without a word, she nestled behind the hardened frills that were turning into horns.
When she didn't talk, Jake became worried. "Tir? What is wrong?"
"She can't reply... "Gria said with a sad tone, her gaze on Tir.
Jake swirled towards her, an upset look on his face. "Why not? What happened?"
"She was away from you for too long. Dragonling kin need to stay with their siblings until adulthood, or the benefits they gained will disappear. The ability to talk and one day grow into a Dragonling of their own? Tir lost those when she was away from you for that long…"
I am mainly a reader, but at some point, I found that I wanted to try my hand at writing something. As it goes with these ideas, it never really happened, that is until LitRPG's showed up. Something about the concept and idea greatly appealed to me, but I couldn't find that many stories I enjoyed. So back in 2018 I began writing my first novel, Nothing but Bones. I finished it half a year later and started on Minlings, which is still being written and is also a LitRPG. For the NaNoWriMo of 2019, I wrote a short story called Again and again, which is influenced by LitRPG.
As I am not a native English speaker, I expect you will find many weird mistakes, especially the phonetic pronunciation mixups. Things like, 'Look up at the sealing!' might happen.
On 14 May 2020, "Nothing But Bones", released on Amazon and Kindle!
On 10 September 2020, "Again and Again", released on Amazon and Kindle!