Irwin clenched the sword handle hard as Daubutim opened the door and looked outside. When he pulled back quickly, Irwin got ready to attack.
"It's dark, you look," Daubutim whispered.
Irwin snuck forward to the door opening and looked outside. An empty and unlit corridor led left and right. The walls were made of dark gray stones with thin lines between them. The right ended in a dead end with one more door on the opposite wall of where he sat. Left continued on for a while with a dozen doors on either side until ending in a split.
"It's empty," Irwin whispered. "Let's go."
He stepped outside, quickly followed by Daubutim, who had a belt with two swords attached to his waist. His club and shield were raised, and he looked around before shaking his head.
"I can barely see anything," he whispered. "You take the lead. Go right first. We need to make sure there's nobody in there, so our back is secure."
Irwin nodded as Daubutim closed the door behind them. If he'd not been so on edge, he'd have been more impressed with how well-trained Daubutim seemed to be. The next door was a copy of their own. He listened, but there was no sound from inside, and seeing Daubutim ready himself to storm in, he opened the door slowly.
Behind it was a room similar to the one they had arrived in, except for the portal and the dead bodies. He snuck in and looked around, suddenly realizing something.
"Alright, this is good," Daubutim said. "Let's go and check the other rooms."
"Wait," Irwin whispered as he beckoned the other inside.
"What?" Daubutim asked, but he quickly closed the door, looking around as if expecting trouble.
"Ambraz, the portals that spawn, how do they appear in the shard worlds?" Irwin asked.
"They appear as they do here. The exact reasoning why they appear between two spots is unclear, but the stronger a shard world becomes, the more likely it is for new portals to appear."
"So… it is very likely that nobody knows that portal back there appeared?" Irwin asked, his eyebrows raised.
"Daubutim, we need to think of a way to stop those Galubs from finding out there is a portal there," Irwin said as he turned to the large boy.
"Right!" Daubutim said. "So we can come and go without trouble. Good."
He didn't continue, just nodded slowly as he looked at Irwin.
"Any ideas?" Irwin asked after a few moments, already knowing the answer.
Daubutim shook his head.
"You could try to blockade the door, but we still need it to go back out."
Irwin shook his head. If he wanted to get this done, he'd have to come up with something himself. Right, how could I get those things to stay away from that room? Locking it would be best, but then we can't get in… Wait. Do we actually need to lock the room? Perhaps we can use something to block only the portal? He looked around, noting the large closet. A quick examination showed it was filled with rags, straw, and splintered wood.
"Let's go back. I need to check something," he said.
A minute later, they were back in the room with three dead Galubs. The closet in this room held almost the same items. With a calculating look, he decided it should be almost as big as the portal.
"Help me shove this in front of the portal," he said.
Daubutim just shrugged and shoved the heavy thing, causing a loud screeching noise. It took him a few moments to position it, but eventually, it stood before the portal. From the side, it was instantly obvious something was going on, as the closet now stood two feet from the wall, but from the door opening, it was harder to notice. Irwin tossed straw on top to hide the top of the portal before staring at it from the door.
Not going to fool anyone that actually comes in, but it will have to do. Now those bodies. He looked at the three dead Galubs, feeling his stomach roil.
"Can you put them in the closet?" he asked, getting a stoic look from Dautubim.
"Why don't you toss them in the portal if you want to hide the evidence?" Ambraz asked, flitting around.
"We can do that?" Irwin asked, suddenly wondering about something else. "Wait, can these things go through here to our world?"
"They can try, but they will not arrive at the other side unless there is enough energy here to cause a surge," Ambraz said. "And I don't think that is likely."
"So they will just disappear if we toss them in?" Irwin asked to be sure.
"That's what I said," Ambraz muttered.
Another minute later, the room looked reasonably clean. The straw they used to clear the green blood was tossed through the portal, and a bed shoved over the worst stains. Anybody who had been here before would instantly notice the difference, but Irwin was hoping they had already killed those Galubs.
They snuck down the left hall towards the nearest door, Irwin first. A careful look showed that the next rooms were all empty, and as they continued down the hallway, Irwin began wondering if this was an abandoned part of the city. If it was, that would be great. Then he put his head to one of the final doors and heard a dull snoring.
"There's something in here," he whispered to Daubutim, putting his hand on the doorknob.
"Ready," Daubutim said, eyes narrow and his club raised.
Irwin released his pent-up breath and pulled open the door. A single Galub lay on one of the beds, snoring softly. Daubutim snuck forward with cold, determined eyes. Irwin was about to stop him when he recalled their previous conversation.
We can't leave it here, he thought. Its to dangerous...
Gritting his teeth, he turned around as a dull thudding came from the room. When it stopped, he looked to see that the Galub was quiet and unmoving, blood streaming from its face. Daubutim breath came out in ragged gasps, his eyes on the body. Suddenly he heaved, and the little rations he had eaten splattered across the dead body.
Irwin held his breath as the sour scent drifted his way, then walked forward. Daubutim was wiping his mouth, glaring at the Galub and his vomit.
"We-" Irwin began, then had to turn away as he almost vomited on the spot. After a few moments, he managed to get a grip. "We need to put this in the closet," he said.
"I'll do it," Daubutim whispered, and Irwin heard the rustling of straw. He looked up to see Daubutim move the body toward the closet. He jumped forward to pull it open, trying not to breathe and failing. The sour air entered his nose, and it took all his willpower to keep in the little food he had.
When they put the rest of the bloody and vomit-covered straw in the closet, Irwin noticed something gleaming below the straw. Keeping his hand far from the wet straw, he pulled out another short sword. It was as rusty as the others, but Daubutim nodded as he stuck out his hand for it.
"Good. I'll use this for now," he said as he unsummoned his club. "Let's go."
Irwin noticed Daubutim kept glancing at the bed, frowning.
"You were right before," he whispered, finding he had to say something. "If these things go out into our world, they will just kill whoever they come across, and if they had the chance here, they would kill us."
"I know," Daubutim said. "But it's different if they don't fight back." Then he shuddered and moved to the door. "Let's go."
A quick look showed no movement in the hallway, and they continued along the other doors, finding none. The split right led to another dead end, and they decided to leave that one alone.
The yellow glow of torches came from the left. There was only a single door on each side of the short hallway, and Irwin saw what looked like a small wooden railing beyond. They snuck forward and took a quick look inside the two rooms. One was another of the bedroom-like things, while the other looked like a storeroom that had been raided.
"It's almost like these things didn't build this but took it from someone else," Irwin muttered as he looked at the broken crates and ransacked shelves.
"That's very likely," Ambraz said, coming from his pocket and looking around. "Galubs are known for taking over other beings' cities and towns. Those with less than three horns are really too stupid for anything but fighting."
"Do you think we will find stronger ones here?" Irwin asked.
"Perhaps a few with two horns, but at least one with three," Ambraz said. "But there's always a stronger one that leads them. Probably that Doomblade guy."
"How much stronger are two horns?"
Ambraz was quiet for a bit. "It's hard to say. The heartboun- Err…. never mind that. The people that I had to deal with never went into such weak portals… I think you should be fine against a two horn?"
Irwin nodded as he stared at Ambraz. What was he going to say? Heartboun…?" I wonder what those are.
The Anvil flitted back into his pocket before he could answer, and when he saw Daubutim dully staring around, he decided to leave it for now.
They snuck back out and towards the end of the hallway. Ahead of them, a light flickered from a few torches set on the other side of the wall, two dozen feet or more away. A narrow balcony sat in front of them, and a quick look revealed it ran left and right along a square room. A massive, battered wooden staircase led down from the right side. Below them, just over the wooden railing, was a large spacious area with broken tables and chairs that vaguely reminded Irwin of the tower's dining hall.
It was empty, and he was about to stand to get a better look when Daubutim pulled him down.
"Movement," he whispered, pointing to the opposite side of the balcony.
Irwin held his breath as he watched a group of three Galubs move out of another hallway, then over the balcony. Their soft chatter was audible here.
"Do you think they are heading here?" Irwin whispered.
"I don't know."
Irwin waited until he saw them move along the right side of the balcony. Please move down, he thought.
The Galubs moved past the stairs, heading towards the next corner, meaning they would move onto the same area they were on.
"They are going to look for the others," Daubutim stated as he pulled Irwin back.
"How do you know?" Irwin thought, agreeing with him that it was likely.
"There are three, and one has two horns. There were two before," Daubutim said as he pulled Irwin back into the hallway. "We need to lay an ambush," he whispered, looking around.
Irwin didn't wait but quickly pulled him back to the first door in the original hallway. "Let's go to this room and wait for them to walk past. Then we can go-"
"No," Daubutim said. "We need to kill- kill them, so they don't find the portal."
"We hid it," Irwin complained.
"Do you believe they won't find it?" Daubtim asked with a surprised blink.
Irwin thought for a moment, then shook his head. If they really looked in the room, they would find it…
"But there's three! And one has two horns," he whispered, almost as if trying to convince himself.
"Yes, but now we have swords. We can stand next to the door again," Daubutim said as he pulled Irwin towards the room the portal was in.
Irwin gnashed his teeth, then nodded. Daubutim was right. Again. If the two-horned Galub found the portal, he would tell the others. But standing next to the door to jump three demons sounded like a bad plan. Still, he couldn't think of a better idea, and footsteps and chatter came closer.
Should we try and capture one again?
They quickly went back into the room, and Irwin grimaced at the way the closet stood before the wall. Daubutim was right. It was too obvious. He just didn't know of a better way. Perhaps they could shove the thing over the portal?
They hid behind the door and waited as the footsteps got closer.
"If we start to lose, run to the portal," Daubutim said.
"I will… if I can," Daubut whispered.
"Fools. Fat-three be angry, and now me go here and find Glib and other fools! Bahhh!"
Irwin frowned at the slightly deeper voice. That had to be the one with two horns.
The door was shoved open more violently than the first time, but Daubutim had his hands forward and slowed it enough, so it didn't knock against them.
"Go in, and-" the same voice said, then stopped. "Why smell like blood in here?"
Irwin's hair rose. Footsteps entered the room, and as soon as they saw three Galubs, Daubum shoved the door closed and ran at the two-horn. It was a head taller than the others and slightly bulkier but wielded the same short sword.
Irwin moved just as fast as Daubutim this time, his sword forward, pointed at the back of one of the one-horns. Their feet thudded on the floor, and the two-horn spun around just as Daubutim slammed into him, shield first. The two-horn was shoved back a bit but managed to remain standing with a dangerous growl.
The one-horns weren't as fast, and Irwin stabbed his sword in the lower back of one just as it began turning. A loud scream began, and instinctively he jabbed his hand forward, summoning his flame and shoving it into the thing's face. The scream turned into a gurgle and the Galub threw itself to the ground, clawing at its face and rolling around.
I hope nobody heard that, Irwin thought as he looked at the second Galub.
Its eyes had gone wide as it looked at the rolling figure on the ground, then it snarled at Irwin.
"Carded! Hold him! I deal with this one!" the two-horn shouted as he grabbed the shield.
Irwin didn't wait to see what happened but slashed at the other Galub. His strike was uncoordinated and slow, and the Galug slapped it away with its own sword. A nasty grin came to its green face, the fat lips stretching over yellowed teeth.
"You bad fighter," it said, slashing forward much faster than Irwin had.
Irwin barely managed to jump back, and as he did, he got a glimpse of the two-horn hitting Daubutim's shield while the boy was backing up. He didn't look worried, though, his eyes sharp and calculating, the sword angled oddly away from his body.
"No run," the one horn said with a laugh.
Irwin barely dodged another hit and came with his back against the wall. He looked around for a way to get more distance and saw the closet. The portal! He didn't stop to think but jumped sideways. Something pulled on his jacket. Then he was running for the closet.
"Bah! Weak and pathetic," he one horn laughed, running after him.
Maybe, Irwin thought, somehow not as afraid as he thought he should be. But not stupid.
He reached the closet and instantly put his back against it, sliding between it and the portal. He was barely passed when the Galub ran after him straight into the portal. It didn't even get time to let out a startled shout but vanished in a flash.
Irwin felt great, then focused on the fighting still coming from the other side. Daubutim!
He ran around the other end of the closet, coming out behind the two-horn. Daubutim was blocking and nimbly slashing with his sword, showing far more skill than he had with his club and easily keeping the two-horn at bay. Still, as many wounds as the green-skinned demon had gotten, its eyes showed anger and no fear.
Irwin snuck forward, flame forward, seeking eye contact with Daubutim.
The bigger boy saw him and instantly began attacking the two-horn with more and faster attacks, all aimed at its face.
Irwin waited for the two-horn to step back and block with his sword, then stepped forward and stabbed his sword into its lower back and his flame at its neck.
"Njo-ak, wait, I-"
The strangled scream and plea of the two-horn was cut short as Daubutims sword slashed across its throat. Daubutum had stepped sideways at the same time, the spray of green blood only slightly touching him.
"Good," he said as he made an odd flourish. Blood flung from his sword, and then he tried to put it in a sheath that wasn't there. He blinked, looked down, and for a moment, a look of pain and loss came to his face.
That looked incredible, Irwin thought as he stared at the taller boy in awe. The way he had moved, both himself and the sword, had been so different than with the club. Then he saw the other stare at the ground, eyes cloudy.
"Are you alright?" Irwin asked as he ignored the blood as best he could and looked for wounds.
"No," Dautubim said, then sighed deeply. "You did well. How did you kill the other one?"
Irwin grinned, standing up a bit straighter. He'd never had a compliment on anything from another of his age before, let alone about something physical.
"I lured him into the portal," he said.
Daubutim blinked, then nodded. "Smart."
They remained standing for a bit, Irwin looking at the two bodies and then at the sword in his hand. He'd killed that demon on his own, tricked another, and together, they had killed a two-horn. Perhaps… perhaps they could do this!
Ten minutes later, they were at the large room again, the bodies disposed of in the portal and a new sword in Daubutim's hand. The one the two horns had was a bit longer and better balanced, according to him.
Irwin looked at the other sides of the balcony, then down. Should they check the direction those three had come from or down first? Gab had said that the food was at the top, and they were now at the bottom part of the city. So, what was down if this was the lowest part? He recalled the Linchpin that had been hidden deep underground in the training portal and began heading along the balcony.
"Let's go see what is down there," he said. "After that, we can see where those three came from."
"Alright," Daubutim whispered.
The wood of the balcony was smooth and hard, and as they made their way around, it didn't creak at any point. They moved slowly, stopping and looking around every few steps until they reached the staircase. It was of the same wood and tapered wider as it went down. Beautiful carved lines and glyphs decorated the oval handrails.
Definitely not made by those Galubs, Irwin thought as they snuck down.
The room downstairs was ransacked, while a layer of dust clung to many surfaces. A single way led out of it, a wide entrance with a broken to pieces double door in front. Holes large enough for them to climb through seemed stabbed through by some massive weapon.
Deciding they were down now, Irwin snuck towards the massive door, and the closer he got, the more impressed he was. Heavy metal plates had once covered it, but they had been either sheared through or bent away by the impact of whatever had battered it down. As they closed in, he felt a soft breeze, not cold but definitely not warm either.
At the door, he heard a soft wind howling in the distance, and looking through a low crack, he saw a broken down wall, rubble everywhere, and beyond it, a dark forest. A dull red silvery glow came from above, and as he looked up, his eyes widened in shock.
"Is that a moon?" he whispered as he stared at the sliver that hung in the air, dark shadowy cracks on the end and smaller chunks next to it. Everything gleamed, highlighting dark cracks that ran down the entire length.
Daubutim moved next to him, and Ambraz crawled out of his pocket before flying to his shoulder.
"Well, what's left of it," the Anvil said with a dry chuckle. "This is definitely a medium world shard if it even kept a part of its moon. Impressive!"
Is this what's going to happen to us? Irwin thought as he swallowed at the idea of the world shattering. Would he survive and have to live on a world shard like this?
"There is something moving in the forest," Daubutim whispered.
Irwin looked up with a snap, and saw shadows move from tree to tree. They moved incredibly fast, and the angle of their limbs was off.
"Let's head to the other part of the city," he said as he shivered. Whatever was in that forest, he wanted nothing to do with it.
Support "Irwin's Journey [Card Fantasy]"
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 a GameLit. For the NaNoWriMo of 2019, I wrote a short story called Again and again, which is influenced by GameLit. For NaNoWriMo of 2020 I started writing a story called Kernstalion, a full on hard system 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.
Upcoming: "Nothing But Bones: Undead AI: Part 2"
On 01-08-2022, "Nothing But Bones 3: The Lethargy", released on Amazon and Kindle unlimited!
On 21-07-2021, "Nothing But Bones: Undead AI: Part 1", released on Amazon and Kindle unlimited!
On 16-04-2021, "Nothing But Bones 2: The Chaos Rifts", released on Amazon and Kindle unlimited!
On 14 May 2020, "Nothing But Bones 1: The Wasteland", released on Amazon and Kindle unlimited!
On 10 September 2020, "Again and Again", released on Amazon and Kindle unlimited!
Stories on RR- updated 25-02-2021
Kernstalion [One chapter per week]
Minglings [Hiatus - Currently being edited and releasing on my Patreon]
Nothing but bones [Book 3 being released on RR]
Currently, Nothing but bones book 2 and 3 , and The undead AI: Part 1, are free to read on my Patreon.