Watcher of the Realms Chapter 34

Watcher of the Realms BannerThe FINAL chapter….

Chapter 34

“Here’s to surviving The King,” Hope said, raising her glass of soda. “And creaming the Cyclones!”

I joined her and so did the rest of my family. It’d been just yesterday that we were at The King’s table, eating, and talking to Labbiel. But now we were at the pizza place after winning the championship game.

“When do you think training begins?” I asked, then bit into a slice of pepperoni pizza.

“Who knows,” Janet said. “But one thing I do know, is that we need you registered for school right away.”

Jeff leaned in. “And there’s one thing we need to figure out for the paperwork.”

“What?” I asked.

“Your birthday.” He grinned. “I left it blank on the soccer stuff, and they didn’t call me on it since you came in mid-season, but for school, we need to have all the paperwork official.”

“What do you think?” Hope asked.

I shrugged. “You guys pick. I mean, you are my parents.”

Janet looked up, her eyes wide.

“I can call you Mom and Dad, right?”

A tear slid over Janet’s—er—Mom’s cheek. “Of course, honey.”

Tish grinned over her glass. Hope nodded. Braeden punched my shoulder.

Sure felt nice—not the punch, but the family part. Specifically calling Jeff and Janet Mom and Dad. The way Sendew and his mother hugged and how welcomed he was. I kinda knew how he felt, now.

“How about yesterday for your birthday? You pretty much saved Earth from destruction. Got named a Realm Watcher. I think that’s pretty good for a birthday,” Jeff said.

“July twenty-first it is,” I said. “So I’m twelve now.” That felt cool to say.

“And a big time, winning goal shooter, Realm Jumping hot shot.” Hope tossed a Pepperoni at me. “But don’t let it go to your head.”

“I’m sure you won’t let me.” I grabbed another piece of pizza. “So, what are you all getting me for my birthday?”

~~~~~~

Thank you for reading Watcher of the Realms.

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Feel free to share the links with your friends and family. It’ll remain on the website for a month. Then…you might just see it on Amazon.

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Watcher of the Realms Chapter 33

Watcher of the Realms Banner

You’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…

Chapter 33

“I feel like I’ve fallen into a fantasy novel,” Janet said as she looked at the table filled with food.

“I think we did.” Jeff sat next to her.

“This feels like the Fairy Realm.” I stood behind my chair, not so sure we should stay. “Exactly what is this place? I mean, if he’s The King, does he have his own Realm? Or does he just live on one and rule them all?”

“He has his own Realm.”

A tall, muscular guy strode into the dining area. For the most part, he looked human. But his jet-black hair, unearthly purple eyes, and his glowing brown skin screamed alien. It wasn’t a bright glow, no it almost looked like armor instead of skin.

“You mustn’t worry, Riley, the food is not tainted.” He grinned.

“No offense, sir, but I’m going to hold off eating.” Even though I was starving.

“None taken.” The guy laughed as he sat at the head of the table. “But don’t mind if I eat. I’m famished.”

This room was different than the throne room. Still huge, but not so much gold and marble. The floor was shiny, but dark blue. Doors lined three of the four walls, at least two per wall. They were all closed.

The main entrance was an archway. No door. We’d walked in that way from the throne room, but it was just a long hallway. Paintings of fields, castles, and some people decorated the walls. The ceilings in this place were as high as the sky.

“Who are you?” Hope asked, then bit into the chicken leg. At least it might be chicken. Did they even have chickens here?

“My name is Labbiel, I am your liaison.”

“For…?” Jeff asked.

“Training. I will handle some of course, considering my combat skills; however, first and foremost, training on Realm Jumping.”

“Are you a Jumper, too?” Tish asked.

He dipped his head. “The only one besides The King and you, Riley. But that will be addressed later. First. We should get you fed and rested then home, straight away.”

“Wait, you’re the only Jumper? I figured The King would have tons!”

“He may be The King, but he has rules as well. Only those who are genetically chosen can Jump.” Labbiel grinned. “So, to find you, another Jumper, worthy to watch the Realms—very exciting.”

“You’ve been watching the Realms alone?” Janet asked.

“We have a team. They travel with me. But you are correct, it’s difficult to stay on top of things.” He looked at me. “Until you came along, and little Tish.”

She giggled. “I’m a Jumper, too, right?”

“We’ll have to see what becomes of you, little one.” He popped a grape into his mouth.

“So when we return to Earth, what are we going to find?” Jeff asked. “The destruction didn’t go unnoticed.”

“The King has restored everything to before our arrival to your home Realm.”

“Restored?” Janet dished up some food for Tish.

“Reset might be a better word. We never arrived. When you return, everything will be as it was. I believe you and Hope have a soccer game tomorrow? Championship?”

I know I must have looked like the world’s biggest dork, but my bottom jaw dropped open on its own.

Labbiel grinned. “The King runs a tight ship. He debriefed me so I’m up to speed on your comings and goings.”

“It’s like he knows everything. How’s that work?” I asked.

“He has his ways.” Labbiel dipped his head a little toward me. “You must be very special, young Jumper, to get an offer to help watch his Realms.”

“Why us? We’re just a bunch of kids,” Hope asked.

“Untainted by the rules, traditions, and rigid beliefs of adults. Other than the adults in this room and involved with the Kurators, most would not believe nor could they comprehend what you all have seen and experienced. We need those who have the faith of a child.” He grinned at Tish.

“What do we tell The Council Triad?” Jeff asked.

“They will try their best to wrap their human minds around this. But ultimately, The King, through Tish, is who you take orders from. The Council will understand.”

“Have you met The Council?” Braeden snickered. “They’re all with the forbid you to do this, go do that, wait to hear from us.”

“I’m sure you’ll see some changes in them.” Labbiel drank from a gold cup embedded with gems around the base. He wore a ring on his pinky finger with the Srupiso symbol etched into it.

“What’s this mean?” I showed him the symbol on my palm. “It was on the caves in the Barbarian Realm. Obviously it’s on my and Tish’s hands, but it’s all over here.”

“As you know, it’s the Mark of Srupiso. The King’s symbol. As Ultimate ruler, he is to be acknowledged on all Realms. Some are not so willing to identify him as the ruler. His people have free will, as you’ve seen, Riley. And with that, choices are made that negatively affect everyone. We, as Watchers of the Realms, are charged with preserving all that is good in the Realms. Protecting them—and the creatures residing in them—from danger. You fight for a higher cause.”

“Higher cause,” I whispered.

“You’re marked for it,” Labbiel said. “Created for it.”

“What about school and soccer?” I asked, finally sitting down before my plate of food. My hunger won out.

“Life as usual.” He grinned.

“Only, not.” Hope flicked my shoulder.

Labbiel laughed. “You’ll be called upon as needed. But until you’re trained, we’ll handle things that arise.”

“Exactly what are you, then?” I asked.

“Servant to The King.”

“That’s not an answer,” Tish said.

“What do you think I am?”

“An Angel?”

“I am a warrior. Created by The King himself, my one purpose is to serve him and protect what’s his.” He winked at me. “As you have now vowed to do.”

Yep. I gulped again. There was something so intense about his purple eyes. It made my stomach turn into knots. He was wicked-focused. Someone who could, in the blink of an eye, break you in half. But yet he seemed good. Yes. He was a good guy.

Then again, he was just about to annihilate Earth at The King’s command.

“Are we able to leave?” I asked. “You know I have soccer.”

Janet laughed, then covered her mouth.

I was anxious to get back to ‘life as usual’ as Labbiel called it. Because I had a feeling things were going to get interesting soon enough.

“Get ready.” Labbiel stood and raised his hand. It was fisted. “I will send you home.”

“You can do that?” I asked.

Labbiel grinned. “There’s much you will learn, young Jumper.”

~~~~~~

Join us Wednesday for the FINAL chapter in the Watcher of the Realms story!

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CLICK HERE to ALL the chapter links.

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Watcher of the Realms Chapter 32

Watcher of the Realms BannerYou’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…

Chapter 32

“Riley, boy of no origin, you showed much bravery. Risking Earth’s demise, not only to return a lost soul to his mother, but also because you refused to sacrifice those who hurt you—no matter how deserving—to save Earth.” The King nodded at me. “That demonstrates much compassion. Whether these scientists intended to create it or not, it is there. You belong in no Realm, yet can freely travel to them all. This is a great responsibility.”

I gulped, still clinging to Janet. No, to Mom. My mother. She was my mom.

“I will grant your request to spare the Realm of the Humans if you agree to one thing.”

Tish grabbed my hand and smiled.

“What is it, sir?” I asked.

“You will become my Realm Watcher. You, your family, and your human friend. You are all charged with monitoring Realm Jumpers. While it’s forbidden, it happens. And when it does, damage to all Realms occurs. You, for example, are a result of such things.”

“Wait a minute.” Jeff stepped in front of me. “What’s that mean?”

The King grinned. “We will get to that. I think Riley has questions?”

“The scientists got the DNA from those who have Jumped illegally,” I said.

“Yes.” He glanced down. “As you mentioned earlier, there are creatures on every Realm who make poor decisions. They don’t realize the consequences ripple through every Realm.”

“I think some do,” Tish said.

“Evil, greed, desire, it grows everywhere, leading to actions that cannot be undone.”

“Your son,” I whispered.

He looked at me for a long, long time. “They have caused much grief. I was blinded by it. Nearly stepped down a course that would have been most regrettable.”

“I assume you mean destroying the Earth?” Janet asked, still holding my hand. And Tish’s. Hope was on the other side of her with Braeden standing close.

“Thank you, Riley. Your bravery showed me the error of my ways.”

“You’re welcome, sir.” Wow. The King was thanking me. Earth was saved. My family was here. I couldn’t believe it. “What will happen to the scientists?”

“What would you like?” The King asked.

“To find out more about me. My fathers and my mother, too. I would very much like to know more about what I am. Why I was created with the ability to use this.” I clutched the chain holding The Coin around my neck.

With all the unconsciousness, Jumping and fighting I was lucky I hadn’t lost it.

“I suspect you will not always need it.”

“Excuse me?”

The King leaned forward in his throne. “You, I suspect, are not done developing your unusual set of skills. But, should you accept my offer, you and you alone will have my permission to Jump Realms as needed to bring violators to justice.”

“Justice?” Janet asked.

“To bring them before me.” His voice boomed.

“And what will you do with them?” I asked.

His beard jiggled. He was smiling, or maybe laughing? “Nothing regrettable.”

Braeden stepped beside Mom. We all stood together, shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder, facing off with The King. A creature with the power to blink out a whole world with the snap of his fingers.

And he wanted us. A group of misfit genetic freaks and humans to help him govern the Realms. Yikes.

I looked at Jeff and he dipped his head. Janet smiled. “I stand by what I said earlier, honey. Whatever you decide, I’ll love you.”

“Um…I don’t know what to do. The other Realms. How—”

“Say yes, and you will be trained. Your friend and family will be your support.” He pointed to Tish. “And you, little girl…”

She turned into me, shaking.

The King grinned. “You, my dear, will be their eyes.”

~~~~~~

Join us Monday for Chapter 33  of the Watcher of the Realms.

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Watcher of the Realms Chapter 31

Watcher of the Realms BannerYou’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…

Chapter 31

“They’re dead!” Tish screamed. “Mom!”

I whipped around and faced The King. He remained on his throne, watching me with those arrogant red eyes. No expression on his face.

He’d wiped out Earth—my family—without even batting an eye?

My heart exploded into a pounding so hard my chest burned. Clenched so tight, my jaw throbbed. Nails bit into my palms as I fisted my hands.

“You killed them.” Tears stung my eyes. Tish and I were truly alone. The King had no right. No mercy. He didn’t deserve to rule.

I stepped toward him.

He titled his head and whispered, “There’s the Barbarian in you.”

This was not fair. None of this was. How I was created. His son dying. Everyone the scientists hurt. My family—

Janet’s face flashed before my eyes. You’re so sweet, Riley. You have a big heart.

She’d told me that more than once. Even though I wasn’t human, she treated me like one. They all did. They loved me.

But she wouldn’t like this anger and hate rampaging through my body right now. I didn’t like it. Darkness. Pain. Everything felt heavy.

I stopped and looked back at Tish. She lay on the marble floor, hugging her stuffed monkey, crying. Heat flared to life in my chest again. I swallowed it back.

She needed me. I had to take care of her.

“It takes a strong will to beat back the Barbarian rage.” The King stood.

“Hurting you solves nothing.” I glanced back to where the screen was, hoping it’d flicker my family’s images. That they’d be okay. That this was a nightmare.

“As if you could hurt me, boy,” The King said. “You have no idea what it takes to rule the Realms. All its inhabitants. You think I like punishing my people.”

“You didn’t punish them. You ended them,” I yelled. Tears burned. I refused to cry in front of him. Never. I would stay strong.

He slammed his staff against the marble floor. The screen appeared again, but this time images of The King and a boy filled it. The boy was small but looked like The King. Laughing, The King launched the boy into the air. Giggles that sounded a lot like Tish’s filled the throne room. Echoed off the marble.

Cut right to my chest. “Your son,” I whispered.

Tish took my hand and held Alastair in her other one. Tears ran down her cheeks. Her nose was red and so were her eyes.

“Phael.” The King stood beside me, watching the supernatural screen.

His long beard lay along his armor, nearly reaching his belly. His knuckles whitened as he squeezed his staff.

“Feel better now that you vaporized the Realm that killed him?” I swallowed the lump in my throat.

Killed them. He…killed everyone on Earth.

The King grunted.

“Was it worth it?” My voice cracked.

The dam of tears burst open. My knees met the hard floor, and I hugged Tish. Everyone was gone.

“You reap what you sow,” The King whispered.

“I don’t even know what that means.” And I wish he’d quit saying it.

“How you live your life. The choices you make. It comes back on you.” The King stepped away, and the screen vanished.

He sat down on his golden throne, rested his head back and closed his eyes. He’d just wiped out my Realm and now he was going to take a little nap?

I looked around, not really sure what to do other than hold on to Tish. The marble went all the way to the ceiling. From what I could see behind the throne there might have been a couple of doors, but I had no clue where they’d lead me.

I didn’t have anywhere to go, anyway. Nobody to help me. What would happen now?

“Mercy and compassion.” The King scrubbed his face. “Determination and courage. Makings of a great leader.”

He was missing the mercy and compassion part for sure.

“Despite the horrors you faced, the pain you experienced, and how you were created, your heart remains pure. Compassionate. Injustice grieves you.” He cleared his throat. “Therefore, you will reap what you sow.”

He jammed his staff against the floor. Lightning flashed. I grabbed Tish, blinking through the blue spots in my vision.

“Riley!” Janet yelled.

I turned around, taking Tish with me, and there was my family.

~~~~~~

Join us Friday for Chapter 32 of Watcher of the Realms. Be sure to subscribe to the site to not miss a single chapter of Riley’s adventures.

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Watcher of the Realms Chapter 30

Watcher of the Realms BannerYou’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…

Chapter 30

“Come on. Do your thing,” Braeden said as he charged me. “Where have you been?”

“Long story. Where are we going? What’s happening?”

He held up my phone. “Don’t ever leave without this.”

A bunch of texts from Janet and Jeff filled the screen. They’d found some scientists and needed me to Jump to Janet immediately.

Oh boy. That was more than twelve hours ago. “Crap.”

Wind whipped around me and I faced skyward. There was a dark haze mucking up the normally blue sky. No clouds, just stuff whirling around. Leaves and other debris.

“What’s happening?” I asked.

“Remember that deadline The King gave you? It passed about thirty minutes ago!” He shoved me. “You’re in big trouble if Earth implodes.”

“You’re lucky I got home at all. Darn fairies tried to keep me there.”

“If the world wasn’t about to end, I’d freaking kick your butt. You shouldn’t have gone there. Not alone anyway. Now Jump us to Mom.”

I focused on Janet, and after a shaky landing, Braeden and I stumbled out of the Jump. Hot sand scalded my hand. I jumped to my feet.

We were in the middle of the desert. Sand and crazy weird looking shrubbery surrounded us. The sky was almost pitch black. The only breaks in it were—wait, that was smoke. Was the Earth on fire? Or had I dumped us on some random Realm?

“Riley!” Janet yelled as she charged at me from the side.

Maybe I didn’t screw up. Or I was seeing a mirage. I’d read about those. And I was pretty sure the fairy people drugged me, so it was very possible my mind was playing tricks on me.

Until she yanked me into her arms.

That was real. And it was awesome. I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed. This was home. She was home.

“You weren’t answering. Then Braeden told us what you did at the soccer field. Are you okay? Are you hurt? Where—”

I squeezed her harder. It actually reminded me of Sendew’s mother hugging me. Janet wasn’t as strong as Pelielia, but she hugged me good enough.

The frantic sound of her voice, didn’t sit well with me, though. She was scared. I’d never seen her afraid before.

I didn’t like it.

The ground shook beneath me, and I let Janet go. Hope, Tish and Jeff ran toward me. “Riley!”

Braeden pushed me forward and we went to meet them.

“What’s happening?” In the distance I saw a wide, black wall. I couldn’t see very well where it began or ended.

Wait, it was moving.

Those were people. No, they were creatures. Huge, red-eyed, spear-carrying creatures.

“Where are we?” It felt like we were on another planet. But I knew that couldn’t be possible since Janet and the rest of the gang were here.

“Way west Arizona. Desert.” Janet grabbed my hand. “The King appeared about thirty minutes ago.” She pointed. “That’s his army.”

It was a tide of darkness that would swallow us whole in a matter of minutes. Smoke filled the air behind them, sifting forward like a nasty warning of what was to come.

My eyes burned at the black soot floating around. Janet held up her phone. “It’s not just here.” Pictures of destruction filled the newsfeed. Death. Destruction.

“We’re too late.”

“We have the scientists, honey.” Janet nodded behind her. Jeff was coming, guiding four people, including the one we’d captured before.

“Only one is a scientist who worked directly on you and your project. He worked specifically with the two Realm creatures you’re made from.”

My stomach soured liked I’d eaten bad food. Oh wait, I had. Stinking fairy Realm food. “What’d they say?”

“Tight lipped.”

“Never mind that,” Braeden said. “They weren’t talking. Now can we get to The King please? Give him these people?”

Rumbling darkness approached. Lightning flashed above the travelling void. Thunder boomed so loud the ground rattled. Wind whipped through us and Janet fell forward. I caught her just as Jeff and the scientists made it to us.

“Riley?” Janet whispered.

“I can’t turn them over to die.”

“Then we die, buddy,” Braeden said. “We all die.”

No pressure.

“Honey.” Janet put her arm around my waist and pulled me close. “You have a heart bigger than this world. Made from parts other than this world. I’m sorry for that. Truly. But the fact that you, despite what these scientists did to you, want to protect their lives makes me so proud. You cherish life. That’s what makes you even more special than you already are.”

“What should I do?”

“I can’t answer that for you.” She cupped my cheek. “I love you, son, no matter what you choose.”

Tears stung at my eyes. I couldn’t let her die. My…mom. She was my mom. I had to save my family.

Hope rammed into me and gave me a hug. So did Tish.

“I knew you’d make it,” Tish said.

“Good job finding them.” I reached for Jeff.

Maybe I could take the scientists to The King and talk to him out of killing them. Make a deal or something. If not, I wasn’t sure what I’d do. Offering up four humans to save billions?

Didn’t seem fair I had to decide that.

“I’m coming with you,” Tish said.

“That’d be a no,” I said.

“I’m supposed to.” Tish grabbed my hand and held up the stuffed monkey, Alastair. “It’s gonna be okay, Riley. It’s not just Alastair who’s the Defender of Mankind. You are, too. We all are.”

“Grab on.” I drew in a deep breath as everyone shifted around me, touching me somehow. I hugged Tish the closest. She seemed to know what was going on and we did share the Mark so… “Here goes.”

We blasted through the dark portal, my lungs burning and my eyes tearing up like crazy. But I actually stayed on my feet when I stepped out of the darkness.

Thanks, Sendew.

Spears pointed at me from all angles. I put up one of my hands, keeping my free one around Tish. “I have the scientists.”

One of the spears sliced through my bicep.

Enough with the Riley kebobs.

The creatures looming over us had gray skin. It almost looked like a Rhino skin, but most of their chests and arms were covered by their armor. They held gold shields with a purple symbol etched into it. The same symbol on my hand.

Their big helmets were also gold with purple, but just enough space to see black, beady eyes.

Braeden waved his hand and three of the five guards around us stumbled back. He got to his feet, Jeff, too, and lunged.

I huddled Tish, Hope and Janet close to me, leaving the scientists on the ground a few feet away.

A creature charged us, but he bounced back, suddenly, like he’d run into a wall.

Another one attacked. Same thing happened, but this time I heard a ping from where his spear made contact.

He plopped onto the hot sand. Wait a minute. Hot sand?

Way to go, Riley! I’d Jumped us to the middle of the wave of black we’d seen coming at us.

A metal sword bounced off our shield. That thing was the size of a hockey stick.

Tish held up her stuffed monkey, Alastair. “Maybe he is the defender of mankind after all! Did you see that?”

“Oh, honey, I think you have something to do with it.” Janet pointed to Tish’s hands.

A subtle glow came from them and surrounded us. It was almost white. Kind of like the melted butter Janet poured on our popcorn. A little yellow but mostly white.

She was producing this protective bubble around us.

“Enough!” A voice boomed and it seemed to be in the wind, the ground below us and from above. It blasted through the thick soot the monsters were causing.

The creatures parted, their heads bowed. Some had long black hair. Some were bald. But all of them were armed and straight out of a horror movie.

Yep. My life had become a horror movie.

The King strode down the path created by his warriors. He towered them all by at least a foot. He seemed even bigger than the last time I’d seen him.

He was using a thick, shiny walking stick, and it had some sort of crystal on top. And his matted, dark hair was still uncombed and messy from the last time I’d seen him. The vampire-slash-tiger fangs, though, weren’t there. Maybe they’d come bursting out when he ate us all up.

“Your deadline has passed.” If thunder could talk, this was what it would sound like.

“Please, wait.” I pointed to where the scientists lay.

They were handcuffed together and in a mess of a pile on the sand. That had to be hot, but they only stared at the towering creature before them. One was crying. That shouldn’t have made me feel good, but it kind of did. For all the pain he’d caused. It was their fault we were in this situation.

Why I was created.

“Earth’s time has come.” The King leaned on his staff, his thick black claw tapping the crystal.

The sleeves of his brown leather-like shirt stretched over the bulging muscles. Orange and gray filled the sky above us. Smoke. Fire. He’d already started destroying earth, and he didn’t seem at all upset by it, either.

I had to stop him. But—

“You have brought the scientists too late.” He glared at me.

Jeff and Braeden shuffled toward the rest of my family.

“Look. Earth isn’t perfect. What little I know of it, yeah, not all good. But neither are all the other Realms.”

A collective growl sliced through the air. The King put up his hand and they quieted.

“I was just with the fairies. They tried to trick me. Get me to stay past the deadline so Earth would be destroyed.”

“The Realm of Fairies. You went there.” The King closed his eyes briefly. “To return a lost boy.”

“To his mother.”

“You risked missing the deadline for Sendew’s family?”

Whoa, he could read minds, too?

“I couldn’t let him die with us, if that’s what was going to happen.” I cleared my throat. “He was taken so long ago. They should be together.”

“Because you were not going to turn over the scientists.” The King towered over me. “Interesting.”

“There has to be another way to save Earth, please.”

“You have no mother, don’t know what that is like, yet you risk everything to get a stranger back to his mother. Jumping Realms untrained. And then they betrayed you. Tried to keep you.”

“Sendew helped me get free. He didn’t know. His mother didn’t either.”

Janet’s arm wove around my waist. “Oh, honey,” she whispered.

“I will deal with that deceit.”

“They wanted me, sir. Wanted a Jumper.”

Sweat dripped down my forehead, and the smell of dust and burgers cooking filled the air.

The King fixed his gaze on the scientists. I thought a laser beam might blast out of them and burn them to a crisp, but it didn’t. The King didn’t say anything for a long time. The sun beamed down, but we all stood silent for a long time.

Fire crackled around us, and even though I couldn’t see the flames, I knew Earth was burning. I looked at my family surrounding me. Braeden was bleeding on his forehead. My brother. My family.

“It’s okay, honey,” Janet said to Tish as she kissed her forehead. “I’m here.”

Jeff and Braeden stood together. Jeff’s eyes scanned the area. I could tell he was calculating how to escape. But I could see the defeat in his eyes, too. Hope grabbed Braeden’s hand, tears plowing a trail down her dirty cheeks.

My family.

The King rammed his staff into the sand once again, and all the warriors were gone. He and I stood in a huge room.

Alone.

As in no family.

“Tish!” I turned a circle. “Where’d they go?”

Marble replaced the sand. The smell of fresh cut grass filled the now cool, crisp air. The walls were painted gold, or they may actually be made of gold.

The King sat on a throne. The back shot up toward the ceiling at least five feet above him and it was decorated with every color of gem I could imagine. Despite being seated now, he still held the staff off to the side. I could see it more clearly now without the soot-filled haze distorting everything.

It was pure gold with purple jewels and designs all over it. And at the top, a huge purple gem pulsed like a heart beat.

Not mine of course, because mine was going crazy.

“My family,” I said. “Where are they?”

“You have no family, boy.”

“I do. Please—”

He waved his hand, and a shimmering bubble appeared behind me. The image was wavy like the heat waves radiating from a steaming hot car top. But then my family appeared within the bubble.

They were huddled together. Creatures crept toward them, swords raised.

“No!”

“You are not willing to turn over the scientists to save them. To save Earth.”

I put my hands up in surrender but stayed focused on the horrible movie unfolding before me. Tish crouched near Janet. Jeff held them close with Hope at his side. Braeden stood, knees bent, a knife in one hand and his gun in the other.

“They will not defeat my army. Earth has had its chance.”

“You just want revenge for your son!” I yelled. “You’re wrong for doing this. You—”

“You dare question my rule?” The King’s voice boomed like he spoke into a megaphone. Echoes of his anger ricocheted off the marble walls.

The force of it rammed into me and tossed me onto my side. I slid into the wall across the room.

“Yes. I question it!” I rolled and hopped to my feet. “Demolishing a whole world because of scientists? Because they killed your son. That’s revenge. Not ruling!”

He growled. “You know nothing about—”

Heat bloomed deep in my chest. My heart started pounding so hard it hurt. I had to keep going though. I had to save my family. “You’re right. I don’t know much about anything other than what I read or watch. Scientists stole my memories, but I don’t want them killed for it. Who are we to judge? They’re like those fairies who tried to trap me.” I inched toward the flickering screen showing my family surrounded by creatures.

Tish’s bubble of protection was still up, but she sagged against Janet. I could almost feel her fatigue. Her fear. Heck, maybe I actually did feel it for how much my chest ached.

Or it was because I knew I was about to lose my family.

“And the Barbarians! Look what they’ve done. They were going to steal Hope and turn her in to someone for a reward. I thought Realm Jumping was illegal!” I shouted, getting madder and madder by the second. “They’re obviously doing it if they know about humans. Turning them in for rewards! How’s that any different from the humans killing your son?”

“People reap what they sow,” The King said. “Evil deeds have consequences. They must suffer the consequences of their actions.”

“Fine. Let them. Not the entire Earth.”

“Humans are selfish. Power hungry. They must learn.”

“Then teach them.” I pointed to the screen and screamed, “Teach them, don’t kill them.”

“I would never kill you, young Riley.”

Okay, that didn’t make sense. “You were just about to!”

“That is why you are here. You were never going to be destroyed with Earth.” The King sat back. “You are a Jumper. Those are rare and very valuable.”

“So is Tish.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “Indeed.”

Tish appeared beside me and fell onto her side with a squeal. “Riley!” She pushed herself up then looked around. “Mom? Dad?”

I faced the screen expecting to see my family attacked since Tish’s bubble of protection was gone.

Lightning flashed. The floating screen vanished.

My family was gone.

~~~~~~

Join us Wednesday for Chapter 31 of Watcher of the Realms. Be sure to subscribe to the site to not miss a single chapter of Riley’s adventures.

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See you soon….

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