You’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…
“Home. Home. Home,” I said at the coin. “Please?”
“We’re gonna die!” Hope cried.
“Go!” I pushed her through the back doorway and around the side of the small house. “Come on.”
“Hi.” A deep voice stopped me in my tracks.
A creature, not much bigger than me, smiled at us. For once, someone my height. Only this kid had two horns coming out of his head, right at his temples.
I blinked hard.
Yep. Two horns. Still there.
His eyes were red. And yeah, to top it off, he had fangs.
“I’m Trozagg. Who are you? And why you look so funny?” He glanced at Hope, Braeden and Tish.
Black wings ripped out from behind him. They had to be twice as long as his body, probably to support all that weight.
The ground shook again.
“That’s my mom.”
“Humans!” A loud voice boomed like an earthquake. “Trozagg!”
The kid frowned. “You human? But look different. Except her.” The creature pointed at Hope.
I grabbed Hope and yanked her and Tish behind me.
The boy growled. “What are you?”
“I’m a Kurator,” I said, because I sure didn’t like how he was eyeing Hope. “What are you?”
“Barbarian, of course!” He sniffed. “You smell like kin. You not look like me.”
“The Realm of the Barbarians.”
“My Realm.” He quirked his head. “Not yours. Not The King’s. Mine.”
“No. No. Not mine.” I held up my hands backing away as slowly as I could. Wait did he say King?
Another earthquake of a step and growl ripped through the air. Two huge tree trunk legs came into view behind this smaller creature boy.
The mom had to be ten stories tall!
“Human not welcome.” He held out his arm. “I get rewards for Humans. Hand her over.”
“That’d be a no,” I said.
“Once I get ten, I get reward. She is my tenth.” Barbarian Boy lunged.
I punched him with all the power I could muster, and the thing timbered back like a tree. “Run!”
We all took off into the woods.
“No fair!” Barbarian Boy rolled to his feet.
The Mom roared, and she may have said something, but I couldn’t make it out, my blood was pounding through my head so loud. Something crashed beside me—holy heck it was a tree!
I pushed Braeden. “Faster!”
“I’m going as fast as I can.” He jumped a tree trunk. “Where are we going?”
“Who cares? Run!”
High-pitched growling chased after us. Must be the boy. At least he was a little smaller than the Mom.
We blasted through the trees, and I skidded to a stop. “A cliff!” I yelled.
A friggin’ cliff in the middle of nowhere!
“Riley?” Tish sniffled. “Take us home. Home. Please?”
Growls rumbled on behind me. They were close. The ground vibrated. Howls. Chomping teeth. Straight out of some of the horror movies Hope had made me watch.
If we survived, I’d never watch another one.
“I think we can get across.” Braeden pointed to a flimsy mess of ropes and a few boards that maybe once, a billion years ago, might have passed as a bridge.
“Barbarian Boy has wings,” I said.
“Mom doesn’t. You can handle demon boy,” he said, looking at me. “Come on.”
“Braeden first and hold Tish’s hand. Then Hope and I’ll follow.”
“What? No way. I can’t go on there. What if we fall?” Hope whimpered. Actually whimpered.
“Death by splat or Barbarian Boy.” I pushed her toward the bridge. “Go. Or I’ll tell everyone on the team you’re a sissy.”
That must have pushed everyone into action because Braeden got out there, holding Tish’s hand, with Hope following behind. I stepped onto the rope, totally not liking how tall I was right now.
Or the fact I couldn’t see the bottom. It was like an endless pit of darkness down there.
The rope swayed. The board beneath my foot snapped. Tish squealed.
“We’re too heavy,” Braeden said.
“Keep going.” I stepped off to lessen the load. “Hurry!”
“No. Riley!” Tish turned around, but she ran into Hope. “Riley!”
“Go!” I spun around to some cracking branches.
Barbarian Boy broke through the trees. He tilted his head back, sniffing. “Where is my human?”
“Fell over the side. Dumb humans, can’t see crap in this dark.” Not that I could much either. There wasn’t a sun, the sky was orange, and it made everything look like it did at sundown. I could see, but not very clearly.
He just stood there, staring at me.
Evidently he wasn’t very interested in ripping me apart, so I’d hang out and have a staring contest with super freak if that bought my friends some time to get away.
Barbarian Boy laughed.
“How old are you?” Yeah, let’s go for a distraction. He must not see my friends sneaking across the tightrope bridge.
He stood even taller. “Ten.”
Big for a ten-year-old. My heart pretty much fell into a major sprint, like I was running down the field ready to make a big score.
“Going to get as big as your mom there?” I pointed behind him.
She’d been standing there a few seconds, watching. Kind of reminded me of a wild bear protecting a cub. Nearby if anything went wrong, and ready to squish anything that threatened her Barbarian Boy.
At this moment, that’d be me.
His wings shot out, and he growled as he torpedoed into the air.
I grabbed his foot. That barely stopped him, though. He dipped a little and then I was airborne.
He’d taken off with me attached.
This wasn’t good.
He shook his leg. I clawed my way up to his knees as his wings flapped. I punched his stomach. He grunted. Leaned forward.
His talons came at me. Suddenly the wind his wings were creating stung. Burned like acid on my back.
“Riley!” Hope screamed.
I held tight to his thigh and grabbed a wing with my free hand. I got a fistful of black feathers. They weren’t soft like I thought they’d be. Felt more like little razors. Not super sharp, but close.
A roar came from the cliff edge. His mother reached for me, but we were too far away. Barbarian Boy cried out. I yanked his wing with all my strength. Cracks and pops vibrated into my fingertips. His howl confirmed I’d done some damage.
Good. No way was he getting to the other side. Even if I went down with the thing, he would not hurt my family.
He dipped. We weren’t quite to the other side, but getting close. I hoisted myself up and punched his face. Now closer to the base of his wings, I grabbed on with both hands.
And pulled as hard as I could.
Down we went.
Join us Friday for Chapter 17 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….