- Author: Jez Cajiao
Book online «City of Fallen Souls: A LitRPG Adventure (UnderVerse Book 3) Jez Cajiao (best color ebook reader txt) 📖». Author Jez Cajiao
The City of Fallen Souls
UnderVerse Book Three
The City of Fallen Souls
End of Book Three
The LitRPG Guildmasters
The ground shook as Mattin dug frantically, clearing the last of the totem stones. He pushed the fallen stones and debris back to expose it, seconds before the flickering shield would have been extinguished.
“Mattin!” a fearful voice shouted, and he turned, scuttling back into the burrow, and moving closer to the middle as he tried to see Tern through the drifting dust and debris.
“I’m over here,” she snapped, waddling over, her short legs and missing front pincer forcing her to walk upright with the use of a cane. “I swear, Mattin, one more mistake, and we’ll all be dead! This is no time to have your head in a den of beetles!”
“I know…” Mattin chittered apologetically.
“What were you doing?” she asked him, softening her tone, and reaching out to stroke his tufted fur.
“I was inspecting the secondary shield, trying to figure out why it stopped cleaning the air…”
“That’s Jaken’s job now, and you know it,” Tern said sadly. “If you get caught meddling, they’ll pull you from the line, and then what will you do for food? If you’d been watching the way you should, the soil would never have covered that glyph totem to begin with!”
“I know, Tern. Believe me, I know, but I think I’ve figured it out… I just need a few hours…”
“No. I’m sorry, Mattin, but you know I can’t watch your section and mine, not since the ground awoke. Maybe at the end of the shift, you could go to Jaken and tell him what you think…”
“No! He’d only tell the elders it was his idea, Tern; you know that! That grub-licker would do anything to get higher up in the city.”
“If it brought the second shield up again, would that be so bad?” Tern asked Mattin sadly, and he regarded her, burdened by her filthy fur, and cracked carapace that had once shone so brightly, her glorious claws that had gleamed like the darkest onyx, now split and dull. “At least we’d be able to return to the city walls…”
“And he’d be inside, while we had to fix the mistakes he made, all over again!” Mattin snapped, his voice rising.
“Shhhh!” Tern said frantically, as others turned and glared at them both before returning their gazes to the swirling dust clouds and darkness of the deep places of the realm.
“I’m sorry, Tern, but…” Mattin started to say crossly before a scream in the distance made them all freeze.
“Shhhh!” Tern repeated.
“Idiot! Shut it, before they hear us!” another of the clan snapped, fear and anger clear in his voice as they all watched the shield pulsing above them. Thankfully, their manasight made up for their species’ poor vision, degraded after centuries in the dark places.
The Shieldwall had been composed of dozens of layers once, designed to protect its inhabitants from all that meant it harm. and it had been faithfully maintained around a Prax, known to some as a war-city, by the Xon’dike since the day it was launched to soar like an eagle. The glory of the shielded Prax, named ‘Marauder’ in the human tongue, had given hope to the lesser creatures that had seen the mighty structure flying past. Now, centuries after the cataclysm that had forced it into the ground and had killed ninety-nine percent of its population in the crash, its last remnants struggled to survive.
Only three of the shields remained after the crash. One had not lasted a full century before it failed altogether, and when a second had also failed, a little over a week ago, the load had proven to be too much for the last one. It became weak, holes appearing and re-sealing sporadically as the heavily damaged Prax desperately tried to hold itself together.
Mattin, Tern, and the rest of the Sect of Endurance had been sent to maintain the final outer shield, while Jaken, whose mate was the local official of the Artificer’s Sect, had been given the damaged Shield Totem that they’d found in the second shield. He’d been puzzling over it for days now, eating their food and pretending he was making progress.
Mattin had suggested shortening the line somehow to cover a smaller section of the city, which would allow the rest to be consumed by the creatures of the deep, but the Artificers had been horrified by the notion.
“Our great ancestors constructed the shield wall this way for a reason!” they had said, and they’d refused to even countenance sacrificing some of the city, despite the hundreds of unused, abandoned buildings that made up more than ninety percent of it.
He’s been thrown out of the Artificer’s Sect office, reduced two ranks in the Sect of Endurance, and warned that if he spoke his ‘heretical beliefs’ anywhere within earshot again, his carapace would be cracked, and he would be left for the S’barrr.
He’d kept his mouth shut in fear after that. However, after four days, their team abandoned outside without sleep, frantically trying to keep the Shieldwall active as the S’barrr tunneled and battered at it, and the boundary’s mana slowly seeping into the darkness through dozens of fractures in the crystals, he’d reached rock bottom.
“It’s our only chance, and you know it!” Mattin whimpered, anger and frustration tingeing his natural cowardice and forcing him to speak. “The only way we survive today is if the Secondary Shield comes back on. Already, the air grows thick enough to choke on. Without it cleaning the air, we’ll all die long before the S’barrr can eat us!”
“Not if you let them know we’re here first!” another clan member hissed, swiping at Mattin with his claws extended to leave three scratches across his fur in a clear, final warning.