Trapped in an online world called iSync, Issa meets a thousand other players from every corner of the world, who all go by their online ID names. Struggling to survive and fighting for a way out, he meets Flower, a mysteriously smart girl. How will a human mind survive in conditions evolution hasn't prepared it for?


16. Chapter 16

Chapter 16


With all five of us having equipped Wind Boots, within a few hours we had reached Intos. This time, I didn’t have the sense of uncertainty I had the first time around. I knew the way, I knew where we were heading, and I knew exactly what we had to do. The boots carried us ahead, and after an hour we decided to stop and take a quick rest. Even though the boots saved us much energy, traveling at such a high speed took concentration.


The landscape hadn’t changed at all. The lush green grass spread until the distant mountains, and the daisies were still sprinkled here and there. Again, I wanted to go down and dive into the grass, but there were more urgent things to do.


Giving the water skins back to Quaker, we all took a combat stance and took off again.


An hour later, we had reached Intos.


I opened the AirMenu to check the time. 3:30pm. iSync time.


We all needed some rest after traveling at high concentration, but before that I wanted to show everyone the training farm I had found before. We quickly walked over, and I demonstrated how the boars would detect you once you entered the ring.  They were quite weak, their attacks easy to dodge, but they would give a good amount of experience points if we used them to train.


We made our way back to Berry’s Inn.


“Let’s meet down in the lobby at five,” I said. 


Everyone was too drained to respond verbally. They all just nodded, walked upstairs, closed the room and dropped themselves on a bed.


There was complete silence.


*  *  *



I sat down with a drink at one of the tables. I was tired, but I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted some time to think. So, we train here for a day or two at Intos. While training we watch out for any of the escaped sixteen players or Praya survivors. Afterwards, we follow the same pathway and rely on Saaler’s and Thunder’s vague memory to find Praya. Once we find Praya, then what? If Irady was there, then what do we do? Fight him? Talk to him? Pretend to make allies with him, then stab him in the back? Watch him carefully to see if he had made any allies?


But what was on my mind the most was how Irady asked if I felt more alive in iSync than I did in the real world. As much as it pains me to agree with him, he was right.


Before I could think any further, I saw Quaker come down the stairs. He grabbed a drink from the bar counter and sat down across the table.


“What are you thinking?” he asked.


“Irady,” I shrugged. “I was thinking about what he said to me right before he stabbed me in the leg and put me to sleep.”


“What did he say?”


I took a deep breath and sighed. Since we knew about each other’s past, we could talk more openly. “Essentially, what he asked me was if I felt more alive in iSync than I did in real life.”


There was a short silence.


“I didn’t answer,” I said. “I wanted to stall him, buy some time. So I didn’t answer him.”

Quaker smiled. He turned his head to see if anyone was around, then supporting himself with his elbows, he leaned in closer.


“Since it’s just you and me here, I guess we can be more honest,” he said. “As much as we are fighting Irady, and even though we don’t agree with his methods, to an extent we can understand him, right?”


I let out a light laugh. It was true. Quaker and I both weren’t suited for the rigorous academic ladder society had wanted us to climb. By simply not adhering to social protocol, we had tumbled down.


Within iSync, if we worked hard at whatever we wanted, hard work would always be rewarded. There was no system to con you, no economic loopholes, no compulsory academic ladder for success, no monthly rent to keep you locked in. In this world, with our own two hands, we would be able to realize our dreams.


“I understand him,” I said. “But I can’t tell this to anyone besides you. Sven would have us arrested.”


“As wonderful as this world is, and as tempting it is to stay here, I want to return to my real body,” Quaker said.


I agreed. “Staying inside iSync is simply a way of escaping. I’m not coward. I don’t want to run away.”


Quaker nodded.


It was ironic. Even though Irady was arguably the strongest and boldest out of all players, by fighting so hard to stay in iSync, you could say he was the weakest.


*  *  *



Half an hour later, Flower, Saaler and Thunder came downstairs. They all yawned, rubbed their eyes and had sagged shoulders. We all ordered some food and ate like our life depended on it. After all, with everything that has been going on, it’s been nearly twelve hours since we last had any food.


An hour later, we went back to the training farm and started hacking and slashing our way through the wild pigs.


The Star’s Cut was a truly wonderful blade. Sidestepping the boar’s charge, the sword’s weight didn’t slow me down at all. It’s length was perfect, and I was able to make a deep cut into its side. I repeated the same move I made last time. I quickly made a turn just as the boar passed me, and dealt the final blow with my Feather’s Cross. The wild pig squealed, and dissolved into a million tiny polygons.


The training area was quite large and divided into several areas by fences. We all trained in a different area so what we wouldn’t get in each other’s way. Even if we did get hit by one of the boards, we wouldn’t take a lot of damage.


I repeated the same move a couple of times until I felt I could perform the same move if a more powerful enemy charged at me. I stared at my boots. They made traveling less time consuming, but how could they be useful in combat?


I remembered how Irady dived deep and closed the distance between me and him. I looked at the boar. If he can do it, so can I.


I entered combat stance, and my boots started to give off a blue glow. I focused my weight, took my sword in my right hand. I concentrated on the wild boar which still hadn’t noticed me.


Three, two, one...


I pushed ahead, and in less than a second I had closed the distance between me and the boar. With incredible speed, the Star’s Cut went straight through. Instantly, the boar dissolved, and my momentum carried me through a shower of polygons.


The other four all stared at me.


“Nice one!” Quaker shouted from over the fence.


I grinned. With these boots, I had the same speed Irady had.


There was just one thing that worried me. In my memory, when Irady sprinted towards me, his shoes had no glow to them.


Did that mean he could achieve this kind of speed without any special boots to boost him?


I swallowed.


Just how powerful was he?


*  *  *



About two hours later, the iSync sun started setting. Quaker, Flower and I were all exhausted. We all had reached level eight, which roughly took us about two hundred boars each.


The three of us started heading back.


“We’ll come back later!” Saaler waved. Obviously brother and sister weren’t tired at all. I couldn’t help but shake my head in admiration at their never ending energy.


The three of us went back to Berry’s Inn to eat dinner and rest for a few hours before going to sleep. Tomorrow, we planned on training a full day, and then leaving the day after.


When Saaler and Thunder didn’t come back after dinner, none of us thought about it too much. Maybe brother and sister wanted some time alone so that they can talk things over. Maybe they wanted to train more. We all went to sleep without any worries.


The next morning, Saaler and Thunder weren’t in any of the bedrooms in Berry’s Inn. We went to the training farm and they weren’t there either. We searched through every street in Intos and we couldn’t find them.


Without a trace, they had disappeared.

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