iSync

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?

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19. Chapter 19

 

We walked back to Berry’s Inn. Saaler and Thunder went upstairs to sleep. We told them that we wanted to try fighting in the dungeon. Saaler then told us that we shouldn’t walk back into the same hall where we found them.

 

“At the entrance corridor of the basement, take the pathway on the left. Over there will be monsters that are about twice as strong as the boars upstairs, but weaker than the one we fought.”

 

We thanked him and the siblings went to bed after training all night long.

 

Quaker, Flower and I walked back to the training farm and sat down at a table. There was plenty of stuff we had to discuss.

 

“Just how strong are those two?” I asked.

 

Neither Flower nor Quaker could give an answer. None of us had expected the two siblings to be such skilled fighters. With the confidence and efficiency in their movements, the clean cut of their blade, they weren’t just talented. They had years of experience.

 

“Maybe before iSync, they had training before? Like fencing,” Quaker suggested.

 

“That is possible,” Flower nodded. “But sports like fencing, boxing or martial arts don’t involve fantasy equipment like the Wind Boots. The way Saaler handled the speed, and Thunder used it to power up her jump isn’t something you can learn in the real world.”

 

“Are you saying that they had training in iSync before?” I asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Flower said. “But they are far more experienced than we are.”

 

I agreed. “They weren’t at all intimated by the huge minotaur. It is as if they knew how to take on an opponent almost three times their size.”

 

For nearly an hour we discussed what we should do. We could do all the speculation we wanted, but in the end we had to ask for them to tell us more about their past in order to draw any real conclusions. For now, we were just glad that they were on our side, even though they could have easily joined Irady. With Saaler and Thunder, we’d be able to capture Irady once we find him in Praya.

 

We went down into the dungeon, and like Saaler said, we made a turn to the left and ended up in...we couldn’t really tell what it was at first. There were crosses the size of players stacked against the wall, boxes of nails, and a metal chamber with a solemn face at the very top.

 

Curious, I walked over and opened the metal chamber. Inside were hundreds of spikes, all of them covered with dried blood.

 

Suppressing a girlish cry, I immediately shut the Iron Maiden. I looked around. There were tables with metal chains, metal tipped whips and small drills.

 

We had walked into a torture chamber.

 

Before we could explore any further, the sound of a door opening filled the room. Automatically drawing our weapons, we faced the direction the sound was coming from. In the midst of the darkness, two white spots floated in the air. Slowly, the monster emerged. I swallowed. It was nothing like the minotaur. It was even smaller than the Gate Guardian minotaur.

 

What stood in front of us was a person. Or at least it looked like a person. A pitch black cloak covered its entire body, and where we should see the face all we could see was a black shadow with two white dots for eyes. It was floating in the air with no feet. Its arms and hands were covered by the long cloak.

 

Never mind that an opponent three time your size was terrifying. A monster your own size was just as scary.

 

I opened my AirMenu. All of our health bars were full. At the very top there was a label with the monsters name of it: the Tortured One.

 

We stood in formation. Quaker in front with his Queenstown Wall, and me and Flower behind. There was one short moment of silence. We waited for the Tortured One to make its first move.

 

Big mistake.

 

If there was one thing we should have learned from Saaler’s fight with the large minotaur was that when fighting stronger opponents with our Wind Boots, it’s always a good idea to make the first move.

 

The Tortured One let out an ear piercing banshee-like scream. Five sharp blades emerged on each side, acting like claws of the hands we couldn’t see. It flew towards us. Quaker raised his shield, ready to counter the ten swords.

 

Before any of us could react, the Tortured One let out a cry and and became transparent.

 

“Wha-!?” Quaker shouted, but before he could finish, the Tortured One had flown through him like a ghost.

 

It all happened too fast. Me and Flower had expected Quaker to fend off the first attack, but the Tortured One had turned into a ghost. Once past Quaker, it materialized again, its ten blades gleaming with the candlelight.

 

With both arms spread out, the Tortured One aimed to slice apart me and Flower at the same time. I quickly raised my Star’s Cut and managed to deflect the worst of the damage. My health bar sank by about six percent. Flower also did the same with her Eagle Crossbow.

 

Reacting faster than any of us, Flower raised her crossbow and fired at the Tortured One. With a cry, it turned transparent again, and then quickly materialized.

 

I sighed in frustration. What did Saaler mean when this monster was easy to kill? We couldn’t even land a single hit on it. How strong must Saaler be for him to find this Tortured One easy to defeat.

 

As far as I could tell, the main difference between us and  the siblings was that they had incredible speed.

 

The Tortured One let out an ear piercing cry and from a few feet away, flew directly towards Flower. It must have calculated that out of all of us, Flower dealt high damage but had the lowest defense. She was the logical choice to get rid off first.

 

Automatically, Flower raised her crossbow and fired at it. Naturally, the arrow flew right through the monster and it materialized again.

 

Now was the time to test my an idea I had.

 

The moment Flower’s arrow flew through it, I fired my Feather’s Cross at it. When the Tortured One materialized, my arrow pierced it’s pitch black robe.

 

The cry that followed nearly made by ears bleed. Was this also a weapon the Tortured One used? As soon as it got hit, it would let out a cry that would make all the opponents in the room kneel and cover their ears in excruciating pain.

 

It still wasn’t dead. I thought hard. What did Saaler mean when he said that the monster in this room was easy to kill?

 

Again, the only major difference between him and us was his incredible skill with the Wind Boots.

 

I watched as Flower put some distance between her and the Tortured One. I had to do something. At this rate, we would lose this fight that was supposed to be a simple training exercise.

 

I had to somehow deal a massive amount of damage in one hit, and kill it before it can let out another painful cry, leaving us defenseless.

 

The Tortured One entered its attack motion, spread out its blades and went after Flower again. If Flower suffered a direct hit she would most likely die. And without her spell cast abilities, Quaker and I would soon follow.

 

I had an idea.

 

I had absolutely no idea if I could pull it off, but I had to try.

 

I entered my combat stance, and my Wind Boots started to glow. I focused my weight on my feet. I didn’t launch yet. I aimed my Feather’s Cross at the Tortured One. I concentrated. Even though I knew it would simply turn transparent and cause the shot to go right through it, I had to make sure that it would hypothetically hit.

 

The moment I fired, I pushed ahead.

 

With the high speed boost, I traveled about an arm’s length behind my own arrow. Time felt slower even though I knew I was traveling at a incredibly high speed. Maybe the adrenaline was causing my brain to process information faster.

 

I watched as the monster turned transparent and my arrow flew right through it. It raised it’s arms and was about to strike down Flower. Its blades were halfway to reaching Flower. It materialized. I had also arrived.

 

In that split second, I cut its rope in half using my Star’s Cut. The longest of its ten blades nearly touched Flower.

 

I flew right through the halved Tortured One and landed on the other side next to Flower. Instinctively, I turned around and aimed my Feather's Cross at it like I did in the boar training.

 

The Tortured One let out an audible sigh of relief and dissolved into a polygon shower.

 

Panting, I dropped my weapons and sat down on the ground. The adrenaline was still there and I could feel my heart pumping like mad. I felt mentally drained. That moment of extreme high concentration had taken its toll.

 

In front of us each of us, an AirMenu window opened up. I had reached level nine. In addition I had received a drop called ‘Bag of Nails’. I selected it from my inventory and it quite literally was a bag of nails. Probably the same nails that were used to torture the Tortured One.

 

Quaker and Flower were next to me.

 

“Issa, I’m sorry...” Flower said. “I couldn’t do-”

 

“It’s OK,” I stopped her. “None of us knew of the special ability this monster had. It’s nobody’s fault.”

 

“But why didn’t Saaler tell us about the special ability?” Quaker asked, annoyed. “We could have gotten killed!”

 

I shook my head. Why didn’t Saaler tell us? Maybe when he came here, he and his sister fought a different monster? Maybe dungeon monsters evolve after each defeat? We couldn’t know for sure.

 

But I was glad that we had gone through this fight. We all have become stronger. I could feel it. With this fight, we had learned to fight bolder, faster, more aggressively. We were shedding the habit of hesitation and actually started using our bodies.

 

Yet I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. All three of us felt drained after this one challenging fight. Saaler and Thunder had trained all night long and they didn’t seem to break a sweat.

 

The same question I asked Flower earlier returned to me: just how strong were they?

 

*  *  *

 

 

A little while later we returned to Berry's Inn. It was time to confront Saaler and Thunder. While we were walking back, I glanced at Flower. We knew at least that Saaler and Thunder were from Australia, and we knew a little about their circumstances before they entered iSync. But we knew next nothing about Flower. We knew that she was from China...and that’s it.

 

I wanted to ask her about her past, but I had the feeling that she would simply fall silent again. But this had to end. Perhaps not today, but it was time to end all the secrets. If we are going to fight together as a team, we had to know more about each other.

 

It was time to spill the guts.

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