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?


21. Chapter 21


Flower and Thunder decided that they wanted to go walk around town to see what items they could buy for supplies. Quaker gave them the money we received from fighting the boars and the Tortured One, and the two girls went off shopping.


I couldn’t help but shake my head and smile. Shopping. Shopping in iSync. What a world this was. How carefree our lives sometimes felt. How honestly money was earned. It was...simply too good to be true. That is why we had to get out of it. Get out before we would begin thinking like Irady. Yet, there was one major problem. I swallowed with nervousness just thinking of the magnitude of this issue.


“Saaler,” I said. “What if some of the survivors from Praya are the same as Irady? What if they don’t want to leave iSync?”


Saaler folded his hands. His eyes dropped and he let out a solemn sigh.


“I had thought about that,” he said. “Let’s say some players were like us and they managed to escape chaos in Praya and ventured out into the world. Even if they had no intention of staying inside iSync at first, it is undeniable that there are certain aspects of this reality which are very appealing. It has been over a week already. It is possible that some players who did not want to stay in here at first have changed their minds.”


“And what if they have changed their minds?” Quaker asked.


“Then we’re in trouble,” Saaler said.


I nodded. I could imagine. The players of Praya were all the best of the best. They had more combat experience than any of us beginner players in Queenstown. If they had survived the Praya Tragedy, then it must be because they are even stronger than the rest. If they decided to stay inside iSync, with the huge gap in our strength, there was little we could do.  The worst case scenario would be if they met Irady like Saaler and Thunder met us. If they formed an alliance with Irady, the two players that escaped with him and the other escaped sixteen players, then they would have an incredible force.


I told Saaler and Quaker all of this.


“I have thought of that too,” said Saaler. “We have to take into account that some of the escaped Praya players will still want to leave iSync. I’m sure that not all of them will want to remain inside.”


“Also, Sven and Safire are training the other players from Queenstown,” Quaker added. “We would still outnumber the escaped players even though they are stronger.” 


I nodded. The odds weren’t against us, but they weren’t exactly on our side either. What would tip the scale is simply how much effort we put in our own training. It would all come down to how hard we worked, how determined we were.


I liked that.


“So, our plan is the same as before,” I said. “We go to Praya and find Irady before he finds the other players.”


With that, the discussion was over.


Yet, there was one thought that kept nagging on me. What if Irady had already found some of the players? And if he did find some of the stronger Praya players, then he wouldn’t even be our biggest problem anymore.


We had to find him fast.


*  *  *


About an hour later, Flower and Thunder came back. We quickly told them everything we had  discussed. Immediately, Flower sank into deep thought and nodded as we told her all the details. Thunder grew quite worried, but didn’t ask any questions. She probably knew that we wouldn’t have any answers until we reached Praya.


The girls then showed us the stuff they had bought from the little shops in Intos. They had found a good deal on healing potions. With those, they’d be able to heal anyone without using the time to cast the HEAL spell. Each potion can be only used once, but in cases of emergencies when multiple players needed healing, these would come into handy.


Before we went to sleep, we received messages from Sven and Safire. They had already traveled quite a distance from, and were mapping more of the surroundings of Queenstown. Sven’s group had discovered a medium sized town called Talburg, and Safire’s group was resting with a large non-player character caravan that which traveled between the different towns outside Queenstown. According to Safire, the caravan provided free food, so there was no reason not to stay with them.


We told both of them what Saaler and Thunder told us. How the players from Praya were actually the strongest ones, how the siblings were involved in the iSync test before, and how Gavin was their father. We quickly added how we found the new training monsters in the Basement Dungeon.


Sven didn’t answer for a while. No doubt he was thinking about the consequences of this.


“I knew that there were people testing iSync before it went live,” Sven said. “But I didn’t know that Gavin’s city would be chosen as a reward for those who tested...”


Sven’s voice trailed off and his voice message ended. Moments later he video called us.


When he saw Saaler and Thunder, he smiled. “So he did have children...that Gavin.”


Saaler stepped forward. “He wanted to show us what he managed to create with iSync-”


“Please stop talking,” Sven said with scowl.


Shocked at his sudden change in demeanor, we all shut up.


“Who is your mother?” Sven asked with a such a sad smile that it could make anyone want to give him a hug.


“Her name is Leah,” Thunder said.


Sven’s eyes dropped and looked away from the screen. It seemed as if that name stabbed him through the chest. He smiled a sad smile. He looked as if he was both happy to hear that name and devastated by it.


“Sven...” I began to say, but stopped. I don’t think he was listening.


After a whole minute of silence, Sven looked up and tried his best to hide his emotions.


“Thank you very much the information,” he said. “If there is anything else, please keep me updated.”


Without another word, he hung up.


The five of us were left there sitting like dumb ducks, not sure what to make of Sven. Clearly he wasn’t happy. Yet at the same time we could see certain joy in his eyes.


“Was there any relation between your father and Sven?” Flower asked.


Saaler shook his head. “As far as I know. our father never mentioned anything about someone called Sven.”


“I think mom mentioned the name Sven once,” Thunder said.


We all turned to her. It was so rare to hear her speak. But when she did, it truly mattered.


“About a year ago, when I told her about my first boyfriend,” Thunder said.


“You had a boyfriend before?” Saaler eyes widened.


“It’s none of your business,” Thunder turned away.


“What did he do to you?” Saaler stood up.


With an amused smile, Quaker, Flower and I watched the stereotypical exchange between brother and sister. After all those heavy revelations, it was a relief to see something that didn’t have so much to do with getting out of iSync.


Thunder didn’t remember very much about what her mother Leah had told her about this ‘Sven’ person. She wasn’t even sure if Leah was talking about the same Sven who was the moderator and developer of Queenstown. Her father Gavin kept the iSync project a secret, and didn’t tell his family about it until about five years ago. Apparently, no one in the family knew what Gavin was doing everyday for his day time job for nearly a decade. Yet his wife Leah trusted him, and bore two of his children.


*  *  *



Quaker and were I sleeping in a shared room with twin beds, Saaler was sleeping alone in another room, and Flower and Thunder were sleeping together in a shared room.


The night in Intos was eerily quiet, just like the countryside in real life. It wasn’t like Queenstown where you could hear players talking outside or non-player characters taking a scheduled late night stroll. There were no cars, no trains, no motorbikes. Such a peaceful silence would be so difficult to find in the real world. I could almost hear my heart beat.


“Hey, you awake?” I said.



“Can’t sleep...” Quaker murmured.


“How long do you think it’s going to take us to become as strong as Saaler and Thunder?” I asked.


Quaker let out a long sigh, put his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling. “They said they had been testing iSync for five years right? So I’m guessing it will take us a little shorter than that.”


“What makes you think that?” I asked.


“They had to learn everything from scratch, so it might have taken longer for them to figure out all the tricks with the different weapons. Plus they were limited by developers with the number of scenarios they could test, and which scenario they could test at which time,” Quaker said.


“I guess since we have already seen how they fight, and we can train whenever we want, it will be faster for us to catch up,” I let profound breath.


There was a short silence. We were both staring at the ceiling.


“Hey Issa,” Quaker said after a while. “Do you have anyone waiting for you outside iSync?”


“No,” I said. “I mean, there were some people before, but I don’t know where they are, or if they are still alive.”


“Then why do you want to get out so bad?”


I frowned slightly. “Because there is still something I absolutely have to do in real life.” 

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