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?


23. Chapter 23


We browsed through the AirMenu, but we couldn’t find any skills that would allow us to travel through the forest at such high speed without running into a tree. At jogging speed, we moved forward, now anxious to catch up to whoever the lockout was working for.


I gulped. If there wasn’t a skill that would allow you to travel like that in a dense forest, then it could only mean that this ability all depended player’s own reaction time to dodge the trees. He did it so casually, so effortlessly. If we had to fight an opponent with this kind of speed and reaction speed...I didn’t even want to think about it.


We traveled for an hour at jogging speed, then took a quick rest. We were all exhausted. Traveling long distances without the Wind Boots took a toll on our stamina. We were all sweaty, panting, fatigued. There was still no sight of the hooded figure, and honestly I didn’t expect for us to catch up. At that speed, chances are, he’s already reached the server border town.


“Do you have any idea who that was?” I asked.


Saaler looked at his sister and they both stared silently at each other for a moment. I couldn’t really tell, but were they contemplating something together? Eventually Saaler shook his head. “We don’t really remember anyone from Praya. In the chaos, we didn’t exactly have the time to make friends.”


“But do you remember anyone with such speed?” Flower asked.


After thinking for a while, Thunder answered.


“Well...I’m sure that my brother and I aren’t the only ones who had the speed to escape. I don’t remember exactly anyone, but there should be other Praya players with fast reaction times.”


“But why would he run away? Why did he try to hide?” I asked.


No one knew the answer to that. It was possible that Irady might have formed an alliance with the Praya players, and they sent out their fastest one to scout for incoming Queenstown players. That would explain why the hooded figure ran away after Saaler noticed him.


“I think...not all Praya players are that strong,” Flower suddenly said.


Surprised, we all turned to her. What had her brilliant mind come up with this time? We nodded for her to continue.



“If that player really was that strong, then why he run away?” Flower said. “He is definitely fast, and has incredible reaction time, but I don’t think he would be very strong in combat. If he was, then he wouldn’t run away immediately. If he had confidence in his offensive and defensive strength, he probably would have stayed longer instead of launching the Wind Boots right away.”


“Are you saying that there is a Praya player that only specializes in speed?” Saaler asked.


“It’s possible,” Flower said. “I couldn’t see much because of the cloak, but he seemed to be traveling very light.”


We all thought about that. It made sense. With too much equipment, his reaction time would slow down and he wouldn’t be able to dodge the trees so smoothly.

After a short while, we continued.


“I don’t like this,” Quaker said to me in a low voice as we jogged.


 I looked at Saaler and Thunder. What was that just now? It seems as if they were trying to decide how much to tell us.


“I think there is something they’re not telling us,” I said in a whisper.


He nodded. “But everyone has their own secrets.”


I sighed inwardly. The entire time it felt as if those two kept a nugget of information from us, but I couldn’t guess what it was either. Right now I didn’t want to confront them again. As long as we still needed them, I wanted to avoid any possible friction in our corporation.


“But it also feels as if every new player we encounter just gets stronger and stronger,” I said.


“If it keeps going on like this, we won’t stand a chance fighting any of them. No matter how many times we outnumber them,” Quaker said.


I half smiled. “Well, let’s hope we won’t have to.”


*  *  *



By the time we finally got out of the forest, the sun had started setting. The path ahead had become more or less straight, so we put on our Wind Boots and sprinted ahead. It felt good to return to ‘normal’ speed. While running, I couldn’t help but shake my head with astonishment. How could the hooded figure travel in the dense forest at this speed?


Soon afterward, we had finally reached a small town.


Exhausted, we went to the the only inn the small border town had. With my eyes half open, I looked up at the sign before the door: Tea House.


Like heavy rocks, we dropped ourselves on some random chairs spread around the large dining hall. Nobody of said anything, we were all too drained to bother making comments about the Tea House.


Eventually after a few minutes, I got up and walked over to the bar counter. I asked the non-player innkeeper what was on the menu. He had no water, only tea. Rice and sir-fried dishes were the only food the kitchen had.


I ordered some dishes I wasn’t sure of what they were, then sat down again. Minutes later, the innkeeper along with an Asian looking waitress brought out everything I ordered.


“There is a message for you,” the innkeeper smiled and handed me an envelope.


Surprised, I thanked him and opened it.


It was from Irady. 

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