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?


25. Chapter 25

We went down the hill and within an hour we were only about a hundred meters away from the city gate. The entire time we made sure to make as little noise as possible, so that we could keep the element of surprise.


Our plan was simple. Act swift and silent. Go into the the city, locate the Central Square, surround it, then I’ll go in as bait to talk to Irady. When the opportune moment comes, we will strike and capture him. Even though Irady was stronger than Quaker, Flower and I, his speed and strength shouldn’t match that of Saaler and Thunder. No matter how much of a genius Irady was with the iSync combat system, Saaler and Thunder still had years of experience. As long I could keep Irady in the open space of the Central Square, we would have the advantage with Flower’s ranged attacks, and Saaler’s, Thunder’s and mine high speed blade acceleration. If Irady has any surprises, we will have Quaker's defense to fall back on.


Without speaking a single word, the five of us moved closer to the city gate. Saaler and Thunder were in front, Quaker behind them, I was behind Quaker and Flower behind me. If anything suddenly sprang out, Saaler and Thunder could either launch an immediate counter attack or dodge to let Quaker take the damage. Then I could quickly launch a counterattack, and Flower could calmly focus her shots with high precision for critical damage.


It was a formation that we found no faults in it. Except we didn’t take one potential factor into consideration: the fierce rivalries between developers.


Saaler and Thunder stopped right before the gate. They turned around and nodded at us. We nodded back. Saaler put his hand on the large gate and a stream of light engulfed all of us.


I watched as Saaler and Thunder were swallowed by the light. I shielded my eyes, and expected that in a moment, we would be also be teleported into this vast city.


Suddenly, a strong wind blew around us. At first Quaker, Flower and I simply stood there, thinking that some wind was all part of the teleportation sequence. The wind grew stronger and stronger until I had to put my full weight into the wind to avoid being blown away.


Then with one final push, Quaker, Flower and I were blown away from the gate.


Coughing, I stood up and wiped the dirt off my silver Eagle Coat.


“Are you guys alright?” I asked.


Breathing heavily, Flower stood up. Quaker picked up his Queenstown Wall and also stood up.


“What was that?” he asked.


I looked around. Saaler and Thunder were nowhere to be seen. The gates were closed and there was no sign of them anywhere.


“Did you guys see where Saaler and Thunder went?” I asked.


Quaker and Flower shook their heads.


Before we could discuss any further, three circles of lights appeared at the front of the large city gate. Within each of those circles, a person appeared. I opened my AirMenu. 


Those weren’t players. They were Gate Guardians. According to my AirMenu, the one on the left was called ‘Bronze Knight’, the one in the middle ‘Gold Knight’, and the last one on the right ‘Silver Knight’. From top to bottom they were covered in armor which matched their respective names. There was only one horizontal slit in their helmet to indicate that they had eyes. Each of them was covered in chain mail, leg armor, and the outer side of their arms were covered with a series of small plates which would enable them to move flexibly.


I gulped. Three. One for each. 


“We have to break our usual formation!” I shouted. “We can’t take them on one by one as a team. We will have to fight each one on our own!”


We exchanged glances and nodded. Even with me saying it, it was clear that we would each have to fight on our own this time. The artificial intelligence of the monster in iSync might be predictable sometimes, but it certainly wouldn’t be stupid enough to give us the luxury of fighting the knights one by one.


I was most worried about Flower. A knight would make a much smaller target than the minotaur Gate Guardian in Queenstown. With all that armor on, would her burst arrows  be able to do enough damage? To aim better, she had little armor on. The knight would slice her in half if she didn’t dodge. She would have to aim for a critical hit in the gap between the chain mail and helmet to win.


Quaker quickly exchanged his Queenstown Wall for the sledgehammer he used to break out Fefe and Flower. Even though it was default standard issue equipment, with Quaker’s huge build and strength stat, he should be able to do enough damage.


Which just left me.


I put away my Feather’s Cross and simply wielded my Star’s Cut. With my terrible aim, I wouldn’t be able to do significant damage anyway. It is better to put all my concentration in the sword. One on one. Sword on sword.


Suddenly, the sets of armor came to life and lifted themselves from their slumped standing position into an upright position. Through the slit in their helmet we could see white dots glowing, signaling that they were ready to fight.


“Sorry guys, but I’m going to go for gold,” I said with a small laugh.


“That’s not fair! You know that only gold counts,” Quaker laughed.


Flower did not make any comment. She held her Eagle Crossbow close to her chest, her head shifted sideways and with one eye closed, she aimed down the sights. Her finger curled around the trigger in a relaxed state. Her breathing was slow and gentle. She licked her lips.


Quaker and I exchanged frightened glances. We had never seen Flower concentrate so much. She probably didn’t even hear us. Seeing that she aimed her crossbow slightly to the right, she intended to finish off the Silver Knight with one single shot.


It was at this point that I stopped worrying about Flower.


With a creaking sound the knights made their first step. Then, they entered a slight diving position and sprinted forward at full speed. They did not cry or shout. They were completely silent.


I stood there frozen. This was my first time fighting an opponent my size. Do I dodge? Or do I block and counter? Do I step backwards or sideways? My body didn’t know how to react.


I quickly glanced over to Quaker. He stood there, sledgehammer ready. He did not move. Flower was as concentrated as ever. She did not fire yet.


Quaker had sheer mass. Flower had ranged accuracy. My biggest weapon was my speed in close to mid-range combat. I entered combat stance. I concentrated my weight. My Wind Boots glowed blue. My mind entered a complete blank state and I launched forward. With both my hands supporting the sword, I planned to beat the Gold Knight with sheer speed, overwhelm him then finish him off quickly. I traveled slightly to the left side, so that my Star’s Cut could make a clean cut to the Gold Knight’s left.


My Star’s Cut was about to touch the chain mail. At the very last moment, the Gold Knight side stepped, avoiding my strike by a hair.




No way. There was no way anyone could dodge at this speed.


I twisted around in mid-deceleration, leaving a trail of dust in the air.


I saw Flower fire. With a calm and solemn expression, she pulled the trigger. The arrow found its mark. Right in the small gap between the helmet and the body chain mail. The Silver Knight was ripped apart inside his armor as the burst energy erupted inside the armor that was supposed to protect him.


Before I could even smile at Flower’s victory, the Gold Knight had turned around. I stood my ground. At high speed he traveled towards me, raising his sword above his head three steps away from me. I raised my Star’s Cut in anticipation to block the attack head on.


Bad idea. The sword came down with so much force that I went down on my knees. With both of my arms shaking to support my sword, I could barely hold the knight off.


“Issa!” Flower shouted.


“Don’t help me!” I shouted back.


Shocked, Flower stopped running towards me. I didn’t want her help. I had failed too many times already. I wanted to prove to myself that I could win a battle. That I was strong. That all my training in Intos had lead to some improvement.


It wasn’t just about my stats. It was about mental strength. I could have the highest level in all of iSync, but that would be useless if I didn’t have the inner confidence to match it in combat.


With a roar I pushed back and stood up. Still in contact with the Gold Knight’s sword, I pushed it upwards, creating a small opening for me to strike. I aimed directly for the critical spot Flower hit: the gap between the helmet and the chain mail. Right before I would have cut off his head, the knight used the momentum I gave him to quickly fall further back. I didn’t land a full strike on his neck but looking at my AirMenu I managed to land a good hit.


Stepping back further, the Gold Knight found his balance again.


Now! The fight was going in my momentum. I entered combat stance, focused my weight and the Wind Boots began to glow blue. The Gold Knight was only about four steps away from me. I had no idea if sprinting towards him wouldn’t just impale me on his sword. I didn’t care. My gut feeling told me this was the only way to finish this fight quickly.


The knight raised his sword sideways, guarding his chest. Ready to cut me down as soon as I launched.


The split second before I pushed off, I dived deeper than usual. With my hands almost touching the ground, I used my speed to fly right above the ground. It would come down to this. Either the knight would strike me down, or I would land a critical hit first.


With a cry I pushed my sword upwards, aiming to stab him in the gut. With the sheer speed from the Wind Boots, the tip of my Star’s Cut broke through the chain mail armor. I used all my strength I push my sword all the way through.


Right before the Gold Knight’s sword could touch me, he stopped. For one frozen moment, he simply stood there. Then he dissolved into a shower of polygons.


With his body gone, there was nothing to support me and my sword in my deep dive, I fell to the ground.


Breathing hard, I simply lay there. The adrenaline had my heart pounding so hard I could hear it. I closed my eyes to calm myself. I was so close to dying. In the future I should really change my fighting style. I didn’t feel any pain in my chest, so I assumed that Quaker  too was victorious.


With a profound sigh, I sat up. Quaker sat on the ground, leaning back with his arms supporting him. Flower sat on the ground with her legs crossed. Quaker and I were both exhausted. Flower didn’t seem to even have a speck of dirt on her clothes.


We heard the City Gates open with a deep creaking sound.


“Welcome to Praya,” I thought to myself. 

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