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?


30. Chapter 30

Together with Yamil, we formed a party of four. Without telling him, we placed Saaler in front, Yamil behind him, and me and Flower behind Yamil. This way we could both prevent Yamil from escaping and protect him from attacking monsters.


We exited the church and traveled through the corridors. For about an hour we wandered around before we decided to take a rest.


“Do you have any idea where Iren might be?” I asked Yamil.


“When that anti-virus program attacked, we ran off into different directions. In the panic none of us paid much attention to where the others were going,” Yamil replied in a low voice. “I’m pretty sure he isn’t dead...but...”


“Since Iren is from Queenstown and we didn’t feel any pain in our chests recently, he is most likely still alive,” I said encouragingly. “Right, Flower?”

I turned to Flower, but she didn’t say a single word. She simply sat there, staring intently at the ground.


I was about to move over to her to ask her what was wrong, but Saaler put his hands on my shoulder and shook his head. He probably meant that she was tired. After all, Flower had never fought so many monsters for so long. Even using the scope to increase her accuracy, shooting with such high concentration for hours would be exhausting.


It was time to give her some rest.


I turned to Yamil.


“Why did you and Iren decide to run away from Queenstown in the first place?” I asked, careful to keep the judgement out of my voice.


Yamil let out a long thoughtful sigh as if he was smoking. He stared at the glass ceiling of the dungeon.


“I’m not really sure, I guess it was because neither of us wanted to log out. We didn’t have much of a life to return to after we just thought; why not? If we can stay in here a little longer, then it means we can escape the reality of life for a little longer.”


I was about to open my mouth to ask him if he knew that other players couldn’t log out because of him and sixteen other player who had run away, but Flower suddenly came over and covered my mouth with her hand.


She looked me in the eyes and shook her head. Confused, I shook my head in response and shrugged. Why did she cover my mouth? Was there any information that we should keep away from Yamil?


“We should continue to search for Iren,” Flower said. “Every moment we waste is another moment for the anti-virus program to find him first. If Iren has to fight that thing one-on-one, he will most likely die. We should move fast.”


Flower’s orders were so direct that we were too stunned to make any comments. Automatically we stood up, drew out our weapons and went into formation.


After a little discussion, we decided to try something new. At the risk of having the anti-virus program hear us, we started calling out Iren’s name. Maybe he could hear us, maybe he couldn’t. But as far as any of us could tell, sound traveled normally within iSync, and there weren’t any special game rules which changed the rules of sound travel.


“Iren! We are here to save you! Iren!” I shouted at the top of my lungs.


“Iren!” Flower called out.


“Come out!” Yamil shouted.


“We’re here to save you!” Saaler hollered.


We wandered and shouted like for half an hour until our throats gave up. I was surprised. I didn’t know our virtual bodies in iSync could have such limits. It’s funny how the developers combined unrealistic fantasy equipment with cherry picked realistic physical conditions of the players.


After another twenty minutes, just when we about to give up, we heard some rustling around the corner. Immediately, Saaler held up his fist, signaling for us to stop.


“Hello?” I said in a lower voice. “Is somebody there? We’re here to help.”


“Iren?” Flower said carefully.


A figure emerged from the around the corner. It was a guy. He had short black hair, square glasses, and his leather chest armor was torn to pieces. He had bruises and cuts all over his body, signaling that his health points were low.


“Who are you people?” he cowered behind the corner, afraid to come out.


I stepped forward, lowered myself and put out my hand.


“Come. We are here to get you out of the dungeon. We’re Queenstown players,” I said with a gentle smile.


Whatever this guy had gone through, he was obviously traumatized. He was shivering all over, and his speech was stuttering and slow. Judging by his badly damaged basic armor, he must have gone through hell.


After some more hesitation, the black haired player finally emerged and we sat in a circle. Flower gave him some food, water and a healing potion. In a daze, he accepted all these items and ate hungrily.


I watched both the black haired guy and Yamil. One was scared out of his wits, the other was calm and steady. If they were both Queenstown players with the same amount of experience, then Yamil should at least show some sort of sign of shock.


I was about to open my mouth to question Yamil, but Flower stopped me. She shook her head.


“I will ask the questions. You and Saaler be ready,” she whispered.


I nodded.


I made eye contact with Saaler and nodded. I held my Star’s Cut ready. He held his black sword.


“Yamil,” Flower said. “About how long ago did you run away from Queenstown?”


Yamil thought for a few moments before answering. “I think it was about two weeks ago? I can’t be really sure. I didn’t exactly count the days ever since I entered this world.”


“Yamil. Through which gate did you escape?” Flower asked.


“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I just kind of ran away, and I didn’t exactly have a compass with me at that time.”


All of his answers were vague.


“Yamil. Who developed Queenstown?” Flower asked the decisive question.


Yamil stopped for a moment, and seemed to think.


“I think it was Gavin right? He developed both Praya and Queenstown.”


Wrong answer. My heart was pounding like mad. I was still in sitting position, but I had my Star’s Cut out. I wasn’t moving a single centimeter, but the adrenaline was drilling through my body.


Yamil was the anti-virus program.


How cunning. The entire time he put on an act to use us to find Iren. When we found him and the second friend whom he pretended to be, he would conveniently kill us together all in one swell swoop.


This artificial intelligence was far too advanced. It nearly outsmarted us humans.




“Yamil,” Flower said with no emotion. “what are you doing here? What is your exact purpose in Praya?”


Almost as if that was some kind of command line to prompt his specific reaction, Yamil smiled.


His smile spread from one ear to the other. He reached from behind and put on his hood. There he was. Suddenly, his entire image changed. That was the figure we saw in the forest outside the Tea House border village. The hooded figure.


Irady’s words echoed from Yamil’s mouth: “I’m an anti-virus program. My job is to eliminate and permanently erase foreign players’ data in Praya.”


Several things happened at the same time.


With a roar, Saaler leaped up and dived at maximum speed to attack Yamil. Since Saaler was a Praya player, Yamil couldn’t counter properly, he could only defend. Flower grabbed the dazed Iren under his arm and dragged him away. I automatically did the same. I grabbed his other side and quickly pulled him around the corner.


Breathing hard, I leaned against the wall. It’s been less than ten minutes since we found Iren and already we are in such a situation.


“What should we do?” Flower asked.


I looked at Flower. I looked at Iren. Every muscle in his body was tense. His eyes were wide open, frozen with fear. If Saaler could fight Yamil, then we would should have more than enough time to transport Iren somewhere else. If Saaler could win, then perhaps we didn’t even need to run away.


Carefully, I looked around the corner. My heart sank.



Saaler was on top of Yamil. Why was he on top? Shouldn’t he be trying to slice him apart? It was then that I realized that Saaler was so scared that he had lost all his wits and was using all his strength to keep Yamil pinned to the ground.


“What are you doing? Run away!” Saaler shouted over his shoulder.


Completely ignoring how Saaler had his arm pinned down, Yamil moved it and grabbed Saaler's throat. Then while still holding his throat he slowly stood up and held Saaler in the air.


“Don’t think just because you are Gavin’s son, that I will treat you differently,” Yamil said with a mad smile.



I quickly turned away. We had to take Iren and run. As cowardly as it was, it’s the only option. If Saaler died here, Thunder would still be able to log out since Saaler’s vegetable body would materialize at the plaza. If any of us three died, then not a single Queenstown player would be able to log out.


We had to get out of here. We had to get out with Iren and friend. His friend who was still trapped down here somewhere.



“Where’s the other guy?” I shouted at him.


Iren only gave me a confused look. He shook his head.


“Damn it! The other guy! Your friend who escaped with you? In this dungeon! Where is he?”


“Dungeon?” Iren shook his head. “I don’t understand. I know where another guy is, but I came down here only with Irady.”


Unbelieving, I stared at him. Did Irady lie? This other guy. He was not in the dungeon?


In the panic and adrenaline, I couldn’t even think straight anymore.


“Then WHERE is he?” I shook him like a madman. “What’s his name? What does he look like? Where?”


Iren looked at me as if the devil had possessed me, and at that moment, with all my anger and panic, I probably did look like it.


“He…he is fat. He is fat and looks jolly,” Iren stuttered. “He works at an inn...”


With my mouth open, I let go of his shoulders and dropped to the ground.


No way. No way. This could not be it. No way. No.


“We have to go back to Queenstown,” I whispered. “Queenstown...”


“Issa! I need you! Don’t lose your mind!” Flower slapped me across the face. “What did you figure out?”


“Fat...and jolly,” I said in a whisper. “Fat, jolly and works at an inn. The inn keeper of the Jolly Inn in Queenstown. He isn’t iSync controlled. He is a player. A spy.”

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