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?


32. Chapter 32

There was a knock. 

Then a second.

The a third. 

Holding our breaths, we didn’t dare make any a noise. We were afraid that the sound of our breathing would tip Yamil off. 

The knocking stopped. We heard the sounds of footsteps fading away, walking to the next house. We waited until the sounds of the footsteps went away completely before allowing ourselves breathe beyond the bare minimum our bodies required. 

“Who was that?” Quaker asked.

I didn’t answer. There was someone looking for us, no doubt about it. It couldn’t be Saaler. If it was, he wouldn’t have knocked on the door as if he as looking for us. He would have remembered that this was our hideout. At the same time I didn’t think it was Yamil either. If it was, he would have knocked down the door. 

I looked at Flower. She too had the same confused look on her face. Before I could think any further, there was another knock on the door. We stopped breathing. After three knocks, whoever was knocking walked away again. 

A few minutes later, there were again three knocks. Then the sounds of a person walking away. 

Bewildered, the four of us exchanged glances. Without making a sound, I tiptoed to Irady’s room. With my thumb I pointed behind me, nodding towards the door. He only shook his head in confusion. 

Suspicious, I made eye contact with him. In his eyes, I could see nothing but confusion. I wanted to shake him, punch him, demand an explanation from him. But that would make a lot of noise and surely tip off whoever was looking for us. With a silent sigh I could only accept his bewilderment as genuine. 

When I came back, Quaker, Flower, Iren and Thunder all had their AirMenus open, communicating each other by writing short text based messages. Talking was definitely too much of a risk. I peeked over Flower’s shoulder to see what their assessment of the situation was.

Flower wrote that she didn’t think it was either Yamil or Saaler who was knocking on our doors. Quaker and Thunder offered suggestion as to who it could be, but none of the guesses sounded right. It couldn’t be Sven or Safire or anyone from Queenstown. They were all at least two days worth of travel from Praya. It could have been a player who survived the Praya Tragedy, but that didn’t explain why they only knocked without saying a word. 

Another round of knocking started. We all stayed frozen. By the third knock, Thunder moved. I wanted to stop her, but this would have caused too much noise. Frozen, the four of us watched Thunder press her back against the wall, carefully peeking through the window. 

We saw her chest rise and fall. Her eyes were fixed on whoever was knocking. The knocking stopped. We heard the footsteps fade into the distance, but Thunder remained frozen at the window. 

“Thunder!” I whispered. She would not move. The rest of us exchanged worried glances. If Thunder continued to stay there, then someone might see her. If we tried to pull away and she struggled, the noise might attract Yamil or whoever was looking for us. 

“Thunder!” I hissed again, my voice rising. 

There was the knock on the door. Thunder quickly ducked, then came back to the middle of the room. 

She opened her AirMenu, then typed in one single message into our group chat. 

“It was Gavin. My father.” 

We stayed silent throughout the next round of knocks. We were not silent because of the knocks. Thunder’s message had knocked the breath out of all of us. Everyone except for Iren that is. He simply sat there, confused as to what was going on around him, still in a state of shock. 

As long as he didn’t cause any trouble, there would be no problems for now. If he did, I would personally make sure that he became a vegetable body at the Fountain Plaza in Queenstown. 

“I thought he was dead,” wrote Flower.

“Didn’t you say he was ripped to pieces?” Quaker typed.

Thunder shook her head in confusion. I knew what she was thinking about. Nearly all of the players died in the Praya Tragedy, including her father and developer of Praya, Gavin. He and all other dead Praya players were standing together at the town center. As far as we knew, dead bodies shouldn’t be able to move since they didn’t have a mind - an owner - to control them. 

My heart sank. 

A dead body was like a car. If wouldn’t be able to move if there was no driver. could move if there was a new driver. 

I looked at Flower. We made eye contact and I could see fear in her eyes. Raw fear. It was the fear you would see in the eyes of someone who was cornered and death was imminent. 

I wrote into the chat for everyone to stay put. I needed to get on the roof. I motioned for Quaker of come with me. 

“What are you planning?” Quaker asked in a whisper. 

I pointed upwards. 

“We go through the backdoor, then you give me a lift up the roof so that I can get a vantage point,” I wrote into the a text window. 

Quaker nodded. He understood. If we simply kept waiting inside the house, it was only a matter of time before we would be discovered. 

We quietly walked through the backdoor, then closed it. It wasn’t until a time like this that I noticed how noisy we were when we walked. Crunch, crunch, crunch. The brushing of the dirt against our Wind Boots. The crunching sound of tiny rocks under us. In this moment of absolute silence, Quaker and I were as loud as an orchestra. 

Quaker positioned himself close to wall and faced me. I took about ten steps back, then took a deep breath. Usually for something like this, you would have several practice runs to make sure you were in sync with your partner, had the timing down and that Quaker would know my weight and knew how much lift to give me to send my flying to the roof and not against the roof or over it. 

But this time it was time to fly before I could run. 

I ran towards him and planted my foot into the little platform he formed with his hands. He heaved me up and I landed flat on my stomach on the roof of the little house. 

The roof was build in a triangle shape. I carefully crawled further up, making sure that I stuck my head out as little as possible. Taking a breath, I took a peek. I couldn’t see over some of the taller buildings in Praya, but the little height our single floor hideout gave us was more than enough. 

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 

It was...just unfair. 

The streets around us were filled with people. Judging from the way they walked, I first thought that they were NPCs simply walking their programmed path. Then I remembered that there were no NPCs walking around Praya when we got here, so there should be no reason for them to be walking around now. 

I watched the soulless virtual bodies walking around on the streets, stopping at each door to knock exactly three times, then walking away. 

My eyes followed one specific player. Judging from the long silver hair I assumed that it was a female player. She walked from door to door, repeating the same action over and over again. It was then that I noticed; they weren’t wearing normal NPC gear, but every single body had custom equipment. 

Those weren’t randomly generated characters. Those were the dead bodies from the city center of Praya. 

We were surrounded by the most elite iSync players. 

Having seen what I needed to see, I slid a bit further down and sent a message into the group chat. I wrote about what I saw. For a few minutes, there was no response. Everyone down there must have been pretty shocked. I tried to take a peek to see if Quaker was still there, but to no avail. 

I climbed back up and my eyes continued to follow the silver haired girl. I began to think about what might be going on. The most likely answer would be that Yamil was exercising his administrator rights and using the army of Praya bodies to search for us. But if that was true, then why did they only knock on the doors instead of kicking it down? Considering that they all had the skill stats of the most elite players, they had more than enough strength to do that. 

Perhaps Yamil didn’t want to kill us. Not right away at least. Maybe he wanted to keep us prisoner just long enough for Safire’s and Sven’s groups to come for our rescue. In that case a Praya vs. Queenstown battle would ensue. A battle we would surely loose. We were far behind in both numbers and combat experience. 

I let out an audible breath. 

Suddenly the the silver haired girl looked up. She must have heard me. Slowly her head turned to my direction. 

We made eye contact.  


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