iSync

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?

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7. Chapter 7

Chapter 7

 

We went back to the Jolly Tavern to take a good rest. And even if we weren’t tired, all four of us wanted some quiet time for the adrenaline to calm down. I asked the jolly innkeeper for a room, and with a great smile on his face he gave me four keys. One for each of us. I smiled and thanked him, even though I knew he was nothing but an avatar operated by the server computer.

 

I lied on the bed, feeling tired, yet I couldn’t rest. Why was the minotaur so powerful? Was it a consequence of the ZERO update? Was the lizard originally a simple guardian, while this minotaur was designed to kill?

 

But above all, if we had such a difficult time getting past the gate guardian, then how did the escaped sixteen players do it? I thought about it for some time, and in the end, the answer hit me: the guardians hadn’t become hostile until the developers starting seeding the update. If they were a group of sixteen players in total, and the guardian was simply designed to prevent you from leaving rather than entering combat, it is very possible to run past the monster with such a number of people.

 

Maybe that is why the system added combat abilities to the lizard during the seeding, and increased the speed and strength of the minotaur after the update.

 

“Damn those sixteen...” I thought with a sigh and used my arm to cover my eyes.

 

Just why would they run away?

 

Maybe they didn’t even know the rest of us couldn’t log out if they ran away.

 

No one could be that selfish, right?

 

*  *  *

 

After a few hours of rest, we met with Sven downstairs. We sat down at a table, and the jolly innkeeper brought us drinks of...something.

 

“A lot has happened since you guys were asleep,” Sven explained. “After seeing you guys fight, many players got enthusiastic and everyone started to form groups to discuss how to find the escaped sixteen.”

 

I nodded. That was great. Even if we nearly got killed, if everyone had gained hope, then it was worth it. With only us four, and Sven wouldn’t be able to capture all sixteen.

 

“Players have started to form guilds and smaller teams, and for the past few hours, Safire and I have been teaching them the basics of combat for this world -”

 

“iSync,” I interrupted.

 

“Sorry, what?”

 

“iSync. That’s the name we’ve come up with for this world."

 

Sven thought about it for a moment. “Why iSync?”

 

“We are all synched together,” I said. “And the ‘i’ in front, stands for yourself, or ‘interconnected’. What do you think?”

 

Sven nodded. “Alright. Let’s call it iSync for now. Constantly saying ‘this world’ or ‘ZERO update’ is a pain.”

 

Sven then told us how two large guilds have formed out of the group of eighty-eight players, excluding us. There was one guild with fifty people called “Soul Driver”, and another slightly smaller guild with thirty-eight people called “May Day”. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I heard the second guild's name. It certainly had a sense of irony to it.

 

Sven said he showed the players some of the training areas with dummies where they could practice, and that some leaders have already emerged.

 

“I’m the leader of Soul Driver,” he said with a withdrawn smile. “I was kind of forced into it, to be honest. Some people saw me as the leader, so they looked for me.”

 

“Who is the leader of May Day?” asked Flower.

 

“Some guy called Irady,” Sven answered. “I don’t know him at all. I’ve only seen him, haven’t talked to him yet.”

 

Suddenly, the door opened and Safire walked in. Before she even opened her mouth, I could see the distress written all over her face.

 

“There’s trouble!” Safire panted before any of us could even say anything. “Irady..he is...”

 

“What is it?” I asked.

 

“Irady has told May Day to start practicing combat on non-player characters. Shop keepers, guards and any person who is not a real player is getting attacked by May Day members.”

 

My first reaction was high sense of unease. Why would he do something like that? I had never met Irady, yet I couldn’t help but feel that attacking civilians was too much, even if they were only computer controlled characters.

 

“I tried to stop him, but he said that May Day activities are none of my business,” Safire continued. “He said that non-player characters would reappear anyway, so killing them won’t do any harm.”

 

I looked at Sven. He had both of his hands together, resting his chin on his two thumbs.

 

“We shouldn’t do anything for now,” he said.

 

“But-”

 

“Stay away from him. I’ll talk to him later,” Sven said decisively.

 

With a unsatisfied scowl, Safire nodded and sat down at our table.

 

“This worries me,” Sven mumbled. “It’s only the first day, and we’re already starting to see a strong divide among the players. I didn’t expect politics to develop this quickly.”

 

“Irady doesn’t seem to be the type of guy who likes to corporate,” I commented.

 

Sven stayed silent for a few moments, then got up. “We will go have a talk with Irady. Meet me at the fountain plaza in an hour,” he said simply before exiting the Jolly Tavern. Safire followed him out. I wonder what is up with those two? Before, it seemed that Safire was constantly angry at Sven, how come they get along so well now.

 

“Do you think everything will be alright?” asked Flower.

 

I thought about it for a few moments. I couldn’t say I knew. “To be honest, I kind of expected for a bossy guy like Irady to emerge from the crowd. I just didn’t expect for that person to be able to form such a large guild so fast.”

 

“If bad goes worse, one of us could challenge him to a duel,” Quaker suggested.

 

I shook my head. “First I want to see how strong the players in May Day are, and how loyal they are to Irady. If we challenge him and win, it would generate nothing but more hostilities from them. At this point, it is best to try to keep all players as close together as possible.”

 

“Flower and I could go talk to him first,” Fefe suggested and took Flower’s hand.

 

Quaker and I looked at them, not sure of what to say.

 

“Not to be sexist...but what would you two be able to do, to convince him?” I asked.

 

“Never underestimate the charm of a woman,” Fefe made a victory sign.

 

“The more masculine and bossy a man tries to be, the more insecure he is on the inside,” said Flower. “Irady sounds like the textbook example. I’m sure if two cute girls went to talk to him, he will soften up.”

 

“But Safire already went to talk to him,” said Quaker.

 

 

I thought about it for a moment. “That’s true. But Safire doesn’t have any charm.”

 

The four of us couldn’t help but laugh at Safire’s expensive. Truly, with her demanding nature, Irady wouldn’t be charmed by her. He would most likely turn even more aggressive. 

 

“Alright, alright,” I said. “You two go talk to Irady. Me and Quaker will go buy a new shield, since the last one broke. Let’s meet at the fountain plaza in an hour. If you two are  successful, then Sven and I don’t have to talk to him anymore.”

 

*  *  *

 

“Do you think those two will be alright?” asked Quaker as we walked down the street to find a weapons shop.

 

 

“Irady sounds like a jerk, but players would never hurt each other,” I said. “In the end, we’re all in this together, we’re all trapped in iSync, and he knows that. Hurting another player wouldn’t bring any of us closer to getting out of here.”

 

Quaker nodded.

 

“Bad goes worse, Irady will simply tell Flower and Fefe to get lost, but he wouldn’t hurt them.”

 

“But how can you be so sure?”

 

I smiled. “If Safire couldn’t provoke him to punch her, I doubt Flower and Fefe can.”

 

With a small laugh, Quaker agreed.

 

After discussing possible combat strategies, we put our money together (we had plenty from defeating the minotaur and lizard) and bought Quaker the “Queenstown Wall”, which was the best shield the local weapons shop had to offer. We opened the stats and found that it had twenty-three defense points, a massive twenty point upgrade over the old shield. In addition we both bought light chest armor, and I upgraded my sword to the “Moon Blade”, with twenty attack points, a good ten point upgrade over the standard sword, and two points above Minotaur's First Fury (not to mention lighter!). In addition I bought a one-handed crossbow called “Feather’s Cross”. It was actually two attack points below the standard issue default crossbow every player had, but it was extremely light, and hence would be easy to practice my aim with.

 

We sold our standard issue equipment, which then left us with about half of what we had before we went shopping. That should be enough for Flower and Fefe to buy armor, spells and upgraded crossbows.

 

We walked to the fountain plaza, and we waited.

 

There were some players still hanging around this area, but most had gone training on the dummies spread around Queenstown. Some came over to talk to us, to ask us for tips on how to fight enemies. Quaker and I gave them tips on attack and defense, but frankly, we only had two fights worth of experience under our belts. Yet that made us the players who had the most experience in the entire game.

 

Ten minutes later, Sven came. I told him about the plan Flower and Fefe had come up with. He simply mumbled a “OK”, but didn’t seem too happy about it. He sat down at the fountain edge used the AirMenu to check on how the players of Soul Driver are progressing.

 

We waited. Ten minutes passed. Twenty minutes passed. An hour.

 

I messaged both Flower and Fefe. But no matter for how long I stared at the AirMenu, neither would answer.

 

The two girls never came. 

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