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?


15. Chapter 15

Chapter 15


I was stunned by the determination that filled her voice when she said that. I was about to open my mouth and tell her that it’s too dangerous for her to go, then closed it again. With the stern stare she was giving me, I was afraid she might shoot me if I tried to deny her. Seeing the Eagle Crossbow hanging by her belt, I also remembered why I had given it to her in the first place. She had better aim than anyone else in Queenstown.


If Irady was a close quarter combat fighter, then Flower was the opposite. She was a ranged fighter.


“Alright,” I nodded simply and went back to browsing the equipment list.


Moments later, Quaker entered. I looked at him. He looked at me. We both nodded. Without a word, we understood each other. Those two weren’t going to let me go alone. I smiled inwardly. I felt so grateful to have made friends like that.


Soon, I realized another big problem. I was completely out of money. I wanted to upgrade my Moon Blade to a lighter and slightly shorter sword called “Star’s Cut”, but I had no money left. Even after selling all my default equipment and Moon Blade, there still wasn’t enough. I had half a mind of selling my Eagle Coat, but I wanted to hang onto it. It gave me a decent defense boost.


Quaker tapped me on the shoulder and opened the trade window with me. In the trade window he placed a respectable sum of money.


“Sven and Safire gave me this,” he said. “They told me that if we’re going to go after Irady, all three of us would need better equipment, since nobody can match Irady’s speed.”


I made a mental note to thank Sven and Safire later.


Nodding, I accepted the money and bought the Star’s Cut.


It was a beautifully designed blade. It was a bit longer than my arm and about as wide as three of my fingers put together. It appeared heavy, but when I took a few steps away from Quaker and Flower and tried swinging it, there was a very comfortable weighty feel to it. Not too light so that it would be too easy to swing and do little damage, and not so heavy that it would make it difficult to control. The blade itself was night black, but when I held it under the sunlight coming in through the window, it gave off the bright gleam of a star.


I should ask Sven about the developer who designed all these weapons. Clearly whoever did this poured their heart into these things.


Flower decided to keep her Eagle Crossbow, and instead opted to upgrade her arrows. I asked her what the difference was, and instead of telling me, she showed me. She fired at a nearby wooden stool, and it burst into flames. Mouth open, I was amazed by this new firepower.


“It was so explosive because the chair was made out of wood,” Flower said. “But against monsters it should still do some extra burst damage.”


Quaker continued to stay away from offensive combat abilities and bought new shoulder armor instead. Now, he was essentially a human fortress. Not even Irady’s lightning assassin’s knives would be able to get past them on the first try.


With the last bit of money we had, we each bought a pair of Wind Boots. According to the instructions the AirMenu gave out when we tapped the boots, when we put them on, the iSync system would automatically recognize when we take a combat stance. If we then consciously focus our weight on our feet and push forward, the boots would automatically give us a speed boost for about half a second. With the momentum, we would be able to close the distance between us and any ranged fighter in an instant.


I smiled. So in the end, iSync was quite balanced. If it ever came down between an assassin and a crossbow fighter like Flower, the fight would be decided by whoever reacted faster.


I decided to give these boots a go. I entered the combat stance, and the boots gave off a light blue glow. iSync had recognized me. Then I concentrated my weight onto my feet.


“Issa, this might be a bad i-” Flower called out.


Before she could finish her sentence, the boots blew me ahead, and I came face to face with the shop's wall. At the very last moment, I made a slight turn and crashed into the wall with shoulder. The shock knocked the side of my head into the wall, but the impact was softened by my shoulder. My head was spinning, and I wondered if it was possible to dislocate a joint in iSync. Groaning, I held my shoulder, being in too much pain to stand up.


I heard Quaker say something, but the pain from my shoulder was overwhelming me and I couldn’t hear anything properly.



A few minutes later, when the pain subsided, the two helped me stand up. Now I just felt stupid for wanting to try these boots indoors. Like Einstein said, there is no limit to human stupidity.


“Are you alright?” Flower asked and tried to touch my shoulder.


Gently I pushed her hand away. “Don’t touch it...for now.”


After a few minutes of rest, I stood up and tried to move my shoulder. At first it hurt, but when I started moving it more, the pain subsided and my body was back to normal. I was quite surprised. In the real world, such a crash could have broken several bones. But it seemed iSync had a higher tolerance for how much damage a virtual body could take.


I took out my new Star’s Cut and swung it a few times. My shoulder still hurt a bit, but it wasn’t broken. I could fight just fine.


Flower put her hand on my shoulder and squeezed a few times to make sure that nothing was broken. I felt no pain.


Afterwards, we made our way to the fountain plaza in record time. Everyone was already there, hence the streets in front us were completely empty. We entered combat stance, focused our weight, and sprinted ahead with the light blue glow coming off from our boots. Within minutes we had arrived.


Sven was standing on the improvised stage from last night.



*  *  *


The crowd of players all stood there, waiting for Sven to speak. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure how Sven was going to do this. Would he propose his idea and then let everyone vote? Would it be more along the lines of totalitarian rule? In big decisions like these, it was impossible to avoid political elements.


Sven raised his hand and signaled for everyone to be quiet. He opened his AirMenu and turned on the microphone.


“Irady and two other May Day members have escaped,” he announced. “We have tried to follow them, but they split up, and each of them went through a different gate. What we need to do now is to find and capture them before they join forces with the escaped sixteen players.


“I propose the following idea. Everyone who is in Queenstown will not be considered a Soul Driver or May Day members, however we all belong to Queenstown and we all want the same thing; to escape from iSync. We will split into three different groups. Two large and one small. The two large groups will be lead by me and Safire.”


Sven paused for a short moment, waiting for any objections. There were none. He continued.


“The two large groups will go through the Eastern and Western Gates and search for the escaped players. The smaller group will go through the Northern Gate and will make its way to Praya,”


I gulped. As soon as he said that the smaller group will go to Praya, I knew what Sven had planned.


“The smaller group will consist of Issa, Flower, Quaker, and the two Praya players,” Sven said. “They will make their quickest way to Praya, searching for survivors and also looking for any escaped Queenstown players. Are there any suggestions or objections?”


Next to me, Flower raised her hand. Sven looked at her and nodded.


“I think when the two large groups manage to track down either Irady’s group or any of the escaped sixteen, you should not capture them,” Flower said.


A murmur spread through the crowd, and there was some curious looks with raised eyebrows aimed at Flower.


“We should not capture them because they have escaped for some time now. There is the possibility that they know the locations of other escaped players. If we follow them carefully, they might lead us to them.”


I nodded. Sven did the same. This was indeed a good idea. Instead of searching for them one by one, we could simply use their own desire to search for companions to help us find more.


“Thank you, Flower,” said Sven. “We will consider it when we encounter one of them.”


After Sven stepped down from the stage, I hurried over and pulled him aside.


“Why do you want such a small group to go to Praya?” I asked. “Wouldn’t it be better to send the largest group possible?”


Sven shook his head. “Irady himself said that he would met you again in Praya. I don't think he would lie about that. Where else besides Praya could he go?”


“From what I have heard and seen, Irady is a very careful player and more skilled than most of us. Leading a large group to Praya would too make noise and tip him off. A small group with more combat experience is better for capturing him,” Sven said.


I understood. A small task force of skilled players would be far more effective in finding Irady. And Praya is where he is most likely to be.


“But will you and Safire be alright with leading more than thirty players each?” I asked. After all, most of these players had only trained on dummies before and only watched Flower, Quaker, Safire and I fight.


“That’s why I wanted to separate these players from your small group, Issa,” Sven said. “Me and Safire will train these players while hunting for the other escapees. You should focus on finding Irady. If what he said wasn’t a lie, then the first place he will be going to is Praya. We can’t waste anymore time. Irady is a very ambitious person. Every moment he is out there will be one more moment for him to assemble more players who do not want to leave iSync. If he becomes the leader of such a rebel group, then we're all going to be in real trouble. That is why I want you and your small group to track him down fast. It’s the quickest solution. Waiting for everyone to finish training and move as one big group would take far too long.”


“And what do you want me to do once we do find him?” I asked.


Sven shrugged. “That’s your choice Issa. It would depend on how much resistance he puts up, and if he has found any allies. Even if he dies, we can still make a safe logout since all dead players’ virtual bodies are automatically transported back to Queenstown.”


Sven paused for a short moment. “Of course, it would be much better if we can have them all return alive.”


Sven nodded and went to find Safire. They had a lot of things to organize. Me too. I went to gather the rest of the group I would be in.


Minutes later, the five of us stood together, somewhat separated from the two large groups that were forming around the fountain plaza.


I repeated Sven’s instructions and told everyone how we had to capture Irady before he makes friends with the escaped sixteen players. Also, with every minute passing, Irady was also likely to be training, leveling his stats and gaining better equipment. We had to find him before he jumps too far ahead.


“We will go pack some supplies then,” Quaker said and put his large hand on Saaler’s shoulder. “Don’t want to be living on dry bread and cold water like last time.”


“Me and Thunder will be practicing the HEAL and FIRE spell,” Flower spoke.


I nodded. Ever since Fefe died, we had lacked an efficient spell caster in our group. If they both become efficient at the HEAL spell, it would give us a greater risk boundary in combat.


“I’ll stay here and talk to the other groups. It will be better if we knew what their plans are. I’ll add several of them to my friends list so we can keep in touch more easily,” I said.


Everyone nodded. “We meet back in here in an forty-five minutes,” I said.


We went into different directions. Flower and Thunder stepped outside the fountain plaza to find an open space without players to practice the FIRE spell.


Without wasting any time, I dived into the crowd. I didn’t have to introduce myself when talking to random players. Everyone recognized me already by my Eagle Coat. At first it was kind of awkward for me to only have one-way introductions, but after a while, it didn’t really matter anymore. We mainly talked about everything that has happened now, and I added three new players to my friends list: Mac, Big Bear, and Evian. With this I could message various members of each larger group to ask for updates of their progress. Finally, I went to talk to Safire.


“Do you still have the Minotaur’s First Fury?” she asked.


For a moment, I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. Then remembered. If it wasn’t for Safire, the evolved version of the Gate Guardian would have cut me in half. Afterwards, we each received one of the blades the Minotaur used.


“Yeah, I still have it.”


Safire smiled. “Before this is all over, I want to have a duel with you. No armor, no spells, no magic boots. Just the First Fury versus the Second Fury. Sword on sword.”


“Sounds good,” I grinned. We shook hands.


We promised to update each other as soon as something happened.


Half an hour later, all five of us assembled. I talked to Sven one last time, telling that we were off. He told us to message him as soon as we find Praya. No doubt he was curious about the grand creation of another developer.


We exited through the Northern Gate and started making our way to Intos. 

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