"That is enough!" Alexandros boomed on the throne room. "I do not need any more of your explanations. I forbid you of leaving the boundaries of the castle. We are in the midst of war and there are spies and assassins lurking on the fields. It will be wise to remain in the castle until the time comes." Alexandros eyes raged with fury.
I tried to explain to him the reason I went deep into the forest in search of information. Indeed, I was outside the boundaries of the castle alone. But, that doesn't mean I wasn't going to escape or anything. I was also training, killing low level monsters on the fields and on the woods. Now he's saying that I wasn't allowed to do so unless I was with him.
"With all do respect, sir, you are indeed my master. But why didn't you warn me of this? I could have changed my mind. Perhaps you could train me even more after these past few days. After that first fight we did on the forest, you started to distant yourself from me. Not even care about my progress. Don't you want to win?"
Alexandros glanced me with fury. "Perhaps you should focus on polishing your sword skills and your reset powers even better. Not trying to find information that doesn't interest our goals."
I gritted my teeth. "Alexandros, you are..." But suddenly Agatha burst from the throne room with a few servants behind. Her face looked worried.
"Your Highness...there's been an incident on the castle gates. It's best that you take a look at it."
Alexandros burning eyes died out and quickly leaves the throne room. I followed him suit to see what was the problem.
A huge crowd of golden guards were blocking the front door until Alexandros boomed and quickly they make way for their king. Agatha and the servants were chatting with worried face. There was no doubt that in this castle, the guards still don't trust me because I'm new and all, but I secretly snuck myself from the guards attention and slithered into the front gates.
The wind was blowing fiercely. As my eyes focused on Alexandros' back, I saw something that I never seen from him after these past few days staying here. His hands were trembling, a cold breeze turned his skin pale. As I walked beside him, my eyes locked on the horrendous scene before me.
The charred corpse lay on the center of the castle gates. The victim's chest has been slashed with tremendous force that ripped out most of it's skin. What's worse is that a circle of fresh blood was drawn cautiously, closing the gap with the victim. Bloody letters were also written on the floor saying these chilling words: 'Alister, you are next!'.
A chilling feeling caught me off guard, as I started to look around like a madman in search of anyone looking suspiciously. But now, the question is: how did this killer got inside the castle's safe zone? And how does it know my name?
"This looks like a villager from the city, my lord. Whoever did this must know Master Alister well." Agatha said with a worried face.
I started to remember my traverse through the forest, and indeed I did visit a village. After that, I later visited 'The Maiden's Song', and stayed there while talking to the green coat man. But still, I did told him my name.
I told every detail about my journey through the forest. Alexandros was deep in his thoughts. Then, he turned his head on me.
"It might be a possibility that a 'Player' is in play. This Green coated man is the suspect into all of this. I will set a scouting team to 'The Maiden's song' and the nearby city for questioning. Once the suspect is detected, we will kill them."
"But the war has not started. Isn't that the rule?" I said.
But Agatha started to explain to me. "It's true that the war has not started yet, but we have dealt with players who are much worse than players. We called them 'Hackers'. They are the scum of the earth. They are out of the boundaries of rules and they will try to eliminate you as soon as possible by any means necessary. That is their way of achieving their goals much easier and quicker."
"Which means that you and I must get inside the castle and stay there until we receive news of the suspect, understood?"
I nodded reluctantly. In my mind, i never expected that in this world, hackers will even exist. I mean, when I played battle royale games, i knew that there were people who tried their cheating ways to eliminate opponents with their cheating ways. But here, in Casthynia, I never even knew about that. I guess Alexandros did got mad about it because hackers were on the watch.
The whole day was the most excruciating (not literally) and boring as hell. The castle gates were locked, in combination with a giant magical barrier that the mages used. They must have zapped a huge quantity of mana to pull that off. I gazed at the library's window and the dark night has emerged. I was here sitting at the long table with huge quantities of books for me to read so I can kill time. Alexandros just stayed there, standing like a statue on the wall with his arms crossing, scanning the area like a mad dog every minute. I knew very well that the scouting team wasn't going to return. And Alexandros did too.
"You know, I think I'm understanding a little of our situation. You are indeed Alexander the Great. The most powerful conqueror who defeated Persia. And yet, you didn't go along with your men. Why is that? It's because you can't."
Alexandros remained silent. I continued. "My role as a 'Player' is to protect the Master. You are a King in the chess board. You might be powerful, but if you die, I will be kicked out of the competition. And your goals will be shattered. Is that right?"
He smirked for a moment. "Correct. You are correct, Alister. I never expected for you to find that conclusion. It's true, I might be powerful, but if I fail in battle with a Master, I will die and you..."
Alexandros looked away as he blocked himself from speaking. I wonder what he wanted to say?
I sighed. "Alexandros, may I go to my room for the time being? I'm exhausted in staying here."
"But why?" I protested.
"Perhaps you don't understand the situation. If the 'Player' is indeed a hacker, he can infiltrate this castle without ease. And besides, your room might be the target that the 'Player' wants you to go to murder you."
"About that...if a 'Player' kills me, don't I return back previously to the moment i was killed?"
"Yes. But still..." He said annoyed by my question. But I cut his chatter
"Then everything is going to be fine." I said with my head high and left the library quickly as I heard Alexandros protesting on my back.
As I speed up my steps, I heard Alexandros coming to me, protesting and yapping around nonsense about staying together. I used my left hand as a pantomime to joke his never ending protests. But I continue walking through the grand hallway, up into the stairs until I stopped on my tracks.
Three royal guardsmen were killed brutally. They stand on the ground, with their golden armors slashed like paper. I stood there, frozen in place. My courage was a lie. My heart was leaping with fear as I stepped back from the horror. Just then, Alexandros stood beside me, his face in shock.
"...He's here." He said while he waved his hand to summon a golden sword from thin air. His golden armor flashed into his body. I quickly snatched a small sword from the dead guard as i retreated back to my original position.
There was a flash of thunder outside. The rain has begun to fall. Cold enveloped the grand hallway as I glanced at the deepest dark of the hall. I knew that something evil was lurking in it. Waiting until we make the move. And so...
"Get ready, Alister. This is our first battle dealing with a 'Player'." I gulped as the words came from Alexandros himself. I knew I didn't have to worry about death itself, because i have my Reset ability. I can come back and do it again. But still, this feeling...i knew it quite well. I knew what the monster was.
From the shadows, it leaped into me. But Alexandros blocked it's attack. The monster was biting the sword until he countered and flipped on the ground like a rag doll. I used my 'Scan' ability and saw it's name.
Creature name: Shade
It was that thing who attacked me on school. The very same thing that caused this nightmare. And it was here. But this Shade is stronger now.
Suddenly, a chilling feeling came from my back as another Shade appeared from the shadows. It's gaping mouth opened as I braced myself from imminent attack. I heard clashing swords behind me as Alexandros was busy dealing with other Shades.
"Roooooar!" the monster roared with strength as it jumped on me with gleaming claws. I quickly dodged it. Then i used my mana to slow down his movements. Using this time spell, it only affects on a target, not on the field which caused me to take advantage on my movements. Feeling scared, I stabbed the Shade, but it wasn't enough. His HP lowered a bit. But, perhaps with a few hits, I can kill it.
The time spell wear off and the Shade focused on me once again. This time, i wasn't ready to use the spell because it flipped into walls and ceiling, trying to get away from me. It was planning a way to hit me. Waiting to find a weakness. And so...
"Roaaaar!" The Shade bellowed again, launching itself into me as I dodged with an inch of it's deadly claws. Just as I recovered my footing, I used my spell again and, while grabbing the short sword with force, I yelled and slashed the Shade. Ultimately, his HP fell into 0. I gasped for air as the monster melted into shadows.
"Alister!" Alexandros yelled from the ensuing battle. "Find Agatha! Quick! She's in the throne room!"
"But I can..." I tried to say something, but he shook his head.
"You are still inexperienced. This opponent is stronger than I thought. Go to Agatha now!"
I gritted my teeth as I felt useless. But I didn't have a choice. More Shades were coming from the walls. I have to retreat for now.
I was running like never before. More royal guardsmen lie dead as the throne room gates were opened. I gulped as i slowed down my steps. The Golden Throne was destroyed. Chandeliers were cut down. The lights were snuffed out as someone was in the middle of the Throne Room, holding Agatha from her neck.
"Please, come in. I have been waiting for you." A familiar voice said as I traversed the throne room. As i walked closer and closer, I realized who this person was.
"I never expected you to be here, Alister. Much less a weakling like yourself." Barry, my bully from school, was smiling wickedly at me as Agatha was gasping for air. His black coat was waving as a cold wind entered the hall. His eyes were shining with evil, his golden hair turned black as the night.
"Were you responsible for this? Tell me now." I angrily said.
He snorted. "Yes. I'm the one who controls the Shades. And I'm loving their performance. Did you like the thing I left you on the castle? I bet it was chilling for you."
I balled my fists. "You...you sent that Shade on school, didn't you? You tried to kill me! How low you have fallen, Barry."
He chuckled. "Isn't that great? My Shade failed to kill you, however i feel that you really died a long time. Why is that? Did my Shade failed to cut your neck? How unfortunate."
"Let Agatha go, damn it!" My voice echoed the empty throne as he smiled and let her slipped from his dirty hand.
"The bell will soon ring, and soon we will meet face to face in this glorious war. And I can't wait to see you dead." He began to walk around in circle. "This power to control the dead and the darkness, is so exhilarating. Ever since i made a deal with my Master, I have been given powers beyond comprehension. And also, I gained the power to get inside Safe zones just like that." He snapped his fingers with a wicked smile.
"You are deranged. Now you style yourself as a Hacker too?"
He chuckled again. "Yes. I can access infinite resources on my own. I know you can read my 'Status'. Go on. Read it. Amuse me"
I used my 'Scan' on Barry. I was shocked to see his 'Status' to be erratic.
He laughed like a madman that echoed the throne room. "Your face is so amusing! I'm more powerful than you think, Alister. I can win this war with ease. And it's all thanks to my Master. Don't worry, I only came here to experiment on my newfound powers. And when the bell rings, I will kill you and your dear girlfriend Joan. They will all die. Everyone will die in despair."
"Shut up!!!" I instantly yelled as my short sword slashed Barry. But it didn't do any effect.
He snorted amusingly. "I may be a Hacker, but the rules still apply. I can't hurt you as much as you can't hurt me. But once the bell tolls, it's over." And he laughed and laughed again until he teleported away, leaving myself with rage and anger inside of me. The time for war was coming.
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