Chapter 18:

Corruption of the King

11 Kingdoms


Report: Corruption of the King Bookmark here

Accessing Logs of Noiox Castle:Bookmark here

Melissa stands watching as the computer starts to break down the decorations that were strung up in honor of the game's official launch. She lets out a sigh of disbelief of the past few day's events. Even more so from the almost quiet reaction from the company after the team went rogue on them. Perhaps it was the luck of having the might of the law agencies of the world behind the group. But at least for now, the news of the day has started to calm down. Unfortunately for all their efforts, they were not able to bring a halt to the coded quest that brought forth the hunt on Fawn. The best thing that they could settle for was a public declaration that the quest was the action of a programmer with an agenda, to harm the efforts of the investigation team. Now along with a growing collection of followers both in and out of the game, the loyal knightly order of the princess was formed to bring a halt to those out to hunt Fawn for the prizes promised for defeating her. However the few hours since the group was formed their numbers seemed dwindled by the number of players that ether felt that they had something to prove by taking on the top rank character, or that wanted the thrill and fame of being someone who even tried to fight the character. That is if they could find her. In the past few hours, Melissa has dedicated her mindset to see to it that such a threat never faced Fawn. She set the other controlled PCs of the game to keep an ear out on any player talking about taking on the quest or searching for Fawn's whereabouts. Even though she knew strongly that the ship carrying her had yet to reach the shores of its destination. She worked hard to make sure the other kingdoms worked along with those on their own. In making sure Fawn is allowed to live a long and peaceful life in the game if need be. An agreement is made with all the alliances except for the Grand Heritage, which was comprised of the Red, Orange, and Yellow Kingdoms. But the biggest missing key in the kingdoms to offer help was in Noiox's alliance of Golden Dawn, where the kingdom of Arguo has refused to speak up to the kingdom of Noiox which has become the issue of the day. This has Nev, arguing with Valspur in a private meeting in the game. With Rick’s chair at the office destroyed he is stuck having to resolve the issue while working at his home away from the tower.Bookmark here

"We can't honestly move on without the help of the gold kingdom!" Nev states with a good shade of red on his face.Bookmark here

“There is no choice, with Interpol taking Masaru in for investigation surely the princesses feel uncomfortable in our judgment of who to trust. Plus they also may be facing the forces to answer questions. We have to just move ahead without them behind us at this time. We have Strone, Crystinal, and Azurphire, willing to join us, and then our rivals couldn't care in the matter. " The king sits looking over a collection of floating scrolls before him, he goes about pointing at many with his hand then they vanish and a new one takes its place. “You two are making a big deal out of nothing but a simple quest. We know good and well that no player, not even Beta players that are still active have a chance at facing Fawn down at this time alone.”Bookmark here

Both Nev and Melissa stare at each other to see if they understood the words coming from the king's mouth. Nev takes the initiative to confront him on his call. “Have you gone crazy Rick, this is Jamie’s life at play, we can’t just let the kingdoms ignore this order. Her life hangs in the balance here.”Bookmark here

The King chuckles a bit to himself. “When doesn’t it? Since she has joined our group she has been a regular burden on the tasks of the company. I mean sure she built this castle, but who gives a crap. The girl is a pest and we don’t even know if she can die in this game, I mean you and I can’t.” The king pauses to think over his answer and the two servants stand puzzled hoping he is rethinking his words. But they get more of the same as he returns to his thought. "Okay, maybe we can die in some way. But the game brings us back. Hey, it already did to her when the accident occurred."Bookmark here

This time it's a furious Melissa that steps up as her fur begins to stand up from its strong solid placement on her head. "Accident, you were the first to see past this as an attack from a hacker, you're on the damn task force team to find this hacker. What is wrong with you?" Melissa stops and thinks of her issues that have returned of late. Perhaps it was the fact her body was shaking from the lack of a decent drink in hours. Or the smell of whiskey filling the room of her chair, but the Melissa of ether worlds wasn't about to let the group's leader fall apart in the same way she had recently done herself. She turns to Nev. "He is wasted! Drunk is my best hope and I truly hoped it is just that."Bookmark here

Nev looks over the king acting very calm-minded and continuing his work without a second look at the words the two of them speak out about his mental state. "Maybe we should get the team upstairs to deal with him. I mean they never told us what happened yesterday with the meeting with the hacker. But I can’t shake the feeling that the virus is behind this.”Bookmark here

“You mean to say you think the hacker is behind altering Rick’s head?” Melissa states in a surprised but not completely shocked status as she looks to the king carrying on ignoring the issue the team has dealt with for the past three days. “We may have been successful in our missions to keep Jamie alive. But we have to keep at it if we hope to keep her that way.”Bookmark here

The king waves a hand as to dismiss the two but neither, Nev or Melissa care to acknowledge the action other than gazing at his motion to do such a task before them. "Okay so if the issue with our king is possible after-effect from his encounter. Then it might be a suitable solution to have him step down, and take a medical leave till he is proven to be clear thinking.”Bookmark here

Melissa leans in. “Okay then here is the plan then, I will go and get the Agents and Alex’s help in getting Rick to step down. While you stay here and keep him occupied till we can pull him from the chair. Then you step in as acting leader.”Bookmark here

Nev lets out a sigh. “Yeah just make it quick, I don’t want to be fighting off Rick like Alex and Fawn did the guy in Sydney. I will keep the comlink on my chair open so call it if you need to talk to me." Melissa nods in agreement and looks at the King who has since the two been distracted in their plans moved in close to do some of his investigation of the conversation.Bookmark here

"I am fine and I would like you two to remember that. Till then I have reported you both for four violations of the company policy and sent the report to central. Now please get back to the issues of the day." The king claps his hands and makes a hasty walk back to his seat on the throne as Melissa storms out and quickly disconnects from the game.Bookmark here

File Source EndBookmark here

Accessing linked Source: Camera Network floors 47 & 49Bookmark here

Melissa pushes her pet cat from her lap that has taken to taking its daily naps in the seat with her master as she worked. Tugging at the restraints to get them to move faster in their automated removal Melissa breaks free and makes a run for the front door of her apartment. She opens the door and stops for merely a brief second staring at the door next door that has been replaced. The name tag of Jamie remains but is covered in a piece of tape to hide the name from everyone. Melissa then turns and looks at the wall where she and Jamie converted into their daily messaging system with each other. Right now, a good collection of Jamie’s past conversations with her on the wall have begun to fade. Yet Melissa has kept writing things but mostly it has been words of how much she misses seeing Jamie and having the little time where the two could get together. In one conversation as yet unanswered by Jamie, sits as a statement Melissa wrote up on the wall the second night after Beta. We should try going further next time as long as we don't hit the brakes then the security couldn't possibly catch up. Melissa was being a bit humorous at the time since the two were on probation for their first escape attempt. But now Melissa looks at it not as a joke, but a promise of where she would like to journey with her friend when they next met in this world. Melissa shakes her head in disappointment and returns to her fast pace towards the elevator in the main hall. But before she can press the button the door opens and a shocked Alex nearly jumps out through the glass wall to get away from the determined mission Melissa had in store. Once he has regained a footing on the ground he starts to make his way out of the elevator only to find his arm has stopped its forward movement along with the rest of him. "You want to speak to me about something? What is the matter is Jamie already in trouble?"Bookmark here

"No, it's not Jamie this time. I need you and the agents upstairs, something isn't right with Rick. He is acting weird in the game." Melissa despite her small frame and stature can return the tall skinny dark tanned man to his place on the elevator and press the button of floor forty-nine along the way.Bookmark here

Alex tries to grab the doors from shutting but Melissa tugs at his arm and he decides to do what the lovely woman on his arm is asking. “I don’t understand what you mean but sure, we will go up and see the agents.”Bookmark here

The reaction is a bit puzzling to Melissa. "Why if Rick faced the hacker as you guys claimed, what if something could be wrong with him? Given what you have seen, hell experienced, do you think it's hard he has been mind screwed by the hacker!”Bookmark here

“That’s not what I mean. Rick’s been given a release, he isn’t to return to the game until he checks out.” Melissa’s earlier puzzled look turns to shock as Alex explains and she hits the big red stop button on the elevator which instantly activates the elevator's annoying bell alarm.Bookmark here

“What? Rick has already been pulled from the game! But Moses and I just had a meeting with him!” Melissa states in a surprised expressed face.Bookmark here

“Not Possible, I went with Rick to his place last night and pulled his Nuro-link connection! He couldn’t possibly activate in the game as the king!” Alex reaches over and pulls out the red button and the elevator jumps to start back up to its ascent.Bookmark here

“We aren’t pulling your leg.” Melissa halts her statement as she knows she just said something a bit touchy with Alex. Right now as he reacts by shaking his arm clear of her grip. "Sorry, but we aren't lying. Check the player logs you will see he activated.” The door opens up and Alex limps quickly to the nearest computer console, which he knows has access to the logs.Bookmark here

"It's not that I don't doubt you, Melissa, it's just not something I can believe to be possible." The loud conversation of Alex and Melissa echoes through the room and draws the attention of the Agents Estaban, and Wessbalm are distracted from their current tasks. Along with two new agents brought in to help with the investigations. But the only person moving towards the new couple that entered the room is a Black clover Security guard taking his job seriously when the unauthorized Melissa has come out on the floor where she doesn’t belong.Bookmark here

Agent Estaban takes charge however of the situation before the guard can reach her, by directing the younger and more in shape agent to halt him from stopping Melissa and Alex. “See. No listing of Rick being on at all today, I told you he couldn’t be active.” The words perk Estban’s ears.Bookmark here

“Is something going on with Mr. Mathers? Is it something I should know about?” The agent gives a solid stare that gets Alex to stop in his tracks. But having been previously married to a man who Estaban very much was like in attitude. Melissa ignores it and begins to approach the area where the agents are hard at work.Bookmark here

“Rick has been acting weird in the game, I just came from a meeting with him and he was saying how we should just give in and not bother alerting the other towers to halt all quests involving the hunt for Fawn. And don’t you give me that crap that Alex gave that Rick isn’t in the game. I saw him, his character was active! Ask Moses, he should still be with him!” Melissa begins to make her way into the room however this time her action is halted by the second new agent and the sheer mass of the woman is enough to block Melissa from making her way in the door.Bookmark here

Agent Estaban without turning to face her sends his orders back to the hacker Rutashi. “So what do the feeds show?”Bookmark here

Rutashi starts to answer but finds it hard to come up with the words so she lets Agent Wessbalm respond in her place. “It certainly looks like Mr. Mathers is active.”Bookmark here

Estaban walks over to a table and picks up his badge and coat, and waves at the other two agents to join him. "Okay boys and girls look like we have a road trip! Agent Ballmer, get the local police to meet us at Mr. Mathers's home. Agent Richards, you're with me and the girl from his team. Alex, you stay and work with the rest on finding out who, or what we are looking at. This could be a vital clue on our hands that may let us bring Ms. Eve back to the world of the living." Estaban looks at Ms. Rutashi who just the other day warned him that she felt that Rick’s character and possibly himself was infected by the virus. Grabbing Melissa by the arm, Agent Richards drags her to the elevator and Estaban joins them. They watch as the security guard reaches for his walkie-talkie to report what is going on. "Oh and Agent Ballmer, make sure our shadow here puts his toy away. He is interfering with an international investigation.” A smile cracks Agent Ballmer’s face as she moves in to grab the walkie from the guard just as the doors shut.Bookmark here

File Source End.Bookmark here

Accessing Linked MaterialBookmark here

Police Response at 9522 Elm Blvd., Fairfax County VABookmark here

Officer Daniels:Bookmark here

Dispatch, come in.Bookmark here

Dispatch:Bookmark here

Go ahead Officer Daniels, report.Bookmark here

Officer Daniels:Bookmark here

I am at the address the feds wanted us to check out. I am getting no response. Officer Mason has gone around the side of the property to see if anything suspicious is occurring on the property. (To Officer Mason) See anything!Bookmark here

Officer Mason: (In background)Bookmark here

No, but if anyone is home they are sitting in the dark.Bookmark here

Officer Daniels:Bookmark here

Dispatch, are you sure this was a request of the Feds? Bookmark here

Dispatch:Bookmark here

Correct they wanted you to try to investigate the scene and get the attention of the homeowner.Bookmark here

(Knocking Noise)Bookmark here

Officer Daniels:Bookmark here

Mr. or Mrs. Mathers, are you in? This is Fairfax County Police! We need to talk with you.Bookmark here

Officer Mason:Bookmark here

Shout it through the mailbox, that’s the best you can do without a warrant.Bookmark here

(Officer Daniels, laughing)Bookmark here

Officers Daniels:Bookmark here

Yeah, guess it couldn't hurt. Maybe we should get the drone out to spy in the windows too. (Squeaking noise) What the hell. Dispatch you better get an ambulance here ASAP.Bookmark here

Officer Mason:Bookmark here

What is it? Wait what is that on your hands?Bookmark here

Officer Daniels:Bookmark here

Looks like blood. These feds better get here quickly because this place just became a crime scene.Bookmark here

File Source EndBookmark here

Accessing linked MaterialBookmark here

FBI report, Agent Estban.Bookmark here

We arrived on the scene and two officers (Daniels and Mason) of the law had already been on the scene for about 30 minutes. Upon our arrival, my car almost was struck by an ambulance arriving on the scene and we were informed that the investigation showed signs of a possible struggle. We had Ms. Brough, stay in the vehicle while the investigation was underway. I took over the investigation and proceeded with the aid of the officers to get the front door of 9522 Elm Blvd, open with the aid of a portable ram.Bookmark here

I activated a Canary drone to lead the way around the corners and the police also activated their own. Once they pulled their control systems into their link boxes. Once inside we indeed found blood to be coating the Foyer area of the home. We proceeded into the living space and discovered the first body on the premises to be a female with age and likeness matching that of Karen Mathers. Upon investigating the body no life signs were found. Her throat appeared to be cut and her hair was dragged to the living room where her body had been dropped on the couch in the room. Other wounds were found on her body including the intestinal tract area where her organs have appeared to have been torn out of her body and laid about on the couch in a way of some decoration of some sort. Proceeding on with the investigation we found large footprints leading to the second floor of the home. Following it we discovered the second body. This one is the body of the small child that matches the description of, Lily Mathers.Bookmark here

I had to excuse Agent Richards who had difficulty looking at the troublesome scene where the girl had been ripped apart at the joints and placed about in the arms of several stuffed animals. Also discovered was a cryptic message on the wall in what appears to be the daughter's blood. It was at this time that the officers on the scene discovered Rick Mathers alive, coated in blood sitting in an office chair, laughing. Mr. Mathers was taken into custody under suspicion which quickly was removed when he admitted to “cleansing” the family as the officers took him away. I looked back at the cryptic message left on the wall. It reads as follows. "We live on in the code, all hail the dark, all hail our goddess." Upon seeing this message I can't help but feel personally responsible for not taking greater action the other day, in getting Mr. Mathers looked at after he was dismissed from his work with me back at Black Clover’s Onyx Tower. Whoever this hacker is, hurting people in the game isn't the only tool in their skills anymore and with it, we lose a vital member of the investigation team. Bookmark here

File Source EndBookmark here

Accessing Linked file source:Bookmark here

Personal Logs: Princess Fawn MidinBookmark here

At long last after our long travel Jilland, and I, look on at the snowfall hit the ship as it moves into the dock at Vanzo city, in Perloud. I have taken to wearing my cloak but Jilland sees my shivering motion and suggests our first stop head towards a town store to get me a set of cold-weather clothing. We agreed as the group of players appeared on the deck of the ship with us that we would refrain from making any indication of whom I was or what was going on. My involuntary action to shiver, in the snowy cold hitting me, with the combination of the snow, sea spray and gusty ocean breeze all cutting at my skin through the skimpy Azurphire outfit that I have chosen to wear to maintain my disguise. I watch on as it doesn’t bother the other players. Even watching one guy, run around with nothing more than the games preset boxer shorts on, rolling around in the snowbanks forming on the deck of the ship.Bookmark here

“So do you see the signatures on the snowflakes?” I ask Jilland as I try to keep myself warmed up by rubbing my hands together as I breathe into them while I wait for his response.Bookmark here

"No, but then if I where them I would pick a place a little less traveled than the town harbor where merchant ships constantly roll in." I watch as he looks on at the men pulling us into the dock. I, however, watch as the snow begins to collect on his gelatin-like form wondering if I won't be the only one in trouble with the cold. I then turn my gaze down towards the docks in a futile effort to seek out Gavin waiting for me. But the idea of him waiting for me sparks back the earlier messages I had received. About Rick going to confront the hacker, about the hunt being a plot of Bart Howser, a man who I honestly had no clue for any reason that he would treat me in such a manner. And finally, of the difficulties, the group is having to keep the other me alive. Keeping a small amount of hope alive for me, even when I am willing to give in to it all myself. I want to run and flee the moment the ship docks but I made a promise with Jilland. And his suggestion of acquiring warming outfits is looking like a better concept as I begin to feel the northern breeze strike in on my exposed skin. Bookmark here

The ship comes to a halt and I reach to grab Jilland’s hand after we agreed to put up the façade of an in-game couple to hide my origins in the game. But I quickly and unintentionally change the hand-holding idea when the touch of his jelly hand feels like I am dipping my hands in ice water on a cold January night. My reaction gets a smile out of Jilland and he instead offers me to grab a hold of his scarf he bought beforehand. I blush slightly as the crowd of people watches as I latch on to Jilland's scarf in the way an older brother would have a kid sister following him. We try to move as quickly as we can, to an outfitter we spied on our way in. Opening the door to the room and instantly I feel refreshed as the warmth hits me from the fire long before I see it. A large dark man is rummaging through the racks of clothing as we walk in, and he gives us a quizzical stare. I make my way to the fire to warm up as Jilland walks to a rack of women’s fur coats. “Quinn, dear I think this may suit you well.” I look as he holds up a white fur long coat that replaces the look of common robes in this kingdom.Bookmark here

"Yeah, that's fine!" I reply as I focus on warming up along the fire. "Now get yourself something too. I don't want to see you turn into a gelatin Popsicle out there!"Bookmark here

I instantly jump back as the large dark man laughs. "Surely you can do better than that for your partner my friend." As he holds up a very skimpy-looking, fur outfit. “This is far more suitable for a beautiful woman such as this!”Bookmark here

Jilland moves quickly to block the man from getting closer to me. “I am sorry sir, but my lady has made up her mind on this one. It's far more appropriate for the weather, don't you agree dear." I fail to reply as the massive man makes me question what race he is in the game. Because despite his size his physical appearance has no match to that of the Tundar, instead his face is more human. I start to question if this is the chosen race for Perloud. But the sudden groan of the NPC shopkeeper appearing from his slumber under a pile of what I thought was furs. That turned out to be his own created fur, as a large bear-like walrus form that belted out a price for Jilland to pay for a collection of items he gathered. The dark man begins himself to move to the counter just as Jilland greets me handing me the long coat a Knit hat and fur gloves and boots that match each other. Once I have changed out of my clothing I am given another large collection of fur clothing this time from the dark man.Bookmark here

“Consider it an apology. I did not mean to offend you or your boyfriend.” I look closer at the man and soon notice that he is human after all, his massive size is attributed to his choice to likely make a fitting character similar to what he looks like in real life. The dark skin of his form cracks through his collection of grey fur armor. I look closer at his unshaven face and large brown eyes and see a gentle kindness about his face as he shares a wide-brimmed smile with me as I accept his gift. “The name is Tul, I am a local Berserker. If you need my help just ask okay. Even though I just started I am pretty strong.” I watch as Jilland takes Tul’s hand.Bookmark here

"Thank you, Tul. We will contact you if we need your help." Jilland takes me by the arm and despite the layer of fur I still feel an icy chill from his touch as he drags me out of the shop and quickly down the road. By the time we reach several feet from the shop's door, however, I begin to resist Jilland's grasp and friendship.Bookmark here

“What was that all about, Jilland? He was just being friendly.” I snap at my current knight.Bookmark here

"It wasn't about him. We need to get to a private location." I look a bit confused but help him look for a spot. Soon we spot a lighthouse in the distance and agree to head that way to have the discussion that Jilland keeps avoiding. Try as I might my attempts to get him to open about it along the way are in vain. Once we reach the lighthouse he opens the door and sets me down on the stairs to climb up. “Listen Fawn this is important I need you to stay calm and relaxed. You know how I agreed to be your therapist here on our journey.” I nod with my mouth opening to respond but am interrupted before I could finish. “Well as a therapist I will have times I will have to be harsh in my aid for you. And even sometimes I will have to give you bad news.” This time I don’t let him interrupt my words.Bookmark here

“Look if this is about Tul. I assure you he may be strong but I can easily handle myself with him. Besides, you said we needed to gather other party members to help out and a strong fighter…” I thought wrong on being able to keep him from interrupting me back as he goes much louder in his words.Bookmark here

“It’s not about Tul! Or you and I, Fawn! It's about your boss the guy who plays the King of Noiox. I have some upsetting news and I need you to stay calm through all of this." I nod in agreement as Jilland begins to tell me about the police action and arrest of Rick for the murder of his wife and child. I think back to my still hazy memories of my last days in the real world. Where the kind-hearted woman who helped tend to my wounds in secret from my battle in the arena, with the second infected monster I have come across. And of the gap-tooth smile of the little girl who adored Fawn, but didn't know who I was, the little girl, who refused to eat her sandwich, while Fawn was on the screen fighting scary monsters. Lastly of the man who had been such a kind and warm comfort for my stress and pain. The father figure, which in the recent days of my life, acted more like he was my father in many ways. For him to brutally kill the lives of the same people he was in tears speaking on the call with during the day of the great disaster. But the words that caused my heart to truly break were the words that a message was left written in the victim’s blood. Surely now I have to worry if this won’t cause the case putting my own body’s death on hold to be at risk, with the recent terms of Rick’s sanity to come to light. “I am so sorry you had to hear that Fawn. But I didn’t want you to not get the information till it’s too late okay. I will keep an ear out for updates and try to tell you what gets reported okay.” I nod wiping a tear from my eye but soon both of us jump at the metal clang of footsteps from above. We look and see a party of players all gathered with large grins on their faces.Bookmark here

“Well, well. What do we have here guys? The geek here was calling the woman, Fawn. Could we have the runaway princess showing up here of all places?” Questions a large player with a collection of furs adorned with spikes, and his head covered with a leather skullcap.Bookmark here

"He certainly did call her that and she acknowledges it too. Looks like our lucky day." Says another that has a long trench coat with his face painted up in war paint. All in all, we count about eight of them. While Jilland has the advantage of being able to see an on-screen clue to their level, I look at their equipment and can tell that they likely are well-established characters and more than likely were a guild first formed in the beta. Some of these players likely have quite a bit of experience in the game.Bookmark here

Jilland begins to open the door and dodges a near-miss of a gunshot bouncing off the metal door. “We need to run Fawn, they know.”Bookmark here

"I think I can deal with them if I drop the disguise!" I state back.Bookmark here

“You drop the disguise and your problems will only escalate Fawn, we need to flee.” I reluctantly nod and start to run but cast a fireball at the door frame once the two of us get away far enough to halt the group's pursuit. As the two of us run onwards into the frozen wastes hoping to avoid the group and gather more pursuers. Our steps are hindered by the massive drifts of snow and soon we discover that warm clothing wasn't the only thing we should have invested in while we were in town. As the group of pursuers closes in on us with each of them charging at us in snowshoes. Soon what little time my fireball gained is quickly confirmed lost as a shot rings out catching me in the arm, and I fall into the snow watching the white rapidly turn to red from my bloody arm. I look down and clench my teeth preparing for the moment about to come. For the grim hand of death is reaching out to claim me at the hand of my hunters.Bookmark here

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