Chapter 4:

Sit or Swim


Spawn, coordinates 0,0—in the official release, this was a farmhouse where players would go through the tutorial. But for Jason and any new player hoping to experience Maniavolution, this was a trial by liquid fire.

“Aite Jason, time to put your invincibility to the test,” Alice stared intently at Jason, hoping to see if he was immune to lava. Technically, he should, but there was something magical about seeing it happen. Pushing exploits to the limits was a very primal instinct for any gamer.

Jason was certain that he would take no damage. Still, looking at the molten blaze up close made him feel queasy. Taking a deep breath, he pushed his hand into the lava. His entire avatar lit up like a red traffic light briefly, before returning to normal.

“No damage,” he sighed in relief.

“Nice! Try swimming vertically.”

What did you expect me to do? Breastrokes?

Surprisingly, the lava felt exactly like water. He didn’t mind stepping further, it actually felt like relaxing under a waterfall.

“How bout you? Actually, how do other players even make it past this deathtrap?”

It didn’t matter how tanky you were. Any player foolish enough to take a dip in lava would meet their end in a matter of seconds.

“Alright. Maniavolution 101. How do people escape the Lava Curtain in Novice Island? The most comm—”

“Wait, THIS is Novice Island?”

All this while, he figured that the spawn location changed because of the Mania update. Either that, or it was a tweak exclusive to the private server. Just how in the world was this active volcano Novice Island?

“Yup. We all killed the NPCs and destroyed everything yeaaars ago.”


As an MMO that gave players near-absolute freedom in just about any gameplay aspect, players could destroy, build or shape the world in almost any way they saw fit. Maniavolution’s server settings took that a step further and removed the “almost” in the previous sentence.

“Okay, so if you know someone from inside, they could help you build a bridge and a ladder from the top of the platform. That’s Method A.”

“Right. And destroy the bridge afterwards because everyone in this server has a grudge against new players. Got it.”

“That’s the spirit! Method B involves dismantling the Wooden Sword that you started with. All you had to do is kill about 50 other players, loot their Wooden Swords, and you’ll have enough Wood to build the ladder.”

“Wait so this whole place is a big battle royale for new players? Good lord…”

“But don’t forget! There are still endgame mobs lurking around on top! So Newbloods better be good at sneaking and running if they want to make it out of Novice Island and set up their first base to respawn.”

Jason shook his head. This server was insane just like Alice.

“Method C’s my favourite though. The bad news is that you only have to kill one person to get past the lava. You just need to craft two chairs, so your Wooden Sword plus another one from someone else will be enough.”

The fewer the number of casualties, the bigger the tragedy. Why am I not surprised?

“The good news is this. Watch and learn, boy.”

Alice equipped a chair. In her case, it wasn’t made out of wood, but rather, a massive throne fit for a Demon Lord. Decked out in red and gold, it must’ve easily weighed a tonne in the real world. Sitting on the throne, she raised her eyebrows playfully towards Jason, as if to say: check this out.

Then, she stood up, the throne vanishing into thin air. But not a sliver of a second later, she sat back down, this time on a pink slime. The pink slime was actually a chair, but modelled on the actual in-game monster. The moment her ass came into contact with the bean bag-like slime, she stood up again, only to sit on the throne right after.

By repeating this process of quickly sitting on different chairs, Alice was pulling off the “Chair Glitch”. This way, the player gains centimetres of elevation with every sit. Popularised during the Mania update, the Chair Glitch was a groundbreaking discovery. Even though players could only travel vertically and not horizontally, many new discoveries were made thanks to this glitch. For some classes with limited mobility like Knight and Berserker, the Chair Glitch was the only way they could skip or explore certain sections of the map.

The glitch was so well-loved, when Speedrun Studios patched it out in a later update, players even banded together to boycott the game. Eventually, the devs conceded and reversed the decision on 3rd February, 2054. In Aksara Online, this day was known as Chair Day, and players would hold contests every year to see who can ascend the highest with this glitch.

However, despite the simple nature of this glitch, a good degree of skill is required. Rhythm and precision were mandatory. It would take minutes to Chair Glitch high enough to jump over the lava. For any Chair Glitcher must understand, they mustn’t oversit. One misstep and fall damage would be the prize.

Jason could only stare in awe, watching Alice sit and stand like it was a form of ritualistic dance. It reminded him of a commercial he once saw, featuring fitness ladies bouncing on exercise balls. Only this time, the balls could ascend into heaven.

“What are you gawking for?” Alice said, a true testament to her multitasking ability. “Swim Jason, swim! Let’s race to the top!”

Having decided on a particular style, Jason decided to backstroke his way up the lava, so that he could stare and make funny faces at his competition. It wasn’t even close. He still had time to swim figure eights in the lava while Alice could only rise five centimetres per second.

Every few seconds or so, Jason’s avatar would flash red, a sign of him taking zero damage. Alice would take advantage of this malfunctioning traffic light to better time her sits. Feeling confident, she Blinked vertically, before immediately Chair Glitching again in between cooldowns—an incredible feat of skill, requiring frame-perfect timing.

Shocked at the distance she covered, Jason knew that she wasn’t messing around. The race was on.

Switching from backstroke to freestyle, Jason sliced through the lava like a torpedo. Those swim lessons were paying off—the idiots who told him that swimming was worthless in this post-global warming world better be regretting it.


Alice was running out of options. Chair Glitching was simply too slow while [ Blink ] was still on cooldown. It frustrated her that a measly Lvl 1 was pushing her this far, but it was time to show why she was the top player in Maniavolution.

Jason took a peek at his opponent, but it made him lose his rhythm, for Alice was naked!

Mid-ascension, Alice accessed her menu, unequipped everything and put on the Ring of Haste, all done in a split second. Her objective was to lower Encumbrance—distracting Jason was a bonus. In just her undergarments without her armour weighing her down, she was sticking the finger to gravity, Chair Glitching at an even faster rate than before!

She’s crazy!

The naked woman sitting on chairs versus the clothed man swimming through lava…

‘Twas just another day in Maniavolution.

But for the Lvl 1 and the Lvl 100, it was a battle of exploits unlike any other. The two were neck and neck, almost at the top of the lava. But as fate would deem it, it was Jason who had the advantage. Poor Alice had to gain a little bit more height in order to jump over. All Jason had to do was climb up the edge.

“I WON! Take that you cra—”


A bullet ripped a new hole right between his eyes. He was very much alive, but the sudden attack sent him plummeting back to the earth.

“Bullseye, X-ray down. Good shooting, Warthog.”

A long, long way from spawn, a single shell casing echoed as it hit the ground. A sniper and a spotter had set up camp, ready to kill any unfortunate Newblood who tried to leave.

Back in spawn, Alice just realised that her party member was falling to the earth. Heroically, she did nothing.

Oops. Should’ve told him about General Erection and Warthog.

With one last leap, Alice put on all her equipment as she landed on safe ground. She stood over the edge, looking at Jason’s body semi-sticking out of the bottom.

“Looks like I win!” she shouted to the chasm below.

As he was half-buried in the earth, all Jason could do was show his middle finger.

Back at the sniping spot, Warthog leapt out of the prone position in cold sweat.

“General, did we just shoot a friend of S-S-SakurAlice?”

“Warthog,” the spotter said with a solemn voice, putting down his scope, “it is you who pulled the trigger. It’s been a pleasure serving with you.”

“No, General, wait!”

As the two role-playing soldiers prepared to retreat, Jason swam back up.

…With a vengeance.