Chapter 6:

Chemistry in Motion


A lion in front, a snake at the back—each head only possessing one massive green eye.

That was the Manticlops, an extremely annoying monster in Aksara Online infamous for inflicting every status effect known to man. Now, one such Manticlops lay lifeless on its side, towering over its murderer, the Devil of Maniavolution.

Alice stared blankly at the emerald eye protruding out of the lion’s face. Her own reflection stood motionless, gazing back into the windows of her soul. But whether they were open or closed, nobody knew.

“Hey Alice, you okay?” asked Jason.

“Oh! Eh? Sorry?”

“You know, if it’s about the interview thing, there’s no need to—”

“Nonsense! What do you take me for, a child? If you don’t want to interview me, that’s perfectly okay.”

“No, I want to interview you.”


She turned to face Jason, her head just centimetres apart.

“Whoah, too close!” he retreated.

“I’d love to sit down and chat, but this isn’t exactly a peaceful place, you see.”

“Yeah, I can tell,” Jason looked at the unholy abomination beside him, easily several times his size. A prompt appeared, telling him to harvest the corpse for materials. But upon doing so, the Manticlops vanished, leaving nothing behind.

“The hell?”

“You won’t get any loot from the mobs here,” Alice remarked. “These aren’t naturally spawned in. Players summoned them.”

“You guys have too much time on your hands, you know that?”

“Let’s not waste it any further, shall we? Our goal is to head towards Pallas Plains. There are a few friendly faces there and it’s a good place to set up camp. Plus, you can grind there.”

“Grind? I didn’t come here to grind.”

“You don’t need to hit max level. Just pick up some useful skills. You’re unkillable, yes, but you’re also pretty useless, you know?”

“Subtle much?”

“Nope. Then again, I think I figured out a way you might be useful. Follow me.”

Jason and Alice trekked over the wasteland. If this was any other game, people might have mistaken this for some post-apocalyptic survival sim. The sun was harsh and not even a blade of grass was in sight. He could see into the horizon, for that was how flat the ground was. Yet, without any mobs patrolling around like in the official release, Jason was getting on edge.

“I thought you said there were mo—”

His party member, who was walking beside him the whole time, was gone.

“Alice? Alice?! ALI—”


A mighty meteor struck Jason like an artillery shell. But it was not magic or some interstellar object.

It was a Phoenix.

The size of a fighter jet, its talons held Jason like a vice, inflicting the Downed status effect. He was still processing what had just happened, only to realise two monstrous eyes staring back at him. With a shriek, the flaming creature hammered its beak into Jason like a woodpecker, making sure he was On Fire, too.

“Nice work Jason! Keep him busy!” Alice encouraged as she charged a devastating beam attack.

So this is how I’m useful? As bait?

He just let himself be torn apart by the monster. He imagined the Phoenix as if it were a cat, aggressively scratching and pawing away at him. That mental image was shattered once Alice fired a beam from the palm of her hand, causing the avian adversary to screech in pain.

“Mount him Jason! Don’t let him fly off!”

Mounting large monsters was a common mechanic in Aksara Online. How else would a Thief stick their measly dagger into a Giant’s skull? But would mounting a Phoenix even change anything? If he had maximum Encumbrance, then maybe, but Jason was like a newborn babe—the starter clothes barely had any weight to them.

He was already On Fire and just suffered a mini heart attack from this ambush. Too tired to argue, he hugged the leg of the Phoenix. As expected, the monster faced no difficulty taking off.

But it was exactly as Alice had planned.

Chanting a spell, dark flares danced around the Phoenix, flowing in response to her words.

“Unflinching in the face of time, as old as Mother Nature herself. Be one with the world!”

[ Ossification ]

The darkness shrouding the Phoenix exploded, releasing a petrifying blast! Despite that, most endgame mobs were immune to Petrification, so it had little effect on the monster. But it didn’t matter, for her real target—was Jason.

As solid as a statue, the Petrified filmmaker weighed as much as one, causing the Phoenix to fall hurtling to the ground. The hungry jaws of Alice’s weapon opened wide, making quick work of the raptor. Each cruel slash snuffed its flames like a strong gust of wind, until finally, it became another statistic.

Yet, Jason still clung like a sloth onto the dead bird’s leg, rock solid. The actual player underneath the VS decided to browse the internet instead, since he couldn’t see or move.

Alice knocked on the head of the statue. Normally, Petrification causes instant death when its victim suffers a physical attack. But like a beautiful butterfly emerging from a cocoon of stone, Jason was unharmed. And not exactly in a beautiful mood.

“Good job! I like our chemistry!”

Jason didn’t respond, lazily raising his hand to receive Alice’s high five. For all he’s gone through, not a single experience point was given. These were mobs summoned by other players after all—if they gave EXP, then players would exploit them to hell and beyond. Can’t have that in Aksara Online, obviously.

“It’s a Phoenix right?” Jason asked, completely dead inside.

“That it is.”

“Why didn’t it come back to life?”

“Only the boss version has the auto-resurrect.”

Heartless as she may be, even Alice picked up on the apathy in Jason’s mood.

“C’mon smile! You’re the first person I know who survived shattering from Petrification. That deserves a spot in the Guinea’s Book of Records!”


That wasn’t the only thing that was broken, it seemed.

“Look, you’ve been much more useful than I thought. Didn’t need to waste any HP so far! You’re like the best party member in this whole server!”

“Yay. Go team.”

Alice sighed, “I’m being seri—”

As they were walking, a bright light pierced through the dirt underneath. Jason didn’t even blink—the light inside of him already went out some time ago. But not for Alice.

Out of pure instinct, she leapt outside of the light’s effective range, but not before pulling Jason into a tight embrace!


It felt completely out of character for his companion so far. She pulled him out of trouble instead of letting him be the bait? Had the sun and moon swapped positions?

“What was that for?!” Jason blurted, the light returning not just to his eyes, but all over his face, too.

“That’s a teleport trap. It won’t kill you, but it’ll send you to god knows where. Can’t let that happen, now can I?”

When she wasn’t toying with her prey, Alice was surprisingly level-headed. Despite being so close to Jason, it didn’t distract her from the danger. Instead, she knew exactly the situation she was in.

Just beyond the distance, a hooded figure floated above the ground, robes draped over the air as magical energies coalesced—a Schemestress Witch.

“Sorry, Jason, but you’ll need to carry me.”

“The hell are y—”

That was when he realised—Alice was missing her left foot. Caught in the teleport trap, her limb was instantly spirited away, leaving behind a polygonal mesh.


“Don’t worry. As long as you can get me close enough, we can beat it.”

Immune to magic, the Schemestress Witch was only vulnerable to physical attacks. However, getting close was the issue—traps had been laid all over the field. Even [ Blink ] couldn’t cover the entire distance.

With a sigh, Jason lifted Alice up in a princess carry, her wings tucked in neatly.

“Follow my instructions. The default sprint speed should be just fast enough for the traps.”

“Got it.”

Jason bolted forward, putting his full trust in his partner.

“Strafe left!”

Coming to a full stop, he immediately shifted directions, barely missing a seismic spike from the earth!


Jason leapt, moving forward once more as a poisonous deluge activated a fraction too late.


A trail of lightning bolts followed him hot on his heels, but he was always one step ahead.

The Schemestress Witch could barely believe what it saw—its opponent had memorised its intricate pattern of 108 traps! Pulling in massive amounts of mana into its hand, it sent an enormous fireball lunging towards Jason.

“Fool,” Alice muttered under her breath, “Pareidolia eats that up for breakfast!”

Summoning her massive halberd, the entire weapon glowed with an ominous sheen. Its axeblade morphed to consume the fireball, leaving not a lick of flame untouched.

Recognising the patterns on the ground, Jason weaved through each trap by the skin of his teeth. Cradled in his arms, Alice swung her blade, absorbing each magical projectile that came their way.

“Jason, now!”

No prior discussion was needed. He knew exactly what she meant. Using the centrifugal force from a spin, Jason launched Alice into the air, right over the enemy!

The Schemestress Witch could only watch as six dark wings cast their shadow overhead.

“I guess I have to thank you. I haven’t felt like that in a long time…” as she whispered her true feelings, Alice’s weapon began to take on a new form. The huge axe, unstable from all the mana it had devoured, unravelled to reveal a scythe, eclipsing the sun like a crescent moon.

[ Damnatio Memoriae ]

It was over. Nothing flashy, nothing over the top. Just pure, magical energy condensed into a corporeal strike of the highest order.

Carried downwards by the momentum of her skill, Alice crash-landed behind the monster, or what remained of it. Its robes scattered into the wind as sunlight began to rest on the ground once more.


Jason rushed over to her side. The foe might have been vanquished, but the danger had not.

Her back flat on the ground and still missing a foot, Alice simply smiled as she saw Jason’s face with worry written all over it.

“I told you, didn’t I? I like our chemistry.”