Chapter 14:

Horny Crusade


[ Lvl Up! ]

A happy chime and the triumphant text plastered itself over Jason’s vision. With the final blow from his shiny new Iron Sword, the lone Deerhino received the honour of being his first-ever notch on an immaculate killstreak.

Alice got off the large rock she was sitting on, delivering thunderous applause right after.

“Waow! My heart was pounding! I was sooo worried you’re gonna die at any second!”

“Can’t die if your sarcasm already did the job.”

Mentally, he visualised his skill tree.

Up until Lvl 10, he didn’t have a choice of where to put his points in. As an Adventurer, these first ten levels were purely meant to unlock fundamental abilities—a double jump, sprint, dodge roll, basic stuff. While he technically could still dodge roll and sprint without the points, he wouldn’t enjoy the invincibility frames of the former, and the ability to do a dash attack for the latter.

The real question was beyond Lvl 10.

From Lvl 11 to Lvl 30, he’d have to pick a class—the point of no return.

Should he become a Warrior? He can get skills that generate aggro, drawing enemy attention and becoming a tank that protected Alice. But besides the aggro skills and passives that boost status resistances, the majority of the boosts to HP and DEF were useless to him.

Perhaps an Acolyte would be best. As the de facto healer of the team with revival spells down the line, going down this path would make the most sense. He literally couldn’t die and could ensure the same fate for his party, too. But playing a healer did feel a bit boring.

Then, there were classes that he wasn’t familiar with, likely added in the patches after he left the game. He had no idea what they do and what were their class advancements once he hit Lvl 50 and Lvl 70.

“Hey, Alice. What route did you take to become an Abyssal Reaper?”

“Oh, there’s a whole questline to it. And you can only advance into it under specific conditions. Wouldn’t recommend,” she waved her hand dismissively.


“Oh, you shouldn’t worry about min-maxing. Just pick whatever you feel is most fun!”

Yup, that’s Alice alright.

For the time being, he did the only thing he could with his skill point—learning how to double jump.

Testing it out, he jumped like normal, before his avatar’s core muscles somehow defied gravity and propelled him further with another one. Not a single sweat broken.

“Grats! But can you do this?”

[ Rising Launcher ]. Double jump. Air dash. Upwards [ Blink ]. Midair hover. Followed by another air dash.

She was way over his head at that point. Probably over hers, too, given how much she was flexing. She was so high up, when she landed her avatar flashed red, taking fall damage. But she didn’t mind. Her smug face said it all—She wasn’t just the top player, she was over the top.

“How’s the view up there? Pretty lonely, huh?” he clapped back.

“For now. But I can see the day when you’ll be there, too!”

Jason recalled the agreement he had when she first met her. They would only stay together until they beat Cosmolore and expose Black Hat. Her response just now seemed to suggest otherwise. But a part of him did welcome the idea. Maybe being with her wasn’t so bad.

“But let’s keep moving. Onwards to Windburg Ⅱ!” she flashed a smile as she pointed straight ahead like a cheesy action figure.

Windburg was the first major town in the official version. This was where the true MMO experience began—players yelling their prices at the Auction House, showing off their flashy chairs and mounts, performing covers of popular meme songs with in-game equivalents of real-life instruments—fond memories paraded through his mind. But there was just one tiny problem.

“Why Ⅱ? Did you all destroy the OG Windburg?”

“Well…yes and no. Let’s walk and talk.”

He followed her lead, on the lookout for walking sources of EXP that he could take on as he listened to her explanation.

“You know how I told you we killed all the NPCs? There’s actually one left in Windburg Ⅱ—Red Spaceman.”

“Never heard of him.”

“Have you ever played the hit game Sus in Space 4?

Oh god.

The poster boy of cringe memes. Since 2018, for almost 50 godforsaken years, the thing refused to die. And of all the games AO could collab with, it just had to be them. Chickawings was bad enough. The Sus in Space franchise took it to a whole new low.

Seeing that Jason was too stunned to speak, she continued anyways, “Maniavolution players being who they are, everybody decided that Red Spaceman should be kept alive. Just for teh luls. He doesn’t do shit. He doesn’t say shit. He just stands there pointing a finger at the closest player he sees.”

“Nobody tried to assassinate him? In the whole EIGHT YEARS this server existed?”

“Oh, they were assassination attempts alright. That’s even how Windburg Ⅱ happened. A huge war broke out on the server years ago. We call it the Horny Crusade.”


“Hornithosaurus, who has like five million subscribers, streamed himself playing Maniavolution. As you might’ve guessed, all hell broke loose. We killed a metric shit tonne of players that week, but they took advantage of the lag. Slaughtered everyone in Windburg and other towns. Razed them to the ground. Blood was spilt on both sides,” Alice had a solemn look on her face. She continued:

“But in the end, the biggest losers of the Horny Crusade were the NPCs. To this day, Red Spaceman stood in silence as he watched his kind go extinct. Nobody knows what he looks like under that mask. And we swore, never to find out.”

She wiped away a lone tear from her face, “So from the ashes of Windburg, we rebuilt. A new and improved Windburg, four times smaller than the original, sixteen times less detail. With a horrible player-run economy and a cult dedicated to protecting Red Spaceman—I present to you…

…Windburg Ⅱ.”

Somehow, while suffering repeated deaths inside of him during her unavoidable info dump, he had autopilot-ed all the way to the outskirts of Windburg Ⅱ. By then he had already reached Lvl 8, sharing a tinge of the death inside of him with any mob unfortunate enough to cross him and the monologuing Alice.

Even from afar, he saw the disjointed mess that was Windburg Ⅱ. If architecture ever went full-blown Dadaism, that amalgamation of a town would be a perfect representation. Pure, unadulterated anarchy—Maniavolution to a T.

“So who runs that shithole? The Red Spaceman cult leader?”

“Nah, the cultists stick to their own corner of town where Red Spaceman is at. You can pay a fee to pay respects to him, but don’t do anything stupid. There’s 24-hour surveillance and several maxed out players on keeping guard. Even I would die.

Windburg Ⅱ is run by a player named Nidma. He's also—”

Something shattered within Jason. The final straw that broke his psyche, hearing that caused him to unleash a sudden, explosive fit of laughter. Even Alice was afraid.

Having calmed down a bit, he asked, “As in the s-sexually-transmitted disease, that N-Nidma?”

“The hell are you on about?”

“Alice, you don’t know?” he took a deep breath, “Steve Careers died of Nidma.”

“Who’s Steve Careers?”


In an instant, Jason suddenly found himself high up in the air, looking down at Alice and…his body?!

He had been decapitated clean off. Right now, he was just a head, rising into the sky, but about to freefall in a matter of seconds. Manoeuvring his headless body from a bizarre third-person top-down CRPG-esque angle, he tried to position himself to catch his head. Truly, an out-of-body experience.

The disembodied filmmaker wondered for a moment. Normally, unlike other limbs which simply had to take enough damage to fall off, decapitation was only possible if the target died from an extremely hard-hitting blow to the head. He questioned whether he was truly alive or dead thanks to his glitch. Also, would he just regenerate a new head in a matter of time? Who would be in control then? The regenerated head or the decapitated one?

The existential crisis hit him harder than an isekai truck. Not interested in exploring the idea of Schrödinger's Jason any further, he immediately reattached his head after catching it like an oversized baseball. Miraculously, everything was back to normal.

Except Alice, of course.

“Don’t you ever tell that joke again.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Taylor J
Dhamas Tri (dmz)