Chapter 16:

The Solution to Inflation is Murder


In his two years of playing Maniavolution as a young boy, he thought he had seen it all. Not as much as Alice who sold her soul and ten thousand plus hours of her life away, but he considered himself a veteran of the game.

And yet, never once did he see a player get banned right before his very eyes.

Strikes? Yes. Moderators showing up to give warnings? Sure. But the anti-cheat system itself was so ghastly, its vestige was still burning in his mind. That…thing…shouldn’t exist in this game.

The way the sky turned to flesh.

The manner in which it delivered justice.

It wanted the whole world to see, to know that the judge, jury and executioner arrived as one being to restore order. An unholy trinity that left no room for debate or protest. He started to wonder what would happen had he not jump off the hill. Would he be deleted as well? Was that why Alice was so startled?

Regardless, a new appreciation towards the original mod of the official release started to form deep within. They weren’t power hungry or abusive, but genuinely loved the game and fulfilled their obligations without a hitch back when he was still active. Aksara Avatari didn’t need to drop by—the server was at peace.

And it was in Windburg Ⅱ, did Jason see a glimpse of that peace once more.

Putting aside the affront to god that was the layout of the buildings, nobody was killing each other in the town. It felt weird. Players here were just chilling, even though he felt that each one of them could probably nuke an entire forest like Alice.

“Yo Alice!” a Human in a full tuxedo cosmetic approached the pair, “Who did you trick this time?”

She greeted him with a middle finger as she continued walking.

“Pssst, you’re out of luck, S3X G0D,” another player whispered. “She can’t handle real men, that’s why she camps at spawn and only diddles with Newbloods.”

Jason felt it—the pressure seeping out of Alice’s ears, nose and teeth. Her face was like a balloon filled to the brim not with air, but ire. Her fingers twitched. If this was outside Windburg Ⅱ, those two players would have been crystals by now. For the murder-happy Alice, adhering to the rules of the town must have been hard for her.

But he kept walking, quiet as a mouse as he followed his party member, ignoring all the stares and offhanded remarks that came their way.

“Listen up, Jason,” Alice whispered, “I know you want to interview everyone here, but don’t talk to anyone unless I say so, got it?”

“Got it.”

In truth, Jason never did want to interview the random players here. Many of them were either too occupied minding their own business or too free to hurl mean comments at them. Besides, he didn’t like seeing her this on edge, and definitely didn’t want to aggravate it further.

Instead of the players, he diverted his attention towards the buildings that surrounded them as they walked down the main road. They were all player-made and privately owned, utterly inconsistent in their design. A sci-fi themed spaceship-shaped house might be neighbouring a floating treehouse. It looked nothing like the OG Windburg—this was every OCD person’s nightmare.

Eventually, they reached a bazaar of sorts. Stalls lined the middle and sides of the road, but no storekeeper was in sight. Jason remembered this—every town had a market of sorts where players could rent stalls and sell their wares. No player-to-player interaction was necessary, they were essentially vending machines in disguise.

Out of curiosity, he opened the inventory list of one of these stalls. He almost passed out.

Every single item on sale was priced at 999,999,999 GC.

It wasn’t just a fluke, too. Every single stall that graced this road was charging the max price for any item that was being sold.

That was when it hit him.


With Newbloods literally having to fight their way out of hell, there was an insane demand for many essential items. Combine that with Oldbloods hoarding all the riches and not really doing anything to drive the economy, there was too much money in circulation. GC basically had no value.

He recalled that just before he left Aksara Online, the prices of items were crazy high. As a child, he didn’t understand why at the time, but Speedrun Studios was able to counteract it with Vanity Weekend, a weekly fashion show event where players dressed to look their best. The top fashionistas of the community were rewarded with premium currency and their designs were purchasable with GC for a short period of time.

As he got older, he learned that Vanity Weekend was known as a “money sink”—a way to get rid of excess money in circulation. The fashion show was a huge success in the community. Everyone loved keeping up with the coolest trends and didn’t mind parting ways with their GC, stabilising the economy as the value of money started to scale appropriately to the value of items once more.

But there was no such luxury in Maniavolution. Killing players wasn’t exactly market-stimulating, and it was the most popular thing to do here.

“Don’t bother with the stalls, nobody uses GC in the server,” Alice advised upon seeing how shocked he was.


“If you want to trade, use Winter Tokens, that’s the currency round these parts.”

In his inventory, there were 100 Winter Tokens. Since the Mania update which the server was based on was launched near Christmas, it came with these tokens that functioned as event currency. New players who joined the game had 100 Winter Tokens by default. These tokens dropped through just about any activity in the game. The only problem was that it had abysmal drop rates.

Putting two and two together, it was no wonder that everyone loved killing Newbloods so much. They were the “mobs” in this world, bringing with them 100 tokens every time they join the server. Crazy how everything worked.

With his head still trying to wrap around the economics of murder, he finally stumbled upon a building that he recognised—the Temple of Arfah. The statue of the wind goddess stood out in this sea of chaotic buildings. It looked exactly the same as it was in the official version. Was this a survivor of the Horny Crusade? Regardless, a sense of relief washed over him. Windburg Ⅱ still retained some DNA of its predecessor, even though it had transformed into an anarchist city-state.

“I have a friend there. She’s a bitch, but she’ll help us beat Cosmolore.”


Why would her friend be inside the temple? Back in the original AO, the Temple of Arfah was just a place for an important NPC quest-giver.

Wait, if all the NPCs except the sussy space-person were dead, then—

Jason couldn’t believe his eyes.

Inside the Temple of Arfah was a casino. Who would’ve thought? God, or goddess had officially abandoned the server.

As he passed by the hollering players gathered around a myriad of games and machines, he was struck by a deep sadness. To see an iconic location from the game become desecrated in this way. There was an urge to drive them all out of the temple, scatter the money changers’ coins all over the floor, overturn their tables. But he was no messiah—just a sinner like the rest of them.

These gamblers weren’t playing with money, they were playing with Winter Tokens. While he never did play the Mania update, Jason felt odd. A casino felt very out of place in Aksara Online. If anything, the greedy bastards at NGPlusworks would add such a thing, not Speedrun Studios. Regardless, this was just another symptom of the depravity infecting the server, players of all races and levels putting their fate to the dice. He couldn’t shake the feeling that Black Hat was involved in the casino somehow—this place just felt like a prime location for a crime org.

After a while, the party of two finally stopped by a lone slot machine. Sitting in front of it was a female Elf. Her robes suggested that she played one of the mage classes, but despite how loose they were, her curves were still sticking out.

The Elf’s hand robotically pulled the lever of the one-armed bandit every few seconds or so. Even though her eyes were glued to the screen in front of her as her, it seemed like she noticed Alice was there, greeting:


“Whore,” Alice said as a matter of fact. Jason was starting to feel rather uncomfortable. These two are friends?

“To what do I owe the displeasure of seeing your ugly face?”

“Jason,” Alice ignored her, “meet Virginia.”

Upon hearing the name, “Jason”, she immediately twisted her neck, facing him with great interest.

“Jason…” she licked her lips.

“I can give you a disco—no, a free trial. All night long with this body. What do you say?”