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Chapter - The Air Castle

Back on the Earth server, Zenny, Echelon, Majesty, and Doc continue onward through the forgotten air castle. And Doc is still explaining his answer to the riddle; minutes turned into hours, turned into ‘good-nights’ and ‘rise-and-shines’.

Even though these four have been exploring this endless path for several days; in the real world only a few minutes have passed by. They turn the corner and off in the distance they see a robot, of some short, in disrepair. They approach the broken-down robot; and at the same time, Doc nears the end of his explanation. With them standing front of the robot and listening inquisitively, Doc finishes up, “And that’s why his dog’s name was Roger.”

Majesty rubs his chin as he chuckles to himself: Damn, go figure.

Zenny scratches his head as he speaks on his confusion, “I still don’t get it?”

Majesty look at Zenny as he motions with his hand and explains to his comrade, “It was because of his uncle.”

Zenny quickly looks at his wise leader. “Which one?”

“The one with the peg leg.”

Zenny starts to work it out in his head, “You mean when they saw the rainbow?” The realization slowly comes to him, “Then they saw the bird again. . .”

Majesty nods as he smiles.

Zenny has an epiphany, “… it was never really a bird . . .”

Majesty simply agrees, “Yup.”

And Zenny stands there in astonishment with his mind blown as if he has just been told the secret of life; his voice: filled with wonderment, “It all makes sense now.”

While looking at the robot, Majesty speaks to the whole group, “Any ideas?”

Echelon walks up to the bucket of bolts and places his hand upon the machine. Echelon shakes his head as he projects his thoughts telepathically to the group: It’s beyond my knowledge.

With that Echelon holds his other hand out. Doc takes hold of friend’s hand, and Echelon becomes the conduit. What Echelon see, now so does Doc. Few seconds, and Doc lets go of Echelon’s hand. Then, Echelon removes his hand from the robot.

“We need the eternal heart,” Doc says.

Zenny starts to speak and before he can get a word out; Doc answers his would-be question, “It’s that glowing orb you have in your pack.”

Zenny shrugs, “Oh okay.”

“Alright, hand it over,” Doc say this as he motions with his hand.

Zenny squeeze his pack close to his chest, “No,” his voice becomes higher in pitch as he pleads his case, “It’s mine!”

Echelon start walking over to Zenny, and the penny-grubbing merchant raises his voice, “Don’t even think about it Ech.”

Doc shakes his head as he warns his friend, “He’s going to do it.”

Echelon gets closer, and Zenny starts to get nervous. “Come on, Ech don’t do it!”

Doc tries to reason with Zenny before it is too late, “He’s going to man . . .”

Zenny starts to get a little hysterical, “But it’s going to make me the richest in all of All-World.”

Echelon starts to raise his hand, and Zenny comes to his better senses. “Damn it,” he reaches into his pack and pulls out a glowing gem and slams it into Echelon’s hand, “fine—here see if I care!”

Doc tries to console his friend as he pats Zenny on the back, “It’s okay buddy. You’re already the richest in All-World.”

“But not on all the servers,” his voice becomes a whimper as he sees Echelon walk away with the radiant gem.

Doc reassures his depressed friend, “Don’t worry Zenny. It’s going to happen one day.”

Zenny becomes mildly intrigued, “Are you,” he sniffles a few times, “just saying that?”

Doc shakes his head as he tells his friend a helpful lie, “No, it’s a fact.”

Zenny looks at Doc. “It is?”

Doc gives Zenny logic he can’t argue with, “Have I ever been wrong?”

Sniffling a couple of time, Zenny wipes away the drying tears as speaks, his voice still carrying hint of gloominess, “No, you haven’t.”

Doc puts his arm across Zenny’s shoulders and give him a hug. “Okay then you know there is no reason to be sad.”

Echelon puts the eternal heart into the center of the robot’s chest. Instantly the robot comes to life. Its eyes are now filled with the same glow the orb has. The Gen-Hulk stands up and greets the heroes, “Being here in of itself shows you are capable heroes but that is not enough. To go beyond this point there must be no gaps in your strength.” As the Gen-Hulk says these words, Zenny, Majesty, Echelon, and Doc all become isolated for one another.

In a room without walls, the voice of the Gen Hulk speaks to each of them, “Are you the weak link in the chain?”; the words to Doc, “Little one, you are wise and know most. But answer me this--what does the man that knows it all, not know?”

Doc sits on the floor and thinks over the question: Hmmm . . .this is though one.

The words to Echelon, “Little one, you see most and are in balance with the flow of life. Can you see what is beyond the flow of life?”

Echelon sits Indian-style while he floats in the air and tries to see passed the current of life.

The words to Zenny, “Young one, you are bountiful, resourceful and shrewd. You can tell the value of anything. What do Jeff, Zack, and Leo hold in highest value?”

Zenny answers quickly, “That’s easy Jeff values knowledge above anything else. And Leo, well, he values—ummm . . . give me a sec.” Zenny racks his brain.

The words to Majesty, “Little one, you are masterful. Can you master it all?”

The Gen-Hulk appears in front of Majesty and begin to attack him. Majesty is forced to fight the menace robot.

The first to reach success in his task is Doc. The scientist looks around, his voice echoes, as he speaks, “Show yourself! I have the answer.”

“Speak,” the voice of the Gen-Hulk commands.

“I do not know myself.”

Gen-Hulk tests with another question, “And what are you?”

“I’m what I do not know.”

The ancient robot further test Doc, “What is it that you do not know?”

“Those that are in my heart.”

The Gen-Hulk appears in front of Doc; and he speaks to the man that knows most, “Congratulations, this is the first time you have been wrong, and yet, you are also right.”

Doc smiles for he knows the robot means: I know them and yet I do not know them.

The enteral robot gives the scientist a little bit of last advice, “Remember to let the others share and you will learn what you do not know.”

Doc reappears in the passage they all were standing in.

The next to pass his test is Echelon. In prefect silence, the peaceful one observes. He sees all the currents and frequencies of life: the short waves of humans. The long waves of gods. The white and pure currents of nourishment and life; and the black and corrupt currents of famine and death. And the beautiful and colorful sparks between the black and white. The longer he observes the more acute his vision becomes; and gradually the more obvious goes away, until all the commotions of life are gone.

With the distractions of life gone he begins to see a few other currents he has never witnessed before. He concentrates his vision and as a result these new waves become closer. He peers into the closest of these unknown currents and when he does Gen-Hulk appear in all its glorious flow.

He speaks without words: What were those other currents? But he does not get answer. Instead Echelon reappears back where Doc waits.

Good see you Doc.

“You too Ech.”

The next to succeed in his task is Majesty.

He fights the robotic creation with all the skills he has learned from his trusted companions. A jack all of trades, master of none; Majesty quickly realizes his skill are not good enough to defeat metal foe before him. While blows are exchanged he starts to think like Doc, the trick he learned after being around the man himself for all these years: What can help me? The answers come to him as he swings his gigantic weapon into the Gen-Hulk’s chest: If my skills were as good as the people I learned these skills from... The blow from the attack pushes the hunk of metal a good ways back, giving Majesty more time to regroup and think: If only my generals here then we would for sure conquer this thing.

This thought reminds Majesty something that Echelon thought him. He concentrates, his breathing becomes steady. Instinctually, his celestial swords appear to his rescue and fight for him. Seeing the flow of all life does not come as natural to Majesty as it does to Echelon. He sees the way Echelon does and searches for the three frequencies. The first frequency he finds is the one that he is most familiar with. This frequency shimmer of all the color. He reaches into that current and through the fabric of space his most trusted friend, Leo, appears by his side.

“I tried to come to your aid. But it wouldn’t let me in,” Echelon explains.

He answers back in the same way Echelon communicates: It’s okay. You’re here now—that’s all that matters. Can you hold this angry pile of junk back while I find Jeff and Zenny?

Without a word, Echelon fights the Gen-Hulk back.

Majesty finds Zenny’s frequency next. He tries to pull Zenny but for some reason it doesn’t work. He tries over and over but it is no use.

“Ouch,” Zenny quickly spins around as thinks to himself: Someone keeps pinching! A little irritated, he calls out, his voice: slightly louder than normal, “Show yourself!” He gets no answer. “Well whoever you are, stop messing with me! I’m trying to answer important questions here!”

Unable to get Zenny, Majesty moves on to finding Jeff, and coincidently the pinches stop.

With the distracting pinching gone, Zenny can focus on the task set before him.

Zenny scratches his head as works his brain muscles: What is does Ech want? Come on Zenny you can figure this out. Unable to come up with any answers Zenny speaks, “Can you give me a different question? This one is too hard.”

Zenny gets no reply. Damn it, how am I going to figure this one out? I’m not a genius like Jeff. This thought triggers a light-bulb moment for Zenny: That’s it! I have to think like Doc! The voice in his head changes to a failed attempt of Jeff’s in game voice as Doc: Now in order to know what one desires most in this world one must observe a person. The voice in Zenny’s head changes back to normal: Oh dang that really works! Now, what have I observed about Ech? He sits on the floor and starts thinking back to times and moments he has been around Echelon: Ech is a real serious dude. There has been a couple of time where we all would have die if it wasn’t for Ech, and he’s kind too. He got me that challenger’s-coin for Christmas a few years back that he got from the—The though makes Zenny realize something: That’s it! Ech wants to prove to everyone that he is as good as any hero on Morin. “I know what Echelon what’s more than anything in the world. He wants to be view as an equal to the people of Morin.”

A challenger’s-coin is a coin given to those who have made it to the All-World Championships and is what allows one to stay for the duration of the competition. Every four years the world-server opens up and All-World heroes from all the many different planets come to world-server to compete for bragging rights and cold, hard cash. No one from the Earth-server has ever made it to the All-World Championships. Echelon was the first from Earth to even qualify. Which allowed him to go to the world-server, but he couldn’t afford the enter fee needed to enter the competition. So instead went around doing wager-matches.

One of the players Echelon placed a wager against was a hero that was in the same boat as Echelon. He qualified but couldn’t afford the entry fee. The only thing Echelon had of value was his birth-coin that he got from Majesty, when they were little kids.

“And Majesty wants . . .,” Zenny ponders some more: What does Zack want? This is a tough one . . .

Meanwhile, Doc, Echelon, and Majesty are fighting for their lives against the Gen Hulk.

Doc flips through the pages of his book. “Alright, he’s killable now!”

A wand appears in front of Majesty. A circular glyph appears around the ground he is standing on. Light shines upward from the glyph while Majesty commands, “Stop!”

An hourglass appears, briefly, above the Gen Hulk; and as a result, the creature stops in its tracks.

Echelon, who has been seemly absent from the fight, suddenly appears in front to the Gen Hulk, and he unleashes one precise attack—instantly killing the Gen Hulk. Completely whipped from the world, this would normally be where they celebrate. But this not the first time they have defeated the Gen Hulk. Suddenly, the Gen Hulk reappears as a little miniature vision of it’s self; and like all the times before, it starts rapidly growing in the version they will have to fight again.

“Damn it, we need Zenny’s help!” Majesty is frustrated. “Ech get Zenny in here now! We’ll hold him off.”

Echelon does his thing and finds Zenny’s current. Echelon tries to pull Zenny to where they all are at, and Zenny goes flying backwards.

Once he stops rolling, Zenny stands up and looks around in all directions. “Who the fuck is that?! Stop fucking with me!”

Echelon tries again, this time with more force, and Zenny’s body is pull and backwards and disappears for a second. When Zenny blinks back into reality, he looks more frightened than anything: Damn, what was that?! It was so dark!

Unsuccessful yet again Echelon is deterred. This time he pulls out all the stops, and once again Zenny is yanked into oblivion. He appears where his three brothers in arms are. Seeing the guys, Zenny greets them with a wave, “Hi, something weird was happen—“ No sooner than he can get his full thought out, Zenny blinks back to where he was. Seeing that he is back in the place he was before, Zenny stomps on the ground. “Damn it!”

Echelon explains the situation: Sorry Majesty, this place won’t allow me to bring him here until he finishes his task like we all did.

“Okay, keep an eye on Zenny and as soon as he finishes his task bring him here.” Majesty and Doc bide time, and Echelon watches Zenny.

And Zenny struggles to come up with an answer: Damn, I can’t think of what Zack wants above anything else!

Suddenly Echelon’s voice greats him in his own head: Zenny, what’s taking you so long?

Zenny gets a little startled by the new voice in his head but quickly regains his composure once he recognizes the voice: Ech you almost gave me a heart attack! Well since you’re here you can help with this question. What does Zack value more than anything else?

Echelon answers his friend: This is your task and your task alone. I am not going help you cheat.

Zenny sighs: I figured. Zenny thinks really hard about his friend Zack: He’s a good leader. I can tell he really cares about us more than just inside the game. If it weren’t for him we wouldn’t be the strong team that we are. Echelon is strong no doubt about that, but Majesty understands why I get so upset when I miss out on a good deal or have to spend a lot of my own money. He understands all the smarty-pants stuff Doc says and will repeat the same thing in a way us regular people can understand. And he’s the only guy I’ve even seen last longer than thirty second in a one on one battle against Echelon. Zenny shrugs as he continues to think about what type of person Zack is: He even used to cover my cost to get in at the internet café we play at. He’s always talking about how we’re going get off this planet and live like big-shots. When we were little kids, I guess that attitude is what drew me to him and Ech. But as we got to our teens we all had seen our other friends die off, and at that point I knew it was just talk. . . But it helped with the reality—never getting off this planet and living like rodents, and plus these are my brothers I wouldn’t have it any other way. But now adays, I’m starting to believe in what Zack has been saying all along. Leo is already starting to show signs of his game powers in the real world. I know it’s just a pipe dream but—

Echelon intrudes in on Zenny’s thoughts: You figure out the answer yet?

Zenny thinks to himself: No Ech I’m still thinking as you can see.

Echelon answer back telepathically: Well we need you now. So here’s the plan Majesty came up with. We’re going to bring the Gen Hulk to death and moment it dies I’m going to bring you here and you going use your King’s Ransom skill.

The King’s Ransom skill is skill where the person can pay an amount of money to have the game kill a creature for them. This death cannot be stopped. However, the higher the rating a creature is the more money it takes for the King’s Random skill to be successful. It is also takes less gold the closer to death the creature is. A dead creature takes less than half the amount it would normally take for the King’s Ransom to be successful. However, if a creature is dead you normally wouldn’t want to waste your money on using King’s Ransom.

Majesty can use the King’s Ransom skill. While Majesty indeed has a lot of gold, second to only Zenny, he gives away most of his gold to his team and to new players starting out.

Zenny gets nervous: Ech tell me this is not a mythic creature.

A mythic class is the highest grade of creature one can encounter in All-World—or so they thought.

Echelon answers back: It is definitely not a mythic class creature.

Zenny breathes a sigh of relief: Okay cool. I’m ready when you are.

The next words from Echelon freeze Zenny’s blood with fear: Use all that you got.

I thought you said it wasn’t a mythic class creature!

It isn’t. I don’t know what it is. Just use all that you got.

No fuck’n way, Ech! And you can tell Majesty I said that too!

A more faint telepic voice enters Zenny’s mind: We need you on this one man. We’ll make it up to you. I promise.

Zenny is hesitant but Majesty has always made good on his word: Alright I’ll do it.

With all in agreement, the plan is set into motion. Just like all the other times before, Doc Majesty, and Echelon kill the unstoppable creature. Echelon pulls Zenny to where they are, and Zenny performs the King’s Ransom. Coins fly into the air from everywhere only to disappear into the sky. At first nothing happens. Zenny throws up his hands, “See nothing happened.”

The King’s Ransom won’t work if you don’t pay enough and you still lose the money you paid to attempt to use the King’s Ransom.

Then before anyone else Echelon sees what is happening. The faintest wave of the three waves that he had seen that were beyond the flow of life, comes to the forefront. Everyone else doesn’t see it, and Zenny is still pissed off that he wasted his money.

It’s working Zenny!: Echelon yells out to everyone’s mind.

They all cringe to the severe headache Echelon just gave them by mistake.

Echelon tones it down: Sorry guys, but zenny did it—it’s working!

All the rest of them see is the dead Gen Hulk disappear only to reappear as a little baby Gen Hulk. Even before the Gen Hulk can grow to its full maturity an enormous hand that only Echelon can see appears from the fabric of space and time. The hand touches the head of the Gen Hulk with its index finger. The robotic threat dies instantly even as it grows to maturity. The raging menace of metal collapses into all its separate parts.

No one but Echelon seen what really happened. The four reappear in the passageway they were in before; this whole ordeal has left Doc and Majesty near death. Zenny penniless. And Echelon with a new understanding of the world around him.

Laying out on the floor, trying to catch his breath, Doc speaks, “Umm, what the hell just happened?”

The three others bust out laughing and Doc joins them. Finally, he’s as confused as they are.

Then just when they thought it was all over, all golden lettering appear above them: ’Victory!”

They all go up two levels. However, Zenny goes up over a hundred levels, and the MVP insignia appears above his head. Zenny looks above his head and seeing he got MVP, he immediately checks his inventory to see if he got MVP loot. “Guys, I got a something that looks just like the eternal heart, but it doesn’t have a name. And it’s bound to me. I also got something for a scientist. I can’t identify it though. My intelligence isn’t high enough. Have you guys noticed ever science we entered this air castle we’ve been getting a lot of lot for scientist?”

Majesty nods, “I noticed that too.”

Zenny hands the unidentified object to Doc, “Here you can have it.”

Once in his head Doc instantly knows what it is and shards his knowledge with the others, “This is the philosopher’s stone! With this any scientist, if they are smart enough, can reveal all knowledge.” He gives Zenny a big hug. “Thank you so much!”

Zenny can’t help but smile wide. “You’re welcome. Use it.”

Doc takes his friend’s advice and tries to use it. Doc lets out a sigh of disappointment, “I can’t use it. I’m not smart enough.”

Majesty looks on the bright side of things, “At least you have this one of a kind item—the philosopher’s stone! How many people can say they have one of those.”

Doc answers back, “There is only one philosopher’s stone. It was believed to be myth.”

“Exactly and now you have it,” he looks at Zenny as he continues, “Our MVP merchant just went up hundreds of levels.”

The good news just keeps coming when Zenny speaks up, “Ummm, guys I just got a new skill call Smite. And my King’s Ransom changed into Petition to the Gods.” Zenny is jumping up and down with excitement.

Majesty encourages the rest, “See guys all our efforts are paying off. Let’s keep on moving.”

They all get back to their feet and continue onward. In high spirits, the group moves with extra energy in their step. They won’t realize it until much later on, but the creature they killed was an artifact class ranked creature. The artifact class is a semi-god class of creature. They are the very first to ever encounter an artifact class creature, and Zenny killed it.

After some walking, they get to a throne-like room. Doc leaves the others behind as he continues walking until he gets near the elaborate chair. He turns around and looks at his three buddies, “Umm guys, I know where we are at? This is Salomon’s castle. It is said that no one but King Salomon himself was smart enough to find their way through the castle.”

Unknown to them, the hallway would have remained endless had Doc not been in the group.

Zenny cups his hands over his mouth and calls out, “Show yourself—you old bastard!”

Zenny’s words do the trick. A man, normal size, appears sitting on the throne. The man has no facial hair. The hair beneath his crown is white as snow. “You are the first to wonder my castle without getting lost.”

Zenny’s thinks to himself while King Salomon talks: That explains all the skeletons.

“And the all did not steal any of my treasures. For your success, I will answer one question from each of you.”

Majesty is the first to ask his question, “Wise King, tell me how I can obtain the Ruler’s Crown?”

King Salomon goes into a lengthy explanation and after the speech a new quest becomes avlibe to them.

Zenny goes next. “Can you give me all the gold in the world?”

King Salomon answers Zenny’s request, “Yes.” And as Zenny starts to get carried away with excitement, the king finishes the punch-line, “Just kidding.”

Zenny folds his arms in protest. “Has anyone told you, you’re a jerk?”

Echelon goes next: What was the current that I saw touch the Gen Hulk?

“Hmmm,” he ponders as he strokes his chin, “clearly you have gazed upon things I never have nor never will. You witnessed All-Life. It is the very thing that makes the world possible. Everything is linked to it and answers to it. And within All-Life there are entities that are unknown even to me.”

Echelon answer back telepathically: Thank you for your wisdom.

King Salomon smiles thinks while he speaks: You are curious one, “You’re welcome.”

Doc just stand there. Then finally King Salomon talks to his fellow wiseman, “What question would you like to know?”

“There is nothing that I don’t already know.”

“I disagree.”

Doc asks a question without asking a question, “Then tell me what I want to know that I do not already know.”

“How you can be able to use the philosopher’s stone.”

Doc now asks his one question, “How can I use the philosopher’s stone?”

“You already asked your question.”

“The first was more of a demand.”

“Fair enough, I will make an exception and answer your second question. The wise king begins to go on and no, eventually concluding with, “. . .bring back what I ask of you and I shall give you my knowledge.”

A quest appears in Doc’s quest log. This quest only appears for Doc meaning Majesty, Echelon, Zenny won’t get credit or any reward for doing the quest. They will get experience and loot that is gained while doing the quest—just like with any other quest.

With each of their questions answered, King Salomon waves them goodbye. The four heroes are back on the planet’s soil.

Majesty looks around at the others. “Are you guys up for more questing?”

Zenny shakes his head. “Nah, I am wiped-out. I’m starting to miss Rolown.”

“Yeah I’m a little home sick too,” Doc agrees with Zenny.

Echelon says nothing as usual.

Majesty makes a choice for the group, “Alright lets head back home for three days of R-N-R.”

Rolown is the planet all players start on. Normally one would need a spaceship that was faster than light otherwise most would die of old age along the way, and a ship that can make the trip into a day or two is far too costly for them. A powerful mage could teleport them back home. But a mage would have to have been on the planet. And because they are the first player characters to set foot in this new world that possibility is no go. But luckily, they have Echelon.

Their leader gives the order, “Do your thing Ech.”

And with that said, they appear back on Rolown in their own mansions. A while back, Majesty bought the other guys homes of their own. A home gives a player a safe place to sleep. Rolown is a non-pk zone, so people can leave their character sleeping the inns or on the street.

But non-pk zone doesn’t mean non-crime zone. People can still pick your pockets and steal from you, so sleeping out in the open isn’t good. Having a home keeps one much safer. And if that wasn’t enough Majesty has hired an around-the-clock Pentagon, of the highest quality, protection for their homes.

A home also provides a great place to keep one’s stuff and to make a family. The four have been too busy with trying to progress through All-World. It all seriousness for Zack, Jeff, Leo, and Zenny when they log into All-World—for the most part.

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