"Impossible!" Jack uttered. He remembered the white dot that had teleported away. The murderer should have just fled after he or she successfully carried out the assassination. That was not an hour ago.

"You are still trying to deny? You murderer! I will kill you right here for your treachery!" One of the guards exclaimed. He was about to lunge forward with his weapon drawn but royal advisor Mason stopped him.


The guards turned to Mason and said, "My Lord, you can't be thinking of letting him go, can you?"

Mason stared at Jack for a while before saying, "No. Take him into custody. We will decide his fate later."

When he saw Mason is still reasonable enough, Jack immediately said, "My Lord, before I found the prince here, there was someone else in this room. He or she used a teleportation spell to go in that direction. We need to lock down this castle and search for that person.

Mason frowned. "Why do you say that?" He asked.

"That's absurd," Emris uttered.

The two guards snickered and said, "If you want to make an excuse, why don't you use one that is more believable?"

Seeing that none of them was taking him seriously, he decided to take matters into his own hands. His magic staff appeared in his hand. "I'm sorry. I will chase the prince's killer on my own and prove my innocence!"

At the same time, he said to Peniel, "Peniel, invulnerability!"

A spell formation started forming above his staff. He also used Dragon Eye to increase his casting speed. He asked for invulnerability because Emris was there. The lord marshall might be able to do something to disrupt his casting even with his Dragon Eye's express casting. The invulnerability was to prevent anything Emris do from affecting him.

In his slow-motion perspective, he saw Emris and the two guards become tense and were about to attack when he started casting the Teleportation spell. But strangely, all of them stopped mid-way and just stood back and smirked.

Jack didn't let their strange behavior affect him. He completed his spell, his body vanished with a flash of light. But when he was expecting to find himself in another room, he found that he was still inside the same room with the prince's body. He noticed a rune diagram flaring on the wall.

"All the walls in this castle are defended by a rune diagram that prevented instant teleportation," Emris explained. "Unless you are one of the direct descendants of the royal family, you won't be able to teleport anywhere."

"What…?" Jack was still in bewilderment when he sensed Emris casting a spell.

Jack tried to jump away but Emris' lightning lasso came so fast. He used Flash Step, but the lightning lasso was as if alive. It changed direction and accurately hit the position Jack moved to. Emris could also sense mana and knew of the direction Jack was moving toward.

The lightning lasso locked Jack's body. Jack had a very high resistance against lightning so it was not life-threatening, but it paralyzed him for the first few seconds.

A runic rope came then and wrapped around his body when he could not move. He was now totally incapacitated. He tried using his race skill, Willpower, but he couldn't. The runic rope nullified his ability to use skills and also prevented access to his inventory. He also couldn't send messages to his friends.

"Take him to the dungeon," Mason said. Then to Emris, he said, "Can I trouble you to watch him until he is inside the prison cell?"

"No problem," Emris replied.

One of the guards came and shoved Jack toward the exit, while the others took the lead and held the runic rope. They brought him down toward the basement. On the way, Jack thought about assaulting them using unarmed martial arts. But after careful consideration, he decided against it. The two guards were level 75 special elites. As the prince's guards, their equipment was also a better grade compared to common soldiers. But most of all, it was Emris' existence that snuff out his hope of escaping.

The dungeon under the palace was cleaner than Jack expected. It also had enough lighting that it didn't appear as gloomy as any typical dungeon. He saw many cells, but all of them were empty. He figured this place was rarely used. The cells were probably meant to punish the palace's occupants, which was inappropriate to show to the public.

The guards brought Jack to one of the cells and threw him inside. The runic rope came off after Jack was inside the cell. The cell's door was then locked.

Jack tried sending a message to let his friends know about his situation, but he received a notification that his message was blocked. He then noticed the walls around him were etched with rune diagrams.

"These diagrams prevent you from using any skills, accessing your inventory, and messaging others," Peniel informed.

Jack sighed. He had expected as much. But getting the confirmation still caused him to become depressed.

"I hope you rot inside here," the guards said through the bars.

In a tavern inside Thepuergua, the only city in Themisphere to border the sea, several days before Jack discovered Prince Alonzo's body inside his bed-chamber, two players were chatting on a table while drinking ale. One of them was fat, the other skinny.

"You ever heard about this client of ours?" The fat one asked.

The skinny one shrugged. "Just that he is one of the big shots from the number one guild in this kingdom."

"A big shot who is not punctual," the fat one said. "It had been almost half an hour since our agreed time."

"Well, it's not like we got better things to do. Hey, while we wait, how about I tell you a tale? Have you ever heard about the lost maiden quest from the adventurer associations?"

"The quest about the lost ship?" The fat player asked. "That is a dead-end quest. No one has ever found that ship."

"I know for a fact that Will and his team had encountered that ship."

"Will Corner? That wannabe pirate? Are you sure?"

"Yeah. Will frequently recruit players to form a team for that quest. I was among the player on that team when he found the ship. I joined his team regularly. I expected it to be just another run to roam around the archipelagos outside the gulf. The runs were usually profitable as the monsters around there gave good exp points and treasure chests frequently popped up on the small islands there. So, even though we never completed the quest, I still happily tag along. The fee for the ship's rent was paid by Will, after all."

"This time it's different?"

"It was. It happened during a full moon night. The sea was blanketed by fog. Out of nowhere, this large galleon appeared. From the distance aboard Will's ship, we could already notice something was wrong with the ship. The sails on the ship's three masts were all torn. The ship's hull itself was not in a good condition. Many holes were seen in its wooden hull, one would wonder how this ship had not yet sunk. Seeing that suspicious ship, Will immediately steered his ship to approach it."

"It's the Lost Maiden?"

"The letters of the ship's name were hardly eligible but the ones that were still intact did suggest the Lost Maiden as the ship's name. Plus, there is a statue of a half-naked girl as the ship's figurehead. Will believed we had finally found our prize. So, everyone boarded that ship without hesitation."

"So, you lot completed the quest?"

"Not quite. The quest required us to bring back the captain's diary from deep inside that ship. As we were searching the ship, things started to get spooky."

"Spooky? How so?"

"Like we heard voices from inside the ship. We heard running steps from cabins which we found later to be unoccupied. We saw shadows around the corners, following us as we headed deeper into the ship."

"Are you shitting me, bro?"

"I shit you not, brother. Many of us had our hair stood on ends. We expressed our desire to leave, but Will pressed us to proceed. That lunatic was probably the only one who wasn't bothered by the creepiness. As we headed deeper, things started to turn sinister. Things fell from the ceiling or the walls. Those that were hit received damage. Two players fell through weakened floorboards. They disappeared underneath. We can't see what happened down there because it's dark. We heard their screams for a while before they stopped abruptly."

"They came back to life later, right? What did they say about the experience?"

"They didn't understand what had happened because it's all dark down there. They just felt like they were getting clawed and chopped non-stop. Before they could get their torches out, they had lost all their HPs."

"So, you lot continued further into the ship…?" A voice asked. The fat and skinny players turned to the one who asked. Someone had sat at their table without them noticing. The two were too absorbed in the tale that they didn't realize someone else joining them.

"Who the hell are you?" the fat player asked.

"I am Saint John," the newcomer answered. "I'm the one who wants to hire you, people."